Slowly…

Very slowly, the dollhouse is squeaking along.

I’m still spending most of the time sitting and looking at it, and thinking about it, and looking some more at it, because quite frankly I don’t know what I’m doing.

And don’t even get me started on scale.

I’ve decided not to worry about scale…

As a consequence the whole thing is taking forever and I might have to take a break from it and make some jewelry.

At least then I’ll know what I’m doing.

Perhaps

The house so far.

All along I’ve had trouble with the second floor and where the windows will go because of the roof so I decided to cut it down and work on the first floor upward.

Instant relief…

So it went from this.

To this.

I made a mock up of a wall which turned out o.k.

I made a practice floor.

And painted it.

I worked on an Inglenook fireplace.

Which was going to have a firebox in it, but I’m thinking now the box may have to go somewhere else.

And then I made it some book cases.

I worked some more on the stairs.

Which are a complete mess inside because I just made them up as I went along. Who knows, next time I may very well know what I’m doing.

(Probably not)

They’re going to have a cupboard.

With shelves.

The whole thing just cracks me up ?

Now I have to just put a second coat of paint on the walls, make the room a larger floor, put a grate in the fire and paint the woodwork. Then I’m going to make it some beams and go onto the kitchen.

Or maybe I’ll make some jewelry…

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I always knew I was messy

But I’m ashamed to say that yesterday I actually took my dollhouse from one room into another when the mess became too overwhelming – even for me.

Yes, I walked away from it.

I love the concept that we create from chaos. The fact that I can take perfect lengths of fabric and cut them into hundreds of smaller pieces only to put them back together again to make a quilt has always fascinated me. That individual tubes of colour can come together to make an image that wasn’t there before is like magic, but I’ve a sneaky feeling that my creations leave more destruction in their wake than the chaos that gives life to them.

Reluctantly today will be a cleaning day.

But before that, my progress so far for those of you interested in how not to go about making a dollhouse from scratch.

I’m not going to lie, maths was never my strong suit and so mostly I have to visualize things first before I can get the numbers down.

That involves a lot of cardboard and blue painters tape.

It started off like this…

Here I will show you only two renditions as, to be honest, there were quite a few of them.

A day or two into trying to work out the structure and fiddling around with all the cardboard boxes I could get my hands on, I started to get bored and so tried my hand at making some windows and stairs.

Because it’s never not a good idea to jump ahead and waste time carving out things that you’ll probably end up not using.

Look at those teeny nails ? I didn’t need to use them because the wood glue would have been just fine on its own, but I couldn’t resist.

And so after quite a few cardboard mockups and carved out windows and doors I decided to stop procrastinating and got the wood out.

It has to be said that there has been a lot of sitting and looking.

And then getting bored with it again and making something else I probably wont use.

But just look at that dormer.

I can’t tell you exactly when the house started to morph into something larger than I’d intended, but I think the dormers had something to do with it.

Because then I had to bump out the side wall to accommodate them

And, of course, add a chimney breast.

Or two.

But really it’s the roof that’s giving me pause for concern so I’m mostly ignoring it at the moment. Adding a few sheets of cardboard here and there when I feel a moment of inspiration (albeit short lived) but I’m determined I’ll get there.

Of course an engineering degree would have come in handy at this point, but no, I just had to pursue that sculpture degree for what use that does anybody ?

To be continued…

It’s a strange thing, but true

That for a long time now I’ve wanted to make a dollhouse.

I know. Don’t think about that too much for now as I don’t really understand it either.

All that needs to be said right now is that it’s been bubbling along inside me for years now and so finally I decided it was time.

As with most everything I do I tend to spend ages thinking about how to go about it – mostly because, as my very own number one cheerleader, I think it will be too hard for me and I will fail miserably. It was the same with setting cabochons. I would be making my silver pieces while all the time thinking about how to go about making a piece with a stone in it. I’d already made a cabochon setting in a class I’d taken at community college, but I made it again and again in my head as I sat at my table. Eventually, when I was finally ready, it was as though I’d been setting cabochons forever.

Same with this dollhouse thing, although I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as the cabochon setting – no matter how long I think about it.

So I looked around the internet a bit to get some ideas on how to go about making one and who knew (not me) how many people were making doll houses! It’s a remarkable thing to see. It kind of put me off a bit as I could see all of my ideas already made. It was as though I’d already made it – without making it – if you get what I mean.

But I continued to think about it until I knew that it was only a matter of time before I’d have to give in and open up this whole new can of worms because, as I’ve learned throughout my life, when I’m in I’m really in and now I was going to have to buy all of the stuff that I didn’t know I had to buy and then some.

The fact that I could most likely buy a couple of brand new, fully furnished, fantabulistic doll houses for less than the materials and tools I ended up getting didn’t deter me at all although it did confirm what those other people who live with me have been telling me for years now, that I’m a little, how can I say it nicely – obsessed.

Who wants to buy a new doll house anyway when you can spend ages regretting that you didn’t pay attention that day in school when they were teaching the Pythagorean Theorum. Now, had they told me then that I’d be needing that, or something geometrically similar, to figure out the structure of my future dollhouse roof pitch no doubt I would have been all in and at the front of the class, but… oh well.

All I can say is that now, with dogged determination, I am winging it.

I’m aiming for something in-between this.

https://mulvanyandrogers.com/gallery/

And this.

Doable I think…

And now, before your very eyes…

I’m going to show you how I keep everything organized.

I wasn’t going to because half the time I don’t know what I’m doing – you’ll see that when I get to my feeble attempt at bookkeeping – but what I’m about to show you works very well for me and so for anyone who doesn’t want to take the six years that I did coming up with an efficient way of keeping their jewelry straight, this is for you…

First up – Storing each piece of jewelry so that it’s easy to find.

I separate my pieces into categories as such.

Necklace/Cabochons

Necklace/Silver

Bracelet/Cabochons

Bracelet/Silver

Earrings/Cabochons

Earrings/Silver

Rings/Cabochons

Rings/Silver

Use as many, or as few, categories as you want to. You might not want any and just clump all of your pieces under one umbrella, however, I tend to have a lot of pieces hanging around and find breaking them down this way works well for me.

Then I make each category a chart.

This makes me feel very efficient.

Each category uses the same chart and I just switch out the heading when I’m printing it. The Silver items don’t have stones I know, but if I use beads (I don’t usually) I can list them there.

I made this chart initially as I was interested to see how much it was costing me to make each piece and how much in fees I was paying. Especially as I’d been hearing a lot about how much Etsy was charging. I wasn’t really paying attention at that time, but started to wonder how much I was actually making on each piece I sold. Now I often see beautiful pieces on Instagram and Etsy which I doubt are making anything much at all for the artist.

I don’t have a column for Time here as I can see under the Net column if the amount I’ve made after Cost and Fees is worth my time. This really is a chart to keep everything straight.

Here you can see the chart in action.

This is just an example as I just pen mine in.

It’s pretty straightforward. Each item gets a SKU number (the SKU for the Kazakhstan Necklace therefore is NC3) and a brief description.

Under Gross I put what I’m going to charge for the piece.

Next is the silver column. I weigh the piece on a small scale I bought from RioGrande – HERE – and times it by the cost of the silver – which is $26.67 per troy ounce right now. You’ll find the market cost for silver on the RioGrande home page top left. This gets a bit tricky I suppose as the cost of silver moves and if I kept track correctly I would know which piece of silver cost what when I bought it and when I used it. Not happening. So I tend to just times the troy ounce by $25 right now and keep an eye on the market. If it dips or rises in price significantly I alter my calculations. The silver used in a piece is negligible at this point I think. In this column I also include the cost of the chain and clasp which tends to add up to $15 for the ones I typically use. So the amount of silver I used for the Kazakhstan Necklace after the chain and clasp was $7. I round these amounts up or down accordingly to keep it simple. – O.K. and also because my dad laughed at me when I showed him how I used to calculate this part down to the last cent.

Next I fill in the Stone column and then the Cost column is the Silver and Stone added together.

I don’t put the Fees in the sub total here because Peter says he just needs the actual material cost.

Yes. Peter does my taxes for me because – I don’t.

When I tell you that I can put three sets of numbers into the same calculator and get three separate results three times in a row you’ll understand why…

Don’t judge me.

I could lump the silver and stone together in one column to begin with but I like to know how much I spent on the stone as sometimes they can be expensive and later, when I come to see the price I’ve charged, I get worried that I’ve messed up my silver calculations (read the paragraph above) and reduce the piece out of embarrassment and then only realize once I’ve sold the piece that I’ve lost money because the stone cost an arm and a leg and I forgot etc., etc..

Then I put in a rough round up of the Fees charged for using PayPal, Stripe, etc..

I have a sheet which I refer to at the front of my folder which tells me how much PayPal, or Stripe, or Etsy (if I still used them) is for the amount I charged (Gross) for the piece. And so by adding the Cost and Fee column together the final Net column is what I will have made after all of that. Now I can see what I will actually get for a piece and depending on how much time it has taken me and how involved it has been to make I can decide then if that’s a good price for me and alter it accordingly if needs be.

Now all of my pieces have their SKU number and I’ve a rough idea of their cost they get their own box.

But, to make it more exciting, they also get bags.

Yep. Sometimes it’s even too exciting for me…

Now. This may look a bit anal, but I have a tendency to make a lot of jewelry so…

The bags you see below are the Mother Bags. (I’ve just watched an Alien movie so work with me here as I try to get the lingo out of my brain). Each Bag represents a category (again you might not need this) and each Mother Bag has smaller individually numbered bags in them ready to be filled with a piece of jewelry that corresponds to their SKU number on the chart.

Necklace/Cabochons are NC1, NC2 etc.. Necklace/Silver are NS1, NS2 etc.. Earrings/Cabochons are EC1, EC2 etc.. You get the idea.

You can decided what you need.

Then, as I fill them with finished pieces of jewelry, I put them into larger bags of ten. This means that I know exactly which box and then which bag a piece of jewelry is in when I need it. Of course you have to put the SKU number in the item description in your shop otherwise this method will do you absolutely no good whatsoever.

Yes. I’ve done that…

Here are the cabochon bracelets in their box ready to go.

I keep all of the charts in a folder so that I can enter a piece as soon as I’ve made it, give it its number and put it in its bag.

If I sell a piece I run a highlighter over it to know it’s gone. A different colour for each year… just for jollies.

And then behind that I have monthly records where I can enter pieces I’ve sold and also items I’ve bought. I can also keep receipts, etc here.

At this point you might be wondering – why.

And it does seem a lot as I write it here, but actually it’s not and it really helps me keep everything in order. The monthly Sales page (below) also helps me keep a record for the tax man as I have been known to spend hours and hours at the end of a year trying to find out how much I’ve sold throughout the year, and then, how much tax I’ve collected and how much ‘I think” I’ve spent on materials. Etsy and PayPal keep records for that I know, but well, I find this so much easier and it keeps my pieces organized at the same time.

So again this is pretty self explanatory and is again just an example.

This is where I write in how much the customer has been charged, by me, in total – including shipping and tax if any. The date it sold, the SKU number, how much it cost me to make (found on the first chart), the invoice number, the exact amount I’ve been charged in fees by PayPal etc. The exact amount it cost me to ship, and I also have a column where I can indicate which payment of a layaway it is if that’s relevant. (Layaways have a different baggie, but that’s for another time…)

I make two sheets for each month. The one above and this one.

On this one I just write the date, what it is I’ve bought, whether I paid via PayPal, or another way and finally the amount I paid. I really only use it for supplies but you could put equipment, etc., here also.

And at the end of each month I can calculate each column and put their totals on here.

The Supreme Commander Chart.

And at the end of the year I can add up all the columns and be able to tell the tax man exactly how much I sold and how much it cost me in materials without having to resort to drinking.

You’ll have to ask Peter how to do all of the other tax stuff because, frankly – not my thing. Sorry. As long as it’s all done I will just thank him nicely and make him an extra cup of tea.

And that’s how I organize. It sounds involved, but it really isn’t. It works well for me. If you’re like me and make a lot and are absent minded and can’t find something when it’s sold, this might work for you also. There are a lot of systems out there and I know many are much better than this one so use at your own risk…

If you happen to find that none of this is clear nor makes sense you’re probably not the only one.

I made my charts using Pages on my computer. You can use my examples if you wish or make up something that makes more sense to you.

Stay well

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So

I woke up one day and had nothing to say.

Actually it wasn’t one day as it had been creeping up on me for some time. Since my dad died to be honest.

And that was that for the blog.

And for my motivation.

I don’t really know if I’ve come back from being gone yet but I’m going to try hard this year to get back some purpose.

I’ve got a new house and a new grandson.

What’s not to feel motivated about.

Jamie

It’s on!

I don’t do New year’s resolutions because they make me anxious and I just feel set up for failure.

I prefer to call them good intentions.

To be honest I have a lot of good intentions throughout the year which I often fall short on, but it always feels on-going for me. Like I haven’t lost my last chance of doing well on the test.

I love the potential of the New Year. It makes me feel hopeful. A fresh start to clear the way. and in many ways I prefer it to Christmas.

Just don’t tell Santa.

It makes my head feel lighter like it does when I have my hair cut. Granted my hair is pretty short, but that extra couple of millimeters really bring me down. God knows what I’m going to do this week as my appointment isn’t until the 9th and I can already feel it creeping down toward my knees…

So here we are again and my whole life is opened up before me. What will I do with it all because at 58 I’m really beginning to feel an urge to get going on my life plan.

Depression gets in the way of life plans.

I suffer with depression.

It takes away my umph and makes the sofa a thing of beauty.

In the short time (or sometimes long time) it takes me to wake up and get up I can have gone from being excited to make something or do something to knowing that there’s no point.

It’s like I’ve done it already in my head so why bother.

I share this for those of you who suffer also so that you know you’re not alone, because sometimes it makes me feel ridiculous. As though I make it up and that, of course, I can snap myself out of it.

An interesting thing, however, happened to me a couple of months back. I was having lunch with an old friend and she mentioned that she didn’t think that she had ever been depressed. That she felt down at times and fed up, but that she didn’t think that she ever had been really depressed. It took me by surprise as I really thought that everyone was depressed. That it was just a symptom of life. So maybe ‘snapping out of it’ for me is different than for her.

Just a thought.

Anyway, that said, I do feel excited for the new year.

I do have lots of good intentions and I’m ready to see where they take me.

Most of them involve creativity, but a few important ones involve moving onwards and upwards with my attitude toward myself. Those mostly regarding the negative thoughts that don’t just creep in as I always thought, but that live constantly with me.

Damn them.

So.

I have paintings to finish.

I have jewelry to develop.

I have books to work on.

(I love writing my books. It’s my happy place which is probably why I avoid it.)

I have good food to make.

I have less wine to drink.

I have more smiling to do.

(That’s almost as good as a haircut)

I have books to read.

I have getting out of bed as soon as I wake up to do.

I have more arguing with the Texas humidity to do so that I can take a walk more often.

Might have to give that one up and get the tread mill out.

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I have getting a better attitude toward the tread mill to work on.

And I have the Noble Peace Price to attain.

(This is probably just an interesting pshycological consequence of being told I’d never amount to anything, but I’m just going to go with it. Can’t hurt.)

I could go on, but don’t want to get myself too excited that I have to lie down again.

The struggle is real…

So I’ll leave you all with a little lovely something that happened last night.

A grandson from one daughter and a wedding from the other.

What’s not to like.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with the boy…

Wishing you all a good year.

It’s been a while.

A couple of biggies happened this year which seem to have blown me off course.

First my middle daughter got married in April which was lovely. My son and I arranged and decorated for it and I must say that Stephen turned out to be a great wedding planner – much to his mortification at being associated with lovely flowery things… and hearts.

Here she is with her sister.

Then.

And now.

Goes quickly doesn’t it…

We also went home to visit a couple of times. I would go back to live in England in a heartbeat but that trip wears me out and always knocks me back.

So the jewelry was put on hold for a while which I’m not sure was a good thing as it seems to have put me off track somewhat.

The final big thing was having the studio renovated which took far longer due to trips etc. than we expected.

I only wanted a new floor.

Really I did.

I had a concrete floor put in when we first built the studio and I thought it was going to be treated and have that lovely smooth finish and it would be practical and easy to clean. But no. The nice man who thought he knew better than me didn’t treat it and I didn’t complain and after a while it became pitted and stained and the worse floor ever to keep clean. I actually don’t think it was clean for ten years however much I swept vacuumed and washed it. It was a health hazard and when we hired a contractor to talk about renovating our house I asked if after that was done he would put in a new floor for me.

This is when my husband had the brilliant (I must admit) idea of renovating the studio first and then moving into it while the house was done.

I am incredibly lucky as my studio is like a small house. It has four rooms which we designed to be converted into a ‘granny’ annex if we ever moved so the store room was plumbed for a future bathroom and the kitchen area arranged so that it could semi function as such if we ever needed it to.

The kids have all up and left, except that the boy came back (still trying to impress on him the need to move back out, but I must admit I’ll miss him. You never know when a new flower arranging extravaganza will come up) and so we had looked, (I would say on and off for at least four years), for a smaller house to buy closer in town. The houses were great and we saw so many that we could have easily lived in but typically they had no gardens and definitely no room for an outside studio so eventually we decided to stay in this far too big for us house and renovate.

It took me forever to move all of my stuff out of the studio. I seriously believe I had more stuff packed in there than we have now packed from the house.

On a side note I don’t actually know what planet Peter lives on but he seriously doesn’t believe I need it all.

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Now, except for most of my jewelry stuff, it’s all in the garage waiting for us to move back into the house so it can come back inside the studio to play.

The studio came out wonderfully and this week we finally moved into it and, I must say, I might not want to move out of it ever again.

Well that’s what I say now…

It’s not ideal to have your jewelry studio in your living room, but hopefully it won’t be for too long and perhaps I’ll take the opportunity to write more and to finish some of the paintings I have lying around and so not create as much dust and fumes as normal. I’m also going to be a grandmother in February so I think a baby blanket is in order. I’ve not tried Tunisian crochet before so I’m going to give it a go.

Little Monkeys Designs

Only the colour will be a mustard because that’s how my middle daughter likes to roll.

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And so that’s me.

I’m not completely convinced that I want to share my studio with Peter. It’s like an intrusion on my sacred ground, but as it was his idea to renovate it and it’s way nicer now than just having a new floor, I might have to give in on that score.

WARNING:

Although no flash photography was used in the making of this video, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would really be interested in what the studio looks like and so felt a little silly filming it, I kind of rushed it. Not super rushed, but enough to say whoa, hang on a minute there girl while I let the dizziness pass.

Enter at your peril…

So you can see that I’ve still a bit of unpacking and sorting to do and the jewelry area does look a bit out of place. I’ve yet to down-size on the clutter and decide what to keep in here or not as it does look as though it’s all stuffed in right now and as I’m not the tidiest person in town I think perhaps the less I have hanging around the better. The one downside is that we have to have the litter boxes in the room with us as there’s nowhere else for them. I’m not sure that I’m going to be o.k. with that. Also there’s nowhere to hang the wet towels right now ? I’ll have to think about that one. But as none of these are world problems I think we’re good.

On a stranger note I happened to google my name the other day and this lovely lady popped up.

I don’t really know who she is (although she does look as though she’s in England) so I thought I’d show you the real me.

Try not to be disappointed that I’m not young, blonde, and beautiful as I’m sure you were all imagining…

Also Youtube seems to have changed things around since I last posted a video so I don’t know how to turn the sound off right now.

To be honest I don’t even know if the videos will post correctly.

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So now you’ve seen my face I’m going to have to eat you.

Ha! you thought that was just for disposing of paper evidence didn’t you…