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2117 Grover Road
West Falls, NY, 14170
United States

a little bit art. a little bit me.

A little bit art.  A little bit me.

The Truth of Summer

Jennifer Calkins

Holy bologna I haven't written a blog post in over two months!  My bad (<- do people still say that?  I guess that shows my coolness status.  Or lack there of).

Let's get real for a second.  I've obviously taken some time off.  Some time I meant to take, like in June when we had a family trip to get ready for and then go on.  Some time I didn't mean to take.  Like the whole month of July!  By the time we got back from our trip it felt as though summer was half over already.  I mean, all the stores were getting ready for back to school when I went shopping a few days before July 4th.  All I wanted was some cool shit for my kid to play with for the holiday.  But noooooooooooooo...instead I was greeted with notebooks and pens.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE me some school and office supplies!  But summer's just begun and we're getting ready for school?  Hell to the NO!  I'm going to be that parent that buys school supplies at the last minute because I'm enjoying summer bitches!

Oh who am I kidding?  My OCD will surely kick in and I'll buy all the stuff a month before school starts.  I digress.

I took the month of July off because I guess summer and life in general happened.  It's been a beautiful summer.  Sure, the ground and plants and nature are all like "hey, I'm thirsty here!" and then there's the whole global warming thing.  But rather than worry about droughts and the planet, I'm soaking up the sunshine (and the 80+ degree days).  Plus one of my baby-sitters (ahem, MOM!) had a little accident and broke her shoulder.  Watching a three year old one handed is a bit tough until she's feeling better.  So there goes a work day!  In all seriousness though my mom is ok (in a lot of pain but otherwise ok, thankfully when she fell she didn't hurt herself worse!), and I've been grateful to spend the summer with my munchkie man.  After all, he's the reason I'm not working in an office 40+ hours/week.  So I won't feel guilty for my lackluster advertising/marketing/sales right now.

(photo: Designs by JJK)  this is what summer is all about! @ the Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca, NY

(photo: Designs by JJK)  this is what summer is all about! @ the Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca, NY

BUT.  I'm back in Designs by JJK mode, behind the scenes.  Two weeks ago I cleaned my studio.  Do you have any idea how many cobwebs collect when you don't create for two months?!  A lot.  Too many in fact.  So I vacuumed, I scrubbed and I sprayed (an essential oil blend to discourage a certain insect from creating webs!).  Then I took about 20 showers.

Then last week I diligently researched art/craft shows for the fall, basically finding any for the holiday season.  The more I think about it, the more I'm sure I want to concentrate on shows around the holidays.  Honestly, it's when my sales are the best.  At least right now.  Maybe that will change as I become more and more established and don't take two months off at a time!

I signed up for two shows, one in November and one the first weekend of December.  I'm hoping for about two more, and waiting for the applications for those to come out.  Be sure to check back in with the Events page here on the website for up to date show info!

My plan is to get back into the studio when my son goes back to preschool in September.  He's there three mornings a week this year so I should get some good studio time in.

So how about you?  Are you enjoying the summer so far?  Are your responsibilities slipping because you're too busy playing like a big kid?! 

Broken!

Jennifer Calkins

So this past weekend I had my first two pottery sales on Etsy!  How awesome is that?  Pretty cool for me.  Maybe not for you but it's awesome-sauce for me!  The first piece I sold was for a family member, sale went perfectly fine.  The second sale was from someone I don't even know.  This is a big deal for me.  This tells me my work is reaching people, potential customers.  This particular customer bought one of the pie plates I made.  I packed it and shipped it within a day and waited patiently for them to receive it.

Then Monday happened.  I got a message saying the pie plate arrived broken.  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  My first reaction?  Disbelief.  Then came anger.  Then?  Well, then I cried.  Seriously, just ask my husband, his shirt was the one that got wet from hugging me while I cried.

"Why did you cry?" you may ask.  I mean, it happens, right?  No big deal?  Just respond to the customer, send a replacement if needed, file the claim with the post office.  No biggie.  Really.  Except that it IS a big deal to me.  Why?  Because I give a shit.  I care about my work.  I care about treating my customers right.  I care because I put my heart into the pieces I make.  I care because I love the things I make.  I care because it's like a piece of me. 

Dramatic?  Maybe.  But if you're an artist, perhaps you'll understand.  When you put your heart into something that you make, it's a tough pill to swallow when it breaks or otherwise gets ruined.  What makes it worse?  The fact that I am my worst critic.  I got MAD at myself.  I mean, how could I not have packaged it correctly?  My husband tried to convince me that it was probably dropped but I wouldn't listen.  I mean, even if it was, if I had packed it correctly then it would survive the drop!  Duh!  The fact that this was my first non-family Etsy sale and it arrived broken?  My heart = also broken.

I did feel better the next day and was alot less mad at myself.  I think it helped that my customer was super understanding!  This was huge.  I'm pretty sure if she wasn't nice about it I'd be having a nervous breakdown right now.  I'm not kidding.  I'm crazy like that.

Luckily my customer simply wanted a replacement.  Unfortunately I didn't have another pie plate of the same color but she was ok with the other color pie plate that I DID have in stock (oh thank goodness!!!!)  So I went to the store and bought more bubble wrap.  Not the flimsy little bubble wrap but the bubble wrap with the BIG ASS bubbles!  I proceeded to wrap the new pie plate.  With the ENTIRE ROLL.  Then I dropped it on the floor (don't worry, I checked to make sure it didn't break!)  Learn from your mistakes, right?  Then I finished packing it up.

I mailed it out and got the notice yesterday that my customer received it.  All is well.  Her message to me?  "I got the plate today!! It's gorgeous!!"

So yippee skippy to me :)

Now I am just (im)patiently waiting for the post office to review and settle my insurance claim from the broken piece.  I submitted this five days ago...I think it's going to be a while...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Home Sweet-ish Home

Jennifer Calkins

So there are a bazillion bare walls in our home.  I'd like to think our house is pretty cozy and homey but it needs some TLC.  Both minor and major (but let's not talk about the major because I don't want an anxiety attack right now, thank you very much!)  Last May we tore out the carpet and refinished the hardwood floors underneath in our living room.  We also updated all the baseboards and trim.  It's so fantastically awesome!

I've been hesitant on decorating our living room because I have such a specific vision in my head that, honestly, I am worried won't look right.  So many decisions...and I am not good at making decisions.  This is why I leaned towards drafting and space planning rather than "decorating" with my Interior Design Degree.  It's a struggle for me.  For realz! 

Look at these walls...blah-bity blah blah!  And a bit awkward.  But I have a plan.

Lovely sketches, aren't they?!  I was going to apologize for or edit out that basket of laundry on our couch.  At any given time there is at least one if not a stack of more than one basket(s) of laundry on that love seat.  I'm sure there's a permanent indentation from them on the cushions.  I am not apologizing because I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not superwoman and you should too.  :)

ANYWAY...

I've been slowly gathering artwork from local artists (some of which I've showcased here on the blog!) for our walls and the pile keeps growing!  I've also frequented the local consignment store for picture frames, most of which I planned to paint.  This would equal a cheap, easy way to frame all that stuff, right?  Yeah.  Except I just don't feel like painting that many frames.  This hit me like a not so nice knock on the head this past weekend.  I mean, I've had most of the frames for like a year.  A YEAR?!  Ugh...  So I checked our budget envelopes, grabbed the "house stuff" one and went frame shopping.  50% off and 7 frames later we're in business to get a good chunk of the artwork for the living room finished.  I am so excited!

While I framed some of the pieces I bought, I also bought a "coloring book" at the last artist market I was selling at.  I picked up this lovely from MJ Mittner Designs.

She had a few that were finished in water color for sale at the market but I ended up choosing to pick up the coloring book and doing some water color myself.  I did the water color work this week...

Pretty nifty, aye?  I love them, they are so beautiful and I LOVE supporting local artists.

As for the rest of the artwork for the walls?  I also picked up a wood "C" (for our last name) and wrapped it in twine, I plan to frame some of my son's artwork, and will print a few pictures for a multi-picture frame.  I also spray painted a set of wall shelf thing-a-ma-bobs (nesting shelves?  I have no idea what to call these).  I'll probably put some of my pottery on them.  Last year I picked up a set of 5 IKEA frames for $5 at a garage sale.  I painted and hung the same ones in my son's room before he was born.  They are a simple addition to any wall so I'll use those somewhere.

Above the TV I want to add a shelf with some tall vases and a painting.  Or maybe the mirrors I paint will go there?  Then to the left of the TV I plan on painting two canvases.  We took a history boat tour on the Buffalo River last year and took some pretty cool pictures of the old grain elevators; I'll share the pictures and paintings when I am done with them, that way if they don't turn out, I won't feel like a complete ass for saying "hey I'm painting these" then "oh wait, just kidding!"

And last, on each side of the fireplace I am going to do some pallet art.  The pallets have been outside all winter but are in good shape; they are waiting patiently in our garage to be taken apart, sanded, stained and painted.  I'm going to do an outline of the USA on one and an outline of New York on the other.  Yay!

So I have a plan in motion and it's getting there.  Just have a few more items to make.  I can't wait to share the "after" photos!

Happy middle-of-the-week day!