Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Balancing Life

I am starting to let the stress get to me again. Preparing for next quarter's classes, grading for my online students, getting ready for Christmas and zero time to be creative. It was somehow fortuitous that I took a few minutes to read a newsletter post from a lady who has been in the jewelry business for a long time. In this article she addresses artists and entrepreneurs, but really it holds true no matter what you do in life. I am posting the article here in hopes that someone will benefit from it as I think I have. Sometimes you just need a new perspective (and yes, it says in the newsletter we can repost as long as we use her blurb at the bottom):

3 Essential Steps to Self Mastery: Balancing Life As An Artist

Being an entrepreneur or solo-preneur is a great balancing act. There's family, friends, production work, creative work, creative play, and then the icky, boring business schtuff.

How do we fit it all in a day's work without exhaustion, overwhelm, and unhappiness?
Our continuous overload of "must-do's" can be overwhelming which initiates that good ole fight or flight reaction in our lizard brains. Yep, right into reaction mode versus creation mode, which often results in procrastination. Funny that that particular words starts with "pro". I'm not "for" it by any means!
The more pressure we feel, the more easily we default to this mode which then becomes habit. Stress is in fact the absence of faith in ourselves. So it's essential to have tools to help us keep the faith in our ability to get it all done.
Yep, we all know this stuff, but what can we do to implement the tools to become masters of self. We can't manage time. Unless you can heard flies, forget about managing time. What we need to do is "manage self".

Here are 3 essential tools you'll need to implement to help balance life:

1- Evaluate & determine your circadian rhythm

There are 2-3 hours that are our most productive time. Time when we feel the most energetic. When is that for you?
Do you schedule your most important genius work during these hours? If not, it's time to reevaluate your schedule. Really think hard and determine when you'll include self-care, creative genius work, play, and business/marketing time.

2- Schedule your day the night before - batch your day

Now that you've figured out your most productive time, do a shortened version of the Sunday Summit every night.
Your subconscious then has time to work on any troubles or ideas you might have. How great is that! Wake up with a sense of clarity and purpose, with a rudder on your ship!
When you schedule your time, remember that we work best in 40-50 minute bursts. Try setting your timer at the beginning of the hour and then use the 10-20 minutes for breaks (dance, return calls, be social on facebook, drink water, etc).

3- Eliminate Distraction

Not only is it a good idea to remove distractions it's a good idea to have sacred space in which to do different tasks.
Turn off your email, facebook, chat, etc. It's only 40-50 minutes. You can do without it and then reward yourself later.
Athletes, writers and lots of others, implement triggers to signal their brain, "hey, it's time to do your genius work"! Baseball players will adjust the velcro on their glove, tap their shoes, etc. Others might put on certain music, light a candle, etc.
     Involve all the senses when creating habit and successful work/creative environments.

Teacher, mentor, artist and founder of the Artful Success Program, Tonya Davidson helps artists take their techniques and business skills to the next level. As the CEO and founder of Whole Lotta Whimsy she has passionately empowered artists to live creatively from the inside out. Create the life you love by subscribing to her ezine, reading her blog, or following her on facebook/twitter

And, I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Yes, I do like metal music (after all I am a product of the 80s), however in this case I am talking actual metal. As much as I have grown to love working with glass, I have also grown to love working with all different types of metal.

Copper is one of my favorites. I love how it can be bright and shiny or warm with a nice dark patina. I have found that some people are avid lovers of copper jewelry and others don't care for it at all. If you are one of those that love copper then you probably have a preference between bright, shiny copper and copper with a warm patina.

Either way it is important to take care of your copper jewelry properly to keep it beautiful. I have researched the best ways to take care of your copper, and here is some of what I have come up with.

To clean your copper run some warm water and add a small amount of mild soap. Use a soft cloth dipped in the water to wipe down your jewelry to remove any dirt and the body oils that accumulate on it from wear. Make sure to rinse and dry your piece thoroughly.

If you prefer shiny copper over the patina that copper gets, the best way to store your copper jewelry is in an air tight plastic bag with a zipper. Air is what causes the copper to patina and storing it this way will slow that process down.

To bring a patinaed piece back to that bright copper shine, pour some lemon juice in a bowl and add a little salt. Dip the piece in the lemon juice and set it up to dry. Ketchup is another home made polish you can use to bring the shine of your copper back. I have polished copper both ways and they both work. It is the acid content in the lemons and the ketchup. Do remember that some jewelry artists use different patinas on the pieces they make to give the copper different colors. If you have a piece you bought this way, don't use either of these methods to polish it because they will remove that patina.

Some people are afraid to wear copper because they have had a bad experience with copper changing their skin colors. This generally happens when the piece is dirty, tarnished and has accumulated skin oils from wear. Just clean the piece and wash the discoloration off of your skin. A clean piece generally won't change your skin color.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


It is the beginning of the holiday season. I wanted to take a moment to say how thankful I am for all of the new friends that I have met through my business and online who have been supportive of me and Big Grass Farm Designs. It makes this all worthwhile to know there are people out there who like what I do and enjoy the things I make. So, thanks to all of you. You mean a great deal to me.

I also want to remind those who are local that Saturday, December 3rd is the Holiday Heritage sale at Southern State Community College. It is a great day to start enjoying the holiday season. Tons of vendors, activities, a bell choir, and plenty of food. It is a good way to support the local artists and crafts people by doing some of your Christmas shopping there. The people on your shopping list will be pleased that you cared enough about them, that you got them something that is one of a kind, hand crafted, and not massed produced. While you're there stop by my booth to say hello.

I sincerely hope that everyone has a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving with there family and friends!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holiday Sale!

Considering that I have only bought one Christmas present so far this year (and that was on Friday because my 11 year old pointed it out to me), I thought it was probably time to have a sale in my Etsy shop. Use Coupon Code HOLIDAY11 on any purchases in my Etsy shop from now to November 30th to receive a 15% discount. I will be adding new items all through the month so check back often. And, as always, if you are local to me use Coupon Code LOCAL1 to receive free shipping and then message me to arrange pickup/delivery. Also for those local, don't forget the Holiday Heritage Sale at Southern State Community College South Campus is coming up on December 3rd. I may just have a treat available for those of you who stop by my booth. Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I feel Official now!

I now have a fully functional Web site! That is not to say it is perfect, but it is up and online. In a former life I use to be big into street rods (old cars). I had a saying that there was no such thing as a done street rod. There was always something to fix, or add, or chop, or paint. Web sites are the same way. There is always a link to fix, a picture to add, text to rewrite, etc.

I put this off for so long. Considering that Web design is a lot of what I teach and do on a daily basis, you can imagine that I just wasn't overjoyed at the thought of spending the little bit of creative time I have in building and maintaining a Web site. Anyway, I have tried to keep it simple so that there will be a minimum amount of maintenance time that has to go into it. That is one reason that I am not planning on moving my store out of Etsy anytime soon. Etsy offers me the convenience of not having to maintain my own online store. To list an item on Etsy takes a relatively small amount of time and hassle. I may change my mind in the future, but for now Etsy is all good.

Isn't it funny that only now after getting a Web site online for Big Grass Farm Designs do I really feel like an official business person (lol). In the mean time, tonight I am a happy camper. I feel accomplished because the site is up and running ( and I have a kiln load of some potential Christmas ornaments and jewelry pieces. Not to mention the fact that after today the Bengals are 6 and 2 and Tony Stewart is 3 points away from the championship (yeah, I'm a sports geek too)!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Computers, computers, computers, more computers...and a Web page

School is really kicking my backside right now. Every time I think I'm ahead of the game, something happens and I am further behind than ever. This is really stressing me out. Its a tough quarter because of the classes I'm teaching plus we upgraded our learning management system where my online courses are at and it seems nothing is working right. It seems like all I do is fight fires and get further and further behind in grades and prep.

Needless to say, this is playing havoc with my jewelry making (which stresses me out even more). I have two holiday shows coming up and I am getting nothing accomplished. Well, I am trying to make the best of it. Since I am spending so much time on the computer anyway, I am trying to put together the beginnings of a Web site for Big Grass Farm Designs.

I have put this off for waaayyyy too long. You see, this is what I do for a living. I teach computers...mainly multimedia and Web design. So, its kind of understandable that when I get away from that...building a Web site for my business is not my idea of relaxation. 

In between grading, preps, and fighting fires in my Blackboard classrooms I am tinkering around with the beginnings of a site. I am playing around with the structured and layout and some initial graphics and content. Trying to decide what needs to be on it, and what people will want to see.

 Anyway, stay tuned and maybe I will have something soon for people to look at and give me suggestions on. That is...if I keep my sanity!

Monday, October 17, 2011


I am so lusting over this photo backdrop set that the Beading Gem journal is giving away. I am posting this everywhere I can to try earn more chances to win it. Modahouse Table Top Photography Set up

Friday, October 14, 2011

Make Your Own Jewelry Party!

Last weekend was the Appalachian Mountain Artisans Festival that I have talked about before. It was long and it was tiring. It was my first multiple day festival that I have done. But, I did enjoy the experience. The thing that I enjoyed the most was the wire wrapping classes I taught. I just can't get away from the teaching thing. I guess since I come from a family of public school teachers, and I have been teaching computer science for almost 20 years and fused glass for 7 or could say it is in my blood.

 Anyway, as I was saying, I really enjoyed the wire wrapping classes I taught last weekend. I had a mom bring her two daughters and a grandmother bring her two granddaughters, plus several other lovely ladies who joined us.

We made some bead and wire pendants with some accent beads and a little flourish of the wire. It was fantastic. They were all really happy with the pendants they made. It really is fun for me to see everyone's reaction and to see how happy they were with the pendant they made on their own and got to take with them. There really is no right or wrong way to do it, and each and everyone is beautiful in its own way. Everyone has their own style, and the twists and turns of the wires makes each piece unique and very personal. I guess that is why I like doing this so much. Each time I finish one, I know there will never be another one like it.

So, with all the fun I had teaching these classes over the weekend, it has given me a new idea. I have been thinking about some mini-classes. These would be projects that could be completed in a short time frame, anywhere from half an hour to an hour. I could travel to meet groups and teach a mini-class. These classes could be done for different types of groups and occasions. Birthday party for a friend, ladies auxiliary group, girls night to get together...a perfect setting to do a short workshop and make a piece of jewelry.

I am working on some ideas for projects for earrings, pendants, etc. I am also trying to figure out a fee schedule. Since I will be doing the traveling I will
have to come up with some different rates depending on how far away I have to travel. Once I get this all figured out I will make a new blog page to explain it.

If anyone has any ideas that they would like to see me incorporate into any of the mini-classes, please let me know. This is all in the beginning planning stages and I am wide open to suggestions. All input is highly desirable, and always, I am just flying by the seat of my pants. Lol.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Countdown Is On!

Well, one week from today is the Appalachian Mountain Artisans Festival. I am extremely nervous for several reasons. The first one is the usual...will people like my jewelry...will they like it enough to buy it. I have managed to keep this fear under control for the last several years, because my jewelry and glass work have become more popular and I know I have many who buy from me frequently. That tells me someone likes it (besides my mom, who has too.) lol

More than that though is the fact that it is my first outdoor show, and it is three days long. All the shows I have done to this point have been indoor craft shows. No worrying with the weather. I have my canopy, and thanks to my wonderful husband I have all of the panels I need to close it up. I'm going to have to put it up by myself on Thursday while he is at work because I have ceramics class on Thursday night. Let's hope that goes smooth.

I am frantically making jewelry, and the kiln is running non-stop when I am at home. I think I have plenty of jewelry and glassware that people will like, but you just never know. It has been a mad rush with this and school. It won't stop any time soon. I have another show in Leesburg the first weekend in November and the Holiday Heritage show at Southern State Community College (where I work) the first weekend in December. I'm happy to have so many shows before Christmas. I hope I can keep up.

Three days...outdoor show...October in Ohio...need I say more. Everybody pray for good weather next weekend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quilt Squares

Now, if you are not from Ohio you may not know what a big deal barn quilts are. Other states have them too, but Ohio seems to have a rather large amount of them and they are fairly popular. They have branched out from barns and are now on a variety of other buildings. We even have one at the college on the building where I work. Well as I mentioned earlier, Jo at Hilltop Designs hosts an art festival each year called the Appalachian Mountain Artisans Festival. On the side of her building she has one of the quilt squares. She asked me to make some jewelry with her quilt square on it to sell during the festival.

That took a great deal of research on my part. I can fuse images into my pieces, but they come in the form of water slide decals that are created to be placed on the glass and fired in the kiln. There are all types of images you can get on the decals. Everything from animals to flowers to trees, religious symbols, abstract designs, etc. I have yet to find water slide decal material that will go into the kiln that will allow you to print your own images first. I ended up having to special order ink jet decal paper that allowed me to print my quilt images from my ink jet printer.

This means I have to first cut my glass pieces and fire them in the kiln. Once they are done, I can then apply the images to the glass.
Now, my next problem. I needed some way to keep the images from scratching off of the glass. I am using a spray acrylic sealer that should do the trick. I am using about 4 coats of that so it means spray and then drying time in between each coat.

Finally, I have started making the cord necklaces and putting on the findings. I am happy to say that I am getting close to having 25 necklaces and 35 key chains done, but the process is a long one. It takes awhile to get from cutting the glass, through firing, applying the decals, spraying multiple coats of the sealer, making the cords, epoxying (is that a word) on the findings, and finishing things up.
I hope that these are popular for her and people like them. I now realize, however, I don't want to be a production jeweler. lol

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I've Gone International!

I have the had the deepest sense of satisfaction today. I shipped my first piece of jewelry out of the country. My Facebook Fan page reached 100 fans, so I held a contest for all of those wonderful people. I gave everyone numbers and then used to pick a random number. The winner was to get this necklace...
The wonderful lady whose number I drew lives in British Columbia. She was extremely excited that she won, and she said she had never won anything before. I am so happy that I got to break her losing streak for her. lol

I am also extremely happy about it. It made me feel good that she was so thrilled to have won the necklace. And, it made me feel good that I now have a piece that is international. :)

I can hardly wait until I hit 200 fans so we can have another contest. Shannon, I hope the necklace makes it to you soon and thanks for making my day!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

New Shop

See this piece at
Another first for me, I finally have my Etsy shop up and running! I guess that makes me an official online business. I have wanted to do this for years, but it seemed like life, work, kids, etc. were always getting in the way. I could barely keep enough inventory going for the shows I did and the shops I consigned to.

 Now that I have made a commitment to myself that I am going to grow my business and do all of things that goes along with that, I am starting to get some things accomplished. I now have the blog up and running, I am increasing my inventory in preparation for all the shows that I am going to be doing between now and the first of the year, and now my ETSY STORE!!!

See this piece at
It seems that I am still really nervous about all of this. I am almost as nervous as I was when I started doing shows. I guess that I will always worry about people not liking my pieces. I don't seem to have that problem at the shows I do anymore. My sales are always good and I get a lot of praise about my work. I guess I will have to get over the jitters, just like I did when I started doing shows.

The one thing I did find out was that it takes a little time to get an item listed. Between taking pictures, editing pictures, writing descriptions, uploading, tagging, promoting, etc. its not as easy as just slapping an item up there.

See this piece at
Any how, I have taken another step on my journey and it makes me feel accomplished. Now, if I were that close to being ready for school to start that would be saying something. lol

If you get the chance take a look at my Etsy store, Let me know what you think, if you have any comments, requests, or just a pat on the back that would be good too. :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Crashed Glass

Well, tonight I had a glass catastrophe. I was experimenting with a drop ring vase. I was using a thicker piece of glass I made from a pot melt. Evidently the glass was too heavy and I took it up too high because it fell right through the drop ring and splatted on the kiln tile. I will have to try a different firing schedule with the thicker pieces.

Since that was a bust, I spent this evening polishing pieces and finishing up some half done pieces to get ready for the various shows I have coming up.
One thing I am working on is fused glass necklaces that can be worn by men or women.
I have gotten several requests for more masculine jewelry, so I am putting together these necklaces. I have also done some more masculine bracelets with gemstones and leather and some fused glass tie clips and tie tacks. I plan on taking some more pictures tomorrow so I will have some more examples soon. If anyone has any requests or ideas for masculine jewelry please let me know.

Friday, September 2, 2011

More on Pot Melts

In case you can't tell, doing pot melts in the kiln is one of my favorite things to do. I found a picture of one in the kiln that I took awhile ago. As I said in my last post, the pot melt starts by loading a pot with a hole in the bottom with different colors of scrap glass. Then you fire the kiln and break the temperature up until the glass gets molten and flows out of the bottom of the pot. Here is what it looks like.
The glass pools up on the kiln shelf and when it cools you have beautiful patterns of different colors. From there you can do a variety of things with the tile. I showed you the vase I created from the blue pot melt I did the other night.
I also make jewelry out of pot melts as well. They can be cut with a saw, or my personal favorite, I wrap it in newspaper and take it out on my concrete barn floor. I take the hammer to it and come out with all kinds of different shapes.
I put the pieces back into the kiln and fire them again to get nice polished sides and edges. These are so fun to do.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Get So Easily Excited!

I have been excited all evening. I finished a vase that I love and I had to teach two online classes tonight. I had to wait until I was done with those and my office hours before I could put pictures up.

This started out life as a bunch of scrap glass. I take a terra cotta flower pot and widen the hole in the bottom. Pile in the scrap glass and prop it up on stilts in the kiln. When the temperature reaches the point were the glass turns to a liquid, it flows through the hole and puddles up on the kiln tile.
This particular pot melt was different blues, some white, and some clear. The next step is to put it on a drop ring mold propped up on stilts and let it sag through the mold until the vase forms. This one turned out fabulously. I am extremely pleased with the flow of the glass through the vase.
Beautiful! Even if I do say so myself. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Busy, busy, busy...

Well as my title to this post implied...I have been very busy. I am currently in crunch mode finishing up building my online classes for the fall term at college. I am also trying to fire the kilns as much as I can to build up inventory for all of the fall shows I have coming up.
The first of which is coming up very quickly. October 7th, 8th and 9th I will be at the Appalachian Mountains Artisans Fest at Hilltop Designs. For those of you that are local you probably know where the festival is at, but for those of you who are not, it is right outside of Winchester, Ohio. It is a nice festival with many vendors, and all types of crafts. This is my first outside show, so I am a little nervous about an outside show and the weather. I just bought my canopy for the show last weekend, and I just broke it to my husband that he has to help me make weights for the canopy (I can't wait to see how this goes).
This is the first of 3 to 4 shows I will be doing between now and Christmas. I am really worried about having enough inventory, especially with school starting soon and the amount of time I can work in my studio going down. If you have some time, give Jo and her Festival Facebook page a little love. I know she will appreciate it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hello to Me! LOL.

I have tried this before without much success. Life always seems to get in the way. But, I've made myself a promise. I love making fused glass jewelry and art and I want to make a success of my business. I also want to have a kind of journal of why I do what I do. So, with that said, I made myself a promise that I am going to be diligent about blogging this time.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Kristi Hall and I own Big Grass Farm Designs (more about the name another time). I have made jewelry for years. I also teach computer science at the local community college. That gave me the opportunity to take a fused glass course several years ago. When I took that course, and opened up that kiln the first time...well, I was hooked. Every time I open the lid of a kiln after a firing it is like Christmas morning to me. You could cut the same glass, the same way...put it together the same way...make minor changes in the way you fire it and it will come out different every time. Now that is exciting!
To me, it is fascinating. As I said before, I teach computer science. Much of what I do is very logical, and very structured. So, to watch glass melt, and flow, and to see what I can create from it gives me a sort of artistic release. I guess it feeds the other side of my brain.

As I said before, there is much more to come. I am currently working on building my inventory for several shows that I will be doing before Christmas (more to come about those later, too.). I also plan on working towards getting my Web site up and my online store up. I hope that you bear with me, and I also hope that you follow me on my journey...wherever it may lead.