Thursday, June 25, 2009

Trim paint, summer creations and waiting on electricians

The painting continues, as does the waiting for an electrician so I can prepare the interior of the caboose. I climbed up on the roof and painted the east and west ends of the cupola this weekend. After much debate I decided to paint the aluminum window frames and the old caboose numbers yellow. Good choice! Wow, what a difference that made! The yellow really pops those windows and numbers out and ups the visibility factor 150%!
I am now in the process of trim painting the remainder of the caboose -- all the spots the roller can't reach (which are numerous) and I plan to paint the windows on the ends of the caboose red, since the ends are yellow. Hopefully that will make them pop as well. I may do the doors red as well, but I am undecided on that one. The hand rails on the side of the caboose may go yellow too, and the railings on the ends may go red. Still up in the air about that.

All of my supplies for the interior of the shop will begin arriving Monday, and I have nowhere to put them. The caboose does not lock yet, so I can't store them there, and there really isn't room in our tiny two-bedroom trailer with the leaky roof. Fun!

I am still in dire need of an electrician that will WORK with me -- meaning break down the total bill into parts, so I know what my costs were for what. I have only found one electrician with the time, and he is unwilling to do that one small thing for me, which makes me unable to use him without a bookkeeping nightmare. Also, if he is so unwilling to bend on that one thing, how impossible will he be to work with on other things? He also did not want to do just the interior of the caboose, and the landowner has dug the trench for the electrical himself to save us both money. So, the hunt for the elusive electrician goes on. I am waiting on a bid from a gentleman who seemed both very knowledgeable and very easygoing, but time drags on with no word from him. HELP!

On the other hand, a friend offered me some combination AC/Heat units he has in his barn that came from a hospital remodel many years ago. They worked when they were put in there, and I am welcome to them. So, the heat/AC problem is solved, once the wiring is done so I can plug them in, that is.

I was up until the wee hours last night as PMC design ideas kept pouring through my brain. I scribbled down three pages, front and back, so I have plenty of fodder to work with when the stuff arrives. Fun! I am so excited!

I did manage to make four pieces for the "Summer" Expressions theme event at and that was fun too. Two were pieces that fit into my "Prairie Skies" collection and one belongs in my "Sandhills Scenes" collection.

I am trying to get enough jewelry made to put some in my first one-man art show at the Robert Henri Museum in Cozad, NE as well as in my shop, the Thedford Art Gallery and the Wild Rose Gallery in Broken Bow, NE, as they have requested I bring more pieces over. Yikes!

Laundry and dishes are calling, so I had better get them taken care of, then I had better get to work on my entries for our annual open art and photography show, my show in Cozad and to take to my folks. Happy creating!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Quite the weekend -- lots of paint and pleasant surprises -- answered prayer -- elusive electricians

The bills have been mounting so fast that I fear by the time the caboose is ready to go, it will remain empty, because all of the loan money will have been used up getting it ready and nothing will be left for equipment and supplies.

Electricians with time and reasonable bills continue to be elusive and I have yet to find one. The two local electricians are both booked solid, unfortunately, as I prefer to give my business to the local people whenever possible. One from an hour north had time, but came in $700 over the local guy (who bid before he got socked in) and he wouldn't break down what cost what for me (a deal breaker) and one electrician from an hour south has come up to look, but I don't have his bid or his schedule yet.
My family went camping this weekend, leaving me home alone (without children underfoot) to paint the exterior. I had the west end and most of the south side painted after three solid days of painting.

In church Sunday morning, I was feeling totally overwhelmed with the whole thing and was wondering if I ahd bitten off more than I could chew. God must have heard me, because I went home to change and mow the yard before heading off to paint and after I got 25 feet with the mower, it quit on me! "To heck with it -- I'm going to go paint," I thought and off I went.

I hadn't been at the caboose for 5 minutes when a friend of mine dropped by and told me she had run into a youth group from Oakley, Kansas while she was a the post office. "They are on a mission trip and they are stopping in small towns to do work for people who need it -- I thought you needed it, so I told them about you," she said.

I told her there had to be people who needed help worse than me (such as the elderly) and I called my pastor. He arranged for the kids to sleep at the church, then called around to find someone they could work for. In the meantime, they showed up at the caboose, and insisted on working there until I found someone else with a bigger need. Pastor found no one with a need -- so those kids painted the entire backside of the caboose in two hours! Talk about a blessing!

Now, if an electrician would just show up and wire the interior, I would be in business -- I just need to texture/paint the walls, sand/stain the floor and put everything in and I'll be up and running!

Here electrician, here electrician, where are you? Come out, come out, wherever you are!

The sad thing is -- I am perfectly capable of wiring the crazy thing myself -- but because it is not my primary residence, I am not allowed to. By the time I'm done with this whole thing my hubby may be so sick of it and me that the caboose WILL be my primary residence!

On a down note, I decided to look behind the walls above where the floor got burned under the stove and I found that the wall was totally burned, as well as the ceiling above it. So, quite a bit of repair work to do there -- but one of the sponsors with the kids runs a flooring business, so he quite kindly cut the burned part out for me in the floor and the wall -- leaving just the ceiling portion for my hubby to do. Another blessing!

Got to get the kids dressed and and head out to the caboose to do more work.

Happy creating!

Friday, June 19, 2009

State Art Conference, tornadoes, electricians and paint

I took our art guild's entries to Kearney for the state show. I got the show hung just before judging began and I never even got a chance to see the show itself. I also don't know how the judging went and if anyone from our guild received any prizes. Bummer!

I raced tornadoes and large hail from all directions on my way home with my 2-year-old son sleeping in his car seat. He was such an angel and even helped me hang the show! I am so proud of him! My daughter and hubby were enjoying a night at the rodeo together -- my little cowgirl at heart. She got to ride a horse all by herself the other day and she is SO proud!

I bought the paint for the caboose this past week and today I began the rather daunting task of painting it refreshing new colors today. With the help of my daughter I chose John Deere Yellow (much brighter than I expected -- but in a good way) and Massey-Ferguson Red (classic stop sign red) in the outdoors implement enamel they sell at ranch supply stores -- it inhibits rust, which is awesome. Actually, the colors look much like those of my Carmex tube! I got the west end of the caboose painted with the yellow this afternoon. I still need to go in with the paintbrush to get the spots the roller can't get into, but wow, what a difference! I'll take more photos tomorrow as I go along. At least I feel like I am DOING something right now. I can't decide though, if I should paint the cupola yellow like the ends or if I should just paint it red. Hmm, perhaps I could paint that portion like a flag!

I met with another electrician today -- he seemed very knowledgeable and was very nice -- I hope he has a nice low bid and an empty calendar (good luck finding both -ha!). I was supposed to meet with another, but he never showed.

The insurance man inspected the caboose today and all is well -- my first quarter of insurance is paid. I would have paid it all, but everything is coming out OVER budget, so I figured I had better just pay the minimum and go from there.

Better get to bed -- another long day of painting awaits me tomorrow!

Happy creating!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pleasant surprises, and some not so pleasant

I signed the loan papers Friday evening and will deposit the money in the morning. I am now (gulp) a business owner, along with the joys and the tribulations that come along with that.

On the joy side of things, it turns out I did all my profit and loss projections using numbers from the larger loan amount I went after (purposeful on the part of the REAP people who gave me the loan), so my loan payment turned out to be nearly $240 less than I had projected. THAT kind of suprise I will take any day! :)

Another joy was discovering the hardwood oak floors under all the grime in the caboose. Pretty! I want to sand them down and stain them, but my hubby thinks I am biting off more than I can chew. He thinks I should just paint them. He did, however, work really hard to get all the dirt, grime and old paint off them with the pressure washer this weekend. The look much better, and once they are dry, I'll take some new photos.

I will pick up red/orange/whatever implement paint at the ranch supply store tomorrow, as it is cheaper than regular paint and covers rust well. It is also impervious to the elements, so it is the perfect choice for the exterior of the caboose. Whatever version of red it turns out to be, it will be coupled with John Deere yellow or a similar color of exterior paint on the ends and on the cupola. I had thought I would spray on the paint, but my father-in-law thinks it would be easier to roll it on. I think I will spray the ends (extruded metal on the decks won't take a roller well), then roll the red on the sides (covering any overspray from the yellow).

On the tribulation side of things, when we removed the "boiler" from the corner, it turned out not to be empty, and not to have held water -- it was a diesel tank and it was full of red diesel. So, the owners of the building drained it into 5-gallon buckets, but it leaked all over the floor inside. We got most of it up with the power washer and some degreaser.

Another tribulation was that when we took the old diesel stove out and removed the plywood plank it was sitting on, we found that the plank covered a very large burn hole in the floor. I made sure the caboose owners knew about that one! I sure wouldn't want them to think I did it with the wood stove!

The plumber came to put in the toilet, but the used (hardly used and very clean) one we planned on putting in was too big, and of course, the newer smaller ones, cost approximately $60 more than the older larger style does. So, my $350 bathroom plumbing bill just went through the roof -- because a lot more man hours will now be involved, and I have to buy a brand new toilet.

The local electrician is too busy to take on another job, and there isn't another "local" guy, so I am now going to make the round robin of calls to electricians from neighboring communities to find someone with time on their hands, who can drop everything to help me get this thing wired. I'm already looking at mid July before I can be up and running, and that is IF we can find someone to run the electrical and wire the caboose, and IF we can find someone to run the water line and put in a septic tank (and do it all cheaply -- as the estimates for both are $8000 but I was only awarded $2500 towards that).

Then, to make matters worse, I sit down to make out my orders and I find gold has QUADRUPLED in price since I applied for the loan, so my "gold stock" line item is woefully inadequate.

But, the extranneous items are now out of the caboose -- no more desks, stools, diesel stoves or tanks, and no more iron whatevers soldered to the walls. The floors and walls are clean and we covered over two of the leaking windows with plastic, which should prevent further floor damage due to water.

Next weekend I will paint the exterior while the family goes camping.

This week I have to take the pressure washer back to the rental agency (65 miles away) and buy paint and Father's Day gifts on Monday and hurry back for my daughter's t-ball game in the afternoon; work at the gallery on Tuesday and get my state pieces ready to go; drive the state pieces to the state show in Kearney (120 miles away) on Wednesday and get back in time to take my daughter to the rodeo 65 miles from home (in the other direction) that evening. Thursday will be a momentary chance to breathe. Whew!

Saturday I would like to take a landscape pastel course at the state conference, but it is probably full already, and pick up the state entries (hopefully leaving one or both of mine behind for the traveling show because I received Awards of Excellence). Lofty dreams, since I have never won an award at the state show.

I HAVE, however, been hard at work creating pieces for the upcoming "Summer" challenge at

I have two seraphinite pieces and two lapis lazuli/sodalite pieces so far.

Now I had better work some more on my orders so I can keep my budget in line.

Happy creating!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting orders ready, writing tutorials, and waiting some more

I will have the loan money in hand on Friday. So, I am working on my order for display and packaging materials. I will place it as soon as the check hits my hand. My husband will pick up the power washer on Saturday and we will scour that caboose from top to bottom on the inside. After the floor dries, I will sand it down (after I texture and paint the walls, so I can sand off any spills).

Speaking of the floor -- after removing some of the interior components of the caboose, I had a very pleasant surprise -- under all that dirt and grime hides a beautiful oak hardwood floor! So, it will be lovingly sanded, stained and varnished, or perhaps just sanded and oiled to a beautiful glowing shine.

I'm thinking I will do the interior like an old dining car -- glowing wood, hunter green upholstery and great art and photography on the walls.

The caboose owner helped me by tearing out the desks that were bolted securely to the wall with bolts that were rusted down. The old boiler still has to go, as does the old diesel stove -- which will be replaced with a small woodstove currently stored in the barn at my in-laws. I will use the stove to heat the place during the day, and a small space heater at night or when I am gone.

A friend of mine pointed out to me today that I will be getting the store open just in time for the Sturgis bikers to be coming through, so I would be wise to design some jewelry that might interest them. Good thought and I'll get right on that!

I wrote a tutorial for the "Jewelry for Him" Challenge on The tutorial is called "Totally Handmade Cufflinks" and will hopefully be available within a day or two. I used larvikite cylinder beads and sterling wire to make the cufflinks. Too bad I don't know any men who wear cufflinks! I guess I will put them in the store.
Well, my son is tired and cranky, so it is time to sit with him and snuggle him to sleep, then perhaps I can create something new. :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Waiting Game Again

The loan is approved, but the money won't be in my hand until Thursday. However, I am at a standstill until the caboose is wired. I need to powerwash the interior to get out years of accumulated dust and grease, but those things run on electricity. I want to orange peel the interior, but once again, electricity is an issue and it can't be done until AFTER I use the powerwasher. I want to sand the floors, but need to powerwash and orangepeel BEFORE I can do that. So, I'm waiting.

I sprayed a bunch of recalcitrant bolts yesterday and I hope to be able to remove them today. I need to get the desks, the diesel stove and the boiler out so I can make room for my workbench, work station, my desk, the display area and a safe.

I have hauled a few things out, but more needs to go.

I met with the plumber over the weekend and he will change out the railroad toilet for a regular one and insulate the pipes coming up from the ground to the caboose. I would like to have hot water, but I don't know where I would put the water heater. Hot water on demand is a bit pricey, so I'll probably just make do with cold water, or microwave some when I want some warm or hot water.

It was suggested that I contact Burlington Norther Railroad to see if they would be interested in donating the paint to take the caboose back to its original colors. After perusing caboose photos, it appears that would be a green body with canary or butter yellow ends and white trim and lettering. Not the best colors to grab attention in a world that is covered with green prairie grasses, but it would look nice and would keep the caboose true to its history (not to mention save me a lot of money).

So, the caboose would end up with similar (but brighter) colors to what it has now on the outside. On the inside I think I will emulate the old dining cars, with dark wood, hunter accents and cream colored walls. I want it to look rich but bright enough to work as an art gallery as well.

My neighbor is a master woodworker and he is working me up a bid to build the workstation and the display area. His work is awesome, so I'm sure they will look great!

Better go fix lunch for the kiddos and perhaps make some jewelry!

Happy creating!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Lot of Work Ahead Of Me

Okay, the loan money is on the way -- now the work really begins! The caboose is cute from the outside, but it needs a lot of TLC on the inside! I need to scrub, scrub, scrub, years of debris and dirt from everywhere, plus I need to get it plumbed and wired. I also need to paint the interior, paint the exterior, plant a garden, build a deck, build a picnic table, paint the trash cans, build a workbench, build display areas, and make some really big signs.

I am still fine tuning my list of equipment and supplies so I can get the best bang for my buck -- but I am held back by the fact that I don't know what plumbing and electricity are going to cost. I can't find a plumber and the local electrician hasn't called me back yet, despite numerous messages.
So, today I will probably carry a cooler of hot water down there and start cleaning. I really need a power washer to power all the grime out of the interior, but since there is no water nearby I am going to have to just use elbow grease. I think I'll dig out my luggage cart and just cart the cooler back and forth with water. Fun!

I'm waiting on my husband to return so I can leave the kids with him -- the place spooks my daughter and my son would want to "help," which would mean he would end up covered with water and dirt and the caboose would be in worse shape than it started in as he "touched" everything with wet hands, transferring dirt from one place to another. He LOVES that caboose though and we have to go "visit" it every day.

I'm going to have my daughter help paint, so it feels a bit more "hers" and less scary to her.

I'd better get to work!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

99.9% Sure I'm A Business Owner!

I was informed yesterday that my final loan call will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, but that it is basically a formality -- the decision has already been made, essentially -- that I will get the loan. So, as early as next Wednesday or Thursday, I could have a check in hand and be on my way to being a business owner.

So, time to find a plumber and an electrician (and possibly a painter) to do all the necessary work on the caboose.

It is also time to begin cleaning! The place is filthy -- but it will be hard to clean without running water! I wonder if there is a hydrant nearby with a bunch of hose available.

To keep my mind from racing, I have been doing some wire wrapping and I made my daughter a pendant and wrapped a cabochon that was given to me because it was damaged. I was really happy with the way both of them turned out -- which is not generally the case with my wire wrapping.
The first piece was a black onyx briolette teardrop and it turned out okay. I was working with a tutorial from Lisa Barth, and it was awesome. I actually came away with something wearable.

The second piece was a tumbled pink stone my daughter brought home from a field trip -- quite a challenge shape-wise, and I made it rather fancy, because my daughter loves "fancy" things. It also turned out to be reversible, which is cool.

The third was a petrified bog teardrop cabochon with a small crack in the center, given to me by a very nice man named Robert who has a shop called SilverLeaf on Artfire. I wrapped it to hide the flaw and showcase the colorations. He will cut me two more to match for earrings. It will make a pretty set.
Better get to bed -- it is LATE or early, but my restless legs wouldn't let me sleep.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sales, Smiles, Sunburn and Sighs

Smiles all around as we had a GREAT week at the gallery with lots of visitors and a large number of sales.
In the past two months I have sold four stone necklaces out of the gallery, as well as a 16x20 framed photo. I also sold out of notecards in the gallery as well as the motel that sells my cards in the lobby. Several other members had large sales too -- so everyone is extremely happy.

My latest sale was a one-of-a-kind Owyhee picture jasper necklace that looks like the Nebraska Sandhills where I live. The focal stone looked like rolling hills, with a soapweed growing in the foreground. It was strung with gold-filled corrugated beads along with desert jasper, cream fossil and black onyx beads with a handmade gold-filled chain and clasp and matching earrings. It was called "Soapweed and Sandhills."

I also sold a pearl bracelet and a pair of earrings through my Etsy shop, so the last two months have been good to me. :)

The caboose has been moved and I realized, while on my way home from serving as an EMT at the 50th Annual High School Rodeo out at the Thomas County Fairgrounds this weekend, that it is almost invisible to people coming from the east and west. I have been wracking my brain to come up with a solution to this problem -- but no luck so far. I think it means the caboose needs to be painted red and yellow, but since the lettering does not show up well on the red, I'll have to change it up a bit.

I think I'll paint the ends of the caboose red but trim it out with yellow on the railings, soffit and landing, as well as on the stairs. The sides will be yellow, with red trim and red lettering outlined heavily in black.

I will also put up HUGE signs -- especially to the east and west, angled so they can be viewed from the overpass as well. I see a big investment in plywood and stencils coming up! I'll use the same paint I use on the caboose to tie it all together.

I need to do another mockup of the caboose with the new paint scheme to see how it looks.

We had a good weekend, with a family fishing trip on Sunday. We didn't catch any fish, but we did catch a lot of sunshine and the sunburns that go along with that -- despite copious amounts of sunscreen. The kids had fun playing in the water in the livewell while hubby and I tried many fishing applications to entice the walleye to bite. We ended up catching three short fish we had to throw back. It was a day of family fun despite the fact that we didn't have fresh fish for supper.

The sighs come in from the waiting portion of this whole process. I am by nature, an impatient person, so this several month long loan process has me tied up in knots. I am still so positive that I can make a go of this business, but the past few days the waiting has gotten to me and despite surprisingly good P/L projections, the doubt has had time to creep in -- not doubt that I can manage the business -- but doubt that the loan will be approved. I can't see why it wouldn't be -- the numbers are good -- but I just want this so badly that it scares me!
My husband was even surprised by the numbers that came from a very conservative P/L projection and is now fully on board with the idea -- after realizing I could actually contribute to the family coffers instead of possibly just putting us into debt with the loan.

I think he was simply humoring me before -- although he was supportive -- and now he is excited about the prospect as well.
The board hopefully will convene this week to consider my loan application further. If they agree the business is viable, we will proceed on. If they don't, I am dead in the water -- which would be SO disappointing -- for me as well as for the owner of the caboose who is really excited about the possibilities with this business as I am.
I guess I will just keep praying, as I have a number of area residents who are also waiting with high hopes and a number of repair jobs for me to do.
I guess for now I will just prepare the 4-cheese lasagna I am taking to the community dinner at noon and try to keep my mind off this whole process for a little while. I will also work on a new picture jasper necklace to replace the one that sold.
So, I'm off to cook and create!