How Would You Design Your Workspace or Studio? – part 2

Walk-in Closet

Walk-in Closet

What do you do with all the stuff involved in your craft(s) and in selling them? Where do you put it all? Before, I had it spread all over the unfinished basement. It was hard to find anything. Now, I have a walk-in closet.

Closet - Another View

Closet - Another View

Until the great clean-up and reorganization, I knew I had a lot of fabric. I just didn’t really know how much. Relatives may be getting quilts for special occasions as soon as I get the sewing area upstairs set up. I have been moving that in the remodeling chaos also. If I ever finish, pictures may follow someday.

Workroom 2

Workroom 2

If you walk through this doorway, you will come into the second workroom. It is designed to be a kiln and glass grinding room. I wanted to keep all that glass dust contained. I wanted a sink nearby and I wanted some ventilation. There is a dedicated circuit for the larger kiln. There is a larger size bathroom fan and a laundry sink.

Workroom 2 - view 2

Workroom 2 - view 2

Workroom 2 - view 3

Workroom 2 - view 3

This is my larger kiln. It used to live under the entryway table. You couldn’t come in the front door if I was using it. What an upgrade! The shelf behind the kiln was empty space that was going to be boxed off. Instead, we put a piece of counter top on it and I can use it to store my gloves, molds, and other stuff I use a lot.

Workroom 2 - view 4

Workroom 2 - view 4

This is the glass grinding area. If you aren’t familiar with it, the first thing you need to know is that glass dust is very dangerous to your lungs. Grinding is always done wet. You need to wear a mask. It also is very messy. It sprays everywhere. I was thrilled to have a separate space to contain it all.

What about selling the house? Legally, we can’t call the first workroom a bedroom. The egress window is slightly too high. We do have an office upstairs that qualifies as a bedroom, so it could be legally sold as a 4 bedroom house. Personally, if I had a teenager at home, they would go in that room. Who wouldn’t love a walk-in closet? The second workroom is a little weird, but it backs up to the bathroom. Can’t you see blowing out that wall and making a great spa bathroom with a gigantic whirlpool tub?

Now, I just wish I had time to actually get working in here. I have been itching all summer to get my hands on my glass. Having it packed away was torture. Unfortunately, I have other obligations and it will have to wait. This week, I am off to The Creative Connection Event. I applied and was chosen to do 2 pitch slams. I am pitching a quilting book for the craft book author pitch slam. Later, I was also informed that I could do a textile designer pitch slam. I am off to polish off my presentations and write my pitches. I can’t wait to see some of my designer friends and hopefully learn some great things.

Denise

 

 

 

 

 

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How Would You Design Your Workspace or Studio?

 

Workroom 1

Workroom 1

Earlier this year, we realized that one of our windows was leaking. Windows in a 13 year old house should NOT leak! After looking over our finances, we realized we could finish our basement while replacing some windows. We could refinance at a much lower rate and it wouldn’t cost us much more per month.

Suddenly, the possibility of an actual dedicated workspace was a reality. No more kiln under the table by the front door. No more signs on the front door saying don’t come in when the kiln is in use. I also had a fair amount of space to work with as our kids are off on their own. WOW!

Then, reality set in. Cleaning out a huge area that had little cleaning done over 13 years is a huge undertaking. One month later, the garage and a bedroom had become warehouse storage spaces.

Workroom 1 picture 2

Another view of workroom 1

What did I need?

  • A dedicated space for the kiln and glass grinding with access to a sink
  • Room for my large cutting table
  • Room for the future purchase of a jeweler’s bench
  • Lots of storage space
Jeweler's bench

Jeweler's bench

Even after giving the cabinet people the dimensions of my future jeweler’s bench, we narrowly avoided a small disaster. See the left edge of the bench. It overhangs the counter top by 1/4″. I don’t think the edge of the counter top was taken into consideration. Luckily, it was just high enough to fit over it.

What about electrical needs? My beloved flex shaft and other small electrical items needed to be taken into consideration. I didn’t want to trip over extension cords anymore. Outlets were put at each end of the counter top wall. There is an outlet in the ceiling above the work table and a couple outlets on the walls closer to the floor.

Workroom - another view

Workroom - another view

Storage was a huge consideration. I have stuff for vending and display. I have tons of fabric and surface design supplies. Glass is being stored in bins under the worktable top. In the next post, I will show you pictures of the large walk-in closet off this room and of the second workspace. The second workspace is enter through the first. This enables me to lock the door to this room and prevent any access when children come over.

Denise

p.s.  The future jeweler’s bench was my birthday present thanks to my husband. It was a bit of a project to put together. Between this and other furniture projects in the living spaces, we hope to never see another piece of furniture in too small boxes. Can the manufacturers make sure all the holes line up properly, PLEASE!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bead and Button Show and the Rest of the Story – part two

After a night of very little sleep, I headed off to my 3 day class on enameling with Barbara Minor. Class was only 5 people. Not so great for the teacher, but, great for the students. We worked with opaque enamels on copper. Many techniques were taught with what I felt was an emphasis on surface design. She demoed sgraffito, screen printing, stenciling, and more. What a great change of pace to sift on dry enamels and not have to deal with washing enamels and wet packing.

Enameling Class

Enameling Class

As you can see from above, I got quite a bit done. If the basement ever gets finished, maybe I can even finish the edges and get them finished as jewelry pieces! Here are a few detail pictures.

Enameled Pendant

Enameled Pendant

Fern Earrings

Future Fern Earrings

Enameled Pendant

Enameled Pendant

The first night of classes, I took a Crystal Elements bead class from Leslee Frumin. What a fun change of pace. After being in class all day, it was a relief to have the designing done and just weave beads. Also, we came out of class with 2 finished elements. No finishing at home. Of course, I haven’t bought chains to wear them yet.

Crystal Elements

Crystal Elements

The last 2 nights of classes, I took a Kiln Cast Glass class from Cheri Lenart. Since I own a rather expensive kiln and lots of glass, I was really looking forward to seeing this.

Kiln Cast Glass class

Kiln Cast Glass class

Cast Glass molds

Cast Glass molds

More filled glass molds

More filled glass molds

Examples of kiln cast glass

Examples of kiln cast glass

We sculpted shapes out of clay and then poured a plaster mixture over them. The next day we pulled out the clay and filled with glass. We also carved out a cup of hardened plaster and filled them with glass. Here is a picture of what I did.

Kiln Cast Glass

Kiln Cast Glass

I felt like I needed warning to come to class with an idea. I had no idea we would be carving and sculpting. After being in class all day, I was a bit drained and finding it hard to be creative. I really look forward to adding this technique to my glass work, though.

Now, on to the rest of the rest of the story – The night before we left, I had an excruciating gall bladder attack. If you had asked me if I was going to Milwaukee that night, I would have told you no. The pain eased in the early morning hours and with thoughts of the large chunk of change these classes cost, we headed out for Milwaukee. Ironically, I had paid for a Milwaukee Food Tour for that night! Needless to say, I didn’t eat much and that was more the focus of this tour. Others I have gone on had more of a market emphasis. My daughter, Susan, enjoyed the food but I sure wished for better timing.

I had another attack the night we left. Thankfully, Susan did all the driving as I was a bit of a wreck. We did manage to do a little of the show floor preview. Next year, I hope to be there in a much healthier state! I came home, had an ultrasound and am scheduled for surgery next week. I have one week to recover before we head off on an Alaskan cruise. OY!!

I hope to have another photography post up before my surgery. Then, I will be off for a few weeks recovering and hopefully having some fun on vacation. I’d really like to thank my daughter for doing all the driving.

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Bead and Button Show and the Rest of the Story – part one

Milwaukee

Milwaukee, WI

First, I would like to apologize for the length of time between posts. Things have been a bit crazy around here. In late March, we signed our lives away (at least it felt that way!) to have some windows replaced and our basement finished. The next three weeks was spent cleaning out 12+ years of stuff. You don’t know how much fabric you have until you are forced to pack it up. After numerous trips to Goodwill and the dump, our garage and 2nd bedroom are now storage warehouses.

It has been really strange to have no access to a lot of my supplies. Loud and smelly construction has taken over the house. The day of the jackhammer was almost more than I could take. The good news is when they are all done, I will have 2 work spaces. One room will be a general work room. The other will be a dedicated glass room. My kiln will be in there. It will have a sink with the glass grinders right next to it. It will have a vent in there. I have been impatiently waiting for the construction to end. I will put up pictures whenever they all leave. Can’t wait to get back to glass work.

Meanwhile, I took a 5 day break and went with my daughter to the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee. Things went a little rocky health wise, but we still had a lot of fun and some great classes. We started out with a foodie tour of the third ward. We loved the Public Market. Spin looked like a great place to hang out. Wish I could have brought it home!

Milwaukee Public Market

Milwaukee Public Market

Spin

Spin, Milwaukee, WI

Next year we hope to actually go and play ping pong at Spin. What fun!

Third Ward Foodie Tour

Third Ward Foodie Tour

We ended our tour at Tulip. I had serious lamp envy. Too bad they don’t sell them. I would have gladly snuck a few into our luggage. Why else drive – more room for loot! They had great food also.

Tulip Restaurant

Tulip Restaurant - Milwaukee, WI

Lights at Tulip

Wonderful Lights at Tulip

One of the Lights

One of the Lights

Another Light at Tulip

Another Light at Tulip

Who could possibly blame me for coveting one of these lights? What great design inspirations!

This post is getting quite wordy. Who?? ME?? Not possible! Anyway, I am going to cut out here and hope to have part two up later today.

 

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Photography – Make or Break?

When you are selling things on the web or elsewhere, your pictures make or break your sales. On Etsy, you’ve got about a second or less to interest your customer in taking a look at your item. Your picture has to make sense and attract the customer in thumbnail format. Your picture has to look good in 7/8-inch by 7/8-inch format. You can find a lot of help by searching for photography on Etsy. The Etsy Success emails also help the seller and periodically include tips on photography.

However, remember that these tips are not necessarily always right. One tip I see over and over is don’t use flash. Many photos use a shallow depth of field with only a small portion of the picture in focus. These pictures can appear quite arty. But, who is your customer and what are you selling? I sell supplies, books, and patterns. My customers are much more concerned with clear, sharp images. They want to know what they are getting.

I take pictures both with and without flash. I take a number of photos and compare them in photoshop. I also clean them up, crop and resize to the size and dpi I need for the web. If you don’t have photoshop, check out Picasa from Google. This is a free program that lets you edit photos.

How can you get better pictures from your camera? Your highest priority should be reading your camera manual. Boring – I know. But how else will you know what all the symbols on your mode dial mean?

My camera's manual

My camera's manual

My camera’s manual is as large as a novel but as boring as most technical writing. But, it has helped me improve my photography tremendously. You do not need an expensive camera to take great pictures. The pictures below are from my other camera. It’s a small point and shoot but still can be set for aperture or shutter (TV) mode.

Camera Back

Camera back

Do you just ignore all the buttons on your camera? Do you just leave your camera in Auto mode like this camera?

Camera mode dial

Camera mode dial

Do you know what all the symbols and letters on your mode dial mean? If you want to take a picture of your child playing soccer or some other sport, what should that dial be set at? That might depend on if you want to freeze the action or show the blur of the action. If you want to stop the action, you might want to learn about the TV mode.

Control dial

Control dial

Do you know what the control dial does? Ever want to take pictures in a place where they don’t allow flash? This dial might come in handy. You can toggle through your flash options with this dial. Do you want to take a picture of something small and need to get up close? You might want to learn what that tulip symbol means.

My mom (sorry, Mom!) was given a very nice digital camera by my brother. She only gets out the manual when she wants to transfer the pictures to the computer. I made her a pair of earrings for Christmas. She wanted to take a picture of them but could only get blurry pictures. She was too close to them to allow the camera to focus. Turns out, if she had read the manual and learned what that tulip (Macro) meant, she could have taken a very nice picture!

So, my number one piece of advice to improve your photography is to read the manual! It won’t cost you a thing. Try out all of those different buttons. Scroll through the menus. Get out and take some bad photos. That’s what the trash can button is for!

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Chain Link Beaded Bracelets

Chain Link Bracelets

Chain Link Bracelets - another view

For this month’s finished on the 15th project, I wanted to show how different the same beads could look using the same pattern. These bracelets are done using square stitch. The pattern can be used for loom work also.

First Bracelet

First Bracelet

The first bracelet is almost exactly the same as the 3rd bracelet. The only difference is the gray beads in the center of the chain links. I feel this puts less emphasis on the woven link.

Second Bracelet

Second Bracelet

In the second bracelet, the hematite beads are used in the center of the woven links. This makes the centers stand out more. The overall lighter tone of the bracelet makes it more subtle.

Third Bracelet

Third Bracelet

The third bracelet drops the gray and uses the hematite beads for all of the background. This puts more emphasis on the woven links. This is my favorite of the three. I really like the high contrast.

I used 1.5 mm Toho cubes to weave these bracelets. I really like how much faster they work up than when using delicas. The beads have large holes and are easily woven. The pattern makes an 8″ bracelet with the clasp closed.

The pattern can be easily adapted to other lengths. For a longer bracelet, add more plain rows at the end of the links before decreasing. Make sure to add an equal number of rows to both ends. To shorten leave off a link and add plain rows to make up the difference. Add them equally to both ends. Don’t forget to take into account whatever clasp you use.

Pattern Graph pdf file

Source for snap closures – Fire Mountain Gems

Source for Toho cubes – Bobby Bead

Chain Link Bracelets - another view

Chain Link Bracelets - another view

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Making Christmas Presents or Not

Christmas Tree Earrings

Christmas Tree Earrings

Fave Crafts sends out a question of the month to designers and this month’s topic was on making Christmas presents. I thought it was a very interesting question that would make a great blog post.

They asked if I had a craft-only gift policy or did I sometimes buy gifts? Talk about a loaded question. Does this question make you feel slightly guilty? It sure hits all my buttons. I love to give people items I have made but feel that Christmas is the worst time to do this. Multiple recipients means multiple gifts all due at the same time.

Does anyone else have lovely memories of traveling cross country with a sewing machine to finish gifts? I’ve actually brought my sewing machine with me on a nearly 8 hour drive to my Mom’s house to do a little sewing after we get there and finish something. I’m one of those people who can’t work on things in the car, so the trip is wasted time for me.

One year I decided to make a beautiful velveteen dress for my toddler daughter. I had the dress nearly sewn together when I noticed I had cut 2 of the same sleeve. I did not have enough velveteen to cut out another sleeve! Does it surprise anyone that I discovered this at about 2 am? I still have the unfinished dress. By the time I found a coordinating velveteen fabric for the sleeves, she had grown out of it!

My mother is still waiting for her Christmas gift quilt to be finished and given to her. I promise it will get done this year Mom!

I have made some wonderful Christmas gifts. One year I gave my 2 nieces hand sewn dresses with handmade dolls in matching dresses. I’ve given my mother smaller quilts and table runners and place mats.

Now, I buy most of my gifts and give a few small items I have made that don’t take a lot of time. This year I gave out a bunch of the Christmas tree earrings pictured above. These earrings are from the Fire Mountain Gems website. They are not my design and take a very short time to make. They look great. Just the kind of gift I make now. So, stop feeling guilty. Send that quilt out to a long arm quilter and give yourself a break!

Denise

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Critterville

We live in the woods surrounded by farm fields. We are in a constant battle with the local critters. They want to move in with us. We want to keep them out of the house.

Two years ago, I spent hours starting seedlings under lights in the basement. Critters ate the tops off the seedlings just after I pulled off the lids. We set out sticky traps because they weren’t getting caught in the regular traps. We caught a few mice and a shrew! I bought plants and put them out in the garden on the front of our property. A deer decided it didn’t like onions and stomped on every single plant! It was a constant battle with the deer, rabbits and other critters. There were holes in the cucumbers, green beans, pumpkins. The next blow was a grasshopper infestation. I had spent hours getting almost no produce. That was the last year that we planted the garden. I still have an urge to plant another one – maybe if I net the whole thing!?

The raccoons think my deck plants are their personal garden. They dig the plants up and eat the roots. They also leave little “surprises” all over the deck. Pepper spray worked for one summer. They decided they loved it after that. We have been using a motion detector water sprinkler for the last few years. It is fairly effective. The wind sets it off. The squirrels think it is their personal watering device.

Raccoon Raiding Feeder

Raccoon Raiding Feeder

Sometimes, I am just relieved to see the end of the growing season. For a Minnesotan, this is quite hard to say. We know that we have months of the deep freeze to look forward to. Winter bring a whole new set of critter problems.

The squirrels chew on the heated bird bath cord. They set off the ground fault and we have to go downstairs and reset it. I keep waiting to find a fried squirrel but the ground fault must prevent it. We put electrical tape over the cord and they eat it. One year they liked the fuzz on my outdoor front mat and they ate it all off of it. It truly looked pathetic.

The woods do inspire me with the sometimes wonderful array of critters. Lately, we’ve had a pileated woodpecker around a lot. He seems to be able to sense when I grab the camera. As soon as I get it, off he goes. I spent months trying to get him. I recently bought a 70-300mm zoom lens. It is barely adequate but I can hand hold it.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

He is a huge bird. If you ever hear something that sounds like hammering deep in the woods, keep watch for one. I finally managed to get this picture in early October. Then, I decided to keep the camera and tripod in the window area. Quite often it is in my screen porch otherwise known as the photography studio.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

He has started to come around regularly and is doing quite a number on this oak tree. See the shavings on the snow below him. We think he is building a nest in the tree. He has huge holes on both sides of the tree. I wonder if the tree will fall down when they meet?

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Here he is working on a different part of the tree. There are holes everywhere!

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

I have pictures of this tree from last year. Many other birds and the squirrels have been starting holes in it. I took a lot of pictures of it last fall for inspiration for a haunted tree design idea I have. It will have lots of critters on it and in it. Now I just need to sit down and do the actual design work! This series of pictures has given me an idea for another series of designs. It is wonderful to have this kind of inspiration just outside the window. Just wish they would stay out there!

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Happy Haul-idays with Chronicle Books

Happy Haul-idays with ChronicleChonicle Books is giving away a chance to win $500 worth of books for one blogger and one reader who comments on the haul-idays post. Read all about it HERE

Anyway, I spent way too much of my time looking over their books to come up with this list. I hope people really enjoy my choices. In some ways, it’s a bit like baring a piece of one’s soul to publish this.

Business Oriented BooksHere are the more business oriented books:

  • Lettering & Type – Creating Letters and Designing Typefaces – could always use help with this aspect of design
  • The Printmaking Bible – The Complete Guide to Printing Materials and Techniques – do a bit of fabric printing and think this information would be helpful
  • Creative, Inc. – The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business – can always use business help (Can someone clone me while you’re at it?!)
  • The Graphic Eye – Photographs by Graphic Designers from Around the Globe – think it would be fascinating to see what catches other designers’ eyes
  • The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks – A Celebration of Creative Punctuation – not quite business, unless examples of what not to do. Looks like fun.

More Chronicle BooksHere are the cooking and a couple great illustration books. J. otto Siebold is one of my favorite illustrators. I already own Olive, the Other Reindeer or it would be on the list.

  • Michael Chiarello’s Bottega – Now, who couldn’t do with a great southern Italian meal. If only, he’d come to my house and make it. One can always dream.
  • Puff – 50 Flaky, Crunchy, Delicious Appetizers, Entrees and Desserts Made with Puff Pastry – Ready made puff pastry has to be the easiest item to use for dishes for entertaining.
  • Tartine – This cookbook from Tartine Bakery is gorgeous. I have been ogling this one for quite a while. Makes me want to head off to San Francisco!
  • Other Goose – Re-Nurseried and Re-Rhymed Children’s Classics – As I said above, this is one of my favorite illustrators. I know it’s a kiddie book but these type of books are some of the best and least expensive art out there.
  • Ramayana – Divine Loophole – This book is done by one of the Pixar animators and looks fantastic.
  • Recipes Every Man Should Know – This list is truly for me. Even though the book would go to my husband and son, it is for purely selfish reasons. Once in a while, I wouldn’t mind a meal made for me that doesn’t involve pizza from a box.

Now for the largest group of books – Travel

Travel is a true joy and blessing to me (except for the hours in the car or on a plane). The sights, sounds, colors, textures, architecture, food are a designer’s dream. The beauty of a market or just visiting the local grocery store and seeing what differs from our is something I will always enjoy.

Well, there it is. It comes in at just under $500. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Good luck to everyone who enters. I know it would make my day to win!

Denise

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Designing – It’s A Messy Job

Designing is a Messy Job

Designing is a Messy Job

Those muses don’t cooperate without a fight!

- Here’s a picture of my dining room table covered with needlework threads. I was designing a canvas piece that I taught for the Heartland Region EGA.

Remember it’s not always easy and/or pretty. But, when it works, it sure is nice.

Denise

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