Friday, 30 December 2011

Looking Back

Now, that we're in that temporal "no-man's land" that is the week between Christmas and New Year's Day - when it's technically still 2011 but that year is essentially over and we're just waiting for 2012 to officially begin, it's the perfect time to reflect on the year that was.

Eli, Clara, Jonas
In 2011, the boys started Sunday School (and love it!).  Clara became an active toddler, climbing everywhere, dancing up a storm whenever there is some music playing.  A new cat, Sammy, adopted us late in the summer, and Rain has accepted him into our home quite well.  On the down side of things, we had our 1st trip to the ER (Jonas needed a stitch for a head wound) and we had a miscarriage. But, we are ending 2011 with all 5 of us together, healthy and happy.

scale flower brooch
It was also a busy year with my chainmaille jewelry - with a display in a shop, 5 craft fairs, and lots of custom orders (including jewelry for a wedding!).  I introduced the first 2 pieces of a line that will see half the price donated to the IWK hospital and have been very pleased with the response.  The annual "Adam's Month" IWK promotion went very well, too. The year included experimenting with anodized aluminum scales (such wonderful color!), new designs and shapes, and creating some items - brooches, sweater clips, and silver-plated post earrings - which were all received very well.  I am also beginning 2012 with my sketchbook full of notes and ideas, waiting for me to create the time to work on them.

Now, it's time to focus on the New Year, make some plans, think of some goals, perhaps come up with a resolution or two, keeping in mind that we have to be flexible in life for we never know what's coming around the next bend.
"One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this:  To rise above the little things."   ~ John Burroughs

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Why "Adam's Month"?

Years ago, when I was expecting my first child, I bought a kit to make a chainmaille necklace.  Life got busy and the kit got put aside and buried under other things.

Then, in October 2009, I was expecting my 3rd child.  And, things went wrong.  Very wrong.  I delivered Adam at 3:54am on October 17th at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax in a dimly lit room with just his father and our nurse present.  He weighed 18oz at 21 weeks 1 day gestation.  My water had broken weeks earlier and the membrane didn't heal, so his lungs couldn't form, his heart was pushed out of position, and his chest was starting to become deformed.  He was beautiful.  He had the same nose as both his older brothers.  He was like a kitten, with pale lines where his eyes would have opened.  We had the nurse take photographs of his hands and feet, but not of his face - no one else would want to see it and we would never forget.

A few weeks later, while still needing to keep my hands and mind occupied at all times, I came across that forgotten kit.  I thought it would keep me busy in the quieter moments for a few days, but I had it finished that night.  Doing a little bit, messing up, taking it apart.  Over and over until I figured out what I was doing.  I've never worn the necklace - it's a bit too chunky for my taste - but I will never part with it.  It's connected to my grieving.

The day after making the necklace, I started gathering materials to make more chainmaille - the repetitive nature of weaving the rings together was relaxing, allowing my mind to wander enough, but  not too much.  As I learned to do more patterns, I realized that I had found my creative outlet.  And, the added bonus - I could work on it for a few minutes at a time and pick it up where I left off without too much trouble.  What began as a sort of therapy became a love in its own right.

The chainmaille will always be intertwined with Adam - I think of him often as I work.  The jewelry is a connection to him.  Chainmaille is a gift Adam gave to me.  That is where "Adam's Month" comes from - it is a way to give back to him, to have something positive come from it all.

This year, 20% of the price from each item sold in October will be donated to the IWK Health Centre Foundation.  And, I've introduced the first in a series of pendants that will have 50% of the price go to the IWK year-round.  Trying to create some meaning by helping the children's hospital where Adam was born in some small way.

So, there it is - why October, why the IWK, why "Adam's Month."  Maybe someday I'll be able to tell Adam's story more fully than this, but today is not that day.

"A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.  A husband who loses a wife is called a widower.  A child who loses his parents is called an orphan.  But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child, that's how awful the loss is."  --- Ronald Reagan

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Keep Going - Notes from the Seaside Craft Fair

Last weekend, I took part in a craft fair at the Seaside Centre in Beach Meadows (and, I'm just getting to posting about it now - ah, such is life with small children).

I like doing craft fairs - yes, there's work to get everything ready, to set the table display up, and to pack it all up again when it's over, but I like to watch and listen as people look over my jewelry.  I get to see which pieces people just have to touch, what colors and styles are drawing their eyes, which items get the most attention.  I get to hear what metals they prefer, how dangly they like their earrings, and what items they're looking for - for themselves and for gifts for others.

My Table at Seaside

I always come away from a fair with a list of ideas I've gleaned from the shoppers - both items they've asked about and pieces inspired by some of what I saw them wearing.  At the Seaside fair, I had a few people asking about jewelry for men - something I've been thinking about for a while - so, I guess it's time to work on that.  I had a few people ask if I sold the frame displays I put together for my most popular earrings.  That's something worth thinking about, too.

The Wonderful View

Another great benefit of selling at a craft fair is the encouragement  A number of my latest pieces sold in the first hour of the sale, which is great for the pocketbook but also tells me that people are 'getting' the direction my work is going in.  I had a lovely British gentleman purchase two pairs of earrings as gifts and tell me to 'Keep going; keep at it,' as he walked away.  Encouragement like that makes the whole thing worth it.

Sneak Peek - Adam's Heart Pendants.
50% of the price of these pendants will be donated to the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been a busy Summer, here, in my little part of the world, both with the children and with the chainmaille.

Clara has cut some more teeth and has been taking some steps.  Eli is about to turn 3 (how did that happen?) and has been getting more interested in his potty-training.  Jonas has become a full-fledged midway ride fanatic and will be attending a pre-school program this Fall (how did THAT happen?).  All three of our littles love Kejimkujik National Park, swings, swimming, playing with each other, and keeping us hopping.

As for the chainmaille, I've been preparing for the craft fair season, which, this year, starts with Art vs. Craft Halifax (at the Halifax Forum on Saturday, Aug. 20/11, from 11am to 6pm if you're in the area - admission is free!).  I've been working with some different weaves, some colored rings, and some new shapes.  I've also started making some charms on lanyard hooks (great for zipper pulls on jackets and purses), and have been getting some new displays ready, too.  All this on top of keeping the Etsy shop and the display at The Village Emporium in Chester, NS, full of jewelry.

So, it's been busy, busy, busy.

How's your Summer been?

Friday, 17 June 2011

A Typical Afternoon...

Mama is standing at the counter, supplies laid out, pliers in hand.  The baby is napping.  The boys are watching Special Agent Oso, learning how to tie shoes.  It's fairly quiet - time to make a pair of Helm Orb Earrings.

Mama starts opening jump rings, getting organized.  5 minutes pass.  Cue the child.  "Mama, I'm thirsty.  Can I have some water?"  Pliers are put down.

A few minutes later, both boys have water.  Mama has pliers back in hand.  20 more jump rings to open and I'll be ready to start.

Three jump rings later.  "Mama, Eli pooped."  sigh.

5 minutes later, Eli is clean.  Back to the pliers.  17 to open.

Just at the last ring opens, the boys (pretending to be trains) go running by, 'chugging' at the top of their lungs.  Cue the crying baby.  At least, I'm ready to make one earring.

Half an hour later, the boys are playing with their trucks, the baby has been fed and is chewing on a truck of her own.  Mama starts joining rings.  Finally, let's get this done.

The foundation of 16 rings are joined.  On a roll now.

Mama picks up another jump ring.  Screaming from the living-room:  both boys want the same red car - the one the baby is chewing on.

10 minutes later, the three-way dispute has been settled.  Mama picks up her pliers.  "Mama, can we share an apple?"  Pliers are back down.  At least, they want something healthy.

A couple of minutes later, each boy has half a cored apple.  Pliers are back up.  Please let me get this one earring finished before I have to start supper.

5 jump rings are joined.  Raindrops start hitting the window.  Pliers down.  Diapers are quickly brought in from the clothesline, covers are hung over the shower curtain rod to finish drying, diapers and doublers are tossed into the dryer.  That reminds me - time to change the baby's diaper.

One clean baby later, the last ring of the Orb is closed.  Just 2 more to turn it into an earring.  "Mama, I have to pee.  On the big potty.  I'm a big boy and big boys use big potties, not little potties."  So close to getting that earring finished.

10 minutes later, the earring is complete.  And, it's time to start preparing supper.  Maybe I'll get the other one done tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Joining the Blogosphere...

I'm Susan, a SAHM, creating chainmaille jewelry amidst the chaos of 3 children under 4, a cat, and a husband.  And, here I never thought I'd ever be a juggler...

This blog will have a mix of posts from my crazy home - about my creative work, my children, and whatever else is taking up space in my mind.  So this could get interesting.  Stay tuned...