Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interview Series: Week 14 – All About the Buttons

And we return to our regularly scheduled …um.. schedule.  Thank you to everyone for your patience and support as Life threw me curveballs.  Tropical Storm Beryl didn't help much either, as it knocked out my power four times while I've been trying to do this post.  Since this little blurb at the top is typically done last, I've not had to replace much (Thank goodness for "Save Draft" buttons), but it was just enough to be irritating!  But I think this post will make up for it.

I will have to admit that I have had some trouble with deciding what items to feature from a shop in the past.  Thus far, this one takes the cake, ices it, and eats it!  Not only are there so many things to choose from, there are so many DIFFERENT things to choose from!  I had no idea that some of this was even ever out there, and now my eyes sort of look like this: @.@.

Clocks, tape measures, scarves, cowls, hand warmers/gloves, bookmarks, dishtowels, pins, magnets, barrettes, broaches, things I wouldn't even think existed!  My head spins with all of the wild things!
There is one common theme that nearly everything includes: buttons.  Somewhere, there is a button – a decoration, a closure, an accent, the whole thing.  I guess why this Zibbeter's shop is called All About the Buttons!

Name: All About The buttons    Barbra La Bosco
Craft: clocks, knitting and crocheting, magnetic bookmarks, tapemeausres,pins and more….an eclectic mix!
Favorite material buttons, ribbon, buttons, yarn and oh, buttons!
Most Popular Seller (whether it be online or at shows): scarves, hand warmers, bookmarks and tape measures

Multi Colored Keyhole Scarf
I don't know why, but these colors put me in mind of winter bonfires.. Love it!

Mine-ICON What got you into your craft?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON As a child, I always liked to draw and make stuff. That enjoyment continued and multiplied. My parents were artistic and crafty as well so in a sense I was surrounded by arts and crafts. My father was a leather designer by profession and my mother sewed beautifully and did various needle crafts. My brother was also involved and still is. I was fortunate that I could fulfill some of my creative urges as a teacher which I was for my career over 33 years. My students inspired me as I worked to inspire them.

Mine-ICON How did you learn your craft?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON Many of my crafts were self taught. I just watched and tried or took things apart to figure out how they went together. I taught myself the beginnings of how to knit and my skills were refined with my mother starting at age 8. I was an art major in college but little of what I learned then applies to what I do now. My favorite courses were the cut and paste creations of real items. I do mean scissors and glue as computer cut and paste was unheard of when I was in college.

Pouffy Fun Fingerless Gloves Handwarmers
They look so warm.. Why couldn't I have had these back in high school for my marching band years to keep my hands warm when not performing?

Mine-ICON What about YOU? Who is the artist behind those wonderful items?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON I believe I have crafter’s ADD…I cannot just watch a movie or sit in a car without doing something. I get such a charge out of saying “Hey, I made that!” and if someone purchases it, whipped cream on top! Having my own studio space has really allowed me to branch out in many more directions, exploring more materials and testing new ideas. The “me” behind the items wants to have fun and bring a smile to the faces of others….I attempt to please.

Buttons and Dots Fabric Clock
I love this clock. I'm not sure why, but I love it. If these colors went with anything in my home, I'd probably have to buy it…

Mine-ICON What is a typical "working" day for you? How does it usually start and end? How many hours do you spend crafting? How many hours do you spend on other things? What about distractions? I know we all have them! Do you usually accomplish all you wanted to?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON There is no such thing as a typical day for me. Three mornings a week I work for my son which is good discipline. That gets me up and out and feeling needed beyond myself. Some days I do not pick up a needle or a tube of glue at all. On others I may knit for hours or be in the studio for the better part of the day. During the spring and summer, the garden and the warmer weather are huge and wonderful distractions so creating may be done at night. When I set my mind to my “work” I do tend to get a lot done.

Mine-ICON What happens when you Oops? Everyone gets one sometime or another! Do you get frustrated and destroy/start over, or do you go with the flow and see what comes out in the end?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON Honestly, I rarely oops and I’m not being smug, just honest. If it’s a knit or crochet piece, you must mend or rip. If a piece is not something I would purchase, it may get taken apart and restarted. But I am a pretty careful worker and after all these years there aren’t too many oops! There have been some good oops that sent the project down a different path. One mini purse I was knitting came out way too big but it held tissues instead.

Musicians Tape Measure
See, now this is another thing I would be tempted on. I do some costume sewing, and I lose my tape measures all the time… I'm not so sure I'd lose this one…
Especially since I played the alto-clarinet.

Mine-ICON What is your design process like? How many tries does it take to be happy with the final product?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON Since I make so many things, this is difficult to answer. My clocks worked pretty well from the start. I will occasionally knit something I don’t care for but will rarely start over. I cannot only make what appeals to me although that may be the initial motivation. My magnetic bookmarks did require a lengthy process which is now perfected. They are more labor intensive than you’d think!

Crayon Magnetic Bookmark
It would be hard to lose your place in your books with something this bright and colorful holding your page!

Mine-ICON What is your greatest roadblock, be it government regulation or that little frustrating thing that just likes to sneak up and stop you in your tracks? Broken needle? Jump ring jumping out of your pliers? Thread knots? Cats? Dogs? The family hedgehog rolled about in your yarn basket?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON You knew about the hedgehog, eh?! You mention broken needle. I do not have a kind relationship with my sewing machine. There is no other button on the planet that can get pushed so fast as when I must use the machine. Immediate tension & I wish it weren’t “sew” since I love fabrics but this has been ongoing for sometime so I have given up. That is a roadblock, no, maybe it’s a cliff for me! Maybe one day…

Mine-ICON All important pricing... Do you have a formula? Do you wing it? Do you feel your work justifies your prices?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON I do not believe there is a pricing formula that really works. I love to create and provide quality items for reasonable prices. Outrageous pricing, well, outrages me! Yes, I make a profit but pricing can be vexing. If I truly added my time into the equation, again, my bookmarks would be $12-$15, at least and that is ridiculous. I am fair and yet competitive. I choose not to stress about pricing. I also find that sales online don’t work and that is when you devalue yourself and your creations.

Bead and Button Treasure Box
I am a sucker for treasure boxes.  This one is absolutely adorable, and so bright, not even I could lose it!

Mine-ICON And of course, is there anything else you'd like to say to our "viewers at home"?

AllAboutTheButtons-ICON I have been selling my work on and off since college and online since 2006. My 2cents worth of advice is to do what you love and love what you do. A cliché, maybe but it works!


Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your extraordinarily creative work, Barbra!  I only wish I could have shared more!
There is an unbelievable number of wonderful things that I could not share here, so I would suggest to everyone to go visit Barbra at All About the Buttons on Zibbet! There's a little something for literally everyone!

Until next week! Thank you, one and all for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Stolen Time

I'm sure you have all noticed (or have not) that I've been conspicuously absent from the internet for the past couple of weeks.  This was not my intention, I assure you.  Several things came up that needed my attention more urgently than my jewelry, my blog, my Facebook page, and even my shops.  My email went unchecked for several days at a time.

Those things are taken care of now, and I will be back online a bit more frequently, provided that a few of those things that I took care of don't come back.  If nothing else, there will be an interview up next week, two weeks after that, and two weeks after that one.  I will say also that I am possibly looking for a new home for my blog, since while I have loved Blogger since somewhere in early 2000-2001, the fact that it is now owned by Google, and requires me to log in USING my old jewelry-related Google address, which has a ridiculously complicated password and is also "text message" protected, if I want to make any changes, makes me want to move to something simpler, that has no complications if I forget to log out of it. 

So far, the only reason I'd have to log in is to make design changes, since I do my posts from an offline composer, and have it set to login with my original Blogger ID/password, and linked the two accounts so I don't have to actually log in to Google.

Anyway, I'm rambling off topic.

I can say I have not been entirely absent from the internet.  I have had a chance to work a bit on my website.  Most of the pages are ready to go … but for one thing.


Photographing a 6mm bicone crystal should not be as difficult as it actually is.  I have taken more than 500 shots… So far, (as I just took about 100 of those 500 this morning), 19 of them were workable.  A couple of them turned out perfectly, which I will strive for for each one, but for now, "workable" (meaning clear enough to see facets in the crystal, clear enough to see the color well enough to separate it from other colors and distinguish it from a similar color) will do to launch. 19 photos, with another maybe 35-40 to go – I have shapes after I'm done with the basic colors (and I have another 18 bicones to finish that set), and then I can (I think) launch at least the basics of the site.

It will be nice having a full color chart to work with, one that I can easily add to or remove from as my color, shape and specialty item availability changes, and it will be delightful to have a place other than a shop and other gallery to showcase my work where it will be displayed clearly, and where I can write a full description and story behind each item.

Anyway, thank you, everyone, for your patience, and for reading my blog!  Watch for the next interview next week, and remember, if you think you know someone who you feel should be featured, just let me know!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Underwhelmingly Overwhelmed

Have you ever run around like a maniac, trying to get a gazillion things done, then turned around to survey your hard work, and find less done, like you've never touched it, or worse, a WORSE mess than you started, or a mangled project that looks nothing like what you started?

It's okay. Everyone has those moments.  My blog is late this week because of it in fact, for which I apologize.  My to-do list got out of control, and instead of my 5 things, I had 10-15 "must dos" per day.  Learned my lesson there; never let it go above 5, even if it drives other people nuts.

Mom and I live out in the middle of nowhere, rural area, dirt road, LOTS of room.  My father picked this place out, mostly because of the huge amount of land to build a house on, and of course, he fell in love with the barn, which is fully converted into a woodshop/storage area/office area for his DJ work.  Mom and I spend most of the time working on getting the house cleaned from the chaos that has been since my father lost his fight against lung cancer in 2010.  Any time we have company over, the house goes back to chaos – at least in part.  It's a scramble to move in-progress projects, anything out of place in the "public" rooms, and cram it anywhere it "fits" in the non-public ones.  After things calm down, we bring things back out (IF we can find them again), if we have the time after cleaning… which brings us both to a screeching halt before we're done.

Mom suffers from Degenerative Disc Disease.  I suffer from Sciatica, which began back in 2008 during one of my many moves around Maryland – and I only recently discovered that's what my pain is.  (I have been unable to sleep on my back since April 2008; doing so causes my right leg to either go completely numb and unresponsive, or feel like it's on "cold" fire.  Sleeping on my side or stomach prevents this from happening most of the time.  In 2008, I had MRIs, X-rays, and bloodwork done to determine the cause of the whole mess. My doctor found nothing, but I lost my job before I could get to a neurologist.  I have been trying chiropractic aid, which has helped, though until my meddling sister stops trying to make me "ignore" the rest said doctor has been ordering for me, I can't go back, as she undoes everything he does within 12-36 hours after I've been, and since I have no health insurance, and live an hour away from him, it's not exactly affordable to just go back to him on my way home from shopping.)

Neither of us can function for very long without rest.  Mom can often outlast me, but that might be due to her pain meds, tailored to her back pain.  I sadly do not have that luxury, so I have to stretch, walk, sit, or lie down more often.  Sitting helps me get some of the hand-work done, little things, but there's not often a lot of that to do. Most of the work we do is moving things, sorting out where we want things to go.  This is where my title comes in!  We finish a day of sorting things out and find…

A huge mess.

Usually we stare at it, turn our backs on it and go do something else in frustration, or, if we're done for the day, do something about dinner, watch a movie, or she heads in to lie down and I retreat to my room to get to work on my stuff if I still have stuff to do, or settle down to play WoW.
The next day finds us staring at the mess and not knowing what to do about it, since the barn is still a mess (Dad meant to clean it, but… never got the chance…), and neither of us can function very long before we need to take a break, and most of the stuff we've just sorted needs to go out to the barn.

Sensing a pattern yet?  It's a vicious cycle, and I'm more than certain it's happened to you at some point or another.

I came back to my desk to write this blog post after starting my #1 project today (which turned out to be #4 on my day's list – took care of shorter, smaller things that were just as important; #5 must wait until this current project is done), and taking my first break.
This task is "Clean out all "expired" stuff from pantry".

I'm sorry I took this one on.

Our pantry is … not really a pantry.  The floor plan for the "Manufactured Home" that we are in (which was meant to be temporary until Dad could start on the REAL house…) is just plain… stupid.  First off, the kitchen cabinets BARELY fit our plates… WTF?  Second, there is no PANTRY.  There is enough space in the cabinets we have for our dishes… and a spice rack. And a box or two of pasta.  I wish I was kidding.

Mom and Dad put in a wire shelf at the back of the kitchen, where there is a tiny counter-space (???) leading into the "Den" – which is now Mom's Sewing Room.. which comes complete with fireplace (??!??!?).  Pots and pans fit on THAT shelf! Yay! Still no place to put pantry items though.

The other major design flaw is that the master bedroom has two doors – one leads into the kitchen/den area, the other leads into a "retreat" or "sitting room" that leads into the living room.  The sitting room is perhaps large enough for …. a chair and a book case, if the bookcase is very small.  Cue Dad, who said "WTF? No." and whirlwinded that stupidity into a room that fit a second refrigerator, and a large storage freezer.  Fridge holds beverages, ice, and "snack" type things.  Freezer? We shop at Sam's Club and similar places (Costco, BJ's, etc).  The math there should be easy.  They both put in cabinets to hold non-perishables. These are lined up against one wall. Four cabinets, each specific. Cabinet 1, against the outside wall, "Baking/Confectioner's Cabinet", Cabinet 2 "Paper Products", Cabinet 3 "Canned Goods" and EVERYONE'S favorite, Cabinet 4 "Snack Cabinet".
My major project today is to clean out all of those cabinets of "expired" items, as I mentioned, and also as I mentioned, I'm sorry I took this on, even though it really needed to be done.

These cabinets, for the most part since 2010, have been ignored.  Bad idea.

I started on the Confectioner's Cabinet.  There is some history to this cabinet, in all honesty.  My sister, Linda, loves to bake.  This was "her" cabinet, mostly, before she moved out.  It is usually filled with cake mixes, baking chocolate, icings, and/or the wherewithal to make all of this from scratch, and also contains my own projects, which include chocolate candies/molds/melts.

In this cabinet, upon opening it, I found…..

A mess.

Someone, in their infinite wisdom, had put canned fruit in this cabinet – the ingredients for our family's Ambrosia – mandarin oranges, crushed pineapple, that kind of thing.  Weeeeelllll… I found an exploded can of oranges.  That aside, I found some things (dry goods, thankfully) that "expired" back in 2007/2008, and even one thing that expired in 2001 (which I BOGGLED at – this was before my parents moved to Georgia, and before I moved to Maryland from New Jersey).  This, ladies and gentlemen, was before I ever even moved down here.  Some of it was from 2010, things we bought intending to use right away… but Dad took priority, but the majority is from before my time here.

Okay, no problem! I dove in, and got rid of the cans, the boxes, the tubes of icing, etc. that had an expiry date prior to 2012.
The cabinet, except for some confectioner's sugar, brown sugar, and food coloring, and a couple of specialty items, is now empty, but I DO have two trash bags of things that were sadly never used, or opened, and I'm still left with the confusion of things with no date.  (Kind of like the legend of Twinkies and cockroaches, these things would probably survive The Apocalypse.)  I cleaned the spillage from the exploded can of oranges (all liquid, thankfully), and when I return to it, my task will be to reorganize said cabinet.

I still have two other cabinets to do (as paper products, such as paper plates, TP, paper towels, plastic silverware, cups, etc. have no expiry date), and I'm almost afraid at what I'll find.  I do know that we've kept up with the other two much better, since we use canned fruits, veggies, soups, etc. MUCH more often, and the snack cabinet is constantly changing, but I'm sure I'll find a few things that I'll stare at and wonder WHY they are there.

Of course, this task is just a prelude to these cabinets eventually moving to somewhere in the kitchen, probably replacing the wire-rack we now have holding pots and pans.  To do that we need to reorganize the Sewing Room.

Which brings me back to my title, and the original subject.  Lots of work, nothing done.  Cue me throwing my hands in the air and retreating back to my room, and the wreck it still is after adding more shelving and having boxes of jewelry supplies, books and collectables to be organized and put on said shelving.  Not to mention the lists of designs I haven't gotten to, the unfinished pieces I still have to do…
… It occurs to me that I have not actually gotten a chance to MAKE anything new since January/February, other than a couple of commissioned items.  Gah.

Overwhelmed, I tell you. Underwhelmingly overwhelmed, haven't worked on things that need to be worked on, even though I've been working on things that need to be worked on…

It never "looks" like a lot gets done, but it is.  Don't worry, I'm sure all of us get that way, and I'm sure you've all had experiences like mine.  You're not alone, I promise.  There IS light at the end of the tunnel.  Somewhere… maybe… hopefully?  We'll get there!

And then we'll move on to the next project that buries us!

Until next week's interview, thanks for reading!