Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Planning and Preparation Edition

Jewelry making should be more than just tearing into expensive materials and starting a new project. The more time you take planning the design in advance, the more likely you are to have what you consider a successful outcome.

If there's an unusual object that you'd like to set, place it on a piece of paper and draw a few different possible examples of the metal backing around it. Wanting to try a new chain design? Make a maquette out of paper first. Trying to figure out how to put together a complicated construction? Use polymer or paper clay to work out each step in the process before you get out the silver.

One of my favorite tricks is to draw a design I have in mind, then repeat the process altering a few details. Repeat the whole thing 5 times, using each previous drawing as a jumping off point for the next iteration. By the time you have 6 drawings of the same theme, you'll have worked out the design in your mind and can choose the best version to get started on your piece.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Steel Edition

This week I'm in Richmond, Virginia to teach a class and start the search for a new home. Yesterday I also took the time to stop by one of the best galleries on the eastern seaboard - Quirk. I love visiting Quirk because they showcase many of the jewelry artists that I stalk online. This time I was able to fondle the work of Catie Sellars, Amy Tavern, Jillian Moore, and Megan Auman. (to name but a few).

I'd seen everyone's work before in other galleries, but never Megan's. She works almost exclusively in steel wire and I had always assumed it was a medium gauge binding wire of the sort one might find at the hardware store. What a wrong impression one can develop when viewing images online! Megan's pieces were thick and sturdy, but also very lightweight, and I was sorely tempted to add to my earring collection.

There's nothing like being able to see a thing in person. Whether it's a painting, piece of jewelry, or other work of art. Why don't you take a trip to one of your favorite galleries this weekend and share your discoveries in the comments section here on Monday?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dealing with Overwhelm

I wouldn't wish my current predicament on anyone. I feel like I should belong to a 12 step group. Step one. Admit you have a problem.

Hello. My name is Lora and I'm a procrastinator.


I've been meaning to write reviews on both Gordon's and Patrik's wonderful new books. And I will, I will! I meant to get started long ago on the PowerPoint of my seminar for the upcoming PMC Guild Conference. I knew I should start purging at the beginning of the year in preparation for my move later this summer. I have invoices to send. And submissions to mail. And emails to respond to. And class samples to make. And art to conceive and bring to life. But I haven't. And now I'm feeling overwhelmed. So overwhelmed that I've done pretty much nothing for the past week. I'm stuck in the mass of "shoulds" that are clogging  my brain.

I really DO have to start purging and packing. And I really DO have to get started (and finished) with my seminar presentation. And I DO have to mail and respond and post and clean and... and... Sigh. What I DON'T have to do is spend time on Pinterest, or FB, or surfing through Zappos, or downloading apps onto my new iPad. I need to TCB as Elvis used to say. Take Care of Business. Pare down the time wasters and rev up the task accomplishing.

In the past I've used a few different methods to keep track of and get started on my to-do's.  But the best method of all (for me) is pencil and paper list making. Usually I just write a big long list and do whatever I want first, second, third, and so on. What ever is left over goes on tomorrow's list. I love the crossing out portion of a paper list. That little slash of the hand makes the accomplishment feel so much more concrete. I just don't feel the same rush when I use a check mark or line through feature in a computer word program.

This morning I read a post with a new twist on the ever popular paper to-do list. It featured a way to prioritize the tasks! Imagine. Prioritizing. What will they think of next? You divide the list into four columns or quadrants. Important/urgent, important/not urgent, not important/urgent (how does that work exactly?), not important/not urgent.

This morning I decided that writing a blog post was both important and urgent. I keep putting it off in favor of other tasks, but it's part of my business plan to keep a blog. Besides, I like blogging to all of you folk who are so faithful to my infrequent writing, and I feel terrible that I've been ignoring you.

I've heard about another great way to get things accomplished. Say it outloud. To real people. People who will hold you accountable. Will you all be my accountability partners? This is my list for the rest of the day (it's 9:11 am at the time of this writing).

1. Blog post
2. Gather everything that must be mailed and do whatever is necessary to put it in the envelope (label the CD, write the check, etc.).  11:09 am
3. Take the mail to the post office. 1:08 pm
4. Purge everything under the kitchen and bathroom sinks in preparation of the move (I'm going to do at least one thing a day until it's time to get the boxes out). Kitchen Done - 3:54 pm
5. Make a list of things to bring to Richmond for next weekend's class and gather them after class tonight. List made 5:31 pm

That's enough. I have a lunch date and am teaching tonight. I know what to do and what order to do it in. Thanks for listening. I feel better already.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weekend Eye Candy - Shooting Multiples Edition

Placing more than one piece of jewelry in the frame when taking a submission or beauty photograph is not as easy as it may seem. How you position the pieces creates an added layer of interest or can lead to a very dull and uninteresting shot.

Do you line things up in a row, hang them in a way to show a vanishing point of view, angle them in a diagonal line, lay them out flat... The possibilities are endless.

Arguably the best thing a maker can do to boost their career, sales, or marketing, is to learn to photograph their work so well that even a static image is a show stopper. Or else hire a professional to do it.

Not all pro photogs are prohibitively expensive, and it's not really that difficult to learn how to take the very best pictures you can with the camera set up you currently own. Unless you're 'shooting' with your copier. Then I'm not sure what to tell you.

College students have to learn somewhere. Why not contact a local JC to see if you can interview someone who is interested in working on their portfolio? The type of photographer you're looking for is someone who specializes in 'tabletop'.

Another idea would be to look at the work of other makers and note their photographers. Look them up online and see if they list their pricing structure. It might not be as high as you imagine. My fabulous images are taken by a woman who has a day job (in tv) and is working towards building her post retirement career. She only charges $30.00 per shot!

There are many, many helpful tutorials online that show self taught artists how to successfully photograph their own work with little financial layout. You can use sunlight, a transparent trash can for a light box and a flashlight or craft light (Ott) as a 'pin' or highlight.

If you only do one thing to elevate your business this year, making sure you have great images of your work should be #1 on the list.