Thursday, December 19, 2013

Arts Market of New Orleans--This Weekend

I've got my fingers crossed that the weather forecast changes between now and Saturday morning.  The current forecast doesn't look good with the "potential for severe thunderstorms" on Saturday and a 30% chance of rain with isolated thunderstorms on Sunday.  What's with this crazy weather during winter?

Let's imagine that the weather forecast has changed and this weekend is going to be lovely.  Positive thinking people!

Please stop by the Louisiana Crafts Guild tent to check out unique clothing and accessory designs made from neckties created by Annie Odell, the colorful folk art of Bebo, and my handmade jewelry.  There will also be an assortment of items made by other Guild members so you are sure to be able to find last minute presents for everyone on your list.

Please choose to
 Buy Handmade & Buy Local!

Arts Market of New Orleans Graphic

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Rest in Peace George Rodrigue

Louisiana has lost one of her strongest advocates and most unique artists with the untimely death of George Rodrigue.  He will be greatly missed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Feeling Better

I think that I'm about 95% well from the virus that I brought back from my festival trip.  The one thing that has not returned is my appetite--I'm simply not getting hungry like I should be at the normal times each day.  I've been happily getting by on less than a decent meal each day all week.  I fear that this will wreak havoc on my metabolism at the very time of year that I don't need to go into thrift mode.

I'll be restringing a necklace and repairing some silver earrings tomorrow so that they can ship out on Monday.  I don't usually repair jewelry made by others but neither repair is involved nor will they alter the original artists' designs.  I hate that I've had to delay working on them but I didn't want to even attempt it while I felt so totally dead tired.  I'll be including a pair of my earrings as a thank you for my customer's patience.

Aside from my lack of appetite, I have been enjoying hot tea--specifically Hot Cinnamon Sunset by Harney & Sons.  Each time I've run out, it's gone on sale at Publix so, I've not had to pay full price or order it which is convenient because my last few tea obsessions have been for teas that were not available locally.  Anyway, if you enjoy a deliciously spicy black tea that is wonderful plain (no cream or sugar), you might want to give it a try but don't believe the tin when it says that each sachet is good for two cups of tea.  That's only true if you don't mind a very weak second cup or a blah single 2-cup brew.

It's chilly even here in the FL panhandle so, stay warm!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Oldie But Goodie

If you have pets, you might want to re-read my Pet Safety During The Holidays post from last year.  Let's keep our pets safe all year!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chimneyville, New Orleans, Stolen Card Number, and a Virus

The good...

The Chimneyville Crafts Festival was fantastic and though the weather was cold and icy and many people didn't make the trek over to the Trade Mart the first evening, my sales were still very good.  I'm not sure if my husband got many photos but I'll post some later if we've got any.

The weather was definitely too rainy to drive all the way back after the festival wrapped up on Sunday so we drove to Hammond and spent the night.  We drove into New Orleans the next morning and I restocked The Exchange Shop and we had lunch at Napoleon House.  It was just a quick business trip over and we headed back to Florida.

Now for the bad...

My card number was stolen and a $700 purchase was made.  The bank lied and claimed that they tried to call me to verify the purchase but my cell phone records proved otherwise.  They've admitted their error and my money will be returned but it was a major nuisance.  I rarely use my card and it never leaves my sight in restaurants, etc. so I have narrowed it down a bit.  I'll post when I have confirmation of who stole it and how.

After dealing with all that, I then realized that I caught a mild virus.  I was down for the count last night but I'm feeling a bit better this morning--just really tired.  I'll get online purchases mailed out tomorrow.  I'm very sorry for the delay.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

37th Annual Chimneyville Crafts Festival

Chimneyville Crafts Festival Graphic

If you're in the Jackson MS area this weekend, head over to the Mississippi Trade Mart for the Chimneyville Crafts Festival.  Over a 150 members of the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi will be selling a huge variety of handmade items--woodworking, fiber arts, pottery, glass art, jewelry, metal sculpture, etc.  I can guarantee that you won't find any fake "handmade" items there!

The preview party is Friday evening and the festival runs through Sunday.  Please stop by my booth.  I've been working like a Christmas elf for the last few months and have lots of new jewelry.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Innocence Project New Orleans Fundraiser & Open House

The Innocence Project New Orleans is having a fundraiser & open house on Friday, November 22nd.

From their website:

"IPNO will honor the creators, cast and crew of HBO's Treme – and the light it shone on New Orleans very flawed criminal justice system 

David Simon, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, additional special guests from Treme + exonerees and their loved ones


We will also celebrate IPNO’s work; the courage and perseverance of our clients and the commitment & support of all those who have joined the fight to right wrongful convictions.

Tickets are $50 in advance (includes drink tickets and appetizers) or $65 at the door."

I have donated a beaded etched copper cuff bracelet & matching earrings and a pair of sterling silver earrings for the fundraiser auction.  Please send positive vibes that these items raise as much money as possible for such an honorable organization.  Their work changes lives that have been ripped apart by a corrupt criminal justice system.  It may surprise many readers to learn that Louisiana and Mississippi have the highest incarceration rates in the world.  

Beaded Etched Copper Cuff by Libellula Jewelry

Cicada Silver Sterling Silver Earrings

Please consider making a donation to The Innocence Project or providing an item for one of their upcoming fundraising auctions.   

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Compost Bin Micro-climate

We keep two compost bins with one receiving new vegetable offerings each day while the other one that has reached capacity can continue to finish composting.  That second bin that is no longer getting spun on a regular basis provides a warm, safe environment for tiny frogs.  We were surprised to find that the bin still has a few mature black soldier fly larvae that are almost ready for the flies to emerge.  The photo below shows the decaying leaf matter, a few sprouts, larvae, and three little frogs.

Frogs in Compost Bin

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pricing Our Work

If there is anything that jewelry sellers dislike more than photographing and listing their items, it has to be pricing them.  We all know how much an item cost us in materials and even those who don't keep track of how long they've worked on a piece usually have a vague idea of how much labor should cost.  So why is it SO hard to price our work?

  • Selling on a venue such as eBay or Etsy has driven down the value of handmade items due to the unfair competition from mass-produced items.
  • Potential buyers don't value handmade items.
  • We don't trust that buyers are willing to pay what our work is actually worth.
  • We often devalue our own work because we wouldn't be willing to pay what it's actually worth.  It's been said that we are often the worst judge of our work's true value because we may not fit the profile of our "ideal customer".  Our own work may be out of our price range.
  • Selling across a variety of venues such as online, in galleries, and at markets can be difficult.  We have to price our items high enough to allow for commissions when they are sold in galleries which can raise prices to the point that buyers on online venues and at markets are no longer interested.

You might be asking yourself what made me start thinking about this and decide to write a post.  As I stood in line at Target a few evenings ago, I noticed the costume jewelry display.  I had never looked at their jewelry so, I was shocked to see that the silver plated earrings were priced so high.  I couldn't believe that factory-made, plated earrings were selling for just under $20 to almost $30 a pair.  What I realized was that my lowest end earrings are priced at or slightly under the price of factory-made junk and I still get price complaints.

In my experience, buyers frequently confuse art and craft markets for flea markets and want items priced accordingly.  How should we combat this problem?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Painting With Fire Studio, Tampa, & Tarpon Springs

My husband had a job in Tampa at the end of October so, I drove down with him.  This gave me a chance to finally take a class with Barbara Lewis at her Painting With Fire Studio in St Petersburg!  Our day was a combination of instruction, experimentation, and play.  I had the chance to meet her beautiful daughter, Laura and her wonderful husband, Jim.  I'll have to meet her son, David, on my next trip down because that was his day off.  Painting With Fire Studio is a family business and you can tell that they are all very passionate about what they do.  If you ever have a chance to take a class--DO IT (esp. a one-on-one class)!  Barbara is an excellent teacher and I learned a lot.  I did a fair bit of damage to my wallet shopping after class but had money not been an issue, I could have easily spent double.  The little zip bags of enamel are every bit as alluring as colorful beads in a bead shop.

After my fantastic day with Barbara, I walked down to The Queens Head where I waited for my husband.  It's a fun bar and the food smelled lovely but, alas,  I had already eaten so, I only had wine.  The Queens Head is welcoming to everyone (GBLT-friendly), has a nice courtyard, fun music, and the restrooms are papered in scandalous tabloids.  The place is a total hoot and I'd definitely recommend that anyone taking a class at PWFS stop by for a drink.

Because our closest Ikea stores are in Atlanta and Orlando and we had no reason to visit either place, the visit to Tampa definitely came in handy.  I picked up a few necessities and we headed to Oldsmar where we spent the night a bit closer to Tarpon Springs.

The next morning we drove over to Tarpon Springs.  I used to go to Tarpon fairly regularly but hadn't been in almost seven years.  It has changed a lot in those seven years and has an even more touristy feel to it now.  I miss the Tarpon Springs of 20+ years ago but I understand that as the older residents die, their families might not want to continue their businesses.  A lot of my favorite shops are now closed but I think that I miss Halki Market the most.  The grumpy old guy and his sweet wife were always highlights of each of my visits and their shelves were always stocked with Greek goodies that the other shops never had.

By the time that we had driven around a bit to see how things had changed, we were starving and we made our way over to Mykonos Restaurant.  That little restaurant is our favorite and we eat there during every visit.  I had the Mykonos salad which is an upgraded version of their regular Greek salad and features crispy romaine rather than iceberg lettuce and lots of fresh dill.  They must raise their own tomatoes because I've never had a tomato paler than deep, blood red and they taste vine-ripened.  Be sure to order the potato salad along with your Greek salad.  You'll find it buried in the middle of the bowl and the mix of flavors is so good.  My husband had the carefully fried Kalamaria.  His plate was loaded with lots of tender, tiny squid with crispy tentacles. Their kalamaria is never rubbery or over-cooked.  He chose a salad and oven potatoes as his sides and both were generous and delicious--but we knew that they would be because their food is consistently delicious.  My husband is really good about sharing so, I enjoyed some of his squid, too.

Mykonos Restaurant, Tarpon Springs

Kalamaria Tiganetes, Mykonos Restaaurant

Greek Salad, Mykonos Restaurant
(Food photos were taken after we'd already been eating.  Oops!)

There was a craft festival while we were in Tarpon Springs and I had been excited when I read that it was a juried show featuring US-handmade art and crafts.  What I saw was a hodgepodge of items that included really nice, handmade items and a variety of imported junk.  The show may be juried but I have a feeling that the qualification for getting in is a check that doesn't bounce.  Tarpon Springs deserves better than that.

After perusing the "craft" festival, we headed over to share a chocolate kōk and get some Greek coffee (don't call it Turkish while in Tarpon Springs) at Hellas Bakery.  We needed the caffeine jolt that our large semi-sweet (metrio) Greek coffees provided.  I love to bake Greek pastries but kōk is always a treat that I prefer to get at bakeries.

Anastasi Docked on Anclote River
Anastasi Docked on the Anclote River

Sponge Diving Industry Marker
Tarpon Springs Sponge Industry Marker (sorry for the angle; a tent was blocking access)

Sponge Diving Industry Marker-Reverse

Sponge Boat
Sponge Boat "Susie Sea"
Loaded With a Haul of Sponges

Air Pump For Sponge Diver
Pump To Provide Air For Sponge Diver

Statue of Sponge Diver, Tarpon Springs
Statue of Sponge Diver Wearing a Skafandro Suit

We didn't have time to visit Cigar City Brewing Company or Tampa Bay Brewing Company while we were in Tampa but we still wanted to try at least one pint of locally brewed beer before we drove home.  We stopped by 701 Tap House before we left Tarpon Springs to see what local beers they had on tap but found that their list was heavily weighted with non-local beers.  We did manage to find a couple that we wanted to try from the few locally-produced beers.  My husband tried the Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing and I had the Apricot (Wheat) Peach Ale from Dunedin Brewery.  The Jai Alai IPA is a really nicely balanced IPA that would appeal to even those who don't necessarily love hoppy IPAs while still appealing to those of us who love our hops.  The hops are balanced with citrus notes and a slightly floral fragrance.   My Apricot Peach Ale was a nice beer that I would enjoy more during the summer months.  I tend to prefer IPAs, stouts, and porters but nice, crisp, fruit beers can win me over.  The Raspberry Wheat at McGuire's Irish Pub is one such beer and (some years' batches of) Abita's Strawberry Harvest Lager is another but I find fruit beers to generally be hit or miss.  Dunedin's Apricot Peach Ale did not have an overly apricot/peach fragrance or flavor (some fruit beers are way over the top) but it also lacked the yeastiness that I love about some wheat beers.  My husband and I both preferred the IPA.

Our quick jaunt down to Tampa and the surrounding area was a lot of fun and my class with Barbara was the highlight.  Thanks for a fabulous day, Barbara!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

OctoberFest '13 Blog Hop

I'd like to give a big thank you to Rita of Toltec Jewels for Jewel School Friends for hosting this autumn-inspired blog hop.

I'm currently getting my stock made for a really big holiday craft festival and haven't had a lot of extra time to make any jewelry purely for fun so, I decided to share a favorite autumn recipe and my variations.

I really love pumpkin so,  I buy up a year's supply each autumn because it's not always available during the summer and I crave pumpkin year 'round.  I'm embarrassed to admit it but I've been known to panic when I start running low on my stash of tinned pumpkin.  I have no preference between sweet and savory pumpkin recipes but when I do bake with pumpkin, I tend to prefer my pumpkin with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.  If you like that flavor combination, you'll love this recipe.

King Arthur Flour is one of my favorite sources for flour (the others are Arrowhead Mills and Bob's Red Mill) and their website is a fantastic source for well-tested recipes that will not fail and waste a lot of expensive ingredients.  International readers will appreciate that their recipes are offered in both Imperial and metric versions.  

Their recipe for Easy Pumpkin Bread is excellent as written but with a little tweaking, it can really become your recipe that suits your family.  

The link shown above will take you to  the original recipe and my variations are listed below:

  • 1 cup light olive oil or organic canola oil or substitute ¼ C of unsweetened applesauce for ¼ C of the oil
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated unbleached sugar or substitute dark brown sugar for granulated sugar  
  • 4 large eggs  
  • 2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin when fresh pumpkin is out of season or 2 C of cooked pie pumpkin (sweet pumpkin)
  • 2/3 cup filtered or distilled water--our tap water is heavily chlorinated
  • 3 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or substitute Arrowhead Mills (whole wheat) Pastry Flour for 1 C of the all-purpose flour  
  • 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder  
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract (add cut vanilla beans to bourbon or dark rum and allow to steep at least two months before using--I like the added flavor that the darker spirits add so I don't use vodka) 
  • ½ C chopped walnuts and ½ C pecans (I've also baked this with black walnuts and hickory nuts and both single nut versions were excellent) 
  • ¾ C chocolate chips, optional 
  • ¾ C dried cranberries, optional  
  • I do not sprinkle sugar on top   

I bake the pumpkin bread according to the original directions.  This bread is excellent right out of the oven and remains fresh for several days unrefrigerated and a week if it's refrigerated.  I love to bake this ahead of time during the holidays because it freezes well and after thawing, it is indistinguishable from loaves that were not frozen. 

I hope that you and your family enjoy this pumpkin bread as much as I do!

pumpkin bread

Please visit the other participants:

Andrea Glick-Zenith  
Dolores Raml       
Karla Morgan              
Susie Harris              
Mischelle Andrade    
Kay Thomerson          
Jean Yates                  
Kelly Hosford Patterson
Kathy Lindemer          
Liz E                              
Jasvanti Patel            
Christie Murrow          
Jodie Marshall            
Andrea Trank              
Dini Bruinsma            
Elsie Deliz  Fonseca  
Karla Morgan              
Vera Lynn                    
Rana Wilson              
Catherine King          
Lily Vincent                  
Janice Hidey (Janimar)
Cory Tompkins          
Candida Castleberry
Cynthia Kent Machata
Alicia Marinache        
Linda Anderson        
Leah Curtis                
Jennifer Reno (JenRen)
Robin Reed                
Tanty Sri Hartanti        
Lisa Lodge                  
Ingrid A.                        
Judy Turner                
Gina Hockett              
Nelly May                      
Tanya McGuire            
Sonya Stille                  
Carol D.                      
Asri Wahyuningsih    
Ginger Bishop            
Shaiha Williams        
Toltec Jewels (Rita, our hostess)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Content Scraping

As if I haven't had enough to worry about with all of the Etsy nonsense, I have found that my blog has been a victim of content scraping.  As you would expect, the stolen content now ranks higher in Google search than  on my own damned blog.  I'm not going to provide any links because I'm not about to give them any more traffic than they've already stolen from me.  Google it if you're curious but be sure to click on the cached versions.

DCMA takedown notices are a pain in the ass to submit but I guess I'll just have to add that newest pain to the ever-growing stack of things that I must accomplish in the very near future.  I wonder when I'll actually have any time to get back to making jewelry?

For those of you who read my blog via RSS feed, you will find that my posts are now truncated.  I'm sorry that it will be less convenient but it is necessary.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Temporary Shops

I have opened new shops on Zibbet.  I won't close them when my website is ready; instead, they will serve as my temporary shops right now and as additional shops later.  All of us who sell handmade need to have as many 'irons in the fire' as possible!

 Libellula Jewelry

  Cicada Silver

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bye Bye, Etsy!

I had planned to let my listings expire but I am totally sick of all the worry that accompanies selling on Etsy. I wasted a lot of time sitting on the Etsy carousel going around and around but never getting anywhere. I finally jumped off.

My blog won't be going anywhere and the addresses will not be changing. Both and will still redirect to this blog. 

(Coming Soon!)
This site will include:
  •  Libellula Jewelry
  • Cicada Silver
  • Firefly Supply Shop

Failure of Imagination?

I can't improve on Doug's post:

UPDATE: Miss Fakey Fake is learning how to back pedal. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Excellent Blog Post: Sh*t Craft Show Shoppers Say

The blog, Art 2 The Extreme has a great post that I'd like to share.

I'd like to add a few points to Nicole's list:

  • Do not tell a metalsmith that you know that she didn't make the jewelry in her display.  No; my husband did not make it. (Men--I'm talking to YOU.  Stop being sexist!)
  • Do not tell me that you "can get the exact same thing at the flea market".  Have fun trying!
  • Please do not set your drinks on my tables and then tell me not to worry that "coffee will wash right out".  
  • Please don't let your children take multiple business cards.  This is not really a big problem for me because I stamp and emboss my own cards so, they're relatively inexpensive. Some cards such as Moo Cards are much more expensive and a very thin stack of those cards could have easily cost four or five dollars.  Most artists can't afford that much waste.
  • Please do not photograph our work.  It is rude and makes us think that you intend to have your aunt or cousin or best friend copy it for you.  We work very hard on our designs and have enough to worry about without the added stress of wondering if we're going to start seeing copies of our designs at the next craft market.
  • If you own a boutique, please do not lead us on about how much you would like to carry our creations if you aren't serious.  Time is money and when we take the time to meet with shop owners and email photos and you never take the time to return calls or email us, you've wasted our time which could have been better spent creating or taking care of other business matters.
None of these comments are meant to be taken in a manner that would suggest that I don't love my customers.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  The problem is that the other shoppers with the bad behavior prevent me from giving my full attention to the serious customers who deserve it.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Little Guy Doesn't Stand A Chance

UPDATE (11/13/13):
Your desperate attempt to spam my blog, Allison, only serves to make you look even worse.  Comments have been turned off and will remain 'off' on this post!

Etsy Sellers Partnering With Manufacturers

One seller that is exalted in Etsy's free advertising blog post states in the comments, "However, I work with retailers and that is how/why I started working with a local small business, Fall River Apparel. They are a small company of 5 seamstresses, and are just as dedicated to making super quality handmade products."

Does THIS look like "a small company of 5 seamstresses"?

If Etsy can redefine "manufactured" as being the same as "handmade" then maybe she can redefine "5".

Updated to add:

A seller made an excellent comment in the forum when describing how Etsy's new policy of lumping manufactured products in with handmade products:
" My example. - the free range butcher at the farmers market that people travel miles to shop at because they value quality, animal welfare, want to support local farmers etc suddenly puts up a sign that says
'Now offering feed lot beef, May or may not be imported'. Then they refuse to tell you which meat is which
I'd have a beef with that
I'd have to go find another butcher"

Buyers want to know the truth!

UPDATE  (10/15):
Etsy continues to flaunt the shops who are having their products manufactured and the Chairwoman of the Board of Etsy has declared that if you are against the new changes at Etsy that you must have "a fundamental failure of imagination about how marketplaces can grow".  Condescending much?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Future of My Etsy Shops

My husband and I have decided to phase out my Etsy shops.  He knows how disgusted I've become with Etsy and Chad Dickerson so, he gave me the push and his blessing.  No more items will be added and listings will be allowed to expire.   I've grown dead tired of what Etsy has become and I've decided that we have to part ways.  My husband and I are currently making our future shop plans.

I will keep my buying account (assuming that Etsy doesn't close it out of spite) so that I can make purchases from my favorite sellers who have chosen to remain but sell nowhere else.

The Brave New "Etsy World" Order
Leslie (Admin)
"Hi there,
Shops are now allowed to use third party or what has been referred to as drop shipping. It's completely possible that items will ship from a different location than where they are made or where the shop is located."

Etsy Praises The Shops That Use Manufacturers 

Monday, October 7, 2013

An Assortment of New Work in Silver

necklaces by Cicada Silver
Fine & Sterling Silver Necklaces by Cicada Silver
Left to right:  Fine silver lentil bead, fine silver sea shell pendant, amethyst geode sterling silver pendant,  fine silver silver agate pendant, fine silver flower pendant, and fine silver basket pendant

Regular blog readers will recognize the amethyst geode necklace because I've posted photos of it but the others were completed last week.

None of these items are listed in Cicada Silver on Etsy nor will they be listed.  Please email me if you're interested in one of the necklaces.  Thanks.

SO WHAT if Jerry Jones Uses A Flip Phone!

Have we Americans become so incredibly materialistic that it's considered shameful to not use a smart phone?  I've got news for all those people who commented on Twitter suggesting that Mr. Jones doesn't know how to use a smart phone or is too cheap:  Some people actually use phones until they break!  Not everyone buys a new phone each year nor do all people want or need smart phones.  It's also incredibly rude to assume that just because a man is 70 years old, that he doesn't know how to use smart phone.  Ageism anyone?  I also think that Mr. Jones' wealth is unimportant in this discussion.  Whether or not he chooses to buy a more expensive phone is his business.  And of those who do want smart phones, not all fall in line in the Apple Army.  I know lots of people who have fallen in love with my husband's Samsung Galaxy Note and out of love with their iPhones.

For the record, my Nokia "candy bar" style phone just won't die.  It must be built like a tank because it's been dropped more times than I can count and is still in fine working order at the ripe old age of 8.  I do not replace things that aren't broken or obsolete so, this baby isn't going anywhere until the cell phone grim reaper visits.  Am I old?  Not even close.  Am I cheap?  No.  Do I not know how to use a smart phone?  I use my husband's phone all the time.  Will I replace my phone with a smart phone when it breaks?  NO.  I don't need one and I don't want to pay for another data plan.

FYI:  I'm not defending Mr. Jones because I'm a Cowboys fan.  Go SAINTS!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tropical Storm Karen

Those of us who live along the Gulf coast had hoped to make it through an entire hurricane season without having to deal with a storm.  Historically, October is a troublesome month for tropical systems forming off the Yucatan or in the Gulf so, it's not surprising that our first storm of the season is an October storm.

 Watches and warnings have been issued from Louisiana to the Florida panhandle.

T.S. Karen is not expected to make landfall as a hurricane but it's always wise to be prepared--just in case.  Even tropical storms spawn tornadoes so, keep that weather radio on and make sure that you have fresh batteries.  Stay inside and stay safe!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flu Shot Reaction

I have noticed that my blog stats show that a lot of people are reading this blog post.  If you or someone you know has had a reaction to the 2013-2014 flu vaccine, please leave a comment.  I'm trying to gauge just how widespread the problem is this year.  Thank you for your help! 

Like a lot of people, my husband, elderly mother, and I got our flu shots last Saturday.  None of us are allergic to eggs and we've never had any previous reactions to the flu vaccine.  I assumed that getting a bit more prepared for flu season was going to be a relatively simple, non-event like usual.  It was for both my husband and mother.  I, however, had a reaction and ended up with terrible hives within a few hours of getting my vaccination.  I did an online search and found lots of examples of other people who had the same reaction and even one woman who had an identical reaction:  hives covering her legs.  Many of the people who had the hive reaction from their flu vaccinations wrote about having chronic hives off and on for months!

I filed an online adverse reaction report with VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and hoped for the best.  My hives were entirely gone within three days and I thought that it was over.  Last night, I started itching and it quickly escalated into full-blown, I'm being attacked by mosquitoes-style hives and this time, it was all over my arms, buttocks, legs, and feet.  It was an awful night.  I took Benedryl and used a few different topicals and nothing made a dent in the itching.  I tried desperately to not scratch but kept awakening to find that I had been scratching in my sleep.

Has anyone had a similar reaction?  How long did the chronic hives last?

Does anyone have any unusual home remedies for hives?  I've tried all the normal remedies and nothing is working!

In case anyone wants to know the particular vaccine that I received:  Afluria 2013-2014 Pre-filled Syringe  (manufactured in Australia and distributed by Merck)

UPDATE:  My hives got much worse and I went to the doctor.  Two steroid shots and a warning to never again get a flu shot and I am still itching an hour and a half later.  I would rate the pre-shot itching at a 10 on a 1 to 10 scale and it's about an 8.5 right now.  I've got Zantac so, I'm prepared for the inevitable indigestion that I always experience when I've had steroids.

Oh, and the lovely part is that the steroids will also suppress my immune response to the flu vaccine so, I've gone through all this for nothing!

UPDATE II:  I itched all night and I'm still itching. It's so miserable attempting to work while trying to concentrate on not scratching.

UPDATE III:  (9/30)  Today was a good day and there was very little itching.  Oh, how I hope this means that I've turned a corner with the hives...

UDPATE IV: (10/1)  The hives are slowly returning and I now have aching and stiffness in my shoulders, arms, wrists, and legs.

UPDATE:  (10/8)  I'm getting occasional patches of hives and my flu shot arm still feels like I've been punched extremely hard.  When is this going to end?

UPDATE:  (10/12)  No hives for two days but my the pain when I move my arm has not lessened.

UPDATE:  (10/19)  I've not had hives for several days but my shoulder/arm still hurt and the pervasive, dull body aches still continue.  I'm guessing that my immune system is still very 'angry'.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Update on My Pursuit of Business Insurance

My husband and I have recently learned that I will not be able to get a business insurance policy until after hurricane season is over which will pretty much prevent me from consigning jewelry at the galleries affiliated with the Louisiana and Mississippi guilds during the busy holiday shopping season.  I know that other people are willing to consign jewelry without it being insured but I am not comfortable taking that risk.

I've found this process to be very hard to maneuver.  It's no wonder why so many people who make and sell handmade items forgo insurance and end up taking great liability risks and simply hope for no theft or damage when they place items on consignment.

What has surprised me is how absolutely unfair many gallery sales agreements are.  I am not complaining about the percentage split, be it 50/50 or otherwise because I understand that their fee covers the services that they provide us.  I'm referring to the failure of some (but not all) galleries to offer any insurance on consigned items and their cavalier attitudes toward breakage and how much risk artists should be forced to assume.  When a gallery or shop decides to take no responsibility or "duty of care" for the items consigned, they have no incentive to actually take care of those items. 

I won't name the gallery but I recently learned that a very prominent gallery has the policy that when items are broken or damaged but the person who caused the damage is unknown, the gallery asks "the craftsmen to share the loss with us by accepting 30% of the retail value as compensation". Besides the obvious flaw in that reasoning (30% will often not even cover materials!), what makes that an incredibly unfair proposition is that given the gallery's normal 60/40 split, this means that the artist is expected to accept 50% of what he or she would have originally made on the item.  This is hardly a fair share of the loss. 

I would also like to point out that when they know who has broken or damaged an item, their policy is to ask the customer "to pay for 60% of the retail price".  The customer is asked to pay 60% of the retail price--does that mean that they are not required to pay?  The wording is not clear.  Have you ever seen a retail store accept 60% of the retail price when an item is broken?  I have not but I have seen a lot of "You break it, you've bought it" signs in boutiques and stores.  It is apparently acceptable to charge full price for broken factory-made items (purchased by the store at wholesale) but only acceptable to charge 60% when the item was handmade by an independent artist.  Could any of my readers explain that logic to me because I don't understand it at all.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Peace Begins From Within

*I'm sorry for the delay in posting but I've been having major issues with Firefox crashing.*

I'd like to thank Mary Jane Dodd for continuing to promote peace through her Flags For Peace Project (part of the International Day of Peace).  I participated last year and I was thrilled to be a part of it this year, too.  Maire's determined, quiet, personal path toward both inner and world peace should serve as a beacon to us all.

World peace is such a large concept that seems so hugely impossible that many people are daunted by where and how to start and often end up paralyzed by the enormity of it.  If I dwelled on the particulars too much, I would probably be one of those people so, I choose to start small and work from within.  I try to do things that are fair, kind, environmentally friendly, but basically small.  Those things are what I am capable of doing on a daily basis but I'm convinced that they make a difference.

Peace Leaf Pendant by Cicada Silver
Peace Leaf Pendant

I made a piece of jewelry again this year as a simple, personal reminder for the wearer.  The leaf and peace tag are made from PMC3 while the peace symbol was forged from sterling silver wire.  I wanted to include a reminder to care for nature and a more literal peace symbol so that the message is both understated but still obvious.

Sterling Silver Peace Symbol by Cicada Silver
Sterling Silver Peace Symbol

Behind the leaf hangs a tag stamped with the word "peace" which was created by stamping the PMC3 clay with the etched brass stamp that I created when making last year's pendant.

handmade etched brass stamp
Etched Brass Stamp

My necklace isn't finished because my silver clam shell bead tips didn't arrive in time to finish the knotted bead portion.  My clasp and the chain portion will be attached when the tips arrive.  I'll post an updated photo, too.
Unfinished Necklace by Cicada Silver
 Unfinished Peace Leaf Necklace


Finished Necklace by Cicada Silver
 Chain is Attached

Back View of Completed Necklace

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Creating With Cabochons Blog Hop

I'd like to thank Sally Russick of The Studio Sublime for hosting this design challenge and blog hop.  I love bezel setting stone cabochons but I also enjoy setting lampwork cabochons, and handmade stoneware,  ceramic, and porcelain cabochons, too.

For this blog hop, I decided to use a beautiful porcelain flower cabochon made by Sarah Kandell-Gritzmaker of Slate Studio Supplies on Etsy.  The colors immediately made me think of setting it in red brass.  The backplate is red brass and the bezel wire is bronze.  The etched disc that I sweat soldered to the reverse of the backplate is also red brass.

Porcelain & Red Brass Necklace by Libellula Jewelry
Porcelain Cabochon Bezel Set in Red Brass & Bronze

Etched Brass on Pendant Reverse
Patinated Etched Red Brass

Bezel Set Cabochon by Libellula Jewelry
 Bezel Set Cabochon

I usually make chains for my pendants but this time, I chose to use stone beads that have a finish somewhere between matte and satin in order to complement Sarah's cabochon.  I knotted the beads in groupings of three using Irish waxed linen cord from Beads To String.  The necklace was finished with commercial brass bead tips from River Song Beads and my soldered red brass clasp and etched logo tag.

Please visit the other participants' blogs:

Your Host:  Sally Russick
Alicia Marinache           
Lynn  Jobber           
Jenny Davies-Reazor           
Jo-Ann  Woolverton           
Marde Lowe           
Dawn Doucette           
Mary K McGraw           
Gloria Allen           

Cheri  Reed           
Sonya Stille           
Elizabeth Owens Dwy           
Veralynne   Malone           
Tania Hagen           
Lynsey  Brooks           
Christina Miles           
Holly  Westfall           
Kathy  Lindemer           
Patti Vanderbloemen           

Therese Frank           
Adrienne Berry           
Tanty  Sri Hartanti           
Renetha Stanziano           
Marlene  Cupo           
Sandi Volpe           
Sharyl McMillian-Nelson           

Mischelle Fanucchi           
Tracy  Stillman           
Skylar Bre'z           
Ann Schroeder           
Jess Green           
Susan Kennedy           
Stacie  Florer           
Cathie  Carroll           
Susan F.  

Michelle Caballero       
Sabine Dittrich           
Kristina Johansson           
Kimberly Sturrup-Roberts           
Melissa  Meman           
Cheryl McCloud         
Michelle  Timms           
Cindy  Pack                  
Lynda  Carson

Cynthia  Machata           
Julia  Harris           
Karin  Slaton
Ingrid  Anderson           

Friday, September 13, 2013

Craftsmen's Guild of MS New Member Reception

Mississippi Crafts Center

The Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi will be holding their new member reception on Sunday, October 6th at 4 pm at the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland.  New members will have samples of their work on display.  I really look forward to seeing all the lovely things made by all the other new members.

I'm not sure if I have any readers who live even remotely close to the Ridgeland/Jackson MS area but just in case, I'll invite all of you to come if you're in the area.  I'd love to meet you!  Getting accepted into The Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi is one of my proudest accomplishments and I will be thrilled if even one of my blog readers attends the MS Guild reception!

The Mississippi Craft Center is located just off the Natchez Trace in Ridgeland.  USA Today named the MS Craft Center Gallery one of the top ten great places to shop (at craft galleries). October is not too early to start your holiday shopping and unlike Etsy, you will find only truly handmade items for sale at the Mississippi Craft Center.

I hope to see some (one) of you guys there!

*Saturday, October 5th Freret Market:  I will not be vending in order to attend the reception in MS the following day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Martha Stewart American Made: Voting Continues

Voting for the category winners continues through September 22nd in the Martha Stewart American Made contest.  You have six votes per day to distribute to one or more nominees. 

Please consider giving some or all of your
 daily votes to Bergeron Woodworks.
Vote Here

~Thank you to everyone who has voted for David!~

Friday, September 6, 2013

Freret Market September 7th

The Freret Market will resume on the 7th of September after taking a two month hiatus during the hottest part of the summer.  That break gives artists time to get back into their studios and a welcome break from sweating it out in the sauna-like New Orleans heat.  That doesn't mean that the September market won't be a scorcher but there will be lots of vendors with cool, delicious things to eat and drink.

Kalaya Steede and I will both be there.  If you don't know her work, check out her blog and Etsy shop to see her beautiful enameling and etching--yep; we're both addicted to etching!

I've been making a lot of items in preparation for the Chimneyville Craft Festival in MS and for galleries but I will have a few new pairs of modern, clean-lined earrings, an amethyst geode necklace in sterling silver that's entirely handmade save for Mother Nature's effort in making the amethyst, and a few more pieces that you'll have to come see!

amethyst geode sterling silver necklace
Rustic Amethyst Geode with Handmade Sterling Silver Chain

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Martha Stewart: American Made

"American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local and celebrates the handmade. The journey culminates in a signature event this October in New York City. Join us and uncover the next generation of great American Makers."

Voting continues through September 13th.  Please consider voting for Bergeron Woodworks. Some of you might recognize the name and remember that I had David make a custom frame with a vintage bronze screen insert which I use as a jewelry display.

custom frame by Bergeron Woodworks
(Please ignore the next door vendor's vintage clothing in the background.)

Not only is David's work beautiful and extremely well-made, it is also eco-friendly in the truest sense.  When you buy a piece of his furniture, you have bought a piece of South Louisiana history and kept that wood out of the landfill.  Those old houses that cannot be restored are given new life as modern furniture with a twist.  I love that the lines of much of his furniture are a little more modern.  Juxtaposing the salvaged wood against more modern lines really highlights the rustic nature of the wood.

David is a talented woodworker and artist but also a nice guy.  When my husband and I drove down to Thibodaux to pick up my frame, we ended up chatting with David like we had known him for years.  He's extremely personable with a wicked sense of humor, too.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that David is also a member of the Louisiana Crafts Guild.

Bergeron Woodworks is now on Etsy:

I'll admit that there are lots of talented people but my votes will be cast for Bergeron Woodworking.  Please consider giving David and Tiffany your support, too.