Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slowness and Snack Shushing

Sometimes I feel like I am swimming against the current with too much that I want to do and not enough time or energy. For example, I really want to put images on my website of my new paintings. I have mentioned this a million times, and mentioning it does make me feel like I am closer to achieving it, but really, I am no closer. That's life, I guess. I hope that when I am ready to die that I don't feel like I have so much I want to do... 
maybe I should just surrender.

Above is a plate/bowl hybrid that I am making.  It is made with recycled newspaper and other bits and pieces that I am painting on to seal it, making it waterproof (hopefully).  

I am not sure why he is shushing me.  
What about black pepper-flavored snacks make ninjas shush people?  

Just a quick blog for today.  
Thanks to Michelle for her endless and amazingly helpful comments!  
Thanks also to my other lovely comment writers (and for Grammy's e-mails)!
Thank you! Thank you! 
I am starting to feel like I am not writing letters and throwing them into an empty abyss.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Looking, Watching and Exploding

This is a picture I took on my way home last week.  
The building on the left is an elementary school I teach at.  
Beautiful flowers, huh?

No matter how often I clean off my studio table, I somehow end up with this much room to work with.  I guess I just have to trust my natural process and don't fight the tidal wave of craft that takes over my space.  As you can see, I still try to wear my apron 24/7.  
I promise not to get paint on it!!!!

For my birthday, I bought a beautiful owl clock from the thrift store.  It is AMAZING.  It is tacky in a perfect way and the eyes move back and forth with the seconds.  I feel like I have a new pet that talks to me and watches me while I am making.  
The thing I am holding is a bracelet I was commissioned to make by my friend Charlie.  She is a fashionable English teacher in a city near here.  She requested crazy, brightly colored and a bit of tackiness.  She came to the right woman!

This is a perfect example of why I am in Japan.  Even the snack food bags are beautiful in just the way I like them.  These were delicious, by the way.  They tasted like healthy "Cheetos" because they are made of beans (hence the giant bean-being).

Our buddies Eric and Mai!  They are showing off two pairs of earrings I made. I this this photo is the "kaboom" that Mai's shirt warns about. The paintings, and Mai and Eric's shirts are explosive!

The painting in the middle is a glance at my newer work. Much more space!
I am working on documenting all of my finished paintings and posting them on my website. I teach two full days of elementary school tomorrow and Wednesday so I am pretty sure I will be a tired lady, but I am excited to get newer work out into Internet Land.

Time to go search for plane tickets!  I get to go home in July after almost a year.  Yay!  

Thursday, May 22, 2008

an apron and a little needed help

I received this BEAUTIFUL apron in the mail last night for my birthday from the Dunn family in Tampa Florida.  Thanks guys!  It is perfect and it makes me want to cook AND to make aprons myself (perhaps with Japanese fabric?)  This apron has love birds on it.  I love the style.  It is very vintage and it has two cute but very practical pockets on the front.  Yay!  I wore it all evening, and then this morning, after Mikel took this photo, I almost didn't take it off before going to work.  

"Flower Soup"

The "needed help" which I mention in the title is this:
I have the worst photography skills.  Ok, not the worst, but when I think about what I want my photos to look like,  I can's seem to find a fool-proof way to take images that will look funky, beautiful and detailed all in one.  I am talking, of course, about my jewelry photos.  I want my images to be as inspiring as those in a book I REALLY want (and am looking to buy soon) called Bazaar Style.  I also want them to be consistent without being exactly the same; in other words, I want them to all portray the feeling that I feel when I make and wear my jewelry, and the way that I want other people to want to feel.  I want to inspire creativity, making other people want to wear my jewelry and to make their own art as well.  
How do I do that?  
If anyone has a tip or suggestion for my photos I would really REALLY appreciate it.  How do you want to see my jewelry?  What is most interesting?  Funky?  Informative? Any suggestion would be helpful because I am a little clueless.  Maybe Mikel has some new ideas.....
I have been checking out amazing crafters on ETSY for ideas about photos and everything, really. 

I also found a cool interview of a crafter named Allyson Hill.  I like her work (the image above: a garbage bag for your car), but I like her story of success even more because she is a full-time crafter and single mother of a 7-year-old in Upstate NY.  Cool photos and cool life, I think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birthday, Beads and Buddies

I didn't know that Mikel was taking this photo of me AND my sculpture, but think it is a nice shot of my cool new boots, the view from our apartment and my funky new Japan-style sweater.  

This is a cool little assemblage I made.  It isn't a professional shot, but it is playful anyway.

Ninja boots!  They finally came in the mail!!
These are called "Tabi."  They are worn by construction workers mostly, but I think they used to be worn by ninjas.  They are very comfortable and functional.  I might indulge in a polka-dot pair.  Check out more at this website: Sou Sou

This is a rushed, blurry image from the sale in Matsumoto on Saturday.  The reason I look like I am rushed is because I was.  The talent show ran long and the security guard kicked us all out. In a frantic last ten minutes (as about six people helped me put my stuff back in boxes and bags) I sold a few pairs of earrings to some nice English teachers who were patient with my frantic-ness.

The sale went pretty well. I didn't sell as much as I would have hoped, but I did get a lot of positive feedback, and I gave away many business cards.  I also met some really cool people.  It is a great feeling to be able to communicate in the language that I am fluent in, especially with interesting, worldly people who live and work abroad.  

This sale also planted the seed for a possible beading workshop taught by me in the next few months.  I hope it works out!  I have always wanted to teach workshops to people who are enthusiastic for learning a creative craft.

The coolest part of the weekend was that Sunday was my 25th birthday!  Mikel and I had a great day.  We ate Indian food at a place we love and bought some cool new clothing at a flea market in the city.  I'll post pictures soon! This was a great weekend for a birthday!! 

Thursday, May 15, 2008


***One last reminder***

My sale at Beaded Weeds will end tomorrow and I will take all of the jewelry off the site.  I will load new pieces soon after, but if you have been eyeing something for a while, grab it (with free shipping!) before someone else does in Matsumoto 
tomorrow night.

Otherwise, check back soon for new pieces on ETSY.

Have a great day!

Stress Mess

This is a bracelet I made for my sister, Jaime, for her graduation last year.  I think the photo looks so nice.  It is on the cover of my press release booklet.  I decided to chill out and not try and finish the press release for this weekend.  I kinda had a little... okay, BIG stress breakdown last night.  It is a little too ambitious and I still haven't even priced my pieces yet!  I have about 100 pieces of jewelry to price before we leave for The Moto tomorrow morning.  Priorities!

Good News!
My new website is in action!  
It is a bit under construction, but for now it connects my online personality at one site.  
I am so excited about it.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Worm Teeth and Sweaty Stealth

Well, it's official:  I have more than one cavity.  I have been bragging for years that I only had one, and that it was the fault of my braces, not me.  Fortunately (unfortunately?) thanks to the magic of the Japanese dentist office I went to yesterday, I now know that I have three.  I even got to take home detailed pictures of my, "worm teeth" (get it?  holes in teeth as if worms ate through them...eww!)  

The visit was actually quite spectacular, despite my bad news.  Even though the dentist and the hygienists didn't speak much English, I got by on my skills of nodding a lot and trying to remember what I normally do in the dentist chair (try not to breath through my mouth when the mirror is in there, don't look at the light...)  They took x-rays and the detailed photos of my bouche (mouth in French?  Feel free to correct me.  My computer doesn't have French spellcheck... or does it?)   They put the digital photos on to a computer which then showed up on the computer screen in front of me.  AMAZING!  The tiny black dots on my teeth were way too big for comfort and the dentist was able to talk/mime the problems to me as we looked at my teeth together.  

Then, my top teeth were luxuriously cleaned with delicious apple flavored tooth paste (for some reason I have to get the bottoms cleaned next week.  I guess we ran out of time.)  It wasn't a normal teeth cleaning.  It was like my teeth went to the spa!

The last time... okay, the only time that I went to the spa, I dropped $80.00 after a 50% discount.   So you can imagine how floored I was when I was charged about $15.00 for my appointment yesterday.  Woohoo! I don't know how much it will be to fix my worm teeth, but I am not worried anymore.

My new business cards!!

I finally finished designing my press release for my jewelry and my new business cards.  I am trying to be stealthy so that I can use the printers and scanners at school.  The stress of it makes me sweat (okay, what doesn't make me sweat?)  It's like I have a twisted flower-pedal-plucking going on on my head, "I'm a bad kid.  I'm not a bad kid. I'm a bad kid.  I'm not a bad kid."  I have pretty much come to the conclusion that I should just buy my own laser printer so I can sweat at home. 

Mikel spent hours last night filing and wiggling my earring hooks while I worked on my computer business.  I finally went to bed at 11:00 when Mikel started to work on my website (It'll be up soon!!)  I think he went to bed around 1:00 am.  What would I do with out him?   

Thanks Mikey!!

Also, thanks to Madame Hirota for translating my press release into Japanese for me!  When I figure out how to scan it onto my lovely press release I will be psyched!

The Jewelry Show Preparation Marathon continues!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Teeth and Time

It is always insane before a show.  I love it but I am exhausted!

I am on my way to the dentist soon (my first time in Japan!) and then back to work.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Will coffee help?

A sea creature, perhaps.

Mmmm.  On a diet?  
These little desserts won't make you gain an ounce... well, maybe they will if they are hanging on your ears (I'm not exactly sure how much they weigh.)

New earrings from Craft Land!

I have been working like a crazy lady for the upcoming sale on Saturday.  Of course, right as I get this fire is under my buttocks, I suddenly have to start teaching elementary school too!  Ahhh!  
Deep breath....

Tonight's "to do" list:
1. Make an earring tree
2. Start designing my press release 
3. Decide how many more earrings I should make 
(I have 79 pairs so far) and make some.
4. Eat dinner
5.  Listen to Lord of The Rings on the ol' Ipod 
(Harry Potter needs a break)
6. Chat with Mikey
7.  Make sure I have everything for elementary school tomorrow!!!
7.  Sleep

Here I go!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Babies, Food and Baby Food

Mikel often laughs at how my brain is almost always occupied by two things: food and babies.

I could be stuffed to my gills, and still be scoping out the next restaurant to dine at, or the next weird vegan experiment to cook up. It borders on crazy and I totally blame my mom for it (who does the same thing!) But she was also the one who told me that you can be crazy as long as you know you`re crazy... I think there is something more to the wise words, but lets just leave them where they suit me best.

Onto babies: My ongoing obsession can only be blamed on hormones. (Notice I never blame myself for my own neurosis. At least I know it, right?) My uterus could be hitting me over the head and I wouldn`t get the hint any clearer than I do now: "Ok, I want a baby! I get it!" Which is closely followed by Mikel saying, "OK, you want a baby! I get it!"

I have about two dreams a week about having babies (my most recent told me that I will be having a boy first! Wouldn`t that be wild?) If I am not dreaming of having babies I meander through half-awake moments in the morning pondering, "when I have a baby, it will be so fun to make baby food. If the kid doesn`t like it, Mikel and I can make it into a soup or something." You can totally laugh. I am as I am typing this. Not only is that a hilarious thing to ponder when I don`t even have a baby yet, but, in case you didn`t catch it, it seamlessly combined both of my obsessions. Talk about efficient neurosis.

After I woke up from my fantasies of blended carrots and pears this morning, Mikel and I ate green tea pancakes. Matcha is my favorite flavor in Japan. If you can`t find it where you are, let me know! I`ll send you something to try! Anyway, we watched the rest of Fahrenheit 451 that we started last night (A superb movie, by the way. Many parts were filmed backwards, and then played the other way so actors movements are strange, almost mechanical.) After movie time, we hit the ground running. By that I mean, Mikel went and secluded himself in our tatami bedroom-turned-music-studio, and I hunched myself over Craft Land. When I am old I am going to be a hunchback. Maybe I can live in Paris...

I am really excited right now. I found a way to rationalize indulging in the miniature food that I love so much (ie. Rainbow Deli, etc.) I started to use them to make jewelry! So kawai (cute, in Japanese- meant to be said in a super high girly voice.) So fun, so weird. Just the right combo to make some stellar wearable art. Sure I may be the only person who wants to wear them, but how is that any different than usual? Just kidding. I have to have some humor about slow times in business making. What would the business be if not based on me having fun in my studio?

No pics today. Sorry. As a visual person, posting no pics should be against the rules, but as it is a fully craft-tastic day that started with a good example of my baby and food obsessions, I thought, what the heck!

By the way, I changed my blog yesterday so I can now accept anonymous comments. Sorry if you tried to leave one before and it got rejected. No one is more sorry than me since I pretty much assume that the only people who read this rambling thing is Michelle, Mikel, MV and Gramma (Hi guys! ...Err, girls and guy!) and if I do actually get a comment I do a little happy dance.

Finally, I have to remind all of you lovely readers about my sale at Beaded Weeds:
Beaded Weeds is a lovely place to shop for handmade, wearable and usable art.
Come check out

And remember, you`re not hardcore unless you live hardcore.
(Free kiss for anyone who can tell me what movie that`s from!)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Oh, to quit my day job...

A little eye-candy to start!

Today, I read an article about a man who sells soap on ETSY who was able to quit his day job.  Check it out!  It is so inspiring and a little intimidating.  He said that in order to quit your day job, sales must be steady and finances must be taken into close consideration.  OF COURSE!  

But how do I get my sales to be steady?  Is my jewelry too crazy or too expensive to get regular sales?  It can't be!  (pep talk time...) I sell my jewelry well at shows where people can see the jewelry in person.  And the my lovely customers on ETSY have given me great reviews and feedback! (Thank you!)

So what's the next step?  
More shows.  More marketing.  More follow-ups with customers.  
(my new mantra?) 

The craft sale I will take part in on May 17th in Matsumoto will be a great experience to see what the market is like here in Japan.  We'll see!  (I am also excited for the show because my handsome artist husband, Mikel, will probably be performing his music at the associated talent show!!  You can hear his music and see his art at his website
 and on his Myspace page... which I can't find at the moment...  (Mikel, feel free to put it is my comments section for peeps who want to hear your sweet tunes!  Why don't I know your Myspace name?)

I am happy to say that it is Friday which means my "day job" is over and my "real job" can start:  I'll be cranking out new creations all weekend to get ready for Matsumoto.  Whatever new creations I don't sell in the Moto, I will post on ETSY, so check back soon!  

****Until then, don't forget**** 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Super Burger and Santa-in-Training

One more reminder about the SALE (free shipping to anywhere!!) at 
until May 17.

Here's Mikey looking at a HUGE wooden Buddha in Nara.  We drove about five hours to get to Nara and drove eight hours to get home... figure that one out.  You can't?  The math makes perfect sense if you are me and you continually get lost in Nagoya which happens to be on the way to Nara.  
There are very few things which will make me lose my cool.  One is computers.  The other is trying to follow Japanese road signs.  They make NO SENSE.  They label things which aren't on my map and tell me to turn right when there isn't a road to turn right on.  IT MAKES ME CRAZY.
Anyway, my craziness was SO worth it.  We got to see amazing things this weekend in Nara.  One was the sweet Buddha you see above.  It is sitting next to the biggest Buddha in the world which, for no apparent reason, I didn't photograph.  Oh well.  At least we get a nice view of the side of Mikey's lovely head.

The hole that this kid is climbing through is the size of the nostril of the largest Buddha in the world (in Todaiji Temple).  I heard that if you can climb through it you will have good luck.  Talk about a reason to go on a diet!  Or not.

Friend:  Oh, you're on a diet!
Other Friend: Yea, I was inspired to do so in Nara.
Friend: Nara?  Where the heck is that? 
Other Friend: It's in Asia somewhere.  
Friend: And the diet?
Other Friend:  I want to be able to crawl through Buddha's nostril.
Friend:  Oh.....

If you want to feed reindeer, go to Nara.  I think this is where Santa hires his buddies: Dasher, Dancer, and company.

Here we have a Santa in training.

Have you heard of Love Hotels?  They fill the need of couples who actually want to have sex in Japan.  Many people live with their extended families, sharing one house with sometimes literally, paper-thin walls.  If they feel the urge, all they have to do is drive up to this oh-so-sexy love hotel (Flower Style!) and check in anonymously.

We didn't stay in a Love Hotel, as tempting as it was.  We slept in our car.  Other than being afraid that we would get in trouble, it was quite comfortable and totally on the budget side of travel.  Don't laugh.  We really did think it was comfortable.  Honest. 
Anyway, here I am in what I like to think of as a transitional outfit.  I am not really still in PJ's but I am not quite presentable in public yet.  

Finally, SUPER BURGER!  Of course, I am pretending that it is made of soy even though it probably says beef or pork in Japanese (the bliss of ignorance).  Anyway, have you seen lettuce this amazing?  It's practically flying into my mouth!  

But what did we really eat this weekend in the oldest capital of Japan?  Indian food and European-inspired picnics (bread, cheese and tomatoes...)  I must say, however, Japan has the BEST road snacks.  Being able to buy fresh sushi at any convenience store is truly magic.  Sweet potato chips?  Burdock root chips?  Pepper flavored rice crackers?  

It's not that I don't like Japanese restaurants, I just can't pass up genuine Indian food.  The kitchen staff didn't even speak Japanese!  They spoke in their own language (Hindi? I didn't ask) to each other and in English to the Japanese servers.  

Anyway, I get enough genuine Japanese food for school lunches (Today's menu:  Bread, Jam, soup, tofu salad, and some strange mixture of cabbage and meat bits that I picked out.  Oh and milk too.  Mmmmm...)  I wonder what Mikel ate at our other school today. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Business Bug

First, I would like to mention that Beaded Weeds on ETSY is having a SALE until May 17th. Check it out!

(After May 17th, I will be changing my inventory a lot because I will hopefully sell a lot of my currently posted pieces at a show in Matsumoto.)

So, here I am, in beautiful Japan, and I am homesick for Vermont! What I wouldn`t give to walk into The Bees Knees in Morrisville and hear the funky, young employees ask me in English if I would like my coffee "for here," to which I would of course answer "yes!" and proceed to sit with my coffee and soy milk, my computer and lots of energy and time to work on Beaded Weeds. I have the Business Bug.

The Business Bug is not very different from the Baby Bug (which I also have!) Luckily I can start to feed my need to be self-employed while I am earning a steady income in Japan, living in a comfortable and affordable apartment, and able to absorb my visually stunning environment . By the time we are ready to move back to the States, my life will transition nicely into a self-employed, self-sustainable, self-satisfied style.

Earlier today, I read some of my older blogs. In many of them I commented on how slow it is to start a business. I still feel the same way, but I am starting to feel like it is a lot like learning a language: Every little bit I do or learn adds up.

Here are some things I learned recently:

1. The more I am open to new opportunities, the more opportunities come to me. It`s amazing!

2. The universe is bountiful and limitless! Therefore, whatever I need already exists. I just have to change my thinking so I can see it.

3. Visual language can cross barriers where spoken language cannot. When I have nothing I am able to say in Japanese to my friends or co-workers, comments about things I see are enough for us all to feel like we are relating to each other.

Anyway, I have a four day weekend starting tomorrow! Yay! Mikel and I will do come camping and hiking, but I look forward to more time in Craft Land!! This Business Bug will make things happen!!!