Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes We Need that Push

I was just reminded how wonderful my customers are. They have faith in my talent even when I am unsure myself, and they never fail to push me to do more and more.

I opened my shop with nothing but rings and wire name pendants. Friends would ask, "Do you do necklaces? Bracelets?" And I would say, "Not right now, but maybe in the future I'll branch out into more types of jewelry." The fact is, I am comfortable making rings and wire name pendants. I've done it a bazillion times, and I'm confident that I can design and execute a beautiful ring without any difficulty. Necklace, bracelet, earrings? The same techniques are used for making those, wire wrapping, but because I haven't made many, I am afraid to try! What if it doesn't turn out right? What if people don't buy it? So-and-so makes gorgeous earrings. What if mine aren't as good?

Twice now my customers have given me the push I needed to take a chance and make something I hadn't made before. The first time was just before Valentine's Day. A sweet husband was buying his wife a ring that she had admired when she saw me wearing it. He asked me if I could please make her a set of earrings to match. How am I going to say no to a sweet husband and additional sale? I said yes, I made matching earrings, and they were beautiful. She called to let me know how much she likes the whole set and it just made me warm and fuzzy all over!

The second incident was just a couple of days ago. An artist at Etsy featured my swan ring in her treasury, and another artist saw it and loved the design, but doesn't wear rings. She sent me a message asking if I could make a bracelet in the same design. I was thrilled, and I was terrified! The bracelet would be made in exactly the same way the ring is made, just bigger, which means a lot more sterling silver. This scared me... what if I messed up and trashed more than 2 feet of sterling silver wire?! I swear I must have held my breath as I carefully crafted that bracelet... and it turned out absolutely lovely. A perfect replica of the little ring, but bracelet-sized.

I'm so grateful for these people who make me live up to my full potential. The tendency to limit myself seems to be strong sometimes, and I feel the limits lifted every time I complete a new challenge. I expect that my confidence will continue to grow and my shop will continue to evolve as I sell more and more pieces. And I know that there will always be those wonderful people that will ask me to make something that I had never dreamed of making, and that is what makes jewelry making even more exciting, fun, and challenging.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Giving Up the Cell Phone

Everyone has a cell phone, right? If you had asked me a year ago for a list of 3 things I'd never leave the house without, one of those things would have been my cell phone. (Along with keys and lipstick.) In November 2010, my husband and I decided to give up our cell phones. I would love to say we were trying to live a more simplistic lifestyle, cutting out some of the electronic noise that surrounds us all every day, but our reason was a bit less noble. It was one month before Christmas, and we needed to cut the monthly budget. Of course, this was a temporary thing. We'd get them turned back on after Christmas, for sure!

The actual act of having them disconnected was easy. We had service through Metro PCS, where everything is pre-paid, month-to-month with no contract. If you don't want service, don't pay for the next month.  The mental adjustment, however, took some getting used to. I found myself reaching for my phone constantly. Even when I had a landline phone easily available, the immediate reaction was to reach for the cell. I found myself running late for work, or late coming home from work, and in a panic because I couldn't call to let anyone know. It was second nature to call hubby and say, "Hey, I'm at the store, taking a lot longer than I thought, don't worry about me!"

Click the photo to see this item @ Gifts2Give on Artfire

When I'm at work, I'm within arm's reach of a telephone at all times. At home, we found a wonderful solution that is enormously cheaper than a cell phone or a traditional landline. We use Skype, which works through the internet, and costs us a whopping $20 for an entire year of service, both incoming and outgoing calls, and no charge for long distance. Skype can be used by attaching a headset with a microphone to your computer, but we did splurge and get Skype handsets, since this would be our primary means of communication.  We were fortunate enough, though, to find them on sale at Wal-mart.

The biggest adjustment for me was that I had to plan a little better. If I think I am going to be late for work, I call my co-worker from the home phone and let her know that there is a chance I may be late. If I am not coming directly home from work, I decide ahead of time where I am going and approximately how long I will be there, and call hubby from the phone at work to let him know so that he doesn't worry. If I leave the house when the family isn't home, I leave a note-- yes, a note on paper!-- to let them know where I am and when I expect to be home. It is inconvenient that I can't call hubby at the store when I suddenly realize that we need milk, and it's not so great when I am driving somewhere that I have never been before and I get lost. Other than on those rare occasions, I don't even miss it.

I still keep my cell phone around because it has that nifty phone book full of all my contacts, but it's not in service. It also serves as my daily alarm clock. An important thing to remember is that Skype does not have 911 service, so if you should choose to ditch the cell phone service, do keep a charged cell phone around, just in case. Even with no service, a charged cell phone will be able to complete a call to 911.By using it as an alarm clock, it ensures that I do keep it charged and handy. Safety first, you know.

What started out as a temporary act of frugality has become a normal way of life. We could turn our cell phones back on. As it turns out, we're fine without them! It is fun to see the look of surprise on the faces of our friends when we explain that we will meet them at the restaurant, but that they should come on in and look for us in the dining room, because we won't be calling them when we get there. They cannot fathom how we get through life without cell phones! We just smile. We're doing okay.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Buckling Down

Holy time warp, Batman! It feels like it was just Monday! I had made it a goal to blog 3 times per week; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Turns out I didn't do so well this week with that endeavor. It's funny, I was just about to write here about what I have been doing, when the phone rang and totally reinforced my game plan. It felt a little like a blow to the stomach, but I needed it.

It was a nice gentleman who is a client at the law firm where I work. His wife had come in to drop off some paperwork for him, and she saw the sterling silver green agate ring that I was wearing and really liked it. I told her that I made it, and she asked if I also sold the jewelry that I make. I told her about my Artfire shop, and explained that I could make her a ring very similar to the one I was wearing. (She needed a larger size than that particular one.) So her husband called a few days later and asked me to email him a link to my website. He just called back to ask me to make her a ring and earrings from sterling silver and green agate, but he also said this: " I checked out your shop, and it was really nice. I had expected to see more in there, but the things you have are beautiful." I thanked him and told him that it's a new project for me, and that I am adding new things every day, still a work in progress.

Which brings me to what I have been up to while I have been neglecting my blog: Making new jewelry! That has been my game plan for the week, and I have made quite a few new things. I still need to get more, more, more items in my shop! I need to photograph and list the ones that I have already made. Sometimes I get caught up reading and learning about how to market my stuff, SEO, and what's going on in the Artfire and Etsy communities, and I feel like I am doing something productive. But the truth is, while learning is nice, and while promoting is important, my shop will not be successful until I get a nice respectable amount of items there. No way around it.

This weekend and all of next week, create and list, create and list. I can dig it. But hopefully no neglecting my blog this time. Please feel free to chastise me here if I do not make some sort of interesting contribution here by Tuesday next week!

Honkus G.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Son's Awesome Abe Lincoln Painting

Today I am featuring one of my favorite artists in the whole entire world, my 13-year old son, Eli. He has been telling me that the art teacher at his school really likes his monochromatic painting of Abe Lincoln, and I was excited when he told me that it would be on display at his school on the night of his jazz band performance. (He's a man of many talents!)

I knew he could draw, but holy cow! My jaw dropped and I let out a squeal when I saw his painting! I love it, love it, love it! So proud of my boy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Groundhog Day!

It's Groundhog Day again, and it seems that most of our fine, plump rodent friends are predicting an early spring! (For the groundhog day rookies, this means they did NOT see their shadows.) Weeeeeee!

I enjoyed seeing some of America's famous groundhogs on the news this morning, and now I want to see more, more, more! I've decided to feature some really cool groundhog art today, from some really cool artists. Clicking on any of the pictures will take you right to the artist's shop, where you too can own a fabulous groundhog piece of your very own. All art pictured is posted with the artist's permission.

Crochet any? I found this adorable groundhog at Planet June Crochet Patterns & More. You can purchase the pattern and make your very own fine furry friend. Will he see his shadow? See more at

Don't you hate it when this happens? *grin* Just when you're ready to go out, that pesky groundhog latches on. I love this print by Amber Alexander. It comes signed and dated by the artist herself.

The groundhog in this adorable photographic print by Lisa K. Walraven of Happy Wren is contemplating some serious business. Perhaps he is honing his weather-predicting skills, or basking in the satisfaction of a job well done. You can see more art by Ms. Walraven at her website,

We all need to take a break now and then. And that's what this well-nourished rodent was doing when photographer Kelly D. Brown skillfully captured his image. He dares you to interrupt! You can see more photography by Ms. Brown by visiting her website,

I couldn't help but smile when I saw this happy little greeting card by Crystal Dyck of The Lil Bitty Card Company.

The groundhog watches over the land in this colorful and bold print of an original oil painting by Walt Curlee.This painting won a first place award at the 2010 American Art Awards, and I can certainly see why. You can see more of Mr. Curlee's work at

A big giant thank you to all the wonderful artists who allowed me to share their work!

I've had so much fun exploring the web for interesting groundhog art. I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of my favorite groundhog finds.