Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Latest Piece

I've been working on the bracelet that I started before I started working again back in April - and it's almost completed!  Just have to finish the surfaces and fabricate a clasp.

It's made using both copper and sterling silver - every piece hand fabricated, including the jump rings.  I'm thinking it looks kind of rocker-chic and am really liking how it's turning out!

I was going to use a pre-fabricated clasp, but it just doesn't go with my design.  I have an idea for the clasp, but  executing will be a bit of a challenge as I've never fabricated anything like it before.  I'll so some sketches and post them.

I'm also working on a ring and a pair of earrings - I always have several projects going at one time because sometimes I hit a snag with one piece, or just need a break from it, so need to step away from it, and work on something else.  More often than not, my subconscious is still working in background, and when it comes up with an idea for one of the other pieces, it pushes it to the conscious/aware part of my brain.

For example, originally this bracelet was going to have three stones, evenly spaced along the bracelet, but all of a sudden I realized that it would make the bracelet too bulky, and would prevent it from wearing comfortably.  So I removed the pieces with the stones and let it sit some more, because I still wasn't sure how I was going to "string" them together.  The idea with the jump  rings came to me while working on the ring.

It's very cool this process that I have no actual control over.  It's like relinquishing control from my conscious, logical side of the brain, and letting thoughts just float around, ebbing and flowing until one "catches."

I'll be back in the studio tomorrow, a friend, who is a professional photographer, will be helping me set up my camera and shooting space and teach me how to take better photographs that really make my pieces pop.  I'm eternally grateful to him as he is giving me his time and expertise in exchange for nothing.

Will post more anon....(currently listening to Henry IV, Part 1 by Shakespeare, in the courtyard)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Summer Shakespeare in the Courtyard

Forget about "Must See TV!" This is Must See Theatre!

In Portland, right here at Milepost 5.

Post5 Theatre presents, Henry IV Part 1!

"In the wake of a quashed rebellion, it seems as though King Henry IV's (Jeff Gorham) country is final
ly at peace, especially with the valiant Harry "Hotspur" Percy (Orion Bradshaw) leading his army.

If only King Henry's home life was so simple. While Hotspur is fighting with rebels and magicians (yeah, MAGICIANS), Henry's own son and heir to the throne, Hal (Ty Boice), is out galavanting with thieves, knaves, and general na'er-do-wells, lead by the boisterous Falstaff (Rusty Tennant) much to his father's chagrin.

And with the hot-headed Hotspur becoming restless, King Henry has few friends to turn to. Can his son prove himself in time to stop this new uprising? Will Hal's friends prove knights or cowards? Will Henry ever trust his reckless son again?

Post5 Theatre is proud to present their first ever Shakespearean History, directed by Don Alder and also featuring the talents of Michael Godsey, Daniel R. Somerfield, Brian Allard, and Tai Simmons (among many others) this is sure to prove a history that you never saw coming.

Fast-paced and exciting, Post5's Henry IV p.1, tells Shakespeare's tale of redemption and honor in a new and fresh way.

OPENS Friday, August 17th
CLOSES Saturday, September 8th

(although donations are always appreciated)

In the courtyard the Milepost5 Community for Creatives
850 NE 81st Ave
4.5 blocks from the Red, Blue, and Green MAX lines
Just off of the 72 Bus line

WHEN THE PARTY ENDS, THE WAR BEGINS." (used with permission by Post5 Theatre)

Trust me, you do not want to miss this!  Grab a picnic, and blanket or chairs, grab some friends, and share in an evening of Shakespearean delight!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Return of the Prodigal Jeweler

After a prolonged absence from my studio, I am making a slow return.  I've really missed my jewelry making and spending time in my studio.  On April 18th I was offered and accepted a full-time job, both a blessing and hinderance to the direction I thought my life was going.  In the end though, I realized that a steady paycheck and benefits are not to be sneezed at.  Of course, after almost a year of being unemployed, it's been a bit of an adjustment working 8 hours a day, and because I sold my car, a nearly two hour round-trip commute by bus.  Needless to say by the time I get home at night, the last thing on my mind is heading down to my studio.

I've been working for 3 months now, and am ready to make my art part of my daily life again - even if I just do sketches of ideas for future pieces.  I spend all day in front of/at my computer at work - I don't need to spend all my free time at my computer at home.  

The artist community where I live now has a new, excellent, results driven Creative Director who has been working hard to bring people to our First Friday openings, so my goal is to be ready to have a table at the September First  Friday, in addition, Post5 Theatre will be staging a production of the first act of Shakespeare's Henry IV in mid-August, and will have a table during those performances as well.

If you you're in the Portland area during the month of August, check us out.  You can also check out the Milepost 5 website.

A Feast For the Senses: August @ Milepost 5


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Importance of Search Engine Optimization

These days, if a business does not have an online presence, they could be missing out on the ability to reach millions of potential customers.  However, just having a website, Facebook™ page, blog, Twitter™ page, and LinkedIn™ profile (to name just a few), are not enough.  These are living platforms that need to be updated regularly with new content, posts, and updates, but that is not all, Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, must be used and also updated regularly.

SEO is practically a science, with entire websites dedicated to helping you find the perfect keywords to use, which in turn, helps to drive traffic to your site.  There are many paid services, and is a worthwhile investment if you can afford it, but there are also free keyword optimization tools, such as Google™ Adwords.  With Google™ Adwords you can enter in a word or phrase, your website, and the category of your website, which will then pull up a list of high ranking keywords that can then be used on your website. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Enter to Win!


Powered by Mom has joined with Kirsten Lew and a wonderful group of Bloggy friends to celebrate reaching 5K now almost 6K on Facebook. It's perfect timing to celebrate this milestone and our fans on Leap Year. It's ladies choice for Leap Year so our choice is to celebrate all of you to bring you an awesome giveaway!

We've got some amazing prizes for you!

Grand Prize: $65 Paypal Cash
2nd Grand Prize: $20 Gift Card from Kirsten Lew Jewelry
3rd Prize: $20 Gift Card from Everyone's Store Online
4th Prize: $5 Gift Card

A special thanks to our bloggy friends for joining us on this giveaway, we could not have done this without them. Stop by and visit their blogs, I promise it's worth the visit.

The giveaway runs from February 29th and will end on March 14th, 2012 at Midnight EST. Make sure you enter for your chance at one of these fabulous prizes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Words to live by...

An elderly Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil—he is fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, competition, superiority, and ego. The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.” They thought about it for a minute, and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win, Grandfather?” The Elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leap Year Giveaway! Join Us!

We welcome all bloggers to join us. It's $5 ($4 towards the prize & $1 admin fee) this will include 2 links of your choice but keep in mind only Facebook links will be mandatory on the rafflecopter. If you'd like to join us for this fun and fabulous giveaway please sign up HERE.

Leap Year Giveaway! Enter to Win!

Leap Year only happens once every 4 years and Powered by Mom's 5K Facebook celebration only happens once so we're doing them together. The saying goes for Leap Year that it's ladies choice, I know it's supposed to mean the ladies can ask their guy to marry them. In this case it means that Powered by Mom and co-sponsor Kirsten Lew Jewelry along with some other wonderful & supportive lady bloggers are helping us to celebrate Leap Year and the 5K milestone.

Kirsten Lew Jewelry is celebrating Leap Year with a new name, new designs, and a coupon for $20 off anything in the store. Celebrate Leap Year with a new, handmade piece of jewelry by Kirsten Lew Jewelry!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 Versus Chapter 13

It’s stressful enough being in debt, but when a decision is made to consider filing for bankruptcy, new stresses emerge.  It’s a hard decision to make, especially if it is made prior to your bills becoming past due and if it hasn’t affected your credit score yet.  The main question, after the decision to file has been made, is, should a chapter 7 in Atlanta be filed, or a Chapter 13?  One removes all your eligible debt; the other creates a payment plan that is stretched out over three to five years.

According to Berry & Associates, “Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common form of bankruptcy and may be referred to as a straight or liquidation bankruptcy.”  A Chapter 7 gives you the ability to start over financially, though there are some debts that are not eligible to be claimed in a bankruptcy, like taxes and student loans, for example.  To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, there are household income levels that must be met, and if that level is not met, a means test must be done.  A means test is used to determine if you are financially able to repay your debts through a Chapter 13 plan if your income levels are higher than the established threshold for your family size.  If your remaining income after all bills are paid is less than $100, you can generally file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting Businesses off the Ground

I can't believe it's been a month since I posted anything!  I've been busy with several business ideas, as well as my jewelry business.  I've got a few news items:

  • Changed my business name
  • Have been throwing around several business ideas
  • Trying to keep calm with the state of the world
So I changed my business name to Kirsten Lew Jewelry last week.  I had taken a workshop about marketing a few weeks ago, and the one thing I really took away from the workshop was that my previous business name didn't tell my "story," so I was always having to explain it.  For those that don't know, my business name was Sunflower Designz, which meant something to me, but not a whole lot to anyone else.  During the workshop I was asked, why don't I just use my name?  The more I thought about  it the more I liked it because, it would tell my story without me having to be there.  Basically, my new business name answers two very key questions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Three Silversmithing Torches

There are many torches to choose from for silversmithing, and even more if you are soldering other metals such as platinum.  The choice of torch used is largely a personal choice, but can also be based on budget, and of course the metal you are soldering.

There are two torches I currently use when making jewelry.  The Smith Acetylene Torch, and the Micro Torch.  The various steps while creating a piece will dictate which torch I'll use at any given moment.

My Smith Acetylene/Air Torch

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Achilles Heel of Entrepreneurship

Ah, the sweet lure of entrepreneurship. What’s not to love? Working for yourself, setting the rules, forging your own path into the unknown, marketing, networking. Wait, marketing? Networking? You have to market yourself and network? How do I do that? How do I sell other people on my skills in such a way that will make them hire me over the next person? How do I build a network?
This is what I have been grappling with for the last few months – trying to figure out how to get my name and my services out there. There are freelance sites such ElanceoDesk, and Guru, but it’s worldwide competition and it’s hard to stand out and get the gigs the actually pay a decent rate. These are great resources, but I want to be able to work with local businesses who don’t already have someone with my skill set on staff – how do I find those people?
Which brings me to the marketing and the networking. Biznik is a great start for networking, and though I have been a member for some time, I have never utilized it the way I should and am confident that really digging my heels in and participating will reap positive benefits for myself and other Biznik members and visitors who may need my services.
There is also your local Chamber of Commerce, or here in Portland, Oregon, thePortland Business Alliance. The problem with this, however, is most entrepreneurs who are staring a business have a shoestring budget, if that, and membership with the Chamber or it’s equivalent is quite pricey – though I believe worth it if you have the money to spend. Then there is marketing, which is really difficult on a shoestring budget, but can be done. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networking sites are an obvious choice. Craigslist is also a possibility, though precautions should be taken to ensure your safety when responding to prospects. Local newspapers sometimes do free press releases – though those would be more appropriate for an event to market your business. Which is another idea. If you have access to a community room, try hosting an informal meet and greet of small local businesses.
Partnering with other local business could also be a way to get your name out there. For example, small accounting firms often have clients who work for themselves. A partnership could mean they refer you to their clients or have your information on their website or at their place of business, and as your own business picks up, you return the favor by sending clients their way.
The trick I’m discovering is to be creative by thinking outside the accepted paradigm. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t confident in my abilities, so why is it so hard to carry out my marketing and networking ideas? Part of the answer lies with societal norms, upbringing, and your own personality. We are taught from any number of sources, that self-promotion is rude or self-indulgent. No one wants to hear how great you are, except that if someone is looking for your skill set, they actually do. To a point.
The other part of the answer is getting out of our own way to success. Some people are born with personality traits that make them a natural for self-promotion and marketing their product or service. They have learned to walk the fine line between coming off as obnoxious and coming off as confident. So how do we get out of our own way? I believe the best way is to just suck it up and go out there and do it. Show the world what we’re made of and how the solutions or products we offer will be a game-changer in their world.
I was talking to a local actor the other day who has near paralyzing stage fright. Before a performance, he has to do pushups and breathing exercises just to get out of his own mind and escape his insecurities and fear. Why would he bother, you ask? Because he loves acting, and he’s wonderful at it, so he pushes himself with every fiber of his being to walk out on that stage.
So my advice to myself and anyone else who has a fear of self-promotion – if the path you are leading makes your soul sing, then use every fiber of your being to walk out onto that stage. As Macbeth says in Act 5, “…Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more…” There can be many scenes in a life, but each life has only one act – we must embrace our worth and share it with the world!

Upcoming Event!

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Just Say No To Captcha"

What follows is a link to a blog post by Every Day Products, about boycotting Captcha - it's a pain, and I'm sure really quite useless at this point!  If you have it, please consider disabling it - Thanks!

EVERY DAY PRODUCTS & MORE: Happy new year just say no to Captcha

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Importance of the Arts

The arts are a vital part of any society.  Go back through history and you will find an inordinate amount of examples of this from pottery to painting, theater to writing.  The global artistic history still breathes life into the arts today.  Artists are inspired by historical mentors such as Shakespeare, Degas, Michelangelo, Matisse, Hemingway, Byron, the list goes on and on.

Art helps to create vibrant communities.  Art provides an outlet for emotions otherwise unexpressed.  Art gives color where only shadows exist.

What follows is a video of the actor Kevin Spacey at the Nancy Hanks Lecture on Art and Public Policy - it's around 40 minutes long, but well worth the watch!

Happy New Year!!

To a healthy, and prosperous new year!!

It's been an interesting year for me to say the least.  This time last year I was employed, had just finished up my first holiday craft show, and was trying to get an arts center in Bellingham, WA off the ground with a friend of mine.  A year later, I'm living in an artist's community, in a new city, surrounded by new people, sites, and sounds of Portland, OR, unemployed, and trying to get my jewelry business off the ground, in addition to my new business venture as a freelance administrative professional.  Whew!  I've been in Portland now for three months and am finally allowing myself to just enjoy the journey.

So as we begin 2012, I leave you with a quote I found last year and posted in another blog I had been starting, and have decided that this is a great reminder to post every year, so without further ado:

"We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives.....not looking for flaws, but for potential." Ellen Goodman

Have a fantastic year everyone!!  Follow your heart, live your dream, do what makes you happy, because, we only "pass through this world but once."