Opportunities, Traffic, and Tranquility

Playing in the studio

Hui.2 will be two months old next week. Where has these past two months gone? Mostly trying to get as much sleep as possible and squeezing in some creative time during those rare moments I can catch a break. But he’s getting used to the concept of not needing to be held all day long, which is really nice. Hui.1 still pokes at him in awe and occasionally too hard. But with two boys so close in age, they’ll be best friends and mortal enemies. I expect yelling, “don’t poke your brother” at both of them several times a day once Hui.2 is more active.  Hui.1 is already starting to realize Hui.2 fights back and he doesn’t like it.  I had both of them on my lap and Hui.1 slid off the rocker because Hui.2’s feet were touching him.  Hilarious.

The Laguna gallery wants more pieces and they want to give me a shelf in addition to being in their premier front display case. They’ve sold my best two chainmaille necklaces already, in addition to several earring and necklace sets. This is exciting and terrifying because it means I need to produce more inventory, but it also means more exposure and potentially more sales. At least it’s a great spot for the bigger, more intricate pieces. I also have to get my Perfect Rings polished and ready to go as well. The gallery wife told her husband it’s okay if I come in with two pounds of jewelry for them to sell. Like I said, exciting and terrifying.

Tranquility and Traffic

Despite the summer traffic trying to get into town, spending time in Laguna is a nice reprieve from my daily life of diapers and tantrums. I went down there for an artist demo this past Saturday for my first adventure away from the kids. There’s something magical to be said about the crisp salty air and relaxed atmosphere of the beach and all its tourists. I hope to spend more time there, grabbing a bite to eat at the local cafe before my allotted demo time. Sitting around making jewelry and smiling at potential customers who wander in is a great way to spend an afternoon. With all the distractions I have at home, having such a focused and set time to make jewelry definitely falls under the self-care category. Of course, it won’t be so bad at home once Hui.2 gets older, but for now, it’s a nice change in scenery. For a closer reprieve, I can take the family over to the Fullerton Arboretum for an afternoon adventure. There’s no traffic, free parking and admission, and full of wonderfully lush greenery, bubbling brooks and waterfalls. Jesse loves visiting there, Hui.1 loves frolicking amongst the plants and walking paths, and there are plenty of tranquil places for me to park and make jewelry. Maybe we’ll do that when Jesse.1 visits for Labor Day weekend.

Hui.1 found a stick by the stream

Doing consignment seems to be my best bet until I can leave for a whole day without worrying about Hui.2. Then there’s the notion of finding a one-day show to vend at, which there are plenty of, but it’s more a notion of finding the perfect fit. Pagan Pride Day is always a good bet considering my love of stones and both the staff and attendees remember me from previous years. The biggest thing I need to remember when I go back is to bring more sets of jewelry. I admit I’ve gotten better about making mix-and-match sets, so that’s a plus. The Chinese Knot Collection would be a big hit there with the price point and all the gorgeous stones.

All and all, the babies are happy and thriving and I am doing better than surviving. Which is better than most parents can say at this age. My main focus for now is beefing up my inventory to re-stock the shops (XCVI Fashion Island also needs a re-stock), as well as finishing two pieces for the grand collection photo of a new collection that has yet to be released. It’s pretty epic and full of chainmaille. Sometimes I feel as though I have too many mediums to work with (stones, Swarovski Crystal, and artisan glass beads), but it’s just another creative challenge to make it all work. Just like the babies, it’s all worthwhile in the end.

Blocking Out a Schedule

Hui.2 at 4 days old

Welcome Hui.2!

Well, it’s been a week since Hui.2 decided to grace us with his presence and it’s been a small adventure, compared to Hui.1’s arrival.  But, we are all doing well and slowly adjusting to life with a newborn and a toddler.  I have to remind myself to take it easy and rest instead of rushing every which way to work on all the new jewelry designs that have been running amok in my head.  One of the nice things that babies bring is new perspective and constant change.  I need to figure out a schedule that works for everyone… more of that work-life balance everyone is talking about.  Here are some things that need to be blocked out:

Alone Time:

I need time to decompress from the world and sit in my head for awhile, even if it means staring at the walls doing nothing.  I did that this morning by going out into the garden to trim my nails (who honestly wants to vacuum nail clippings?) and soak up a little bit of vitamin D.  Alone time is very important for me and I need to figure out how to block that out whenever I can.  Jesse is actually very good at knowing when he needs to kick me out of the house or take the kids out so I can get some peace and quiet.  Starting kundalini yoga and meditation again falls under this category as well.  I’ve also figured out that I need to put Hui.2 down for a nap before I put Hui.1 down.  Then I’ll actually get some peace and quiet.

Unplugged Family Time:

Let’s face it; we live in a society who would rather stare at their phones to interact with the world instead of actually engaging with people face-to-face.  What that said, I want to be sure that when we’re all together, we’re all present and not glued to the electronics.  Jesse and I are good about not taking out our phones while we’re out for dinner unless it’s to check in on Yelp, but I do not want to spread the technology plague to the kids.  Hui.1 already comes running at me with my phone when I put it down somewhere within his reach.  It’s cute, but it also says he knows how important the phone is to me.  I’m not sure if I like that or not, but since I don’t have a landline, I need to keep the phone within reach 90% of the day.

Business Time:

It partly goes with the alone time, but the alone time gives me a chance to rest my brain and let the ideas cultivate before I start production or even tinkering.  But there’s more to business than just design and production.  There’s writing blog posts, adding listings on Etsy, making sure the website is up and running smoothly, posting on social media, etc.  I’ll start with one goal I want to accomplish for the day so that intention is imprinted into my subconscious with the hope of actually getting it done.  Eventually, once Hui.2’s schedule is less chaotic (yes, I’m being optimistic), I’ll up that to three goals a day, even if it’s something small like wiping down all the mirrors in the house.  Breaking up big projects into little pieces is the best way to get things done.

Hubby Time:

Since we’re limited on babysitters, this includes playing Dominion, watching TV together, and who knows what else.  It’s been nice having him home for the past week and we’ve been experimenting in the kitchen again, yesterday making my mom’s crepes for breakfast with a fruit syrup and then roasting a goose for dinner.  We’re almost finished with Season 6 of the Big Bang Theory.  He got bored of watching Star Trek: Voyager, but Season 7 of Big Bang will be released by the end of the summer.  We can spend that time playing Dominion since we have the base set and 4 expansions.

Holiday goose in July

Of course, this will vary depending on how the kids and I deal with our daily lives, but I’m confident to make this work.  I just need to remember to be patient with everyone, but most importantly, myself.  I can’t do everything at once, but I can be present and make every effort to get a few goals accomplished, even if that means getting 15 minutes of peace and quiet during this newborn stage.

The Station Necklace

Moss Agate Lariat ~ Example of a Station Necklace

It was exciting when I found Cynthia Sliwa’s new blog.  I’ve been following her for years, but that fell to the wayside after getting married and having babies.  I noticed she had stopped posting on her usual website so a few months ago I decided to Google her and discovered she had her own website and blog now.  Score!

This post about station necklaces really stood out to me.  My favorite lariat from the Chinese Knot Collection definitely falls under the station necklace category and in the back of my mind, I’ve always wanted to make shorter necklaces in that style.  I remember attempting to design similar style necklaces back in the day (2003-4?), but because my technical skills weren’t up to par, it never turned out just right.  I haven’t touched the idea until I came up with the lariat design during the later part of 2013.  I finally had the resources to do it right and I did.  Lariats were also something I’ve always wanted to make, but never got right until now.  As I mentioned in my post about jewelry equations, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect materials and length of chain.

The Chinese Knot Collection has really changed my perspective on design and how to seriously mix-and-match pieces within a collection.  As much as I prefer being eccentric, sometimes a little bit of order amongst the chaos is a great change in pace.  I really did “ascend” as an artist after I released that collection and even to this day, a several months later, I’m still in awe of it all.  Of course, I have to give credit to Allison for all her poking and prodding, or else it would have stayed in my subconscious a lot longer than it did.  Sometimes you need that push to get the momentum going and I’m thankful for the big shove she provided.

Last month, during my “hey, I have time to play with new designs” period (unfortunately short-lived), I started poking at designing a shorter version of the lariat.  At first, I started with a larger focal knot, accompanied by alternating stones and smaller knots, but that didn’t look right.  After tearing that version apart and starting from scratch, I finally figured out the perfect equation for both a necklace and a bracelet.  Once I finish the big chainmaille project I’m working on, these new additions will be my first priority.  One of the prototype necklaces went to the Laguna Gallery during my big jewelry drop-off day and just sold the other day.  Definitely more incentive to get that big chainmaille project finished so I can work on making a pretty pile of jewelry… assuming baby gives me another few days before his arrival.  He’s been pretty stubborn about coming out, but since I hit 40 weeks tomorrow, it really is any day now.

Station Necklace in action

Sneak Peak!

The photo above is part of the stash I dropped off with Allison today.  If you’re interested in ordering before I get them posted on Etsy, feel free to contact me using the link at the top of this page.  I’m really proud of this batch of goodies and this is only the beginning of it.  Pieces from the top:

  • Botswana Agate Chinese Knot Lariat
  • Seraphinite Single Stepping Stones Necklace
  • Blue Sapphire Statement Necklace
  • Botswana Agate Single Stepping Stones Necklace
  • Moss Agate Chinese Knot Lariat

Really, I just want to get as much done as possible before I go on maternity leave.  I suspect it will start once the baby drops because he’s already sitting so low that once he does, general and overall movement will be even more difficult.  I’m not as spry as I was with Hui.1 at this point in the pregnancy, and I suspect once Hui.2 starts getting into birthing position, it’s going to be a lot worse.  So need to get pretty photos and Etsy stocked well before then, as well as some pieces for future collections.  Yes, I am a very busy Hui Hui.  But at least the family and I had a nice day exploring the Downtown Glendale area.  We stopped at Porto’s for a break after meandering around Brand Avenue and Hui.1 decided it was a good time for quick snooze.  I decided it was a good chance for me to play with my photography skills and take some live action shots.  The bracelet below is a special super duper sneak peek at the new goodies I’ve been working on.  I haven’t been able to take a photo like this since Hui.1 was 3 weeks old and the lighting was perfect and I snapped the photo of our hands with me wearing my Perfect Ring.  More photos below.  I feel all happy and nostalgic now.  Oy, new baby hands coming soon!  Better get working on those super duper secret squirrel projects before I get no sleep!

3 weeks old and helping Mommy sell jewelry

Baby, Mommy, & Daddy hands

Hatching Spring

Whew, what a weekend! Saturday turned into a road trip starting with dim sum for lunch and browsing through a native California plant nursery before heading to the Shops at Mission Viejo to drop off jewelry at XCVI. I’ve been working diligently all week and cranked out 13 pieces for the shop. The store manager and I are excited to see how they sell. Next up is sprucing up the pieces at Fashion Island.

What I really need to do next is create a new habit of carving out some “play” time so I can just sit around and cultivate whatever is sitting in my subconscious mind.  My muse is itching to make something new and exciting.  I have a bunch of beads waiting to become statement necklaces, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.  That needs to change.  I should mark a weekend day on my calendar at least every other week for some dedicated play time.  My mother used to refer to that kind of play time as “hatching” when my sisters and I were out of sight.  She would call for us and ask if we were hatching an egg.  I savor those rare moments of solitude, which is significantly different than my “hiding” time.  Hiding is when my inner introvert is overstimulated and then it’s mandatory to be quiet and leave me alone before I snap.

Another thing I’ve been thinking of doing is creating a statement collection of one-of-a-kind “Spontaneous Designs” that come straight off of the workbench with minimal tweaking.  That requires a bit more R&D, but I do like the concept.  Quite frankly, sometimes I miss the freedom of designing on a whim, without worrying about matching pieces and the other little bits that goes into creating a collection.  Also, it’s part of the creative process that creates the beginnings of a collection if the piece is strong enough to endure that much versatility.

This weekend seems a bit more empty than usual , so I may need to take advantage of that.  Happy April!

 

February Goals

Busy doesn’t even describe how busy I’ve been since my last post.  The photo above is from a market run to Fresh and Easy at 7am before hubby went to work.  I have to say Fresh and Easy is my new favorite grocery store for their bagged lettuce, 6am opening time, and exclusive front-of-store parking for families with children.  Hubby wouldn’t care, but for us frazzled mothers, it’s seriously awesome.  And yes, I’m stockpiling on the fabo chocolate wine my sister-in-law discovered.  Yum yum!

It’s already February and I have no idea where January went.  It ran off faster than Hui.1 crawling and he crawls fast.  Oy.  I am at least happy to say that I am working diligently on my website and some new collections will debut as soon as the model photos are finished being post-processed.  I’m very proud of this collection, especially since Allison has been trying to drag it out of me for most of 2013.  But life happens and I’m a perfectionist so it’ll be the first new collection of 2014.

My goals for February are fairly simple since it’s a shorter month than we ever realize.  For the sake of accountability, I thought I’d share them here:

  • Finish website – I’m mostly done tweaking and just need to sit down and crank it all out.  There will be a lot of fine tuning to make sure everything works, but it’s going to be done before the end of the month so I can focus on other things like making more jewelry.  I’m getting antsy.
  • Spruce up Etsy – This goes hand-in-hand with the website because I want all the available jewelry to be accessible via Etsy.  Duh, that’s the whole point of having a website, right?  Yeah, my artistic whimsy usually overrides the practicality.  Oops.
  • Plan out the rest of 2014 – Let’s face it; I’m having another baby.  I have to plan at least up until June and then probably take maternity leave for the most of the summer.  Honestly, it’s not looking so bad.  I plan on making a stockpile of chainmaille bits that can be turned into 95% of the new collection and I’ll send hubby to the post office whenever necessary.

What I really want to do is nest and make jewelry.  But of course, sometimes the business stuff needs to come first.  While I’m working diligently on the business side of things, I’m researching IKEA bookshelves and tiny coffee tables to spruce up the studio (a.k.a. Hui Hui Nest).  I’m 99% ready to buy them the next time we go, but I need to measure the short wall where the roof slopes down.  An engineering guess says that I have enough clearance, but I will double check later.

We’re going to Yosemite for hubby’s birthday.  That’ll be a fun trip.  A bit nippy, but fun since I refuse to jump on a plane while pregnant.

Finding My Center

13

I did yoga this morning. Baby was still asleep and I had time, so I did it. And it felt amazing. More motivation to do it twice a day like I want to, regardless if I’m exhausted or less than exhausted. I posted this on my Facebook status afterwards:

I welcome the sun and the day with hopes of pleasantries and accomplishment. Namaste.

I’m slowly coming to terms with being a gazillion different things. This is coming from a few things… my body healing and slowly returning back to it’s pre-pregnancy state and a little bit more consistent sleep. 2013 is the year of balancing life and work, which is exactly what I’ve been doing, trying to balance family with the jewelry business and still working for Dad. It’s not an easy task, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Coming into the office 3 to 4 days a week works out fairly well and my sister sometimes comes to the house on Fridays to hang out with her little sweetie pie. Today I’m at least feeling like I’m going with the flow and accepting life for what it is.

Last week was a whirlwind of creativity I haven’t had since before the baby was born. Honestly, I haven’t been that creative since the weekend before he was born. The freedom to be able to pull out all the supplies I needed to manifest everything that’s been stewing in my mind was simply amazing. I can’t wait to harvest the photos off my camera as soon as I can carve out some time. Then post some new Etsy listings too.

The journey of an artist is never ending, just like our thirst for knowledge and capacity to learn new things.