Welcome to A Hot Piece of Glass!

WELCOME to my colorful corner of the world! I write here about the things I make, in glass, fiber, metals, and whatever else I can find to play with!

**And if you want to read more about me, check out Adventures In Living!, my personal blog, or The ScooterMom, where I write about my adventures on two wheels! If you're interested in medieval, ancient and Renaissance glass, check out my history blog, The Medieval Glassworker!**

Friday, July 29, 2011

So Many Great Things!

I've got a bunch of really great things to talk about today, and maybe even some pictures, too!

First, I can't believe I forgot to tell you about this, but a few weeks ago I was notified that I was accepted into the docent training program at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts! I wrote about it on my Facebook page, but I guess I didn't say anything here...I'm SO excited, though! Training will start the second week of September, and run through next year.

Second, I finally went ahead and ordered some postcards with jewelry-care information on the back. I used one of my very favorite photos of my enameled beads, some wire and glass, and the brass plaque I stamped 'creative'.

I got them done with VistaPrint, and they're not bad for the first go-around. I'm thinking of putting that image on my business cards, too. It captures most everything I do with my jewelry these days -- metalwork, wire, glass, enamels, stamping -- so I think it would be a little more 'iconic' for my business.

Does anybody use MOO cards as business cards?

I made beads this week, braving the heat to do so. I'm getting really frustrated with my torch setup these days, because I have so little time to make beads and I want to knock out a big bunch at each torch session. Unfortunately, with the HotHead, it takes a long time to melt the glass, which translates to extra time roasting over the flame and fewer beads made in an hour. Roasting me, as well as the glass, some of which doesn't take kindly to roasting and turns all kinds of funny colors, or just flat out burns. Sigh. Someday, someday I will be able to move on from my HotHead to something that will get me where I want to be, glasswise. I am starting to feel very limited, and that sucks.

All I need is money, though.

Quoth the Raven...."Got to get started on some Halloween ideas!"

Chickens and eggs for the market

Blue beads for a necklace idea I had.

Those grey transparent beads? Those are supposed to be crystal clear glass beads, but thanks to the HotHead, that's what I get. I look forward to the day when I get to work with clear glass again.

Other good news...I was invited to blog at 'Studio Mothers', which is a wonderful community of support and inspiration for creative moms....and not only moms! I've really enjoyed reading it, and now I am thrilled to be a part of it! Check out my intro blog post here.

I added dates to my schedule at the Manakin Market, so I will be there twice a month for August, September and October. The market ends the last Saturday in October. I will also be at the University of Richmond's Arts Around The Lake show on September 25 (oh please don't let it rain like last year!), and Whimsical Wares, in Richmond, which will be sometime in November.

I think that's the update for now. Lots of things going on around here, but it's also August, which means my kids are home all day (no camp/summer school/activities!). I'm trying not to get too stressed about having less time to myself, and instead trying to figure out how I can fit in little pieces of productive time to make jewelry and get stuff done. I'll get there, I'm sure.

If any of you are local to Richmond, VA, and interested in having your own private A Hot Piece of Glass Trunk Show at your home, please get in touch! I'm starting to book dates for home sales, and I've put together some great hostess benefits that will get you some free and special-sale jewelry and accessories. Whether we want to believe it or not, Christmas shopping season will be upon us soon, and a Trunk Show is a great way to get some shopping done AND hang out with friends! Email me for details.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Hip to Use Square!

Today I was at the farmer's market in Manakin, VA. If you've heard about the weather we've been having here on the east coast of the US, you will know temperatures have reached over 100degF for the past few days. The heat indices have ranged from 105degF up to an amazing 116degF yesterday afternoon. It's unbelievable.

And I was a vendor at the market today. Yikes. Thankfully there is shade in our market site, and a fairly decent breeze (which started to feel like a blast furnace around 11a.m.).

But that's not why I'm writing.

I set up at the market, and immediately made two sales to the market managers of some glass chicken and egg earrings. It was so hot that I was pretty sure those would be my only sales today. During the long lull in business, I decided to play around with my iPad and see if I couldn't get a better handle on my credit card acceptance application, Square.

Some quick backstory: I had a credit-card processing account through my bank, complete with the old imprinter and carbonless charge slips, and the need to telephone each card transaction in at the time of the sale, meticulously typing in looong strings of numbers. I hated it, but it was inexpensive and it worked for the limited amount of credit card transactions I did. Recently, my husband and I purchased iPads. Another artisan friend uses and likes Square on her phone, so I got the 3G version of the iPad so that I could use Square when I was at markets or art shows.

I had received my (free!) Square device (it plugs into the headphone jack on your phone/iPad), signed up for an account and linked it to my business bank account. At my first market, back on July 9, I got to use it for the first time. Of course, I hadn't really read the instructions, figuring like most technology, it would be fairly self-explanatory. It wasn't totally, but it was fairly easy once I figured it out. The sale was completed, and the money, less Square's processing fee, was deposited into my account within a day. So far, so good.

So at the market today, I was prepared to use the Square again, this time being pretty clear on how to use it. I decided to fiddle around on the website to see what else I might need to know to make transactions better. Good thing I took the time to read the FAQ!

I found out that I could use the device and application as a cash register, inputting cash AND credit card transactions. It would even tell me how much change to give back (yay for those of us who don't do math on the fly very well)!

You can make an inventory list, complete with photos, so when a customer makes a purchase of an item, you can attach that inventory entry (with thumbnail photo) to their transaction and email their receipt with a picture of what they bought!

Customers sign their transaction slips by using their finger on the touchscreen and can opt to have a receipt sent via SMS or email. In your account, you can see a list of all the transaction you have processed. So cool!

I haven't even really begun to fully explore all the things I think this application can do. Granted, I've only been using it for about a month, but consider me a happy client of Square. If you are looking for a credit-card processing method, I recommend trying Square.

(These opinions are mine alone, by the way. No affiliation with Square whatsoever, beyond being a happy client of their application.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Market Day!

My trip to the new market was a really successful day for me! I ran late leaving my house in the morning, which always makes me nervous and irritated (I abhor being late for anything), but it almost couldn't be helped. Torrential rain put a damper (ha!) on my typical evening-before-a-show preparations of loading the car.

I arrived without trouble at the site, and found the market manager, Lisa, friendly and helpful, showing me to my assigned place, and letting me know how the market worked and where to park. It was a glorious place, my spot, in the inner ring of vendors, under the trees. Lisa had said the site was often breezy, and yesterday was downright windy at times! But the sun shone and the temperature was perfect, so I couldn't complain. The only issue might be the presence of poison ivy (to which I am spectacularly allergic) in the occasional spot under the trees. Yikes. Turns out there was one small plant in my tent that I didn't notice, and of course, my kids ran through and over it constantly while they visited, but so far no one seems to have been victimized.

I was really happy with my new display:

Sorry for the into-the-sun shots....was the best I could do at the time.

I couldn't believe it, but I sold that necklace on the denim pillow...it has one of my etched trees on it, and I really wasn't sure I wanted to part with it, but...I was happy to have it go to a really nice woman who admired so much of my work. I very nearly sold the hollow bead necklace to the left to another jewelry vendor, and I may yet, but it wasn't in the cards on Saturday.

The market sales for me were pretty decent -- just as good as my best day at any other of the local markets -- and I did learn a few things that I want to have well in hand before my next day there on the 23rd:

  • I need to make up some jewelry care cards. A no-brainer, but I haven't done it, especially since my printer has decided not to print on cardstock anymore, and I'm occasionally terribly frugal about business supplies.

  • I need to make up a postcard with my next show dates on them. Now that I am involved with this market, I have shows coming up!

  • This market has LOTS of vendors with chickens, rabbits, sheep, and alpacas. These lovely people need earrings. And maybe charm bracelets or pendants.

  • As usual, this type of market does well with lower price point items. This means more bookmarks, zipper and cell phone charms, and single-bead pendants, and earrings.

  • There are wineries vending at this market. Wineglass charms! Wine bottle stoppers! Cheese knives? Hmm...

As you can see, I have lots to do. I need to make a list, because at the moment, I don't even know where to start! But it's all for the good. Yay! Good sales and lots of appreciation for my work is like a shot in the arm. I feel so much better about everything.

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Market, To Market...

After a yearlong hiatus, I've decided to go ahead and do another farmer's market here in the Richmond area. I applied to the new market in Manakin-Sabot, My Manakin Market, and was notified that there was a place for me, beginning this Saturday (tomorrow!!). So, I will be hauling my show stuff out today and tonight and getting things ready. I'm really glad I had just done that gallery show with my girlfriend Carolyn a few weeks ago, because most of my stuff is organized and intact.

I'm also going to try out my new iPad and the Square for accepting credit cards. We'll see how that goes. I have the 3G 32GB iPad and I will be activating my 3G data plan for the first time. It should be a learning experience.

I know that farmer's markets may not always be the best venue for artisan jewelry and accessories, but I'm going to try it. I need to sell some work, and I need to expand my customer base in the Richmond area, and markets can be a cost-effective way to make that happen. We'll see.

I'm hoping this is going to be a good thing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


It's summer, and so that means my time to create and be creative is limited and short. I'm sorry to say I have nothing really new to show.....it's been hot and I've been busy, and spending time with my kids while they are home this summer has been a top priority.

My middle daughter started summer school this week, though, and that has been a bittersweet experience. She'll be starting kindergarten in the fall, and this past spring when we registered her for school, we learned about the School Readiness program that was being offered (free!) to rising kindergarteners. It's mostly designed for helping kids who have not had preschool experiences get ready for 'big school', but Wren certainly could benefit from the structure. Plus, she is really REALLY ready to start school AND she could ride the bus! What's not to like?

New backpack, new lunchbox, and she's happily off! The first day, the bus driver took the kids to the wrong school, but that little adventure got straightened out and all is rolling along well now.

I didn't even cry that first day, when she climbed those bus steps and waved to me from the window. I *was* monstrously choked up, though. My baby!

*deep breath*

One thing I have been obsessed with lately is making fresh mustard. From scratch. You know my deep and abiding love for medieval history, right? Mustards have been around a loooong time, and a friend took a class from another friend who did some of her own research into period mustards. Well, now that we have the technology and the source for the mustard seeds, it's ON! The other day, I made honey mustard, peach mustard, a garlic and herb mustard, and a pepper spice mustard (with cloves and cinnamon!). Yesterday is was dark blackberry mustard, and today might be a wine-infused spice mustard. It's fun, and we have been buying our household meats from a custom butcher lately, so there is NO shortage of tasty grilled and smoked things to put the mustards on. YUM. I might be giving people homemade mustards for Christmas this year!
From left to right, top row: Pepper spice, peach, honey
Left to right, bottom row: plain ground brown mustard, garlic-herb, blackberry

In other news, I have been anxiously awaiting news from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, to see if I was accepted into the docent training program. The person who interviewed me said they'd make their decision and notify people by July 7th.....and it's July 7th! I think I will have to find something to do so I am not constantly refreshing my in-box.

Maybe Noah and I will go to the bookstore and peruse the jewelry magazines. Or to the spice store for more mustard seeds.


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