Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Mama Bracelet

Alright, I confess! This seven-inch strand of silver and crystal is at least a small factor in my decision to have two kids. Like I mentioned before when I described my "Good Shepherd Bracelet", I love jewelry that has a purpose and a story behind it. For those of you who are interested, here's the story behind what I call the "Mama Bracelet".

After having my first child and deciding to stay home to raise him, I became totally immersed in the new mommy culture of play dates, mother's groups, stroller walks and story times at the library. It didn't take too long for me to realize that this society is full of its own unspoken norms and customs. Like when I went to my first MOPS meeting, I noticed all the moms pulled up in minivans, had perfectly applied makeup at 9am, brought elaborate dishes (with Pampered Chef utensils) to the potluck, and later took their tiny tikes to Gymboree.

But more importantly, (jewelry freak that I am) I noticed a bracelet sported by a few moms like a badge of honor. They called it a mother's bracelet and it had their kids' names on it. I fell in love with the concept of jewelry that could be worn as a reminder of what is really important... even on days when I showed up at MOPS without makeup and a bag of chips to be eaten directly from the bag!
I made my first bracelet a few weeks before delivering my second child and donned it in the hospital right after giving birth. I have made nearly a hundred since then for many more moms who want to celebrate the blessing of being a mama, even on days when they don't want to jump through all of the unnecessary hoops. The "Mama Bracelet" that I make has a distinctive look and is made to endure life with children.

You are invited to celebrate the blessing of being a mother everyday in a beautiful "Mama Bracelet". It is made to order with 4.5mm or 5.5mm sterling silver letter beads, toggle clasp and Swarovski crystals. A crystal dangle with your kids' birthstones is included. For more info, contact me or check out the "Mama Collection" on my website, www.maybornedesigns.com.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mama Goes Back to School

Yesterday was a big day for me. I sent the little one off to playschool and headed off to the Terri McCarthy Studio in Grafton, WI to start another 12-week, hands-on study of metal jewelry fabrication. Since it has been almost two years since I've studied there, I started my day with a tour of the studio and getting a refresher on the equipment.

My favorite tool of the day was the rolling mill. Just imagine a machine that's like a pair of rolling pins on steroids. I don't know the engineering mechanisms involved, but when an annealed piece of metal is rolled through with a textured object, the mill presses the pattern onto the metal. I added texture to sterling silver and turned it into earrings with post backs. I rolled another piece to make a ring with a leather textured shank.

But the very best features of the studio are the lights, vents, outlets and fellow artists! I have a very well-equipped studio at home but it's a bit lacking in the fundamentals. Someday I fear that I am going to trip in the dark on the four extention cords that share the same outlet. Either that or I will pass out from the flux fumes and no one will know that I'm missing. Getting out for 3 hours a week, with other adults and windows, is definitely a good thing.

This is a picture of my instructor, Terri McCarthy. She has been making jewelry since 1988 and opened her own studio four years ago when the local community college stopped offering the metalsmithing class that she taught. She knows everything and I hope a little of her expertise rubs off on me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Art Show Application Experience: Paperwork

Well, I think I finally figured out why the art show application process bugs me so much.

As I was preparing my final round of paperwork today, I kept being reminded of my former life as a human resource consultant. I spent a lot of time in those days recruiting, selecting and placing hundreds of folks in positions with companies. More importantly, for every person placed were dozens that were not. Why?? Well there's all sorts of reasons and I really don't want to rehash too much of the past... but one reason is not taking the application seriously.

Now I admit that I was a tough critic, especially when getting a ton of applications for one position that needed to be filled asap. I've permanently "filed" plenty of incomplete, sloppy and grammatically-challenged first impressions. Now I do NOT want that to happen to me, especially when a few shows make up most of my revenue for the year. So when I complete an art show application, I put myself in the position of the selection committee faced with hundreds of applications for one 10'x10' piece of pavement.

So my advice... take time and care when preparing your applications. Supply all information requested, print clearly, organize your paperwork and remember that you only have one shot at making the first impression! And if that doesn't motivate you, think about the non-refundable application fee... that always makes me want to give them my best!!

A few more tips:
  • make a file for each show to house info supplied and received.
  • have a ready-made, short blurb about yourself and your work.
  • send materials directly from the post office to avoid exposure to weather.
  • pay careful attention to requirements and deadlines.
  • pray!

Good luck everyone and come back to hear my thoughts on jury images!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Announcing the Clearance Sale!!

Help!! I need to move some inventory in order to make room for many new items for spring. This sale features several fabulous beaded jewelry items. Shown is a small sample of what is being offered (top left to right: Hope, Chelsea, Claire; bottom left to right: Sami, Kate, Kayla).

Hurry on over to the Mama Mayborne Designs website to check items listed in the first annual winter clearance sale! Prices have been reduced by 50% and all items are top quality and ready to ship. Contact me to request additional information or to purchase.

I've Been Featured!!

Wow... I feel very honored.

I am today's featured artist in another blog! Click here to check out the article by The Banner Queen and leave a comment or two.

If you are curious about the other blogs that have featured me recently, click here to see what Moon Dog Treasures said about me and here to see what Keys and Memories had to say!

Thank you all very much!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Art Show Application Experience: Planning

February is not just the time to celebrate love, remember dead presidents and get very mad at a woodchuck. No, not if you are an artist who practices procrastination. Then February becomes a time to pound out art show applications in order to meet fast approaching deadlines.

Application time is not one of my favorite times of the year and I put it off like paying taxes. But it is extremely necessary in developing an art business. It gives me great anxiety when I think about being judged on a few slides and a short blurb about my work. Not only that, but every year I apply to higher level shows that have higher hurdles and I sit on more pins and needles waiting for the verdicts.

Last week, I identified five shows that would be the best fit for me at this time. I found some of them by visiting the Wisconsin Art & Craft Fair Directory produced by the Wisconsin Arts Board. I look for shows that seem to be the most selective and draw big crowds of my target market. I have the best luck with shows that have been recommended to me by other artists. As a relatively new kid on the block I love meeting seasoned artists at shows and learning from their successes (and mistakes).

I have already been accepted to a wearable art show in April and five more (if accepted) would give me one show per month until September. That is the most I can do this show season with two little kids, limited production time and a very limited application fee budget. I also plan to do two shows during the next holiday show season, but fortunately those applications won't be due until the summer and I can put them off for now!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Yesterday was one of the coldest days of the year... so far! The actual temperature was -8*F (-22*C) and the wind chill factor made it seem more like -35*F (-37*C). Brrrrr, baby that was cold!

After spending most of the day freezing... I decided to play with a little fire. So I went to my studio, dug up a few projects that were ready for some heat and fired up my torch.

First, I annealed a strip of sterling silver that I cut to become a cuff bracelet. Annealing is the process of softening metal by exposing it to a high heat source, thereby making it much easier to bend around a bracelet mandrel.

Then, I soldered sterling silver earring posts onto a few PMC disks that I made. Soldering is another fun thing to do with a torch of fire. By heating the two pieces that need to be joined (the disk and the post) along with tiny snippets of solder, a permanent bond can be made. The trick for me is always to figure out the right level of heat, because I'm notorious for melting my work. Actually, I did melt a ring that was going to look fantastic. Oh well, practice makes perfect and that's how I learn best.

So that's how I stayed a little warmer on a very cold day. Tomorrow if it's still freezing, I'm going to find something to do with my kiln. Firing metal at 1300*F just might do the trick!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Good Shepherd Bracelet

I love jewelry that has a purpose and a story behind it. In my opinion, this bracelet is one of the most meaningful that I have made. I call it the "Good Shepherd Bracelet" and it helps me memorize scripture, which I'm sorry to say that I never did as a child.

There are 12 Swarovski crystals in the bracelet and each color represents a key word or phrase. It all helps me remember brilliant pieces of scripture and God's provisions. "The Good Shepherd" is also made with an eclectic assortment of sterling silver beads, bead caps and spacers. It is finished with a sterling silver toggle clasp and two sterling silver charms. I like to think that the cross in the center of the Star of David charm shows how the passage elloquently points to Christ.