A River Rock Commission

After a recent pop-up event a friend asked me if I could wrap her river rock into a pendant.

RiverRock

When she brought it to me, I instantly thought of a heart shape. She agreed, and the wrapping began, while putting on appropriate music for this dancer.

Music

I used a prior heart pendant as a template, except I had to work this one in reverse. Usually I start with the pendant loop that attaches to the necklace cord, but in order to secure the rock I had to start by wrapping it first.

Inspiration

I gently wrapped the steel wire around the rock, and needed to make a few attempts to get it to be snug with each twist, as the wire would re-align itself.

wrappingRock

When I was happy with securing the rock, I created the heart shape.

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Then I criss-crossed the remainder of the shape, et voila!

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It did ruin the fresh manicure, but such is the life of a wire bender.

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The customer is happy, and I am inspired to pick up some arrowheads to repeat the process.

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I also created a custom collar recently. Making Waves is intended for a tall woman, so I created a smaller version for my customer.

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We measured using a spiral collar and then I got to work replicating the look and feel.

Sizing

I prepped the wire by sandpapering off the grime, hammering it straight and filing off the edges.

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Then I bent it into shape.

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This collar is being worn around town on a regular basis, and I love that it brings such joy to its new owner.

Modeling

As tough as steel wire is, the end result is a light and flowy piece you can pair with any look.

MakingWavesCollar

I take much pleasure shaping the forms and seeing where the wire leads me, as it sometimes won’t  come out as my intended vision. In the same way Amy Lee Segami collaborates with water, the wire tells me which direction it wants to bend into, creating surprising results that appeal to variety of people.

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Browse my Etsy shop to see what I have in stock, and let me know if you want to customize a piece that appeals to you. Earrings, seashells, ribbons, beads, charms, crystals are all fair game to be wrapped into a unique jewelry piece of your own.

Textual Encounters Exhibit

This is the final week to see Textual Encounters. We had a lovely opening night on March 6, and I hope the gallery got lots of foot traffic this month.

MaikesMarvelsArtEncaustic collages with wire by Maike’s Marvels

Textual Encounters focuses on incorporating text into encaustic work.

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Elyse Martin and VA de Pintor

The FUSEDChicago group includes artists with a variety of styles, so seeing 32 artists with different techniques, color palettes, and objectives come together in one space is always fascinating.

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Emily Rutledge, Mary Krebs Smyth, Jenny Learner

Curator Shelley Gilchrist did a fabulous job hanging the show.

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Michele Thrane, Donna Zarbin-Byrne,

Shelly Gilchrist, Kathy Blankley Roman, Carol Hamilton

From sculptural to 2-dimensional, abstract to figurative, earth tones to vibrant colors, the show’s theme pulls the pieces together and showcases the variety of ways encaustics can express a vision.

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Sarah Rehmer and Amy Van Winkle

Artists incorporated text from books, music scores, a collage of single letters, and snippets of poems for embedding and inspiration.

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I love the gradation of layers, with some FUSEDChicago members focusing on translucence and an ethereal quality, while others make the encaustic paint pop in vibrancy.

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Pat Lagger, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Kari Hall,

Dan Addington, Rebecca Williams Stahr,
Ahavani Mullen, Maike’s Marvels

Discussing the thought process behind the pieces and understanding the techniques used is inspiring and broadens my mind as I contemplate new projects.

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Cat Crotchett
, Karen Tichy, April Nomellini,
Brad Hook, Michele Thrane, Laura LaRue.

ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N Damen Avenue in Chicago. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. Textual Encounters closes March 28.

Chaos
Carol Hamilton, Linda Sorkin Eisenberg,
Catherine Keebler, Mary Krebs Smyth

FUSEDChicago is a group of midwest encaustic artists based in Chicago. The group was founded in 2009 and currently has forty members.

Jennifers
Jennifer Schmidt, Jennifer Williams Terpstra,
Cheryl Holz, Katsy Johnson

More information about the artists and the group’s exhibits and activities is available at www.fusedchicago.org.

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Elyse Martin, VA dePintor, Carol Myers

Communicating Love

The Textual Encounters show at ARC Gallery inspired me to create two new collages in February. I wrote about Encounters with Language prior to the show opening.

workspace

When I warm up the various wax colors I generally have two new substrates to play with. This keeps me from ruining a layer when I am too impatient to wait for it to cool off enough. Overfusing can create interesting effects, but once collage pieces are laid down the heating and reheating options become more limiting.

substrate

Communicating Love was prompted by the statement that attention and communication are the same thing. I disagreed, but since English is my third language, I gut-checked with my friends (who sided with me—YAY friends!) and checked the trusty dictionary. I always consult the dictionary to confirm the meaning of a word, and find joy in uncovering the layers, origins and evolution of definitions.

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While attention and communication are not the same, they are both ingredients to a successful relationship, so I decided to create my own aspirational recipe for success and added additional words I’d like to see as part of my future. I pulled definitions and highlighted what spoke to me. Then I embedded the paper scraps into the warm wax and fused them with encaustic medium.

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The embedded words include attention, communication, trust, appreciative, respectful, dependable, devoted, worthy, bold, kindhearted, authentic, integrity, reliable and reciprocal. Whether these words are interpreted the same by a partner is what makes a relationship ground for challenge and discovery.

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When the fusing of the collaged pieces was done, I decided to apply the oil pigment technique from prior workshops, and carved in the words love, admiration, fun, joy, laughter, faith, companion, happy, pleasure and agape.

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I thought about adding a wire heart and a small wire embellishment to this piece before I started it.

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Finishing Encounters with Language expanded on that notion and had me wrangling 10 feet of wire into my biggest heart-shape to date.

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Sizing and resizing took some effort.

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Packing this bouncy piece would have been a shipping challenge.

packing

I am glad I could drop the work off in person.

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I am extremely proud to have my own wall in the gallery, and look forward to expanding on the wire-y elements of future wall decor.

ARCGalleryWall

Textual Encounters is up through March 28. ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N Damen Avenue in Chicago. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm.

LoveatARC

The participating FUSEDChicago artists in Textual Encounters include: Ahavani Mullen, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Amy Van Winkle, April Nomellini, Brad Hook, Carol Hamilton, Carol Myers, Cat Crotchett, Catherine Keebler, Cheryl Holz, Dan Addington, Donna Zarbin-Byrne, Elyse Martin, Emily Rutledge, Jennifer Schmidt, Jennifer Terpstra, Jenny Learner, Julia Ris, Karen Tichy, Kari Hall, Kathy Blankley Roman, Katsy Johnson, Laura LaRue, Linda Sorkin Eisenberg, Maike van Wijk, Mary Krebs Smyth, Michele Thrane, Pat Lagger, Rebecca Stahr, Sarah Rehmer, Shelley Gilchrist, VA de Pintor.

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My amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Spring has returned to us, gradually revealing earth and grass under the thick blanket of snow and ice we’ve lived with for the past month.

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I’m eagerly exchanging my snow boots for regular shoes, and the goose down coat is going back into the closet. Instead I get to wear my cheerful She Wore Blue coat that I ordered from Hello Holiday in 2013.

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I love the fit of this coat and the cobalt blue suits my complexion quite well, if I say so myself.

TryingOn

It’s been fun wearing it out and about and taking it along to art fairs. Compliments abound when I wear it, continuously validating this bold color choice.

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The details of it make me happy too, and remind me of a childhood rhyme about a coat with buttons of gold.

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It also makes a lovely background for scarf pendants.

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Hello Holiday recently opened a brick and mortar boutique in Omaha, Nebraska, and whenever a road trip takes me there I look forward to having a try-on party.

CoatJEMcPhillips

painting by Jason McPhillips

Meanwhile, I scour the online shop for fun additions to my closet. The Daisy Chain Dress is a summer favorite.

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Each package is wrapped with care and makes delivery day feel like a birthday. I returned one dress that didn’t suit my body type, and it was easy-peasy to ship it back. That refund paid for the coat.

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Co-owners Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik are inspirational in their own right.  I enjoy following these entrepreneurial women on social media and vicariously engaging in their joie de vivre. They’re true leaders within their community, supporting Omaha’s small business community and making it sound like a great travel destination. Follow Hello Holiday on Instagram and check out their lively Facebook page.

CoatinStCharlesIL

Everyone would have clothing that make them feel like a fashion model!

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Blog title derived from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

Inspiration from Amy Lee Segami

“When you have a deep, deep passion in you heart
and in your bones and in your soul,
it never goes away. It just isn’t time yet.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

On a snowy day this February my friend coaxed me out of the house to go visit an exhibit at the Evanston Public Library. While I have been aware that the library hosts exhibit, it took a non-Evanstonian to point out to me that this is a monthly occurrence. Amy Lee Segami’s work was up through March 7, and she held a talk explaining her inspiration, background and process.

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Her exhibit “Frozen Dreams” was inspired by how as a girl Amy had to put her dreams on hold, or ‘in the freezer” as she said. Her father wanted her to be able to support herself and steered her toward studying engineering. She moved to America to study at IIT, and did become an engineer.

MeetingAmyLeeSegami

Over time, however, Amy decided to de-frost her dreams, and started studying Suminagashi. In this technique, black ink is dripped into a container of water, and an image transfer created by placing paper over the resulting image.

EPLExhabitSegami

Amy perfected this technique for years. “When you master your craft, you work on it day in, day out. Ideas come about.”

When she felt comfortable knowing the technique for white ink on black paper, she started adding colors to her palette. By using brushes, feathers and other tools to manipulate the ink, she creates the foundation of the image she wishes to create. However, like life, Amy says that she has an idea of what the resulting transfer will look lie, yet is open to it changing based on the movement of the paper on the water.

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She sees art and life as a balance of competition and collaboration. Competition can inspire people to excel and to lead, but it takes collaboration to achieve consensus. There is no point in fighting water, she said, so she has to collaborate with it.

CreativeFire_AmyLeeSegami

Even though she has perfected her technique, Amy still has to create many transfers before she has the piece she is happy with. Describing the motion like a dance, she said the transfer has to take place in one breath. “There is no moment like this moment now.”

ThunderLight_AmyLeeSegami

Amy waited until she had an international show to tell her father about her career change, and he fully supports her success. She credits his pushing and cajoling with giving her the security to establish her career, emphasizing that our past shapes us and it is never too late to pursue your dreams. Amy also emphasized that we have to count ourselves in to our life paths. We are the masters of our own destiny, and we cannot forget who we are.

WinningPoster

I won a poster during a drawing, and you can get your own prints here.

“In every situation you face, always count yourself.
Your opinion, your perspective, your presence matters.”
~ Amy Lee Segami

People photos copyright and courtesy of Final Draft Business Support Services.

Creating Encounters with Language

This week marks the opening of my first 2015 art exhibit. The FUSEDChicago group is represented at ARC Gallery in Chicago through the month of March.

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I dropped two pieces off, but since 32 artists are participating, I may only have one on display. So today is about the making of Encounters with Language, which expresses the evolution of my own linguistic learning.

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For this Textual Encounters group exhibition, the artists of FUSEDChicago challenge themselves to create works that are inspired by the written word – poetry, narrative, song, or speech.  Some artists embed words in the surface of their paintings or monoprints, or turn pages of text into art.  For other artists, the verbal – spoken, sung or printed – serves as muse, to which they respond in the conception and creation of their pieces.  In many instances, visual interpretation brings new meaning to their source, the words that evoke the work.  

01_RoosVisVuurBoom

Textual Encounters is a theme dear to my heart. As a Dutch girl spending teenage years in Germany, I was surrounded by different languages and learned early on to appreciate the beauty of dialects and idioms. I have always incorporated cultural memories and linguistic quirks into my work, from the substrate to the visible and invisible paper and marks embedded in encaustic pigment.

02_WordInspiration

I found old notebooks that tracked my first handwriting in the Dutch language, and then a tutoring notebook from when our family moved to Germany and I needed assistance picking up on grammar and every-day German. Even English language assignments began with commentary on the weather.

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Writing and adding to my vocabulary have always been key components in my life, from sending letters to pen-pals around the world to earning a journalism degree and writing for newspapers and other publications to blogging about life. I remembered a graphic with the roots of language and looked it up online. The graphic is pretty complex so I just sketched it on my 12 x 12 encaustic board.

languageroots

I played with my snippets of text and laid them out.

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Then I fused the layers of wax and layers of paper onto the board.

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I also added some texture by scraping words into the wax and making them stand out with an oil stick. I liked the result, but it felt a bit flat.

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So I played with my wire, and formed the word “language” with 10 feet of steel.

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My glasses decided to hide in the process.

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It took some maneuvering to get the word to be flat enough to stick to the board.

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A second session of bending and flattening was successful.

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Yay!

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Next was deciding on the frame depth.

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Framing wasn’t foolproof either, but I won.

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The participating FUSEDChicago artists in Textual Encounters include: Ahavani Mullen, Alicia Forestall-Boehm, Amy Van Winkle, April Nomellini, Brad Hook, Carol Hamilton, Carol Myers, Cat Crotchett, Catherine Keebler, Cheryl Holz, Dan Addington, Donna Zarbin-Byrne, Elyse Martin, Emily Rutledge, Jennifer Schmidt, Jennifer Terpstra, Jenny Learner, Julia Ris, Karen Tichy, Kari Hall, Kathy Blankley Roman, Katsy Johnson, Laura LaRue, Linda Sorkin Eisenberg, Maike van Wijk, Mary Krebs Smyth, Michele Thrane, Pat Lagger, Rebecca Stahr, Sarah Rehmer, Shelley Gilchrist, VA de Pintor.

07_PrununciationDetail

The group name is derived from the process of fusing – applying heat to the wax layers so that they adhere – which is a necessary and frequent step in creating an encaustic work. FUSEDChicago was founded in 2009 and currently has forty members.  More information about the artists and the group’s exhibits and activities is available at www.fusedchicago.org. FUSEDChicago is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation.

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ARC Gallery is located at 2156 N Damen Avenue in Chicago. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6 pm, and Sundays from 12 to 4 pm. Our show opening is Friday March 6 from 6 to 9 pm. I hope to see you there!

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The second piece is fun too, I’ll share its process with you soon.

A Falcon’s Visit

The Evanston Public Library is the host to a pair of Peregrine Falcons each year, which means sighting them isn’t a big surprise.

Falcon1

However, having one right outside your window and watching it devour a pigeon is quite the thrilling distraction from other chores.

Falcon2

I had to ship an order so I reluctantly went out to run my errand.

Falcon4

Upon my return, the falcon was still there.

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I watched a squirrel get too close and be chased away.

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Since 2004, the Library’s third floor window ledge has become a nesting site for falcons. Since 2005 Nona has come to lay her eggs, and as of 2006 she was accompanied by Squawker.  A falcon cam tracks the nest when eggs are laid and hatchlings come out.

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Each year the hatchlings receive names voted on by the community, and after their banding ceremony by wildlife preservation experts they are free to roam Evanston and beyond.

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While I was distracted that day, I am heeding this totem animal’s call to focus and strategize.

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“When they show themselves to us, we are being called to focus on our desires and our goals, and do what is necessary to bring our desires into our reality.”

Artists Challenge

Last month a Facebook Artists’ Challenge made its rounds and it was an interesting way to narrow down my art into categories. I posted hearts on day one since Valentine’s Day was nigh. For that day I nominated Lisa Wilson of Being Breath, an artist and life-balancer I met during Shawna Moore’s encaustic workshop.

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With the challenge you had to post three pieces of art each day for 5 days, and nominate a new artist with each of those posts. Rory Coyne and Lauren Levato Coyne were hosting a gathering at their new Sidetracked Studio so I linked back to their pages the next day. Since Lauren and I met through butterfly obsession, posting encaustic collages of my favorite creatures made sense. Their next show “What did she say?” opens on March 7.

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Day three was dedicated to Crystal Neubauer, who introduced me to wax and wire. She operates Healing House Artists Studio where I look forward to taking art workshops this summer. Since her color palette is in earth tones, I posted my musical pieces that day.

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As the newly elected co-President of FUSEDChicago I had to give a shout-out to our midwest encaustic artists group, which I did on Day 4 with my jewelry for mothers, including custom birthstone pendants and bangles and newborn customized pendants.

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The last day was dedicated to Brenda Schweder, who helped me wrangle bangles before regular wire-working was even on my radar. I am looking forward to using her Now That’s A Jig for more pieces.

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I’m working on some branding exercises to narrow down my style and how to describe it. This challenge was a good exercise to pick out my favorites jewelry pieces.

Self-love

It’s Valentine’s Day week. Hearts are everywhere, roses abound, chocolate is allowed, and romantic getaways are promoted. Love is grand for those who have found it, and I enjoy observing the couples who are truly meant for each other.

LoveSoars

Yet many of us don’t get to plan a night out for two. We’re busy living lives on our own, surrounded by friends, enjoying the freedom of a solitary life.

HikingLove

“Be the person you want to be with” is a popular mantra these days, yet around these kinds of holidays, being a couple seems to be more important than working on being one’s own best friend.

HeartOfTexas

As a single gal, it is hard to balance the holiday promotions while not perpetuating the “if you’re single something’s wrong with you” implication of this holiday.

MaikesMarvelsHearts

I am perfectly uniquely me, and I am happily living my life the best way I can on my own until Mr. Wonderful finally stops to ask for directions to my vicinity. (He’s clearly gotten lost without wanting to admit it!)

Enough_Gerri-LynneAlbeeChhabria

Over the past 6 months, self-love has become a big word for several people in my community, and that is something I can get behind.

KaneeneeHearts

Who says we need our partner to draw us a bath, take us on a romantic night out, buy us flowers or chocolate? I can do all of those things on my own, any day of the year, if I choose to do so.

RosePetalBathTub

So, my message is to not bum yourself out on this particular day. We can and should appreciate ourselves every day of the year, and we don’t need someone else to do that for us. (Though their validation is always graciously accepted.)

BathChocolate

Love yourself for who you are, and tell your bestie what you appreciate about them. Give love to the non-romantic companions in your life who always lend an ear and never turn down the opportunity for a hug.

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There is plenty of love to go around without that special man or woman in your life. Your sparkle is noted by many and just because you don’t get a flower or candy delivery at your door on February 14 doesn’t mean your radiance hasn’t made a difference in someone else’s life.

GoLightYourWorld

Set a date with YOU. Indulge in something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t committed to yet. Post a query on social media to see if others want to tag along. Write yourself a gift certificate to do something for yourself and calendar it into a date when you think you can swing it.

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You are NEVER alone, and you are ALWAYS surrounded by love. Be happy with who you are right now, this minute, and revel in your unique awesomeness.

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Meanwhile, there’s always eye candy!

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Etsy Refresh

Valentine’s Day is coming up so it is time to review my jewelry inventory. With 238 pieces of jewelry in stock that is more time consuming than anticipated.

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I’m pleased to see that only one pendant has gone missing after packing and repacking items for multiple locations at least 10 times this past year.

Inventorying

Deleting listings that have sold at fairs was satisfying.

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Now I am busy refreshing Etsy and photographing new wire-wrapped pieces that aren’t online yet. It feels like I have loaded some pendants before, but the listings tracker tells me otherwise.

NewListings

So I get to roll my eyes at the camera as I do my neck shots. Cropping is a wonderful thing!

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One of my favorite beaded wire-wrapped sets is uploaded now, and I am curious to see where it will travel.

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As I played with my wrap dress I found a new year-round use for scarf pendants: a belt-embellishment.

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Etsy has an #EtsyMatch campaign that I am trying out on Social Media.

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It got their attention on Instagram already.

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I still have a ways to go with photographing, editing and listing, but take a peek at my shop and see what you might like to get your Valentine.

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Here’s a sampling of the newbies on Etsy. I’ll post how they look in real life soon. Gotta get back into selfie-snapping.

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I’m contemplating a collar give-away for the ones I haven’t uploaded yet. What do you think?

FreebieCollars

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