Thursday, July 25, 2013

I'm Back!

I am writing this blog installment on my iPad on our way back from the Chicago Gift Show (making the most of my time since I don't do any of the driving - thanks Barb).

I know it has been months since I posted any content here, but I have been feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands of running a business, well as, making inventory for the store, wholesale customers, retail craft shows and custom orders.  I'm tired just thinking about it.  And that doesn't even include time for any of the "social media" networking I'm supposed to do which includes this blog.

So, while riding today I've been searching the Internet for inspiration:  blogs to follow,  good stuff to tweet, Facebook pages to like, etc.  In the past several hours I have been to so many sites that I have lost count.  But this last blog has stuck in my head and I just have to share it you you.  Even if you don't have a business per say to run, Marie Forleo has a lot to say about getting things done.  Kids need cupcakes tomorrow and you have an 8AM meeting?  Son has soccer game and you have a presentation to prepare?  If this sounds anything like you,  you need to read Marie's blog.    

                                                      www.marieforleo.com/resources

I had come to terms while we were away that I need to have a daily schedule.  I have already off loaded some of the social media work to www.facebook.com/clearmediagroup, and they are doing a fabulous job with Facebook and twitter.  I have also given up some of the bookkeeping to my side kick Barb.  I also have a tentative schedule that I will be tweaking over the next couple of weeks in order to relieve the stress of never having time to be "creative".

I will let you know in the coming weeks how things are progressing.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

I could be ready

The days are just whirling by.  Seems like just yesterday, but it has been 7 weeks since my knee replacement surgery.  Silly me!  I had to schedule surgery in the middle of the Christmas selling season so that I would be ready to go to Chicago (by myself) to do a wholesale show!  Our faithful assistant Mary Jane has been making chimes (shipped them last week.  I have been making table skirts and packing office supplies (will ship on Monday), all while trying to manage my pain medication to a reasonable level so I can function, not fall asleep, not be in too much pain, and be friendly to the customers.  Not too much to ask now, is it?  If I could just manage not to need a nap around 2PM, everything would be perfect!

We always think we are going to catch up and get so much work done in January and February because it is a slow time for sales, but it never happens.  We are appearing at 3 different wholesale shows and a retail flower show the first 2 months of this year.  And I wonder why I never have time to create new items.  My goal for this year is to set aside time to work on new items.

For anyone looking for encouragement and inspiration to get their creative juices flowing, I recommend following Tonya Davidson.  "Tonya Davidson is an expert art technique teacher, author, speaker, successful entrepreneur and mentor to those willing to take action. She is a master at teaching other Entrepreneurs how to: eliminate overwhelm, understand the ins and outs of business, format a strategy and implement marketing tactics to create a successful core business plan."

You can find her on twitter - @tonyadavidson
Website:  http://www.tonyadavidson.com
 
I wish you happy browsing and hope you find some inspiration on Tonya's pages.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I Could Live The Life

Happy 2013 everyone!

As I was perusing some blogs I came across a piece of artwork that spurred this blog post.  I tried posting the image here but it must be protected so here is the link artisticoutpost.blogspot.com and the blog entry is December 19, 2012.

Never in my entire life did I ever think I would be living my dream.  A self employed artist, keeping my own hours, making art, managing a store (with employees - yikes!), doing retail craft shows, filling wholesale orders, doing unique special orders, OMG, the list goes on and on.

Oh, I had dreamed of not working for a corporation any more, but could never figure out how to get out of the rat race.  But a stroke  good fortune and the support of my loving partner allowed me the freedom to get off the treadmill and onto the winding path of creativity.   Since 1999, I have taught decorative painting, sold my work at craft shows, edited a newsletter for an art guild, and changed my medium from painting to primitive dolls.  The flaw in this equation was there was still a full time paycheck ( and benefits) coming in through my partner's efforts.  My efforts alone were not enough to pay the bills.

While I was making the dolls,  we were offered the chance to learn how to make the wind chimes .  We jumped at the chance to learn something new.  We took what we learned, added our own twist and Tempest in a Teapot was born in 2001.  Lucky thing, since my partner was forced to retire from the corporate world and needed a job (no more steady pay check, but we still had benefits thank goodness).

We took the bull by the horns, placed one ad in a magazine, and next thing we knew, we had a sales rep!  Next came wholesale shows and dealing with galleries and gift shops.  Before we knew it, WE had our own gift shop.  It has been quite the wild ride and it's not over yet.  We never know what the next day will bring and we look forward to each new experience with great anticipation.

So, whatever your dream is, don't be afraid to desire it.  You never know when (and in what form) your day will come.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas is over

Well, I know I promised myself that I would have a weekly post to the blog, but nothing hit me earlier in the week.  Now here it is, Christmas evening and I find myself at the keyboard.  I am hoping that everyone had a wonderful day filled with family, food and gifts. Here at the Jersey shore, I am sure many people are still displaced from Hurricane Sandy, but my wish is that they found happiness with friends or family while waiting to return to their homes. 

While cleaning my desk off this week, I came across the picture below.  It is from a special order that I did last Christmas for a family.  I think there are 3 generations of women in this picture enjoying the family flatware.  There are also 2 pictures below of orders that were placed this Christmas for families. 









So as this Christmas season draws to a close, I hope that all of our Tempest in a Teapot families are enjoying their surprises, and that everyone has a happy and healthy 2013.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

...I Could Express The Inner Me!

Just came back from a great weekend away.  Barb and I haven't been away from the business for months so we thought it would be a great time to go see our friend Suzee and her dog Daisy. And while we were at it, we were going to see a new friend that we made at a show in Stone Mountain, GA.

For a long time, I have been trying to decide how I should look on the outside so that it represents how I feel on the inside.  I am an artist.  I create things.  I get dirty doing it.  I make a mess.  All of these things contribute to what I decide to wear when I work.  About 10 years ago, we had a logo designed by an artist we had met in Frenchtown, Val Sivilli (www.civilianbasics.com).  We then had her put the logo on t-shirts and we wore them EVERYWHERE.  People soon knew who we were as soon as they saw the logo.  Great bit of advertising that was. I wore those t-shirts with shorts in the summer and yoga pants in the winter for years.  They were serviceable and didn't show the dirt (and comfy too!).

When I started making jewelry, the logo shirts just weren't right for showing off the new work, so I started wearing plain t-shirts.  Really?  Not very artistic, but I was just stuck for what else to wear that would show off the jewelry and hide the dirt!  Enter Wendy Wehmeyer of Schuylkill Haven, PA.  The answer to all of my wardrobe dreams.

Wendy is the brains and talent behind Rough and Tumble Vintage (LIKE her on Facebook).  Wendy takes vintage clothing and does a special tie dye technique on them.  We are not talking your '70's rubber band, glow in the dark star burst pattern.  She uses very earthy colors and instead of starting with a solid color piece of clothing, she uses all vintage finds which can start out as florals, stripes or plaids.  This under-layer adds a whole new dimension to the tie dye.  From a distance, the finished pieces look like they are made from batiks (which is a whole different process using a wax resist to create the patterns).  Here is an example of a batik taken from http://www.connectingthreads.com
 
Packed Leaves (Harvest)
 
Here is an example of Wendy's tie dye:




As soon as I saw Wendy's booth at the show in Stone Mountain, I knew I had found the answer to my style dilemma (I know you thought it was dilemna, but that its a topic for a whole other post).  I have been drawn in to Wendy's magical world where plaids and polka dots actually do go together!  Wendy has become my muse as she speaks to my inner artist (they also hide the studio dirt!).  So here's to you Wendy, my muse, my inspiration, my friend.


Check out Wendy's website www.roughandtumblevintage.com.   

And here I thought I would never find  my inner self.  Thank you Wendy!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Whose Idea Was This Anyway?

We are gearing up in the store for a busy holiday shopping season.  Our theme this year is "A Hand Made in the USA Christmas (on a budget)".  You will be pleasantly surprised with how many items we have been able to collect with prices under $30!  We know that with the devastation Hurricane Sandy and the 'noreaster Athena (or Sandina as our friend Lisa calls it) caused, a lot of people will be shopping on a budget this year.  We have gifts items such as jewelry, art work, several styles of key chains, soap, tea tins, candles, more jewelry, chocolate covered cherries, window charms, little wind chimes for your car and much more.  We also have other gifts, all made in the USA ranging in price from $30 - $500.

Tempest in a Teapot specializes in wind chimes and jewelry made from reclaimed silver plate and glass beads.  These items are made in our studio/store in Point Pleasant, NJ. We also do custom requests if you have your own pieces of silver that you would like made into something special as gifts for the family (or just a little treat for yourself).  There is still time to have that special something made before the holidays arrive.





















So onto my "Never Thought" for this post...or in this case "Whose Idea Was That Anyway?"

I've tried my hand at a lot of different crafts over the years, and I have tried knitting several different times.  I can whip out a basic scarf like there's no tomorrow,  and I have completed a sweater (and another one on the needles).

The designs range from really basic (my speed) to really complex.  MY problem with knitting patterns is how do you know when they are written incorrectly?  On the really complex ones,  the part that really boggles my mind is "Whose idea was it to try this in the first place?".

I only know what I know (and therefore what I NEED to know), and I don't know what I don't know.  So, you knit and you knit and you knit according to pattern directions until you have to required amount of rows (or length via the gauge).   You hold it up and say to yourself "I think I made a mistake".  So you patiently rip all of the rows out and start over again, this time diligently following the directions, making notes when you stop, until at last, you are at the designated spot.  You hold it up again thinking it will be perfect this time, yet low and behold, it looks the same (sound familiar?).

So, now did I make the mistake and not do a stitch properly, or is there a problem with the directions? How do I know?   Do I just put it down and hope the knitting fairy comes by to fix it, do I rip it out again, or do I just roll it up into a ball and throw it into the corner with all of the other unfinished projects?  I've taken projects to the local knitting store (where they supposedly know how to knit and read directions), and they just look at me like I've grown 3 extra heads (which in this case might come in handy) when I ask for help.

Front of First Sweater
Back of First Sweater





Well, they say to try, try again and here is my first attempt (or 5th or 6th because I get a lot of use out of my wool) at a sweater.  As you can see from the front view, I ran out of wool and had to pick up a new color in order to make it the correct length.  I can't tell you how many times I knit the arms only to have them be different sizes and lengths each time.  On the picture of the back, see the pattern of 3 different rows?  Well, the first row was a mistake, but I said to myself, "Self, let's just make this part of the design!".  So I added 2 more incorrect rows to complete my design and then kept on knitting.  The buttons are not correctly spaced, and there are a myriad of other errors, but it is completed and I do wear it.  Never thought it would happen.

Anyway, here is a link to a pattern that I think everyone that knits and wears boots needs to try.  I promise to post pictures if I get a pair done.

Boot Candy    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/boot-candy-knitting-pattern



Pinned Image

Friday, November 30, 2012

How did this happen to me?





Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that *I*, Elsa M. Mikus, from South Plainfield, NJ would be a small business owner.  Just thought I would be "married with children" like all my other friends, but somewhere along the way, fate had other ideas for me.

Now, 50 some odd years later, I am co-owner of Tempest in a Teapot (www.tempestinateapot.net).  We have been making wind chimes and jewelry from reclaimed silver plate since 2001.  In 2010, we opened our own retail store where we sell our creations, as well as other HAND MADE IN THE USA crafts.  We are committed to buying and shopping "local".

This blog will be dedicated to letting you, our fans and friends, know how we came to be, what we are doing right now, and what we are planning for the future.  Please come along for the ride as I ponder all of my "Never Thoughts..."