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Keep On Truckin’

Season is ending here in Southwest Florida.  The tourists and snowbirds are leaving.  I am no longer sitting in half hour traffic jams.  The Lee County Sheriffs Department squad cars are out ticketing again.  They won’t go after our visitors.  They make their money off the permanent residents.  Just being good hosts, one might say.

So what does this mean for a crafts person who sells jewelry or a Tennis Pro that owns a club or a restaurant owner that has had a record season. … Quiet Time… New Idea Time…. Time to reflect …. or Maybe just Time to Keep On Truckin‘.

For me, Keep On Truckin means time to get working on the web-end of my business.  I started this new old endeavor a week ago with my niece, Laura Pennisi.  Laura just graduated with an Art Education major.  Not only is she an artist, but she is good with computers and lucky me, she hadn’t found a job yet.  It was March 30 and I knew I had exactly one day left to make my new Facebook banner before my Heaven Lane Creations page got changed over to the new format.  I was frantic.  I could not figure out how to make a collage of pictures that would fit into the new banner size.  Laura patiently showed me how to do it.  Like a good teacher, she modeled how to do it several times, assisted me and then let me demonstrate my understanding.  Look what we came up with

With my mentor next to me, it only took an hour.  Today, I tried to shoot more pictures of my latest creations to post on my store which I am hoping will be ready very soon.  But the shooting of the pictures and the editing took me three hours.  Not very efficient use of a jeweler’s time and I am still not satisfied with the photo results.  I will share with you my new creations.

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Here is my latest idea.  I want to find a person who lives really close by who is a great photographer.  Once a week they will shoot pictures of my jewelry and help me post.  Until I start making money off my business, I will pay them with lovely jewelry.  Any takers?

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Can a bead room be a metaphor for one’s life?

Anyone who knows me will say “Andrea’s life is an open book!”  I am not very good at hiding my feelings nor keeping my insights to myself.  Today, I am sharing another part of my life… my workroom. Now you might be asking yourself, “How can a person create in such a chaotic environment?” Well, I must admit, it ain’t easy.  But I really don’t know how to simplify my life, so somehow I manage.

I am out of workspace! Time to find a surface in the living room

If a picture is worth a thousand words, and this picture is a metaphor for my life, well what more is there to say…. except somehow I meet my deadlines, continue to produce and have fun doing it.  In the next week, I will be revealing a creation that was part of the 2012 Bead Soup Blog Party.  This was my second foray into this design challenge.  Thanks to Lori Anderson of  http://www.prettythingsblog.com/, beaders and jewelry artists from around the world trade beads and challenge themselves to create a piece with the goodies they got from their randomly assigned partner.  More on my partner later in the week.  Thanks for not giving up on me.  With my renewed inspiration to create, comes a renewed inspiration to write.

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Private Universe

I was teaching tonight. I showed my students, who are training to be science teachers a movie about student’s misconceptions. The premise of this fascinating film is that all of us form private theories about nearly everything (based on our experiences) and often those private theories are full of misconceptions and misinformation.  As a teacher, it is our job first to uncover this misconceptions and then help the students discover for themselves the truth.

It seems to me the classroom problem is in fact,  not just a dilemma for teachers, but for all of us who struggle to conduct our lives and businesses in a  meaningful  way.  I often think I am communicating clearly to my friends or my family, my clients and employers.  I see the world one way and I am sure that my perceptions are shared by these other people.  But they don’t agree, in fact, I am not even sure they hear me.  The techniques I use in a classroom to remedy this situation don’t often translate to the outside world.  Here is how it might look:

Teaching Scenario 1: Jewelry Business

Show them the necklace. Ask them the following question.  “What do you think this necklace is worth?”

They might answer, “I could buy on ebay for $25.00”

Follow up with a question to challenge their private theory.  “What if i told you I spent four hours making it and the cost of my materials were $10.00. Do you think I should charge only $25.00?” Let them feel the necklace.  Show them the technique used for making it.

Allow them to try making it to see how difficult the technique really is?

Teaching Scenario 2:  The value of eating healthy and practicing preventative medicine

I have been preaching healthy eating to my children ever since they were old enough to eat solid food. Two of my three kids get it.  In fact, my youngest son completely gave up all sodas, limits his snacks to one a day and reaches for bananas, peanut butter, carrots and yogurt when he is hungry and my husband and I are not available to cook. My middle son, on the other hand, flat out rejects all my preaching and teaching.  He has to learn everything through personal experience.  His private universe has recently intersected with his little brothers and mine in fact.  In the past two years, I have lost a great deal of weight and in general have been experiencing very good health.  In the meantime, his 13 year old brother is getting far more buff than he is.  I have watched my son start investigating healthier eating habits.

Tonight the teaching went like this?

Mom, I have got a really bad cold?  What can I do?

I start rubbing the bridge of my nose.  He gets on the internet and researches head colds and it shows a person rubbing the bridge of their nose.  He starts rubbing his.  Then he looks at me and says” You do that all the time.  I just thought you were crazy.  By the way Mom, can I borrow your Neti pot as well. ”

You get the picture.  Teaching and learning take time.  Human interactions are very complex and fraught with dangers. Do any of us take the time to interact in this fashion with our friends, partners, business associates? My friends and family think I am too pedantic as it is.  They will never let me get away with this behavior.  They will roll their eyes in their head as they hold on tight to their private theories on jewelry, health and life.

 

 

 

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Jewelry Show Disasters Part 2

In Florida, October through April is considered the craft show season.  While I am still not ready to commit the $300 plus to enter the bigger shows,  I am always looking for smaller venues during these months.  Sometimes, they are too small.  Take this past weekend for instance.  My son’s Middle School was hosting a Flea Market to raise money for their science field trip to the Keys.  Well, the price was right $15.00 for a spot and it was benefiting my child’s school– “a win/win”  you might say.  Now this week was a typically insane week involving work, family responsibilities and an unexpected visit from one of my 9 siblings.  I pulled everything together late Friday night including making up Halloween earrings and school spirit jewelry for the 800 or so families that have children at this school.  At the crack of dawn, I woke my husband up to load me into the car and drive me to the Middle School Parking lot.

Andrea at Middle School Flea Market photo shot by Mark Trank

 

My Competition Photo shot by Mark Trank

When we arrived, I noticed that all the other people set up were basically selling chaserai –old shoes, old toys, old clothing and old household items for 50 cents to $1.00 each.  I was still undaunted.  My beautiful jewelry would still make great holiday gifts. And I wasn’t planning to lower my prices to $1.00. I did not have time to go to the bank, so my dear husband ran off the bank to get me money, in case I needed change.  Round trip one for the first hour.  After  Mark went home the second time, I proceeded to set up meticulously.  And then the winds came.  My jewelry stands were flying, my jewelry was flying and I had forgotten the duck tape.  So I called Mark up and he ran around looking for suitable weights and the duck tape needed to hold jewelry stands.  Trip number 2 to the craft show. By this time, he gave up on going home and sat with me.

During the last hour in which no one even came over to see my jewelry, he asked me three simple questions.  In the sweetest voice he could muster, he asked “how many degrees do you have, my dear?”  I knew where this was going, but I played along.  “Three,”  I answered with a sigh.  “Tell me what those degrees are in?” he asked.  “B.A. in Speech Communication,” I said. “From where?” he asked rhetorically. “University of Virginia,” I announced with a laugh.  “And your next degree?” Mark asked.  “Masters in Science Education,” I laughed.  “And where is that degree from?” he mocked. “University of Virginia,” I answered a bit more quietly.  “Your third degree?” he asked.  “Educational Specialists in Curriculum and Instruction,” I announced. “From where?” By this time, my voice was a bit tight. “the University of Virginia.”  So how is it that a girl with three degrees from one of the highest rated Universities is stupid enough to try and sell her Jewelry that looks more like art to a crowd that won’t even buy items for .50?” he concluded.  “Maybe you should stick to art shows!”  This coming weekend, I will be at the Alliance for the Arts Annual Festival.  Last year it was a good event for me.  By the way, I did sell two people some jewelry.  Both happened to be teachers and both were my student teachers that I had supervised.  So my education degrees came in handy after all. Tonight we were discussing this event and I had to laugh, when Mark said”  What’s next, a truck pull in Okechobee?”

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The Big Boy Expo or Nothing Ventured… nothing gained

I ventured out today to sell my jewelry at a very unusual venue… The Big Boy Expo.  Now you might ask “what was I thinking?” Well, there is a story here.  It all started two days ago, when the house phone rang.  We never answer our house phone, but Mark, my husband, decided to pick it up.  On the phone was a very nice woman, who tracked me down after searching the web for Fort Myers Jewelers.  (that’s the good news… my name comes up in a search of Fort Myers Jewelers). She had purchased space at an event in Fort Myers for this weekend and was looking to share her space because someone backed out.  Now, there are many events at the Germaine arena.  In fact, I kept seeing advertisements about a Women’s Event that focused on fashion and health.. so I automatically assumed it was this event.

So I called her up and said yes and then I looked up the event and found the description “It’s the perfect opportunity to show off your guy stuff… All those gizmos, gadgets and thingamajigs guys can’t wait to get their hands on.” Now that doesn’t sound like a women’s fashion event. However, I am a woman of my word.  I could not back out on this very kind lady now.  I started rationalizing how this event  might be a success… my thinking went like this.  All those guys have to have women either at home or being dragged out to the Big Boy Expo… maybe they will flock to my booth and buy my beautiful jewelry.

The weather report called for off and on thunderstorms throughout the day.  Have you ever experienced a South Florida thunderstorm in September?  We are talking pretty much hurricane without the hype…. torrential downpours, instant flash floods, frequent lightening and wind that can blow down outdoor tents and send them into the next county.   I remained optimistic.  I had less than 24 hours to get ready, so I frantically sent out an SOS to all my new Bead Soup Blogger friends, who gave me helpful suggestions for last-minute pricing. I threw together my display, which I hadn’t used in six months.

Six a.m. Saturday morning.  My husband has been coughing most of the night.  I was pretty much packed up, but someone would have to carry it out to my car, drive me  there and help me set up.  Sick Mark got elected. One of the joys of being married to me for nearly 30 years.  We showed up just as the skies were blackening.  Never a good sign.  Another bad sign, the information said a table would be provided, but unbeknown st  to my space sharer or me, that was for the inside vendors.  So guess who got elected to go back home and get me a table.  The day continued on like that. There was the trip to Walmart to get me tarps in case the rain came and to the Smoothie place because I didn’t bring enough food or drink. All day long,  my sick husband running back and forth.  At one point, the sky looked so threatening, he went to the car and fell asleep thinking he would have to rescue  me at any moment.  Well the rest of the male population was smart enough to stay home or just visit the vendors inside.  At one point, I was sweating so badly, it was like being in my own rainstorm. 

So by now, I am sure you are wondering what was gained.  Here is my list.  I met some nice people who were also struggling to make a living at their craft.  We told stories.  I learned that juried shows might not accept my tent because its blue.  I learned that I need to get weights to hold down my tent in case of inclement weather.  I learned that sharing a booth might not work because my table was facing sideways and I need to face the crowd for them to see what I am about.  I also need a banner. i have gained knowledge of all these things and a few pictures of my rudimentary set up.  So like all adventures, there is something gained and guess what else,  its poured all over Fort Myers except where we were set up at Germaine arena.  By the way, I did not sell one item, but gave out a few business cards.  When I got home, my 13 year old looked up at the sky and said ” Mom, look a double rainbow!!!”  I am thinking that means the pot of gold is still out there.