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!