Sharing a Passion for Handmade

"I believe it is important to thirst for knowledge every day of your life. If you are tired of learning, you are probably tired of living... "
Holly J. Stanger

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FloDo is short for Florence's Daughter in honor of my mother who instilled in me my curiosity and appreciation for all things handmade.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Life Gets in the Way

For most of the nation school has been back in session for quite a while now. When I think back (waaaay back, but let’s not go there) to those first exciting, and often scary, days of a new school year the inevitable question “What did you do on your summer vacation?” comes to mind.

We all know how much kids of all ages look forward to the end of a school year, as just that… the end of a school year. It is time for fun and freedom, less responsibility, and less rigid schedules. Most importantly, more time to “do what they want”. Thus, typical responses to that proverbial question include all forms of summer activities and entertainment, social gatherings and interaction with family and friends, sleeping in and sleepovers, and the occasional heartbreak of a summer “puppy love”. For most school aged children (teens included but shhhh NEVER let them hear you calling them children) summer vacation affords many opportunities to be footloose and fancy free.

Can you hear the fog horn?

Many adults, on the other hand, look forward to “summer vacation” as an opportunity to “get some work done”. It is a time to complete projects that cannot otherwise be completed during a typical work week due to lack of time (“not enough hours in the day”) and other demands on their resources and energy; gardening, house repair, vehicle maintenance, honey do lists (always something). They, too, look forward to “less demands” on their time and the freedom to come and go, and start and complete projects without interruption. Distractions happen, the weather does not cooperate, unforeseen interruptions occur. Incomplete projects are frequently chalked up to “life getting in the way”.

Like many people, I try very hard to make the most of those hard earned precious weekends and paid days off by planning my projects well ahead of time. This spring I spent many hours preparing a plan to maximize the use of my “time off” for the year and actually made a calendar of goals centered on activities to nurture my business. I started a monthly e-newsletter for sharing upcoming events and new product launches. I scheduled regular time for “blogging” and cross promoting team members’ shops. I planned out time for creating, marketing and selling new products. I scheduled seasonal activities in order to be prepared for the holidays (ahead of time, for once). I worked out lesson plans for craft workshops and private sewing lessons that I intended to offer – during my time off, of course. I felt very powerful with the confidence that comes from feeling well organized, prepared and in control and I had no doubt that this was the year that I was going to successfully complete all the tasks necessary to increase the success of my business. Of course, this could only be accomplished at the expense of any real quality personal time with hubby, family or friends – no time for that!

Well, you know what they say – “The best laid plans of mice and men…” Life got in the way.

Facing a lay-off at my job in early summer I was fortunate to find a new position within my current company. Very thankful for that! This meant longer hours learning a new job (I love learning new things) and unexpected activities that started impacting my carefully planned calendar. Result: no marketing materials developed, no advertising for workshops. Life got in the way. Oh, well, there is always next month…

In July, I had an unexpected but very welcome visit from a cousin whom I may have met once when I was grade school aged. We had a wonderful visit comparing family stories and sharing genealogical information from the different branches of the family. We poured over photos and other family documents and shared memories of shared grandparents and other relatives. It was as if we had known each other our whole lives and we easily fell into conversation like we had been in touch the whole time. We have even made plans to travel to see our mutual aunt, if possible, early next summer. Result: no new products produced, no photos taken for new listings in the shop. Life got in the way. Oh well, I will make twice as many next month…

Midnight Elegance Web Pendant by LMayJewelry

In August, on a whim, I attended my first local “Concert in the Park” on a Sunday afternoon. I was fortunate enough to meet a fellow Etsy Maine Team member, Laura of LMayJewelry. She is a very talented local jewelry artist, not to mention a genuinely nice person, who offers a table of her wonderful creations for sale at the concerts. We compared notes on our shops and talked about the Etsy experience. I met her very lovely daughters who volunteer at these events. The music was great and the weather was nice. It was a great family oriented evening and I attended each Sunday for several weeks following. So much for my carefully scheduled blog and e-newsletter updates. Life got in the way. Maybe I can squeeze some in on my lunch hours at work…

Summer + family + lobster = Wicked good vacation!
Later in August, I had a wonderful visit from two cousins (sisters), one cousin of which I had not seen for over 25 years, and their very nice spouses. They were all very generous in allowing me to share part of their vacation and I spent a couple of days joining them on their tour in the southern part of the state, showing them places I knew and exploring places I had not been to myself. We spoke a lot of family, our mothers having been sisters, and got reacquainted with each other. Again, it was like we had always been a part of each other’s lives. And thankfully we very definitely are now.  Results: holiday items are not ready for listing and will be late again this year. I better get them done next month! Life got in the way.

Beach combing for beach glass on Bailey Island
In September, we hosted a dear friend of my husband’s from Denver. He stayed with us for a week and I took a couple of days off to join them, again going to places in my home state, some of which I had seen and some that I had not been to before. It is refreshing to see places that you have been, and are accustomed to, through the eyes of someone seeing them for the very first time. It makes everything fresh and new again. We took a ride to Bailey Island and while walking the very small “beach” area there my husband’s friend looked down and starting picking up small pieces of beach glass. I had been there dozens of times before and had never seen or thought to look for beach glass! It was very exciting! We spent over an hour hunting for and collecting very small pieces of this treasure. Results: still no new listings for the shop. Life got in the way. Oh well, still a couple more months until Christmas…

October - I had the pleasure and privilege of volunteering at the Dempsey Challenge.  While I have been a volunteer in the sewing group for the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing in Lewiston, ME for several years now, this was my first time volunteering for this function.  If you are not familiar with this event, or this organization, I encourage you to check it out. Information for next year's event is already available.  It is a most amazing and worthy cause if ever there was.  It was a very humbling experience and I will definitely be doing it again next year. 

Patrick Dempsey and the Gritty's cycling team at the Dempsey Challenge 2011
 zip! There is goes!  Again, life got in the way.

Wow! So, here I am. It’s mid-NOVEMBER. My well intentioned planning and scheduling has all gone up in a puff of smoke! I did manage a little cross promoting, some communications with Etsy comrades, and some linking of shops on Facebook. (Funny, my sales are double what they were last year, hmmmm). The activities I had intended to complete, to nurture the success of my business, which would have been at the expense of any quality personal time with hubby, family or friends (ironic, don’t you think) - never brought to fruition. All because… LIFE GOT IN THE WAY!

And I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Latest Creative Addiction

Last November I had the opportunity to attend an amazing jewelry making workshop at Sweetland Retreat in Manchester, Maine.  I was super excited because the class was being taught by Jessica Moreau-Berry of Junque Revival fame.  I have been a long time fan of Jessica's work since meeting her two years ago at an art and craft fair featuring Etsy Maine Team artists.  Among her many talents, Jessica creates incredible pieces of mixed media art jewelry from found objects, decoupage ephemera, vintage beads and baubles, and her own artistic flair.  She has also been a frequently featured contributor of articles and interviews to such major art magazines as Belle Armoire Jewelry and Jewelry Affaire and some of her fabulous creations can be purchased in her Etsy shop, Junque Revival among other places.  So, when Jessica offered a class at Sweetland Retreat I jumped on it.  The class was called Repurposed Shard and Polymer Clay Jewelry.  This was "THE" process she used to make some of the amazing pieces that have been featured in magazine articles.  I could not pass it up!

Painting My First Piece

And am I glad I went!  The class was wonderful and I had so much fun learning the process.  Jessica is an awesome teacher and even though I had never used polymer clay, nor made much jewelry before then, by the time I was done with class I could not wait to get home and use my new found skills to create more pieces.  I guess you could say a creative monster was born that day. 

Since I took that class I have created 10 additional pendants and 4 brooches and I do not see myself stopping any time soon...

I give full credit for my inspiration to Jessica Moreau-Berry

I even had to add a new section to my studio...

Jessica was very generous with her knowledge and very clear with her instructions.  I know Jessica is in the planning stages of some future classes.  I highly recommend if she offers this or any other class that you sign up!  You will be glad you did, I know I am.  I can't wait for the next one!

"Tidal Pool" original brooch by FloDo Designs

"Time to Switch Gears" original brooch by FloDo Designs

You can follow Junque Revival's blog using the link on the right of this page.  Thanks Jessica!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Crafting Treasures from the Bounty of the Atlantic

Nubble Light
Wow, 2010 is long gone and it is hard to believe how quickly the last half of it went.  I had an awesome time last summer enjoying the incredibly good weather we experienced here in Maine.  It was a summer to remember.  I managed to get several wonderful beach days in, in the company of my ever patient husband, and reconnected with and  rediscovered the beauty of my home state. 

Pounding Surf

I find spending time at the water's edge very rejuvenating, both physically and spiritually,  and cherished every leisurely moment walking the sand and listening to the soothing sounds of the sea. 

Feeling a sense of peace and calm that can only be found when the everyday stresses are replaced by the serenity of the sea, I spent hours gathering a treasure trove of gems from the sands of the beach and my imagination ran wild with ideas for how to use these natural beauties.  The bits of tumbled shell brought to mind broken china; the tumbled stones, gems. 

Bounty of the Atlantic

It was very hard to leave the water behind each and every time, but the excitement of working with my newly found treasures helped.  I am looking forward to another summer of wonderful weather (especially after this constant bombardment of cold and snow) and can't wait to get out there again. For now, I will spend some time turning my bounty from the Atlantic into pieces of art.  I hope to share them with you one day soon.

For now, I wish all of you a belated Happy New Year and wish for you many opportunities of serenity like those I have been fortunate to experience at the water's edge.


FloDo Designs Shop on Etsy