Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show- First Round

Who could resist this wonderful piece?

It looks good from both sides.

I thought that this agate looked like one of my lampwork beads.

We'll be selling these online and in Alaska at shows.

I can hardly skip a chance to go to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show since it's only 90 miles from our house. In the past I would fly down from Alaska to load up on supplies. I couldn't imagine anything more exciting than acres of beads, gems and minerals of every shape and from all over the world. The timing was perfect for a mid-winter escape from the darkness and cold of an interior Alaskan winter. Running into fellow Alaskan designers and bead shop owners is not uncommon among the 40 plus shows that the gem show offers. I would act as if I were on someone else's expense account and load up on enough supplies that I would sometimes need to buy an extra piece of luggage at a thrift store to haul it all home.

The first few years I went I was trying to sell at a bead show and shared a booth with a fellow Alaskan beadmaker and David Bennett. It was a "learning experience" and you all know what that means as far as sales go. It was maddening to be stuck inside a venue selling nothing when there were gorgeous clear sunny desert days beckoning us outside. I've done better at a one day farmer's market in Alaska! The third year I thought that at least I could do an outdoor show and enjoy the benefits of sunny weather while I was set up. This time we were set up at ABC Direct, a local bead store in Tucson and wouldn't you know it, it was so damn cold and windy that I was wearing my Alaska down jacket, Mountain Heather hat and gloves and shoppers seemed to be discouraged from venturing to outdoor shows. Snow was dusting the mountains around Tucson.

Three strikes did it, I vowed to just go as a buyer from then on and really enjoy the time and get to see everything without the time constraints of working around my show schedule.

It was a good strategy and so much more enjoyable. There was even an unexpected benefit one year. I had met "a man of interest" in Fairbanks two weeks previous to the show back in "05. I was fascinated that he was a licensed gemologist and archaeologist and was delighted to find out that he'd be attending the show during the same time frame as myself. We exchanged email addresses and that was that. My sister came along to the show with me to keep me company and visit. I had mentioned that there was a man I was interested in that would be attending the show but I had no idea how we might connect. (that was before either of us had deigned to get cellphones) Whether he checked his email while away from home was unknown and I didn't have regular access to internet either then. (my, times have changed)

My sister and I were sitting in a shuttle bus at the main lot. You need to realize that there are dozens of shuttle buses going to up to 40 different shows and it's kind of a cluster%*#! for sure.
We were sitting in the back row of a nearly full bus and there was somewhat of a delay. the bus driver said, "Wait, one more person" and Mr. Alaska Gem man sits right down beside me! I whisper to my sister "That's the guy!"

We only had the bus ride to converse as he was meeting up with some other folks and we were headed to a different show. He looked flustered and sweaty and late for an important date.

The funny thing was that just a few rows ahead some people heard us talking and say "Are you Kimberly Rogers from Alaska? We've been looking for you" It turned out to be some Skagway, Alaska folks that wanted to see my work for their shop Heart of Broadway a gallery in Skagway that carries distinctive handmade jewelry.

This was quite a fortuitous shuttle bus ride as I ran into Mr. Alaska Gem two weeks later at Fred Meyer store in Fairbanks at 8:30 AM when I was expediting for my job. He lived 100 miles away which made it even a more unlikely meeting. That's when he asked me out and we've been together ever since! And Heart of Broadway picked me up as an artist as well! Two years later we married and three years later David and I decided to split our time between Alaska and Arizona.

Back to the gem show story now. Now that we have easy access to the gem show I have been scaling back on my purchasing for a number of reasons. There is so much to see but I feel I'm almost getting numb to the abundance of offerings and some of the shows seem repetitive. The quality has cheapened in many of the bead shows ( Not the artisan crafted bead shows) There are more and more of the stone beads of gaudy colors and dyed imitations everywhere you look. It quickly becomes visual overload for me and I usually get a headache and low backache after several hours of the visual stimulation. After the third or fourth booth displaying the same wonderful minerals or geodes the size of small people I reach my saturation point yet I know that I could never skip a show either. It draws me in like an intoxicant. And I get the subsequent hangover from it I guess. It certainly isn't as much fun when I'm not buying much either!

Yesterday we primarily attended the mineral show since the big shows hadn't yet started. Many booths were still unpacking and setting up and we took advantage of the pre-crowd shopping.
I did spot a good deal on some ammonite slices that were pre-packaged in a sweet little bamboo box that we'll be offering at some of out Alaskan shows that allow resale.

I bought an agate that reminded me so much of one of my lampwork beads that I had to get it. It's about 6 times the size of one of my beads though. I frugally bought some needed supplies of small zip lock baggies and some Beadalon stringing wire too.

My biggest impulse buy was the table made from a Chinese cypress tree root- Haung Yang. I couldn't resist it and he was offering a reasonable price that sealed the deal.

All in all I was proud of myself for exhibiting restraint in spending. We'll be heading to a bead show on Sunday for some more findings and and again next week to the AGTA at the Convention Center and GJX where my husband likes to see the latest offerings in the gem world and has been attending for the last 20 years.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today's ATC's

Ready to Travel



It was time to dive in and make some more ATC/ACEO's. It's been awhile. Last month I had cut up some monoprints that I had made back in '91 when I took a printmaking class at UAF with Todd Sherman. They weren't anything spectacular, more like line and color studies, experiments really. I thought that they'd make nice backgrounds for artist trading cards. I've been collecting images from the thrift store and antiques stores lately so these are the culmination of the two.

The Shift

Now that I'm getting my feet wet again in the blog world, I'm noticing an interesting shift.
All that energy I was putting into my Etsy shop, (or guilt about neglecting to put more energy into the Etsy shop as the case may be), I'm finding a much more satisfying outlet from the blogging and sharing that's opening up for me. I'm much more excited about mine and other people's art when it's about the creative process rather than sales.

My venture into Etsy has been rewarding and gone through it's own developments. Originally I joined to be able to have a public shopping cart for my lampwork bead website. I must admit that it did give me more exposure. I rarely got hits on my site for orders and the communication between the time of interest in an order and a sale coming to fruition was frustrating and often resulted in no sale at all. I definitely got more orders through Etsy but have found that the prices I was accustomed to getting in Alaska were not so competitive with the Etsy market.

I started adding vintage buttons and some other vintage items that I'd been holding on to and suddenly I was getting more hits and sales. The Numinosity site soon morphed into a vintage site and I found the need to set up a new shop for NuminosityBeads.

I've come to realize that for online lampwork bead sales you need to be somewhat of a pro at photographing beads and jewelry with a lightbox to be able to capture the sparkling qualities of your creations as well as capturing customers. Somehow that has been on my "must do" list for quite some while. For the time being I use a scanner which delivers passable results but not what Etsy lampwork customers are accustomed to seeing these days. You only have a moment to wow them with your pics. You certainly can't catch the drape of a finished jewelry piece on a scanner.

So through all this I find myself shifting toward altered art perhaps due to the wealth of tattered, rusted and vintage goodies that seem to be laying at my feet everywhere I go.
I've decided to afford the luxury of following this path wherever it may lead ( sometimes quite literally as in my last post).

I'll still be making beads and jewelry for my in-person sales and galleries but can't quite seem to go full-tilt businesswoman with it for the time being. Perhaps with the slowing of sales in this current economy I'm putting less focus on sale driven creating too.

All of the time I spent lurking in the forums on Etsy is being transformed toward time on reading other's blogs and feeling my creative flow spilling over with excitement. I'm infinitely more inspired by photos of other's work rather than shops and promos.

I feel as if I've entered a new world of sharing and possibilities, every day a new avenue to explore. I'm excited!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Back to Business... Beads That Is

I used silver leaf in these beads and was playing around with some of the new CIM colors I had ordered from Frantz Art Glass

These lentils are a good size for earring sets.

These two didn't quite fit in with the rest of today's batch. The nugget on the right was made with the nub ends of some of my silver reactive glass that I couldn't hold anymore. I like to make some beads at the end of a session by using small pieces that are cluttering up the worktable.

It feels good to be back at the torch although my arms seem to be a bit sore from my first day back at the gym and yoga yesterday. I'm trying to get back into some of my pre-trip routines and keep the right balance of art and fitness for my well-being. In the past I've had to sacrifice one for the other and now that I'm "retired" I'm finally finding time for both.

Yesterday I went for a little walk for treasures. I didn't have to go far for some good rust pieces at the neighbor's vacant lot. A beautifully rusted lock and part of a red glazed ceramic figure caught my eye. Funny, I didn't see them last year when I was rummaging.

On down the street to the desert hills of ocotillo and cactus, I follow a trail, all within shouting distance of the road near our house. I find a stash (literally) of burlap and rags of Mexican blanket strips and rope, most likely from a smuggling operation. I find the burlap to be nicely tattered and aged and suitable for a future project. We're quite near the Mexican border so there's foot traffic occurring of different sorts occurring nearby. As my walk progressed I inexplicably start to find golfballs. I don't have any use for them in my art but I'm sure my husband might decide to put them to use one day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Some More Images Collected in Morocco

An assortment of booklets and posters and children's workbooks and litter picked up off the ground in Marrakech.

I'm not sure when this storybook was dated since it was in Arabic but the style looks to be 60's or earlier. I was captivated by these odd illustrations.

Time to Jump in Again

I brought a postcard size watercolor paper pad along on the trip and did a bit of drawing and experimenting with watercolor crayons and multicolored pencils. It's a medium that I haven't employed much over the years. I thought it would be a good stretching exercise since I wouldn't have any of my favorite supplies along with me. Portability was a priority in this case.

Several "Portals" I've encountered in my travels incorporated into one. A Balinese Gate, Moroccan archway and medieval doorway.

Inspired by a mosaic pattern.

Archways and hexagons and trying out a little of my indigo pigment from the souk.

"Doggerel" A snippet from a Moroccan storybook and applied to some backing from a thrift store frame, suitably distressed. I just love the expression on the dog's face.

I barely know where to start up on this blog again! I have so many images and stories, not to mention ideas I had before I even went on this journey. Here are a few sketches done at cafe tables and hotel rooms. The "Doggerel" piece I put together since I've been home just to get my feet wet.

I've had one good day in the bead studio and uploaded most of my picture albums and unpacked so I think I'm doing well so far. I have to catch up on other's blogs as well since my internet time was limited and I had so much to process already just catching up on my own days that were packed full of images and experiences. I thought it best just to jump in and post a few things just to get started again. We'll see how this unfolds!

Monday, January 11, 2010

AK~AZ Montage

This picture taken in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco is the quintessential montage of the two places I live, Arizona and Alaska both in the same frame. Prickly pear and snowy peak.
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Bridge over Muddy Water in the Atlas Mountains

I just loved the texture in this old wooden footbridge. There was lots of runoff from the snow and rain the day before.
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Tajine Pots

These were along the mountain village road advertising tajines in the roadside cafe. They steam the food in these clay pots. The entree is called a tajine, usually with chicken or vegetables with seasoning.
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My favorite Meal in Marrakech

This was Moroccan Salade Entirie a combination of a marinated carrot salad, a Moroccan tomato salad, potato salad and an eggplant and olive mixture, all nicely seasoned, my most favorite meal in the Medina at a little cafe.
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A Real Berber Rug

We went for a day trip to the mountains to the Village Ourika. This was one of my favorite rugs.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Quest

Something that I like to look for when I'm traveling is local ephemera. I really scored in Lyon, France at an antique bookstore. Most of the books with the vintage illustrations I crave were way too many Euros for this girl's budget and were too valuable to do any repurposing. I like to find pieces of books or workbooks and advertisements that have the quality vintage images from early to mid 1900's. ( I guess that turn of the century isn't such a specific term anymore!) I did manage to find a couple of booklets for an affordable price and asked the proprietor in my limited botched French whether there was any "ephemere" for under 5 Euros. Imagine my thrill when she went into the back room and brought out a huge folder with old advertisements and partial children's booklets for me to pore through! I got a collection of a series of wonderfully illustrated children's booklets from 1927 thru 1930. Classic French illustrations of little girls in flapper era dress. Since they were incomplete I got a tremendous deal on them. Even the proprietor agreed. My quest was complete!

Once we got to Morocco I was hoping to find a stationery type store that would have children's learning materials such as charts and illustrated workbooks as they seem to usually be illustrated in a more vintage style even if they are new.

I had an unfortunate experience on Etsy ordering some illustrated charts from India from Nutmegclick. She never delivered my order and then closed shop with many dissatisfied customers. I guess I'll have to go to India and pick some up myself one day.

Meanwhile I'm on the quest for something along that line from Morocco. On our second day in Marrakech we get caught up in a burro jam along a narrow alleyway. The burros are putting up a big fuss with braying and won't budge. It was rather hilarious to hear the motorbikes and cars honking to no avail. Somehow the clog broke free and there on my left was a display outside with charts and workbooks. I think I've gotten my husband into the quest as he insisted on getting a Berber/Arab language poster. I picked up a small religious booklet in Arab script with some illustrations that most likely are instructing boys about piety. I also found a story book with some really great illustrations, kind of out of proportion yet interesting and quite dated looking yet I couldn't determine if it was an old book or not but it had the quality of images I'm after. (I'm thinking that the illustrations were probably from the 60's) I even went back today to see if he had anymore and picked up another.

A bonus of the nearly 10 miles we walked today was some litter I picked up which were pages in Arabic from a child's workbook. I had a few people staring at me as I scrambled around in the light rain picking up the garbage.

Spices of Course!

Everybody has to take a picture of the wonderful spices!

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Pigments and Herbs in the Souk

This wonderful shop had ground pigments, herbs, oils, perfumes and salves and even a section of lucky charms for your amulet bag, strange furry bits and bats.
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Children's School in the Medina

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Prettiest Drainpipe Award Goes To....

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Skipping Up to the Present in Marrakech


I have so many countries and experiences to catch up with here, I think i'm going to have to wait until I get home because of limited internet time. Mostly I'm too wiped out by walking for miles shopping and taking in a caucophany of images and smells that I'm too wiped out to focus on blogging. I promise to have a more complete travelog later. For now I have some images that I'd like to share.
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Monday, January 4, 2010

Trying to Catch Up

It's been a fantastic whirlwind in Europe since we touched down on the 30th of December. I've barely had time to catch up with my blogging with the amount of things we've been trying to cram in. Couple that with an unfamiliar PC (I'm a Mac girl), getting to know my way around resizing and publishing my pictures with an unfamiliar program and not very much time with wifi so far. I did actually do some journaling but I think it stopped on New Year's day and now I'm getting behind.

We spent our first night in a quaint hotel in the old part of downtown Madrid in the Hotel Santander. It was like a 14 foot cube with high ceilings and old style wallpaper with dusty roses and a silky satin texture and with parquet floors. Regal salmon colored draperies and shuttered windows separated us from the street noise. Fortunately were were off of an alleyway which would prove to be a good thing when the New Year's activities ensued.

The highlight of the first day was finding the "Museo de Jamon" - The Ham Museum which had hams of many types with the most expensive Iberian ham which I believe are fed solely on acorns and sell for about $35 a pound. You can tell by the black hooves that they are the real deal. The beer and sandwiches are inexpensive by European standards. A person can experience sticker shock on the dollar to Euro conversion.
I learned that Spain seems to be all about the ham and ham sandwiches.

We wanted to have more of a sit down and relaxed dinner and found "Lacon" which offered a meat platter with pork, sausage, steak, and lamb with fires and the nicest little green roasted peppers.

On the last day of the year we ventured out to see the Prado Museum, the most famous museum in Madrid. We had rested up well and browsed a few shops before heading over to the museum. It seems to be the story of my life that every big city that I try to see the main attraction I find it closed. In Amsterdam it was the Riijks Museum, Bangkok, the Kings Palace and now we arrive at the Prado Museum 20 minutes before closing. And New Years day they were also closed. Maybe when we return to Madrid I'll get a chance. We were able to find a smaller exhibition called "Tears of Eros" at the nearby Thyssen Museum that had works of Warhol, Dali, Munch, Picasso, Cezanne, Mapplethorpe Avedon and Rubens and Henri Rousseau.

New Year's Eve in Madrid at Sol Plaza is a wild event. There must have been 20 to 50,000 people milling about the center. People were selling bottles of champagne on the street which I came to learn was for spraying on people, not to drink. It was freezing temperatures out and it was only the crowd that kept me warm. I couldn't believe the amount of debris left behind after the celebration but crews had it totally cleaned up by morning. Many people were wearing crazy wigs and groups of men were clustered singing drinking songs. During the countdown it's customary to eat grapes so there were plenty of grape sellers along our walk to the center.

Next installment- The trip to Alcala and Barcelona then France- Avignon, Vienne, and Lyon