Friday, May 29, 2009

Patience, color schemes and more waiting

Patience is a virtue I struggle mightily with -- whether it be waiting for something I want right now, or in dealing with my children -- so waiting to hear back about the loan for my business is eating me alive!

I turned in my P/L projections and now all I can do is wait for the board to review it and make their decision. The waiting is killing me -- but not as badly as bad news would. So, no news is good news, no news is good news,... that is my mantra for the moment.

In the meantime, I have distracted myself by working on some mockups of the exterior of the caboose -- trying to help myself decide what color to paint it. I can't use my first choice -- hunter green and tan, because then the caboose would blend right into the Sandhills surrounding it -- and we want this thing to be eye-catching, not fade away. I am definitely NOT an architectural artist -- pretty rough! They get the job done though!

So, my second choice would be butter yellow with hunter green trim. That one looks pretty good -- the lettering shows up well and is easy to read too. It is a pretty combination and would look great with the garden I am planning to put out front.

My third choice, burgundy and hunter green is pretty, but too dark and the lettering is hard to read.

My fourth choice (and the brightest) is very visible, but the lettering is hard to read -- however the red and yellow would certainly stand out. My biggest fear is that the red paint would take five coats because red paint is notoriously "streaky" and hard to work with.

I could switch the colors and make the main body of the caboose yellow and the trim red, but those are Union Pacific colors (the main train here in Nebraska) and this is Burlington Northern country up here. Actually, the caboose is currently Burlington Northern colors, but it blends right into the sky and the grass with those colors, so leaving it as is will not work.

So, it has been narrowed down to the butter yellow with hunter green and the red with yellow. Decisions, decisions, decisions!
I spent yesterday making a tray full of craft wire rings as well, so that families who stop in will have an affordable option for their youngsters who will want some "jewelry" but will promptly lose it after wearing it for a day. I know I would rather pay a $1 for that eventuality than $60 when it comes to my children, at least until they are older and (hopefully) learn to take better care of their belongings.

This work may all be for naught too, as I do not have final loan approval yet and may not know for another week! I will be so CRUSHED if this does not work out!

I am so excited about the opportunity to serve my community with jewelry repairs, watch batteries and custom jewelry, as well as offering an affordable line of quality jewelry of my own design.

Time to get the kids ready so we can work at the gallery again today. The weather is supposed to be nice, so I think they will get to take their bikes today (okay, she can take her bike and he can take his big wheel).

Hopefully my wire order will have arrived and I can "create" happily while they play. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Profit and Loss Plans, Moving Cabooses and Name Changes

I got good news from my hubby today when he called to tell me the caboose has been moved to it's new location. I did some rejoicing, but it was tempered by the knowledge that I still have to get the final approval from the REAP loan board before I am truly in business.

The knowledge was also tempered later when I found out the movers had forgotten to "flip" the caboose, so what is to be the studio end of the caboose would face the parking lot.

So, from the "kitchen" area, I have a wonderful view of the parking lot where customers will be coming from, and from the "working" or "studio" end I have a wonderful view of a grassy field.

Don't get me wrong, I like grass and green and sky, but I really did want to be able to see my customers coming and have them be able to access the business easily from the parking lot.

Now I have to make the access ramp even longer, and I will have to place the signage differently, because the caboose is also not angled as was planned.

The side facing the road is the side that needs paint, so I will not be able to put that large, time-consuming and expensive chore off, unfortunately.

Since the caboose is located about 300 yards further back from the road than I thought it would be, I will have to be sure to paint it to be extra bright -- I am thinking the red with yellow is the requisite color scheme at this point, although I still prefer the thought of hunter green and yellow.

I am also thinking the addition of a picnic table and some trees to the garden out front to make it inviting for people to visit will be helpful.

I talked with the owner of the caboose, who has some old railroad ties and he said I could use those to make the handicap access ramp. That would be fitting, considering the shop IS in a caboose! They would certainly be sturdy too!

I finished my profit and loss projections for the year and got them turned in. I tried to be as conservative as possible, but could only realistically project amounts for items I have already sold via the gallery and I could only guesstimate the other items.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite a large monthly loan payment and other expenses, even with conservative estimates, this is a money-making opportunity -- I was simply hoping to show I could break even. :)

Once I begin working with GROW Nebraska, I expect those numbers to triple through sales via the website I will have them help me build. They also offer numerous other cooperative marketing opportunities and cooperative advertising, as well as "Holiday Shops" at malls across the state, all of which increase sales opportunities and visibility immensely.

Along with the process of doing the P/L estimates, I decided that since this business is getting to be more like a gallery, I should use my name -- for name recognition in the industry purposes -- as part of the business name. So, instead of Sandhills Emporium, I am going with Dawn E. Bryant Designs. I hope I won't regret that decision.

Anyhow, now it is time to hold my breath and pray again, as I wait for the final decision from the loan board. OOOOH, I HATE waiting!

I am so excited (and scared) about the possibility that within a few short weeks I could be a business owner!

I had better go make supper and work on the list of supplies I need to purchase to get everything set up properly.

Happy creating!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Waterlogged, but back from vacation

I'm back from a week-long vacation with family and friends at Merritt Reservoir near Valentine, NE.

We had fun, but returned totally waterlogged, as it rained nearly every day. We caught lots of fish, enjoyed fresh air and enjoyed camaraderie with friends, but I am glad to be home where there is no sand in my bed, no spiders on the walls, and no threat of ticks in my hair.

The scenery was beautiful and I took a bunch of photographs.

It continues to rain here, so even though we have solid walls and a solid ceiling, the world is still drenched and full of puddles. At least we now have dry clothes.

Today I work at the gallery and continue work on my business plan, which needs refining.

I also plan to do a prismacolor painting from one of the photos I took of the lake.

Off to work I go! :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

pendants, graduations and business plans

I spent the evening last night making a beautiful necklace from a prismacolor painting I did of a stark tree set against an orange post-storm sky and when I got to the earrings, I found I had punched the hole in one of them too close to the top and there was almost no plastic above the hole. It broke, of course. Grrrr! Now I have to redo those. I used my new toggle clasp style on the necklace and it looks awesome! I'll post photos after I redo the earrings. The photo I was working from can be seen to the left. It is the photo that was selected to go to the Association of Nebraska Art Clubs (ANAC) state show in Kearney this June. I hope it does well -- I've gone to state before, but I have never won an award there.

I worked on my wire wrapping skills last night too, even though I did not have heavy enough wire for the project. I should have used 18-20g dead soft square wire, but all I had was 22g half hard round. The piece can be seen in the photo above. I have GOT to sell something so I can afford to buy some new supplies! Until I get the loan to open up my business, I am broke, broke, broke! Sure hope I get it!

I have finished my business plan (rough draft) and will get it sent to the very nice gentleman at REAP who has been helping me with this whole loan process. He will look at it and make suggestions for improvements before I turn in the formal version. He is out of town today and I leave town tomorrow, so it will be a week before we compare notes. I am so anxious to get this whole process over with and get the business open (if it is meant to be).

My daughter graduates from kindergarten today -- complete with a gap-toothed smile because she lost both of her top front teeth in the past week. She looks so beautiful in a white dress with a lime green sash, white tights and white sandals. Her beautiful caramel brown hair is cut into a bob just above her shoulders and fits her sunny personality perfectly. She is so smart and sweet and she just brings tears to my eyes! :)
I had better go get dressed up for graduation and package the homemade chocolate cookies were are taking for the reception.
Happy creating!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Creative Day Today

I stayed up all night to finish a necklace I started weeks ago. The painting had turned out so well, but when I baked the plastic, it deformed as it shrank. I decided to try filing the edges and wow, it worked! So, since I am out of the wire I would usually use, I tried something new -- a triple strand of glass e-beads in pastel colors. Even my husband liked it and he is pretty non-commital about anything except my PMC jewelry.
I designed a new kind of toggle clasp to go with it. It really came out pretty and feminine, yet still personifies the Nebraska Sandhills where I live. The tutorial for this pendant can be found here: http://http//

I am considering writing a tutorial for the toggle clasp, as it is so easy to customize it to any piece of jewelry I am making and other people might like it for that very reason too. Who knows -- not all things appeal to the people we think they will appeal to. :)

I also made a few bracelets using my tutorial for a wire-wrapped bangle bracelet, thinking "masculine thoughts" because the challenge at, where my tutorials reside, is to use existing tutorials to make jewelry for men, since Father's Day is coming up. That tutorial can be found here:http://http//

I found that square stones don't work as well as round ones and need something across them to keep them from "flipping."

On the other hand, I found that drum beads look very masculine and they don't "flip." The wrap comes out looking more square than with round beads, and therefore, more masculine.

I'd best be off to write that tutorial while I have peace and quiet (the house is actually empty right now).

Happy creating!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I made it into a treasury on Etsy! Cool!

I made it into a treasury on Etsy -- one of my mule deer photos is featured here: http://http// thanks to Bellasweetboutique, a fellow Nebraska Etsyan. She also featured my friend Marcia Shelton, how cool is that?

Still working on the business plan -- just about done with the rough draft though. This is a good thing because it definitely makes me look at things to make sure I have thought everything through and I am not just jumping into something I am not ready to handle.

I was able to answer all the questions, so I must be doing okay. Whether I answered them well enough or not remains to be seen!

One of my building possibilities exited the building today. The larger of the two buildings needed to have a power pole put up so power could be restored to the building and the plumbing had all been removed due to pipe breakage under the cement floor. The owner informed me today that it would cost too much to fix those issues and he is going to tear the building down. Since I have been using the building as a storage unit too, this is doubly bad news.

Hopefully the caboose will still work out. It is much smaller and does not have room for storage, so I am now on a quest for suitable space for the stored stuff. Help!

I was weighing the two buildings heavily in my mind and loved the space of the larger one, but the location of the caboose is just too good. I would have still pursued the larger building if the caboose fell through though. Now I have no "fallback" building and may have to put my shop in my teeny tiny trailer, which would cut down on overhead costs, but would seriously curtail space as I would have to fit my shop into my 5x8 ft office that is already full of -- office stuff! Yikes!

It would definitely NOT be an ideal location, although everyone in town knows how to find me. Actually, I could advertise the location easily enough as we live next to the baseball field a block off the highway, but the passerby stop-ins would be seriously curtailed and I could get a lot of business from the tourist trade.

Better think about making supper!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Working on the business plan, planning repair prices and choosing paint colors

I've been working on the business plan I have to submit as the next step in the process of getting a loan to open up a jewelry repair/design business.

When my eyes began to cross, I started calling area jewelry stores to find out what they charge for various repairs. Crikeys! Prices have more than doubled in the last 10 years! If I charge prices like that I will be run out of town for sure!

So, now, I have to figure out my costs for repairs and figure out a price that is fair to both my customers and myself. I sure hope I can offer lower prices than my competitors -- wow are they high!

I know for sure that I don't need to charge $10 to change a watch battery -- unless it is a specialty battery. Holy moly! I'm thinking more in the $3-5 range.

I've got more figuring to do on the other things. I'm hoping to be able to do half the price of the most expensive place and at least slightly under the others.

My son loves the caboose I am planning to put the shop in, but my daughter thinks it is "creepy." So, I got her involved with the process by letting her help me choose the paint colors.

We ended up deciding on hunter green for the majority of the caboose and a soft yellow called Colonial Cream for the trim.

I did have to remind her that pink, lavendar and purple (as well as fuschia and magenta) were not necessarily good choices for the outside of a business and that the owner of the caboose doesn't want colors like that either.

Inside I will use the same green on the floor, and the walls will be a light cream color (with warm tones).

Perhaps all a bit country, but I am not too keen on what is currently in style. I watch HGTV and just shake my head that they want to take us back to the ugly colors from the 60s and 70s. Ick!

I have to be able to look around myself as I work and be happy with what I see and I like greens and yellows and "woodsy" tones. I also want my customers to feel serene, not all hyper.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh Happy Day -- Made it past step one!

The REAP board met this morning and discussed my loan application. They unanimously agreed that it warranted going to the next step. This is not ultimate approval, just not an instant turndown.

Now I have my work cut out for me as I have to draw up a business plan, which requires coming up with numbers like expected income/expenses (which are unknown as this is a new, not existing business).

I also have to prove that I can develop a webpage for online sales and show what organizations I will participate in to help my business grow.

I could still lose out on this business by not doing a good enough job on this part of the application process. Gulp!

However, it was a major hurdle to get over today and I made it! :)

Now, time to get to work on the hard part!

Oh yes, I took some photos of the caboose to send to the loan board. I haven't decided for sure what color to paint it, but I will cross that bridge if this loan actually goes through!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Loan Board Meets Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be a "Make It or Break It" day for me. The REAP board meets concerning my loan to open the jewelry repair/design shop. My credit stinks, so I have to get the board to overlook that and see the merits of the business to both myself and the community.

Living as far from major cities as we do, there is not a repair shop within 65 miles to the south and close to 100 to the east. To the north and west we are talking several hours. The nearby shops are so swamped it takes months for repairs to be finished and the cost is high.

I don't know how many places in the state offer the services of custom-designed jewelry, but certainly no one nearby our humble town.

Most of the residents here own more than one watch so if the battery goes bad, they have another one to wear until they get somewhere to buy a battery, so the ability to just stop by the shop to pick up a watch battery would be invaluable, as would the ability to repair broken chains and clasps, size rings up and down or repair a broken mounting.

I would also offer sterling and gold filled jewelry findings, high quality focal stones and cabochons and some better quality stone and gemstone beads, which are not available within hours of here.

That is all in addition to the most fun part of all -- custom jewelry! At my shop I would have the ability to make jewelry to order, from nearly pure silver. People with large fingers who can't find ready made jewelry would be able to order their own custom pieces. Anyone wanting jewelry with their "brand" on it would be able to order just what they wanted. The ability to make custom belt buckles, belt tips and dress spurs exists as well.

Please, please, please, let the loan board see the value in this shop!

I will be praying throughout the night and I would appreciate any prayers from anyone else out there who is so inclined as well. Thanks!

If the loan is not approved, I guess I will offer the artwork, photography and jewelry I can make without electricity and machines, but it will be hard to make the rent that way.

Praying hard until then! :)

Thinking Colored Pencil today

I have been thinking about the colored pencil portrait I did of my son,"Boy With A Rock," and how most of it came out pretty good, but the water in the background didn't turn out as well and detracts from the overall portrait. I have been wracking my brain to come up with a way to make it better and I haven't figured it out. I did another one of my daughter that came out really well, but I left the background out of it.

I know my colored pencil guru, Ann Kullberg, would know what to do. I have been anxiously awaiting her new book that has a colored pencil drawing of mine in it -- "Tomatoes and Old Colander". The book is a critique of various colored pencil paintings, and I know she will have lots of excellent constructive criticism in it. It is slated to come out sometime this month and is titled "Colored Pencil Secrets to Success."

She has a sale going on right now and I wish I had the money to order a bunch of things. She has this sale only twice a year. Bummer! I haven't even been able to order a copy of the book with my own artwork in it! Check out the book and the sale at She has awesome colored pencil kits that really teach you how to layer the color to get depth and fullness to your drawings.

I really owe Ann a lot, because she is almost solely responsible for any skill I have with colored pencils. I wouldn't be able to do my colored pencil shrink art jewelry if it wasn't for Ann!

I had better eat lunch and head out to do my newspaper story this afternoon.

Happy Designing!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Waiting Game

I turned in my information to the loan board, and now I get to wait, which is very hard for an impatient person like me. Of course, the fact that I have never wanted anything so badly in my life makes this whole process exceptionally hard for me.

I've been mulling this idea since last July and have been actively pursuing a loan for three months now, so I guess I have already been pretty patient. OOOhhh, ulcers are growing!

Sigh, I guess all I can do is continue waiting -- no news is good news, I guess. At least it isn't a phone call saying I was turned down (yet). :)

In the meantime, I did some Prismacolor paintings on shrink plastic today while I worked at the art gallery, so tonight I will shrink those and get them ready to use in jewelry. I did one of a stormy sky with a lone tree silhouetted against it, another of a soapweed at sunrise and a third one of a sunset at the lake. Hopefully they will come out okay -- sometimes the shrink plastic comes out a bit cockeyed after it shrinks.

Time to make supper!

Working on Business Plan

Ugh, not fun, but necessary -- I'm working on my business plan to present to the loan board. Basically, it helps me outline exactly what the business would be and it helps me to see any areas I may have overlooked. So far I hadn't missed much.

The caboose owner is checking into cheaper ways of running electricity and plumbing to the caboose. I sure hope he finds something! Talk about pricey!

Meanwhile, I continue to clean the caboose up (amazing amounts of dust have accumulated in there) in preparation for painting and building.

I researched Burlington Northern cabooses today and found they came in several colors -- hospital green with bright yellow trim, bright green with bright yellow trim, gunmetal gray, and red with yellow trim.

I wish I could paint it burgundy with hunter green trim (or vice-versa) or hunter green with tan trim, but it needs to be bright enough to catch the eye of those driving over the railroad overpass so they can see it before they need to decide which direction to go as they come off the overpass.

So, it may end up being hunter green with bright yellow or butter yellow trim, or red with yellow trim. Inside it will look like an art gallery with cream colored walls and a dark floor. Art and photography will decorate the walls and jewelry will be displayed in cabinets and on shelves.

There will be a flower and rock garden out front and hanging plants on the landings.

I want the place to be noticeable, but very classy.

Mainly, I want it to be functional and full of all the tools I need to repair jewelry and to design and create custom jewelry.

Located at the intersection of highways 2 and 83, anyone passing through the state east/west or north/south will have to pass by this caboose. The possibilities for tourist traffic are high. Cross advertising with the local art gallery will direct people to the "fine arts" offered by a tiny town in the Sandhills of Nebraska and will most likely surprise them immensely.

Okay, enough dreaming, time to finish this business plan!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Loan application updated

Okay, I've got my loan application updated and sent in. Now, if we can just get this loan to go through, I will be in business (literally). I really hope this goes through, because I have so much time and hope invested already, that it will break my heart to not be able to make a go of this. I have dreamed of this shop for years. I have so much to offer the community through my repairs and custom jewelry (not to mention watch batteries), and perhaps I could even (hope of hopes) make a little money to help the family out.

PMC creations, stone necklace and earring sets, prismacolor painting jewelry, wire wrap jewelry, fine jewelry, metalsmith jewelry, art, photography, etc... oh the possibilities are endless!

I've been praying about this for months already -- I just hope God and I are on the same page -- if not, I may have to put my dreams on hold or give them up altogether.

My new tutorials have not been posted yet, but I do have two tutorials available at

Better get the bed made and go to sleep.

Keep those creative juices flowing!


A Great Mother's Day Gift

In addition to the flowers, hugs, kisses, cards and grilled steak for supper, from my family, I was given a great Mother's Day gift today by a friend. He found someone to move the caboose! :) Yeah! There is still a chance to get my business opened up and going. Now I just need more prayers that the loan will be approved (yes, I'm conversing with God regularly) and I will be able to get this thing going! Jewelry repairs, jewelry design, art, photography and more -- a combination jewelry repair/design shop and art gallery. Fun! Wish me luck! Thanks Marvin!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why I am selling my focals instead of wire wrapping them

Several people have asked me why I have focal pendants for sale, but still look for damaged cabs to wire wrap -- because I stink at wire wrapping! I can use my focals for my stone necklace sets, where I don't wire wrap them, but then they have to be perfect, because there is no way to hide any blemishes. I look for messed up cabs to practice wrapping with craft wire, so I am not wasting good quality wire and if it comes out pretty good, I can still wear it myself. Gotta practice somehow! :) I want to get as good at wire wrapping as many of the people I admire are -- and I have got a very long ways to go! Yikes!

On that note, I think I'll do a prismacolor painting -- wire wrapping is testing my patience today.

I am, therefore I create.


Out of supplies, so writing tutorials

I can't just sit around and do nothing, so since I am out of wire, I have been playing with craft wire and my camera and working up tutorials. I posted three to be published at and changed another from a $4 cost to free (I didn't realize that would put it into pending status, so who knows when it will be back). Tutorials on the way include: Double Spiral Ring -- FREE!; Round and Almond Artisan Ear Wires -- FREE!; and Wire Wrapped Bead Bangle Bracelet -- $5. My Artisan "S" Hook tutorial will be free once it gets released from pending status as well.

I have posted some great new focal stones to my Etsy supply site as well. I have also lowered some prices rather drastically. Check it out at

I think I will work on some mini Prismacolor paintings for now (and more laundry and dishes, blech).

Keep creating!


Got creative and used up supplies

I've been creating, creating, creating lately and I used up all my supplies! There are more on order, but I am sort of at a standstill until they arrive.

I had custom orders for two necklaces last week with handmade chains, which used up a lot of wire (they were originally ordered with satin cords instead of chain, so I hadn't ordered wire).

I have some beautiful mini prismacolor paintings that I would like to wire wrap and make into jewelry, but lack of wire precludes that.

Hmmm, need to make some sales so I can place a BULK wire order -- then I wouldn't have this problem!

I've got lots of gorgeous focal beads that I need to do something with too -- where do I start? Guess I'll throw a load of laundry in until my muse hits me.

Have a good day everyone! :)

I photographed, wrote and posted two jewelry tutorials to today. Hopefully they will be approved and published within a week or two, depending on how backed up they are. They are great for beginners to wire wrapping, but even those with more experience might enjoy them. One is for a double spiral ring and the other is for a wire wrapped bead bangle bracelet. I am stoked about getting those done!

Not so stoked about other things in my life.

Still no word on the shop. The owner of the caboose is having trouble finding someone to move it, and it may end up becoming scrap iron if he has to sell it to the state simply to avoid fines because they need it moved to make way for the overpass.

If only Burlington Northern Railroad would move it for us -- what good PR that would be! To move the caboose and see it get painted up all shiny and pretty and be put to good use again instead of rotting in a field! Anyone from Burlington Northern reading this? If you can get this thing moved for us, please contact me ASAP! Thanks!

I am watching my dreams of a jewelry repair/design shop fade away as each day goes by and we can't get this caboose moved. Such a perfect location, such a perfect shop size, what cute factor and what a draw! Not to mention the service I would be offering my tiny community way out in the country and so far away from any jewelry repair shops.

I am getting so bummed!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Jewelry On My Mind

Want it so bad I can taste it!
I recently attended Camp Comeca, the GPCAA creative arts camp. I was an instructor, teaching basic photographic composition. Fun! I was also able to take some classes myself, and I chose to hone my skills in an area I already work in (jewelry design). So, I took the Metals workshop and the Precious Metal Clay workshop. Cool! I came away knowing where my future lay -- and it is in PMC! I loved the metals class and I will be incorporating many things learned there into my jewelry design. However, I think my true talent lies in the PMC, with which I have so many design options, and the custom jewelry aspect of it is never ending! I made some glorious jewelry that I am very proud of and I hope to make much more of it.

Many of you know that I have been working to get a brick and mortar business open and have been in the process of applying for a loan. Today is a bleak day for me, as I have run into some glitches that may be a deal breaker, whether I can get the loan or not. I was planning to put my jewelry repair/design shop/art gallery in a cute little caboose located at the intersection of two major highways near where I live.
The problem is the cost of running utilities to that cute little caboose. Running a power line to within 100 feet is going to cost $2800 and running water and a septic tank costs another $5000, before any of this is even hooked to the caboose!
The loan board does not want to loan that kind of money for a building I don't own (can't blame them for that). I can't afford to do it myself, and the owner of the caboose doesn't want to put out that kind of money either (very understandably) after paying to move the caboose from one side of his building to the other so they can put in a new railroad overpass.
Beyond all of this, I still have to get the loan, which also won't be easy. So, right now everything is kind of on hold. I've been in this process for almost three months now (seven if you count the first building I was looking at) and it is such a letdown to be ground to a halt.
All I can do is pray, pray, pray, I guess. Any other prayers are welcome as well.
My soul is crying out to work with PMC! This would help the family finances as well. My hopes and dreams are all wrapped up in this project! I want it so badly I can taste it!