Thursday, December 27, 2007

Room to Read Challenge

I was watching Oprah this afternoon, while assembling some lentil beads. And was moved by the story of John Wood, who gave up a million dollar job at Microsoft, to build libraries in developing countries.

Books have always been a large part of my life, of my whole household in fact. I always encouraged my girls to read. In fact it didn't take them long to realize that if they were reading, I was not as likely to interrupt them to do chores, as I was if they were watching television!

SO I challenge everyone who reads this blog, to give up the cost of a meal at McDonald's ($5) and donate. $1 equals 1 book to a library where the children might never see a book other wise. I have already made my donation of $50, I certainly can afford that!

Here is the link:

Jenny P

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just a normal day

Today was just a normal day. The new Log Cabin made it to the web site.
These colors are brighter than my normal colors, but you have to leave the box sometimes.
I filled orders that came in over the weekend. Of course I was out of some of the things. Someday I will get that part right, so I can just ship without having to make! LOL

I also did a little bit of paperwork, my contract for the Minnesota show came in. YES! The Minnesota show is one I have to apply for each year. And since they get a LOT of applications, I never know from year to year if I will be one selected. This will be my 10th year at the Minnesota quilt show. Which was my very first venture into the larger quit shows. Up until that time I had only sold my product at small local art and craft shows. I must say it was a memorable experience! I really didn't know what I was getting it too. I was unaware that up until this point there was very little jewelry based on quilts.

My first day at this show, I almost sold out, And I had 2 more days to go! In fact I had already sold more product at this show, in one day, than I had sold TOTAL at my best craft show. I ended up calling home, my oldest daughter then drove the 4 hours to where the show was at. She brought me all my tools, my canes, my oven etc. I spent that night, until the wee hours of the morning.(4am I think) Making things, packaged them and brought them to the show.

The next day my daughter helped customers, I hid my toaster oven under my table, and demonstrated. The demonstration also allowed me to to create custom things for my customers. Which I then baked in the oven under the table. LOL I was literally selling "Hot out of the oven!"

At the end of the show, I went home with 2 small shoe boxes of inventory.

I still have customers who come to me and tell me they remember that first show! And how I was overwhelmed with the response. I decided that I had found my niche, and am still in it.

PS I can't forget to mention, my DH and I are celebrating 31 years of marriage today! Boy that went fast!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Creagers

I have been a fan of Jodi and Richard Creager for many years now. I love that they now do smaller more affordable pieces and sell them on Ebay. Today I came across the new Christmas doll!
Wish I could sculpt like that!
I finished up my second Kato cane yesterday, spent the evening making mobius beads from it. I have found over the years, if I want to make mobius beads, I need to do it right away. If I wait, I have problems with distortion, cracking and such. SO I made 8 dozen of them in one sitting!
I will get a picture up on the web site soon.
It warmed up over night, today it's only -2! LOL
Jenny P

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What to do?

It seems like I ask myself that every day. What do I do today? And there is always more on the list that there is time for! I spent the last couple of days filling more orders. Running to town to do some errands, and more paperwork! (Never ends!) BUT I can now actually see the top of my desk!

Today I have a number of choices, I have a cane I want to finish up, I have some more organizing I want to do, and I need to finish sewing my shirt. I think I am going to start with the organizing part.

And it's COLD outside! -24 this morning when the DH got up, it has warmed up to -11 now, but I think I will stay inside today. Although it sure looks pretty out there.

Jenny P

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Kato test

It's a challenge these days to make canes, with all the changes the clay manufacturers are making. Fimo Classic, which the clay I have used 98% of the time, over the last almost 16 years. Is coming to me sooo soft! It's hard to believe I can make canes with it. So far it's worked, but I have been adding old firm clay from my stash into the new soft stuff. And I think so far there is some evidence that the new formula does firm up with age, but not as much as it used to.

SO it was time to investigate Kato clay, I have avoided it to this point for various reasons.

1. Time it precious, I know how Fimo Classic works, and learning a new clay takes time.

2. I make large canes, some of which I will put into my inventory and keep for more than 2 or 3 years. I didn't think Kato had the storage history. I wasn't sure if I could put a Kato cane into my inventory, and come back to it in a couple years. And have it still be workable. I recently had a conversation with Jana B (can't think of her last name) and while in Houston FimoBob brought me some examples of old Kato canes. Both of these sources convinced me it was time to test Kato clay.

I have to say I am pleased! I did 2 canes, This one is done.
The other is still waiting to be finished. I am purposely letting it sit. I want to see how it handles after a couple of weeks.

I will get this picture cleaned up and add it to the web site soon.

It will be a while before I make a total switch to Kato clay, as I have over 100 pounds of Fimo Classic in my stash. But I do think I will start the process, slowly.

Jenny P

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Taking a break

I have taken a break from both business and clay in the last couple of days. I decided it was time to use up some of my fabric stash. SO I am making myself a new shirt! I am using a pattern from Lorraine Torrence called "Closet Classic Shirt"

It's been going pretty well, I only have a couple of hours left to finish it. Then I need to make buttons to match!
I am using some beautiful over dyed fabrics I collected from Wendy Richardson "Quilt Tapestry Studio" It's hard to see the beautiful colors in the picture, but there are a number of different colors. I am going to have a hard time choosing which ones to use for the buttons!

Jenny P

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Getting organized

I have been working on getting organized. Well a little bit organized anyway. I have this stack of drawers from a contact lens company that a friend gave me. It's full of beads. I also have a number of boxes, and some Plano tackle boxes, full of beads, jewelry findings and more!
Actually I think they are Plano, I usually buy the less expensive ones at Cabela's.

All these different storage units are a pain!

When I go to shows I like to take a number of my supplies with. SO I can do repairs, assemble custom things and such. What I have always done, it take my Plano tackle boxes, my Rubbermaid shoe boxes and what ever, pack them into a Rubbermaid tote, (a big one). The while at the show, this tote is under my table, with everything inside it. And whatever I want to use next is always on the bottom!

While browsing through the Rio Grande catalog the other day, I came across a new toy! It is basically a hard sided suitcase on wheels. But perfect for organizing all my stuff.

My Plano tackle boxes fit in tipped on their sides, 4 across. Plus I have some of those Jewelers trays, which will hold beads and such. The only problem is that all the containers on top are sitting on the lower ones, so if I want something from the bottom I have to take everything out. I think I can solve that though.

My DH is a carpenter! I think I will have him add some rails just above the spot where the 4 tackle boxes fit on the bottom row. Then the black jewelers tray will sit on the rails, not on the tackle boxes. If we bolt them on, and have the bolt heads on the outside, it should still look nice too! I might even go for 2 sets of rails! One placed just below where the upper row of tackle boxes fit.

Now when I travel to shows, I can roll this in, (instead of carrying the big tote) set it under my table. (yes it fits!) And I won't have to get on my knees to dig to the bottom of the tote anymore! Very unprofessional looking!

And it's all organized while at home! Now I just need to find a way to organize the other tackle boxes full of clay, tools, canes .............................

That's for another day!
Jenny P

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Just catching up

I spent last night, until about 2AM and most of this morning, working on filling in my inventory. I had more orders come in, where I needed to make the items. I decided that as long as I was making one, I could just as easily make 12! A better way to utilize my time. The DH just ran off to the post office with about 15 packages. And I still have 2 orders to finish up, and one I am waiting on billing information for.

Some day I am going to have a new studio, and office area. When pulling orders, and getting ready for shows, all my inventory gets spread out in the dining room. My kitchen counter was full, of packages waiting for sales receipts. Then UPS came with cases of bubble envelopes, and boxes I had ordered. It's been like an obstacle course the last couple of days. I really need some new spaces, one dedicated studio, an office for bookeeping, a place for dirty work like sanding and drilling. And then a packaging and shipping spot. ...................sigh............someday!

As for now, the shipping supplies, extra boxes and such things, have been packed away in the sunporch again. The inventory is still in the diningroom, and will stay there temporarily.

Tonight, I am going to finish up my demo canes! I need new product up on the web site.

Jenny P
Back to "Quilted in Clay"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Well we had our first storm last night. Just a little one, blizzard like, but only lasted a couple of hours. We have had snow earlier this year, but nothing that stayed. This snow will STAY! It's -4 degrees out side right now. I love blizzards, storms and such, we have not had a good 3 day blizzard in a few years. Hopefully we get at least one this year!
Never did touch the clay yesterday. I did though organize some containers of beads. Boy I have stuff here I will most likely never use. But I don't want to get rid of it either, as soon as I do, I will have a use for it!

I put together one of my new underground railroad necklaces and scanned a quick image. I really need to get a good picture taken though.

Now to get some bracelets and earrings done!

Jenny P

Monday, November 26, 2007

After the holiday!

Whew, Now I can take a breath! Thanksgiving weekend here was nuts, I never even had time to check my email! First off, on T-day itself, I played caterer. Originally I was going to have the meal at my house. But more and more of the family decided they were coming, and my house just isn't large enough. So it was decided that my parents would host the event, (for me 30 miles one way) and I would cook! Since my oldest DD, and one of my sisters were coming from the Twin Cities area, about a 6 hour drive for them. We had the meal at 4pm. It worked out great.

Because we are such a large group, and can't get all together at christmas, we celebrate our extended family christmas over thanksgiving. So on Friday we trucked back to the parents house. By this time the rest of the neices and nephews had made the drive up from the cities, so there were 24 of us. We had supper, and then exchanged our white elephant gifts. (a family tradition)

Saturday it was another trip back to my parents house! We had our christmas dinner then did our gift exchange. Because it is to much work for my mom to do all that cooking, my siblings and I all bring portions of the meal.

Sunday was my Mother in laws 84th birthday, so we again trucked out of the house and went to town. Met up with my DH's brother and his family, and all went out to eat at Applebee's for lunch. My oldest DD had to leave early and drive the 6 hours back to her home. I got home last night and collasped on the sofa!

It was great to see Amy, (#1 DD) we never seem to have enough time together! Now with Errin (#2DD) working as a traveling Respitory Therapist, planning the holiday's is getting harder and harder. This year Errin is in Pennsylvania, and it looks like she will have to work over Christmas, so will be flying home the weekend of December 7th. But Amy and her partner (Ed) can't get here that weekend. They will be coming Friday December 21, and leaving on Sunday December 23. Planning this christmas is gonna be difficult!! It looks like 3 separate small celebrations, one for each of the older girls. And one here on Christmas with Tena! Poor Tena as the tag along, feels like she loses out on family things. Because her older sisters now have their own lives! I don't blame her.

On to business:
Today I have booth contracts to fill out and send checks in for. Every time I do this I feel like I am gambling! In a way I am, I don't know if I will have enough product, or the right product for the show next April! What I think is good today, might not look so good in 5 months! I am also going through my supplies, and ordering in more findings, boxes, etc. I have some orders to fill, that came in over the weekend. Maybe if I am still awake after all that, I will finish up the canes I started during my demo's in Houston and Schaumburg.

Sometime this week I am going to take time to play with some new ideas. I am also going to take 2 days to sew in the near future. I have a lot of sewing projects waiting for me to get to them! I like sewing shirts and jackets, using some of the wonderful fabrics I find at quilt shows. And just can't resist!

Jenny P

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


So I did actually make it to town yesterday. I made the DH come with, finished up the shopping I needed to do. And the monster (turkey) is thawing in the frig! I ended up with a 20 pound turkey! Mainly because I was distracted when the DH put it in the cart, I knew there was going to be 19 of us on T-day. And when he asked how big I need the turkey I was thinking 1 pound per person, no 1/2 pound! I guess we will have LOTS of leftovers!

I have decided that this household generates at least a foot of mail a week. There is this pile on my desk that is at least 2feet high, then there is another stack next to it that is another foot tall. Both piles keep getting moved from the desk top to the work table and back again. As I need the surface to work on. Both are just waiting for me to deal with them, and the fact is I HAVE dealt with them and shortened the pile, since I got home. But it seems to keep growing, and the mailman is due to come again today.

Do I really NEED to get all these magazines and newsletters? I never seem to have time to actually read them, they pile up on the desk, then get put on the shelf, and a year or two or three later I dispose of them. Maybe it's time to re-think what is important to me.

Then there is the other aspect of the pile, bills, show applications, requests for donations (yes I get at least 3 or 4 of them a week) And somewhere in the latest pile, I think there is a check from one of the consignment shops I sell in.

And lets not forget TAXES! Sales tax to be specific, I do shows in many different states. Each state has it's own tax laws, some states I pay the sales tax right there at the end of the show. Some states I have to apply for a temporary permit in advance, then pay the tax with in 30 days after the show. Some states I have to file quarterly, and some I file yearly. Keeping them all sorted as to which is which and remembering to pay on time is a pain! Then there is the state in which I have not sold anything for at least 3 years, that keeps on insisting I pay sales taxes on sales I never made! And they can't seem to get the records straight. So they keep sending me mail!

On my things to do list today, see if I can lower the piles a little bit. Get the shredder working and shred that which I do not need. Put the magazines on the shelf, file the reciepts into permanent storage. Look for that check that I know in buried in there somewhere. And maybe, just maybe if I actually can find my work table, I will actually TOUCH some clay!

Ahh the wonders of owning your own business, I only have to work 1/2 days! And I get to choose which 1/2, the first 12 hours or the second 12! LOL

Jenny P

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

But Firsts

OK so I got up late this morning, with the good intentions of going to town first thing. Did I mention I hate going to town! It shoots the whole day, when I get home I am always so tired, I am done for the day!

After getting up late, I WAS gonna go to town, but I thought first I should finish up the orders I didn't finish last night. So they could go out in today's mail. Then while I was on the computer anyway, there were some emails I still needed to answer, that came in while I was gone. Nothing like being a week late in answering! Then I need to call those customers for thier credit card numbers, so I could process the orders, to get them in the mail. OH while I have the program open, I might as well do that little bit of banking stuff I needed to get done. OH yeah, I need to scan that new necklace, someone wanted to see it. And I should see if the web gal can tweak the picture and get it on the web site. Just until I have time to get a decent picture anyway, I can always replace the image later. OH the plumber is here! I need to pick out a new bathtub, we are having our bathroom totally remodeled while we are gone to the Ontario show in January. That reminds me, I need to call the tile guy see if the tile samples came in yet. UH OH the tummy is growling I forgot to eat breakfast! Grab a biscuit (bread is SOOO not good for me, I will pay for it later) OOPS 2 new orders just came in off the website, both are in stock (for a change) might as well fill them as long as the DH is going to the post office later anyway. In the middle of that another one comes in over the phone, might as well get that one done too. Oh yeah, I need to print up some more cards for the new underground railroad pins, can't fill these until that is done, since I need the cards for packaging. Dratted printer!!! Why is it grabbing the paper on that side and smearing the ink............crud! Now I am out of yellow ink, good thing I have an extra one here. OH the print head need replacing too! Yep got that. NOW the black ink is it! NOW I need to re-align the print head..........waiting waiting...........not right, do it again.........ok got it! NOW I can print those cards. Good grief I better hurry the DH needs to get to the post office before 3:30! Don't want the post master to yell at him for coming in at the last minute again! Oh Tena is gonna be home from school soon, and I was planning on having that squash for supper, better stick it in the oven. I never did post to my new blog today.

MAN it's almost 4pm! and I still need to go to town! The "but firsts" get me every time!

Jenny P

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thoughts on blogging

SO as I was working on filling my orders today I was thinking about blogs. And what I want to do with a blog.

I expect that my blog will include things like: while working today I happened to glance out my window just as a bald eagle was flying past! We have a pair that has been nesting in our neighborhood for ages. But I seldom actually see one out the window!

I expect I will also include stuff like, why oh why??? I have a large inventory on hand. So when orders come in, how come they are always for the stuff I have to make or assemble??? As soon as I run out of something, someone places an order for it!

Then there is the personal stuff, like I never did get to town today, so tomorrow morning I HAVE to go buy that Turkey!! And as long as I am at it I might as well finish up the little bit of shopping I have left.

And since I only get to town once a week or two, as long as I am there, I will stop in at the printers, and proof some new cards I ordered. Packaging my jewelry is always an issue, I recently decided I was using to much paper for some things. So I down sized the cards I use for them, as long as I was at it I made a few more changes to them too. I better like them! Because I will be ordering 2000 to 3000 of them!

So my blog will include bits of this and that, business related, personal stuff, and musings. I don't expect I will write every day, and some days I might write twice. We will see what happens!


First blog

Ok so I bit the bullet and decided it was time to start rambling! I am not sure what I will use this blog for yet. Maybe just to put in notes about what is happening in my life as a professional polymer clay artist. Maybe I will include rambles that hit me while I am doing production. Maybe I will include notes and such about my family. We will see what comes out.

Today I am going to be busy filling orders. While I was away at the Houston and Schaumburg shows, a number of them came in. Of course about 1/2 of them were for items that I sold out on! Good thing I have cane left, and can fill in the gaps.

The thing is.......I came home with a ton of new ideas I want to try out! Doing the orders, means I can't play! But hopefully, once the orders are done, I will get time!

Of course Thanksgiving is on thursday, my Oldest DD is coming home for 4 days over the weekend. And the rest of my family is going to be around too. I am the oldest of 5 kids, between us there are 19 grand kids, and 1 great grandkid. As we are all getting older it's harder and harder to get together for holidays. The last couple of years we have had our christmas get together on Thanksgiving weekend. Which is what we are doing this year too. Man! I still have shopping to do! Gifts to wrap, cooking to do.............hmm time to play with new ideas might end up on the back burner again.

Jenny P