Sunday, June 12, 2016

Just Passing Through

I had a small surprise yesterday as I sat outside writing. I saw something moving towards me out of the corner of my eye - it was coming close, just a few feet away -  and right as it poked its head out from beneath the patio chair that was next to mine, I looked down and saw that it was a baby raccoon that had strolled onto my patio to say hello. He looked at me and he looked lost and thirsty, but before I could do anything and of course by the time I grabbed my phone to take a photo of him he was already on his way through my backyard to the neighbors, who soon saw him and made a big noisy fuss that included a white plastic laundry basket. I'm guessing they dropped him off at the wildlife sanctuary down the road. He didn't look sick, just lost and hungry, and I'm hoping they did right by him.



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Come To My Window

I've been seeing tons of woodpeckers in my trees and yard this spring. So far I think I've seen three different types, but I haven't had a chance to look them all up yet. They're surprisingly tame and come very close when I'm working outside, but this guy was the most surprising so far. I noticed him from another window - the large window in the background - where I saw him clinging to this window screen. After watching him a few minutes I thought I'd take a closer look and see if I could check him out from the other side of the window that he was clinging to, but I figured he would probably fly away when he saw me. 


He didn't. I watched him for a few minutes and he just sat there - then I realized why. My daughter was in that room playing her electric bass guitar, and she had it turned up pretty loud. So loud, that it made the room and windows vibrate. And that's what attracted this young woodpecker - the vibrations! 


It turned out that woodpeckers have an amazing sense of hearing and they often find their food (mostly insects & larvae from trees and from inside cracks and pieces of bark on trees) from the sounds and vibrations that the insects make. Ha! So this guy was most likely attracted to my house by the vibrations of my daughter's guitar playing. I actually made a video of him sitting here on the window screen listening to her play - and you can hear her playing in the background - and once I get it up on my YouTube channel I will add the video to this blog post. 



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura




My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Good Morning Songbirds

Early this morning I had my coffee outside with the songbirds. It seemed that the mosquitoes finally decided to make an appearance so I lit my candles to keep them away. It seems that this year I have the most amazing birds in my trees - I've had tons of woodpeckers every day, and just yesterday had a hummingbird fly within inches from my face while I sat outside, writing at my laptop. It's the most amazing feeling when that happens! 

For the past few days I've been listening to the funniest bird who sat in a tree in my backyard and said "Gary!" all day. I'm serious. It's been hysterically funny. It would call "Gary!" and then say "AHHH!" and sound like a nagging old woman. This went on for two days straight. Then I heard it again, but it started to alternate from "Gary!" to "Eric!" and I was just fascinated. After that it would sing a massive string of chirps and shrills and was the most unusual thing I had ever heard. So of course I googled it! It turned out I had been listening to a Gray Catbird. I found a few videos on YouTube of the exact bird call, and found that many other people were hearing the same unusual, funny calls. The Gray Catbird happens to be a mimic, like a mockingbird, who mimics the calls of other birds -  so the long string of songs he sings after his funny name outbursts are mimics of the songs of other birds. He really is beautiful to listen to. I hope he stays for the summer. 


I planted these last week. They are so pretty! Bright lemon yellow Nemesia, a real find. They really set off my darker purple blooms. 


I still have lots to plant, even after filling about 6 flowerpots...these are still waiting. But I haven't done any direct planting in the ground yet. That will be this week. 



I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Thursday, June 2, 2016

A View From My Outdoor Office

I know summer doesn't officially begin until June 20th, but as soon as the temperature hits 78° F and I have my backyard patio in order, I move my office outside. When that happens, it's officially summer for me.  Each morning I get up early and brew fresh coffee, grab my laptop and head out to my patio in my backyard. It's nothing super-fancy, but I plant a lot of flowers all around in pots and hanging baskets, and I have a nice sized patio with a canvas awning that gets put up for each warm season, and I do my best to transform this space into my own little peaceful oasis. There's a koi pond directly off of one side of my patio where I have a few giant fantail goldfish and a few koi, and this water lilly that I added a few years ago. It just started blooming last week. Each morning when I go outside the blooms are open, and by the time that it's time to head inside for the evening, they're closed for the night. 




I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

This Way.

Finally the trees have leaves. Yay. I'm back to hiking my trails a few times a week and I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see little green tufts of grass after a really hard winter. This is one of the things I enjoy most in the world. 




I hope you have a great week 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Beautiful Broken China Jewelry

I just listed these new pieces in my Etsy shop, and you can find them here...

I hope you like them! Check back for more later this week!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Craft Shows & Art Festivals: Which Type is Right For You?

In my last blog post, Preparing for Your First Craft Show, I talked about some of the things you might want to think about before you sign up for your first craft show. Some of the things I suggested you to take into consideration are the amount of work involved, a reminder to have the proper permit or license, and to be set up to accept credit cards.

I advised you to start a notebook where you can write ideas, take notes on shows that you visit, and write lists of things that you will need to participate in art or craft shows. I can't stress how important it is that you visit many craft shows! Check your local newspaper find out when and where upcoming craft shows and festivals will be.


In today's post I'm going to talk about some of the different types of craft shows and give you some insight to the pros and cons of these different types of shows so that hopefully you can then determine what type of show might be right for you and the type of craft or artwork that you create.

This can be a pretty broad topic, so I'm going to narrow it down as best I can. First of all, there are big shows and there are small shows. There are also shows where shoppers pay an entry fee to enter, and other types that are free to visit.


Word of advice: Do not ever purchase premade crafts and then resell them under the guise that they were created by you. This is a giant no-no in the industry and is known as "buy/sell." This is a practice that is greatly frowned upon by other crafters as well as promoters. If you're caught doing this you will  be kicked out of the show and you will gain an instant bad reputation among crafters and promoters.

That's not to say that you can't use certain manufactured components within your design. But as to what those components are and how many of them you use is a popular debate among crafts people. These types of things also help denote what types of craft shows you should be in. There are shows that are purely "crafty" types of shows with lots of preassembled type items and then there are shows that are geared more toward fine crafts and artwork where each and every item is made purely by the hands of the person selling it. Where do you fit in?



In my opinion it's always best to start out small to test the waters. Large juried shows usually have costly entry fees as well as a jury process which means that your items are closely scrutinized by the promoters to make sure that you are of the quality standard that they require. These types of shows are mostly for fine craftspeople, artisans, and artists. Going into those types of shows can be a great goal to have, but start smaller to gain experience and to see if you like it first before investing in lots of displays and equipment you will need to do bigger shows.

Smaller craft shows such as those run by organizations such as women's clubs and churches (and also some craft festivals) will not have such strict guidelines but generally the quality of crafts will be on the lower side. Again, where do you fit in? Remember what I said about visiting lots of shows!



Starting with smaller shows: these are the types of shows that you find at a church hall or at outdoor festivals such as summer carnivals, fairs, and town festivals and these are usually either free for shoppers to enter or might charge a small entry fee at the door. The crafter fee for a crafts person to participate in the show is usually low and might be $20 for a table or $40 for a table, or they might give you a certain area of space such as a 10 ft. square. When you are starting out it's easy to do shows in fire halls and church halls where the tables and chairs are supplied. Once you have been doing craft shows for a while you might later want to branch out into shows where you have to show up with your own tent or canopy, your own tables and chairs and complete displays.

I found out early on that my crafts did not fit into the smaller type craft shows or outdoor county fair type shows. This is when I was a stained-glass artist and I found that people who go to those shows were looking for inexpensive things to buy. Some seasoned, higher-end crafters will also tell you that they avoid any type of craft show where there are carnival rides or where food is served as a main attraction. That's because people come with their kids to ride the rides and eat, but not to spend money on crafts. Unless you are selling lower-priced items that are appealing to that type of crowd, you will just get a lot of lookers. Most often, families don't take their kids to carnivals to buy fine crafts!


With that in mind, you may want to avoid those types of shows unless you are selling inexpensive family-oriented items. Here's a real-life example: I once participated in a craft show at a county fair that was outdoors under a huge tent and the woman next to me was selling bandanna pet collars. She was selling them left and right and could hardly keep up with her customers, she was so busy!  That was the perfect show for her, but it wasn't a good fit for me. I spent a lot of time at that show cleaning dust from the ground off of my expensive stained-glass boxes and art glass windows! See what I mean? Again, think about where your craft might fit in.



Once I outgrew those smaller shows at fire halls and tested the water at outdoor festivals I was soon ready to move on to shows that were a little bit bigger and that had more of the type of audience that would buy my type of crafts. For some of these shows, I had to supply my own canopy. Everyone uses basically the same kind, the EZ-Up white canvas topped type that is 10 ft. square. I think I bought mine at Sam's Club years ago for about $200. That was a small investment in my business. Most medium to larger sized craft events will specify things such as, "all canopies must be white" – It's kind of standard in the industry – so like I said before, visit lots of shows! Look around and really pay attention and see what the visual set up is like. Ask questions from participating craft people or promoters while you're there. Tell them you might be interested in participating in the show next year and you will get lots of information. Write it in your notebook. At this point in your business you should already have business cards, so bring some along to share with other crafters and promoters. 

Some larger type shows that are indoors will supply the tables for you for an additional fee outside of your entry fee. This could be $10 or $20 per table plus a few hundred dollars fee to participate in the show.  (Show costs to participate vary widely from show to show, area to area, and promoter to promoter!) They will most likely also supply electricity (bring your own heavy duty extension cords!) for an additional fee. You will also need to supply your own table covers and those are also sometimes regulated by the show to be a certain color- black or white is usually the best choice if not. Table covers should always reach the floor on the front and sides of your tables. Your display should always be kept within your space unless the promoter permits otherwise. Know the rules and regulations of each particular show you are going into and make sure that you adhere to the rules.



The first big show I did was indoors and cost a few hundred dollars to enter. I could hardly afford the entry fee! I paid a bit extra for them to supply the tables to make it easier for me – and that was a really wise choice because it saved me so much work – and I also paid for electricity which was another wise choice because it was actually kind of dark inside the building. It was a large stadium but when you think about someone coming up to a table and looking at your items, you want them to be illuminated and brightly lit so that you show them off the best you can. I didn't even accept credit cards yet, but this promoter specified that you had to-- so if you did not have your own credit card system, they accepted them for you. They took a small fee to do this but it was well worth it. I made a lot of money that weekend - a few thousand dollars - and I was in heaven. It was my biggest show up until that date and I learned so much. The promoter gave me a check for my credit card sales at the end of the show. They also processed any personal checks I received, which saved me a lot of sweat worrying about whether I should take a check or not. 

So as you can see, there was a benefit to being in a larger size show with a promoter who took credit cards for me and screened personal checks. It offered me some small amount of protection - especially since I was just starting out doing larger shows. I found that my work did well at larger shows and this is right at the time when I was starting to introduce my jewelry into my line of stained glass and glass and china mosaics. This show was not very simple to be a part of though - there was a jury process to be accepted and also a waiting list! Big shows are planned months and months in advance - sometimes over a year in advance!

If you're reading this post and you've done craft shows - big or small - please leave a comment below and add your voice to this post. I'd love to hear your show experiences with all types of shows!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Poppies! New Broken China Jewelry in My Etsy Shop

I love poppies. They're one of my most favorite flowers (my other favorite is hydrangea, and I'm also partial to peonies, lilacs, wisteria, irises...). Most china dinnerware patterns that have flowers on them feature roses of course. Pink ones. I can tell you this from personal experience. There are hundreds of china patterns that feature pink roses. Every once in a while you'll see yellow roses or red. Maybe a white one here or there. But they are mostly pink. I covet china patterns with seldom seen flowers like poppies, hydrangea, irises. Give me wildflowers like hollyhock, foxglove, asters, and I am forever happy.  Here are a couple of new pieces that I listed in my shop yesterday.







I hope you like them! Check back for more later this week!


What do you think?

Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Visiting Local Farms & Roadside Stands for Flowers in Pennsylvania

I spent an entire afternoon last week cleaning out my koi pond, draining it and refilling it and getting it - and my yard - ready for summer. We had a mild winter and I was happy to see that all of my fish and even my frog had survived the winter.

We had just gotten over more than a week of damp, wet weather and I couldn't wait to get outside. I love having my coffee in my backyard every morning. I usually land up taking my laptop outside with me and working outside for a while. It's so peaceful next to the pond. I could just read or work there for hours. I could go barefoot all summer long. Summer is by far my favorite season, and there's nothing I love more than feeling the earth and grass beneath my bare feet. 

I'm excited to get flowers planted around my patio, pond, and in my flower beds. Each spring I go with my sister to a couple of the local Mennonite farms where they have huge greenhouses and sell all types of flowers. We go together and split flats so that we both have a nice variety to plant.


This was the first farm that we went to, they have four or five huge greenhouses. This is their roadside stand.

My sister wanted to take this cat home. He was so friendly! 

On our stroll up to the greenhouses we first came to this huge row of rhubarb. I love strawberry rhubarb pie! My last rhubarb plant was a transplant from one at my mom's house but it didn't make it, so I'll have to try to plant another one asap. 

Stepping into the first greenhouse this was what I saw. What an awesome groovy chair! I couldn't resist snapping a picture of it.


There were loads of petunias and geraniums and some snapdragons but the sky was getting dark and it was going to pour any minute, so we decided to just look today and come back in a couple days to buy after we saw what they had. 


I had never seen black pansies before - kind of creepy! And they weren't dark purple, they really were black. 

We left that farm and drove on to an organic farm's roadside stand that my sister frequents. There's no one there to man the stand, it works on the honor system; you leave the money in a jar. That's how many of the roadside fruit and vegetable stands operate in Pennsylvania. This one had fresh eggs, rhubarb, and asparagus. My sister said their asparagus was to die for, so she bought a bunch. One left! 





We pass these old railroad cars on our way...while driving through Topton, PA.


Rain coming so heading home... but we'll be back in a couple days to buy our flowers.



Enjoy the rest of your week! 
Love, Laura


My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at https://www.etsy.com/shop/dishfunctionldesigns



article and images ©Laura Beth Love 2016