Thursday, February 4, 2010

Uncertainty in Today's Plans.

Today is a very uncertain day.  I have a friend from the East Coast who has spent the last several days in San Diego.  The last we communicated was last night...  I'm not sure if he is coming up to L.A. early today so that we can spend some time together before he flys out of LAX or not.  So I did not plan a lot of specifics, but am accomplishing a lot anyway.

I should note, before I go on, that there are a lot of pictures associated with today's blog.  If you would like to see larger images, just click on them.  That should do it.

I woke up early and finally got my 2009 State Sales Taxes done.  I don't know why I procrastinated so long...  California has gone to e-filing and the whole process took less than 10 minutes.  How much did you sell before April 1?  How much did you sell after April 1?  (That's when they increased our sales tax to a hefty 9.75%.)

Push a button and boom, there is how much you owe.  Press the button to have it taken out of my checking account electronically, and I'm done.  I don't even have to print out the confirmation page since I have "Snag It" installed on my computer.  Press another button and the entire web page with the confirmation is saved into a file.

Soon after that, I was busy packing up an order for Shoe Candy to be shipped today for a special and long time client to a family member of hers as a gift:
And then got busy doing the laundry I did not do yesterday.  I am still very tired, so I decided only to tackle the clothing.  That includes the socks that I've cast off underneath my desk.  This is a very bad habit I have.

Then it was time to walk the dogs to the post office to mail today's order.  They enjoy the walk, but I think they particularly enjoy passing through the pedestrian underpass of the 101 Freeway.

Back home, it was time for a quick bite to eat and then I needed to get started on another Special Order, Special Circumstance bracelet.  This one is a gift from a Mother to a Daughter, and the daughter has very tiny wrists.  Bracelets are challenging to make anyway because sizing is everything, and that's why I finally adapted the ones I make for sale to close with a length of chain so they are a "one size fits most" deal.  But with the size that I need to make today, I will need to make adjustments to how I assemble the beads and knots.  I do enjoy a challenge.  And of course, I have direction on what colors to use, but I needed to decide what color cord works best with the piece.

I'm torn between light blue and purple, but leaning towards the purple because that's the daughter's favorite color.  The lighter beads should show up nicely against it.

The pink, which in my mind originally was going to be best totally clashed with the pink beads.  The steel blue was an impulse pull from my boxes of cord spools, but I didn't think that my clients would like the final outcome.  Although I only know them through Richard Simmons's Clubhouse and e-mails mostly about this and a prior order, I see them as very bright and sunny people, and the steel blue would dull the final bracelet down.  I try so hard to make jewelry and other products that will make my clients happy.  I am limited in income because of SSDI regulations...  I cannot lose my medicare under any circumstances as there is no public option for medical insurance on the horizon any time soon (damn the government and the stupid politics that get in the way of doing the right thing), and I am uninsurable on my own.  For that, and that reason only - that I want to live and not die which I will without insurance, I have to live a life of near poverty.  But on the other hand, the situation can also be very freeing.  Because instead of making products simply to sell, or going back to my old and very successful life in the corporate world (which I hated), I have the luxury of making the highest quality product I can for clients on an individual basis.  I love that I am never ashamed of what I produce!

Anyway, once I decided on purple, I cut the cord and prepared it.  By preparing it, I mean that I dip the ends into an agent that will make them plastic.  That way, the cords have their own self needles on the end to thread through the beads. 

Now I have to hang the cord and wait for the agent to dry.  That time can vary depending on the weather.  Yesterday when I was supposed to have done this, it was bright and sunny and if I had been industrious, the cord would already be waiting for me.  But no, I was so tired that I did not address this until today, and so I have an hour to kill before I will be able to start making the bracelet.  Fortunately, there are plenty of other things to do.

I should mention that this plastic agent is a very dangerous thing to use.  If I get a drop on my clothing, it will never come out.  If I was to use it where there is carpeting and drip it there, the carpeting would be more ruined than it already is by Cosmos's last d
ays.  So I generally do this step in the kitchen and dining area, and hang the dripping cords from cabinet knobs and in this case, from my chandelier.  If the drips fall on tile or wood, they peel right up when they are dry and can be thrown away.

Now that I had dripping plastic over my dining room table, I  figured I should probably put the food that I didn't address yesterday into the refrigerator.  No, I did not prepare it and my 'fridge is embarassing because the food was just tossed in, so I am not sharing a picture of that spectacle.  If I have time to work on the food later today, I will show you the results then.  But note how "tired" my dogs are from the short walk to the post office and then cleaning up.  It's amazing...  it doesn't take much to convince dogs that they are tired if you use the proper psychological tools.  On the other hand, had we not gone for that short walk that did not, and I repeat did NOT really wear them down, they - specifically Lucy - would be tormenting me with her toys right now as I type.

Since I just cleaned my studio yesterday, I decided to respect the cleanliness and put the spools away.

The bracelet I'm making today, as I mentioned, is for a very small wrist.  The woman who ordered it mentioned that she would like metallic beads.  Although we ended up not going with metallic as a major component of the bracelet, I like to put spacer beads between the "flowers" on the chain.  In this case, to keep the number of flowers as high as possible, I am going to use either the pink or purple Japanese Metallic beads pictured to the right.  I'll decide which one once the bracelet is started.  But as I've mentioned I think even above and many times in prior posts, I like to use as high quality materials as I can and are called for.  Although the majority of the bracelet will be in Czech Glass and therefore less expensive beads, note the price on the Japanese.  That's right.  $4.19 for 2 grams of beads.  2 grams will almost fill up a thimble.  And these are not even the most expensive beads.  We're not talking crystals, gemstones, semi precious stones, and the like.  In this case, we're simply talking highly engineered precision seed beads.

I'm going to go work on some projects now and will continue this blog later...
* * * * * * *

Well, I'm back!  I was so engrossed in making the bracelet-of-the-day that I forgot to change my laundry to the dryer and hours after it finished washing, it's now tumbling dry.  Hopefully it will be dry in time for me to go to Slimmons.  All of my exercise clothing was in today's wash and I am not going to wear street clothes tonight - lol!
I also forgot to eat and drink during the process; a real problem for me.  If I allow myself to get physically hungry, I will eat anything I can lay my hands on whether it is good for me or not.  If I keep myself on a schedule, I make much better choices.  I also have a tendency to get dehydrated quickly - a side effect of Crohns - and not only is it dangerous in and of itself, but the body often does not recognize the difference between hunger and thirst.  Often I will find myself eating when I am dehydrated when what I need is a large glass of water.  I must be more sensitive to this issue.

Anyway, I have taken the special order bracelet as far as I can today.  When I had left this blog, the cord was prepared and drying, and I did a couple of boring things, set up my studio to work, and got started.  

  As in any craft that requires hand work, the tools we have to use are a critical part of the process, and the better the tools, the better the outcome.  Here are the materials and tools required to make today's bracelet.  1.)  A beading tray lined with a beading mat, 2.)  The beads - 4 colors of seed bead plus the metal letter beads, 3.) the clasp, 4.) A split ring to attach the clasp to the chain, 5.)  a ruler, 6.)  Glue, 7.)  Scissors, 8.)  Knotting tweezers, 9.)  Two kinds of pliers to work with the chain, 10.) A specialized kind of tweezers to open and close the split ring.  11.) A tote bag to keep my tools and materials together, 12) Chain

  13.) A project board on which to pin my work, and an easel to prop the project board up on.  I have an easel that I particularly like because it not only can be used on a table, but has legs so that it can be used in bed.  That's an important point for me because I am often not well enough to work sitting up in my studio.
  14.)  A work table.  15.)  An Ott light.  This is a specialized light kind of like a shop light that gives off UV rays of a certain frequency that the materials I work with are highly illuminated and the colors are clear.
  16.)  Pins.  The type of pin I use for a particular project is critical.  For these hand-knotted bracelets, I prefer T-head quilting pins.  I use different kinds of pins for other projets, though.
  Here are the pink beads.  I had committed to using translucent pink beads, but for a prior client, I had made a "bead soup out of many colors of pink beads.  For this client, I had to pick the appropriate beads out of the mix.

Now to get started:

I start by knotting a section of cord that will be used to attach the bracelet to the chain.

Now I have knotted end beads, five flowers, and enough of a center section to put the letter beads on.
The letter beads have been added and the flowers and spacer beads continue down the other side of the bracelet.
Now I have finished the knotting portion of the bracelet.  I have changed the position of the easel to flat and unpinned the bracelet from the Project Board.  It's time to attach the chain and deal with the ends of the cord.

I have turned the knotted portion of the bracelet back on itself, threaded it through the chain that I measured and cut, and attached the cord back onto the bracelet.  All four tools you see above are needed for this process.  It's probably the most exacting part of making these bracelets because if I do not knot the cord snugly when attaching it back against the bracelet, not only will the finished product look sloppy, but the cord will be loose and able to slide against itself.  Over time, it will saw itself until it's broken.  I do everything possible to ensure that my work is tight enough that this does not happen.

Here I've chosen out the charm accent bead for the end of the chain.  I did not make any commitment to my client on color, only that I would use one of my cut glass beads.  As it turns out, the pink worked perfectly with this bracelet!
Attaching the clasp to the chain is a very challenging task.  I do not have pictures of this process...  I need all my concentration and both hands to accomplish it and even so, I often loose grip of the materials and have to chase them down as they pop out of my hands and go flying across the room - lol!
Here you can see that I have added the charm to the end of the bracelet.  Next I need to glue the knots and let them dry.  There are many kinds of glues used in beading; it is critical that you use the right type of glue for the process you are following and the materials you are using or you run the risk of the glue not holding and your work falling apart.  I would be mortified if that ever happened to anything that I made!

Here is a picture of the almost-finished bracelet!  The knots are glued but wet.  I need to hang the bracelet to dry, preferably overnight.  Tomorrow when I know that the glue is really dry, I will snip the cord flush against the knot, being careful not to leave any threads that might be sharp later on, then re-glue the knots once again.  If I do my job right, the end knots will look like little beads themselves.
And here is the bracelet drying on the "rack."  Tomorrow morning, I will do the clipping and photography (the part I hate most about beading because it's really difficult to get a good picture where the colors are true), do the final gluing, submit the pictures to my client for approval, and wait another day until the glue is dry enough to package the bracelet up and assuming that she likes my work, I can ship it to her.

Now it's 4:48pm and I need to put all my materials away.  Then I will feed my doggies and even though I ate a Tangelo during this part of the blog, I will make myself another snack to eat on the way down to Slimmons, and yet another to eat on the way home.  I will need to get changed and since Richard is going to be on the Dr. Oz show next week, we have been informed that the producers and camera people will be in class tonight to film some of it.  That means that I actually need to pay attention to what I wear and ensure that my make-up is somewhat fresh.  It's bad enough that I've put a little weight on, but I don't ever want to be in the frame of mind that I think it's ok to be a slob again.  The weight gain isn't bad, and I'm almost back to infomercial weight which is a stone's throw from what I weighed in the Before/After pics that Richard used last year on QVC.  If I am careful about what I wear, I hope that I am not too embarrassed if I am in the line of camera shot behind Richard.  Fortunately, when these things air, all eyes are on him anyway, so I can only hope that nobody will notice me.

I'll be back again later.

* * * * * * * *
 Honey, I'm home!  Before I tell you about Slimmons this evening, I have received a number of inquiries about taking special orders for bracelets.  I am happy and honored to do so, and can use almost any color bead and cord combination, can make them in any size (except for babies... I am not confident that these bracelets are appropriate for and would hold up under the hard use that a baby would give it), and I'll spell out names, phrases, etc.  The only limitations is that I do not use profanity and I do not infringe on other people's copyright (without permission).  If you would like to explore me  making one for you, please "Conversation" me through my "Making It" Etsy Shop and we can discuss what you are looking for and how much I will need to charge to get what you want done.  Thank you.  The advertising portion of this blog is now done - lol!

* * * * * * * * *
When I got to Slimmons, the Dr. Oz people were already filming Richard before class and sure enough, when he saw me, he ran over and had me meet them... on film.  I've been through this enough times that it does not fluster me anymore, although I admit that I was a little disconcerted when Richard left me with them and they kept the camera on.  I did not know if I was supposed to say something or not, so I just smiled and waved at the camera, then walked away.  The good news is that they were actually fairly polite about how they filmed and, at least for me, I did not have to watch out for cameramen.

After class was over, Michelle (Richard's assistant) was gathering groups up and having them say "Welcome to Slimmons!" on the Slimmons camera.  I have no idea what that was about... for Dr. Oz or for something else.  But I was not grabbed, and I headed off to the bathroom for a pit stop before leaving.  However, it turned out that I was not spared and after I had put my sweater on and packed up my stuff, Michelle grabbed me and told me to stand "over there."  I pretty-well knew what she was going to request, but I asked her if I was in trouble anyway and of course she responded "Yes."

She gathered up a few of my friends at Slimmons and we were instructed to take our sweaters/jackets off, and then also do the "Welcome to Slimmons!" for the camera.  We did so, and after the others quickly left, I looked at Michelle, rolled my eyes, and asked "Wouldn't this have been more appropriate before class?"

She just looked at me, smiled, and said that I was "always a smart-ass."

You know those times when somebody says something to you, and you don't think of a response until later when it's too late?  This was NOT one of those times!!!!

I laughed, and retorted immediately "Better a SMART ass than a DUMB ass!"

28 posts in 28 days.  Today is day Four.

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