Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some new and new-ish cards

Yesterday was a card making day; did a new version of my Holiday Crane - the colours are a little off here since it's very overcast here.

The cranes are paired up in packages with my new design below - can you tell it's a little gift (I thought it was such a good idea, but if you look at something and poke around with the design for too long, you kinda lose perpective)? I think I'll be doing these year-round in different colours, since I like the simplicity of them. Pretty happy with how they turned out.

I package cards by 6's, 3 each of 2 designs which seems to work well for customers. I'll have to also make more of my other set today, which you see below, since I sold almost all of them this past Saturday. At certain shows I sell tons of cards, at others, hardly any; the one this coming Sunday, is usually good for cards.

Then there's my other larger card (5"x7") series, but I'll write about that another time...

The post office will be opening soon, so I'll be heading out the door into the snow (just a smattering). Looking forward to the the first coffee of the day that I'll make when I get back!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You can NEVER tell...

This past Friday evening I was feeling pretty down since the craft fair at the CBC was rather pathetic (please see previous post for my excited ramblings). What I and all the other sellers thought was going to be a lovely two days of regular sales ended up being the longest two days I've ever spent in one room. Apparently in former years it's been quite successful, but hardly anyone came this year! I felt bad for the people who did venture in because then we were all like sharks circling innocent prey - well, no, it wasn't really that bad, and I'm not an aggressive seller, but it kinda felt that way :) I met some really nice sellers though, which is always great! And I did have a pretty good lemon poppyseed scone from the cafeteria there - the coffee, however, was another story. Hmph! I thought Canada's national public broadcasting agency would at least have good coffee! You can NEVER tell...

Yesterday's craft sale hosted by Ikebana International Montreal made up for the poor sales the previous two days, yay! A small scale event, sales were brisk for the four and a half hours we were there. Did I say "yay" before? Yaaay!

Got two shows to prepare for this coming week, one at Coll├Ęge Villa Maria on Friday and Saturday, and one at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre on Sunday afternoon. Looking forward to a good week-end in sales, but once again, you can NEVER tell, right?

I have no photos of my week-end sales, or anything pertinent to this post for that matter, so here's a picture of me and my friend Cathy. I think we were around 8 years old, so this would be 1975-ish. She is holding scantily clad Barbie and I'm holding the Ken whose head I would later experimentally stick in the spout of a boiling kettle (it's plastic, what did I THINK was going to happen?).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bad habits and a list of food

I'm feeling like this is going to be a productive day. Well, I have no choice really.

It's 10am, got my second coffee sitting in my good friend, the French press. Just got back from doing some work for a community newspaper that I volunteer on - wanted to get it done early so I still have full day to work. I feel like there's a flame at my heels today since it was only yesterday that I really got into gear again for my next sales, which start tomorrow. What is it that makes me act like a meatloaf on some days and a whirlwind on others, when I could just spread the work out evenly and have a normal work week like everyone else? I think I'm a freak.

Anyway, it IS going to be a productive day. Got some more pendants to varnish, some jewellery to assemble and cards to finish up. I'll be setting up early tomorrow morning at CBC / Radio Canada (Canadian Broadcasing Corporation, kinda like the BBC in the UK); looking forward to that one! It's a nice building too and they have a decent cafeteria - although I usually bring a lunch to sales events, I'm always concerned about having good coffee and a good snack.

My brother, Doug, and sister-in-law, Karen, were in town this past weekend to see a play that their son, my nephew Phillip, did the costume and set design for. He's studying at Concordia University here in Montreal. The show was great, the costumes were amazing (woo hoo Phil!), as were the actors. I'm always amazed at young theatre folk, as the acting (and singing in this case too) just comes so naturally. Where can I get me some of that talent?

We all went to my sister, Pat's for brunch on Sunday morning. My other sister Nancy, remarked in an email last night, that I'm like my mom in that I like to list what foods are at any gathering and comment on them. Cannot deny it. I like to eat, I like to look at food, talk about it and take pictures of it. It's all true. I didn't have my camera on Sunday but thank goodness Karen had hers (yay!). So here are the boys looking a little odd, that's Doug in the Habs' cap (he always wears a cap), Phillip in purple and JF saying "cheese"...

And here was brunch (Nancy, my sistah, this list is for you):
  • lovely fruit platter - that pineapple was crazy good
  • clementines (yay, it's clementine season again!)
  • a delightful and mild camembert from the monastery in St-Benoit du Lac
  • chocolate chip muffins (fresh from Pat's oven)
  • whole wheat bread (fresh from our bread machine)
  • the BEST bagels in the world HANDS DOWN - Montreal bagels (why are they the best, you ask? the secret is in the Romanian Jewish recipe that you apparently don't find in other cities. ). These are not buns with barely a hole in the middle, THESE are the real thing.
  • cream cheese, to sit on the bagels of course
  • smoked salmon, to keep the cream cheese company of course.

Now for some randomness... This terribly unflattering photo supports a theory: apparently, our armspans are supposed to be kind of equal to our height. So I wanted to test this, and Phillip measured me on the tiles. I guess I'm kind of proportionate despite my very short legs.

Ok, will get to work now. On my way home this morning, picked up an almond croissant from the Italian bakery around the corner and will have half with my coffee that is now very strong since it's been sitting in there for 15 minutes! The other half will accompany my afternoon coffee. Aaaah, the ever so temporary joy of sugar and caffeine.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jewellery party report...

My first day of selling for the upcoming holiday season went really well!

Last Friday, I went to the primary school where my friend, Rhiannon, works and did pretty well with the staff there. Everyone was so nice (as they were last year)! We then went to her place to set up for our jewellery party; she has a great house, perfect for this kind of event. We were both kind of nervous, but it ended up going really well. It was a small gathering of 8 lovely women, but everyone ended up buying numerous items from me, so I ended up doing as well as I do on a pretty good day at a craft show. The whole day added up was just fine and dandy!
Here's my jewellery table in the living room. The format of the evening was great, very casual and relaxed. People arrived, got a glass of wine and then came to look at the jewellery. I have lots of pendants not on a chain or leather necklace (middle display board on my table) since many people already have numerous chains at home, and customers also like to choose the colour and length of leather for their necklaces. I also brought along all my tools and extra findings to put it all together, and everyone was happy with their custom-made pieces.

Here are my cards on the coffee table, and my catalogue that I left out in case people were interested to see where I work and other kinds of pieces I make. I also did a draw for a chiyogami pendant necklace at the end of the evening.

There's all kinds of hostess incentives and gifts you can offer; just google "home jewelry party" for lots of ideas. I opted for one necklace & earring set as a gift for hosting, and 10% of the evening's sales in gift certificates or merchandise. I really enjoyed this relaxed format; I didn't do any kind of cheesey presentation - not that there's anything wrong with that, I just feel a bit silly chatting about how to wear my jewellery! I think the women there enjoyed an evening out to get some early Christmas shopping done, and a chance to meet and chat with some new acquaintances. Everyone commented on the uniqueness of my stuff, so that made me feel pretty good :)

Definitely something I'd like to do again, and something I'd totally recommend trying!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Setting up shop in a school & in someone's home...

These chiyogami pendants are fresh, varnish still drying. Needless to say, they are far from the kitties' reach...

I made this batch because this Friday, I will be going to an elementary school where my friend Rhiannon works, to set up shop in the staff room. She invited me out there last year around this time since some of her colleagues liked my work, and I ended up selling much of what I had brought with me in the 90 wild minutes I was there. It was kind of overwhelming, but great! I had heard that school staff rooms are a great place to sell jewellery and other hand made items, since teachers are often looking for gifts, or a little treat for themselves, and last year's experience definitely supported that!

So they're allowing me back there again this year (yay!), and then that evening Rhiannon is hosting a home jewellery party featuring... me!

We had talked about the possibility of doing this earlier in the year, but I wanted to leave it up to her since it would be in her home and the burden would really be on her. I'm so happy it worked out, and even if it ends up being a quiet evening with a few friends passing by, I'm really looking forward to just trying out this format. I've read about other jewellery makers' experiences and wish I had a big enough (and nice enough!) apartment to host something like this - one day...! But for now, I'm so grateful for good friends like Rhiannon, who is also a very enthusiastic supporter and wearer of my work (I get kind of embarrassed by her compliments) and she's really looking forward to this Friday too! I'll let you know how it goes.

In case you're interested in doing something like this yourself - or with other jewellery makers or artisans (would be neat to host a mini-craft fair, don't you think?), here is the invitation I put together for this Friday's party. It's meant to be sent out by the hostess. Please feel free to use it for ideas for your own invitation (click on it to enlarge).

Monday, November 3, 2008

Week-end eating!

Monday, phew...!

Seems like it was a busy week-end for lots of bloggers out there - mine was jam-packed, and involved lots of eats from some of Montreal's best restos!

Saturday lunch/dinner: Indian food from Indian Curry House in Montreal, where our taiko group often eats after performances. Toronto taiko group, Nagata Shachu, were our guests since they were in town for two shows. Director Gary Kiyoshi Nagata is an amazing taiko player (the best in Canada!) and teacher who we are fortunate to call our friend. Their show was stellar, to say the least.

Sunday lunch: Beautiful Japanese bento style meal at Sakura, for a volunteer appreciation gathering of a community newspaper that I volunteer on. Crap, I should have taken a photo!

Sunday dinner: My sister has turned us all onto Roberto's lasagna since she started ordering it in the humungous family format size years ago. The homemade pasta and simple tomato sauce is the best. The pan is so big, we always get to bring some home (^_^), so no need to even think about dinner tonight!

Sunday evening was a perfect evening, with dinner at my sister's, and my brother Ron in town overnight on a stopover on his way to a meeting on Canada's maritime coast; my nephew Phillip made it too since he actually had a free evening from his university studies (we'll be going to see a play he is working on (costume and set design) in a couple of weeks. Here we all are: Pats, me, Ron, Amy, Phillip, Sarah, JF (our cousin, Judy, had already left).