Monday, March 31, 2008

Something is Lost

Part 2 begins on March 11th my father’s 72nd birthday. I ran to the post office with kids after I picked them up from school. Thomas helped me label all the packages fragile as I had forgotten. There were 7 in total, 1 going to the UK and 6 going domestic. As always I sent them first class with delivery confirmation. I started getting panicked e-mails from my customers a little less than a week later. The packages had not arrived. I checked the tracking on the first one. It had been scanned in Warwick and then nothing. I checked all the others and it was the same thing. I assured my customers I would go to the post office and try to find out what could have happened. Now call me crazy but going to the post office is one of the errands I actually enjoy. Now I know I can use Paypal shipping and probably should because it would provide free delivery confirmation but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I like writing out my own addresses and I like visiting the clerks in my local post office. When I inquired with Bob about my packages he assured me everything went to Providence that day and he gave me a phone number for consumer affairs. I called consumer affairs and got a voice mail for Beth. I left her a panicked message and drove down to Providence to see if I could talk to her. When I arrived at the big post office in Providence I found another Bob at the counter. He said I looked stressed and asked me to explain the situation. He was very nice and told me he was going to check the computer and he would be able to calm me right down. I knew what he would find and that he couldn’t but I waited patiently while he went to check my confirmation numbers. While I was waiting Beth called me on my cell. She asked me if I had purchased insurance and I sadly told her no. She said I couldn’t file a claim then. I told her I was at the post office and could she come and talk to me. She said where? I said downstairs at one of the windows. She said she wasn’t allowed to do that. I said Please? I wanted her to have a face with my dilemma. She said ok and came down to meet me. Bob returned and said he turned up nothing on the confirmation numbers. I already knew that. Beth and Bob exchange knowing glances and Beth said she could take down my information and run it by her boss. She said my packages were likely tied up in Springfield MA. She said when Providence’s sorting machine is down (they only have one) the packages go directly to Springfield. She said it was a good sign that they were all together and that none of them had moved. She said Springfield was likely behind in their sorting and that they would eventually turn up. I wanted to believe her. I told her the packages all contained handmade glass pendants and were not easily replaced. She urged me to buy insurance from now on and made a copy of all my confirmation numbers. I left feeling that at least a few people cared about my 7 lost packages. My customers were amazing. They were patient and understanding. We waited. The packages I mailed on March 14th all arrived at their destinations. I started praying to St. Anthony to find that mailbag. We waited some more. Every day I checked the status and every day was the same: Received at Pilgrim station March 11th. No further details. I started thinking about remaking the items. On Friday morning March 21st Beth called me on my cell. She had good news. On Thursday March 20th after 10pm the packages were finally checked into Springfield. They were in the system!!! Beth sounded almost as excited as I was. I thanked her for the news and she apologized for the delay on behalf of the US Postal Service. I told her I didn’t care as long as they weren’t lost! It took almost 3 weeks but all of my packages have finally arrived at their destinations. My customers are thrilled. I am thrilled. St. Anthony came through and Beth is getting a surprise in the mail…providing it doesn’t get lost.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mail This

This is a two part series on my relationship with the US Postal Service
Part I begins and ends on a rainy Wednesday

“I never use bubble mailers” my friend Kim of KimV Glass said to me at a recent visit to my home. “Nope, priority mail in boxes” she said was the “only way to go when mailing something as precious and fragile as glass beads.” “Really?” I asked. “How do you justify the cost of shipping priority to your customers when the beads weigh only a few ounces?” I admit I was intrigued because I would love to use boxes for my beads but I’m not sure my customers want to pay $4.60 to have one key or pendant mailed to them. “Easy, I just tell them my husband worked for the postal service and he said that at any given time a 60 pound box could land on a bubble mailer holding their pendant” “Yikes that’s scary” I said, “I guess I have been lucky, oh and I have been using tins. Have I shown you my tins?” Kim was impressed with the tins and we both agreed the little tins I bought to put my keys and pendants in might protect the beads better than cardboard but it left me wondering about the priority shipping. It’s something I have been thinking about. Or at the very least using boxes and buying insurance. Anyone who does any business online knows how you come to depend on your shipping carrier. In my case it has been the US postal system. They haven’t done me wrong yet. Or so I thought….
Flash forward 3 months and Kim shoots me an email wondering if the electroformed key with the beautiful boro cab she made has arrived for me to add charms and a chain. She wanted to wear our collaborative creation to the BEAD Fiesta which was fast approaching. She had sent it almost a week before. She lives in the southern most part of the state. I live smack in the middle. It’s a small state. I shoot an e-mail back saying no but I’d keep an eye out for it. Not more than 10 minutes goes by and the doorbell rings. It’s pouring buckets out and my postman is standing in the doorway in his finest USPS rain gear looking gloomy. He hands me Kim’s package and apologizes on behalf of the US postal service. OMG I almost burst into tears when I see the crushed envelope in that WE CARE bag. I tear it open with him standing there in the door. We both hold our breath....the key was hiding on the side of the box that wasn't crushed and it was OK!!!!! I mean I kept looking at it and I didn't see any cracks! I can't believe it made it. Kim you are so right about those mailers. I think I need to look at using boxes!!!! KIM WHY DID YOU USE A BUBBLE MAILER WHEN YOU HATE THOSE THINGS???!!!!! I am so telling your husband on you! I was traumatized here!!!!!! Was this a lesson? Maybe it was an omen.... (to be continued)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My Happy Place

As I mentioned last week, Diana Brennan of DSBrennan helped me with my bead photography. She also took pictures of me working while I was giving her a glass demonstration. I was so excited when she shared these pictures with me. They are the first pictures of me in my happy place. This shot is particularly cool. She was using my dididium protective glasses over the camera lens to filter out the solar flare on the bead I was making so there is a purple cast to the picture which makes it more cozy. Do you have a happy place? I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Shipwreck An Artist Collaboration

On April 10, 1912, the largest, most elegant luxury liner in the world set sail from Southampton, England. At 46,000 tons, the Titanic was, at the time, the largest moving object ever built.There has been a romantic fascination with this story for over 96 years. Because women and children were loaded into the 20 lifeboats, the majority of the victims were men. Many of the women who died did so because they refused to leave their loved ones behind. In many ways the Titanic is a love story and represents a microcosm of all classes in society. Two lampwork artists Paula McDonough and Kristy Kempinger have come together to create a series of skeleton key jewelry that will feature a fictionalized account of various women who lost their life in this disaster because of selfless choices they made that night. Anne boarded the Titanic as a third class passenger in Queenstown, Ireland with her new husband Karl. She was 25. She was filled with the hope and excitement of a new bride beginning her married life. Their destination was Harrisburg Pennsylvania. They were traveling to meet his parents. Originally from America, Karl had convinced Anne that his father could teach him his trade as a Miller and they could start a family in his hometown. On the night of the sinking she and Karl knelt in prayer on the deck and using the chain from Karl's pocketwatch she directed them to say the Rosary together. Eventually she made her way into lifeboat number 20. However when she realized her husband was to stay behind she left the lifeboat and rejoined him on the deck. He begged her to stay on the boat but she reassured him they would wait for the next boat together. She subsequently lost her life in the disaster.This necklace called Shipwreck is Anne’s story. It is comprised of an old steel skeleton key with a borosilicate glass bead made in the flame of my torch directly on the shaft of the key. The bead is made in blues and green to represent seaweed . It measures 3/4 of an inch in diameter and 7 mm in width. It was made so that it DOES SPIN and move freely on the key. The key measures 2 3/4 inches in length. There is also another skeleton key that measures 2 3/4 inches and from that key I have hung charms made from vintage pocketwatch gears, a borosilicate glass bead, semi-precious gems, a Swarovski crystal and copper and brass findings. There is also a little vintage copper seashell charm. I have also strung a solid brass vintage luggage tag with the keys that is stamped 21. Also hanging from the keys is a gorgeous green glass vessel created by Kristy Kempinger of etsy shop Chickadeebeads. This little vessel features a unique handpulled glass that when worked in the flame, creates tiny bubbles that rise to the surface giving it an antiqued appearance. It includes a tiny piece of paper on which to write your message in a bottle~your dreams yet to come true, a love note, or a word of inspiration. Remove the tiny cork and add a few drops of your favorite aromatherapy essential oil. It may also be used to keep tender treasures close. The pendant is strung on a 30 inch gunmetal chain with a lock and key toggle clasp and will add steampunk charm to any outfit. The mix of different metals and glass is as pleasing as can be and the sound this necklace makes when worn is fabulous. You can find this necklace here

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Tricks

The Flaming Hot topic this week is bead photography. That's coincidental because I had a photography lesson Wednesday with the very talented Diana Brennan. Check out her etsy shop dsbrennan. Her work is fabulous. She is a fellow team member on my ARTSINRI street team. This is one of the first pictures taken using all manual settings on my Nikon D-50. Yay me! I'm so excited. I have felt so guilty owning such an awesome camera and using all automatic settings. Why? Because I'm a special kind of stupid and cannot follow the manual that came with the camera. One of my biggest struggles is getting the whole key in focus but Diana taught me how to do that. In return she got lunch and a glass demonstration which was actually another treat for me because she took pictures of me working and she sat through a whole pendant and a key bead!!! I can't get anyone I know to sit with me in my studio for that long lol! This picture was taken indoors using daylight bulbs and a light tent. Pretty cool huh? The best part is this key already sold.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Listen, I'm no lingerer. I have never really seen that word as a good one. I am not the lingering type. I am quick and to the point; a decisive sort. I don't linger in stores. I make my purchases quickly. I rarely slow down. Perhaps that is why I found it particularly challenging to try and figure out where I like to linger after reading a blog entry about it in Artful Blogging. Well I can tell you that I do like to linger behind the torch. There I can slow down enough to more more key...what if I tried this color over that... Yes lingering in my studio is easy. But where else do I like to linger? I like to linger under the covers in my bed early in the morning when my daughter crawls in between my husband and I and shares her first thoughts of the day. I like to linger in the yard on a warm summer's day when the kids are playing nearby. I am usually beading. I like to linger in front of my fireplace. Sometimes if I have to choose between the fire in my living room and the fire in my basement studio, I pick the living room like a moth to the bigger flame. Yes lingering is decidedly good. I have been making a concerted effort to try and slow down and linger in the moment. I think happiness is made up of a million pleasurable moments strung together on a noose of responsibility. I say wear that noose proudly . Life in suburbia for us this past weekend held four basketball games, an acting class and a birthday party. My husband and I split up the duties and moved in tandem criss crossing the state to our assignments. Did I mention it was pouring? Living in the moment-lingering- at each activity was surprisingly enjoyable. Taking an hour outside my daughter's acting class with my bead magazines fueled an entire night of inspiration at the torch. At the birthday party I forced myself to make small talk with another mother and enjoyed getting to know her. The games were bittersweet. They lost the playoffs but won the tournament. I followed every play, watched every basket. As my son would say the win was "sweet". Yup, Lingering. You should try it. Where do you like to linger?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mrs. Mac's Lavender Bling

"When are you going to name a necklace after me?" my best friend asked casually the other night while watching TV together. "What?" I asked suddenly realizing what she was asking me. "Huh??!" "Yeah" she said coyly "I keep checking that Etsy shop of yours and no Sha". "Ok" I said "I'll do it" with as much resolve as I could muster at 10:30 at night. "Don't forget the bling" she said. "It's not a Sha necklace without the sparkle!" I know, I know and purple too right? I said. "Oh yes, well that goes without saying...she chuckled "and it's not purple it's lavender."This is a great vintage necklace that mixes old with new. It is named after my best friend Sha (never Sharon) and it is very similar to her birthday necklace (except she didn't want any of those "broken watch parts" on hers lol). It's available in "that Etsy shop" of mine right now.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Arts In RI St. Patrick's Day Contest

ARTS IN RI my Rhode Island Etsy Street Team is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day contest! The contest will run from March 2nd through March 16th. Fellow team member Sarah Jane of Spiderbite has generously donated Swampmop the Nightmare Snatcher Journal which will be awarded to the winner of our contest: Furry and fearless, friendly but ferocious, these Nightmare Snatchers? are the perfect journals for writing down and drawing out all that scares, frightens, and worries.Check out each of the Artsinri shops (you will find a link to each in the right hand column of our blog) and find our St. Patrick’s Day Arts In RI logo hidden in a featured item in ONE of the shops. When you find the green logo convo me the item number and the name of the shop you found it in and you will be entered into a drawing for Swampmop. You must have an etsy account, or sign up for one here (it’s easy and free) The hunt will end at midnight EST on March 16th. The Winner will be posted here on our blog and be contacted via convo on March 17th. Good luck and happy hunting!!!!