Friday, September 27, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Juliet:
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Truer words than these written by Shakespeare have never been written, but as in many aspects of  life in this new age of technology,  some things can come obsolete.  While Juliet's words are true for life and living, they do not fit into the world of the internet.

When Eric and I decided to go forward with our web based Craft Gallery, the first order of business was to decide on a name.  In the old order of brick and mortar stores, this aspect of the new business could wait until later and you could go ahead and plan your inventory, design your locations, and start "building your house."  But when dealing with e-commerce on line, it's all about bringing people into your site.  Unlike "real life" where you can locate yourself well and create a facade that your potential customers hopefully will drive/walk by and be inticed to come in, on the internet, it is a difficult task to place yourself in the right "location." That is, on the first page of a Google Search for what you have to offer.  Your shop, if not high up in Google Rankings, can go forever un-noticed, and many web based businesses fail only because of this.

I had no idea about any of this when we started our venture.  Fortunately, Eric is a computer and especially an Internet Expert, and knew to start by searching out words for "Search Engine Optimization (SEO)".  Mostly Eric, but me too, looked for words associated with an art gallery that might specialize in fine Crafts as well as some traditional art. 

It was difficult.  The examples of how to do this task always seemed to use dog supplies as a model to make it look easy, but if you look up Crafts or Handmade, or Gallery, you will find a hodge-podge of web sites that have nothing to do with what we are intent on doing on the front pages of Google.  Fortunately, there are other ways of getting high ranking when developing a web site or web based business, but we are still going to have to use wording to help us and you find us.  And this is where, my readers that are clearly my friends as according to the Blogger Stats, I had 72 visits yesterday after not posting for two years, and only having put up two blog posts in the past two days, I need your help.

Suppose you were looking for a shop to buy handmade crafts... something that was special and different than the norm (like Etsy).  If you were to look for something like our shop, what would you type into the search bar?  We hope to carry a diverse assortment of handmade items including jewelry - of course - but ceramics, fiber arts, soaps, glass work, knit wear, journals, leather work, and more.  If you would be so kind as to tell me what you might use, even if it is a repeat from somebody who (I hope) might have already used the search terms, I would be ever grateful.

But back to that rose.  We are close to putting the web site, unfinished though it might be, into a location where you can see what is going on.  (Right now it is hidden under a domain name which will remain secret.)  We needed to settle on a name so that we could obtain the domain and server space.

I came up with a number of names, as did Eric.   Some were better than others; some not good at all.  Once you figure out a name, though, then you have to search the internet (through a process that I won't bore you with) to see if it's available or already been taken.  We bought some of the names that we thought might be usable (it's very inexpensive to just buy a domain name and Eric has been, over the years I've known him, collecting them as he thinks of something funny, useful, or both.) but we were not really fully happy with any of them.  Nothing we could find in our SEO searches really seemed to be what we were looking for.  And then Eric thought of a name that I really liked.

"Handmade by Design"

The problem was it was already taken!  But when we tried to look the site up on line, there was nothing there.  Just like Eric, somebody else had thought of this name and reserved, surely with the idea of selling it later.  And so Eric looked for the person or broker who might be handling this name and contacted him.

The original price asked was prohibitive.  I was ready to drop the name immediately and try to think of something else.  But again, Eric who is very smart and wise, told me to wait.  He made an offer for the name that was far below what was being asked.  They came back with a counter offer far above what we would be willing to pay, and we let it sit for a while.  A long while.

Meanwhile, Eric kept working away at the web site.  He had originally used "Handmade by Design" as the working title, but changed it to "American Traditional High Heeled Folk Dancing".  That got a giggle out of me.  He started to test some of the functionality systems including actually purchasing and checking out through the shopping cart.  The first thing he offered for sale was Miles holding up basil plants... a picture from his 5th grade science project, and called the item "Boy With Basil."  That got an actual laugh out of me, not only for the item itself, but because he was asking far too much for the product.  Certainly, as the purchaser realized who they had bought, they might have second thoughts and try to return Miles!  I love Miles dearly and would never let him go, but he has some personality quirks that are quite difficult to live with. 
Miles is damned cute, isn't he?

A month went by without us countering the offer on Handmade.  And then Eric, after a Crafts show we attended so I could look for more artists who might be interested in participating and who met our specifications, suddenly asked me if we should go back to negotiating on the name. 

It was the best name I could think of; I have an intuition that our site is going to work and work well and we will be very happy running it, but if for some odd reason, we decide we don't want it anymore, it was a name that went with a working site that I believed would help it sell so we could recoup our money.  And so I told him that we should go for it.

Eric negotiated and negotiated all this week.  And by the end of yesterday, we were the proud owners of the domain name, "Handmade By Design"!

I've long thought in the back of my mind that running a dot com might be fun, especially one that would bring me in contact with artists of a like mind as me.  It's an opportunity not only to establish a business for myself above and beyond what jewelry I can produce (beading is a slow speed sport anyway and with the elbow/hand, I'm slower than ever) which could make some money for our family to live on, but it's also a wonderful opportunity to help my artist friends get exposure and sales for their own work.  If this venture works the way I envision it, it will be good for everyone!

And now again, my friends, if you can think of any terms you might use to search out an on line gallery that sold hand made crafts, you might leave your ideas in the Comments, I will be very happy and grateful.

Thank you so much for coming back and taking in my musings.

xoxoxoxo 

Laura

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Break in My Life

Pre Purchase Pic
I am hard at work these days. I finally mostly adjusted to being married with a family , and I'm figuring out how to carve time in my schedule for myself. It turned out to be as simple as everybody advised.  Just schedule activities and go do them.  But that's not an easy thing for me to do... I tend to get caught up in family dramas and then am disappointed to miss get-together s and all the things that I need outside of my daily life. Despite the best of intentions, I've lost track of many of my old friends. But the good ones, and I mean the really good ones, are very forgiving of me without a second thought, and I even accomplished a spin in at my home a couple weeks ago with another scheduled for October.   When Eric and I found this masterpiece of home  last year,  I immediately thought that this is the home of my dreams. It's very functional; almost everything works, but it still is eccentric as can be. It's definitely a place to have friends, groups, meetings, and parties at. I thought that this is the perfect place to create a repeat of what my friend Garen has done with her home in Hollywood, but in the valley!  So I hear you asking..why is it that I only had my first friends over a couple weeks ago?

Pre Purchase Pic
Although I come over as eccentric as can be and fairly self secure, one thing that really bothers me is physical chaos in the home. Fact: when we moved in on New Year's Eve, we needed six moving trucks. That's right, SIX, and they were stuffed to the gills!  That's a lot of unpacking to do.

Then in April I had a terrible accident on a stupid hike that nothing should ever had happened on. Not only was my elbow shattered into 67 places, requiring all sorts of metal and screws, cadaver bone, tendons, wire,and I don't even know what else,

but the CRPS that I was given in my right ankle, foot, and leg so long ago leaped into my arm and hand.  Even without the CRPS, it was questionable how much use I was going to have of the arm again. I was warned to do nothing.  Not even get out of bed.  This was a command from the doctor that operated on me and strong advice from all the other medical professionals who were treating me for any of my ailments. The injury itself was so critical that I was not even allowed to ride in a car. The vibrations from the road alone could shake the elbow pieces apart and they could not be repaired again. There were so many tiny pieces but not everything was even able to be glued let alone bolted together. And although those of you who know me well know that I did not stop in my activities and ignored his advice to certain extent, the injury slowed me down significantly.

Additionally, I had to reassociate myself with the pain management center at Cedars-Sinai for weekly nerve blocks. Which I am still receiving.  I just couldn't get the house in good enough shape to have people over; at least in my mind. But finally do to diligence and a lot of hard work even though we're not completely unpacked, the fact is I'm comfortable inviting my friends now and the truth is they wouldn't have minded if I have had them over and in the massive chaos. I clearly need to work on these insecurities still with my therapist.

Not only have I broken through the barrier heating me from having people into the home, but I've also recently learned to get out. I started taking classes at Creative Castle again;  a wonderful beading store that brings in master level teachers to teach working artists as well as beginners how to do what they do better. The staff are all incredibly generous and giving people; incredibly knowledgeable in beading and arts of all sorts, and. I love each and every one  of them dearly. This weekend, in fact, I will be taking a class from Huib Peterson and I will be learning how to make his eternity necklace.


 (You should know that my hand is still not functioning well enough to type, so I'm writing these posts by using the dictation function on my i Pad. I had to correct the description of the
necklace by hand as the microphone he insists that eternity is attorney. I am NOT making an attorney necklace no matter how famous the teacher is!  I hope my attorney friends forgive me for the statement.) I can bead again, albeit slowly. But the important thing is that I am free to enjoy the process.

For years since I've been married,  I've lamented not being able to get out of the house and do activities, and reconnect with my friends on my own. Eric advised me to just go and forget what's happening here, but I couldn't do it. But something happened a couple of months ago and suddenly I found the strength to take classes again. I'm not sure quite what that something is but I'm glad that it came to me. I feel like I've gone from being dead inside to my old self being partly alive. Mind you I will never be the person who I was again. I love being married to Eric and I love our children. To be completely my old self is to be single and I don't want that in any way,  shape, or form. While I still struggle with some aspects of married life,I love my life as it is and wouldn't go back to the old for ANYTHING!

Right after I broke my arm,though, you should know that there was a question whether the arm would be functional at all or even if I would keep it!  I have a very good track record of healing from orthopedic injuries and maintained a positive attitude, but this was an injury far beyond anything I've ever done to myself before. I've been incredibly lucky. Despite limitations that are likely here for life the arm and hand is mostly functional and I can move on. But during those dark days when people were warned me not to get my expectations too high, I couldn't even fathom not being in the art world anymore. And, as usual, my mind took a left turn to find a solution. Being eccentric is not a bad thing. All it is is having a different way of analyzing problems and coming up with solutions. And boy was it helpful in this case!

Eric and I discussed my idea. You see, Eric was starting up on his business too,that would  include making and revamping websites.   Remember the old craze of flipping houses?  Eric is going to be a website flipper. And my plan was a great way to start.

We will both worked very hard and found a perfect website template to start with.  Eric is hard at work right now creating an online art gallery focusing on crafts for me to operate.  This is perfect for both of us ... a business that we co-ventured into together!  This idea utilizes our greatest strengths cooperatively in a most marvelous way. I will be talking about the steps we've already gone through and what we are doing to make this dream come true. Our plans are to have a bare-bones stripped-down Gallery open by mid to end of October,and then continue adding all sorts of bells and whistles to it into next year until it is a place that artists will die to be represented in and shoppers will love to visit. I love Etsy and I love many of the art galleries I've seen online, but this one is going to be very different and much more personal. But that's all I'm going to talk about in this venture right now... Except that this blog will be moving to the new website as one of its features in the very near future.

Please don't worry, I promise that all the best of what I have here will come with us. I will be merging some of the other blogs that I maintained - or better not yet not maintained - here into this blog too so my blogspot site will not exist anymore.  ButI will leave instructions behind how to find us and it should be a positive experience for all. There was so much to talk about it when we get to the new site there will be more yet!  Just wait-and-see!!!!

And now I need to go start the day.  I will write at you later!

Bye, but just fOr a little while.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Tale of Three Doctors



Having grown up as a doctors Daughter, have a healthy respect -ahem, or lack thereof - for doctors.  They are often taken aback by my participation in the treatment plans as well as my willingness to discuss their personal lives and to tease them.  I consider them only my equal; not somebodies exempt from my personal style or views on life. Eric and I especially enjoy teasing Dr. M- .  You see he has three daughters and we are happy to let him know what the future is going to be like for him. We talk about how expensive it will be for him to maintain three horses and a full horse show schedule. And about girls and their needs to each have their own bathroom. Our predictions are quite unsettling for him, especially because he can recognize the truth when he hears it and knows that we speak from experience that he does not yet have.

Yes, Eric enjoys teasing doctors too!  How lucky am I? And now, on to the stories.  

Number 1

Man of a certain age have to visit the urologist more frequently than younger men,
and Eric's at that age.  He recently got a new doctor who of course put him in all the usual man positions, and examined him while talking about shopping in Beverly Hills. Then, his dialogue changed as he got down to business. 

"Are you interested in sex? " He asked. Of course this was just a normal urological question, but he repeated it over and over again. How is your sex drive?  Do you like having sex? Are you interested in sex?  

Finally,  Eric couldn't take it anymore.   Bent over and in the position,  he heard the doctor again ask "are you interested in sex?"  Eric stood up abruptly, turned around to face the doctor, and loudly proclaimed, "Not with YOU!"

Number 2

Again Eric and this time and the dermatologist office.  He had just had a growth taken off of his nose. The doctor assured him that it was not cancerous and everything was going to be fine. And then he made his fatal comment.  He said "You are not going to die."  

Startled, Eric had only one response. "Ever?"

Number 3

I have been treated by Dr. Rodney Bluestone for a very long time.  He is world famous for his work genetics and I'm very lucky to see him. I find him intensely funny, especially when he does not intend to be funny.  You see he is very sure of himself in a way that only somebody who has made a massive change in the world of medicine could be. He dresses eccentrically and in my opinion delightfully. I can't wait to see what kind of tie or socks or jewelry he's wearing on any particular visit!  I know he enjoys me commenting on his clothing and he displays it proudly for me.  Like a proud peacock!  Again I enjoy seeing him immensely.  

Today I had wonderful news for him. Not only was I doing well, but a piece of jewelry on which I had worked on in his office had taken a silver medal in an international beading competition and was on the back cover of a magazine!  I brought both the necklace and the magazine to show him. He was impressed and even more impressed that I would've  ever imagined him capable of being. And then I dropped the bombshell on him. 

How it happened is for another story, but I have named two of my jewelry lines after two of my other doctors. I wanted to know if it was ok with him if I named a line after him!  After all he had saved my life too, and more than one occasion. He looked really proud as he gave me permission. 

Of course we were going to have to figure out what to call the line and what the product was going to be. I suggested that it could be something with Bluestone in it and could be related to my work in the color blue. But then at the very moment, inspiration took hold of me. "Of course, limiting you to work in just one color or style doesn't really capture who you are." I went on. And it came out of my mouth before I even had a chance to think about it. 

"I'd like to call your line 'Rocking Rodney' and have it be my really edgy, cutting edge, and flamboyant stuff... The kind of work you'd see on the red carpet!"  I then held my breath (fortunately for only about half a second) as I waited for his response. He burst into laughter and quickly spun away from me so I couldn't see him blush!  Almost as quickly, he cleared his complexion and spun back, still laughing.  HE LOVED IT!  In fact, he called his daughter who works for him,over to hear the idea immediately,and then spread the news all over the office. 

All of his employees loved the fact that I had pitched this idea, too. And not only because Dr. Bluestone was delighted by it. Many of them told me they had never seen a patient "get" him like that before.  They confided to me that none of them would have the nerve. And here, I was only doing what I do naturally. 

I already have ideas about what Jewelry will be in his name. I can't wait to put it out there. 

But I think the best moment was when his daughter,Kate, came to me and told me a secret...that she teases him like that all the time.  In fact, it turns out that she has a special name for him. 

She calls her father "Hot Rod". 


Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Topanga Gallery 2012 Juried Open

Dear Friends,

Some of you I see often; others are always on my mind even as we are not currently in communication.  I wanted to share fantastic news with all of you and extend an invitation.

I submitted a piece of my work to the Topanga Gallery in Topanga Canyon for their Juried Open 2012 competition and was selected as one of 51 artists who's work is on display.  There is going to be a reception there on Sunday, January 22 from 2pm to 5pm; I would love to see any or all of you if you are not involved in anything else that day and could see your way clear to join me.  There will be refreshments served and if I am very lucky, maybe my piece will be sold and you won't have a chance to see it - lol!

If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to come, here is a link for more information:  http://www.topangacanyongallery.com/index.html




I surely hope to see you there!
Laura

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fight or Flight

The best and the worst thing about the internet is that once you put something out there, it's there forever.  You can delete it, but in fact it's still there as back-up on the server level, and also often there are other trails that are easy to follow if anyone is actually interested.  That's why it's standard advice these days that kids be made very aware of what they are posting so that later, when they try to get jobs, what they are saying now is not held against them.

In addition, if you are using the internet, you can and will be found if somebody wants to know what you are saying and where.  It's not hard, and no blocks or filters can keep anyone out who is determined to peek into your life.  That's a fact, and you don't know who's looking, or for how long until they choose to expose themselves.

I have learned just how powerful and dangerous this tool called the world wide web can be.  Things written in innocence can be misconstrued and opinions can be formed about who someone is when you, in truth, really have no idea.  You only see what they write, and most people take on a persona of one sort or another when they are in a blog, on Facebook, or wherever.  You can't really know what the person is really all about until you get to know them in person, and sadly - for today's generation, most of their social interactions are over the computer and they really don't know who they are playing with!

There's another aspect, though, too.  As I mentioned above, the internet is forever.  The internet is accessible.  You cannot hide on the internet no matter what you might think.  If you don't want your friends - or enemies - to find you, you shouldn't be putting it out there in the first place.  But it's also a sad statement about somebody's personality that they feel that they need to even hide what they are doing!  What's so terrible that they can't stand up and let the world see?  Are they criminals?  Are they doing something outside of the social moray?  Are they just cowards?

I, for one, don't hide.  I don't block people from my accounts, I don't run and hide.  I am not an ostrich hiding my head in the sand.  I've learned some hard lessons from the internet, but I've faced them and stood up to them.  I continue to do so, and to take responsibility for my words and actions.  I don't always like what I've learned - about myself or others - but I know that to be sneaky and serrupticious is the hallmark of those who are not self confident; are not really interested in growing.... learning... changing, and I always want to do all of those things!

I pity those who can't come to terms with who they really are and feel the need to hide rather than stand up and be seen with pride. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Picture's Worth 1000 Words!

Right from the start, I struggled with taking pictures of my jewelry.  Step by step, I went through levels of discovery and started to put out pretty decent pictures.  But all of that changed about a week ago when I finally figured WHAT the different settings on my camera meant and how to use them effectively.  I'd keep writing but instead, I'm just going to share some older pictures (like a month ago) vs some I took today.  Amazing, the difference!!!!!



I was so pleased with these pictures when I took them.  But look what I achieved today!


Colors brighter; image sharper without any digital intervention at all!
Then:


Today:


Colors sharp, and you can see the depth of the focal bead!

Then:



Today:



You get a feel for the variegated colors within the focal heart, and also of the thickness/substance of this focal bead.  Also, this picture shows off the beautiful filigree bail effectively.

This quantum leap did not happen on it's own.  I am a huge believer in continuing education; not necessarily formal but steady and from a variety of sources.  I take classes, I get together with friends and compare notes, I look at You-Tube and other "how to" sites, and I subscribe to magazines.  The magazine that helped me the most with my photography was "The Crafts Report" which bills itself as "The Business Resource of Artists and Retailers."  It's a small magazine with a minimum of advertising and articles that seemed too simplistic as I first received this publication, but over time have come to appreciate the straight-forward information on a variety of subjects within the artist's world including how to set up displays at shows, pricing, success stories, and a number of other "departments" including my personal favorite of the moment, CRAFT Photography by Steve Meltzer.  The information is so easy to follow, the tips so simple and yet so profound, and the accessories he suggests to improve pictures are all so do-able that it was only a matter of time after I understood he was there that my pictures moved forward.

The only issue with this entire learning curve is now I am dissatisfied with many of my old pictures and hate to take the time to re-shoot jewelry.  On the other hand, the pictures I take will be of items not moved, and who knows if it was just because the colors were not good or they weren't sharp enough that they did not sell.

Oh, but to have 48 hours in every day!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our turkey's in the oven, most of the side dishes made.  Now I'm starting to prepare the vegetables for my prize-winning "Chicken Pot Pie Soup" and will make it using the leftover turkey instead of chicken, as soon as the table is cleared.  It will make a wonderful meal tomorrow!
 
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!!! 
 

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