Office Progress & Why I’m Hardly Working

When we moved into our house 7 1/2 months ago, we knew that we were going to have to do a lot of demolition to the basement in order for me to have my office down there. I have to be honest, it’s been really hard waiting for all of the work to be finished. After taking almost a year off for the entire moving process, I’m more than ready to get back to work, especially as the current situation is a little challenging:

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99% of my supplies and inventory are still in boxes in our sunroom. I know it looks like a mess and it’s super embarrassing to share with you, but no matter how much I organize it, moving boxes all around and the cat knocking stacks of boxes over just brings the chaos right back. My drafting table is my current desk in our living room, and the supplies I use almost daily are in the white bookcase under the printer to the side. It’s not ideal by any means, it’s frustrating because I can’t find anything, but it works(ish).

Over Christmas break we started the demolition by tearing down not one but TWO ceilings in my office area! The original ceiling boards are still up as we’re not sure if we’re going to have an open ceiling or put something up, so until we decide, we’ll leave them.

Basement before

ceiling progress

Over Spring break we started removing the paneling from around the walls. The plan was then to either paint the block or frame it in and drywall it….but the brakes on the entire project were slammed quick and brought the entire project to a halt: the entire west wall of the foundation was cracked and bowing in.

To say we were surprised isn’t completely accurate, unfortunately. When we looked at the house originally, there had been some water in the basement so we had the owners remove some paneling. There had been cracks and bowing in of the foundation on that wall, so they completely fixed it for us and the water disappeared, so we thought we were fine. Over the winter there was still some water coming in, especially during thaws or when it might rain, but it was definitely less than what had been there before. The newly found damage isn’t as bad as what was found last summer, thankfully. But we couldn’t proceed with my office until the wall was fixed.

Well, work started TODAY!!!!

Today it was bracing the wall, getting the hydraulics ready to push the wall back into place, and removing old, damaged mortar from between the blocks:

basement ready

The cracks look so much worse than they had been, and that’s because they removed a lot of the mortar.

Tomorrow they dig out the ground on the other side of the wall and push the wall back into place. They’ll also re-mortar the blocks, fill the ground with stone, and then top it off with dirt, but I’m not sure if that happens tomorrow or later. The little boys I babysat today were very excited to see this in the yard on our way into school this afternoon!

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So yeah, it’s hard sharing this, but I know a lot of you have been concerned that I haven’t been working or have wondered why I’m not posting new work as much as I had been. I want to be working, it’s just hard to be doing it when I don’t have the right tools easily accessible. The Drawing a Day Challenge was easy as I worked on a clipboard, so I’d put a pillow in my lap, prop the clipboard up, and be good to go. The newest Lord of the Rings drawing is a lot harder as the board is bigger, so it’s harder to balance and therefore takes twice as long to make any progress. I can do some Boathouse work, but it’s so much easier to do with my drafting table accessible. It’s easy to make prints, which is why I’m adding them like crazy to my Etsy shop. Updating listings and photos in my Etsy shop is something I’m working on a lot as well. Other things, not so much right now, but I’m trying as best as I can.

I thank you all so much for your patience with me, I know this has been a rough year, but I’m hopeful to be in my office in the next month or so and be really cranking through the projects!

Let me know if you want to see my designs for my future office space, and I’d be more than happy to do a blog post on that. It’s going to be a lot different from the old house as my office was in one area, and the studio was in another. In this house, they’ll be in the same room 🙂

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Painting Up A Storm!

Hey hey heyyyyyy!!!!!!

Yes, I’m still around, even if I’m hardly posting on any social media lately.

Life has gotten interesting around here, and I just haven’t been making my business a complete priority. I did take a couple hours this week to work on product photography:

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I’m hoping to get the pics edited and uploaded to Etsy this week sometime; my new work computer didn’t have a memory card reader, so we had to order one. Now that it’s here, I can get new and improved (and rebranded approved!) product pictures in my store. Woo hoo!

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Product Discontinuation: Wizard Jewelry

With my whole rebranding process and fine tuning my product line into one cohesive unit comes having to say good bye to some beloved products…

…including my Harry Potter inspired jewelry line.

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There are a couple reasons why they are the first to go. The main reason is that they don’t really match up with the whole landscape/nature feel I’m looking for now 😉

I’m also stopping them because I don’t want to get my Etsy store shut down. I’ve had to change all my keywords, descriptions and tags because a lot of companies are coming after small businesses who are using their licensed characters without permission, and Etsy is shutting down their shops. I don’t want to have to deal with that stress anymore, even if I’m not using brand names.

For the earrings, when they are gone, they are completely gone. The necklaces are a little more flexible; I do have more of the pendants available that I can restock again, but once my supplies and stock are fully gone, they’re gone for good.

Some of the pieces are already sold out; I think the red studs are already gone, but I think I do have some more dangles that are ready to be listed. I should have those up within the next couple days if I do in fact have any.

You can find the remaining product line in my Etsy store here.

 

I think I’ve asked this before, but which house do you belong to in the Harry Potter world? Hufflepuffs rule! There are three Hufflepuffs, one Gryffindor, and one Ravenclaw in my family 🙂

Rebranding: Display Progress!

One of my 2017 goals was to rebrand my business by changing up colors and making it feel more cohesive…and then a week later, I decided to rebrand the rebranding.

Confusing, I know.

I’m really loving the new direction the business is going in. I feel more confident with how it’s going to look, and I think the business as a whole will feel more cohesive. I tried to tailor most of the Drawing a Day challenge towards the landscape and natural feel, and honestly, the ones that fit that theme were my favorites and even lowered my stress levels while completing them!

I was excited to start making my vision a reality. The tablecloths and runners were already here, but the displays needed to be made. Here’s the look I was aiming for for my booth display:

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2016 Recap, 2017 Goals

What a year 2016 was!

While looking back at my goals for the year, I realized the year flew by so fast I wasn’t able to accomplish them all. However, I accomplished some things that I didn’t even think were possible when I was planning for the year.

My goals for the year included:

Take more online classes. I had registered for six, but only took two. I did product photography and a pen, ink, and watercolor classes. I really learned a lot, and will definitely be using a lot of the photography tips in 2017 as I improve my product listings on Etsy.

Continue to better the quality of my work. Always an ongoing process, but I feel like I’m starting to get there! I just got a new flatbed scanner and a drafting table with a special light a couple months ago, so that should really help increase productivity and quality.

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Life Meets Photo Shoot

Have you heard the news? The Cat and the River Thames is now available through RV, myself, and Amazon! Woo hoo!

In celebration of the release, I made scones and tea for my family to celebrate, just like how we had shrimp and grits for the release of A New Adventure, A New Name.

The scones looked so pretty, and well, tea is always pretty, so I thought that a quick photo shoot of the food with the book would be a great way to promote the book for Etsy and Facebook.

And I think it turned out pretty well:

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But what you don’t see is the uncropped version:

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This is the top of my coffee table.

It is my favorite flat surface to photograph on in my entire house. The surface is this really nice stained wood, and it’s not super shiny so there aren’t big light reflection spots I have to work around. The light that comes through the window is super soft, and it’s pretty perfect for not having a “real” photo box set up.

But, I have three kids.

And they like to play on the coffee table.

And leave things up on said table.

So this momma has to work around it sometimes.

And this fits my life so perfectly now with summer vacation happening. I have work I have to do, but there are musical theatre workshop camps, swim lessons, business trips to Chicago, week away camps, family vacations, and just day to day life to work around.

But, we make it work.

It just takes a little more effort 🙂

 

PS – Dangle earring supplies have started arriving, with the last part coming tomorrow! Be on the lookout for more updates on when they’ll be available on Etsy

Highs and Lows…and New Products are Coming!

Well, hello there, blog!

Business has been challenging lately which has really attributed to my silence around here. So much has been going on, and if it was one thing, I could handle it.

But multiple things? Not so much:

  • A month or so ago I hurt my hand somehow while helping to build our shed. Working on drawings/commissions has been near impossible for any length of time.
  • Almost my entire stock of earrings and necklaces have been damaged, causing me to have to discard them all. I say almost because it had been all, but I just found one earring and necklace set that had been set aside on the other side of my office that was in pristine condition. Nothing has changed with the way I make them or store them, but for some reason, the metal is now discolored. It’s never happened before, so I’m at a loss for fixing it. This is super frustrating because it’s a huge loss, not only financially, but time wise as well.
  • Boathouse 2 is still held up due to circumstances beyond our control, but he’s coming soon! Just the anticipation for him to arrive (and then start work on book 3) is tiring 🙂
  • My schedule is crazy now with everyone home for the summer, so I have the same amount of workload to complete in a fraction of the time. Any tips on how to handle that?

All of these things combined makes me just want to shut down and not do anything.

But that’s not the best way (or even a good way) to run a business.

So after days and days of research and pricing, I finally just placed an order for all of my jewelry replacement materials…all of the bezel pendant trays, glass cabochons, necklace chains…I’ll have my work cut out for me in order to get this all done before the Brockport Arts Festival in August!

The good news is I’ll be offering my necklaces and dangle earrings in TWO colors now: antique silver (a bit darker than I have had) and antique bronze!

bronze trays

The necklaces will be on chains again (I don’t know about you, but to me, a chain is prettier than ball chain)…

 
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AND I’m releasing a new product: STUD EARRINGS!

41cckkAuzzL._SX425_They will also be available in the two colors, and in a slightly smaller size than the dangle earrings (8mm vs. 10mm).

Also, for my nerd/geek fans, I stumbled across this awesome pendant tray today.

dh symbolOkay, so at first I thought it was a little weird.

But then I looked at it longer, and thought it looked like the Deathly Hallows symbol from the Harry Potter books! And then I thought doing the watercolor pendant in the four different Hogwarts house colors would be a fun thing to do, but with this as the base tray. I ran the idea by one of my fellow Potterheads today, and she’s already claimed the first one (sorry, guys).

I’m really excited about the new products and colors. I strive to offer the best quality products that I can, and I feel like this is a step above what I’ve had. I can’t wait to get started, and will definitely let you all know when new pieces are available.

So I’m still here, even if I’m quiet. Life is just a bit chaotic right now, and I’m hopeful that I’ll have my feet back under me again shortly.

As always, thank you for all of your support! Love you all!

 

PS – What is your Hogwarts house? I’m a happy little Hufflepuff!

My New Monday Nights

I’m going to get a little personal on the blog today. I know a few of you have been wondering where I am, why I’m not posting, if I’m doing okay.

I’m here, thank you for checking….but I have been under a lot of stress lately.

My schedule has been dictated by outside forces for the past month or so, and I have barely gotten any work done:

Boathouse 2 is sitting on my table, far behind the timeline I had laid out for myself.

Products are waiting to be photographed and listed in my Etsy shop.

Canvases are begging to be painted, varnished, framed.

And I just can’t seem to get these projects started, let alone finished with all this chaos in my crazy beautiful life.

But I have to give myself grace during this time. Things aren’t always going to get done on my schedule or in the time I want them to be done in, and I just have to learn to roll with the punches…I’m not very good at that 😉

I’ve decided that I can’t always do what I HAVE to get done. There has to be some time for fun and what I want to do! It helps ward off my crankies, too!

Monday nights will now be my time to do whatever art project I want, whether it be working on new jewelry, painting in my studio…things that I’m not taking time for during the rest of the week. It works out well as my hubby is usually gone on Monday nights, so I’m at home with the kiddos. As soon as they’re in bed, it’s art time!

Here’s a preview of last night’s studio time:

I spent some time doing a major reworking on this painting, and it finally clicked why it hadn’t worked out so well before!

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Apparently it didn’t want to be the sky over a sand dune, but sky over the ocean instead! Once I listened, it worked out beautifully.

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It’s now hanging in my living room so I can live with it for awhile before deciding if it needs further tweaking or if it’s ready to be finished. Once it’s finished, off to art festivals and Etsy it will go!

Do you have trouble balancing the “want to do” with the “have to do,” or is it just me? Do you have any tips for me?