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2/4/2013: Fun with Mr. Virgo!    Monday, February 4, 2013

I had a great visit in Denver with my daughter. We hit a couple of ARC Thrift Stores and picked up a few things. My biggest find was a 1936 book on opera with some really great, dramatic pictures that I can use in my jewelry. I also bought some really cool old dishes to make some bird feeders. I also found an old aluminum cake cover. I always have to use plastic wrap when I make Mr. Virgo a cake and this is funky enough to fit in with my semi-retro kitchen. I say semi-retro because my decorations and accessories are all the large fruit print of the '40's. I would love to renovate the kitchen using Heartland's retro kitchen appliances but I'm afraid that won't go over with Mr. Virgo. Being a trained chef, he is into stainless steel Vikings. Someone is going to have to make a compromise! lol Good thing this isn't going to happen for quite some time. I Googled "jewelry supply stores" when I was in Denver and ended up at a cute little shop at 1245 E. Colfax. The Colorado Bead Company may be small, but what they lack in stock, they gain in quality and unique items. The owner gave me some really good advice regarding my necklaces and that alone was worth the trip. Very nice young lady. On my way out of town, I stopped at The Brass Armadillo. I think it is the largest antique mall in Colorado. I called Mr. Virgo to tell him I was just going to stop in there for a little bit and then head home. He just laughed. I can spend all day...heck, all WEEKEND, in the Armadillo just browsing. I did pick up a couple of things. A Beatrix Potter storybook that I can use for jewelry. An old photo of "Grandpa Lamb's second wife" that I am going to use in a painting. I also found a book that taught girls how to cook and "learn their place" in society. That is going to show up in a piece of art as well. I was looking for an old map of Colorado but never found one and I ran out of time. I only made it through about half the store and I was booking it through there. It is another beautiful sunny day in Colorado! I do hope you have a fabulous day!

2/1/2013: A Brand New Month!    Friday, February 1, 2013

 

This guy stands guard at our front door! I bought him at a garage sale over 30 years ago with the express intentions of giving him the place of honor under the front porch light. I carried him from house to house till finally...this became his perch. I love him! Someone years ago painstakingly welded him together with different metals, knowing some would rust, others would age, and eventually, he would turn into this proud red rooster. One of the pages I am really enjoying on Facebook is The Rusted Rooster. She lives on a farm (one of my bucket list wishes!) and just started her page. She makes really cool coat hangers and other things from recycled/upcycled goods! My kinda gal! Check her out if you have the chance...she'd love to see you!

I'm having a short week in the studio. I am heading to Denver to go junking with my daughter. Fun! I will try to post from the road, but if not, I will see you next week.

Be beautiful!

1/31/2013: Survived January!    Thursday, January 31, 2013

 

Good Morning, Moon! I got into the studio at about 8:00 this morning because we had a power outage and how in the world could I work without latte?!?!? Well, that and light. Then the phone went out. Then the internet was all wonky. Then I opened the package I ordered online and the chain necklaces were way too short. I'm not crazy about the metal blanks I ordered either but I can adjust to that and make something else with them. I put the finishing touches on 40+ necklaces yesterday and now I need to buy more findings. I thought I had a whole bag but I must have used them up. Such is the life of an artisan, is it not?

I am also thrilled to announce, it is the last day of January!!! It seems I sit on the edge of my seat and grind my teeth till Spring bursts forth and this cold and snow is gone. Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful out there today. The sun is shining and it's another blue-blaster Colorado winter day. We have been having heavy snowstorms every other day and that gets pretty old, pretty quick. Plus side? It IS good exercise!

Well, back to the bench! I hope you have a fabulous day!

1/30/2013: Focus!    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

 

Since I spent most of last week working on rebuilding my website, I have not been at my work bench in several days. Today I am working on adding bales to the back of about two dozen new necklaces as well as attaching the findings to another two dozen. That should keep the inventory up for awhile and allow me to work on some other projects. I bought a book several years ago about altering found objects into works of art. Last week when I was at the thrift store, I picked up this great clock for $3 that is going to get changed into a shadow box of sorts (in photo above). This will be my first attempt at such a project and I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

In the meantime, it is another snowy day here in Colorado. It is really difficult not to sit here and gaze out of the big windows in my studio! But, work is calling and I have procrastinated long enough. Time for another cup of coffee and then hit the bench.

I hope you all are having a fabulous day!

1/29/2013: Dreaming of Spring!    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

After shoveling 8" of new snow in 10 degrees, I'm settled in my big, comfy chair dreaming of Spring. Winter is just not my favorite time of year. I feel confined and restless. I am itching to get the garage cleaned out and work on much larger pieces. I would like to hit the garage sales to buy old pieces of furniture that I can repurpose and upcycle. I love Shabby Chic but I also love Primitives. I love those very cool Tiny Houses and Cabins. I love Vintage Kitsch but I also love the soothing feel of a spare space filled with light, shades of white, with accents of soft blues, grays, and browns. What can I say? I'm a Gemini! I have lots of fun ideas.

When I was living on my own before I married Mr. Virgo, I had the house decorated in what I called "English Country Cottage" and what my soon-to-be husband called "Early American Garage Sale". I thought it was beautiful and there are parts of it that I miss. We came home from our honeymoon and painted the great room and breakfast nook and moved in our "new" furniture. A friend of mine was building a home in Hilton Head and didn't want to move her furniture. And she had beautiful, top name furniture. I was thrilled to be able to buy an over stuffed down sofa and three wing-backed recliners for the living room and an Lexington table with 6 Henredon chairs for the dining room for $4000! I had never had such beautiful furniture. It is very "Ralph Lauren" looking and I felt decidedly grown up after getting it all put together.

Our new furnishings do not feed my soul's need for the Shabby Chic look. I love the shop in Flatiron Crossing Mall near Boulder called Cozy Cottage http://www.flatironcrossing.com/Shopping/Details/107782 I walk in that store and my heart starts to flutter, my eyes can't take things in fast enough, and if I could get my mail delivered there (and get Mr. Virgo to agree to it) I would sleep in the French Room and just walk around and touch things all day. We could go across the way and cook at Williams Sonoma! What a wonderful little fantasy! Alas, since that's not going to happen, I am going to need to create my own Shabby Chic creations in my studio for others to enjoy. In the meantime, I'm browsing Pinterest and the net for ideas and techniques that I can use. OK, in some ways, I love this time of year!

1/28/2013: Snow Day!    Monday, January 28, 2013

I love snow days! They are made even better when I don't have to go out in it. One of the pleasures of working from home is having two days off with Mr. Virgo. What a great guy! For those of you who don't know, I met him on match.com. I had been single for several years and was finally ready to put myself back out there. But I had been married for 20 years when my ex and I split up so I had no idea how to be in a relationship again. It was intimidating to think of having to go through the whole "get to know you" process all over again. Besides that, I was finally adjusted to life on my own; I wasn't sure I really wanted to trust my heart to another person. I did try dating locally, but I live in a very small town where everyone knows you and your business. It was difficult to find anyone that I could hold an intelligent conversation with. One of my friends encouraged me to try an online dating site. I was pretty leery of that. I had heard horror stories and I had a 15 year old daughter at home. My main duty was to protect her. Still, I missed the company of a nice guy to share dinner and a movie with. I joined a couple of dating sites and my dance card was full, but I just wasn't finding the quality man I wanted to spend any time with. My friend suggest I widen my search by 150 miles since we live in such a relatively remote area. The first guy that popped up took my breath away. He looked like Sean Connery! Silver hair, salt and pepper beard, and blue eyes that actually twinkled in the photo. He lived 150 miles away and that was a long way to date someone. I had dated a cowboy who lived that distance away it was very difficult. I looked at that handsome man's profile for three weeks and, I have to admit, with my self esteem still pretty low since the divorce, I wondered if a guy like that would have anything to do with me. Finally, I sucked it up and decided you can't win if you don't play. I sent a message and invited Mr. Virgo to look at my profile. I didn't hear back and after awhile, I figured either he wasn't interested or we lived too far away from each other. One day, four months later, I get an e-mail. Mr. Virgo had actually been in the process of moving within 50 miles of me, wanted to get settled in his new job so he would have time to devote to a relationship, and was I still interested? Wow...you bet I was! But I made him jump through a dozen hoops before I would meet him in person. We e-mailed for six weeks before I would give him my phone number. Then it was another six weeks of nightly phone calls. Finally, I got a call at my little needlework shop and Mr. Virgo said he was in town doing some shopping and he wanted to come in to meet me in person. My heart was pounding and my hands were sweating. I really liked this guy. Would he like me after he saw me? As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. It was love at first sight! We had our first date the next day and we've been together ever since. (smile) I let you know another day how this handsome man got the nickname Mr. Virgo. In the meantime, it's a snow day and I have the next two days with my sweetheart!

1/27/2013: Success!    Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finally! Finally, finally, finally! I have the shop up, the website looks pretty good for a start, and I have over 40 items listed! My shoulders are aching from sitting in front of this computer for three days straight. The only thing I have to do now is read a little more and figure out how to calculate postage and then I am all set!!!

I know this is short, but I have typed 36 hours in the last three days and I've got to do something different for a little while. Like cooking, cleaning, yadda-yadda. I do believe I can go live in the next day!

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Ginny

1/26/2013: Frustration    Saturday, January 26, 2013

I spent the entire day yesterday working on the website I started on 1&1. I finally got all the photos, descriptions, and prices loaded on the sales page. Then I went on to the settings for the online store and that's when I found there was no inventory control integrated in the software! I called the help line and asked what people do if they sell a one-of-a-kind item and he said, "Well, I guess you would have to go on the site really quick and manually delete the item." Grrrrrrr! I have to admit, this isn't something I thought of checking beforehand. I just assumed (I know, I know) that inventory would be monitored through the software. So, I printed out copies of the website before I took the items all off the page. A whole day's work down the drain, but a lesson learned.

I was looking on my FB page afterward and noticed an ad for a website selling jewelry. I clicked through so I could see what her site looked like and how she sold her items. At the bottom of the page was a link to indiemade.com. I looked on their site and it is built specifically for artisans and crafts people to sell their work. Perfect! And, it monitors inventory automatically. Today I have spent most of the day rebuilding the website. It was easier this time as I had the copies of the pages and all I had to do was type, not create, the pages.

I shipped my first two orders today! Wahoo! Now...back to work!

1/23/2013: Mom    Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nine years ago tomorrow, I lost my mom. She was only 78 and was sick for just 5 days and was gone. When I tell you I had no time to prepare, you might think that's silly. After all, she was 78, right? I just never let my mind go there, not even when we lost my grandma. She lived to be 93 so I had no reason to believe my own mom wouldn't live at least that long. But alas, that was not to be. I had been talking with her all that week and she was feeling bad, short of breath, weak. I encouraged her to go to the ER but she would have none of that. She called her doctor who ordered an x-ray for the next day. She had the x-ray and was told the doctor would call the next day. The nurse called her that day as promised, but mom passed out half way through the conversation. Finally, when I call her Friday morning and she sounded weaker, I told her if she wasn't in the ER in one hour, I was calling the ambulance myself.

My aunt came in from the farm and took Mom to the hospital. They did tests and found she had multiple blood clots in her lungs. I told her I would come right away but she said to come the next day after the baby shower for my daughter. I told her how much I loved her and that she shouldn't worry about a thing...I'd be there the next day and take care of everything. At midnight, I got a call that Mom's blood pressure had become unstable and it wasn't looking good. They worked on her for another hour and again said it didn't look good. Without saying so, they were asking my permission to stop. I wasn't ready for that. I asked if there was anything, just anything, they could try. The Doctor's voice softened and said, "I can try one more thing, buy honestly, I have no hope that it will work." I asked if the medicine he would give her would cause her pain and he said no. I gave myself that little extra time to let go and give it all to God.

My 14 year old was with me. Awakened by the phone, she wanted to know what was wrong. I told her we were losing our Grammy and there was nothing the doctors could do. She started crying and said she didn't get to say goodbye to her great-grandma and now she wasn't going to get to say goodbye to her Grammy either. I quickly called the hospital in WV and asked for the ICU nurse who was caring for my mom. I explained the situation to her and asked if she could please hold the phone to my mom's ear so my little girl could say goodbye. The nurse was so kind and held the phone there for the longest time so Mom could "hear" my daughter's voice as the last thing before she passed. My daughter told her how much she loved her, how much she would miss her, but that it was ok to go with Big Grandma and Pop Pop. She didn't cry, she just talked softly to her Grammy one last time. At that point I knew, if my 14 year old was ready and able to say goodbye, it was time for me to let go, too. About 15 minutes later, the doctor called to tell me my mother was gone.

I don't tell you this story to be a downer. I tell you for several reasons. We don't know when our loved ones will be taken home. No matter how much you think you are prepared, you aren't. Be quick to say "I love you" and slow to criticize your loved ones. Celebrate every single day you have because it is a gift to you and to those you love.

I love you, Mama. I miss you, and I know that we will see each other again some day!

1/20/2013: Treasures!    Saturday, January 26, 2013

We all have treasures in our lives. People we love. Beloved items from our childhood. For me, some of the most treasured items I have belonged to those I have loved in my life. I lost my mom 9 years ago on 1/24/2004. She is never far from my thoughts, but this time of year always makes me yearn to pick up the phone and talk to her or run to WV for a much needed Mom hug. My mom was the kindest woman I have ever known. She would, quite literally, give you the shirt off her back. As with every mother-daughter relationship, ours was sometimes testy. We had/have the same stubborn streak which kept us at odds over some silly things at times. One thing in particular that used to bug me to pieces was her tendency to keep everything. I mean, absolutely everything. It used to drive me batty till recently when I discovered (or admitted) that I am much more like my mother than I ever believed.

While I may be able to let go of far more things than my mother ever could, I am still a pack rat. I find things that are beautiful to me and stash them away. Sometimes I may have a vague idea of what I want to do with them, but for the most part I just love them. I love the way they look, the way they feel in my hands, or the fact that they have been well loved, either by someone I knew or some stranger in the past. I marvel at old things with patina...remnants of loving or working hands that have used the item long before it found its way into my every increasing arsenal. Mr. Virgo is a darling about it. He has paid for me to move my treasure trove THREE times now!

One of my goals with working from home and writing this blog is to document transitions. Downsizing and getting rid of all these wonderful things is distressing to think about. In the past, when something was distressing to think about, I was most inclined to just not think about it. Like Scarlett, "I'll think about it tomorrow!". Now I have learned if something is distressing to think about, I need to change my way of thinking about it. In cleaning up and organizing this space for my studio, I looked at the mass of "stuff" I have accumulated and thought, "These are my treasures! How can I get rid of these?" Now that things are more organized and I have created a space where I can bring my ideas to life, there has been a shift in that thinking.

I was sitting at my bench yesterday with no idea of what to make. I thought I should probably get some jewelry beaded so I can have more inventory. I piddled around with some pretty chartreuse stones I've been wanting to string, but the juices weren't flowing. I have to be inspired if what I make is going to have any feeling in it. So I sat, closed my eyes, and talked to Mom. Here's the conversation:

"Hey, Mom. How ya doin'?"

"I'm good, Sis. What's up?"

"Well, I'm stuck. I've got all this great stuff, but like you, I can't get rid of it."

"Yeah, that's a tough one, isn't it? I never got rid of anything either. You never knew when someone might need something. Remember that time when Patty needed little containers to hold her paint when she was working on a project? Well, I had all those little containers that salad dressing comes in at the drive through. I had them all washed and in a bag and sure enough, they were the perfect thing for her!"

"I remember that! But, these are my treasures!"

"I know, honey. These are the things that bring you joy. But maybe if you share them with others, you can bring them joy, too."

"Well, I have donated a lot of craft supplies to charity, but there was no way to know for sure if they brought anyone joy."

"OK, then...why don't you take your treasures, assemble them into little pieces of art that people can carry around and look at and love the way you loved them?"

"You mean like jewelry?"

"I mean like anything you want to do, just pay it forward. Send your love of these treasures out into the world. Set them free. You'll feel better about letting go and others will feel better about having them. Especially if there's a story behind it. You're really good at telling stories. Tell your stories in your art."

"Hey, that's a great idea, Mom! Thanks!"

"Anytime, Sis...I'm always here for you."

And so, these are my "Treasures". Little pieces of art you can wear. Little art galleries you hang around your neck. And when someone asks you about them, tell them these were my treasures. Tell them the stamps are from the bags and bags of stamps my mom collected. The illustrations are actually cut out of Ladies' Needlework magazines from 1904. The little brass charms are leftovers from my needlework shop. The scrap paper is from a stash I've had for a gazillion years just waiting for the right project to come along. The background paper is really cool. I found an old classic literature textbook dated 1939 from Louisiana State University in a thrift store for a nickel. I tore the page from "Antony and Cleopatra". I wanted to age it even more, so I tried dabbing coffee on it but it wasn't dark enough. So I dabbed vanilla extract on it (from a big bottle I brought back from Mexico in 1989...oh my gosh...I AM my mother!) and sprinkled some curry powder on it for little dabs of color. I popped the whole thing into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes till it was dry then brushed the extra curry powder off. Voila! Beautiful! Then I stamped the paper with this huge rubber stamp I have for backgrounds using sepia ink. I chose stamps from Italy to go with the theme of "Antony and Cleopatra". I layered all of this on dominos as my base. I have seen these for sale all over the internet, but I haven't seen anything this complex...this detailed...and certainly not with this kind of story behind it!

There you have it...an entirely different line of jewelry. Once I get them finished, and get my props for photographing my jewelry, I will get pics and prices posted. I hope you enjoy my treasures as much as I have.

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