Seasonal Scheduling

Lucky me!I am now the Marketing & Communications Manager at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston - and loving it! Established in 1897, The Society of Arts and Crafts (SAC) is the oldest non-profit craft organization in the U.S. and is the host to Craftboston Holiday and Craftboston Spring, two of the most highly respected and anticipated juried shows that offer exceptional works by talented makers. Our next exhibit opening on November 11 in our gallery on Newbury Street is called From Minimal to Bling: Contemporary Studio Jewelry. I met Bonnie Bishoff the other day - a name familiar to most polymer clay enthusiasts. She is one of the artists featured in the jewelry exhibit. It was nice talking shop with such a talent. This past weekend I was over in Woodstock, CT finishing up the third of three juried craft shows put on by Historic New England having been in Berwick, ME earlier in the month for the second in the series. Squeezed in a vacation to Key West as well. Next time I'm staying for Fantasy Fest!
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Is this What You'd Call a Blustery Day?

I borrowed this photo of the Codman Estate from the Historic New England website.
My tent was directly in front of the little urn pictured in front of the property.

Two years ago when Hurricane Irene paid a visit and wiped out the Newport Arts Festival I swore I wouldn't do another outdoor event. During a weak moment this past spring I decided I'd take another shot when I heard about Historic New Englands Craft festivals. This weekend was the event held at the Codman Estate in Lincoln. The weather was beautiful and the event was full of shoppers and supporters.

I happened to be perched on a little hill - just at the entrance to the historic Codman home nestled on the property -prime real estate. But...in my case, there always seems to be a but...because of my location every gust of wind - as infrequent and refreshing as they were, attempted to relocate my tent several feet from its origin. And one succeeded - taking down my entire display with it. Lucky for me I had a slew of shoppers around my tables who wrestled my booth to the ground and helped me pick up every last bit of jewelry. And on top of that they made several purchases. I then stripped the tent of its walls which were acting as sails I was informed by one of my neighboring exhibitors. Makes sense - why didn't I think of that? I tried to rebuild but after a few more bouts with the wind I just laid everything flat on the table and hoped for the best. It didn't seem to deter anyone and all in all the day was a boon.

Next time - booth weights. Pin It


Marbleized Bangles

Mokume Gane is a Japanese metal working technique that is accomplished by stacking thin layers of material and manipulating them to achieve a desired result often compared to a wood grain. I'm using this same technique with polymer clay to create these new brass bangles I'm working on. A bit like marbled paper, the random patterns of the colors are intriguing. The process is zen like. I get absorbed in the act of revealing the magical effect.

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For the Flower Lovers

Putting a few finishing touches on these favorites for the Codman Estate Fine Arts and Crafts Festival in Lincoln, MA on September 7. A couple years ago I swore off outdoor craft shows because of some ferocious weather I'd run into. But now I have found myself with three on my docket and a brand new tent complete with sides. Let's just hope the weather for all three shows stays as bright as these new mother/daughter flower bracelets I just finished up. Pin It


Pick me Martha!

Martha Stewart and I share a passion for supporting the American Made movement. I would love to see  Boston Baked Beads spotlighted as one of Martha's local finds. Please cast a vote in my direction and check out the competition. There are some incredible artists out there!

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Obsession Guides My Motivation

Often times obsession guides my motivation. Certain shapes or forms appeal to me as well as the techniques I use to arrive at certain results. I enjoy the process as much as the product - sometimes even more. These new textured acorn beads will become pendants soon. I'm thinking of pairing them with some crystals - nice juxtaposition. I'll post results later in the week.

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To Everything There is a Season...

Everyone has a favorite season. Mine happens to be summer. Since the day I returned from my 3 week sojourn I've witnessed many announce its demise. By the time I left on July 7 here in Massachusetts we had concluded our typical spring consisting of lots of cold wet weather, segued directly into early summer which usually brings more wet weather sprinkled with an occasional day of blistering heat and were easing nicely into a steady slow simmer. When I returned on July 30th I noticed that people were already writing off the season! Conversations were starting with "How was your summer?"  and ending with "Enjoy your summer...what's left of it!" C'mon folks - winter's are far too long here in the Northeast to be succumbing to a few crisp nights - the better for sleeping, my dear! Just because there's the temptation to put another log on the fire while toasting your marshmallows does not mean it's over! Do not rush the seasons...please.

It's a struggle for me to make way for the advancement of the calendar pages - allowing autumn to slowly creep in - one turning leaf at a time. But I'm getting ready for several retail shows this fall and am creating inventory. With the beautiful foliage that accompanies the season September and October are actually picturesque around here - it's what follows in January, February and March that I dread so much. If only the region would stay as bright and vibrant as these soon to be acorn pendants I'd manage nicely.

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The Diablo is in the Details

We began our trip in Madrid and ended in Barcelona. The two cities have such a different feel. To me Madrid felt like the elegant mother of the party girl Barcelona. As stately, mature, beautiful, bright and wide open the former felt - the second city buzzed with art deco architecture, a huge fashion scene and beaches buzzing with youth and vibrancy. Every street corner provided eye candy and inspiration for new projects.
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Bastille Day in Bordeaux

We were so happy to be in France for Bastille day. In Bordeaux Center they had a military parade complete with jets flying over the Esplanade of Quinconces. We sat in front of the Bridge of Stone on the Garonne river to watch them with thousands of other onlookers. While we waited for the sun to go down (about 10:30!) we watched everyone beating the heat playing in the reflecting pool across from behind where we sat.

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Chateau Lamothe Bergeron

After spending Sunday morning driving through small towns towards the vineyards of the Medoc region. We arrived at the chateau of the Lamothe Bergeron winery only 1/2 hour from where we are staying in Bordeaux. Although it was closed for the day we were able to explore the grounds for a bit and sneak a peek at the old chateau itself. There are plans to restore the chateau and return it to its splendor so that it can be used as a hotel as well. I would LOVE to get inside before that's all done. But  - I'll just have to settle for a peek in the window for now.

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Eye Candy

There are treats for the eyes galore. From the shop windows to the old building facades to the gorgeous old carousels there is so much to take in here in Bordeaux. This particular carousel plunked in the middle of the city center was built in 1901. It's like looking at a gigantic beautifully decorated cake.

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European adventure

I am on a house swapping vacation at the moment. My family and I have temporarily traded our home in Massachusetts with another family's home in Bordeaux. A great experience and affordable way to travel with a family if anyone out there's considering it.

We arrived in Madrid last Monday where we spent a whirlwind two days visiting with my oldest daughter and taking in the lifestyle of the bustling city. So beautiful and bright -Talk about the city that never sleeps!
Muy caliente! The temperature hovered at close to 100° all three days we were there - which makes those little sidewalk cafes all the more enticing. In the mornings we ate churros at a stunning old chocolateria. On our second night after spending the early evening walking through the Parque del Retiro we sipped on Sangria and ate a late, late night dinner of paella and tostas. Why not, everyone else was doing it!

On Wednesday we left Madrdid for the small beach town of Hendaya in France. I guess my mind was still on the windows of all the Spanish bakeries
because I got very excited when one of the train men dropped these off at our seats.

Alas, not so exciting after all. I don't know what I was thinking - perhaps a small gift?!

We arrived in Bordeaux safe and sound and spent the first full day just settling in. On Friday we spent the day in Lacanau - a beautiful surfer's beach. We didn't try our hand at surfing but my daughters may try it before our weeks are up. Saturday onto Bordeaux Center.

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Duxbury Bay Oysters

Duxbury is to "oysters" as Maine is to "lobster" - not the only place that grows them but definitely tops on the list. We have several oyster farms here in Duxbury and you can find their produce on many menus up and down the east coast. I get a kick out of being down in South Carolina only to find oysters from Duxbury Bay as part of their fare. Unfortunately for me - I've never been able to convince myself to get beyond the look of them to pop one in my mouth. I hear they're fantastic though. I'd rather draw them. Announcing the latest addition to the sea life embossed prints - the oyster.

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Shippin up to Camden

I'm finishing up the last details and shipping a whole bunch of beautiful things to the Once A Tree Gallery in Camden, ME. Back in March when I met the owners I pictured myself driving the package up there myself - as I've always wanted to see Camden. I hear it's beautiful. But on the heels of what have been the busiest few months of my life - I'll have to put that trip off for another time. First day of summer tomorrow! Can you believe it?

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Packing up for Pomfret

This Saturday I'll be headed down to Pomfret, CT to Celebrations Gallery and Shoppes Connecticut Open House Day. I met the owners of the gallery back in March at the Boston Gift Show and they invited me to participate. I'll be packing up my wall o'wares and bringing it with me on Saturday.

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One Ringy Dingy

At the risk of aging myself - does anyone remember Laugh In. Kind of a late 60's/early 70's version of SNL - although I think it was on Monday nights. I was the youngest girl in a very large extended family and was naive enough to be convinced that my impression of Lili Tomlin doing Geraldine the telephone operator was spot on. Like Pavlov's dog at the sound of the bell, I would perform this routine - and many others - at the slightest fein of a request. I'm sure I was that kid that would do it even if no one requested it. Perhaps they requested that I stop doing it and I got confused.
Summer rings - polymer on brass

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Must Love Dogs

"Psst, hey you!", I heard the threatening whisper. I ignored it - or at least tried. It pressed up against the door - fighting to get out. Stalking me. Taunting me from it's dark enclosure, "I'm getting bigger by the minute and if you don't do something about it  - well, you know what'll happen." When my studio was miles across town I was in control - I was the one that dictated who was boss. I surrendered. Waiving my white flag, which was actually a dirty dish towel – I gave in to the massive pile of laundry. This is exactly the trap I don't want to fall into. With my studio just steps from my back door I find myself - just throwing on a quick load, just filling up and running the dishwasher, just...you see where I'm going.

I'm trying to steer this ship in a different direction quickly. It's okay to do those things – I guess – as long as you can stay focused. Focus is not my strong suit. A few years back I had a conversation with Claire Cook author of Must Love Dogs and many other books. She talked about her strict rule that before she did anything else she had to spend at least two hours writing. Sometimes this led to many more hours at her desk but often it led to nothing else. It was discipline however. Today I spent a a few hours in the studio. This was the result.
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May Days

This month is only half over and I feel like I've experienced as much as I did in the 5 months that occurred previously. The bad and the good, the ying and the yang, the black and the white. There's always an upside. With many more days to this month we've still got proms and graduations and award dinners and Memorial Day weekend on the horizon.

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Chrysanthe -Mum

And we're back. I have been swamped with a nutty variety of necessary distractions. My studio has been moved but now I'm faced with the tedious task of finding homes for all the minute one might find in a creative's tool box. I took some time out to create this little chrysanthemum bracelet I've had stuck in my head for days. Hope all you Mums had a nice Mother's Day yesterday!

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Sara Campbell

Last night I met Sara Campbell. (Warning: Her website doesn't do justice to her incredible clothes.) She hosted a group of female creatives from the group Boston Design Salon in her shop on Plympton St. in Boston's South End. Sara has over 30 years experience in the women's apparel business. Her colorful frocks are gorgeous - I wanted one of everything. A small gathering due to the recent events in Boston, the 12 or so of us chatted about the ins and outs of trying to get a design business off the ground.  But it wasn't about shopping last night. For three hours we listened to each other's stories about successes and failures, production headaches, wholesale vs. retail and more. The variety of businesses represented were so intriguing from hand dyed shibori tee shirts to beautifully reproduced luxury wall murals. But the beauty of it all was the brutal honesty with which everyone spoke. Sara could've safely hid behind our perceived vision of effortless success that we all assume must be the case if you run 10 retail shops as she does. But she let us in to her world and shared the lesson that it's very hard work that comes with both doubts and absolute bliss. It was just what I needed to hear. We're all in the same boat - trying to figure out what works. 
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Studio Updates

Back to the task at hand. In just one week I'll be packing up the last of my belongings and moving back to my home studio which is in a great little building on my property. My husband built it about 13 years ago as a playhouse for my daughters. It's got about 165 sq. feet of workable space with a loft for storage. Perfect size. My only beef - it's got no heat. With temperatures barely squeaking out of the 40's today, it's a necessity. I'll be working on that over the next few months - installing a small propane heater with a thermostat that I can control. Before we left for vacation I had a couple of windows installed that were castoffs from a friend's home renovation project. I brought the carpenter(husband) with me on vacation so we now have to get back to work to finish up the carpentry work before I can move in. There's nothing better than doing a major reorg. It's halted the creative process for a bit but I hope to be up and running again by the end of next week.

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Boston - You're my Home

I'm back after being in South Carolina for the week. It was surreal to be so far from home while greater Boston was going through the ordeal it had. This event has reminded us as to how comfortable we are with the general political atmosphere we have here - not thinking about bombings and devastation on a daily basis. In that respect we are extremely fortunate and at times like these it's inspiring to witness the patriotism that is awakened throughout the nation. On a magnified level - the outpouring of support for the victims of the bombings in the smaller communities in and around Boston is heartening. My hometown of Dorchester, a neighborhood within Boston, is home to the Richard family that suffered such casualties it's impossible to fathom how this poor family will get through the aftermath. Knowing Dorchester as I do - this community filled with an abundance of love and all around incredible people will aid in the healing - doing everything they can to lighten the load. My heart goes out to all of the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy as well as the people in Waco, Texas who also experienced a devastating week. God bless.

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So Sad Today

Heartbroken that my hometown suffered the horror it did yesterday. I'm so saddened by the loss of lives and for all of those who suffered such terrible injuries. My heart goes out to all of those directly affected. I knew many people in town yesterday including many of the first responders. My husband would have been one of them had we not been on vacation. We were updated through friends and family as the events unfolded. I just can't believe this has happened. Such a tragedy. I feel very far from home right now. Pin It


My Tale of Woe

I figure if I'm going to crow about the windfalls it's only fair I let you in on the pitfalls as well. On Friday, while enjoying the first hours of a family vacation, I noticed that I had missed a phone call and there was a message waiting for me. Turns out one of the shop owners that had placed an order with Boston Baked Beads last month at the Boston Gift Show had a change of heart and decided to cancel their order. I returned the call immediately and the owner confessed that although she was in love my work she just wasn't sure her clientele had the pocketbook for it. For the record, I honestly don't believe she was hinting for me to reduce her cost - which I wouldn't offer any way. I do think she got caught up in the excitement of an interesting new find and lost touch of her target market's budget. My work is meticulously crafted and unique and priced accordingly. Truly a cottage industry, my business is all about creating hand crafted wearable works of art in small lots using original designs exclusive to Boston Baked Beads. And that kind of work takes time, expertise, skills and creativity. My prices are determined by a formula that considers my production material, construction time, overhead, packaging and more. Although this situation was disappointing it wasn't the end of the world. I'll learn from it and move on. I'm not even mad at this vendor (can't say I felt the same way Friday) - I'd like to think in the future we'll find a fit together. Like my good friend Irene says "and so a new chapter in business begins"!

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organized mess

This is my work table as it appears most days. As much as I try to be organized,  the creative process is never neat in my book. But it works for me. And I'm not going to apologize for it. When you create are you neat or messy?

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blue bird, blue bird through my window...

According to several online sources the blue bird is a widely accepted symbol of cheerfulness, happiness, and prosperity. One source even suggested that it is a symbol of fertility. I've never seen one in person although my mother says she sees them all the time and she only lives 15 miles west of me. If you're celebrating Easter this weekend - have a good one! 

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The Great Gatsby Premier

I am very eager for the premier of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio and crew. I've seen a trailer or two and it looks pretty spectacular. I just hope they didn't make it too over the top. The original was pretty perfect. I'm obsessed with anything from the '20s. Prom dress shopping this last weekend I saw a lot of dresses that Daisy would love! This is a little something I put together this week with a bit of art deco influence.

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boston gift show 2013 recap

The Boston Gift Show was a flurry of preparation and participation. Last week at this time I was knee deep in black paint and styrofoam – adding the final touches to my booth display – my samples all polished and packaged. I was so intimidated by the 32 page set up manual that the show coordinators had provided I was afraid for sure I was going to upset a Teamster somehow and get booted out of the show for violating union rules.This did not happen of course. People couldn't have been nicer. On Friday night we brought my booth walls to the Boston Convention Center and built my surroundings. It went up fairly easy. The following day under a blanket of exhaustion mixed with hesitation we finished our set up. Oh sure, we had our moments. The silhouette  heads that I had so carefully engineered to display my necklaces and had secured on the walls kept getting caught on sleeves and ladders and dropping down like defeated warriors. Thank goodness for glue and double sided tape. On Sunday morning Debbie (my Booth Buddy) and I were excited by the crowd of attendees outside the doors of the Exhibition Hall – were some of them here for us? The doors opened and they poured in. We were two booths from the door - good or bad we wondered. Good - I guess. We had our fair share of questions and interested shop owners - many had come expressly to see our owls which had been featured on the cover of the show book. And we took orders! And accepted challenges for future projects and special theme motifs requested by shop owners and museum directors with niche markets. That's the beauty of creating your own product. I'm alway open to new inspirations for figurative canes and happy to conquer a new image! On day two out of the gate we were greeted by a couple of gentlemen representing a well known magazine - seeking out new prospects for their catalog. They asked lots of questions and took notes and business cards. What a great way to start the day. A visit from some friendly gallery collaborators prompted an invitation to participate in an event they're hosting in June. We chatted it up with shop owners galore.Towards the end of the day a buyer from one of Boston's prominent museums' gift shops paid a call - noting interest in may of our flower themed pieces to complement an upcoming exhibit. Tuesday brought a mixture of rain and snow and as anticipated put a huge damper on the attendance level. There were a few die hards that came in but I used much of the time to network with my booth neighbors and do some online research on some of the leads we had picked up and scouted for potential new accounts. Wednesday the traffic had increased. "Vultures" is the term I coined to categorize a selection of the mornings visitors – It seems it's common practice for some folks to come in on the last day to seek out show samples as cost. I'm not talking about other vendors with whom you share a camaraderie having spent the last four days together - I'd gladly share my wares with them. These are people who don't actually ever intend to place orders nor do they actually own shops or businesses most likely - just looking for a deal. No thanks. Breakdown began at 1. The Convention Center literally turns the overhead lights out while everyone dismantles. Many have hours of work but luckily my booth broke down quickly. Once again those damn silhouette heads gave us a run for our money as the wind would catch their light weight and send them off into the air as we headed for our car. We tracked them down and stuffed everything in the car - had it expanded somehow? All in all I had a blast. I will probably do it again next year and am considering sharing a booth with another vendor in another major venue as well.
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last day of the boston gift show - i hate to see you go!

Sadly, today is the last day of the Boston Gift Show. It seems as though its been my been my focus for so long now – I'm definitely going to miss the entire experience once it's over at 1:00 this afternoon. I would consider it a huge success. We took orders - which is key. We networked with vendors, buyers, reps, suppliers and had a great time in the process. Debbie and I met gallery directors, museum shop owners, specialty catalog developers and more. Even with a slow day yesterday due to the lousy weather I had fun chatting it up with my booth neighbors from California, New Jersey and Seattle. A lot of opportunities presented themselves and it's going to be really interesting to see which of them pan out - hopefully all of them! I'll keep you posted on each one as they develop. 

A snapshot of my assembled booth up top. A quick pic of me in the booth taken by Debbie.
And a shot of the booth from a bird' s eye view.
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new bracelets!

Hooray! My samples of our new children's hook bracelets have arrived! They look fantastic. I'm looking forward to introducing them this weekend. We're still in production with our jewelry caster to produce a larger version for adults. They'll be available for sale next month. And yes! I will have a precious little cross and in time for the First Communion season.

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a band of bald headed women

More booth talk. Down to the final touches at this point. Pulling off a booth on a budget is no small task and requires lots of man hours and creativity. The positive side is that my booth will be like no other and will definitely have the Boston Baked Beads stamp on it. I'm enjoying the process and won't know what to do with all my time after the show's over. Hopefully filling wholesale orders?

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Don Draper

When the creators of Mad Men tried and failed to recreate the look and feel of a poster from the '60's - they went back to the source and hired 75 year old illustrator Brian Sanders. He worked on the TWA campaign back in his prime. Or was it his prime - who designates prime anyway? I love this story. Although Mr. Sanders is still active in his profession it must've felt awesome to receive that call regarding the project. Go Brian!

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Sample Weekend

My time management skills have really been put to the test over the past couple of months. I'm feeling pretty good though. Next Sunday is the first day of the Boston Gift Show. I've got most of my samples together. Just waiting on something really awesome that (I'm hoping) will be delivered tomorrow. There's definitely more work to be done but I'm confident I can get it done.

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boston baked bangle

As the sun starts to descend in the sky, the beach starts to grow a little more quiet. The tide heads out and the quick stroll to the water's edge now requires some endurance. A mixture of salt and sand decorates your skin that sports the special glow that only a relaxing day at the beach can deliver.

And that is the name of this bracelet. 

Only kidding of course - but that's exactly what I think of when I look at this bangle. Wishful thinking I guess. March is famous for its grey skies but the promise of sunshine and warmth in the months to come keeps us going. Before you know it we'll be wishing we invested all the energy yammering about the cold long days of winter into toning a few muscles and shedding a few pounds – oh...maybe that's just me.

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big cartel vs. etsy

I list some of my products on Etsy. The upside is that there's a decent amount of traffic that comes through...not necessarily buyers – but it's nice to be part of a community that appreciates each other's work. I don't get a chance to get on it too much. It's definitely one of those sites where you could lose yourself for hours. Which brings me to the downside. Potential clients get lost in there! Lured by the promise of fun product linked from the website they've been perusing - one thing leads to another and they've gone from polymer clay jewelry to vintage headbands to silkscreened prints... you get the picture. It is however pretty useful for one of a kind pieces and it's very inexpensive. I'd say for me it doesn't generate a ton of sales but it's a decent marketing tool.

I just recently subscribed to Big Cartel. I've had my eye on this site for quite a while and jumped in the other day. They provide templates that can be customized fairly easily. And with some knowledge of coding  - one can really tailor the look of their online shopping site to their exact specifications. I plan on tackling that project over the next month or two but am pretty happy with the pristine look I've got happening at the moment. I'll be adding more product soon - hint: bracelets. Just waiting for my newest samples to arrive from the caster. 

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bangles and bagels

Bagels signify weekends to me - and maybe muffins as well. Those rare indulgent moments when you get to put your feet up - maybe read the paper and drink a big cup of coffee. For the record – none of that happened over the past few days... 

I'm onto a new book on CD - The Cruelest Month. How fitting. Saturday was spent working on my latest shipment of brass bangles. I get engrossed in the story and lots of work gets done though - that's a good thing.  

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the anticipation that the month of march brings

Well, March is here. This means 3 weeks til the start of spring but more importantly the Boston Gift Show, a trade show for the gift industry, begins on March 17 – which is also St. Patrick's Day. Two weeks to pull it all together and get my booth and samples complete for the big opening. This is my first foray into the wholesale world - wish me luck!

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folk art sunshine

I used translucent clay on the face and I like how it resulted in an illustrated – almost watercolor – effect. Translucent clay can be tough to work with. It manages to find trace scraps of clay hidden in the ridges of your finger prints. But it produces some really nice results. If you back it with white it adds a little glow.

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