Monday, December 3, 2012

WARNING: New Art in Progress

So, I was working on this thing tonight, and I learned a couple of things:

1) that I'd forgotten how time-consuming the larger pieces are. They take significantly longer both to fire and to cool down afterward. Luckily I also had a bunch of little pieces to work in the in-between times. And...

2) My waves are the best waves ever. This is with just one color layer in the wire, so it will only get better from here.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Just a quick heads up: Everything in the NightshadeRose Studio ArtFire Store is 20% off through Monday!  So, that's jewelry, buttons, art, claws, and hair combs at prices you probably won't see again until I get bored with the inventory next summer. There are a few more new pieces that will be listing on Friday and Saturday as well, like this awesome handpainted enamel medallion:

So come take a look around. You might just find that perfect gift for someone special (or maybe even yourself).

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Return of Forged Hairpins! (among other things)

 The forged Bronze Hairpins are back in stock at both Artfire and Etsy, with a sleek new look that's easier to use and holds fine hair even better.

They will soon be joined by a version in sterling silver, for those who want a slightly different look.

Copper claws are now listed on ArtFire, along with brass and bronze, and should be making their way over to Etsy shortly.

I knotted up 3 pearl strands during Orycon, so expect to see those showing up soon (and there's another gem show next weekend, so who know's what I'll come back with!).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

OryCon Recap

One of the great things about shows is that I get to actually see all the things I've been working on, all together and finished.
This is the stuff I took to OryCon, as laid out on my hotel room desk on Thursday night:

I had them all out because I was doing the final labeling and check-in.  I've recently changed up my inventory system to account for multiples of any given item, so I had to put item numbers on everything (thus the profusion of tiny tags).
This next pic is just the tray of buttons.  They are far more awesome displayed all together than individually scattered around the studio.

So the con itself went alright.  I'll probably be back next year. The most positive upshot of the whole thing is that I think I've found the niches I want to settle into, and I now know I have a fairly wide variety of things I can consistently reproduce, so I can now start marketing to various sorts of applicable shops. This will be a whole new adventure.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Current inspiration!

Snow by Nom Kinnear King
Snow by Nom Kinnear King

This is a gorgeous painting, but please pay attention to the comb in the upper right.

I now have 3 pieces in the works based on that comb. Something about it just made me want to make it.

One is a fairly straight interpretation, ivory that is carved in, but not through, around the swirls. It will be tinted in the carved parts to make the pattern pop. The second will be pearl, carved through and cut out. It is turning out the be the finest saw work I've ever done. The third will actually be copper and bronze wire filigree, hinged onto a tortoise comb. This will be my first properly hinged comb, and if I can get this to work out, expect to see more metal ornaments hinged onto acrylic bases.

Maintenance, claws, and OryCon

So, first, the Bronze claws are up in the Artfire shop! Find them here:

I'm finishing up copper tonight, but they may not get listed online until after OryCon.

Speaking of OryCon, I will be holding down a table in the dealers' room there from 11/2-11/4. The studio shops will be unavailable from 11/1-11/5. If you happen to be in/near Portland, OR that weekend, come see me.  I'll have all the claws and loads of jewelry and accessories.

So last week I ended up having to take a day for studio maintenance. I was trying something iffy with the enamel, and it ended with fairly large glass drips on the bottom of the kiln, which means stopping everything, cooling off, scraping down the affected surfaces, and re-coating them all with kiln wash (an easily removable ceramic coating that prevents any mishaps form sticking to the kiln surfaces). While I was at it, I took some time to clean/organize everything else a little bit, and take some pictures. So, here is the reasonably current state of my studio:

My bench:  always at least kind of a mess. :-)

Enameling station: all those little cups are the different colors and blends that I've been working with.  This will get a good cleaning after OryCon.

Kiln Shelf: scraped down, and with a new coat of kiln wash drying on the surface. The kiln was will dry to a lighter green  and then turn white during the first firing cycle.

Kiln with shelf in place.

All the small tripods I use to support the jewelry pieces when firing.  I 've gotten 6 more since this pic was taken. I might be approaching having enough now.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quite a week!

Foolscap was awesome as usual. I sat on panels (and moderated one!), had a table in art show, and spent a pretty large chunk of Saturday carving acrylic in public at an Artist's Alley table.  I made a few new things for this show, mostly as a way of playing with these medallion settings:
Full moon #7 

Coffee Medallion #2 (Talisman of Increased Wakefulness)
Sanguineous Drop

The second coffee medalllion and Sanguineous Drop sold at Foolscap, as well as the Wave hair comb (the one with the swirls and rhinestones).
Funny story about the coffee necklace: It was purchased form Art Show specifically to be put in the charity auction.  At auction there ended up being a bidding war between #s 42, and 69.  :-P

I've been putting a little more effort into developing my acrylic offerings lately, and have started to branch out beyond combs and hairpins:

The "Glass" Tiara. This is just a phone pic. I won't have formal product pics 'till next week.
I did my first-ever tiara out of an acrylic that was tinted to look like older glass. This was the end result of asking myself the question "What shall I wear while I'm sitting at the Artist's Alley table?"  I think I'm going to carve a leafy one out of the same plastic.

So, that costume prop "bone" dagger I showed a few weeks ago came back for further improvements. I did some carving and tinting and added a little bit of beadwork, and ended up with this:
"Bone" Dagger prop for assassin character
I'm pleased.  Pleased enough, in fact, that I think I'll be doing another dagger prop for OryCon. I know I can get the "glass" material thick enough to carve on. Do you think I can sell a "glass" dagger?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Update: Brass Claws are up on Artfire!!!

The new batch of claws is starting to trickle into availability!  Brass should be available tomorrow night or Saturday, and bronze and copper will be coming in over the next couple of weeks.

They'll be available in 3 standard sizes: Small-fits finger sizes 1.5" to 1.75", Medium-fits 1.75"-2.125", and Large-fits 2"-2.5".  I'll have them on Artfire and at convention dealers' room tables (next one is Orycon!) until they're sold out.  Then that will be it until I'm up for making more.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Update on production and things

So this happened today:

The international gem and jewelry show was this weekend, so I stopped by to score some wholesale pearls. I'm really happy with the coin pearls.  They're almost certainly going to be used as dangles off of something. The very dark strands are a blue-green color that I think will be spectacular when mixed with other glass beads or enamel pieces.

I also got a few small cabochon stones for pendants or hair clips,
Clockwise from top left: Indian sunstone, tourmalated quartz, labradorite, and kyanite

as well as some sterling findings.  I think it's time to step up my game with some of the incidental metal bits.

The blanks for the next batch of claws was done earlier than I expected, so I'll probably start working on those this week, with availability to purchase by mid-September.

I also did a quick/dirty acrylic carving project for a friend:

This is a faux "bone" dagger for use as a costume prop that could specifically go overseas and cross international borders (most customs agencies frown on bringing actual animal products across borders).  This one is fairly simple, since it was a 24hr job: just carved the plastic, aged and dyed it for a less plastic-y look, and wrapped on a hilt.  When he returns, I'm going to ask if I can dress it up a bit with dyed carvings in the blade and a little bit of beadwork on the end of the hilt.  If the answer is yes, then it will be something worth taking pics of for the portfolio.
I never remember how much I like/miss carving things until I get to do it again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Water the Damn Tree (also, Stories are Important)

So today, instead of talking about the stuff I make, I'm going to talk about business.  Like serious, nuts-and-bolts, efforts-that-go-into-trying-to-turn-the-stuff-I-make-into-money business.  Specifically, today I'm going to talk about motivation.  Just as a note, the phrases that are capitalized actually are proper nouns for the internal scripts that I think a lot of makers have going on in their heads. If you are a struggling maker, I'm going to bet that you've had these scripts running at some point, too.

Let's face it: Unless you're either incredibly lucky, or incredibly luckily connected, getting publicity and visibility is Hard Work, no matter how awesome your product is.  I have, over the last few months, been coming to terms with the fact that I am neither of these things, nor is some magical Business Partner likely to sweep down from on high and save me. So, I'm having to try to become at least passable at all those marketing/promotions things that I'm Bad At and, quite frankly, terrified of.  Making and Marketing are supposed to be an oil/water thing, right? How do I deal with Promotion without sliding into Pushy? And the Big Question: If I'm not getting the fairy tale of being magically Discovered, and my products aren't Speaking For Themselves, might that ultimately mean that I am Not Good Enough and/or Don't Deserve Success?

It is at times like this, when I'm on the verge of a panic attack, that I start looking for some kind of different viewpoint, some metaphor or story that makes it not about my personal internal Virtue, or what I Deserve, and more about something I have some control over.  In this case I was very lucky, because not-quite 4 years ago a complete stranger gave me a story to use against just such a case as this.

It happened at Disney World (which shouldn't be surprising. If there's any place in the world that runs on stories...), in the gardens around the roots of the Tree of Life (a fantastic work of art and engineering that is the centerpiece of the Animal Kingdom theme park. The "bark" is carved with loads of animals.).  A cast member named Justin who I'd stopped to ask a question of had decided on a whim to give me a personal tour of all the gardens, and we'd paused  in a spot where we had a very good view of the part of the tree with the carving of the ant.  He then told me one of the origin myths that had been created for the tree.

Short version: Ant, alone in a parched land, has a Dream of having other animals around so he's not Alone. Gaia hears his wish and grants Ant a seed, saying "This is the seed that will grow your Dream." Ant plants the seed, and then treks off some distance to find water to bring back for it.  The seed sprouts, and Ant hikes off and haul water back to water the sprout every damn day. The sprout grows into a sapling, and the sapling grows into a tree. Other animals start coming to visit and rest in the shade of the tree. Gaia looks in on Ant and notes how well the tree is doing. Ant says "This is awesome, but I wish there were a way to honor all my animal friends who come visit." Gaia says "Keep watering the tree. There's more to come." Ant keeps watering the tree. The tree's roots eventually find the bedrock and split it open allowing the water trapped beneath to flow to the surface as springs.  The tree is now self-sustaining, and as it continues to grow, the images of all the animals who have visited become clear in the pattern of the bark. As the new springs create this oasis in the desert, more animals come, and more images appear in the bark, and the seed of one ant's Dream became the Tree of Life.

Then Justin performed a few small bits of slight of hand to produce for me my very own Dream Seed, coalesced from my personal Dream, and then, with admonition that this seed would not grow a tree like the one we were standing under (that was how Ant's Dream came to pass. Mine would be different.), we finished the tour of the gardens, parted ways, and I've never seen him since.

This story was a revelation to me, especially at Disney, because when I was growing up all I ever heard from a lot of people was some variation of "If you have a dream and hold it close, and don't risk it, and believe in it hard enough, and you're "good," & "virtuous", you'll get a fairy godmother to make your dream come true." If this sounds familiar, it should.  Try replacing "fairy godmother" with "media savvy business partner", or "influential blogger", or "angel investor".  This was really the first time anyone had explicitly said to me that just wishing really hard wasn't going to cut it. (Seriously. When I was growing up I was led to believe that the world was going to fall at my feet because I was "smart." That didn't work out at all.)

That story has carried me through some difficult times.  It got me to go back to school and pursue an old dream that I thought was dead.  It got me through the required Calculus class, guided me through a fork in the road, and got me through the Accounting class that was required on the new path.  It got me through that last class I needed to actually complete my Jewelry Design Certificate program (the one where you have a show to prove that you've learned everything from all the other classes), when I was sorely tempted to take my knowledge and run like everyone else in the program before me.  And now, when I'm facing Marketing, quite possibly the most terrifyingly difficult thing I've ever done, The first thing I'm asking myself every morning when I get up is

"What are you going to do today to Water the Damn Tree?"

The thing I tell myself to quit procrastinating on the hard stuff is "Water the Damn Tree already!"  I Know I'm doing good work and making awesome stuff.  It's just a matter of persistence in getting people to see it.  There's a lot of junk and a lot of noise out there, and I just have to keep Watering the Damn Tree if I'm ever going to be seen.

The thing about stories is that if someone had just said "Think of your business/hopes/dreams/life like a plant that needs to be nurtured and worked on.", it probably wouldn't have had any impact at all.  But, that particular fairy tale, at that particular time (I was feeling very lost then), in that particular place (my policy with Disney World is that I suspend my disbelief and cynicism at the door), made all the difference in the world.  I bet the fairy tale meant more to you than just the advice would have, too.

What did I do to Water the Damn Tree yesterday?  I finally set up a Tumblr for NightshadeRose Studio. There's not much there yet, but there will be.
What have I done to Water the Damn Tree today?  Well, this post is a start. :-)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

$10.00 Necklaces!

So the big announcement today is that I've finished one of my R&D projects and put the resulting test-necklaces in the experiments & clearance section of my Artfire shop for only $10.00 each! 
They look like this:



Find them here:

Also, don't forget to drop in and follow me over at Google +.  I'm +NightshadeRose Studio, and I'll be doing all manner of interesting things over there, like showing off a few pages of my sketchbook and asking what I should make next.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hair Accessories have finally listed!

So I finally got two combs and a barrette up last night:

This is the Wave comb that I don't think I've shared around much.  It's specifically designed in the tradition of old Victorian tortoise and celluloid combs.  The comb was kind of cool before I got the rhinestones on, but is especially awesome with them.  Also, the barbed tines keep it especially secure in all kinds of hair.

You can find/purchase it at

This faux "ebony" black knot comb was the first thing I ever carved from acrylic.  I still think it's pretty awesome.

Find it on Artfire here:

And then, of course, last but not least, there's our old friend the Art Nouveau whiplash barrette.  This is the one that went from fail to awesome in one color change a few weeks back.

Available here:

Coming up over the next couple of days: Buttons! Loads of buttons. I'll also be filling up the "Experiments" section of my shop with a double handful of pendants made while I was testing out the glass bead technique. Those will be $10-$15 each.

That's it for now. Hopefully there will be more updates soon!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Recycling, Caviar, and Dragon Skin (and Possibly Bacterial Culture, too)

Firstly: because this is the summer of R&D, I'm going to be adding a couple of new sections to the Artfire Shop.  One is going to be for experiments, one-offs, and oops, since the thing about R&D is that sometimes it doesn't pan out.  The other is going to be for very-limited-edition pieces, since a number of the things I'm doing involve finite, non-reproducible materials.

So I had a very interesting experiment day with the kiln on Saturday.  I started with making a few sets of buttons and a pendant with my recycled enamel bits technique.  I've refined the procedure enough that I think I can start pricing/selling them. These will definitely be in the limited-edition section, since each particular color blend can't ever be exactly reproduced. I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do about these once I'm done taking apart the larger pieces I currently have.  Maybe spend some more time on illustration so I can have some more screw-ups?  Making color blends specifically for this purpose seems counter to the point of "recycled".
recycled mosaic pendant

recycled mosaic buttons

After that, I got down to experimental business.

I've been thinking a lot about these recycled mosaic pieces, and how I might get a more precise color distribution or maybe even pattern from the same basic idea of little pieces, and also how I might do something similar with a less-limited material.  Then I remembered that last year, one of my classmates figured out that you could melt glass beads in with your enamel if you're careful.  She used it for making precise points and individual bumps because she had a very structured style.  My style, especially with enamel, is not very structured, and so I wondered what would happen if I treated the glass beads the same way I treat the recycled bits.  The results were awesome.

This one was made with larger beads...

And these were made with smaller ones.

 I LOVE the bumpy texture, and I think, with dark beads, I could effectively start making little dishes of glass caviar. :) The blue/green piece made me think of dragon skin (water dragon, of course), but made the roommate think bacterial culture.  I'm not sure what I'm officially going to call these yet, but they're definitely going to be part of my product line!