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About Me

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Reisterstown, MD, United States
A practicing attorney who is trying to find the time to develop a small business designing, making and selling handmade jewelry.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Grandmother Shares her Addiction

Last weekend my son and his wife came for a visit bringing their wonderful family with them:  Sophie, age 4, Owen, age 2 and James, also 2.  We had a wonderful time while they were here.  One of the best parts of the weekend for me was the evening before they left.  Sophie had been wanting to see my studio which had been off limits all weekend.  So, around 8:30, after the boys were in bed, Sophie and her mother joined me in my studio.

We began by looking at finished pieces that I had not yet gotten up in my store.  I didn't know this about Sophie but she is a toucher.  Each new piece of jewelry we brought out had to be touched to be enjoyed.  Her eyes were big and she was smiling.  She was having a good time.

Next, I brought out my stash of focal pieces for them to look through.  Kara wanted to do some shopping and Sophie just wanted to touch.  Not finding anything that got Kara excited, we moved on to my bead stash.

My bead stash is pretty incredible, even if I say so myself.  Like Sophie, I enjoy the texture and feel of my beads as much as their beauty.  With each bead strand that I brought out, Sophie's oohs and ahhhs became more and more giddy.   She had oh so many questions.  I really loved watching her making the connection to my beautiful toys.  Now, of course, I can visualize Sophie and I spending the day together making jewelry.  If she is still interested when she gets older, I'll teach her wire work and soldering and all the other fun things she needs to know to enjoy the craft.

After an hour or so, it was way past Sophie's bedtime.  When Kara told her that, she began it cry.  She had also just learned that they were heading home in the morning.  The combination to bed time and leaving was too much for her.  In an effort to calm her down, Kara offered Sophie the opportunity to make a necklace with me at some future time.  Sophie than asked me when I thought she would be old enough to make a necklace with me.  I responded that I thought we could do that the next time we were together.  Sophie came back with the idea that she wanted to make a necklace this trip instead of waiting.  I agreed to help her make a necklace in the morning and she happily went off to bed.

I spent a bit more time in my studio starting the necklace for Sophie.  I thought since her mom and dad wanted to leave at 8:00, I should start the necklace so all Sophie had to do was put on some beads and a clasp.  I guess I should explain what leaving at 8:00 a.m. usually means in our family.  It usually means leaving at 10:00 if we are really lucky.  More likely though, it means leaving at 11:00 or 12:00.  When they are leaving from my house, I'm thankful for every extra minute that I get.  It isn't easy preparing 3 kids and all the stuff for a 10-12 hour car ride.

Immediately after breakfast, I brought the started necklace out to Sophie along with all the supplies we would need to complete the necklace.  As I brought out the beads, I realized that the beads I had picked for her were really small.  The supplies included size 15 seed beads, the smallest size sterling silver spacers and 6mm Swarovsky bacons.  I was worried that I should have picked beads that were a bit larger and easier to handle.  At first Sophie struggled to get the beads on the beading wire so I told her if she couldn't do it, I'd help her by doing it.  She worked at it for a few minutes and before I knew it, she was handling even the smallest beads with ease.  Sophie worked diligently for about 30 minutes stringing the beads in the order I gave her.  However, just as we were nearing the end, Sophie asked me to finish for her.  Her brothers had just gone outside to the backyard to play.  There are just some things that a 4 year old cannot resist.  With Sophie, one of them is playing outside.  She is, after all, only 4.

I finished up the necklace and put on the clasp.  I think the necklace is perfect for Sophie.  It is dainty with a simple marcasite 4 leaf clover as a focal piece.  The beads are bright and colorful.  Sophie adores bright color.  The brighter the better.  Here is the necklace we created together:

When Sophie put on the necklace, she told me that she would use it to think about me when we were apart.  Grandma is thrilled.  Now that they are gone, I'm left with a warm, warm heart and a quiet, lonely house.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Quest to Ban Assault Weapons

Over the last week or so I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what happened in Colorado and thinking about what I believe most Americans feel about gun laws.  I may be wrong but I suspect that most Americans feel like I do.  Although I don't believe that the 2d amendment gives Americans the right to own, acquire, use whatever guns they would like, I do believe that gun ownership is a right that most Americans should have.  That said, why do civilians need to have assault weapons?  I've never seen or heard of anyone hunting anything (except other humans) with assault weapons.  Do you need an assault weapon to protect your home or family?  I don't think so.  Why do you need to own one?

I understand that people like guns.  I understand that people like to shoot guns, like to hunt with guns and simply like to collect them and show them off to their friends.  I don't understand that but I'm cool with it.  Buy a gun, go to the range and shoot your gun as often as you like, go hunting if you must but you do not have to be against all regulation in order to protect the things you like to do with your gun.  If we did manage to get a serious gun law with the teeth to actually have an impact, I do not believe any of the activities most people want to partake in with their guns would be negatively affected.  Would it really change your life if you had to wait 5 days before you could bring your new non-assault gun home?  Of course not.

Now we come to the real issue...the NRA and similar organizations.  The NRA has spent a fortune convincing Americans that any regulation will immediately lead to the loss of their right to own a gun.  Bullshit!  A ban on civilians owning assault weapons, for example, will have zero impact on your right to own any other type of weapon.  Of course, if you really want to own an assault weapon, such a ban would negatively affect you.  However, I feel strongly enough about the use of assault weapons to injure and kill large numbers of innocent victims that I'm willing to say to those who have this overwhelming desire to own an assault can't.  You don't need it and you can't have it.  If I were to consider allowing you to have an assault weapon, I would most definitely want you to wait for 5 days while I check you out before allowing you to take home your new gun.

Every time a politician has the nerve to raise the issue of gun regulation, the NRA drops a big bag of money to frighten gun owning Americans into believing that any regulation will immediately lead to loss of the average citizen's right to bear arms.  Once that dialog begins again and people constantly hear through commercials and other outlets that these rights are going to be lost, many people refuse to take the chance that those rights really would be lost.  It isn't worth it to most politicians to take a stand on the issue because the NRA is such a large contributor to political campaigns.  So the NRA continues their fear mongering and the rest of us continue to live without even the small protection that an assault weapon ban would bring.

I spend most of my time being extremely frustrated.  I really don't get it.  How could preventing civilian ownership of assault weapons be such a huge issue.  Can Americans really not see how assault weapons have been used in the last 15 years?  The United States has so many more deaths caused by guns than any other country in the world.  The differences between the US and other countries for deaths by guns is so incredibly large that it is shocking.  Granted that banning assault weapons wouldn't   immediately stop the bloodshed.  It would however be a good place to start.

It has gotten so bad here that innocent children die in their homes when the paths of bullets indiscriminately enter their homes.  Why aren't we up in arms to do something about this?  Why haven't we each contacted our representatives and let them know that we want a serious gun law that makes an impact and prevents criminals and people with mental conditions from buying assault weapons.  That seems like a country that I would want to live in.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Boy's Room

Those of you who know me know what a large part of my life is devoted to family.  I love my kids (and my kids by marriage) and I'm so grateful that we have such a strong relationship.  That said, I head over heels nuts about my grandkids.  When I was younger I used to hear people taking about how great it was to have grandkids.  I remember thinking, sure, grandkids are nice but get over it.  It is hard to describe but there is something really special about seeing your child holding and caring for a child of his/her own.  The first time you see that is one of those special moments in life that you hope you will never forget.

I'm not a particularly emotional or lovey/dovey person.  However, when I saw Drew holding my first grandchild, I fell apart.  It was so amazing that for the longest time, I could't even begin to put what I felt into words.  Of course, I've seen him holding and caring for his children thousands of time since then.  It doesn't generate that intense, overwhelming emotion that the first time did but it gives me great pleasure every time.

I guess I'm telling you this because it is my justification for devoting two of my six bedrooms specifically to my grand kids.  My grand kids live about 500 miles from me.  Since they are still too young to travel by themselves (airlines require them to be 5 to fly unaccompanied by an adult).  Even at 5, I doubt my granddaughter (she will be the first to be 5) would be willing to fly without an adult.  When the boys reach 5, that may be a different story.  At any rate, they visit my house only once or twice every year.  That doesn't matter to me.  I want them to feel like they have a room of their own in my house and to know that they are welcome at any time, with or without their parents.

I've recently completed (well, mostly) the room for the twin boys.  It isn't anything special.  No spectacular kids decorations.  No murals or car beds, etc.   It is just a room that I hope two small boys will like and feel comfortable in.  They share a room at home so I decided that they would want to do the same here.  Of course, with 6 bedrooms we can always do another room if one of them wants to have his own room in the future.

I chose to do the room in blue, chocolate brown and lime green.  I generally hate themed rooms, especially for kids.  How many little boys have bedspreads and decals from the movie Cars, or Thomas the Train or some other commercial character?  I know kids like it but for me, it seems like a bit of a cop out.  If you do that route, you don't put anything of yourself in the room.  I want the boys to know that I put the room together, with love, just for them.  So obviously the room doesn't have a theme.

Their comforters have rockets on them.  For a long time I looked for comforters that were just striped or color blocked.  Anything that would allow me to use the room as a guest room when the boys weren't here.  However, when I saw the rocket comforters, I fell in love with them.  One of my grandsons, Owen, is crazy about the moon so I've given him rockets to provide transportation for his dreams.

The room has two twin beds.  One of them is a trundle bed so if they ever have a guest with them to spend the night, they too will have a place to sleep.  The other bed has drawers under it that they will be able to use to store their secret treasures.  There are only two other pieces of furniture in the room, a large wooden chest and a bookcase full of cubby holes for storing toys.  They each have a blue reading lamp with a shade with blue and lime green circles that sit on the end of the bookcase which also acts as a night stand.

I've ordered a rug that hasn't arrived yet.  The rug is made out of old blue jean pockets.  I can't wait to see it in there.

Finally, I've ordered a couple of decals from Etsy seller Just The Frosting to put on the wall over each of their beds.  Here is a sample of what the decals will look like.  The colors will be slightly different, lime green, and blue.

The boys are visiting in a couple of weeks and I really can't wait to see them sleeping and playing in their room.  Soon, I'll show you what I did with Sophie's room.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I have a vision of the perfect studio in my head.  Unfortunately, I don't think there is a storage solution that works perfectly for me.  My new studio isn't completely done but it's getting there.  I tell myself that some day, I'll manage to get that studio out of my head and into my house.  It is definitely a work in process.

Here is a good look at my playpen.  The desk you see has many, many drawers on each side.  I purchased some plastic inserts that turn the drawers into 16 square storage spaces.  I fill those spaces with findings and stones.  In the beginning, it was a great storage solution and I could store all of my materials.  Now it's another story.  I can probably only fit about 1/3 of my stuff into the desk.  I recently purchased the wooden contraption that is sitting on my desk.  It is designed to hold tools and has a dowel that can be used to store and use beading wire and wire.  I haven't gotten it completely loaded up but I love it.  It is so nice to be able to just reach over and come away with whatever length I want.  It doesn't look nice though so I may have to do something about that.  We'll see.

The rug in my studio is just there because we didn't have anywhere else to put it when we moved in.  It is a shag rug and it eats beads and findings.  Seriously, if you drop something on this rug, it disappears forever.  Obviously, I need to get a different rug in there.  The walls are painted lime green.  I want a contemporary rug with crazy colors.  Maybe lime green and black.  I'm looking now but I haven't found the right rug yet.

Two walls of my office are filled with floor to ceiling bookcases.  I store just about everything here.  I have plastic containers that I label and store stuff in.  The cardboard boxes are my mailing supplies.  You can see my tumbler on the shelf.  I also store all my soldering stuff on these shelves.  I have a couple of shelves where I store magazines and all my beading books.  I store odds and ends that I use in my booth here as well.  Most of my booth stuff is in a big plastic bin in the basement though.

I keep out a few of my busts and put my new pieces on it for a while when I first finish them.  Sometimes after I've looked at them for a while, I want to make a few changes.   If I didn't have them out where I can see them, I probably wouldn't make those changes.  I think all the changes I've made turn out to be good changes.  Even with 2 walls full of bookcases, you can see that I still have stuff all over the floor.  I wish I had another desk for doing soldering.  It is kind of a pain to have to get all my soldering stuff out every time I want to solder something.  Then, of course, I have to put it away because I use my desk for other things as well.  The perfect studio would have a separate soldering station.

This is the obligatory close up of my desk.  You might wonder how I can make anything with all that crap piled up on it.  Whenever I finish a piece, I clean off my desk but sometimes I'm working on 3 or 4 pieces at the same time.  I pull out my stone bins, for example and stack them on my desk so I can have easy access.  You can see a seed bead bins in this picture.  I use the small Ott light with a magnifier on my desk.  I also have a floor ott light that adds additional light.  I also wish I had room in my studio for a separate photo station.  Now, when I need to take pictures of new pieces, my husband sets up the light box on our dining room table.  We're constantly setting it up and breaking it down.  Although, it has been on my dining room table for a week right now.  We don't usually eat in the dining room but every time I walk by I feel guilty.

The best thing about my studio is that it is on the first floor.  It sits between the family room and the bathroom.  It has one wall of windows so the light shines in nicely.  It is so nice not to have to go to the basement when I get the urge to create something.  I don't feel so isolated this way.  Also tied for the best thing is the fact that it has double doors that can be closed.  They're not French doors.  They do not have glass in them.  When you close the doors, you can't see the mess that lurks behind those doors.  That is a very good thing.

That's the tour of my studio space.  I'll post some more pictures when (if) it ever gets completed.  If you have some unusual storage solutions, I'd love to hear about them.  I'm always a bit disappointed in all the systems that I use.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Catching UP

Welcome back, Jill!  I have just decided to get back on the blogging horse.  A lot has happened to me since January 22, 2012.  Rather than bore you with the details, I'll just give you the short version...

I had emergency abdominal surgery in May.  I was only in the hospital for 24 hours but it certainly took longer than that to get back to normal.

My husband and I are finally getting close to being done with our big move.  The downstairs is mostly complete.  The bedrooms still have some work to do but three of them are really close to complete.  The upstairs office is still a disaster.  We haven't started on the basement yet.

I've visited Cincinnati many times over the last few months for Grandparents Day at my granddaughter's preschool, for Sophie's 4th birthday and for the twins 2d birthday.  All of those trips were wonderful.

Marty and I have just returned from a glorious vacation in St. Petersburg Florida with our entire family (almost).  We rented a big house on the water and spent the week going to the beach and swimming in our own pool.  In addition to my kids and their kids, my brother (who lives in Cocoa, FL) and my big sister (who lives in Plano, TX) joined us.  While we were there, Marty's brother and his son and Marty's little sister joined us for dinner.  It was great to see and spend time with everyone.  The kids had a great time.  We took them to Disney World and spent about $700 walking around in the rain all day.  We did get to meet Repunzel and ride It's a Small World and Winnie the Pooh.  We visited the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and rode the carousel several times.  We stayed for the Electric Light Parade before heading home at about 10:00.  In spite of the drenching rains, we managed to have a good time.  The kids were really great; no crying about the rain or standing in line.

I have been doing a lot of custom jewelry lately so it has been a while since I added new items to my Etsy store.  I've got about 5 or 6 pieces to add as soon as I get photos of them.  That seems to be the rate limiting step for me.  I can't seem to get the pictures done quickly.  I'm trying to finish one piece that I've been working on for a month or so.  I guess I don't want to take the other pictures until that piece is done so I can get them on the site at the same time.

My plan now is to try to keep up the blog on at least a weekly basis.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is Going On?

I'm sure you are all wondering what the hell I've been up to.  It has been weeks since I updated the blog so I'm going to try to bring everyone up to date.

When I think about what has happened since the last time I blogged, the biggest thing beadwise was doing my first 2 shows.  The first show was not a huge success but I did make back my entry fee.  Of course, I immediately spent what I made on a wonderful handmade scarf that I gave to my daughter-in-law for Christmas.  I'm not sure that really counts as making money.

The second show was much better. It was kind of scary though because we were moving and I had to do the show by myself.  I was lucky that one of the folks I met at the first show was also doing the second show so I was able to go to the bathroom and have someone to watch my shop.  Although my take was only in the 3 digit range, I sold a number of my favorites.  It was hard to see some of them going away.

I am now convinced that I will do more shows.  In fact, I'm planning on entering some juried shows to see what happens.  Before I can do that though, I need to figure out how to make my photos meet their standards.  I've read the rules but I don't have any idea what they are talking about.  I obviously need someone to help me.  I'm not sure if I need a photographer or a computer nerd.  Maybe I need both.  The show I'm thinking of trying to get in is huge.  They average about 4000 visitors each year.  I'll have to start making things now if I want to have enough stock to last through the weekend.  What fun!

The other big thing that has happened is that my husband and I bought a new house and moved.  Our new house has an office/library on the first floor that is going to be my new studio.  I've always had to use a room in the basement or upstairs.  I've never liked it because when I was in the basement, I couldn't hear the doorbell and several people have told me they stopped by but I wasn't home when I was just downstairs working.  Upstairs isn't good either.  Now though, I'm right in the middle of everything and I love it.  I'll post a picture as soon as the room is done.

For some unknown reason, I've had a great December and January as far as sales are concerned.  I've not only sold quite a few pieces, I've sold some of my most expensive pieces.  I always wondered who would spend that much on online jewelry.  Would you spend four or five hundred dollars on something you haven't seen in person?  I'm not sure I would.  Of course, I offer a no questions asked money back guarantee so it is virtually risk free.  I had one customer buy a beautiful aquamarine necklace and then return it when it didn't go with the dress she bought it to go with.  I was happy to take it back.

Maybe all my hard work is finally starting to pay off.  I sure hope so.