venturing out ... oiling up my social skills

Goodness, it's been an interesting almost two weeks since my last post.  Last week was a big one for me - about a month's worth of activities in one week - well for me anyway.

Since returning from France, you probably know things in my life have been shifting.  I've been defining new priorities, looking closely at what draws my attention, getting up my gumption to engage with humanity on a regular basis, plotting a strategy to grow my business.  I've embarked on a journey that's proving to be every bit as challenging as I anticipated.  As in all good challenges, this journey is a multi-layered adventure and, as I had hoped, the path is unfolding organically.   I kind of kicked it into gear by going to the Guild show and my visit with Crim of BeeGlobal - that would be the 'social skills' part of the journey.  Jeff had just built a new display case at their gallery and she could use some help with displays and wouldn't it be nice to put some of my jewels there as well???  - that ties into the 'expanding my creative outlets and getting my jewelry out into this part of the world' part of the journey.

So, last Wednesday, loaded with my display 'bag of tricks' and all the jewelry I had on hand (you might have noticed my Etsy shop is empty - sorry), I drove out to the home and gallery of BeeGlobal in the heavenly Stecoah Valley.  Crim was busy with customers when I first arrived, so that gave me time to wander through their beautiful garden ...

The first task at hand was to come up with some props.  I had brought several kinds of handmade paper for background and, for examples, a couple of props I had made from years past.  I guess I should say that I absolutely love doing gallery displays and designing booths for trade or craft shows.  I very much enjoy hanging shows, but my true passion is putting together jewelry cases and displaying the 3D work.  I got lots of practice while in Port Townsend, first while actually working at Artisans on Taylor and then later, when Teresa bought the gallery, working as a consultant.  PT was loaded with sources for interesting raw materials.  Between the beach and the hardware stores and the super wonderful architectural salvage store, I could gather all kinds of interesting bits to create my tableaux.  It's just so much fun figuring out all the details and bringing it all together into a beautiful and engaging display.

At BeeGlobal, the first thing we had to do was begin to define her display vocabulary.  We started snagging props in the garden, then from the bottle tree, then from inside the gallery.  We had rocks and bottles, a small concrete planter and a very cool Roman style head.  I always start with way too much and then edit, edit, edit.  For the background we chose some soft yellow paper with flecks of mica.  Then, I had this idea to dip the muslin I had brought into their huge vat of melted beeswax and see what would happen.  Turns out lots!  Dip the muslin once, you can still tear it and it makes a lovely textural contrast to the mica paper.  Tear it into smaller sections and dip again and again and, while still warm, it can be folded and shaped into 3D props for holding necklaces, poke holes along the folded edge to hang earrings or posts can be pushed right through, curl strips into rings for bracelets or stand on end for shorter displays.  Cracks or holes are easily repaired with a quick trip back to the melted wax.

Me learning how to work with my new discovery

Overall, it took about 3 or 4 hours for this little case, but well worth our efforts.  The finished product.

And the beautiful Crim - I love how the stained glass looks like a halo.  Appropriate as she is an angel for sure.
I got home early Wednesday evening, made us a quick dinner and got ready for an on-line conference call with local business/life coach Christine Kane - this falls into the 'grow my business' part of the journey.  I had kind of sworn off business coaching and was digging in to follow my own instincts.  But the call was free and I was curious to see if the hour and a half would be purely a marketing effort or if there was any real content.  Turns out there was (well for me) about half an hour of actual usable content.  I'm letting it sit for a bit and plan to go back to my notes in the next day or so, re-listen to the call and see if I pick up anything else.

Then on Saturday, I really ventured out of my comfort zone.  I took a workshop, that's the 'expanding my horizons and being more social' part of the journey.  I'm always on the teaching end of workshops and very, very rarely on the student end.  I'm terribly pigheaded with enormously high standards and I've been wanting to take some kind of workshop for years but golly there's just never anything that quite grabs me and then, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, there it was - an embroidery sampler workshop with Heather Allen-Swarttouw at ClothFiber Workshop.  Oh and it was just a perfect day.  A lovely space, wonderful women - Heather and eight students and our host, Barbara, a low-key day filled with learning and easy conversation and a couple of new friends.  Wow, for me that's huge.

My sampler book - be nice, it's my first attempt at sewing a book together

One of my sampler pages - why does the blanket stitch make me so happy?

Heather and new friends, Clara Boza and Carol Norby

Here's the really crazy, small world thing ... Clara's been following my blog for a while, even before we moved to Asheville.  I only realized this morning, after looking up links for this post, that I knew who she was in blog-land and that we had exchanged comments on our blogs and that includes since we've been in Asheville.  It's just classic - knowing there was someone in town that had similar interests and might be someone to meet and get to know, but me being the dreadful hermit that I am and absolutely frozen into my solitary ways ........ sheesh.   And Carol, well just check out her site and peruse her gallery of beautifully crafted handbound books.  All in all, it was such a wonderful day.

I guess all of this is a really good example of how things happen when the time is right.  It only took me a year and a half to emerge from my shell and I'm so very glad I did.

And then there's a bit of delicious eye candy - my latest acquisition ... Etcetera etc , by Sibella Court.  I just heard of Sibella from the Australian edition of Man Shops Globe.  I found the website for her shop, The Society Inc and discovered she has a book as well.  The book's not available in the US, so I've been checking Amazon and found a copy for $26 - a total steal!  As I looked up the link for this post, I see the cheapest one available right now is 80 bucks!  Oh, I am really happy that I succumbed to my whim!!!! 

To make it even better, the book is beautifully executed.  The dust jacket is a ribbed brown paper with classic folded edges, has embossed lettering, and, for added dimension, the cover image is glued on.  Feast on a few images...

The cover and the davey board and linen tape construction underneath

There's translucent vellum pages mingled in with incredibly textural images.

Her color palettes are exquisite.  I'm thinking about using one when I re-do my web presence ... yes, I'm getting ready for a full re-vamp!

So, that's where I'll leave you for now.  I really am going to hunker down for a bit.  I'm sprucing up existing samples and designing new work for the wholesale line.  Then I'll be shooting new images and plugging everything into a new print catalog, then the websites.  I'm also mulling over how I might venture into the display consulting or prop building business - that falls into the 'develop multiple streams of income' part of the journey.  I've got lots of ideas and am full of inspiration and just having a big ol' time in general ... how great is that?

The journey continues ...

blessings - kvk