Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Chaos is down to a minor roar

My life has been chaos since my last post, I did some math, and between March 24th and now, I have managed to put over 8000 miles on my van. I set up and sold my product at 3 large quilt shows. The last one ended April 26th, I returned home on the 28th, then left for a class at Maureen's http://www.maureencarlson.com/index.htm on May 1th, returned from that on May 4th. My sister in law came for a visit from Mass, she arrived on May 4th and stayed until the 8th, then my oldest DD arrived on May 9th and was here until May 11th .............Whew!..........Breath!

While all this was happening, the plumber and carpenter finally remodeled my bathroom, so the house was a total disaster when we did get home! The bathroom is great, the Sheetrock dust and all that all over the rest of the house is not so great! The painter is here now today, to do the painting, so hopefully all will be done by the end of the week.

The class at Maureen's was from Katherine Dewey, http://www.elvenwork.com/ called "The Well-Dressed Mouse" It was a blast!!! Everyone had such different creative mice! I didn't get mine done in class, but plan on finishing it this week. I will put up a picture when I do.

I also received some great news while at Maureen's, I had entered a couple of my pieces into a regional art show, and my leaf vessel pictured below took 2nd place! Kewl!

Well that should bring you up to date, I will do better to keep up now!

Jenny P

Monday, March 31, 2008

I've been busy!!

I have to apologize for not posting here in so long! Since my last post I have made tons of product from my canes. The new ones are up on the web site now! Getting enough inventory finished for 3 large shows in a row, can be very tiring! My DH, DD, Niece and I worked almost night and day trying to get things done. Even then I didn't finish all that I wanted to finish! But that's not new, It seems I am always under estimating how much time I have, and how long it takes to get things done.

Along with getting ready for the shows, we had to get ready for the bathroom remodel. Which meant we had to pack up a lot of stuff. My studio is on the opposite side of the wall from the bath. I had to take down everything on the shelves, and pack them into boxes temporarily.

Then on Easter weekend my 2 oldest girls came home for a visit. My niece had a surprise 40Th birthday party for my "baby" sister! My 2 sisters from the twin cities area and parts of their families came up for it. And then we had a nice Easter dinner at my mothers.

We left for our first show at 5AM Monday morning after Easter!

So, last weekend I was at the first of my 3 show run, in Lancaster PA. It was a good show, up from last year, which is great! I am sorry I didn't get any pictures, the camera is still at home, on the desk, waiting for me to grab it as I go out the door. I forgot!

Right now I am sitting in my hotel room, somewhere in Indiana, on the way home. I should be back in Minnesota sometime late tomorrow night (Tuesday). Then I will spend a day catching up on paper work, reading mail and all that. After which I will be filling orders, and then doing some work to fill in weak spots in my inventory. We will be leaving for Chicago a week from today for the next show! Whew! Talk about a whirlwind!

I look forward to getting home, the plumber and carpenter have been working on the bathroom while we were gone. I know they won't be done, but it will still be a big change! This is something that we have wanted to do for years! They will have replaced all the fixtures, the walls, the floor, the lights and I forget what all else. Living in a 100 year old house, there is always work to be done!

My middle daughter Errin is a traveling Respiratory Therapist and is currently on a mission to Peru as a volunteer with a group called "Cardiostart" I am really proud of her! You can read about her travels on her blog: http://errinlynn.blogspot.com/2008/03/another-day-another-adventure.html
It seems my kids have inherited my travel bug, Amy the oldest has been to China and Ireland. Errin is currently in Peru, and Tena my youngest will be traveling on a tour to England, France and Italy in June. It seems the sisters are a globe trotting gang! LOL

Well I am off to bed, I need to be up and on the road early tomorrow morning.

Until next time
Jenny P


Friday, March 7, 2008

Another McKim flower

This is my most recent cane, another one based on the designs of Ruby S. McKim. I am very pleased with this one! I love how the colors pop, and the design definitely says "Pansy" The large one will be used for pins and large pendants. The small one will be used to make beads in various sizes, to be used for necklaces, earrings and charms.

I am going to have to pop into Lindly's blog, and answer her question about using "yellow" in Jewelry, with a YES! LOL

This is the last new cane for spring, although I do have a number of other designs I wanted to make. I just ran out of time! I leave for my next round of shows on March 23, and then I have 3 shows within a 6-week period. Not only that, but also these are 3 of my top 5 shows of the year!

So now, I start what I call panic mode! I will work night and day until I leave, slicing and baking, making beads, stringing necklaces (my Daughter's job, but I do the finishing) and assembling earrings and such. I do have a couple of girls who help with the earrings. My husband does all the gluing, pricing, and packaging that needs to be done.

People ask me how much inventory I bring to shows, well I am not really that organized. I always say I am going to start planning better, but never do. SO! I will make as much as I can get done. Then I will bring with me extra beads and supplies, and while at the shows, will put together things as they are requested.

Until next time
Jenny P


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Know your customer!

Ok so I had this experience today that has been eating at me, and I need to get it off my chest.

Don't "assume" you know who you are talking too, and don't "assume" they don't know what they are talking about, especially your customers. I was so put off by a vendor today, that it will be long while before I go back to them. This was a company that sells products to polymer clay folk like me. And I have dealt with them off and on for a number of years now. I do have to admit that I have not spoken to this representative very often, but I have.

I was asking questions about a product they carry. The person I was speaking too made a number of comments about how this was a product for those Polymer clay artists who do "production" I told them I knew that, and went on to ask some more questions, again there was a comment about "production work" I told them I KNEW that! And I know what "production work" is. I tried to ask some more questions, but again the person I was speaking to, was "assuming" I didn't know what I was talking about, didn't listen and I gave up!!

I know I am not well known in the polymer community, I don't write books, or teach classes. Mostly because I am to busy "producing" in order to feed my family. I just go along, doing my thing, and running off to the quilt shows. But a company I have dealt with for years SHOULD know this! I actually went to the computer and counted, just at the shows I did in 2007 I had about 4000 individual sales, and most of these were for more than one item. I think that counts as "production work"

And now when I think about it, I don't know if I am put off because of the attitude of the person on the phone. Or if I am just disappointed that they didn't know who I was! Maybe my ego is getting in my way. Maybe I am getting to much accustomed to the recognition I get at quilting venues. And it's going to my head!

Ok I got it off my chest!
Jenny p

Monday, March 3, 2008

What I learned from American Idol

I have to admit, that I never watch reality shows, I was just never interested. That is…..until this years American Idol. I was channel surfing and came across the first episode, and now I am hooked! I have watched all of them so far. However, in light of some of the discussions that have come about because of Synergy, I am looking at Idol differently. You know, what the judges tell the contestants can be interpreted for PC too! Or any kind of Art!

#1. Be consistent! This seems to be a theme, those that consistently perform well, move on!

#2. Be yourself, don’t try to be just like Carly Simon, sing Carly, but with your own twist. Do those projects you see in books, or learn in class, but just to learn technique, not to imitate!

#3. Don’t be complacent, just because you can sing already, doesn’t mean there isn’t more to learn. I love learning, I read all the time, what ever I can get my hands on! LOL I even read cookbooks like novels! You never know where something will click, and cause you to say “DUH”!

#4. Be a good sport; get along with your peers! Sharing ideas and techniques always sparks more.

#5. Listen to the judges, but don’t take what they say as criticism, but as good advice. Critique from someone you admire can help you become well rounded.

#6 Look at your performance as a complete picture, don’t just assume that because you can sing, you don’t have to look the part. Kathleen Dustin said in a recent interview; make a decision about every part of your piece, so it is a cohesive whole! WOW!


Until Next time
Jenny P


Friday, February 29, 2008

Secondary Images

mckim rose

This is my most recent cane, a design based on the original designs of Ruby S Mckim. Ruby is one of the innovators in the Quilting world, in the 30’s she wrote patterns for the Kansas City star. I received permission from her family to reproduce some of her designs into jewelry.

This is a pieced rose, but if you look at it, there are bear paws, and in the center is an Ohio star. Isn't it great! I love when designs do this, include secondary images within them!

I have to say although, I like these colors, they seem to be flat, they don't "sing" as the colors in the last Celtic knot did. Because these canes are reduced into small sizes, I have to look carefully at the values of the colors I use; I want the designs to be seen even at a small size. However, I think I have been worrying to much about value, and not enough about the colors themselves. (Does that make sense?)

I have one more cane to do in the McKim series, which is my next project, it is a pieced pansy. I hope that I will do better color wise with it.

Jenny P


Thursday, February 28, 2008


Let's Talk!
moon fairy 013d

I am reading a lot these days about the Synergy conference and finding your "Voice.” I am not sure what they mean.

First of all the voice in my head is beating me up! I was going to go to this conference, but a mundane thing like needing work done on my bathroom took precedence. Now I feel like all my friends went to a party and I had to stay home. The voice is saying things like "you really did not need a toilet" and "FLOOR, what do you mean you wanted a FLOOR!" Therefore, I stayed home to make canes.

I did not have the opportunity to go to college to study art. I have a problem understanding abstract ideas, like making art that has a "voice.” I am just a simple farmer’s daughter, who has a need to create. I also need to feed my family! Now, do I have to worry about what my work is supposed to, "Say"? Goodness, if one of my quilt pins said something I think it would scare the bejesus out of the person wearing it!

Seriously, I don't know if my work has a "voice" or not, and I am not sure how I would give it that "voice" I just like to make canes, I get lost in the designing, choosing colors, the challenge of making a difficult pattern, and the Joy when it turns out just like the one in my head! Then I turn it into a form that I can sell, because as much as I would like to create just for the Joy of it, it is my job to keep my family fed. My work does fill a niche too; my customers are quilters, who have a passion of their own. They like my affordable jewelry, which represents their own passion.

I don't know HOW to give my work "voice"! I really do wish someone would explain it to me.

When I have time, I like to play with new ideas, try out new techniques I have learned, or heard about. I love to sculpt, but it takes so much time, that I seldom do it anymore. Maybe if I ever win the lottery and don't have to earn my way, I can take the time to work on the "voice" part. For now, I will just keep on doing what I am doing, because I don't know how to do anything else!

Besides, the wolf at the door really does like to eat!

Oh the bathroom??? Well the plumber ended up in the hospital with appendicitis, so the project is on hold until he recovers. Maybe I could have gone to Baltimore!

Until next time
Jenny P

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fun with knots!

So I am having way to much fun playing with Celtic Knots! This is my second version, and I already have a third one brewing in the back of my brain! Although I do think I might have to stop and move on to something else. I have a number of "must have's" on my list, that should be done before the next show.

But those knots keep calling!! (chuckle)

Jenny P


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Celtic Knots

I have been wanting to make celtic knots in canes for ages. Occasionally I would test it out, I tried a couple different methods, but they just didn't quite do it for me. I wanted more!! Last fall as I was working on another project the answer hit me! I figured it out! But didn't have time to actually test it out until these past few days.

The cane below is my first test! I am very please with how it came out. These 2 are the same cane, I just changed the color of the outside border on them.

I do have plans on doing another set, maybe later this week. I am so thrilled, that I can't wait to try more!

Jenny P

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I forgot to include these in the last post! I also made a bunch of swirly beads. They still need to be sanded and polished. But I will wait until I have enough to fill my tumbler before I do that.


Jenny P



One of the benefits of making canes are remnants. And I call them remnants because in MY head scrap is something you throw away! Think about it, you don't go to a carpet store to buy a scrap piece of carpet, you buy a REMNANT!

So in the past week I made a cane to fill in a gap in my inventory. The original block is a black and almond Log Cabin block. Click on any of the images to see a larger version.

Log Cabin  single block
After making the original block I combined 16 of them together to make a complex log cabin cane. The original block will be used for earrings, and the complex cane for pins and large pendant necklaces.
Complex log cabin

When the complex cane was done, I decided to play a bit. I started again with the original log cabin cane, and morphed them into some Kalideoscope canes. WHAT FUN!! I love how they turned out! But I am not sure how I am going to use them yet.


If you make canes you know that when the canes are finished you are left with a table full of Remnants. These can be used many ways, this week I chose to make them into hearts and barrettes. I made all of the ones in the pictures below, and I STILL have remnants on my table!

Remnant hearts

Remnant barrettes

I decided It was time to move on, so the remainder of the remnants are going into a zip lock, to play with later!

Jenny P


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Catching up

After a show there is always the catching up phase! First there is the 3' tall pile of mail to sort through. Most of it usually is junk, but of course there are goodies in it!

The mail gets sorted, then it's time to do the receipts. Every receipt from the trip needs to get posted into my accounting software. Then I have to post my monies received, and then pay all the bills. This usually takes a day or two, depending on how long I was gone, and how fast I work! Most of that is done now, I do have a few odds and ends yet.

Then it's time to gather up all my info for the tax lady. I know a LOT of people do their own taxes, personally I could do it, but my time is better spent creating. What the tax lady can do in an hour, would take me 4!


I got a pressie in the mail today! I had ordered a "REDUCERATOR Deluxe" from Wes at http://www.custommadebeads.com/ It is a tool to help in reducing my square canes. It uses acrylic rods with an acrylic base. Now I have used the rods for years, in fact I sell them on my web site. But I have just used my table top, which has a dip in it, and is a pain to try to keep my canes square on. I am hoping this tool will help with that! It will be a nice addition to my collection of reducing rods.

Speaking canes, I have 2 that I started while demonstrating at the show. I plan on getting to them later today. Making more of each, and finishing them all up.


Jenny P

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Backroads and Byways

Whew! I am finally home, we had an awesome drive! Sometimes frustrating, sometimes wonderful.

First, the show went great, my sales were up by about 5% over last year, which means that it was my best show ever, in that venue! I came home with less inventory, and some new ideas.

We left on Monday morn, drove towards Arizona on Hwy 40, and somewhere on that road had a flat tire on the trailer. After a lot of interesting language, we managed to get the tire changed. *note to self, when packing up trailer, make sure tools are handy, so next time we don't have to unpack 1/2 of it on the side of the highway! We made it to Kingman, and found a tire shop, there we discovered that not only was the flat tire bad, the other good one was in tough shape too. Something we SHOULD have checked before we ever left home. We ended up buying 3 new tires (spare wasn't in very good shape either).

As we were hooking the trailer back up, one of the repair men mentioned that our van seemed to be riding low. We had noticed it earlier, but didn't think anything of it. Upon further inspection, the shocks on the back of the van were SHOT! And I mean SHOT, there was no spring in them at all. This makes me mad at my local shop, we had a brake job done just before we left, the guys there should have SEEN the bad shocks, and said something. It was very obvious, even I could see they were bad. So guess what? We ended up having them replaced too, and you can't just do the ones on the back end, so we did the front end ones too. I have to say the guys who did the work were very nice, they ended up working 2 hours past the normal closing time.

After paying the bill (good thing my show was a good one!) we made it to Williams that night, ate and found a hotel.

Tuesday we were up early and off to see the Grand Canyon, this was my 3rd or 4th visit there, and I don't think I will ever get tired of it. What a beautiful place! We left the Canyon while it was still daylight, ate and filled our tank in Cameron and drove through the Navajo lands in Northern Arizona towards Colorado. This is a beautiful part of the country, we were driving through at night under a full moon. I have to say the land was enchanting. We drove past the turn to Monument Valley, and I want to go back someday and see it in the daylight.

We spent the night in Cortez Colorado, and spent Wednesday trekking through Mesa Verde National Park. Oh my! I get chills even typing about it! The thought that these people were living there in a complete society as far back as 600 AD is awesome. We did a tour of some of the ruins, did a driving tour on the Mesa top and had a wonderful afternoon. After leaving the park we only drove about an hour, both to tired to go any further.

Thursday we woke up early to new snow on the ground and a storm on the way! We hightailed it out of there as quick as we could. Raced over the passes in front of the storm. They closed the passes about an hour later. For these flatlanders driving on mountain passes pulling a trailer is already a white knuckle experience. Driving it in winter on snow........well the knuckles are still recovering. And I was the passenger! *nother note to self.......pack tire chains in trailer, next to door, NOT under boxes, next to jack.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, we arrived at home last night about 9PM. I did take a LOT of pictures in the parks. I will load them off my camera to the puter, and put the best of them up on my webshots page.

Now to get caught up on all the paperwork, accounting and mail that piled up in the 2 weeks I was on the road!

Jenny P

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Anatomy of a booth

I thought some of you out there would like to see a booth come together. So I put together a slide show of pictures I took today. If you click on the pictures, it will take you to my web shots album, where there is a description of the picture under each.

You can see the slide show here:

Or if you would rather just see the album, here is the link:



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We have arrived!

Well we spent yesterday morning wandering around old Santa Fe, around the governors palace, St. Francis Cathedral, and other sites. I took a few pictures, but had my settings wrong, so most of them didn't turn out.

After we tired of our wanderings, we spent the rest of the day driving to Flagstaff. We made a few stops along the way, just to gaze at the view, and such.

Today we drove the rest of the way, took a scenic route, at least that's what the map said. Although the DH and I had a hard time finding the scenic part for most of it! LOL!

Tonight it's early to bed, or it was going to be, until about 5 minutes ago when the DH informed me that we don't have a regular tub in our room, it's a WHIRLPOOL! Didn't expect that, I might have to test that out!

Tomorrow will be a long day, our unloading time is 10am, we have 1/2 hour to get everything out and hauled to our space. It usually takes us, (the DH and I) about 4 or 5 hours, but we usually end up spending about 7 hours at it. Taking our time, to do a good job and not stress over it.

If I think of it, I will take some pictures of the process. I actually remembered to bring the camera this time!

The weather here is great, talked to the DD at home, and found out we left just in time. The COLD weather came down from Canada after we left. It is supposed to get down to -28 in the next day or so. I am sure going to enjoy the warm temps while I am here.

Off to check out that tub


Sunday, January 13, 2008

California Here I come!

After 2 weeks of panic mode, getting inventory ready, we are finally on the road.

It seems that every time I tell some one, YES we drive to all our shows, and YES it is 2350 miles one way to Ontario. I hear, "oh my! I could not do that"

I love the drive! It's like a vacation, and I see parts of this wonderful country I would never see otherwise. After frantically working to get ready, we left on Saturday morning about 7am. I had worked getting packed up until 4am. So the DH drove, this is our standard routine. I can never sleep the night before we leave anyway. So it has become my habit to stay up most of the night.

I have no problem sleeping while the DH drives, in fact I slept through 1/3 of northern Minnesota, the bottom 1/3 of North Dakota, most of South Dakota, all of Iowa, and into Nebraska! We went 750 miles on Saturday and I slept for at least 500 of them. Then had a good nights sleep at the hotel! When not sleeping or driving, I can read, listen to music, or a book on tape, or just day dream! There aren't any pins to make, canes to finish, or even phones to answer.

Today we went another 750 miles, and right now are in Santa Fe New Mexico. This place is one of the reasons I like driving. We drive 2 long days just so we can take our time the rest of the way. I love Northwestern New Mexico. I don't know if it is the mountains, the clean crisp air, the smell of pinon pine or the people. But this part of the country is one of the few places I have come across that sings to my spirit.

When you think on it, mountains here are a good example of the celtic betwixt and between. They are both old and young, old in terms of our human lives, but young in terms of the age of mountains.

We arrived tonight, found our hotel, and then went for supper at a little Mexican place we love called "Maria's" About 4 or 5 years ago, on our way through, we asked a gal at the gas station to recommend her favorite local restaurant. The place she pointed to was "Maria's" and we have stopped at least once each year since.

Tomorrow we will drive slowly, and stop when we get the urge. Maybe first thing in the morning we will go to old town Santa Fe for breakfast. Maybe later visit a pueblo, or a ruin, maybe just find an out of the way restaurant for lunch. Or stop and just sit, or take a hike somewhere. If we only get 300 miles tomorrow, that's fine. We don't need to be in Ontario until late Tuesday nite! We allowed ourselves an extra day in case of bad weather. The weather has been good, so we can Play!



Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Getting ready for California!

Happy New Year!

I have been busy getting ready for my next show. We leave on Saturday for the "Road to California" quilt show. I always like this show, who wouldn't enjoy traveling from Minnesota to California in January! LOL

I have spent the time since the holidays slicing up canes, and making jewelry from them. Then I decided I needed to have something new to bring. I dug into my "things to make" list and pulled out the pink ribbon idea. So I put together a new to me design and make a Pink Ribbon cane. I really like the way it turned out! The pins are a complex design using 5 of the ribbon canes, and 4 plain white blocks. Then the plain ribbon will be used to make earrings in various designs to go along with the pins. This should be added to the web site in the next few days.

I also have been busy getting all the things put together for the bathroom remodel, since they will be doing the work while we are gone. I want to have as much as possible organized and discussed with the workmen as possible.

Time to get back to the work table.
Jenny P