Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Gift Suggestion

I can't decide which of these I like more. Look at this toolbox!! and then the cannisters are just so fun!

great idea for Christmas and they can still deliver on time.

For the engineer in your life??

Monday, December 14, 2009

chex mix

Well I certainly have been busy. I will post Christmas ideas again soon.
in the meantime, here's my Chex Mix recipe. It's been altered several times until we've reached perfection. ;-)

Chex Mix

in big pan ( I use a large roasting pan. you can get the large disposable ones people get for turkey)

2 sticks butter or margarine (yes the box says use 6 T but long ago.... when butter wasn't considered so unhealthy, it called for more and since it's the holiday... plus this is a double batch just so you know)

2 T worshestershire (I add a bit more)
3 t beau monde or other seasoning salt (lawrys)

stir it all together and add
10 c mixed cereal (I use crispix and wheat chex)
lots of cashews (a big can)
about a half a bag of pretzel sticks
a few cups of cheerios

try to get it all coated with the butter mixture but it won't look like it is.
250 degrees
stir it every 15 minutes
bake one hour.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I am enjoying a most wonderful holiday with my husband and kids. Yesterday we hiked at Sabino Canyon near Tucson Arizona. I'm so thankful for such a great family, and for legs that can carry me in and out of this beautiful area. What a treat! We didn't go as far as the kids and they came back with pictures of a golden sunset.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

handmade gifts for the holidays

Isn't this fun? JMN Pottery on Etsy has a bunch of different mugs along this line. This one is my favorite. Perfect for the boss don't you think? I imagine we all have a list of people who would love this mug.
A mug with a statement and that cute skull just makes it even better. This shop has been in my favorites for a long time. I love checking out the latest quirky, fun, pottery.

handmade gifts make people smile. :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handmade for Christmas

Look at this cute pencil holder! This seller Geek Gear
has some fun things made from floppy discs and even clocks using computer boards. this clever pencil holder is sure to be appreciated from your special 'geek' or just someone who like bright colors and unusual things.
Buying handmade is something you can do to support our economy, and help an artist have a great holiday season.
And it's so easy to order on line.
:-) Check out Geek Gear to see all the fun things in this Etsy shop.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This would be a great gift for your Mom. This artist, Olive Bungalow
will custom make these rings for a Mother's ring. If it is a gift for you or someone else in your life, there are also these stackable rings in her Etsy shop that are premade and in color combinations you might like.
A set of handmade stackable rings is a unique piece of jewelry that is sure to get lots of compliments. "oh I love your rings!"

"thank you, it was a Christmas gift from..........."
Your Mom will have a way to brag about her kids. yes??
So much better than a T-shirt that says, "Let me tell you about my grandkids!"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

OK this must be the season for knits because here is another suggestion for a gift that is warm and hand knit. But this time you can knit it yourself. This neckwarmer looks like it could be a definite handmade gift for a guy. It is simple, and could be made in a color that would work well to match a winter coat or jacket. I like it. I am thinking of buying this pattern myself to knit a few. I bought another neck warmer pattern from the same seller/designer,
Hand Made Originals, and it is well written, stylish, and easy to knit since it uses bulky yarn.
If you are a knitter and want to make your own handmade gifts, it is supporting another artist to purchase a pattern (that is unique!) from the designer. Let's support our hardworking artists and craftsmen/women this holiday season. It can boost their personal economy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

handmade gifts for Christmas

I have a pair of these fingerless gloves and they are wonderful! Actually, I asked this Etsy seller, Tickled Pink Knits to knit a pair of these for me in a yarn that is not wool because wool makes me itch. So I have a beautiful pair of these in violet in a nice worsted. But her fine merino wool is to die for! This fiber artist has knitting perfection!
What is great about fingerless gloves? If you live in a cold climate, wear a pair of those cheap gloves under them. You know--the gloves you get for $3. (I buy those like socks, and get them all in the same color so if one is lost, you have more) Wearing the gloves with these looks fun and gives you the warmth you need and yet the ability to use your fingers rather than having them all together in a mitten. I always buy the gloves in black, or for a splash of color, buy a contrasting color to the fingerless gloves. And sometimes.... yes.... I am in a hurry and can't find two gloves to match and wear two different colors. The fingerless gloves match and pull the look together for a funky look.
If you live in a warmer climate like I do now, then they are just right for chilly winter mornings. Your hands stay warm but you can use your fingers to do whatever, like grip the steering wheel.
And these are 'stylin' !! Unique, handmade, warm... what's not to like?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

handmade gifts for Christmas

This canvas floorcloth is found on Etsy and made by Heron's Treasures.
This pattern has always been a favorite of mine. Is it called tumbling blocks?
A floorcloth could be a perfect gift for that Artsy person on your Christmas list. I can picture this on a hardwood floor in a bright sunny room.
Buying handmade for gifts supports artists and who doesn't like a unique gift?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

handmade gifts for Christmas

It's important to me to support artists. Most likely since I am an artist, but also because I see so many creative people at art shows running their booths. Their income, many times, comes from what they sell, and so much is put into each piece. These past few years, I have tried to buy mostly handmade for Christmas, baby showers, and sometimes birthdays. To buy a whole bunch of pottery from a craftsperson makes a much larger difference in one person's life than to buy a whole bunch of bubble bath or whatever from some store. Your money goes directly into someone's pocket and gives them the ability to live better and continue to follow their creative paths. So this is the beginning of my annual buy something cool for someone for Christmas blog feature. I'll try to keep at it. Mostly the finds are from Etsy since that's where I sell my own art work.
Today is a way cool cup kozy. It rolls up and hangs on your bag or key ring. Great for someone who gets a coffee to go often. It won't get lost, is handy, and helps make our world a better place by saving many paper cup sleeves. right?
This green color is pretty nifty too. Check out the other colors and maybe this will be a good little gift for someone on your gift list!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Charlotte Fine Arts Show

oooh I've been busy getting ready for the Charlotte Fine Arts show It looks like there will be about 100 artists there. I am hoping to see a great turnout and lots of successful artists.
If you'd like a postcard with $2 off admission, send me an email at
and write 'show' in the subject. I'll mail one right out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Grandma's sausage rolls aka Wursterbroaches

ok here it is. My Grandmother's sausage rolls. I haven't seen these anywhere else except in a German bakery in Florida and those were made with ground pork that wasn't seasoned. So this is probably some old family recipe. I've searched for other versions of this and have not found it anywhere.
You would think they are greasy, but they aren't. I think the secret is the dough. I like them straight from the oven, but really like them cold straight from the refrigerator.
Also don't make the sausage shaped too thick as you want it to cook all the way through. My sister microwaves hers a bit before she wraps them. I make mine thin.
Enjoy! Grandma Ott would be 118 this year if she were still alive. I remember as a kid watching her bake breads and these sausage rolls, flour up to her elbows. And noodles, she would roll thin and hang on string to dry. She sure loved to bake.
I imagine these have sooo many fat calories!

Grandma Ott's Wurster-broaches (Sausage Rolls)

1 1/2 pounds (24 oz) lean, well seasoned pork sausage
2 T shortening (I use butter)
1 t salt
1 egg (well beaten)
1/2 C sugar
1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 C lukewarm water
5 1/2 C flour
melted butter

Proof the yeast with water and sugar. Add shortening and salt and egg. Stir until shortening is melted. Stir in about 4 C flour. Cover and let rise until double.When doubled, add more flour up to 5.5 cups total to make a soft dough. knead lightly Let rise again. . Roll out to 1/3 inch thick on unfloured board.(I flour the board)Shape pork sausages like wieners about the thickness of your thumb or less and about 4 inches long (makes about 18) Enclose each sausage in dough, sealing edges tightly. so it's a long roll with the enclosed sausage. let rise until double. Grandma then brushed them with melted butter but I don't do that. Bake 400 F for 20 minutes. I put foil over them as soon as they are the color I want the bread to be and cook the remainder of the time. turn out of pan and eat warm or cold. Store left over in foil in refrigerator.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

this is me....

This picture is from a great class I took this summer at Rebecca's Studio in Traverse City Michigan. Jennifer Geldard taught some incredible techniques to us using enamels and shards for surface decoration. I'll post a picture later of something I made using her shard technique.

But anyway here is me.... LOL

I am the lady in the green hooded sweatshirt wearing my special glasses used when working with the torch. It was the coldest July on record in Michigan and that's when we were there renting a cottage on the lake. We never went in the water! I haven't needed a sweater even here back in NC.
But anyway there I am watching some wonderful torch work by Jennifer!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Art show in our little town

We live in the beautiful small town of Mt Holly, NC. It is 'in the shadow of Charlotte' They have a way cool downtown, and my husband and I walk there to get coffee at the coffee shop, or an orangeaid (homemade) at Charlies Drugs. We watch the lady behind the counter put oranges in some juice squeezer like they had at soda fountains and adds her special stuff to make an awesome drink. It 'is' a soda fountain, which you don't find much anymore. We walk the few blocks and in the evening the little lights they have in the trees glow. (they are solar) It's a small town near a city. There is a whitewater center nearby to kayak and raft, and the city is building a long greenway system in stages, and it will be 13 (?) or 17 (?) miles of trails to walk and bike from Mt Holly to the National Whitewater Center.

Today I participated in Autumn on Main, selling jewelry from my booth in the fine art show. It was awesome to be in a show that was so close to home, and talking to some acquaintances, and meeting new people. It was a pleasure to be in the show, soaking up the sun (however hot and humid, it sure beats snow!)
I haven't unloaded my van yet, but have enjoyed a nice evening after a great day. Come and visit the show next year, and in the meantime, if you live nearby, check out the 'Artist's Market' in December.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Manners needed

Got this picture from my son.

I hope a few people thought about manners this week. It made me think about the time in church, when I was a kid, during a loooooong prayer, some girl was probably being tortured by her brother, because during this silence, with the long conversation with God the minister was having, the girl yelled "Stop it! G-- D--n It!!" at her brother.

I expected the lightning to strike.

too bad it didn't strike the other night. (where is that cattle prod anyway)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School!

Here's where I spend my days. A middle school in North Carolina. The building looks like the High School in 'Happy Days' or 'Grease'. It's well kept with shiny hardwood floors in many rooms, sometimes you see a heat register here or there. Three stories which is good for the cardiovascular system. right? LOL

I teach many eager art students. This is our second day of school today. Our budget has been cut in half and so we'll be doing a bit less on the fancy side this year, but I'm determined to keep those active middle school kids working on learning to draw and work with color and line. Plus all the other disciplines of art like sculpture and textiles. It's a survey type class. The budget cuts are unfortunate, but parents are pitching in with some supplies and that is so awesome.

A student told me today that his old art class in another school had 7 students.!!! I can't imagine what that would be like. The classes are full and some students are disappointed they can't get art this year. One class that will be a challenge this year is a group of 6th graders in a class that is full with 27 students. 23 boys and 4 girls! hmmmmm what to do with that group is a challenge.

Anyway. That's one reason I lampwork. It helps me relax in the evenings and put the stress aside. That's important. Watch for beads on Etsy! There will be more soon and some I just need to take pictures of. With that class full of 6th grade boys, there may be a need for a lot of stress relief!

Have a good school year everyone out there!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

a cheaper workbench

My husband has been eyeing the table that I use when doing metalsmithing. It's an old oak table just the right size. I figured, well, get a workbench and give him the table. He needs it for his classroom. Then looking at workbenches, I took it all back! They are expensive. $300 and up.
So today we were in IKEA and there it was.... a table that could easily work out for a bench. drawers for tools, shelves for tools, a big enough workspace to solder and saw and what not. Edges that could be used for a bench pin and vice. 99 bucks. What a much better deal!
I put it together and had a lot of trouble with the long screws that are put in with an allen wrench (supplied) it would have been 'blister city' and I didn't know that a power drill can be used with the correct bit. Go figure. After trying to set one screw manually, DH came to the rescue, setting up the drill and placing them. I could have done it being a girl who has no issues with tools, but he had the fun.
Here is a picture of the finished bench. It doesn't have the curved cut front but beyond that, what's different?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nostalgic Brownies

When you were a little kid, did you make jiffy mixes? A friend of mine, Nancy, in my hometown of Napoleon Michigan, had an uncle who worked at the jiffy mix factory in Chelsea. They always had a cupboard full of jiffy mixes. It's like playing with an easy bake oven, making those teenie little cakes and cornbread and biscuits. My love of carbs obviously started young. LOL

So when we were in Michigan, I picked up some jiffy mixes to bring home. Doing a search, I see they sell them near my house here so I won't go through withdrawal. Because I made the brownies last night. ooohhh I forgot how good they are. not too gooey, not cakey, just right and just enough for two people for a day or two since you use a bread loaf pan.

Is it nostalgia? I think not. The mixes have been around for ages so it must just be a good product.
When I taught third grade, I would tell parents who had kids with problems following written directions, 'get some jiffy mixes' because hey if the kid ruins it, how much did they lose? Maybe 50 cents? And how motivating is it for a kid to get some warm, out of the oven, treat if they followed directions.
Maybe a few budding chefs came out of those 8 year olds.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 31 1976

a little walk down memory lane....

Monday, July 27, 2009

ISGB Gathering

Here is a video from the opening night at the Gathering. If you watch close, you will see me about 4 or 5 slides in.
It was a great time!! More pics later but do enjoy this, it has some great beads in it!

Monday, July 20, 2009

International Society of Glass Beadmakers

That' s a formal name yes? It's a worldwide group of glass beadmakers. We meet every year for the 'gathering' which is a conference full of glass nerds. Glass nerds is not the best description, but what we do is watch demos, see new products, new colors of glass and tools, and rub elbows with some of the top glass workers in the world.
So Wednesday morning, I'll be leaving the cabin on the lake that we're staying at, and flying to Miami Florida. Hey.... I am thinking the beach there will be a fun place to visit.
It's going to be a great time seeing some friends and taking lots of pictures, and lots of notes on new techniques.
I'll be reporting back and maybe even will get a post in from Miami. Probably not a picture though unless I can figure out mobile upload!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

back for a visit

I'm back to visit in Houghton Lake, Michigan. It was home for 30 years and you can see in this picture I lifted from the tourist site, it's a very large lake. We arrived to 60 degree weather, which was the 'high' on Monday. That is a big contrast to the 90 degree weather we had in NC. We are seeing many friends from when we lived here and enjoying the lake views. I haven't been in the water yet!

Friday, June 19, 2009

thinking of an herb garden. Chives, parsley, basil, just things I would use in cooking.
this book was recommended on the Real Age site, a page I like to read that has good tips on health for people 'my age' LOL.
It says chives are packed with vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, and folic acid. How about that? I have forgotten about chives. Just always sprinkled them on baked potatoes. Now I'm thinking....... gotta get some seeds or plants for a year round herb garden. Easy to do in this climate! Seeds I think. I am planning an August garden actually. For things that grow fast like beans.
but it's probably best to get the seeds now.
anyone out there in blog land with a suggestion of an herb to grow that you use a lot?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

large round beads

My kids (who are in their 20's) tell me that big round beads are 'in'. So hey I'll try it. :-) I don't know if this is big enough for them. It is 2 cm in diameter.
These aren't easy to make and get perfectly round, but yes indeed they will be great in jewelry.
Now to make some bright ones in the 'Susan' fashion.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welcome Summer!!!

Yes indeedie I've been quiet. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of report cards, awards assemblies, passing out the yearbook, going to retirement parties, and the final day of school. So now I've had 3 official days off and am working on some pictures for shows and posting in Etsy. It's great to have some time and not feel stressed about not having 'enough weekend' .

A friend wrote this morning and said she just retired. How did we get here? The 70's is not a distant memory to me and it's hard to believe that we're now at our albeit early retirements.


anyway summer is a tad like retirement and after we get more things put where they belong and organized, home will be more like home and time will be there for fun things.
On our list for the summer....
Carowinds water park. (can you say Lazy River?)
National Whitewater Center (rafting!)
Michigan for a month to see lots of old friends
The Gathering --with a booth to sell beads
Myrtle Beach in August (I hope!)

This is a summer to relax and play and we are so happy about it because the last three summers have been painting and packing and listing our house in Michigan, searching for a house here, getting ready for new jobs, learning about this area. It's great to finally be a a more comfortable summer. I'll bet it will fly by fast!

The flower bead above? I made it two days ago and posted it on Etsy yesterday.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

almost done with school

two and a half more days of school and then I'll be around to post more. It's the end of the year madness here at the middle school, and tomorrow we pass out yearbooks (I'm in charge)
We're still painting in my art classes! I think we should do art everyday that we can!
see you very soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday happiness

my daughter sent this to me. Isn't it awesome?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

only in Chicago

watch the guy on the bike. not the first bike..the second one. we saw him in Chicago. He has a roll bar on his bicycle and asks for a 'few bucks', stops traffic and does the 360 thing for the crowd. it was one of those 'Chicago moments'

fun with the family

Just a quick picture of my husband and me. :-) a hello to all my friends that follow this blog and haven't seen us for a while.
we miss you too!
this picture is from our weekend in Chicago with the kids. I'll put a few more up.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's so nice to see my beads in action! This design is by Diane..Ever so dear. She has this necklace for sale on 1000 markets. Click on the picture to go to her shop. She has all kinds of very nice pieces in her shop.
She ordered these particular beads in the colors she wanted for this necklace and I am thinking how perfect it would be with some artsy copper colored dress or shirt, print or not. or a tank top. very nice.
Thank you Diane for ordering these beads and using them in such a beautiful piece!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My favorite color design

Complementary colors. I think this makes a piece or art 'pop'
This is something I teach my students when they make posters especially, so if you are designing any type of graphic design, you might try this.
For instance, you could have a yellow-green background and a red-violet type of lettering. The words you type will pop right out for people to read. Or you could shadow your words with a complementary color.
In beadmaking a good complementary theme is opal yellow and violet. Or coral and turquoise. That's why they are some of our favorite combinations. They complement each other. like they say "I love your hair" or "those are awesome shoes!" ok I couldn't resist. ;-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Abbey College

Isn't this beautiful? It is a college here in Belmont, NC called Belmont Abbey. I drive by it every day on my way home from work.
There is an historic cemetery there too which would be interesting to walk through.
This is a beautiful area, rather small town-ish, but look back to the left. About 10 miles down the highway is Charlotte.
It's great to have the convenience and fun of a larger city near where we live, and yet enjoy a small town life. How we landed here is only luck, and we certainly feel lucky.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


It's not a surprise, no doubt, that I am writing about lampwork. I was thinking today of the people I have met through lampworking. I went to my first Gathering (which is an international meeting of lampworkers) in 2003. It was a surprise to see there are so many lampworkers and how amazing their beads are. Yet 6 years later, the skill level of the people who were there has grown way past what it was.
I met people in their 'early years' it seems and they had awesome beads then, and now they are awesomely awesome. :-)
In some old beading magazines from in the 90's there are articles about lampwork and sometimes an artist was featured. The beads in these magazines should give any new lampworker an idea of how practice willl build their skill level. I find that beads that were a huge struggle to make now are 'there' and few beads go into the mistake bucket.
Kind of like that old joke where the guy asks a man on the corner 'how do you get to Carnegie hall?' and the man says 'practice!'
Seeing lampworkers achieve the skill levels they have attained makes me think we need a Carnegie hall for glass work!

and today for your viewing ... a relisting of turquoise beads made with silvered ivory stringer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

new product from Geekology

from Geekology. I am sure it doesn't work. ;-) electric bath duck.

make sure you have made the right decision.

heheheh trying to laugh like Donald Duck here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

busy busy busy

This weekend was Art and Soul in the South End of Charlotte.
It was a great treat to be a participant in this art show. The weather was quite warm, the art was great, and it was fun to meet other artists and people who were shopping.
I was across the street from Price's Chicken Coop, which is so well known for their fried chicken that they were mentioned in Bon Appetit as having some of the best fried chicken in the US. I had some for dinner Saturday while the crowd slowed a bit. :-)
There was a shop also across from me that is called the South End Exchange (I think) I ran in there on Sunday, abandoning my booth because it looked like such an interesting store. It is. All kinds of second hand items and furniture that are very nice. On a table, beckoning, was a handblown glass vase/vessel. Large and heavy. The marks on the bottom showing where it was tapped off of the punty when it was made. The price was perfect and the vase is on my table. I bought it for a niche in the dining room but it's so beautiful, it has to be in view.
The show was a bit slow, customer wise, but with today's economy that is to be expected. A few the artists I met this weekend will be in Raleigh at Artsplosure in a few weeks and I will hopefully see them there. Although if I'm so busy in my booth that I can't go see them, that would be awesome too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

cosmic hand

Isn't this neat? It's an actual picture taken from a NASA space based telescope.
It looks like a hand reaching into the red mass doesn't it?

NASA says the display is caused by a young and powerful pulsar, known by the rather prosaic name of PSR B1509-58.

"The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand,"

I think this would be a nice poster. To help remind us, we're not always the one in control.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

how to find out if your computer is infected by the conficker worm

now isn't this clever. It is a site made by conficker working group to easily check your computer. it's like an eye chart and if everything shows up in the chart you are clear.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

how to find out if you are in an Etsy treasury

Here is really neat. If you are a seller on Etsy, you can go to this site, type in your shop name and it will show you any treasuries you are featured in!

you have to try it!

Monday, March 23, 2009


Isn't this pretty? It looks like oil on water to me. It's actually an orange glass that is ground to bits called frit. It's popularly called Raku frit but it isn't done with a raku process. I did a little glass blowing and made pieces of this glass and broke it up, then applied it to a base bead. After it melted in a tad, then I messed around with heat and oxygen until these colors bloomed. Pretty neat huh? It took practice for quite some time to learn how to coax these colors from the frit.
Always fun playing with hot glass. (and I have the burn scars to prove it!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Art Appreciation

I try to teach my Art students to 'think outside the box'. So being my quirky self, I taped a mustache on Mona who is on the bulletin board in my classroom.

My middle school kids kept asking "WHO put that mustache on Mona Lisa?" and I'd say "me"


"because it amuses me"

finally they got the joke. Then they decided she also needed eyebrows. The next week they gave her a necklace for Spirit Week.

So is this art appreciation or teaching them to deface fine art?

I can't decide, but it still... amuses me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The 'little guy'

You know we moved about two and half years ago. We moved from a small town to a town that is very close to Charlotte NC. We had to find new everything. A new mechanic, new dentist, new dr, new beautician, you name it.

I try to support the small businesses because 'I' have a small business and really enjoy support and it helps the local economy by going to people rather than a chain store. And we came from a town filled with small businesses, lived there long enough to know the owners and help support them. The optometrist who would mail our kids contact lenses at college, the grocery store that always had carry out for pregnant women or older people, the pharmacist that always asked how the golf game was, the bar that if you forgot to pay your bill, hung it over the cash register and when you remembered the next day, you could go back and pay it. The grocery who put the cart full of groceries in the cooler when I drove home without them (brain fart that day!)
The grocery that ordered my favorite rye bread when the bread guy stopped bringing it. The UPS man who would stop when he saw my car someplace and give me my packages.
We were so spoiled! But supporting the 'little guy' here is what will give us that kind of service again.

So this is what I've learned.

Sometimes someone is a small business because they don't do a good job running a business.

Like the coffee shop that is never open when we walk downtown. In fact, we went during the hours the sign said it is open, and it was closed with the sign down. I guess they figure they aren't selling enough coffee so they may as well not be open. (???????) I think they are open sometime or another.....

Don't go to a dentist with a sign out that says 'taking new patients!' because, well, maybe he'll take needless xrays that insurance won't cover and tell you that you should have every tooth with a filling crowned. Ask around and find one that is trustworthy and not into padding his pockets. (didn't need the crowns--went to a different dentist)

don't go to an eye doctor that is only open 4 days a week, closed from 12-1 everyday and at 4:00 and tells you to come back for a second eye exam to get a contact lens refill. (could he have done it all at once? Could he fill the prescription from the old eye Dr? Did I do something wrong when he and I talked about contacts and how I would need refills? I think I didn't communicate well on that one)
Find the one that is open until 7 one night a week and comes highly recommended by people you know. Not only is the customer service awesome, so was the eye exam and free samples too.

Don't trust someone who gave you a really bad haircut to color weave your hair. (it took about a year to recover from that experience-- you don't even want to know)

We have tried restaurants with bad food and good service, good food and lousy service and found some that are small gems hidden in Charlotte, our favorite being Beef and Bottle, where you get the best steak in a 1950's kind of atmosphere, (which I think is that way just because it hasn't changed not that it was planned) And that awesome Italian place that is hidden away that we went to for Valentine's day.
Tony's ice cream (it's been there since the 1920's) they make their ice cream and giant chocolate shakes that are so good, it's best we have to drive a half hour to get there. We should walk there and burn off the calories.

Morgan's shoes and bootery. Wow.... like this is my very favorite place to go (and dangerous too since I loves shoes......)

The auto mechanic who only charged me 12 dollars to put freon in my AC, or the dishonest one who put in a new $700 part. We took the old part to someone else to have it checked and there was nothing wrong with it.

The bank ladies who call me "Miss Susan" isn't that so sweet!

Billy, who owns some land on the side of the Catawba River, and you can pay him a dollar to fish there.

The farmer's market that is open every day until 5 once the weather warms up. Talking to the farmers is way too much fun.

The pet shop with tanks of koi. We walk there and go in and look at the fish.

The cleaners that don't know what 'light starch' is so my husband can't use the pockets in his shirts. hahah or the other cleaners where the lady calls me Sooo sahn and the clothes come back perfect. She has a little koi pond in her shop and gives out cards with The Lord's Prayer on them.

The BBQ place that only takes cash, is closed on Mondays and has the most mouth watering BBQ I've ever had. And sweet tea for all you sweet tea fans.

So we're figuring it out. It's taking some time. We try our best to go to the 'little guy' and support small businesses, but we also have figured out some are small by choice and some just because they don't deserve to grow because they don't run a business well.
And the cleaners really are both wonderful. That's just a starch preference. ;-)

It's taking time, but after a while the businesses we can trust are the ones we go to. It's a bit more work but it beats those big box stores when it comes to service and product, once you find them.

And what does that say for our economy? It says, give good service, have a good product and people will stay with you and your own personal 'economy' should be pretty good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Plays with Fire

What I did with my snow days.
It snowed a lot for North Carolina! We had two days off! So I made some rings to put lampwork in. This was in a jewelry magazine with swirls on the side. I have a ring from ages ago that says 'plays with fire' on it and it's so fun, since, yes indeedie, I do play with fire. (and have the scars to prove it lol)
So with my new letters from beaducation, I stamped some of these rings not with swirls but with the saying I wanted.

Now I am thinking of other things to put on them.

The neat thing about these is that you make it fit your finger by the size of the bead. The difficult thing is it isn't interchangable unless you use another wire and cut your initial wire. In the jewelry journal, they used a micro screw, but there are issues with those too. They have to be epoxied closed so those are more difficult to cut out to change a bead. To keep the ring comfy, the little wire is the best way to go, in my opinion. And once you get a good bead in the ring, you really don't want to change it.

It's always fun! :-) I've used all my wire and have a few on Etsy. More wire is on the way in the mail!

Wishing for more snow days............


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

in contrast to the snow

a bit of summery warm colors from my torch. :-)

I've been messing around with some colors that my daughter suggested when we were picking out some little beads for kits. I liked her ideas of the opaque orange/coral and blue.

I think this would be great with all kinds of outfits.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Snow in Michigan

Wow Looks like Michigan got hit with some snow! My old home town of Houghton Lake Michigan had a record snowfall for this date. 6 inches of snow. That would probably paralyze our towns in North Carolina for a week!
When we get a dusting of snow here, everything shuts down. We laugh and think we can drive anywhere, but have found that there are many who can't drive in snow and that makes travel hazardous.
A snow day here would be fun except when our school is canceled, we make it up. No built in snow days here and I don't want to work one of our spring break vacation days!
In Michigan, we would hunker down and stay inside, doing our sewing, or reading, watching movies, baking cookies and breads, doing some crafts. Snow days were times to relax, get some rest, and just not have the ability to go anywhere. We might venture out for a walk in the snow if the wind was down and the sun out. Sometimes we would ski, or skate, or sled, but usually a snow day was just a 'stay in the house, make soup, and lay around day'.
I find that the amount of people who craft or do art work isn't as high around here and I figure it's the weather. You can always walk outside, it isn't dark by 5 oclock in the winter, and you have the motivation to move rather than bundle up.

We 'did' have a low of 28 degrees one morning this week, but that didn't seem to affect the blooming daffodils, or the budding trees. It's time to pump up the bicycle tires and get outside to enjoy the spring weather. I miss my Michigan friends, but sure don't miss the weather!

and.... a quick hello to my friends who follow this blog. I don't have emails for everyone but hey... a shout out to Sybil! glad you stopped by!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Isn't this planter totally fun? I bought it last night from
Clayflower on Etsy

I just love everything in her shop. That probably says something about my personality.

Now to figure out exactly where to put this screaming baby planter. I have a cactus ready to transplant into it. ;-)

It's a tough decision deciding on only one of these planters. Apparently they are made from mold of real doll heads. Then cast with porcelain and fired and glazed.
What do you think?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A cute Etsy shop

I like ceramic work in jewelry. This cute shop on Etsy has some nice pendants and jewelry. I really like the glazes and the natural feel of her work. And it's also way awesome that she bought some copper discs from me and is using them with the pottery. It's a great combination.
She is located in Upton Wyoming, which is a teenie tiny Wyoming town that I have had the privilege of visiting. Nice people, beautiful scenery and even a little swimming pool downtown. (if you can call it a downtown) I can't remember the population but it's very small.

Stop by Sunny field's shop and look at her fun jewelry. Tell her I sent you!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I was lucky to be in a shop and stumbled across a big bowl of dusty old glass reflectors. What were they for? The shop owner said he thought for bikes. What can I do with them, the brain starts whirring and twirping. :-) because they are GLASS and they are sparkly, I mean, what's not to like? So I bought a bunch and then went back and bought more. When I dip them in ammonia, they perk right up. So with a little metal fabricating, this pendant came about. I have another in silver made and want to make a few more in the other colors that I .. and clear. Seems like something nifty could be under the clear to magnify. That's rolling around in my brain now.

I so wish there was more time to play with all this fun stuff, rather than working on grades and lesson plans. I love my job but sometimes I yearn to be knocking around in my studio working on this and that and following some of the brainstorms that have been in my thoughts.

I pick up these reflectors and seriously slide back in time to when I was a little kid. We lived on a street called Pigeon St. in Jackson, Michigan. I would walk to school for kindergarten and have cookies and milk for snack and lay on my little colorful rug for 'rest time'. We'd play in the yard and with the neighbors and sit on their steps and watch the squirrel that would run up real fast and grab a nut from their feet if they put it there. I drew pictures and painted and kept my art work in a coat box under my bed. My best picture was the painted tree with leaves of all kinds of colors dropping to the ground. We moved just before I was done with that kindergarten year, to a small town about 10 miles from there. The memories don't see as magical and sometimes I ponder that, wondering why. Probably just because I grew up.

So many of my memories are colorful and visual and somehow holding a reflector gives me a sense of that time when reflectors like this were on cars and bicycles. Glass and sparkly, something I've always been drawn to. It makes one wonder if we start some very special thing very early in life. Something to reflect on, yes?

Friday, February 13, 2009

a little fun

This will stay in your brain for hours. View at your own risk! haha
I made a CD for my students to listen to and purchased this song on Itunes. I try to skip it when we play music in my class because otherwise.............................

Monday, February 9, 2009

lost wax casting

I found this video on lost wax casting and it's well worth watching if you are interested in the casting process.
Once you've done this, you have a whole new appreciation for cast pieces.
This is something I have the opportunity to do when I am in Michigan and I have several pieces that I send to a caster to make more from the original.
It's an awesome process, although lengthy. You can see why I love it so much... look at how many tools are used in the process! :-)

Saturday, January 31, 2009


I couldn't be more excited! I'm leaving Wed night and going to Tucson!
I'll stay with very special people :-)
and visit also with a good friend. And then... the Tucson Gem and Mineral shows! Woo hoo!
What's not to like? The fact that I have to come home on Sunday!
So I'll be loving seeing my daughter and her guy, will be looking at stones and beads and supplies, and soaking up a bit of that Arizona sun. The hot tub is waiting. :-)
I cannot wait! What should I pack? It has to fit in a carry-on, and I may just keep extra space in the bag for my 'finds' from the show. Too bad I can't squish my kids in there to bring them back to NC, but lots of hugs will come home with me to sustain that 'hug bank' for a little while and hugs don't take any luggage space.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just because

I really don't know why. But I just wanted to make a duct tape wallet. It isn't the one pictured. The one pictured is from a site on how to make them. Click on the picture to go to the site and you can make one too.
Mine is orange.
I started thinking about multicolored duct tape wallets. Wallets with snaps, wallets with pictures made of duct tape.
What is this saying about where my brain is right now? Really what would I do with a duct tape wallet? It's sitting on my desk. Maybe I'll put it in the car and keep all those cards that you use in stores, and punch cards for coffee, and coupons and all that other stuff.

I'll bet you want one too. Let me warn you. It's very very sticky stuff. It sticks to your scissors.
You have to be very careful with placing the tape because one bad move and you have sticky stuff showing and you can't use that part of your duct tape 'fabric' .

Go ahead. make one. ;-) I just know you want one. Really even if you don't think you do...........

Monday, January 26, 2009


Now here is a question/suggestion for glass artists. Do you own a color wheel? If not, then make one or buy one and try some color theory with your work. Do you ever wonder what makes some work 'pop' and some soothe?
There is a whole psychology to color that is used in buildings, restaurants, schools. You probably know that. Like for instance, you wouldn't paint a middle school classroom red!

Anyway if you get a color wheel, then you can play with the combinations but you need to know how to use it, and then you need to start thinking of different tints and tones of each color. That's where it gets difficult.
A quilter's color wheel is a nice one to work with as it shows tints and tones.

Try using analogous color groups. Which means the colors are 'friends'. They are next to one another on a color wheel. Make one of those colors transparent. For instance, transparent striking red, opaque orange, and coral. Beautiful.
Now want to make it 'pop'? Add a compliment. (Gee you smell good haha) A complimentary color is across the color wheel from it's partner.
So the complement of coral is turquoise, or the complement of red is green. Add some dots of that complement and see what you think.

:-) color class is now over for the day.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do you Facebook?

A few months ago, I had an invitation to facebook. Ok I joined. Never did check it. Then a person added me as a friend so I went to the facebook pages and did the profile etc.
Well... it's pretty neat! The neatest thing about it is that I found some people I graduated from HS with in 1971! People I grew up with in a small town with a graduating class of 123, many of us from kindergarten on. I moved from that town, and my parents did too so the only contact I've had is at two class reunions. Plus my sister, my kids, my niece, are there too and we send each other hugs and kisses and little messages.
What a nifty surprise to visit and catch up, to see what people are doing. And it makes me think of how so many things in our world have changed since 1971. The opportunities that are available to women are now endless, and it's good to see youth interested in physical fitness and sports. We didn't even have sports for girls in 1971! I remember one year we had a girls track team. A goal for so many of us then was to be as skinny as possible. Now I see girls who lift weights and play sports and are taught to be healthy. And technology... well.. I'm starting to sound like my Grandma who said she was born in horse and buggy days and lived to see them put a man on the moon.
I think I'll go get my ipod, send emails on my computer, put some food in the microwave, and hmmmm what other modern conveniences ... oh let's not forget the blowdryer and curling iron! uggh I used to put my hair in rollers at night! Forgot about that! eeeew!

off and running........................

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why teaching is worth it

I often say the best thing about teaching is June, July, and August, but really if you know me well, you know I'm joking.
I like to teach. It's fun to interact with kids and introduce them to Art. There is always a student who catches on, becomes interested, and life changes for them because they have found something that pulls them to school and helps them enjoy their day. It did for me. Art took me to school. Some students are 'trouble' in other classes and never in Art. It's their place to shine and some find working in Art a soothing session for their brain. My boss in Houghton Lake told me when they cut so many classes (due to financial difficulties) "We can't cut Art! So many kids stay in school because of Art class." He mentioned a couple students who, yes indeed, loved Art and it kept them in school.
I've met all kinds of kids. Had all kinds of experiences. I loved my High School students because they are grown up to a certain extent, planning their lives, or sometimes floundering and yet they can be helped. Or they are already the awesomely, incredible adult they will be, just a fledgling, but you know by knowing them that you are lucky to have the experience of spending time with them in the Art room.
I've had students who enjoy art and have no skill, students who I think should probably be tattoo artists, students with tethers, students in Advanced Placement, students who are studying Ministry, students who take a few weeks off to have a baby and then come back, students who drop out, students who graduate with honors, students who are now in jail. I even was lucky enough to babysit one students chihuahua for 9 months (and loved that dog) Where else can you meet such an incredible sampling of really neat people and sometimes even touch their lives in good ways with lasting effects.
I am in a middle school now and it has it challenges, but very good experiences also. They are more raw in their emerging personalities and so full of energy. Please can I have that energy??
It's been mentioned to me that the High School would be 'lucky' to have me, but you know, I don't want to pack everything up, start all over again in another building, learning new faces, new procedures, even where the staff restroom is. So I'm staying where I am and enjoying this place in time and space.

Anyway. Yesterday I got the sweetest note from an old student who found me through a google search and I just have to share part of that note.

It's so hard to believe that it will have been 3 years since graduation come this May! I'm sure your time in North Carolina has flown by as well. I just wanted you to know that I am going to (name removed for privacy) college now for Fine Arts Painting and Illustration. I want to be a college professor someday! I thought you might like to know that because honestly I have you to thank for it! Even though you weren't really a painter yourself, your passion for art always inspired me. Whether we were making altered books, or carving plaster, I enjoyed every minute I spent in your classroom!

And that my precious readers, is why every minute spent in a classroom, every evening doing all that 'extra stuff' no one knows about really unless they teach, the early mornings, the going to work sick, the day before holidays when the kids are climbing the ceilings, buying materials a budget doesn't include, fundraising, progress reports, etc, including that most difficult last few years up North with the school's 'issues' there......... a note like this puts it all into perspective.

So, if any of my old students slip by here and read this. I want to thank you for letting me be part of your life, and for helping me have a career that is entirely fulfilling and memorable!
I'm still plugging away in my Art room, still have that messy desk, and still love to laugh and make messes. :-)
thank you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Last Man

I am totally hooked on this series! Graphic novels are you know.... comic books.
This series has 10 books and it's about the one guy who survived a plague that killed all the men on earth and only left women.
I'm on book 5 now.
You know what's neat about graphic novels? There is no 'he said' 'he thought' 'she looked and saw' type of words because it's in the pictures. And the pictures are sooo I don't know .... graphic novel-ish! ;-)
I don't know what to read when I finish these up. Although my son sent me another graphic novel _Watchmen_
so that'll last a while longer.
Fun to read and not have to 'think' but just look at the pictures and let my imagination run. I keep thinking about what is going on in the books so being obviously a very visual person anyway, these are way fun for now.

I linked the title of this post if you are interested. I am not getting anything from Amazon... just doing the link because.... I can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here's a t-shirt my son and my honorary son Matt designed. I like the sweatshirt myself.

Want one? Click on it to go to Cafe' press.

I sure hope this coming presidential term will make things start moving forward.
In the meantime, perk yourself up and buy some beads too! ;-)

Friday, January 16, 2009

silver clay

Have you worked with silver clay? If you see a jewelry piece that says it is 99% fine silver or says it's fine silver in the description, it is most likely metal clay. There are two companies that make it.. one type is Art Clay Silver and another is Precious Metal Clay.
It really isn't clay. It is particles of silver in a binder and it feels like a small piece of clas. You form pieces with it using certain techniques and you fire it. There are many many things you can make with it.
Before I moved to North Carolina, I would do silver casting in a studio in Michigan. That equipment isn't available to me and I sure don't need more stuff, so I work with metal clay when I need components of silver.
For Christmas, my sons bought me everything I need to work with bronze clay. That big package of clay is sitting there ready to be used. I have been planning and planning what to make. So next week when I have a couple days off, maybe that package will be opened and formed and fired to make some nifty brass jewelry pieces.

The above picture is just a simple bead cap for discs made with art clay silver and then a large headpin was formed to use with it, working both pieces together will make a nice pendant.

I wonder how many of my readers have used metal clay.

Monday, January 12, 2009

effective whining

Ok four phone calls to customer relations didn't do a thing about the disparity in price of my airline tickets. However... an email that I wrote was somewhat effective and they are going to give me a voucher. I can live with that! The fact that the consumer was acknowledged and the problem was addressed. Thank you .. ok American Airlines, I like you more now! I'd like you even more, though, if my ticket was the price it was on line this morning... a savings of $70.

I was thinking about that. A customer is a valuable person. I know that with my Etsy shop. Treat your customers well. Timely shipping, a guarantee and a little extra something in every package. That's good business.
Having jumping up and down prices and defending that (without a leg to stand on if you ask me) is not good business. I do see this same thing happen with train tickets too. There should be some regulation here if you ask me. And if you didn't ask me...... well haha I do certainly have opinions on 'stuff' like that.

In the meantime, the prices on my beads are staying the same although it might be fun to go add $70 to all my prices. ;-)

air fares

I bought tickets last week to go see our daughter in Arizona. I purchased my husband's ticket (he's taking a different plane on a different day)
and then I purchased mine. In the 5 minutes it took to make his reservation MY ticket went up $60. Where is the justice in this?
I think I'll sell beads that way. Whoa.. wait a minute, I only have 20 of those left, so you have to pay $60 more.

ugh. Don't you think a plane ticket should be a plane ticket and the price should be the same for every seat?

I looked up that same ticket this morning and now it's $70 less than I paid! Farecast doesn't predict the price on that flight or I would have waited. probably anyway.

phhhhhhhhhhtttttt on American Airlines, whose customer relations department has no sympathy. 'That's the way airlines prices tickets' I was told. But in my opinion just because it's done a certain way, that doesn't make it the correct way.

I need to make some kiss my a$$ beads!

see this heart bead? I don't heart American Airlines!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Art Criticism

My son Joe got me this totally fun book for Christmas called Art Criticism 101 (you too can be an art critic)
I used to go to museums and copy down 'Artist's statements' because I find them so entirely bulls**t-ish. Like ummmmm "My Art reflects the natural environment in an industrial world, showing the depth of humanity and it's place in the universe" kind of Artistic statements. You can find them everywhere and they are so ambiguous, and so 'not' a real idea. It's something someone writes because they 'have' too and the statement is something the 'deeper' it sounds, the better. But I think artists don't really think that way. We just create because we must. We live and breathe creative works and thoughts and can't get through life without making 'stuff'. Art reflects our inner thoughts and brain. Is it screaming pictures? Maybe you aren't screaming, but you find it amusing or fascinating, the look and the sound. ok now I am probably not making sense, but see, I don't have to make sense. I can just write an artistic statement!

So these art criticisms rather follow the same line of thinking. If you memorize one and use it once, then memorize another--people will think you know what you're talking about. And according to this book, if someone asks you to tell them more, you just remain 'cryptic' .

so let's try it. Look at the pictured beads above, and here is my criticism. ;-) coolness......

The sensuous play of surface overflows the eye with such force that the viewer cannot be detached from the surface.

it works!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

applying for art fairs

Do you participate in art fairs? I've been selling my work in shows since 1993. Things are different but still the same. Applying for shows still takes the same type of thinking and careful preparation, no matter what type of show or if it is an electronic application or paper.

My first time selling jewelry was at a flea market in my home town. I remember how exciting it was to get the letter that I was accepted! (I'm sure anyone with 10 bucks could get in, but hey, it was my first show!)
I drove there in the Suburban and set up a table with a cloth on it and an easel with pieces pinned to a big board. I had some pendants strung on leather and lanyards for sunglasses. Well, the wind blew a lot and it was easy to see the easel was a real bad idea. I sold a few things but nothing all that great, and when I went to drive home, the emergency brake on the Suburban stuck, so I drove home with it stuck (this was before cell phones, and gee, it was only 6 miles, so I figured I could drive home like that since I couldn't call and ask my husband if it was ok) Well. The brake had to be repaired (ooops!) and hmmmm I think I made a grand total of $40.00, but I was hooked, beginning to apply as much as I could to craft fairs and art fairs, hoping for entry in the better shows.
At the time, I would take pictures with our home camera and take a zillion pictures, take them in to be developed and then also had to do the same with slide film. It was horrid expensive to try to get three good pictures of jewelry and very frustrating. There were many shows I was turned down from and then some I got in to.
You learn as you go, and pictures truly are key in entering shows.
In the years of applying for shows, I learned that pictures are THE most important thing about applying for the jewelry category. So ok, good work is important too, but no one can see that good work without a good picture.
With digital photography, pictures in applications are better and better. You can have the best jewelry in the world, but if the pictures aren't good, you can forget about getting into any show.
And I have been in shows with some people with the absolute worst work and wondered 'how did they get in?' and figure, no doubt, they had great pictures.

There are tricks and tips to photos and I am no expert but will try to share some of my findings.

I did try having pictures done professionally a few times and they were never what I wanted. Two expensive ventures were deep disappointments. One with a photographer who just threw my work on a matte board any which way and took pics with his very expensive giant camera. One piece was just a beautiful work of handwoven off loom beadwork and he even had put it upside down to take it's picture. I paid him quite a bit for that work. This was before digital and he handed me the film to be developed. Another time, I went in with the jewelry and helped set it up. (another professional photographer) and again took the film to be developed. That time was 'ok' but cropping was bad and you could see all kinds of lint on the displays even though we cleaned meticulously for lint. There was a lot more background in those pictures than jewelry and that was sad because he had a giant lens on that camera and the tripod and lighting, but the pics weren't 'right'.
Even a professional jewelry photographer who took wonderful pictures didn't have exactly what I wanted. My fault on that one. He felt my three slides should be themed and connect and he picked through my work to get what he thought was best. One picture was of a simple piece that really took no technique. It was just an accessory to my better pieces, and I felt getting a picture of that was a waste of my money. Another was a close up of a pendant and it seemed to 'hang there' with nothing to hang on! It needed a good chain, and a good handmade chain would have been the best choice. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. ;-) And I learned that when taking pictures for shows, you need pieces with every element 'right'.
Having slides done with him was a good experience, and I learned a lot from it, one thing though was that I shouldn't settle on having a really nice picture taken of a piece I'm not real excited about. His point that the work should connect though, was a real learning experience. I used the pictures for a year for juried shows and didn't get into all of them, but that is not the picture's fault. That's when I learned. You need pieces that photograph well also. Pieces that are full of personality and technique. Do everything you can to make your work as well made as possible. Do you have a toggle on that piece? How can you find a unique toggle that could make your work stand out from others?

So my first rule for photography is to have pieces that reflect my artistic personality. Pieces that are fun, that have as many handmade elements as possible. I try to have a piece no one else has made and if it's really awesome, it's no one else 'could' make because the elements would be all made by me. Maybe some silver casting or PMC along with my glass work.

Jewelry categories are very competitive and you have to stand out.
The jury committee has maybe a minute or two to look at your slides and you want to be memorable.

I am not in every show I apply to. When it's a good show, there may be 200 jewelry artists applying for 7 slots. A promoter told me that! Amazing, yet not surprising. So I try not to take it to heart when I am turned down. Just determine to do better.

If your work has handmade elements, you can think/hope your slides stand above slides of jewelry that is strung with no handmade elements.

I could write about pictures for art shows every day for a week and will hopefully as time allows, tell more about jewelry photography and applying for shows.
That's my goal for this week. Have pieces ready for my show applications. I have been procrastinating, but in some ways, I am thinking. Mulling over what to have put together, and how it will photograph. Looking on the internet at good art shows and the pictures they have from their jewelry artists. I ask myself, 'what is it about this artist's work that the jury liked?"

Try it. It's a good exercise. Then get out your most unique pieces and take some pictures.