Monday, May 31, 2010

Honoring Memorial Day

Every Memorial Day weekend, I can't help but reflect on how proud I am of my Dad and the fact that he dedicated almost 25 years of his life to the Marine Corps. He enlisted when he was just 17 years old and was joined by one of his brothers, my favorite Uncle Cliff. He fought in the Korean War, Guam, two tours of Vietnam, and even a secret assignment for the CIA that he refused to disclose details on (my mom spilled the beans about it to us kids, but even she doesn't know what it really was all about). To this day, I'm insanely curious to find out what it was! All I know is that because he had to be so secretive, she broke off their engagement to him and they didn't get back together until many years later (ah, wartime romance!).

Although he didn't like to talk much about those times with us, on rare occasions—like on Memorial Day—he would open up and share stories about some of his experiences. It was always fascinating to hear them, but also so scary to think of my dad being out there in the trenches as such a young man and all the unsaid things that he must have endured. He made and lost many good friends during these tumultuous times, but brought back two lifelong friends that were known to me as "Uncle Break" and "Uncle Gene" and their families and ours stayed close all of their lives. My father-in-law, Ray, also served in the Air Force during WWII as a bomber pilot and was a POW for many years.

I can't imagine what it takes to volunteer to fight for our country, as I don't think I could ever be that brave. It swells and breaks my heart at the same time whenever I watch those documentaries on the History Channel and know that those stories and images aren't from a fictional movie set—but real life, with real people who actually fought, suffered, prevailed against all odds, or gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. Without brave men like my dad and them, our country wouldn't enjoy the peace and freedoms that we have—and I am so very grateful for and proud of all the men and women who have served before and since his time.

Thank you, Semper Fi, and God Bless!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finding the Right Market

Well, so far, I'm batting 50-50 on the eBay front and am debating whether or not to continue giving it a try or not? I recently listed these two sets there, but neither one of them sold. I was a little disappointed, as I was pretty proud of how they turned out, but maybe I didn't list them long enough and just didn't find the right buyers to bid on them? *sigh*

I keep hearing conflicting reports from my various designer friends—some do really well on eBay, while others have abandoned ship because sales have been so slow or nonexistant. At the same time, I realize that my lampwork/jewelry business is fairly new, so I have to be patient as I work to build it up. hmmmm... I might give it a few more chances, but if things don't start looking up, I guess I'll just stick to Etsy, which has been going pretty well for me. I recently listed my "Bronze Smoke Rings" set in my shop there, and will probably list my "Gilded Jade" set there later this week.

And if they still don't sell, I guess I'll be sporting some pretty amazing jewelry in the near future?! Just hope I don't end up looking like Mr. T?! LOL In the meantime, I just returned from a fun weekend retreat where I learned some amazing new techniques and will be working feverishly in the studio to create some (hopefully!) great new designs. I'll post all about it as soon as I get my photos uploaded and a couple more beads made, k? *Ü*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fire Divas May Challenge - Votes Needed!

This month the Fire Diva's bead challenge theme is May Flowers. They got a lot of fabulous entries, including one from yours truly! ;-D This is my first time participating in a Challenge with this team and it's been so fun to see what the other Divas created too. Take a look at all the incredible flower themed beads on the Fire Divas blog and then place your vote for your favorite on the right side of the blog. Wouldn't it be cool if we could somehow make these beads smell like flowers too?! *Ü*

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Giving it Another Try

I've always been a little scared of selling on eBay, but since my new resolution is to be smarter and more active with marketing my designs, I thought I'd give it another try and see what happens. ;-D So last night I listed a set called "Gilded Violets" that I think turned out rather elegant, if I do say so myself...

I've also been trying to list something new in my Etsy shop every day and have a goal to have at least 50 items in it at any given time to choose from. And several more eBay listings, if this one works out. Big goals, I know, but seems like you have to do anything, everything, AND the kitchen sink these days to make your work stand out in the ocean of internet sales?! LOL So if you like this set or know someone who might, please help spread the word, k? *Ü*

Edited to add: They sold!! Yippeeee!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Celebrating Mother's Day

Every year on Mother's Day weekend, I have a tradition with my daughters to buy some pretty flowers and plant them in our garden. So before we drove out to Kraig's mom's house yesterday to take her out to lunch, we also stopped by the local Arboretum. They were having a special fund raiser sale and we picked out some new plants to try that I'm hoping will survive my "black thumb" reputation, including a divine smelling white lilac.

Today, I also got a bouquet of beautiful iris and lilies and a gorgeous white orchid to put next to my computer in my upstairs studio. And Ashley surprised me with a handmade card and nominated me for a "Most Creative Mom" contest sponsored by Micheals Craft Stores. *Ü* Later tonight, they're taking me to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant. I'm a little sad because Katie isn't here with us because she's away at military academy and I really miss her. But she called me yesterday and wish me a Happy Mother's Day, so that helps and I can't wait to see her in a few weeks when she has another leave from school!

I hope all you moms out there are enjoying a wonderful Mother's Day as well! *Ü*

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'm a Diva and Proud of It!

Well, that's it folks—I can officially call myself a "Diva" and it actually means something very good! *Ü* I just joined a great group of lampwork artists called Fire Divas, after hearing such good things about them from my friends Lara Lutrick and Judith Billig. It's only been a few days and I'm still working on getting my bearings on how this whole team approach works, but everyone has been very welcoming and I'm really excited to be a part of it! They have a Fire Divas Fan Page that is updated constantly with examples of different artisan's work, so if you like beady eye candy, you should definitely check it out! Yesterday, one of my beads was featured as their Bead of the Day on their blog:

But don't worry—I won't let it go to my head and start acting like a "real" Diva, k? ;-D

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Find Fans for Lori" Giveaway Contest

I know, I know…I'm probably the last person you'd expect to have their own Fan Page on Facebook! Mainly because I don't consider myself to be very internet saavy—I'm NOT all thumbs when it comes to texting, I love to sing but have no desire to Tweet, and my knowledge of how to create my own HTML page is non-existent. (Although I can type a mean 70WPM email when I want to! LOL)

But I decided that I needed to do something more to focus on marketing my published work and designs that I'm offering for sale, and not always bother my poor friends and family on my regular Facebook page with stuff like that. So I've decided to create my very own Ashlyn Design Fan Page, in hopes that it will help me connect with more people who also love glass arts and jewelry making—and don't mind getting a little excited about it with me! *Ü*

I would love to have you join me and if you know of any other friends who might like to "like" my page too, I would appreciate your spreading the news around. And to help make things a little more fun as I get things started, I'm going to host a "Find Fans for Lori" Contest, where the first 100 people who join up will be put in a drawing to win a set of my Teal Bella Blossom beads! A larger set of these were featured on the front page of Etsy and garnered a lot of hearts, so I hope you like them too. Anything you can do to help put out a good word for me would be very much appreciated!

Thank you! *Ü*

Edited to add: In just a matter of days, 100 new fans/friends signed up for my Fan Page! Yeah, I'm so thrilled at the response! And the winner of the prize is…

Dawn Skowronnek!

Congratulations, Dawn! And thanks so much to everyone who participated! *Ü*

Ode to Chihuly - Take 2

I was recently commissioned to re-create the necklace I made that won Honorable Mention in the 2009 Bead Star contest. Turns out, after nearly a year (from the time I originally submitted this design) my skills at making my whimsical glass Bella Blossom beads have vastly improved! My first flowers were much more abstract and organic looking, but the way I like to make them now is still fluid and natural looking, with a more refined substance to the shaping and striping effect. Here's what the new version looked like, just before I sent it home to its happy new owner:

Now I feel like I need to re-do mine?! LOL I'm also busy working on some designs to submit to this year's 2010 Bead Star contest. So far, I haven't had the inspired "BAM! What an awesome idea!" moment that I had when I first thought up this necklace design, but I'm hoping it will come to me over the next few days, as the deadline is fast approaching. (eek!) Wish me luck! *Ü*
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