Monthly Archives: January 2011

Moving forward in the discomfort of recognition

Whether it’s a monthly column in the Working Waterfront, or the post of the day on my blog,  I tend to write with a little cringe  around my eyes and my ego as I imagine someone else reading what I hope will be interesting, funny, or enlightening. I’m not comfortable standing in the middle of  recognition, but I really do want it. I want you to see me, but I don’t want you to see me looking for you to see me. Is it possible to have anonymity and still have validation?

It was with mixed feelings that I realized this post from a few days ago had been featured on today’s Freshly Pressed page of WordPress. I mean, yesterday I had 123 views of my blog and the day before I had 49. Until today, my all time highest number of views was 136.  Just now I checked my stats and I have had 1,840 hits today! It’s mind boggling to me. It was pretty cool to have so many people seeing the bits of the life I am so lucky to experience. Today. What if I can’t come up with something they might like to see tomorrow?

I have written 77 monthly columns about island life for the Working Waterfront newspaper. Some months I get more comments about it than others. I have even had a few people tell me  it made them cry. (That is a response I will never tire of hearing. The resounding “YES!” that I feel inside when I know I have written something good.)  But then what? What if I can’t write a column as good as that one for the next month?

I can’t always write a great column, but I’m still here and I still plan to make a monthly attempt. Tomorrow, appropriately,  it will be someone else’s blog being featured on Freshly Pressed, and I will still meet my post a day goal. As an artist and a writer I need to keep challenging myself and putting myself  “out there,” even when it feels uncomfortable. It’s how I find the anonymous validation I am looking for…also known as self validation.

On a totally different subject: Sometimes the tide is high when you come home on the 3:30 mail boat, and sometimes, like today, it is dead low. The ramp is steep, and you need both hands to hang on when going down to get on the boat. Not the time to try to carry several bags of groceries, all at once, on the way down.

Just to the left of the ramp is a freight ramp. Can you imagine how fast my 40 lb. bag of birdseed slid down this icy sucker? It landed halfway across the float, beyond the stern of the mailboat. Whee!


Filed under Uncategorized

Winter doldrums

This is my antidote. I use my summer sunscreen as a moisturizer, and throughout the day whenever I catch a whiff, I think of warm sun and summer. It’s a little head game that works 99% of the time. Sometimes, on a winter mail boat ride to the mainland, I will get asked, “Barb, are you wearing your Coppertone today?” It’s nice to know there are a few people who count on me for my quirks.

This has been one hell of a snowy winter so far, and we have not even had to deal with half the snow that people in other states have seen.  It’s pretty and somewhat novel considering we had about 2 snowstorms last winter and they were both in December of  ’09.

Bruce and I worked on getting tax figures together this morning, I took some photos when we walked before lunch, worked on my own tax stuff this afternoon and then had a massage. It sounds pretty ideal doesn’t it? But, this was one of those 1% days, when the Coppertone seemed to have no effect. No matter what I did I could not stop the downhill slide of my mood. I know what caused it and I am embarrassed to admit it. When I looked at my gross income from jewelry sales, and factored in all my expenses from supplies, periodicals, books, shipping, in-kind donations to non-profits, a conference at Purdue, and a workshop in Vermont, I had my lowest net income in many years. The two numbers were almost even. Thank god we are not relying on this to run our household right now. Bruce is not so worried since we file a joint return and he is happy to have me share my many expenses and low income as a counterbalance to his good year of catching lobsters. But my self confidence was trashed by a stupid number, and all I could think was that I sucked as an artist. The massage felt great, of course, but I was so low I think I allowed it to spread the toxin of self doubt throughout my body in a nice even layer.

Sometimes the only thing to do for a mood like this is to post a few snowy photos and go to bed. Tomorrow is a whole new day and I am spending it off the island. (I’d rather stay home, so that projection is not helping my mood either.) Yikes. I better stop this before my friend Susan tells me it’s time to call in the “Whaaaaambulance.” (whaa whaa whaa.)  It’s a fine line between self pity and feeling like a turd; both optional and totally unproductive. It’s time to suck it up and reapply the sunscreen.


Filed under Uncategorized

Thanks to LeAnn, I remember “Keep it Simple.”

When LeAnn, of Summers Studio, replied to my post from yesterday, she asked me to let her know if I figured out the reflection thing. She makes beautiful ceramic beads, pendants and clasps, but with the shiny glazes she sometimes sees more reflection in her photos than she would like. (She also does fabulous work with bronze clay.)

My response was to tell her about the milk jug trick. It is easy and inexpensive. However, in my obsession to set up little vignettes for photographing my jewelry, I forgot to give my handy gallon milk jug a try. What was I thinking?  I wasn’t.

A number of years ago, Ronna Lugosch told me about this trick when we were taking a keum-boo workshop from Jayne Redman at Haystack. I was wondering if I should buy one of those “Cloud Dome” systems to help me take better photos of my jewelry. “You don’t need to spend the money on that,” she replied. Just use a plastic milk jug!”  And she proceeded to tell me what to do: Cut the bottom out of a gallon milk jug, place it over what you want to photograph, and shoot through the hole in the top. (It doesn’t get much simpler than that.)

So I set it up quickly this morning and voila! Easy as pie, or a piece of chocolate cake with a glass of milk. I’ll be remembering two important things as I go through my day:

1. Try the simplest solutions first.    2. It is wonderful to have friends who help you figure things out.

(I also cut a hole in the side of the jug so I could shoot from two different angles.)

The tissue paper is handy to place in front of the big hole if I’m shooting from the top, or on top of the little hole if I am shooting from the side. Tissue paper is another inexpensive way to diffuse light.

The next two photos:  Shot from the top, and same photo cropped.

Next two: Shot from the side and then cropped.

And last, but not least, there is still room inside the jug for you know who…..


Filed under Uncategorized

Reflecting on reflections

It’s enough to make a girl want to stop polishing her silver!

Not only does it take more effort to create a polished finish on metal, it’s also harder to photograph without creating a mirror miniature of yourself, or your camera, or both, in the center of the piece. (Yet another reason to hire a professional photographer.) Taking a photography class could help, but a hands-on class is not easily accessible from the island. It might take a long time to figure out what works from trial and error, but I’ll keep pecking away at it with my amateur set up, for now.

These earrings are a simple design, but the convex surface reflects everything. There needs to be some bit of reflection to indicate that the surface is shiny, but hello? The camera? The card table?  Too much info for me to see in a tiny earring.

From the side, there is less surface to show a reflection. An easier shot. I’m happy with this.

But, back to the front of the earrings. I tried a larger piece of white paper to hide behind. I cut a hole in it for the camera lens. It was a little better, but I still need to work on this when it comes to the high polished finish.

Time to see if one of the mischievous kitties could help.

Then I just decided to embrace the shiny challenge…

….by wearing a disguise.





Filed under Uncategorized

Why am I trying to do Post a Day 2011?

The Post a Day challenge is a personal one, even though there are many WordPress bloggers who have taken it on. It’s voluntary. Have I gained anything from doing this? I think so. This little challenge has helped me look more closely at my surroundings as I go through my day. My awareness of opportunity is heightened. My creativity is being fed in a way I never expected.

On days like this, when I am up against the wall, trying to find something to post, it does not make me want to throw in the towel and skip a day. It makes me want to take more photos tomorrow, or work on something new in the studio, so I will have more images from which to choose the next time.

I was thinking about making valentines, as I walked around Portsmouth with my friends last weekend. Maybe I would find some interesting paper for a collage? Some cute little cards to send?  I was hoping for some ideas to surface. It never ceases to amaze me how the universe answers the open mind. I walked past this little piece of snow on the sidewalk, noticing it with a delayed reaction. Of course!

A few days later, during my frozen seaweed walk on the beach, this:

Yesterday I looked at dried seaweed pieces I had at home. (Photo prop possibilities?) I thought it would be interesting to capture their shadows in the late afternoon sun, which led me to this:


Filed under Uncategorized

Mischievous miniature cats…

…showed up this afternoon in an attempt to lighten my efforts asI tried to photograph jewelry on a cloudy day. I thought they were helping, until I realized they were just trying to make off with my little photo props.


Filed under Uncategorized

8º at half tide


Filed under Uncategorized

A good afternoon for taking photos

I took advantage of the sun streaming in through my dining room windows today to move forward on some photographs for my Etsy site. With the time it requires to take all the photos, crop and sort through them, and then resize them, I did not have time to write descriptions and add them to the shop today. When the sun left my dining room, I left the house to check out the frozen landscape left by the receding tide.  (More about that walk tomorrow.) If I can keep at the jewelry photos, adding a few more every day, I’ll have the kind of selection I was hoping to offer on Etsy,  fulfilling one of my resolutions for the new year.

The next photo is not one I will use, but I just had to put it in because when I tried to add the periwinkle shell in the background, all I could think of was “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,”  which gave me a chance to add the link to a YouTube video that always cracks me up. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use a shell in a photo without wanting to add an eye…or shoes. You know what they say….Lint is a shell’s best friend.

By the way, the cool patinated copper beads in this pair of earrings came from Miss Ficklemedia. One of my favorite Etsy shops for beads and components.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What -8º looks like from the 7:30 Mail Boat

I am finally at home and ready to get back to work. I would have taken more photos if my fingers had not been getting so darned cold. The scenery this morning was brilliant. The harsh temperature created  a foggy phenomenon known as “sea smoke.”  Whenever I see it, I can’t help thinking of the first December I ever spent on Islesford, in 1976. My brother and I were renting a house together and the temperature outside had dropped into the single digits overnight. We lived across the street from what was then the Post Office, at Natalie Beal’s house, renting from the Frentrops which is now Henry Isaacs’ house.

As Wilfred Bunker drove up in his rattly station wagon to collect the mail, my brother ran out to catch a ride back down to the dock, telling Wilfred he wanted to take some pictures of the sea smoke. “Sea smoke?” said Wilfred with a wry smile, speaking loudly because he was hard of hearing, ” ’round heah we call that vapah!”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Portsmouth weekend and I am almost home

The drive through the storm on Friday was really snowy. If Brenda (ma belle-soeur) and I were not headed to meet our friends Cathy and Susie in Portsmouth, we would not have gone anywhere. It was one of those days when we had no business being on the road in that kind of weather. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Augusta (less than the halfway point of the trip) which usually only takes 2 hours. But we plugged along at 30 to 40 mph and finally made it to the Port in time for dinner.

Leaving the island on Friday, the last boat of the day because all afternoon boats were canceled:

A rough ride:

Breakfast on Saturday morning at the cute and tasty “Friendly Toast” in Portsmouth.

A “gift” for the group from Susie:

Good friends, good times. (Oh look, everyone is wearing a necklace made by yours truly)

(I am pointing at Susie, NOT trying to grab Brenda)

Sunday night in Northeast Harbor. A sleep-over at Paul and Brenda’s so I can catch the 7:30 a.m. boat home on Monday.  3 Patriots fans who don’t really care whether the Steelers or the Jets win the game, but at least we are catching up on e-mail.


Filed under Uncategorized