Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Studio News: Gypsy Life

So in the past 6 months, Dragon and I have lived 3 different places, two of which have been in NC. For those of you unaware, we moved in with Dragon's dad several weeks ago, because our previous living arrangements were less than ideal.  The hope was that this would be better.

Well, it is and it isn't. Dragon and I get to share a room here, which we couldn't in Kernersville (funny story - ask me about it later).  We have our own personal, private space.  And we aren't getting preached at every time the father-in-law is home.

And while these are huge perks, there are downsides.  I have no place to work, which means no new pretties from your favorite internet Fox.  We're about am hour farther away from my family than we were, whilst still being smack dab in the midst of Dragon's family drama. Never a dull moment.  Funny part is, we just found out from the employment security commission that there's a job back in Kernersville that would probably be just about perfect for my Dragon. Gofigure, huh?

On a better and brighter note - the mini-dragon is rolling over, starting to sit up, trying to crawl, and howling furiously in frustration when she can't make it work right.  She headbutts her daddy and laughs about it.  Her favorite chew toys are daddy's knuckles. (total daddy's girl, if you couldn't guess)  At almost four months old, she is hitting milestones that shouldn't occur until 6 months.  She still sleeps on me, and wakes up at least twice during the night wanting a snack.... voracious little dragonspawn that she is.

Dragon and I are spending a lot of time in various nerdy pursuits in between his family's outbursts and his job hunting - namely coming up with creative ways for two people to play D&D. In the meantime, I'm missing my WoW something awful, especially with the new expansion coming out soon.

Anyways, more coming soon - with nothing at hand but to twiddle my thumbs and take care of the dragonspawn, I'll have to start teaching myself how to really be a blogger. Or something. Maybe I'll start writing again; I've got a couple dozen stories sitting around on my hard drive that I never finished, and I know at least one person that's dying for the final chapters of a couple of them....


Friday, September 16, 2011

New Directions - update (again)

Got the supplies for the FDA samples and the initial batches today. So progress will be made shortly, and the donator (Fox loves her wicked stepmother) will be getting her first free samples soon.

The rest of you still have time to donate and get your own free samples too :) There are four donation listings up on Etsy - you can see them on the widget to the side, or better yet go look at them directly.  The donation increments are $20, $50, $75, and $100.  If you would like to donate a different amount, let me know and I can put a custom listing up for you.

Here's to the future...
White Fox

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Studio News: The Journey as of Today...

This is Moira, our 1-month-old baby girl. She's a total daddy's girl already - way ahead of the curve and snarky to boot. Yes, a 1-mo old infant can be snarky. She's holding her head up all by herself, working on sitting up by herself and rolling over (yes, already!).  I am in so much trouble (again).

Our home life is interesting, and definitely not what we'd like it to be.  We were recently forced to move from FL to NC, in with Dragon's folks (who are now separated, with his mom having moved out - we are stuck in the house with his stepdad, which is a curious ordeal in and of itself).  The car decided to die after we got here, first needing a new battery, then overheating if it's driven for more than 5 minutes, which we still haven't managed to resolve, thanks to discovering (after we'd replaced the radiator) that any repair we do is probably going to be ridiculously expensive.  (the car's a 2000 Cadillac Catera and not worth much) There's a lot to do, lot needing done that we can't do because of the car. Dragon's looking for a job but it's pretty much academic without a way to get anywhere.

In spite of all that (and the fact that Dragon's stepdad is less than easy to get along with), we're still in a pretty good way. I'm amazed at how I can look at my life now and know that if I never have more than what's "enough" I'll be content, because I love my Dragon and I love my girls, and as long as our needs are met, then that's good enough for me.  There are things I'd like to have, ideals I'd like my life to live up to, but if they never do, I'll have no regrets so long as my family is taken care of.

That's not something a lot of people can say.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Directions - Update

So after some research, it turns out that the Studio will need to meet two startup cost requirements. First is the initial sample batch for FDA testing and showing to businesses. Second is the full materials and tools cost.

Our first expense - the sample batch - is going to cost us around $120.00 US. This need has been met.

Second expense - the full materials + tools startup costs - will be around $1600. Little more to deal with.

Why is this being posted here?  Well, it's simple.  The Studio is making an offer to anyone who wants to donate a little to help us get started.  We will offer free sample portions of anything we make, excluding jewelry or other similar items, for up to a year after our startup date, to anyone donating a minimum of $20.00 US. 

If you are interested in making a donation, there are a few different ways for you to do so.  There will be a listing up on Etsy with "donation" in the title; you can send us a check or cash (we can give you an address upon request).  If you'd like to discuss a different option, let us know.  If you would like to make a donation through Etsy for an amount different than the one listed, we can create a custom donation listing.

Consider this an investment in a local small business, as well as your own stress relief future.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Directions

The new addition to our family has started us thinking in new ways as far as the Studio is concerned.  Metalworking and Jewelsmithing are our passions, but there isn't much money to be made these days in those particular fields, in large part because neither of us have the training or tools (especially the tools) to make it worthwhile now.

So! There is a field in which we both have experience and knowledge and skill enough to work together on it and make it work now.  What is this field, you ask?

Handmade Artisan Aromatherapeutics.

Excuse me, what?  You know - bath salts, herb sachets, scrubs, massage oils, body butters, scented candles, soaps, incense, lotions... also teas, herbed culinary salts, cooking oils, and spice blends.  These are products we had planned to eventually expand to, but we thought, why not start with those instead!?  Dragon has taken courses in massage therapy and he was a professional chef for several years; Fox has 3 years of college under her belt for alternative therapies, including the use of herbs and scents in a therapeutic setting.  You'd think it would have occurred to us months ago!

However, we wanted to get our friends' and families' opinions first (and see who might just be interested in being among our first customers).  Some of you are familiar with the things Fox has made before - some teas, bath salts and sachets, incense.  How does it sound to have those available as a matter of course?  Thus the inauguration of (drumroll):

Twinflame Studios Handmade Artisan Aromatheraputics: affordable home luxury from the bath to the kitchen and everything in between, made using wholesome and wholistic Organic, Wildcrafted, and/or Fair Trade ingredients, per availability.

As a basic plan, we will probably start with bath salts and sachets, incense, massage oils, and teas, and expand from there.  For example - we'll offer two sizes of bath salt jars: a single-bath sample size for $5 and say, a 7-bath size priced from $20 to $50 depending on what goes into it.  In fact, everything will probably be sold the same way - a small sample packet and a larger "bulk" amount.  It simplifies things for us and for our customers :)

In point of fact, we are already taking orders for bath salts! 

And don't worry! Fox's jewelry will still be available in the Etsy store and she will NOT cease to create it!  This is an effort to have product that's easier on the pocket for ourselves and for customers these days.  We can all use a little luxury in the face of national economic problems, and what better way to do that than to spoil yourself a little and take a moment to breathe in something good for you?  Twinflame Studios' Handmade Artisan Aromatheraputics. 

Studio News: Announcement

Some of you know, but a major portion of you don't...

Fox and Dragon had our first baby Aug 7, 3:53 AM.  She was 7lb, 13oz, 20 & 3/4 in. long, and her name is Moira Jeannette. She is strong, healthy, has a voracious appetite, and is incredibly alert for a newborn. Dragon is positively beside himself being a new daddy.  I don't think I've ever seen him smile this much, or heard so many giggles out of his mouth... especially when the little dragonspawn latched onto daddy's nose and started suckling.

Many blessings, much love, and all the Light-
Fox, Dragon, and the brand-new Wyrmling. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Foxfire Daily: Say No

"We need to find the courage to say NO to the things and people that are not serving us if we want to rediscover ourselves and live our lives with authenticity." ~Barbara De Angelis

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Foxfire Daily: Partake

"There is only one valid way to partake of the universe -- whether the partaking is of food and water, the love of another, or, indeed, a pill. That way is characterized by reverence -- a reverence born of a felt sense of participation in the universe, a kinship with all and with all matter." ~Larry Dossey

Friday, July 22, 2011

Studio News: New listings on Etsy

pendants, earrings, and chainmaille, oh my! Feel free to browse, comment... and buy!

Brought to you by Fox of Twinflame Studios.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Studio News: Settling In

We got in safe and sound, and finally have internet access again. Things are going well enough at the moment, we're staying with Dragon's parents, which is interesting because his brother and niece are staying here too. it's been... crazy to say the least. Oh, and our car died after we got here, but with a little luck it may only be the alternator. Keep your fingers crossed for that one...

Etsy shop should be back up very soon, perhaps even today if I can manage to herd some cats.

We are well enough for the moment. Dragon has a job and everything else seems like it's going to be fairly normal for a little while at least.

Keep us in your thoughts for a bit yet, though :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Studio News: Moving

It's actually official - the Studio will be in the car tomorrow headed from Sarasota FL to Greensboro NC. Long trip but Fox has driven it plenty before, it's a familiar route. The Etsy shop will be offline until we get settled in. We'll still be taking messages and hanging out on dA during that time, however, so don't think we're disappearing. Hopefully it'll only be a week or so before the shop will be up again.

Feel free to send us requests/commissions or comments and whatnot during this time - just know that no actual business will be done until after we get settled in.

Wish us well

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Studio News: Life Surprises Everyone

So, right on the heels of managing to pull old jewelry and materials stock out of storage (thanks to an old wolf), the Studio may (read: probably, unless something drastic happens) have to move in the next couple weeks, a month at the most. We are still exploring options but this is how it stands as of this moment:

First, we don't have rent money.  Trying to scrape one more month's worth together but not sure yet how that's going to turn out.

Second, not sure how long the landlady will tolerate us being here without rent.  How long before we have to bug out? Who knows.

Third, if and when we do have to move, it will be states away back to North Carolina, in with Dragon's folks until we can get our own place again.  Dragon has a job waiting for him (probably) should this be the case... The worst part of it is that Fox will be away from her 2 girls for an as-yet unknown amount of time....

Shop details: on a happy note, this move will be a little less complicated than the last 3, and we will still have our materials and most of our tools within easy reach rather than in storage, so if/when the move occurs, the Studio should be able to set up shop again fairly quickly.

More updates as we get them...
Thoughts, prayers, etc appreciated
Wish us well

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Foxfire Daily: Happy news, and a Bonus Quote

I've managed to re-acquire a good portion of my materials and jewelry pieces that had gone into storage last summer!

What does this mean? It means I've got new(old) stock available that will be up on deviantART and Etsy soon. AAAAAANNNDDD it means I have new(old) beads and stones to play with!

I'm a very happy Fox right now.

Further details on what's in stock again soon as I go through it all.  <3

Also - Fox's Quote of the Day:
Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other.  It is the place of confidence.  It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts.  It is the spot where expressions of tenderness gush out without any sensation of awkwardness and without any dread of ridicule.  ~Frederick W. Robertson

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Foxfire Daily: Materials, Price, Design

I was browsing some of the jewelry pages I watch, from Facebook to deviantART, and began to hear the rant muse in my head. I notice the differences in style and materials and workmanship... and then I start to twitch at the terrible disparity between cost of materials and what the so-called artist is charging for a piece made from three-dollar faux-bronze components, or fake pearls that should only be worn by a six-year-old at a fancy church function, or... ah, well, the list goes on.

Steampunk style seems to attract a large number of people taking pre-made elements of a brass or copper color, sometimes silver, and stringing them together and calling it jewelry. Now, while I do a lot of beadwork which, I'll admit, is essentially the same thing, I have to protest when someone goes to their local Michael's craft store, picks up half a dozen cheap metal findings, and slaps them together in a majorly haphazard fashion... and then has the guts to put it up on Etsy for 3-4 times what they paid for materials! I know, I've done the research.  And I'll admit, I've gone to Michael's and picked up some of those bits and bobs to make some things, but I don't generally sell them in my shop or at shows - those, I play with for fun, or use as inspirational ideas for some of my other design elements.  Those little components - the keys, the birds, the gears, the vintage-style filigree - can be gotten for a few bucks, and people sell pendants and necklaces of these things for upwards of $40. The best work I've ever seen done with these was a little shoddy solder-work to affix two or more pieces together that really don't match in the first place.

Now, there are a good number of steampunk jewelry artists that do actually work at their product. Many of them hunt down their components with care. They typically use authentic watch gears and actual vintage or antique bits in their work, and most of them tend to be very fair in their pricing, AND they are careful as to their materials - a lot of the cheap little components you get at craft stores are who-knows-what kind of alloy (in other words, you don't know if that pretty little bronze-colored pseudo-vintage style pendant you picked up at Michael's the other day contains lead or other toxic metals. No offense to Michaels - you can actually find quality components there for decent prices).  My big complaint about these cheap little pieces that hobby-crafters expect you to wear, is that they can often contain sufficient amounts of toxic metals to make a measurable impact on your body, and these hobby-crafters don't always do their checking, or even know that they should be.

Personally, I try to make sure that the components I use in jewelry are lead-free pewter at the very least.  Excepting that, I use sterling silver or jeweler's brass or a true bronze.  Yes, it makes them a little more expensive, but it should be worth the extra money to create something that is actually safe to wear.  This is one of the reasons I haven't done much "steampunk" jewelry. It's damn hard to find components that are steamy AND safe, for a price that isn't ridiculous.

And what about some of these sixty and seventy dollar pieces (or even the forty dollar ones) that are made from haphazard lumping-together of random beads that may or may not color match?  Or people that don't realize that their lovely beaded strand is too much for the pendant they're trying to put it with.  Lack of design sense applies to the crafter AND the customer.  Something is only worth what a person is willing to pay for it, right? Too often, it proves true in the most wrong of ways. I see true artists put heart and soul into their work, only to have it passed over for a hobby-crafter's cheap attempt at making something to sell.  The problem here is that the hobby-crafter often makes more money than the true artist, unless the true artist is very, very lucky.

Now, I truly have nothing against hobby-crafters. Some of my best friends are hobby-crafters. But they enact their hobbies with sense. And that is what I'm getting at... be a sensible hobbyist! 

It's a ridiculous world. If I could make one request to the handmade community at large (to both hobby-crafters and professional artisans and everything in-between) it would be: Please, please consider the true worth of what you're trying to sell.  Don't undercut the artists who spend hours and good money perfecting one piece, but don't overcharge for a piece that cost you virtually nothing to make, either.

And don't underestimate yourself, either. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Foxfire Daily: With the ebb, with the flow

Fox here, again, with a few thoughts.

Learn to count your blessings - before you know it, you may end up with fewer than you expected.
Take stock of the people who say they care, who say they love you no matter what... and then think real hard about the ones who actually show you that they mean it. (I want to give my mom a hug when I think about this one)
Don't worry, be happy; if you're not happy, maybe it's time for a change.
Good things don't come to he who waits.  Good things come when they want to, and bad things do the same.  The trick is recognizing the difference and holding on tight when the good things show up.

Take the bad with the good and come out smiling on the other side, because neither lasts forever but that's what life is about.  The only lasting good comes when you find someone to walk through it and come out on the other side with you, hand in hand.

It's all about circles and cycles.  Up and down, back and forth, round and round.  This, I think, is the deepest secret, the best wisdom Nature can teach us.  Follow the cycles, the seasons, the natural ebb and flow of life, of everything that is good and right and true in the world.  Every person has their own natural ways.  Take some time to be silent, be still, and listen to your inner seasons.  Is it your Winter, when your trees and flowers sleep? Summer, when everything is warm and maturing towards harvest?  Is it time for your soul's Spring Equinox, when everything starts to bloom again?  It all reflects back and forth, the large mirror and the small, macrocosm and microcosm.  From the smallest cell to the galaxy and beyond, everything in Nature follows its own cycles.  Humans are the only things that fight these natural inner impulses, our inner cycles and seasons, and that is our greatest... and perhaps only... sin. 

As it was
As it is
As it shall be
With the ebb, with the flow
-Celtic blessing

Friday, April 8, 2011

Foxfire Daily: a Word on My Art

a friend on dA (deviantART for those of you unaware of the site - where I keep my galleries) posted a question asking whether it bothered her watchers that she was moving away from pencil & paper towards a crafting style.  It got me to thinking about my own art, and how I move from medium to medium...

I've found that my art runs in cycles, from pencil & paper (and/or digital) mediums to "solid" mediums (aka my crafting) and back again, and every time it cycles I find myself better at the one I'm coming back to than I was before. I feel, for me at least, it's a natural circle that my artistic self has to make in its own season.

When I get stuck in one medium I move to something different, maybe something new.  For a long time all I did was draw; mechanical pencil and paper.  It was the art class at my middle school that really got me to expand my sights to new avenues and new techniques.  There are things we did that year in art class that I would still love to try again, and other things that I still use.  We learned various inking techniques; I think the one that stood out the most for me was stippling.  I don't use it very often (read: never) because my style doesn't really work with it right now, but I did enjoy it.  The other two art projects we did that stand out are papermaking and batik.  One of these days, I will (I hope) have a chance to try those again.  They were fun, and different, and unique. They weren't as complicated as I expected them to be... even if the papermaking did stink to high heaven!  It was still fun.

Later, I had the opportunity to go to Art of the Carolinas, a huge art convention largely sponsored by Jerry's Artarama (my favorite art supply store... shameless plug!).  I took classes mostly in oil painting, which was my favorite medium of the time, and the one skill I really wanted to expand, but I also took a silk painting class.  Aside from the abstract oil painting class, which was incredibly amusing thanks to the teacher who had a very cavalier approach to his art, my favorite class at that event was the silk painting.  Again, it's something I want to try again some day.  There were techniques discussed in that class that I want to play with and see what I can come up with.

As for my jewelrymaking, I've always loved gems and metals, for as long as I can remember, so it was as natural as breathing for me.  When I was 12 or so, I first started playing with scraps of copper wire (my dad was an electrical engineer and had gobs and gobs of the stuff lying around) and rock crystal found in the driveway. Then I got a book or two and it just kept going from there. I've taken classes in chainmaille, Precious Metal Clay, and lost wax casting, and I've got so many books sitting on my shelf on so many different jewelrymaking techniques that I may never get to try them all.

But isn't that what being a crafter, an artist, and/or artisan is all about?  Finding new ways (and revisiting old ways) to let the muse out to play?  For me, that's exactly what it's all about: letting my muse out to play.

I -like- changing mediums every so often.  The inspirations are the same, no matter how they manifest.  It keeps me from getting bored or frustrated.  And it keeps me learning new things. If you're an artist or artisan and feeling the need to change up your creative routine a little (or a lot), I say go with the flow. It's that inner nature, inner self, instincts telling you what you need and perhaps what the world needs to see from you.

Foxfire Daily: Quote

A thought, a quote, or a word that inspires. Today's Foxfire (at least for the moment):

Approach love and cooking with abandon. - the Dalai Lama.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quotes from Dragon, posted by Fox

I just remembered something Dragon said to me yesterday (after not sleeping for over a full day - he does that sometimes) and it amused me, so I thought I'd share.

"I'm more than delirious.  I'm right."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flame of the Day (Dragon Speaks)

Believe it or not, unlike most artists, both the White Fox and myself are online regularly(daily), and are entirely ready and willing to answer questions and the like for any who are willing to ask. Just as an extra bonus for checking in our activities I am prepared to offer my wisdom to the masses, so as of today April 6 2011, at 9:21 a.m. be prepared for whatever it is I choose to write in for the "Flame of the Day"! Whether it be a quote, or a daily guidance mantra, or even a witty limerick. Check in, say hi, and see how the artistic juices are flowing. Hopefully we will have new works available soon for your viewing pleasure along with my quips. Well, anyway I've stretched this explanation long enough, so here it is, what you've been waiting for....

The Flame of the Day:

"Never poke dragons with sticks, it may give them ideas."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fox and Dragon's blog: Handmade jewelry and other crafts.

Also on Facebook, Pinterest, deviantART, and Etsy for convenient access. Photos of our work can be found on Facebook and deviantART. Purchasable items can be found on Etsy. Also see links at the top of the sidebar. Please visit our various and sundry pages, add us, and tell your friends and family!

We use whatever mediums happen to be at hand.  Fox prefers gemstones, antler, bone and metals, but has been known to try her hand at sculpture with polymer clay, and the occasional bit of wood or leather work.  Dragon will put his hand to whatever strikes his fancy next, though he has done a little of everything from wire pendants to metalsmithing and woodworking.  His latest - polyclay and bonecarving.

What's upcoming in the Studio's plans? We'll be exploring our own lives in sculpture and carving, with items such as offering bowls, wands, prayer beads, jewelry, spiritually inspired art... and whatever else strikes our fancy.