Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Showoff: Custom Orders - Koi Joy

I had an acquaintance approach me at the show - funny how someone knows of you, knows you make lampwork beads but then sees all your work at a show and suddenly need you for some custom piece. She fell hard for some of my fish but was looking for a Koi for a friend.

A koi? I had never thought of doing a koi. On Sunday, I researched all kinds of photos of koi, making note of things to add or change...most notably, their tails are different. I printed a few references and hit the torch.

I can never do just one bead for a custom order. I like having a choice...why wouldn't my customers?

My first attempt was really basic and natural looking. Then I tried one a bit more lifelike. And finally, I tried one that's more of a fantasy fish. I like making these because, if made right, they stand up on their own. That's great if you have a customer who's NOT into jewelry (hard to imagine, eh? But they're out there!).

Anyway, I'm so proud of them! They're buried in the Holly's Folly site for now for my customer to make a pick and then the other two will be up for grabs. NOTE: My customer asked me to re-do the way they hang... I think this is a fabulous idea. I can just picture it hanging that way against a blue / teal blouse... Ooh. I will post more pics. And in the meantime, feel free to contact me if you are interested in these.

And, I put up a few pendants for Halloween.... Get 'em fast before they disappear into my show stash.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lessons Learned: The Outdoor Show

Welp, I did my very first outdoor show in conjunction with our local Sunland -Tujunga Art Association and, needless to say, I learned a LOT! Here's a rundown:

1) Ask if the location is handicapped accessible. That means there will be ramps for you to roll your gear on instead of lugging it up steps. Our location was a historic museum from the early ramps!

2) If someone else is providing your tables, be sure to ask what size they are. I "assumed" I would have one eight foot table. Instead, I had two four foot tables, meaning I needed an extra set of risers to have a taller table.

3) Ask is the ground is close to level. We were on a where close to level. I'm not talking inches... close to a foot! I had to dash down the street to a hardware store to buy plastic planters that were twice the size as my risers. I ended up with a tall set on the downhill side and the regular risers on the uphill side! The land was so uneven under my other table, I couldn't use risers at all. And, I had to climb through their flower beds to find a thick rock to level out the second table. Which leads me to...

4) Bring a change of clothes. I got filthy setting up! I did a quick wipe down with baby wipes but really couldn't do anything about that grass stain on my knees!

5) Stick some carpenter's wedges in the car. These are little slivers of wedge-shaped wood to level out lumber when building a house. They work great on tables on uneven ground!

6) Think about shade. I don't have a tent for the simple reason: I live alone and have no one to help me set up at shows. I've yet to find a tent that can really be set up by one person. But, I'm thinking a nice big sign that could be moved could provide some decent shade. Still, on a lovely fall day, this wasn't a big issue. It only got hot when we had to pack up and leave.

7) Snacks... always pack something to eat. Some shows have food on the premises. Some don't. One show I did this year had the caterer back out the night before! They would have bagels but no cream cheese. Coffee but no cream and sugar. You would go back an hour later and they would have cream cheese and no bagels; sugar and cream but no coffee.

8) Be open to custom work. I will make more from custom orders following this show than I did at the actual event! Don't be afraid to take on a challenge. Someone else may see something in your work that you don't see...yet!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tag- I'm It!

Tag is a blogger's game, which is similar to the kids' game we played so many zillion years ago.
One of my favorite lampwork bead artists, Marcy Lamberson of has tagged me. (Visit her blog and Etsy shop for some wonderful info and jewelry!)

Here's how the cyber-version of tag works;
1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by including links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Seven things about Holly Dare:

1). I used to be a t.v. producer (and may be again real soon if the economy doesn't stop sliding!).
2). My mother used to let me skip school to finish art projects. (Hey, I made straight A's - unless I was bored. The way to keep me from being bored? Art!)
3). I was a hopeless Brit Pop fan in the 80s.
4). My favorite tv show is Dexter. (Which kills me because I had to cancel premium cable!)
5). I design & manufacture rubber stamps for my "day" job. (Sweet Stampen)
6). I would rather spend a day with my dog than most people. (Can't someone pay me to be a stay at home dog mommy?)
7). I still love going to the movies. (Thank goodness Costco still has reasonably priced movie tickets!)

Edit: Tags removed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Practices: Spacer Beads

I must admit, I've always struggled a bit with spacer beads. Getting them even close to the same size confounded me. Then I learned a cool trick.

I was signed up to take Margaret Zinser's class and as luck would have back went out. I knew I couldn't make the drive, much less sit through class. I called a friend and she took my place in class.

She told me that one of the coolest things she learned was how Margaret makes all of her gorgeous spacer beads.

She makes 10 or so on the same mandrel! I've only gotten up to seven or eight but here's some of mine:

And while this is very helpful when making spacers, working like this is a great basic technique in heat control. Controlling heat is vital in the sculptural big beads I love so much. By going back to something so basic, it helps with more advanced work. I just love how that happens!

And as far as spacers being perfectly alike, Margaret gave the class a few pointers on that as well: handmade beads are not supposed to be perfectly alike...they are handmade, you know!

I have to say, I'm finally enjoying making a really basic bead!

These below are on the Holly's Folly shopping pages.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Are You Tuff Enough?

"It's cancer."

That has to be one of the hardest phrases in the world to utter. And even harder to hear. That phrase can send your world, your head, your gut spinning.

My own precious sister has had to hear that phrase twice in her 65 years. In November of 1993, we found out she had stage four breast cancer. By December, she'd had a radical mastectomy and the fight was on. Chemo took her hair and brought so many tears. Radiation burned the flesh off her chest. And then, she was better.

Ten years of check ups followed. Every three months for two years, then every four, then every six. At the ten year mark, she was released to yearly checks and taken off Tamoxifen. She credited that drug with keeping her alive and confessed to me she was terrified of stopping it.

And for one precious month, we breathed. That great communal exhalation of "maybe, she's fine now." And then she wasn't.

Her new puppy kept sniffing one spot on her neck. Strange. And then she fell out a van - being a klutz runs in the family - and her neck started hurting. One thing led to another and finally we heard those terrible words again. "It's cancer."

Her breast cancer had returned as a tumor in her neck and it was wrapping around her spinal cord and choking her nerves and if she didn't do something NOW, she would be paralyzed from the neck down! Yes, I know she had a PET scan ONE MONTH before and it was all clear but now it wasn't.

Because of the proximity to her spinal cord her only option was a type of miracle radiation known as Proton radiation. In 2003, there were only two facilities using this revolutionary treatment that can get radiation into the body with pin-point accuracy. And one was Loma Linda Medical Center, 70 miles from my home.

I was recovering from my own surgery when my mom and sister moved in. For over three months, we made the daily trek to Loma Linda. I was so privileged to witness miracles there. I saw a blind person's vision return. I met many, many wonderful men of all ages dealing with prostate cancer - proton was the only treatment option for many.

Daily, my sister was strapped to a table by a custom made mask. The mask was placed over her face and screwed down to the table to keep her from moving during treatment. She was x-rayed and the techs would move the table across several axis' to ensure proper placement of the proton beam. Then they left the room and zapped her and it was over. They had it down to such a science that often, I would still be looking for a parking spot when she would appear, ready to go home.

When my sister first arrived in L.A., any bump in the road would cause her to scream at the top of her lungs! She was in so much pain. I drove with a constant cringe on my face, waiting for her to scream. And after only five treatments, I hit a huge pothole. I crouched, waiting. And nothing. I looked at her...half afraid I had paralyzed her. She was just sitting there.

"You OK?"


"That was a big pothole. Did it hurt?"


I knew then, she was already getting better.

She just had her PET scan (five years and counting...) and she's still all clear. And yet she knows, we all know - This is what will take her from day.

So with that, I urge you all to go get your yearly mammary-gram. It's October. Breast Cancer Awareness month. Do it. NOW!

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my Lest Beads Team is hosting a special beady event called Are You Tuff Enough to Wear Pink? Each of the team participating members have special items in their Etsy shops and part of all of the profits will go to selected Breast Cancer charities. Here's the thread on Etsy where you can link into participating shops.

Buy beads and fight cancer, how cool is that!???!

And go get your boobies squished! NOW!