Kira Joya’s Blog

New Skills

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography by Alissia on May 4, 2009
Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

Scrollwork Bangle...side view, open clasp

I was really, really looking forward to this day. I felt like a kid…so excited about the new adventure I was going on. I woke up a little late this morning, but still made it to the Valley Forge Convention Center with plenty of time. Little did I know how much I was going to need the map they handed me at the Bead Fest Wire registration desk. It was quite a trek from the desk to the classroom, but I’m not afraid of a little walking….so I forged ahead. At last…the classroom! Yay!!

I walked in and gathered my supplies. I had ordered them from the teacher ahead of time. Before today I had really only done a tiny bit of wire wrapping…so I needed A LOT of supplies. (My favorite tool of the day was the wire winder, it made coiling the wire so simple and the results were perfect.) I set up my work station and awaited the beginning of the class…not for long. We jumped right into our project for the day. Our teacher for today’s class was Debra Danyi. She is a really mellow, sweet kindergarten teacher and WOW does she know her stuff! I was really impressed with her knowledge as well as her teaching skills.

I feel like I learned a lot in this one class. I’m extremely happy with the Scrollwork Bangle that I made. It turned out beautifully and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Of course, it’s always a little easier with good direction. After this class, I’m really confident that I could make this bracelet again pretty easily and also that I can use the skills I learned to make more intricate designs of my own. That is the whole reason I took the class. I want to expand my jewelry making horizons. I get a little bored with using the same techniques over and over again. Thank you Debra…I would do it again in a heart beat!

Also…a little bit off the subject of the rest of this post…check out my website, I added 3 new pieces of jewelry. The photography thing is a work in progress for me. I am playing around with some new backgrounds to see which ones I like best. I think I am liking the darker backgrounds right now. I took so many pictures of just these three items to try to get it right….and I know I will change them again because they aren’t quite right. I just wanted to get the items put up on my site. I would gladly hear any opinions on how to improve my photos. I would also like to hear which photos you think stand out more…light background or dark.

Rainbow

Rainbow

Desert Glow

Desert Glow

Caribbean Cool

Caribbean Cool

Product Photography

Posted in beads, Jewelry, photography, WAHM by Alissia on April 21, 2009

When I started my website and business, I don’t think I really knew how multi-faceted I was going to have to be. I read books and researched things online, but you never really know until you just jump in. I know that I had no idea how time consuming it was going to be to photograph and describe all of my products. I have a pretty small inventory at this point and, even so, I have spent countless hours agonizing over the quality of the pictures and trying to get the wording just so.

Yesterday, I spent a good two hours, if not more, trying to get pictures for two recently finished necklaces. (I showed photos of components in previous posts.) Of course, lighting was the biggest issue. I have tried the light box and don’t really like it, I don’t know why. I think I find it too cumbersome. It’s not as easy to get in there and get the shot I need. For jewelry shots, if you want your whole piece to be in focus, you really have to be directly overhead. Anyway, I have a room in my house with tons of windows. I usually take my pictures in there. I definitely use the tripod. I have tried before to get away without using it and my pictures suffered.

This is what I do:

1) I take a ton of pictures…I think I took 150 photos of two necklaces yesterday.

2) I use varying shutter speeds to see which one brings the best light. For each product and each background I take at least 20 shots, varying the lighting slightly each time. It’s amazing how one shot can be fine and on the very next setting it will be either too light or too dark. I also make sure that I still take photos well into a range that I might think will be too dark or too light. That little screen on your camera is not a really accurate way to tell what the shot will look like on the computer. I find, with jewelry anyway, that the brighter the shot, the better the piece looks. Usually it’s the shot that I think is going to be way too bright that I end up using.

3) I use software to adjust things a bit and crop photos. You can use Photoshop, Gimp (which is free), or any other image editor you choose.

4) I research things if I am having a hard time. I found this page on Thimble Arts and Crafts Blog to be helpful. She gives links to some product photography tutorials and tips. I was also happy to discover that Darren, the man who is running the 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge has a website called Digital Photography School. It seems to be a wealth of information. I haven’t explored it fully yet, but I plan to.

It can be really frustrating to take 150 photos and not have a single one that you feel is usable. To that, I have to say…practice makes perfect…well, maybe not quite. I actually really enjoy the process. I’m learning more about my camera and photography in general, which I have always liked. I am by no means an authority on the subject, I am just sharing what has worked for me so far. I am really just learning. I could go over and over my photos and still feel I need to take more shots, because something’s not right…there comes a point where I just let go and say OK, good enough!

These are the best of the photos I took yesterday (click on them to enlarge them.) Any constructive comments or suggestions are entirely welcome!

www.condron.us

Try and Try Again

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Kira, SAHM, WAHM by Alissia on April 18, 2009

Earlier today I spent an unreasonable amount of time trying to find a theme that I liked for this blog. If the same person were to have checked this page 20 times today, they probably wouldn’t have seen the same format more than once. My vast numbers of followers must have been really confused. I found myself not liking any of the WordPress pre-made templates. There was something wrong with each of them. If you choose a custom header, then you can’t choose custom colors or lettering and some of them have just a title, no subtitle….ARGH!! It sucks to be such a perfectionist sometimes. I guess I will just have to learn some coding so I can do it myself. I settled on this theme, because I could use one of my photos as a header. However, I could not change the brown lettering and that bugs me!! Oh well, I think I will deal with it until I am a little more comfortable with the whole blogging realm….then I will do the whole custom thing.

Pieces of my latest creation

Pieces of my latest creation

I feel like I spend more time on the computer talking about making jewelry and finding out how to market it than I do actually making it. Here are the pieces of a necklace I intended to start on tonight. Now, I find myself writing on my blog instead. The beads are multicolored tourmaline and the squares and cubes are Hill Tribe silver. I think it’s going to be awesome when it’s done. The thing is, it was already done once. I hadn’t finished it totally…it still needed to have the clasp put on and the beads were not secured in place. One little 4-year-old hand swooped in and a little voice said, “Mommy, what’s this?” I heard lots of little tiny pings as each bead hit the floor. Nooooooo! Oh well, gotta start over. Look at this face, it’s hard to be mad at this face…well, sometimes not so hard. You know what I mean. Tomorrow I will make this necklace and I will post a photo of the finished piece.

Kira

Kira

One more thing to share before I go…I’m so excited!!! I signed up for the wire wrapping class that I talked about in a previous post. Here’s a link to the piece we are going to make in the Beadfest Wire class. The class itself was very reasonably priced…however, all of the equipment to make the piece seems to add up rather quickly. I just chalk it up to the betterment of my skills. If I am to grow as an artist, I need to learn new techniques. I will post photos of my bangle after the class…I hope it looks at least somewhat like the one in the picture. I’m so ready…I wish it was tomorrow. Sadly, I have to wait two weeks, but I have plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime.

So long, farewell, alvedersain, good night! (and yes, I like show tunes!)

www.condron.us

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10 Most Beautiful Semi-Precious Stones

Posted in beads, Jewelry, Semi-precious stones, WAHM by Alissia on April 10, 2009

Alright, the title is a little bit deceiving.  This is actually a list of ten of my favorite semi-precious stones.  There are so many beautiful ones that I had a hard time choosing ten.  I wanted to pick  some stones that I actually had on hand so that I could take pictures and make things a little bit more interesting.  There are some things you need to see to appreciate.

Larimar

Larimar

1. The first one is Larimar. Isn’t it beautiful? I love it!! It truly is one of my favorites. I saw it for the first time when I was on my honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. I saw it in all the shops and needed to find out what it was, so I asked. Unfortunately, Larimar is not widely available, it is only mined in the Dominican Republic. When I returned home I did a little bit of research to see if I could find some beads and I couldn’t at that time. I will try again…I think whatever piece of jewelry I would make from Larimar would be amazing!

Quartz

Quartz

2. Quartz. Why Quartz? It’s so simple…it’s readily available. Something about it is very intriguing…maybe it’s because quartz has so many uses (Quartz crystals are used for healing…it is used in clocks, TVs, radios and beyond.) Look at the photo, you can almost see yourself in it. It’s gorgeous and, from a jewelry makers perspective, it’s very versatile.

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

3. Oooh! Tourmaline. I love tourmaline too! I guess I love them all. Tourmaline has a wide array of colors, I think that’s why I like it so much. My favorite are the Watermelon Tourmaline slices. They do resemble little stone pieces of watermelon…pink on the inside and a rim of green on the outside. There is a lot of pink and green in the regular tourmaline pictured here too. One of my favorite color combos!

Sunstone

Sunstone

4. Sunstone. I really enjoy stones that sparkle. Sunstone has this beautiful warm orange color and it shimmers in the light. It’s difficult to catch that shimmer on camera if you are an amateur photographer like I am…but, trust me, it’s there.

Kyanite

Kyanite

5. Kyanite. Here it is again, the sparkle…this time in blue. There are a few different shades of blue contained within this stone. It’s translucent with an almost pearly shimmer in places. As well as being really beautiful, this stone is also know to have healing properties…some healers use it for chakra balancing. It’s gorgeous and celestial and I will use it in my jewelry pieces time and time again.

Amethyst

Amethyst

6. Amethyst. What girl doesn’t love amethyst? When I shop for materials for a work in progress, I repeatedly find myself in the amethyst section. It’s purple and luminous and delightful!

Apatite

Apatite

7.Apatite. Just look at this color! Doesn’t it make you want to dive in the ocean? I’m calling the color ocean teal and I think that describes it perfectly!

Citrine

Citrine

8. Citrine. For me, Citrine represents sunshine…it’s that crisp, crystal clear yellow. This is another stone that I use quite often and wear quite often. It seems to brighten my day when I put it on. In fact, I have it on right now!

Fluorite

Fluorite

9. Fluorite. The color variety in fluorite is amazing….from pale green to light blue to deep purple. This really is another of my favorite stones to work with. It seems like, no matter what piece I am working on, it turns out beautifully.

Turquoise

Turquoise

10. Turquoise. It whisks you away to the southwest. Once again, the color is fantastic! I myself prefer the natural turquoise colors, but you can also get some really pretty dyed turquoise. A lot of the artists who work with turquoise also do some really breathtaking silver work, which appeals to me. That’s something that I strive for.

Well, there you have it…10 of the most beautiful semi-precious stones….according to me. I could keep going and going. It is amazing to me that these stones all occur in nature in all of these different colors and textures. I really enjoy putting them together in wearable artwork and learning about the stones as I go. I access my creative side and my scientific side at the same time as I build my business. I should be pretty well-rounded, shouldn’t I?

www.condron.us

Mama Mia

Posted in Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 8, 2009

Multitasking would be the one word that described this day. I know I have a lot to do over the next few days, so last night before I went to bed I made myself a schedule. I really just wanted a guideline for the week…a way to manage my time effectively. All morning Kira and I were no more than 10 or so minutes off my schedule. By the time late afternoon hit, I was exhausted. I had already done so much. We had played, been to a couple of stores in preparation for the holiday weekend, boiled eggs for the preschool spring party…and the list goes on.

That’s when I realized…I have to be flexible or I might break. It’s a juggling act as any mom knows. First of all, I want to make sure that Kira is getting enough quality time with me. I’m home with her most of the time, so you wouldn’t think that would be difficult. The more I throw myself into learning how to run this business, the more I struggle with time management. I’m sure this is something that any new business owner/mom struggles with. I have to learn to balance all of my hats…the mommy hat, the artist hat, the business hat, the cook hat, etc…you get the picture.

Over the last few weeks as I have returned to focusing on the business with renewed vigor…I have found that my jewelry projects seem to fall through the cracks. There has to be a balance and I know I will find it, I just haven’t yet. One day there will be enough of me to go around…hopefully one day soon.

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In a Nutshell

Posted in Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 6, 2009

So the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge starts today. If I get a little extra time (who am I kidding?) I may have 2 blog entries today. The first task is to write an elevator pitch for your blog. Oh my! Elevator pitch? Overview for a product, service, or project…in 100 to 150 words.

I intend my blog to be an honest account of what’s going on in my life on a daily basis. I think I will try to focus on the challenges of beginning a new crafting business. I plan to share any info that I uncover with anyone who needs it…probably people like me who are trying to create a business from their art. I also plan to take photos of anything I am working on, phase by phase. Trust me, there are phases! I often tear pieces apart 2 and 3 times before I decide they are right.

Although I do plan to focus on starting a new business, I don’t plan to stop there with the blog. I want my readers and potential customers to see who I am and where I’m coming from. I’m a mom and the work I do is from home…there are specific challenges and benefits that come with that. There are plenty of other people out there who can relate to that. Besides, there are too many interesting things to write about. It’s spring…I’m starting my first vegetable garden. I’m sure people are waiting with bated breath to hear how that turns out. I have a four year old who constantly has funny things coming out of her mouth…I want to share it. I plan to take the journey to becoming a certified yoga instructor…that has to be interesting, right?

Ok, so that’s not 100 to 150 words is it? I guess I need to condense all of that into a few lines. My blog is about my life. It will detail the struggles and joys of being a work-at-home mom who is starting a new business. I intend to give readers insight into who I am as a person, not just a business person. If you choose to read my blog you can follow my triumphs, my bloopers, and hopefully some funny stories along the way. I think that’s it…my elevator pitch. It’s not 100 words, but it’s pretty good, I think. Assignment 1 down and only 30 more to go.

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The Good, The Bad, and the Bunny

Posted in Flowers, Jewelry, Yoga by Alissia on April 4, 2009
Magnolias

Magnolias

Since I didn’t have time to write yesterday, I think I will start there. It was a really beautiful day in terms of finding food for my soul. First, I made up my mind that I was going to get some pictures of the magnolia trees in bloom. I just had to. The magnolias are only around for such a short time that I had to try to capture their essence on “film.” Of course, you can’t capture the fragrance in a picture so it’s much better to be there to see and smell them.

Then, I was in my car, all by myself (which is very rare, might I add) and my husband called me to tell me there is a rainbow just ahead. Sure enough…there it is! I get very excited by rainbows…almost emotional. They are just such a reminder of all that is good and beautiful in the world. I almost brought my camera too, but didn’t.

Lastly, and an amazing end to any day, was the monthly 2 hour candlelight yoga class. I joined this particular studio last month because I was intrigued by a candlelight yoga class once a month. It really is phenomenal! There is a short class on yogic practices in the beginning of the class, then the yoga practice itself, and then there is extra meditation time at the end. You leave the class feeling energized and whole once again. It makes me happy I am making the decision to follow this path.

Necklace from the materials I bought the other day

Necklace from the materials I bought the other day

Then we get to today…a little different than yesterday. Today began with lots of doubt and frustration. I kept looking at the necklace that I made from the materials I bought the other day and feeling that it just wasn’t right. Is it too boring? I know there are a lot of jewelry makers out there so my pieces have to be interesting. I know I am just at the beginning of this venture and absolutely have to get a thicker skin. I need to take some classes so that I can take my work to the next level. There is only so far I can go with bead work, because woven work and seed beads just aren’t my style. I really want to incorporate more wire and metal into my jewelry. I feel that’s what is necessary to keep my pieces looking modern and young. So sometimes I doubt myself a bit and then I talk myself out of it….you can do this!

Today I had frustration with the business part of this endeavor as well as the artistic part. I am not finding it easy to find craft shows where I can sell my stuff. I guess I just didn’t realize how competitive it was. It’s hard to find the info you need to even find craft shows. Many of the deadlines for this summer’s shows are already past. I’ve never done a craft show before, so I’m not sure I want to do a juried show yet. I would like my first one to be close to home, not too small, not too big…laid back. It seems like the craft show people take this stuff very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I take myself seriously, but come on!!

And then…there is all the internet marketing stuff I have to learn. What have I gotten myself into? There it is again..you can do this!! I chose to do things this way…to learn as I go. I guess all of this doubt and frustration is all part of the learning process. I would rather go through it and learn from it, than stay in one place and live my life afraid of being a failure.

The bright spot in my day…Kira. I took her to the library to take a picture with the bunnies from the Luv-N-Bunns bunny rescue center. This was the best bunny I have ever seen. He just sat there and had his picture taken with all of these kids. He didn’t try to hop away or anything. Of course, Kira was the child that wanted to pick the bunny up. As I tried to take her picture, I could see her start to struggle. I was the only one who knew how badly she wanted to pick up that bunny. She ended up not moving the bunny…I don’t think she knew how heavy it was going to be.

This is Kira trying to pic up the bunny instead of just getting her picture taken like everyone else.

This is Kira trying to pic up the bunny instead of just getting her picture taken like everyone else.

I guess from now on I will have to do a better job of keeping up with my posts…this is rather long. Kira is telling me it’s time for the tea party…I’ll let you know how it is.

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Sunshiny Day

Posted in Gardening, Jewelry, WAHM by Alissia on April 3, 2009

I am a SAHM who happens to be working on starting a business…I guess that makes me a WAHM.  Mostly I’m a mom and I love it…I try to be a mom first and then fit the work in where I can.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but I’m sure anyone who is a WAHM can relate.  Kira doesn’t have preschool on Thursdays, so I don’t usually get a whole lot of work done.  I try to designate time for Kira and time for work, but, once again, it doesn’t always work out that way.  I took some photos of her playing this morning…I was supposed to be playing too, but she looked so cute!

Since I had my camera out, I took some photos of a few of the things I am working on.  The seedlings are very exciting to me!!  I am a plant and flower lover and we just moved into a house where we have the space to plant…so I plan to take full advantage.  Kira helped me plant the vegetables and flowers and was just as happy as I was to see the little seedlings emerge.  It’s exciting to me because I love it and it is the first time I have planted my own seeds and watched them grow into little plants.   I believe part of my soul is green and I want my daughter to feel the same way.  She’s only 4, but she seems to love it as much as I do.  We are going to try composting…I figured that’s the next step in greening my life.  It’s great for the garden and less waste in the landfills.  I gotta say, because of my love of flowers, spring is my favorite time of year.  I just love to see the magnolia trees in bloom!!!  If all of my seeds turn into plants…I will have more flowers and veggies than I know what to do with.  I guess that will mean my friends and family are in luck!

Oh yeah, the beads…the last photo is of the beads that I bought yesterday that will soon become a piece of jewelry to put on my website.  Some high quality citrine (which I love…there’s something really soothing and happy about it), some dyed turquoise (orange and red colors that go really well with the citrine), and some pretty Thai Hill Tribe silver wheel spacers.  Not quite sure exactly what it will be, but I will post a photo when I’m done…or you could check my website…there will be a photo there too.   I think I will go work on it right now…be back tomorrow…

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