Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Etsy Featured Shop - PallinaDesigns

After my last interview with AriaImages, the response for more was quite overwhelming! Having searched through a variety of posts in the Etsy forums, and viewed a multitude of very cool shops, I chose to interview Amanda of PallinaDesigns. Amanda is a jewelry designer from New Zealand. Since there's nothing like international variety to spice things up, read on and enjoy!

How did you get your start making jewelry?
I've ALWAYS loved jewellery (love of sparkly things runs in my family!) With 2 kids and a mortgage etc., finding jewellery that I could "afford" was really hard (cos I have expensive tastes), so I decided to have a go myself. I started making simple "illusion" necklaces and basic earrings, as I'd never taken a class or anything. A craft shop I visited had a couple of free leaflets on how to make basic necklaces/earrings, so I grabbed those, bought some beads and wire etc, a couple of pair of pliers, and went from there. Once I got a bit more adventurous, I started searching the internet for ideas and how-to's. As my "collection" got out of control, I started toying with the idea of selling things. Now I have a website, as well as my Etsy store and I attend the odd craft fair in my area as well.

How did you find out about Etsy?
I was doing an internet search for places to sell my jewellery - I kept seeing the Etsy link come up and popped in for a look...I was hooked! When I saw two of my favourite designers/suppliers also had shops (JennaAppleton and AnneDundas), I trusted their judgment so I opened my own store :-)

What is your favorite thing to make (both for selling and for yourself!)?
I really love anything with wirework. It scares me but I find it invigorating! I hate duplicating anything, as wirework is such a individual journey - I invariably start out with one idea in mind, then it goes horribly wrong, and to save the past few hours of my work, I try to salvage it by changing the design! I always love what I end up with though (very rarely do I discard anything entirely.) If I don't like it and wouldn't wear it myself, I won't make it - so you can see by my eclectic range that my personal style is all over the place!

Where do you like to shop for beads/gems?
I use Etsy (of course!), and I also have a handful of favourite sites that are Australia-based. We have very few reasonably priced suppliers in NZ, so most of my supplies are imported. I also have a local friend who has a great selection and she'll drop in goodie bags to me at work if I'm desperate. Also, Lindy Nicholls is a good friend and an amazing glass artist - I get my super-special beads from her!

What do you love about this piece? [Aphrodite bracelet]
I'd had this design in my head for months and months. It took me about 8 months to get all the components together, from various suppliers in various countries. It's just so "me" - pretty (I like girly things), dangly bits (who doesn't love that feeling on your wrist?!), eyecatching (all those interesting charms to look at!) and - best of all - the materials in this bracelet mean that it can be passed down to several generations of a family who could be wearing and loving it years down the track.

Where do you get your inspiration?
That's a toughie! From all over the place really. Living in NZ, we have beautiful scenery so sometimes it's just the way colours play together that makes me think of making something up using those hues. At the moment, it's autumn in NZ so the leaves are changing colours and it makes me want to make things in browns, reds, oranges and yellows! In the summer I do alot of blues and greens together because of the sea and how sparkling it looks on a summers day. :-) I also see other designs and think of how I would change this or that element, or use a particular theme on something else. When I'm actually MAKING something, mentally I'm thinking 2 steps ahead - already I'm compiling my supplies list for my next piece! I find it hard to concentrate and finish one thing sometimes!!

How and when did you start your collaboration with Lindy Nicholls?
I've known Lindy for about 18mths-2yrs now. We used to attend the same regular craft market and began chatting after she bought a necklace off me once. When she said she was going to start making glass beads (she was a potter with 33 years experience then), I was so excited! I kept on at her until she had something to show me! She is so talented, it's incredible! Now we see each other pretty much every weekend, as she has a holiday home at the beach where I live - my kids think of her and her husband as part of the family :-)

Are you involved with any other crafts?
What I haven't tried yet can probably fit on the back of a postage stamp! I have a craft cupboard that is testimony to my exploits (it's a real mess!) I have made my own cards since I was a child (birthday cards, thank you notes etc.) I have also done mosaic, crochet, photography, graphic design, calligraphy (my title pages at school were incredible!), collage, painting (which I suck at...but at least I tried!), creative gift-wrapping (my Mum does this waaaay better than me!), scrapbooking, paper toile, dressmaking, quilting...the list just goes on and on! I'll give anything a go :-)

What is your favorite weekend activity?
Spending time with my husband and children (aged 3 and 6), Saturday afternoon's and a bottle of sparkling wine at Lindy's house, a bit of beading (of course!), going to the beach (if it's lovely and warm) or cozying up in front of the fire and watching a movie (if it's cold.) My least favourite is housework (thank God for my cleaner!)

What do you love about New Zealand?
Where do I start?! The clean air, the beautiful scenery, the laid-back lifestyle, the friendly people, the fact that my family are all here now (I lived in Scotland for 5 years and missed them alot) and never being far from the beach! I'm a redhead with freckles, so I burn easy - but I love the beach! Yay for SPF30 sunscreen!

PallinaDesigns Suggested Bead Websites:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Present to camera lens!

When I bought my first digital SLR last year, I shopped around and decided upon the Canon Digital Rebel XT (which, of course, Canon immediately replaced with the Rebel XTi, but I disgress). At the time, all the reviews I read suggested getting the stock lens and learning to use the camera and its functions before getting a different lens. I took that advice and have been really happy with the results; however, 7,000 pictures later, my first lens upgrade has just arrived!

It took weeks of deliberation to decide whether or not I was ready to throw down the $1000+ to buy this lens (EF 24-70mm f/2.8L) but I knew I wanted it and, more importantly, needed it. So, last Tuesday, I finally bit the bullet and made the purchase. Hitting that purchase button and thinking about my credit card balance was bitter sweet, but shortly after I was forced to forget about mundane monetary issues and was overcome with the giggling excitement of a 5 year old!

After a week of waiting patiently, my lens is now in my hands and it is officially my new baby - after all it weighs as much as a newborn. I'll be fidgeting until I can get out and take it for a test drive!!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Etsy Featured Shop - AriaImages

A friend of mine turned me on to Etsy, a website dedicated to sale of handmade and craft items. I've enjoyed crafting for a long time and finding out about this site gave me that opportunity to not only share my crafts with the public, but also to sell some items from my well stocked collection of things I've made! As a relative newbie to this site, I figured it might be a good idea to feature other new Etsy members and give some insight into what they do and why they do it.

For my first feature, I chose Melody of AriaImages. She and I met in the forums and has been my first Etsy "friend". So, read on, enjoy, and check out her work as I think you'll like it.

How long and where have you been selling your photography?
I actually just starting selling when I joined Etsy at the beginning of this month. I never thought I could sell my work until family and friends encouraged me to do so. I thought I would try it out and have gotten a lot of support from other Etsians so quite happy with the result.

Why did you choose AriaImages for your name?
I chose Aria Images because I wanted a name that went well with my real name which is Melody. I thought up a few things but felt they were corny. I went to the thesaurus and looked under Melody and saw Aria - an elaborate melody. That was it for me. The perfect name, and I just thought Images sounded best with Aria.

How/when did you get started with photography?
I have always loved taking pictures. Some of my earliest memories are of taking pictures on school trips, at weddings and other events. I don't know why people trusted an 8 year old with a camera but they did and I have been taking pics ever since. It's in my blood. I didn't get really into it though until last year when I was living in London and bought a digital camera. I was always using others cameras but this was my first digital. We traveled a lot to Paris, Italy and Sweden and during those trips my hobby became more of an obsession.

Do you think your photography has a "style"?
I hope so. *smile* I really love to show people how I see the world through my photos so I edit my own pictures digitally. I think a lot of them have a surreal look to them, so maybe that is my style.

What is this picture and what does it mean to you?
This is a picture of an old building in Charleston, SC. The original was nice but I decided one day to enhance it digitally and I absolutely loved the way it came out. For me, it was the first time I was able to really show how I see and feel about things. It's a very meaningful picture for me. When I see it, I see the little girl I used to be and how I am finally accomplishing my dream of showing "my" world as corny as that sounds. Someone once asked me if I take pics and know how they are going to come out or if I see the potential. I see the potential to show others what I see. That is what that picture does for me.

If this picture were turned into a motivational poster, what would it say?
I guess it would have to be "Dont Forget Where You Come From". I dont think it looks like an inspirational poster but it has an old fashioned look to it (which is why I named it Frozen Time) and it makes me think about history and our heritage. So yep, I think that is what it would have to be called.

Do you have a favorite photographer? If so, who?
Oh yes definitely - Ashes and Snow [Gregory Colbert]. Amazing and inspiring work. I can only dream of reaching that level.

What other hobbies do you have?
I am an absolutely huge reader. I read just about everything but my faves are historical novels. I used to write as well which I am thinking about getting back into but time will tell. I also love traveling and hope to visit every continent in the future.

What is your dream job?
To be a travel photographer for National Geographic or anyone that would hire me. That would be a dream. Getting paid for two of my greatest loves.

Your name is Melody - what's your song?
Crazy - by Seal. It speaks to me. Maybe for obvious reasons. *grin*

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

When all you want to do is sleep...

...the world invariably goes nuts.

Two Fridays ago, I had a nice Friday night with friends. I got home, watched TV for a little while and then curled up in bed for some blissful sleepy time.

This all sounds wonderful, until at 2am I hear a resounding crash and then a woman screaming like a sailor in the middle of the street. Call me a nosy neighbor if you want, but I threw on my flipflops to see what was happening and here's what greeted me at the front of my apartment building.

Who knows what the truth may be, as it's supposed to be innocent until proven guilty and all, but the story goes like this...

Woman and boyfriend are driving home. Crazy ex-boyfriend follows them and tries to get into the car by breaking the window. That doesn't work so he proceeds to climb in through the moonroof of the car. Woman and current boyfriend exit vehicle while ex continues to get in the car, into the drivers seat, throws it in reverse and BAM! He then gets out of the car, back into his own and takes off.

I think the cops cited felony vandalism, domestic disturbance, attempted grand theft auto and a string of other things. Let's put it this way, I wouldn't want to be THAT guy.

Of course, when I finally got back upstairs to go to sleep, 4am the tow truck arrives to remove the impaled vehicle from the fence. After all that, is it any surprise that I wasn't being my even tempered self that Saturday morning? The only person in a 2 block vicinity of the crash that didn't wake up? 'Twas the little old lady that lives in the apartment that almost lost it's living room.

Barham/Griffith Park Fires

I have truly concluded that I am dedicated to my art. The recent fires destroying acres upon acres in the Griffith park area has been devastating to those that love that part of Los Angeles. As a photographer though, it wouldn't be right for me not to bust out the camera and document these events.

Barham Fire (3/30/07)

Dedication is....sneaking out of work to go home and get your camera, driving and taking pictures out of the car window at every stop sign, sneaking onto other companies' balconies at work to get a view from above....

Griffith Park Fire (5/8/07)

Dedication is....leaving the house at midnight on a Tuesday and driving around to get as close to Griffith Park as possible for a good vantage point, stopping your car in a red zone while in your PJs trying to keep the camera steady on the hood of the car....

(Note that the white lines in this picture are actually helicopters. The first two are a little fuzzy due to having to turn off the flash on the camera because of the street lights dulling the colors from the fire.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Just getting started...

I've been wondering if I should start a blog for a while and it seems like the time has finally come to get down to it. There have been a bunch of things that have happened recently that just seem like they need documenting (perhaps it's the side of me that still thinks it's in the newsroom). Hopefully there'll be some interesting things posted here - whether they are funny, dramatic or can't be categorized - enjoy!