Thursday, July 31, 2008


I got my new issue of American Craft in the mail today. (If you don't subscribe, run out to the bookstore and pick up a copy.) I just read Sabrina Gschwandtner's article Let 'em Eat Cake (totally great article, more to come later), which led me to Stephanie Syjuco's blog and this amazing chair. Not only is the idea stellar - making a Morris chair from recycled packaging materials - but the craftsmanship is impeccable. I'm speechless!

a long day in the studio

I'm apparently quite chatty today - this is my third post of the day. But I've been chatty in real life too - I asked Joe so many questions about what I was working on that he finally asked me, "isn't this why you have a blog?"

I've been experimenting with new stuff in the studio today, and I've been staring at it so long, I'm starting to get paranoid that I've seen it before. You know the feeling. "Do these earrings look to much like the Heather Guidero pair I own?" (The answer was yes, so I tweaked them.) "Is this ring too much like that love letter ring of Colleen Baran's?" (The verdict's still out.)

I try to be so cognizant of what my work is influenced by. The beauty of the internet is that you can see so much work on a daily basis. The problem with the internet is that you can see so much work on a daily basis. I think the challenge is to keep your eye on work you like, but divorce yourself from that work as a source of inspiration. To err on the side of not making something if you think its similar, but not let the fear of copying paralyze you. And to realize when everything starts to look the same, its time to call it a night.

crazy chain

Instead of working on stuff from my New York Gift to-do list this afternoon, I made this necklace. And its not even finished - there are still a lot of un-welded links in there.

Oh, and a big GOOD LUCK to everyone heading to the Buyer's Market of American Craft this weekend. Have a great show!

pencil skirt

After flipping through the new J.Crew catalog this morning, I'm (not surprisingly) coveting a pencil skirt. While I'm certainly no 5'10" J.Crew model, I'm willing to hit the stores now to at least try one on. (It can't hurt, right?)

And if I was wearing this charcoal gray pencil skirt, I would absolutely pair it with this stunning necklace by Deka Ray:

(via Dear Ada)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

clean sweep

Every time I come back from Adrienne's, I'm totally jealous of her cute and clean house. And now she has a totally cute studio to boot. (Which I forgot to take pictures of.) So I spent the evening cleaning my studio. Its still not super cute, but at least now its much cleaner.

crafty bastards!

Good news! I am once again a Crafty Bastard. I hope to see everyone there on September 28th.

my new dream house

This weekend I went to the Hamptons to visit Adrienne. It was great to get a little break for the weekend. After I got there on Friday, we rode our bikes to the beach, which was fun until we had to go over a giant bridge. (I'm a little scared of bridges.)

On Saturday, we went yard-sailing. Our best find of the day was probably an entire stash of vintage jewelry for a great price. But my favorite find wouldn't fit in the car. We went to an estate sale in "my new dream house." The house was in a really cute area of Long Island called the North Fork. Not only did the house have great character, and walls of windows, but it backs up onto this little river. If only...

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Sorry for the poor picture quality, but I just had to share this little guy. I'm working on a new line, to be cast in sterling silver. Its based on my steel leaf line, but scaled down quite a bit. Which I think makes them really adorable, don't you?

ten miles

I just finished my longest run to date in preparation for the half-marathon - ten miles!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

what I'm reading: the dip

I know what you're thinking, I just did a "what I'm reading" post yesterday, but Ivan from Patina Gallery recommended this book to me, so I ran out to get it. (Plus, its only 80 pages and doesn't take very long to read.)

I've been feeling really stuck, and a little disappointed with the way my business is going. The Dip really gave me a new perspective to focus on. The premise is pretty basic, and by the end I kept thinking "ok, I get it," but this book was exactly what I needed right now.

Verdict: If you're feeling stuck at all (particularly with your business), run to the bookstore and read this book tonight.

deb's new bike

Yesterday, I took my mother-in-law shopping for a new bike. The one she's been riding is almost as old as my husband, so it was time. Not only will she be riding it for fitness and recreation, but she plans on riding it to work several days a week. (She's a elementary school band teacher, and works at different schools each day. But two are close enough to make commuting by bike possible.) Score another one for the bikes.

Trek also has a program right now to encourage everyone to "Go By Bike." You can pledge to bike a certain number of miles, and it will calculate your savings in carbon and gas money. Plus, you'll be entered to win a free bike. I picked up the brochure at the bike shop yesterday, and it was a well designed argument in favor of biking. Perhaps we should all send one to this guy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

what I'm reading: here comes everybody

After I read about Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky on WorldChanging, I immediately put it on my must read list. A book about social media and organizations seemed right up my alley. The books on web 2.0 that I've been reading have been really business based, but this book examines the phenomenon from a socio-political perspective.

While reading this book, I found myself thinking a lot about SNAG. SNAG is in trouble (mostly financial), but I think that trouble stems from a problem with relevance. One of the principles that Shirky looks at is mass amateurization, which is fueled by social media. He looks at the the idea of the "professional" journalist, but applies the problem to many professions. This is one of SNAG's fundamental problems. The idea of a "professional" metalsmith/jeweler is such a tenuous one to begin with, that many in SNAG feel the need to hold onto that label for dear life by clinging to ideas of "training", while rejecting things like Etsy, which blurs the line between professional and amateur. In doing so, SNAG alienates what could potentially be a huge contingent of new members.

The other idea that Shirky brings up is that new social tools have greatly reduced the transaction costs of group forming. So much so, that many groups don't even self-identify as groups. For instance, the group of friends I've formed around blogging. Its amazing to me that when I write a post, people are willing to comment, to give me support and feedback. This lower transaction cost is trouble for organizations like SNAG, which has a huge overhead and the need to control the collective action of the group. Not only that, if I can get support from my peers on a daily basis through this blog, why would I need to rely on an organization that can only provide that once a year at a very expensive conference.

I don't believe that SNAG is completely useless, but SNAG needs to reexamine its mission and structure if it wants to continue. Reading Here Comes Everybody would be a good place to start.

Verdict: If you're at all interested in how group forming works in the post web 2.0 world, then this is a worthwhile read.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Well, now that Artscape is over, I've reached the end of my summer retail show season. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a bad one. Between the weather and the economy, business has not been good.

But I also haven't been putting my energy into the right activities. So now its full steam ahead for upcoming wholesale shows. Here's what I've got on the horizon:

San Francisco International Gift Fair (represented by Cameron Marks Agency)
New York International Gift Fair
Pool (represented by Cameron Marks Agency)

Keep your fingers crossed that all goes well. Now its back to work, I've got to get a sample set to CM, um , yesterday.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

color and other stuff

I'm up against some tight deadlines and I'm not feeling well, so this is going to be a rambling, update sort of post.

-I'm doing something unusual for me, and adding so color to my work in the form of beads. You'll be able to pick up the new pieces at Artscape.

-Artscape is tomorrow in Baltimore. You can see my work in the DIY section.

-I'm not sure I agree with the kick-off or the winner on PR last night. Come on, garbage bags? Like that didn't take 5 minutes? Overall first impressions, including their work prior to the show, I liked Jennifer and Leanne.

-Joe and I are seriously considering selling my car and getting a scooter. This makes me a little nervous and a little excited at the same time.

All right, out to the studio. Meanwhile, I'll be wishing I was vacationing here or here. (Wow, I must really have camping on the brain, my last 5 bookmarks on were all about camping or the outdoors.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

thank you, cain park

Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi this weekend, and especially thanks to the wonderful staff at Cain Park. Despite less than ideal sales this year (the economy and the weather are so on my list), the show is still a nice one to do. And that's all because of the most helpful show staff ever. If you have to do a show by yourself, Cain Park is the one to do. (And if you organize a show, plan a visit to next year's Cain Park Arts Festival, to see how to do it right.) Everyone, from the show director to the staff, is helpful and supportive. I had 3 people help my pack my tent and load the car!

So, thanks again, Cain Park! You guys are truly the best.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

not again

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad...

Friday, July 11, 2008

perspective from burger king

On my way home from Renegade Brooklyn, I stopped at a Burger King in New Jersey. While I stood there, still wet from the storm, waiting for my food, the assistant manager looks at me and says, "Smile. At least you're not on this side of the counter."

Me: "Its just been a very long day."

Manager: "I've been here since 4:30."

Me: "This morning?"

Manager: "Yep."

Me: "You win."

Manager: "That's not really something I wanted to win at."

So my new mantra when a craft show is not going so hot is "at least I'm not working a 16 hour shift at Burger King."

Though if things don't pick up soon, that might be my next job.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

training through

Last weekend, my friend Tricia and I were going to run a 5k. (We didn't because it stormed.) I knew I wasn't going to run a fast time even if we had run, because we didn't rest the week before the race. That's because we're training for a half-marathon in September, and didn't want to lose momentum.

This is called training through, and that's what I've been doing for the craft show this weekend too. I leave this afternoon for Cain Park (one of my favorite shows), but I've been busy all week making samples for upcoming wholesale shows instead of work for Cain Park. It appears I'm training through.

(But no worries for those planning on stopping by at Cain Park - I still have lots of pieces, including work not yet seen at Cain Park.)

what I'm reading: buying in

I just finished Rob Walker's book Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are. Walker writes the column Consumed for the New York Times Magazine, as well as a the blog murketing. The beginning of the book details the transition for tradition marketing to murketing (murky marketing), a term coined by Walker to define marketing attempts that exist outside the traditional realm. If you've been paying attention at all since the turn of the century, this isn't really anything new. As TIVO and the internet divert peoples' attention away from traditional mass-market advertising, companies have had to develop new strategies to market their products. Not really new information.

It wasn't until chapter eleven, then, that I sat up and payed attention. Walker profiles Aaron Bodaroff, who set out to answer the question, "How do I turn my lifestyle into a business?" This struck me for two reasons. One I've been asking myself a similar question lately. Namely, how do I take the things I really want to do, and make them into a business? But more so, it is actually the opposite question around which I've attempted to build my business, "How do I turn my business into my lifestyle?" Or more so, "How do I turn myself into my own brand?"

In building my brand, I've (hopefully) communicated a brand with a strong aesthetic based around graphic, modern, organic designs and a black, white, and gray color palette. By virtue of the fact that jewelry is one of the few art forms you can advertise by wearing, it seems as though my aesthetic (and therefore my brand) has infiltrated its way into my daily appearance. I was becoming my own brand. Which, according to Walker, my generation sees as a "legitimate form of creative expression."

But defining myself in such a narrow way (through the lens of my business/brand), may be what has contributed to my recent boredom and my desire to more fully explore other interests. My desire to be more than just a business contributing to an endless stream of consumption has led me to consider other problems such as sustainability, environmentalism, and business ethics. Fortunately for me, Walker addresses these as well. And if chapter eleven made me sit up and take note, chapter twelve resonated with me in terms of a usable business/marketing model.

Or perhaps I should say, an unusable marketing model. According to recent polls, a majority of consumers are increasingly interested in making ethical purchasing choices. (I'm paraphrasing here.) Yet, according to Walker, this majority does not translate to the marketplace. While socially-conscious purchases are on the rise, they in no way reflect the majority of respondents who claim interest in ethical purchasing. Ethically-minded purchasing (whether green, fair-trade, organic, etc.) remains a niche-market. Case in point, American Apparel. Even though the company's philosophy is based on ethical business practices, they chose a broader, mass market ad campaign based on sex-appeal.

As I read this, I kept thinking this could be a problem for the indie-craft field, whose main marketing ploy is an ethical choice - support independent artists and handmade objects rather than mass-produced items and big business. Gabriel's post last week on Conceptual Metalsmithing, titled "The Green, The Organic, and The Handmade," examines this further. Gabriel draws parallels between green and organic impulses and the desire to buy handmade, which I agree with. Gabriel argues that we as craftspeople should draw on the same ethical shopping desires motivating people to buy green or buy organic. But if you expand on Walker's argument, by positioning craft in a niche market of ethical consumerism, we may never have relevance to a larger market of consumers.

In the next chapter, Walker actually goes on to talk about the DIY movement, including Etsy and the Austin Craft Mafia. Walker describes the DIY movement as a political movement grounded in consumption and marketing. One of the comments that struck me most details the awkward growth that the indie-craft movement is starting to face. We can all only make so much by hand, and at some point we either have to accept that we have hit our maximum level, or consider outsourcing, hiring help, etc. This can lead crafters to, as Walker describes, "the Courtney Love syndrome: too weird for the main stream, but successful enough to be seen as a sellout by 'the underground that once loved you.'" Which is how I'm starting to feel about my business. Not that I'm that successful, but rather I'm learning that to truly have a sustainable (in the financial sense) business, I might have to let go of some of the handmade idealism that helped me get started in the first place.

Verdict: While the beginning seems a little obvious, there aren't many books that actually discuss the DIY craft movement. But even if it didn't, Buying In would still be a worthwhile read for indie craft artists who are trying to understand how they fit into the contemporary marketplace.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

i don't normally resort to violence

...but I want to hurt this man.

(via TreeHugger)

could I be a scooter girl?

I've been thinking about alternatives to my 20ish MPG car for a while now. While I've been using my bike for short trips, I end up making several 8 to 12 mile (one way) trips a week that just aren't safe or practical on my bike. And mass transit in my area is virtually non-existent. I'm not quite ready to upgrade to a new car yet (we can't quite afford one) and I'm hoping that by holding out for a few years, I'll be able to get a much more fuel efficient car than anything available today.

Yesterday, Joe and I drove by a couple on scooters, and since than, I've been wondering, "could I be a scooter girl?" I've never given them much thought before, but there are several things about scooters that are quite appealing. First, there's the 70 MPG. Then, there's the fact that most of my weekday trips are made by myself, so there's no need for a full-size car anyway. (And it will be a few more years before we think about kids.) And a scooter fits into our budget much better that a new car. Plus, on a scooter, I can pretend I'm Audrey Hepburn zipping around Rome.

But there are also a few turn-offs. Joe's been wanting a motorcycle for years now, and I've always told him no, because I think they're dangerous. If I got a scooter, I'd have no argument for not letting Joe have a motorcycle. Plus, I'm not convinced I'd be totally comfortable riding a scooter. I don't have the best balance or coordination in the world. (Though arguably, riding my bike more often will probably help with that.) And I'm not sure I'd feel any safer than I do on my bike.

What do you think, do the pros outweigh the cons? Could I be a scooter girl?

(image via Vespa USA)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Even though I have a reputation as a "web 2.0 guru" in certain circles (or at least I think I do) there always seem to be web 2.0 applications I'm slow to adopt. Case in point, is a social bookmarking site, and let me tell you, it is genius. Not only can you save links and access them anywhere, but you can sort them, tag them, and even share them. I only started using it the other week, and I can't believe I didn't use it sooner. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend you do.

P.S. Want to see what I'm looking at lately? Check out my bookmarks.

last morning at the beach

Joe and I are getting ready to head back home after almost a week at the beach. As usual, I wish we could stay longer. (I spent four summers in college living and working at the beach, so I became a little spoiled.) Its definitely going to be hard to come back home and transition into all the work I have to do to get ready for upcoming shows. (I only have three studio days before I leave for Cain Park.)

All the while, I'll be dreaming of spending my days out in the sun on the beach, reading and relaxing. (Isn't there some job where you can get payed to do that?)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

what I'm reading: going public

One of the books I'm reading in my quest to improve bike and pedestrian safety is Going Public: An Organizer's Guide to Citizen Action. In the book, Michael Gecan details his work with various organizations who worked to improve life in inner cities. While the first sections of the book seem like mostly storytelling, you can get an idea of how ordinary citizens subverted power to accomplish positive change in their neighborhoods. The end of the book gives more pragmatic advice for how you can implement positive change in your own organizations. While most of the groups in the book were fighting serious social issues like poverty, crime, and corruption, its clear that the techniques can be used for a myriad of scenarios.

Verdict: The stories in the first part of the book were compelling enough to hold my interest, but if you want more pragmatic advice, skip to the last few chapters. It will definitely make you rethink the way you approach citizen organizations (and thanks to one of my favorite sections, the way you think about the market and bureaucracy as well.)

Oh, and speaking of organizations, I'm totally jonesing to get my hands on this book. Its been mentioned twice now on Worldchanging, and I can't wait to read it. Social media and organizations, I'm so there. I wonder if they would have it in the bookstore here at the beach...

morning on the bay

I got up early this morning - not by choice, but because Grizzly decided he didn't want to stay in our bedroom anymore. (We have to keep Grizzly separated from my mom's dogs, so every day is an awkward dance of shifting dogs from room to room and patio to yard.)

I didn't really mind though, because I love Ocean City in the morning. Its lovely and peaceful, and you can almost forget that its a horrible tourist trap. My parents' house is on a little inlet to the bay, and its nice to just sit by the water and relax. (Or at least it is until the sprinklers kick on, and Grizzly decides to stick his face right in front of the sprinkler head. 3 times.) But it was nice while it lasted.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

at the beach

Joe and I are at the beach with my family. I'm looking forward to a week of sun and relaxation. I brought a big stack of books with me, so hopefully there will be a lot of reading as well.