Thursday, January 28, 2010

forever in my heart

Gearing up for a challenge is always fun, and the monthly team challenges of Team EFA Etsy for Animals is double fun. First the artist challenged either by concept or technique, then when the submissions are posted on the team blog it's inspiring to see what others have created as well.
Team EFA's February challenge was "Forever In My Heart - for the animals past, present and future that have left an imprint on our hearts." Although I have had many beloved cat friends, one stood out in particular. From the moment I saw Claude at the animal shelter, I knew we were going to be lifelong friends. And we were. Claude passed on in October of 2008; I don't know exactly how old he really was but the vet figured that he was probably at least 18.
Claude was possibly the sweetest cat ever, with the kindest expression and gentle ways. Looking back, he was also the most sickly of my original four cats and I always expected him to be the first to go, but he was the last. He and the others will always be forever in my heart, and as my submission to the team challenge, I created the "Meow-Shaped Heart" pendant with my own original art and soul.
If you're considering a new pet, please please please consider a shelter animal. All of my loving cats were/are either shelter cats or strays, and my Jane the Dog is a wonderful example of a precious furbaby adopted from a pet rescue group. Remember also that the month of February is Spay and Neuter month and the last Tuesday in February is the Humane Society's "Spay Day."
In addition, Team EFA Etsy for Animals is working with World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and their Haiti Disaster Relief Appeal for animal victims of the earthquake in Haiti. For more information or to donate, click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

file THIS!

Like most business owners, I grudgingly gathered the info needed to file my state sales tax. After calculating, checking, re-checking, sorting sales into what was taxable or not, the dust cleared and a most interesting revelation appeared.

Nearly half of my 2009 sales came from selling in person at shows, fairs, markets, etc.

This was not something that I anticipated, and I never thought that I was "the type." I figured that I would quietly sit at the glow of the computer monitor for most of my selling experience, tweeting, friending, contacting, flickring, ninging and whatever else it took to eke out a few sales per month in a saturated category in the handmade movement.

Not only have I enjoyed my experiences selling in person, but in some ways it's easier than selling online. I didn't have to spend countless hours promoting or advertising the shows myself. And all the time spent packaging and shipping! At the same time, the show vendor is at the mercy of the entity running the show; fortunately my 2009 shows were primarily at a popular area farmers' market and an established show sponsored by the local art league.

The instant gratification of selling in-person is a wonderful thing also. Like anyone else, I love hearing compliments, I really dig being told by someone that they've never seen anything like my items, and I truly appreciate constructive comments and suggestions - they are windows into what people really want and I take their ideas under serious consideration when planning Lonesome Road Studio's new lines.

More shows in 2010 is not just any old New Year's resolution this time. It's a real plan of action and now is the time to implement it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

get wired!

One of the ways that Lonesome Road Studio has evolved over time is in regard to jewelry components. I've always used sterling silver, gold-filled, copper. But recently I've developed a love for the beauty of handcrafted artisan earwires.

Picture the three pairs of earrings above with typical earwires purchased from a craft store or other similar source. While they would still be three lovely pairs of earrings (of course, I created them hehe), the handcrafted artisan earwires add so much more to the finished piece.

At this time I am still purchasing the earwires from the artisans (sterling silver earwires by Aunali in photos one and three; oxidized sterling silver earwires by Rocki's Artisan Supplies in photo two). Yet, in my quest to learn more techniques related to my craft and to provide a unique and beautiful item with my own creative touch (and that is still affordable), I am going to try my own hand at artisan earwires. To begin with, I have found this basic earwire tutorial, but I am always willing to learn from others. Feel free to post your links to your own tutorials, or add some helpful tips for the earwire newbies out there!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

keeping your eye on the prize - staying focused

Resolutions have been made; the big ball has dropped in Times Square - and now it's time to get to work.
Here on the Lonesome Road, the big buzz this year is "Staying Focused." I joke about having the attention span of a flea, but the time has come to quit using that as an excuse for not getting things done, for not staying organized, for not staying focused, and for not keeping my eye on the prize. This will be the decade of determination, and even harder work to achieve my creative and business goals.

How do I plan to accomplish this?
  • De-clutter! I've already begun de-stashing unneeded supplies and it feels great in two ways. 1. - I get rid of something I don't need and 2. it's a good feeling to know that it will be used by someone who wants it.
  • Don't jump on bandwagons. I've experimented with other online selling venues and ended up feeling scattered and spread thin. What works for others doesn't necessarily work for me, and I've eliminated all but one online venue. Yes, at some point I will actively create my own website but for now, owning my own dotcom domain name re-directed to this venue is a start while I forge ahead creating my branding, relationships and own successes.
  • Focus on your talents and improve on them. Sure, I'd love to learn lampworking, basket-weaving, soap-making, and much more (actually I do know how to make soap but don't). But I simply just don't have time and I'm already too easily distracted. I don't need to invite the things that undermine my focus.
  • Throw away one thing every day. This isn't as easy as it sounds, but I've been good so far. Yesterday's throwaway was a gimme: my 2009 day planner.
  • Learn to say no. Also not as easy as it sounds.
I hope 2010 finds everyone keeping their eyes on their own prizes, whatever that prize may be. Good luck - wishing you success in the new year and new decade!

Monday, January 4, 2010

fun and funky beads and jewelry findings from Soul of Somanya

Last fall I discovered the most wonderful artisan beads at a fiber festival - of all places. The one-of-a-kind beads are the product of Soul of Somanya, a grassroots organization dedicated to enhancing the standard of living in the town of Somanya-Krobo in the Eastern Region of Ghana, West Africa, and its surrounding area. For a complete description of their mission and how Soul of Somanya is successfully accomplishing it, read about it on their website; the story will inspire your own soul and touch your heart.
In the second photo above you can see the recycled powdered glass Krobo beads combined with one of my polymer clay pieces in a fun-to-wear bracelet. The colorful beads coordinate with all types of other glass and metal beads, as well as ceramic and polymer clay focal pieces, almost anything you can dream up, in fact.
And as much as I love the Krobo beads, Soul of Somanya's sterling silver jewelry findings are quickly becoming a favorite of mine as well. In the first photo, I've combined my polymer clay hearts with the artisans' Adinkra symbol headpins, conveying their message of "Safety, Security and Love."
Not feeling crafty? Soul of Somanya has several unique finished jewelry pieces available. Or, maybe a custom order is just the thing. You can even beautify your home with distinctive Soul of Somanya decor!
If you're looking for something fun and different while benefitting a great cause, stop by Soul of Somanya and browse around; their fabulous products are also available in their Etsy shop.


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