Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hobbies Have Taken Over My Life

 I've always felt the need to create something. I learned to embroider a little from my grandmother. I learned very basic knitting and crochet from my church as a teenager. My mother saw a "new" thing at a hobby store one time and bought me stuff to do "quilling". ( )  I learned how to play guitar, saxophone and a little bit of banjo and piano while I was growing up as well. I sang a bit, too. I was a theatre major in college. Shortly after I was married I learned how to do counted cross stitch. Then came seed beading and a bit of jewelry making.

Then, on Halloween 1998, I think, a friend and I were scouting out jewelry/bead stores in Salt Lake. I was handed a "Lapidary Journal" magazine, October issue, and since it was the last day, I got the magazine for half price. At that time, Lapidary Journal October issue was called their "bead annual" and focused entirely on beads. This particular issue had an article about Kristin Frantzen-Orr in it and showed pictures of her beautiful beads. It didn't stop there, though, in the back of the magazine there were step by step instructions on how to actually create one of her floral beads. ( )  Little did I know what was going to happen as a result of buying that magazine.

I was fascinated by that article, I had never heard of making beads in a torch although all through my life I had collected the wonderful lace work items those glass workers at the state fair and malls sold. This was a wonderful world of colored glass I didn't know was out there. I must have talked about it a bit because my husband bought me a beginning lamp working kit for Christmas that year. Then, by 2000 I had decided I had to open a bead store so people could buy my wonderful beads. (Ok, I didn't say I've ever had a close grip on reality, lol!) So, for seven years, my new "hobby" actually became my business.

I had a great time at that place. Met some fun people. Held classes and taught people how to bead (including two Native Americans). I can count on one hand the number of times I got angry or frustrated at any of my customers that whole seven years. During that time both my children married and I sewed and beaded two bridal gowns. But after seven years, I was still  the only employee there, six days a week. I think my hubby felt like he would actually like me to participate in a few activities with him once in a while. So I closed the store in Dec. 2006. (Ok, it was a couple months short of a full seven years, sue me.) Then in 2008, I got hired by my local stained glass studio.

For the last two and a half years I have taught beginning and intermediate glass bead making, fusing glass jewelry, soldered glass jewelry and made some pretty fun stained glass panels. I've joined a glass guild, and started teaching classes at a second studio. I've had my first gallery sale. I've been interviewed for at least two on line articles. I flinch when I do an art or gift show and someone walks by my booth and says "Oh that must be such a fun hobby!" Um, nope, not a hobby. I'm not famous or a leader in my field, but I'm actually earning my living making glass and teaching others to do so.

I've passed into a surreal state of being where there is no such thing as a hobby. It's my life. If I have the chance, I might pull out an afghan I've been working on for years and crochet on it. Some day it may actually be finished. I haven't touched cross stitch for a long time, even though I really love doing it. My grandmother was a prolific knitter, and since she has passed away, I feel the pull to learn how to get past casting on and basic knit stitch as some sort of a homage to her. I resist the urge to buy quilling supplies when I see them at the store. I take care of the embroidery urge as I do bead embroidery. I still do the music thing at church... I'm the one that chooses the music selections every Sunday.  But glass is part of almost every single day in some form.

I think I can be ok with saying I don't actually have a hobby right now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We All Make Mistakes - Showing Respect

I've really had copyright on my mind the last few days. It was prompted by a post I saw on FB. A woman by the name of Monica Gaudio was contacted by a friend who saw an article of hers in a small "on line" and "in print" magazine called Cooks Source. The friend was asking for hints on how to get published. Great, except Monica had never been contacted for permission by Cooks Source and was very surprised to find out it had been printed. To read her story in her words go here:

Now, we all know this happens. Stuff gets copied all the time from the first school report copied directly out of the encyclopedia (ok, they didn't have computers while I was in school) to stuff going viral over the internet in minutes... like this one did. We learn as we grow what we are able to copy and what not to.

It would seem to me to be a no brainer when it comes to lifting an actual article from somewhere off the internet, you should obviously get permission. A writer and an artist has the right to have control over their work to a certain extent. And when your works stand the test of time, such as Shakespeare or Michaelangelo, even though out of copyright reach, would, if someone claimed as their own outrage the public no end.

Monica posted the above Live Journal post last Thursday about how her article ended up in a little known cooking magazine and that post has caused quite a firestorm. Why? Well, Judith Griggs, the editor of said magazine would have us believe it was because of an overworked mistake on the part of her staff. (I'm not convinced she really has a "staff", but that is my opinion only.) But no. When contacted about the article Judith wrote such a snarky response to the author that it was just not to be believed. (Monica includes it in her live journal post above.) In effect, Judith stated not only did she have the right to use that article, but that the author should be grateful and pay her for her editing efforts. Wow.

This touched off a rocket of indignation (even the Washington Post picked it up) that an honest to goodness editor with that much experience could actually believe any of the drivel she had sent to Monica in her email. People immediately started "liking" the magazine's FB page and commenting on what they thought of the whole fiasco. Of course, mob mentality took over. Some comments only showed the glee of pointing fingers at someone else. Some were very brutal and mocking. The more intelligent were actually researching past articles and posting links to where they came from, some even from the Food Network. People were split about 50/50 on whether to support the advertisers in her magazine or not. Myself, I hope the advertisers pull their money, not supporting a thief, and then I hope people support those small businesses like crazy.

Well, hopefully Judith has learned one lesson from this experience. Once your words are sent on the internet, even if you think it's a private email... those words are out there. They can't be brought back. I hope she's learned the following as well:

1) Just because something is on the internet does not make it public domain.
2) Old English is still acceptable on sites that deal with historical cooking. They don't need your editing.
3) While she claims she apologized to Monica, and sent the donation she requested, she maintains an air of superiority on her web site and does nothing to acknowledge the rest of the stealing.
4) I hope she learns more about the internet. She refers to her FB page as being "hacked", not realizing that page is a public page, people can post what they want.
5) I hope she learns more about research, an important skill for an editor. Finding a phone number for FB shouldn't really be that difficult. Call the business office of the state where they are licensed to do business.

Now, we ALL makes mistakes. In reality, that IS how we learn. The point is to learn from the mistake, admit it, take action to correct it and move on. Don't try to deny it, make it look like you really knew what you were doing all along and are somehow superior to others. As artists let us respect others' work, it never hurts to even say, hey, this artist inspired me.  Lifting each other up can only enhance our own art and take it to new levels. But artist or not, let's hope we all learn a lesson from this about how words are on the internet... quite possibly forever.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


This weekend we celebrate Halloween here in the US. It's not my most favorite holiday in the year, but it can be fun. It's a bit of a mixture of memory and traditions for me.

As a kid I lived in a very rural area. You didn't walk to trick or treat. You went by car because the houses are so far apart. But, we knew everyone who's house we visited. (I'm still surprised by trick or treaters at my door that I don't know. I could be a crazy maniac for all you know!) But year after year, we also knew where the good treats were... homemade doughnuts at Helen's, homemade gingerbread men at Twila's. The homemade stuff was the best... I really miss that.

When I was 10 years old... Halloween was a bit different. I got a baby sister. She was born at 12:00...... noon. Hehehe. She's both loved and hated the birthday. Her house is always decorated for Halloween, and I mean decorated. She's an assistant to the president of a nationally known company, and they usually have their big sales meeting this time of year. She's in charge of planning all that, so her birthday has been brushed aside quite a bit. This year when my daughter threatened to keep her legs crossed and not give birth until Halloween, my sister was pretty strong in her advice to her niece... "no Halloween baby!" No one wants to party with you on Halloween, apparently. (No worries... the new baby girl entered the world on the 22nd)

Then, of course, there is the Celtic tradition of Samhain. The end of the harvest, the lighting of bon fires against the coming of the dark months. The mysticism of those who have passed before. Are they still there? Do they roam the earth this night?
Halloween will probably be a mix of all of the above. I'll call my sister and wish her happy birthday. I'm sure I'll see the grandkids in their costumes and hand out candy at my door. (And with Halloween on a Sunday this year, you have to be prepared for treats on TWO nights!) I'll probably pull out the last plants of the garden this weekend. If the night has enough of a chill, hubby will probably light a fire in the wood burning stove, stoking our own light against the dark of the coming months. We'll huddle down for the winter, looking forward to the fires of Beltane, when spring has come again.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who Me? Taking Personal Responsibility

I'm posting today as part of a group of bloggers tackling a specific subject. Sucking it up and actually taking responsibilities for your own actions, your own life. Wow, what a concept! This is something I feel pretty strongly about. I've read some of the other blog posts about this subject today and have found it very interesting the different paths people have taken to discuss this point. Taking responsibility for your own happiness, taking responsibility for the words that come out of your mouth. Admitting it when you do something wrong.

When did we feel that someone had to "pay" for an accident? Is that the result of lawyers trying to drum up business or of a greedy society as a whole? (Hmmm, blaming someone, again.) When did we decide that we could sue for something that happened to our ancestors because we belong to a specific race or culture? Should I sue the English government because I'm Scottish and my ancestors were Highlanders? Yeah, that's not a "hot button" topic, so of course that would just get laughed at. My particular religion was very mis-treated at the hands of the US government, our arms taken away and our homes burned, and no redress given, even when appeals were taken to the President. There's royalty in at least two lines of my heritage. Should I start some campaign or law suit to regain the land and houses my ancestors lost or to gain control over what I could have ruled? Now THAT could start an avalanche! Everyone probably has some story like these in their past, but maybe we only tend to give sympathy to those stories that mysterious "society" decides is politically acceptable.

I think it's probably wiser to take control and take responsibility for my own little corner of the world, and think about what I can do to make that better all on my own. Hopefully I started with my kids. Neither one is in jail, both have married wonderful people and have started raising beautiful families of their own. I'd like to think I taught them values and how to make amends for any wrong doing. I remember finding out my daughter had been taking mail out of a neighbor's box on her way home from school when she was still quite young. My husband took her to the neighbor's house and made her return the mail. The neighbor, thankfully, could see what we were trying to do, and brought out a picture of her son, and explained that he was far away, and she was worried because she hadn't received any letters from him. As far as I know, except for the occasional article of clothing or small kitchen item from me, that was the last thing my daughter took from anyone without asking.

Was I a perfect parent? Ha! Don't I wish! But I did the best I could, and still try to support them and even teach them, now that they are "on their own". All I could ask is that others would do the same. Somehow we are losing the sense of what family means. Parents can't be friends. Parents have to discipline, no matter how hard it is. There have to be clear rules and clear consequences for breaking those rules. Simple yes, but hard to do as well.

I also need to stand up and take responsibility for my art, and the sales of the items I make. It's part of the reason I signed up for this blog group. Yep, it's a lousy economy and artists are struggling. However, art and jewelry items are still being sold. So, I can't just sit back and whine that I haven't sold anything in two weeks. I have to take the responsibility to step up my game. Make items that make people WANT to buy. Blog more regularly. Reach out to more people. Make myself visible out there. I've got a plan as to what to do each day of the week, and by dang, I'm saying here in black and white that I'm stepping up to the plate and going to be active. You're gonna be sick of me!

As part of this accountability, I'm going to be letting you know just how well (or not!) I'm doing as part of this. I'm going to let you know of things I try that I read out there about how to increase your sales. What works. What flops. Hopefully I can share some meaningful insights along the way. Anyone wanna come along on the ride with me?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


A few days ago another Winter Olympics came to an end. I was so lucky to be a part of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I want to try and describe what the experience was like.
They had apparently chosen all the volunteers when Don Mischer Productions came in and said, "But wait, we need approx 800 volunteers to put together the packets that we will use for Opening and Closing Ceremonies!" I got a letter saying I wouldn't get the cool volunteer uniform, the watch and other goodies that the regular volunteers got, but I would get a coat, did I still want to help out? Well, I thought that being a part of it would be better than nothing, so I said yes. We started out in a wharehouse on the north side of Salt Lake putting these packets together. They consisted of plastic raincoats, flashlights, a seat pad, and for the Opening Ceremonies at least, a very complicated series of boards to spell out "Light the Fire Within". They had never done anything this complicated before, and were wondering if it was going to work out. Well, some people thought that putting these things together was boring, and were sneaking out when they were going to the bathroom. There was a group of us in the back that were giving them all sorts of grief for leaving. We were laughing and having a very good time. The one guy from DMP managed to get all of our names that night... left me wondering what the heck for!

Well, it turned out that he picked roughly 110 of us volunteers for further duty. We were asked to be "athlete ushers" for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. They didn't want there to be a "log jam" out on the field while the athletes were seated so we were there to help. We were all to show up early in the morning of the Opening Ceremonies to help put the packets on each seat. Yep. Each. Seat. Although it went much faster than I thought it was, we actually had to clear snow out of the stadium first! The snowy picture is one I snapped after stepping into the stadium for the first time that day. Why I didn't take a picture in the other direction, I can't say, but there was a huge boom type camera that had crashed down all over the seats during the storm the night before. There were 3 or 4 huge balloons that were to be used in the program and one of them was broken, too. They changed that part and used them for the Closing Ceremonies.

I still get goosebumps seeing the athletes start the parade of nations. I had watched these on TV since I was old enough to understand what they were, and here I was, standing there watching them come in and I was a (small) part of it! I loved it! We were in and out of the stadium at different times for different duties. For any locals who are reading this, there is a street that runs on the south side of the stadium, that was closed during the Olympics. That is where I was standing when the torch was lit, and this pic was snapped then.

I've always loved the look of all the flashlights in the stadiums, they seem to do that for almost every Olympics. Being there with all those flashlights? Cooler than being in a fairy land! (Ok, I've never been IN a fairy land, but this was cool!) It truly is an awesome sight that TV or pictures just doesn't do justice to. And of course, you see in the pic that the audience has some help. They actually do a quick runthrough of all the cues with the audience before the show goes on the air, and we didn't know until then if all the cards spelling out the theme would work. They did, and again, how cool!

As I was leaving the stadium, a bunch of people had mobbed Dick Button and Dorothy Hamill so they could have their pic taken with them. They were two of the torch bearers into the stadium that night. I didn't have time to jump in, but I snapped the pic of them anyway!

It was a memorable night, and it seemed like all of us in the infamous "Green Coat Brigade" recorded the event and had to go home and watch it all over that night! (Most of us didn't get home until about 1:00 a.m. Yeah, we all watched anyway!)

Of course, we got to do it all over again for Closing Ceremonies. A beautiful day, and I made sure I got some fun pics. Up on the bleachers at the west side, I took this pic of the torch, with the Wasatch mountain range beind. It's my favorite shot I took of the games.

I had always enjoyed watching Scott Hamilton perform. He has a wonderful sense of humor. I snapped a picture of him interacting with the young boy who sort of had the "lead" skating role throughout the two ceremonies. He was having a lot of fun with that young man, so it's always nice to see that people are genuine and it's not just an act.

I decided that I should actually be IN a couple of pics to prove I was there, so here are a couple of pics of me, one with an asst. director from DMP and of course, one with me in front ot the torch. I'm so glad that torch is still here, it's not up high on the bleachers anymore, it's down in the plaza that is just to the right of the torch in the pic with the mountain back ground. They've lit it once or twice since then, but since it's very expensive, it's pretty rare.

I was so impressed with the athletes I came in contact with. During the Closing Ceremonies there were a lot of US athletes sitting above one of the exit points. As the "Children of Light" exited the stage for the last time, those athletes yelled down at those kids telling them how awesome they were and telling them thank you! I felt right then that whatever money we put into these games is worth it.

This last picture is to make sure I tie in the glass/jewelry thing... I made these earrings of SLC's Olympic logo and wore them throughout the games. I was quite proud of myself, LOL! I just hope the politicians can keep out of the Olympics from here on out and it can truly become a beacon of Peace.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teaching Glass Fusing and an Installation

I teach how to fuse glass jewelry three or four times a year. Usually these classes are quite fun, and this class was no exception. It's fun to watch new students put pieces of glass together and have them be excited about it. They seemed to really enjoy it and were helping each other with design ideas. We've started fusing them in the big kiln at the studio. Unfortunately, this kiln hasn't been used that much and we're still "dialing it in" on smaller items. It seems it's hotter in the center, which seems backwards to me, because both my small kilns are cooler in the center. I'm sure it's because this kiln has elements in the lid, but it still takes getting used to. I draw a grid on the fiber paper and label it with each student's name so that they can keep their pieces together. I take a picture before the kiln fires and then I know who's pendants are whos. In this firing batch, I saw that one capping piece "jumped" during the firing, and I feel that a few pieces were a little over fired. We had problems with the mica not showing up in the pendants where it was used. Next firing I need to take the top temp down about 10-20 degrees.

Here are some before and after pictures:

I also finished the last panel of three panels we had been working on for a customer. One of my bosses does the design work, I built the whole top panel by myself (except for help cutting the continuous orange back ground, they make me nervous). The two door panels were more of a community effort with the other boss doing some strip cutting, and our part time employees helping with the grinding. Both bosses helped with the soldering, it just helped it go along quicker. All in all, I figure I built about 2/3 of each of the door panels. It was installed this last week and these are the pics. I really love how the light comes through these. They were very challenging but fun to make. I'm very proud of how they turned out.

Now, to get going on some projects that need to be finished on my own time so I can get something sold and pay off some bills!

Design by Duane Miles, beaded by Kerry