Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gearing up

I can't believe it's October already.  Sheesh - where did September go?

Our window displays have a hint of the change of seasons in them:


We're decorated with pumpkins, carved gourds, mums and witches brooms!

We had our 2nd meeting of the Recycled Art Group which we have named:  The Trash Twisters!  We came up with a plan and started building a prototype to help us learn how to do the construction. 

The plan - a mermaid sculpture for the outside of Idiosyncrazies.  Our prototype is a fish made out of chicken wire and packing peanuts and other things we find.

Here are some pictures of the group:
Building the chicken wire frame

"You will conform to my will!"

Stuffing with packing peanuts

Ta da!  Some resemblance of a fish evolves! 

Please note that none of the women in these pictures have any sculpture experience.   I think they did pretty well as beginners!

We put our fish away until the next meeting and we have a lot of ideas for this rather large fish.  She will have big pouty lips, long flowing fins and fabulous bottle cap scales. 

Considering the size of the fish - maybe you can have an idea of how big the mermaid will be?!?!

We also had another wonderful art show and reception featuring the work of fine artist:  Helen Harris
I hope Helen will forgive me because I forgot to take pictures during the show, so I stole some pictures from her website:  Pine Shore Studio


"Sun Kissed"

"Fire Storm"

The reception was well attended and Helen sold a painting!  Don't worry if you missed the reception though, her art will be displayed through the month of October so please come over and take a look in person.  The pictures are pretty, but you really need to see the work in person to appreciate the colors and textures that Helen uses.

We hope to see you soon - we are getting in new items almost every day!

Be well!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's Talk Trash

The first meeting of the Recycled Art Group met last night.  5 of us to start.  Not bad.

We chatted about trash, what can we do with it...threw out ideas, played with some trash I had around.

Fun!

I feel energized by the creativity of the evening and I'm going to use that energy to the max.

Next meeting - we need to come up with a name for the group and we're open to all suggestions so please let me know if you have something clever.

Signed:
A trashy broad

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fair Trade Futures Conference, Boston, MA

I've been in Boston for the past few days for a Fair Trade Futures conference.  My goal is to learn more about the Fair Trade market as a whole and to find new products for Idiosyncrazies.

It has been informative and inspirational at time.  Chaotic and crazy as well.  There are wonderful people that I've connected with and have learned their stories about what part of the Fair Trade pie they fit into:  Producer, wholesaler, retail, faith based organizations, importers, brokers. 

Similar to my previous occupation there are more women involved in the group than there are men, but then if you look at the history of Fair Trade and who Fair Trade supports the most, this will not surprise you.

Many of the hand made products are made by small groups of women who have been trained to make these items as a way to support themselves and learn a craft that will continue to support themselves.  It is not a welfare or a charity, it is way of empowering people to help themselves by teaching them a craft.

Not surprising to me was the link between Fair Trade and environmental groups. Many products use cruelty free, recycled, organic and eco friendly materials. 

We had a wonderful speaker this morning:  Dr. Kevin Danaher who is the co-founder of Global Exchange, one of the companies I buy Fair Trade products from.  In a clean George Carlin kind of way he gets his points across with humor and blunt honesty.  Points we've all heard before, but often forget:  "it's not about I/me, it's about us.  All of us.  The human race as opposed to any singular race.

He mentioned an idea that someone had that our congressman/women, being civil servants that they are should wear uniforms and the uniforms should be similar to the NASCAR drivers with all of the little patches representing the corporations that they represent so that we all can identify them!  I LOVE this idea. 

But one of the most interesting points he made was that we are selling two products:  the item itself and the story behind the item.  That struck a chord with me.  That is how the beginning of this blog began...with the story of how Idiosyncrazies came to be.  A dream of what I wanted it to be, a clear vision of what kind of products I wanted in my store and the people who make the products that I sell. 
Jack, Michael, Paul, Yvonne, Jeannie, Helen, Wendy, Susan, Beverly, Kim, Maribeth, Eric, Judy, Lois, Dori, Beth, Nina, Sasha and Veronika, Mary Ellen, Laura, Norma, Marge, Clayton, Anita, Abby and Abbey, Veronica, Donna...and others.  I don't just want to sell their products...I want the "story" behind it.  It helps me believe in what I am selling to my customers. 

It's not selling really - it's believing.

Fair Trade products have a lot of different stories and I've learned a few of them this weekend. 

There have been 2 markets in which some of the wholesalers and some of the direct producers have set up small samples of their products so that we can touch, feel, smell, taste and see what they are in person.  This has also been very important to me.  It's a piece of the story.

I have to laugh at this concept of selling a "story" because of a job that I had very briefly.  I was let go from that company because I could not tell the owner the story of the product I was supposed to sell.

That is because I didn't believe in it.

The stories I have now...I believe in each and every one of them!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Recycled art

On September 16th we will have our very first meeting of the Idiosyncrazies Recycled Art Group. 

I've never organized a group yet, so this is all experimental right now, but I hope it will be interesting.

The main idea is to make art out of trash. 

The concept is not new, but sometimes you just need a group of people to bounce ideas off of and have fun with it.

I hope it will be a serious group that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The plan is to meet once a month and talk trash...and what creative things we can do with it.  There have been so many things that people are starting to do with trash now that amazes me.

Terracycle is a great company.  They find all kinds of creative ways to make new products out of non-recyclable materials.  This reduces waste from landfills - which is a good thing!  They also have a series on National Geographic called Garbage Moguls which takes you through the whole process of how they make new items.  The creativity in that little company is amazing AND - they are based out of New Jersey!  (not that we have a lot of trash or anything)

Reuseit.com is a great site for consumers to go if you want to learn what you have to do to help reduce the amount of trash that goes into our landfills.

Check out what some artists have already done with trash: http://www.greenopia.com/USA/news.aspx?ID=206

Ultimately what I would like to have this group do is to learn about the medium they choose, educate others about the importance of recycling, up-cycling and reusing items that we would normally just throw away.
And finally my ultimate plan would to be to have an auction 1 or 2 times a year and the proceeds would go to a local environmental group or a local school art program.

So - if you live local and want to join our group please do.  You don't have to be an "artists" just bring some of your creative ideas and maybe some of the artists can bring it to life! 

Let's have fun with it!  Let's learn from it!  Let's create with it!

Sincerely,

A trashy broad

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Procrastinate today!

Don't put it off until tomorrow!

It's been one of those days. 

I am not really procrastinating as much as I am ....
.
.
.
.

Yeah....like I said, one of those days.

We've had a slow week.  The kind of week that if you have never been in retail before sends you into a blind panic and anxiety builds up and you question:  "what the hell have we done?"

We've never been in retail - so we had that kind of week.

Margie called a "B.H.A.G." meeting last week and we talked about strategy and "market penetration" (heh, heh, heh - that still makes me laugh like Butthead). 

So we stepped back a little, took a nice breath, reconfirmed our commitment to this business and to ourselves and are pushing forward.

I mean come on - we can't quit this - we just started!  We are 100% invested and believe in our little store so much that we both agreed we will work as hard as we can to make it work.

And by golly we will!

Talking to other folks who have retail stores nearby they are experiencing the same thing, so that makes us feel a little better.  Still - it keeps you on your toes.  You ask yourself questions like:  Are we selling the right things?  Can people find us?  Do we have enough visibility?  Should we advertise more?  Should we hire someone in a monkey suit to stand in the street and wave at people to come in?

Then you remember - you have only been open for 2 1/2 months!  Calm down.  Relax.  You will have times like these.

B-R-E-A-T-H-E!

:::gasp:::

My way of processing stress is trying to think of ways to reduce the stress.  Unfortunately my brain kind of short circuits.  It's not that I can't think anything  it's more like I think of too many things all at the same time so they become jumbled and meshed and smushed and are all fighting to get to the top.  They bob up and down at different times and as each one reaches the surface I focus on that one thing...until the next one decides to push it's way up and bumps the other guy back down with the rest of them.

It's kind of like gas!  You feel those little air bubbles moving around inside you wanting to get out but they get trapped and you either push too hard to get them out and nothing happens or try to hard to keep them all in because it's not quite the right time for them to be free.

Ideas will pop out and I tell myself I need to write that down before I forget it but I'm so involved doing something else that I can't write it down and then....I forget.

There is the occasional recall - but usually once it's out...it's out.  Gone...like a purple fog dissipating into the atmosphere adding to the hole in the ozone layer. 

Oh wait - I was talking about ideas...not gas.  Sorry.  And the ozone doesn't have a hole anymore does it?

Whatever - I am off topic.

Surprise!

So I am not really procrastinating...I am doing too many things all at once that it just looks like I'm procrastinating!

Honest!

Friday, August 13, 2010

My plan was to post weekly to share with you my experiences at the store.

That was the plan.

Somewhere along the line things got kind of busy and the plans flew out the window.

This is a good thing really. I would much rather be busy than slow.

Today - we are slow. Actually this whole week has been slow. I am going to guess that people are spending money on "Back to School" stuff for their kids and not shopping for gift items and art.
It happens.

The slow bits here and there give me time to rearrange the store and think of new ideas.

We've had our first Artist Show and Reception featuring the work of Fine Artist Jean LeBaron. That went pretty well and I was very pleased with the turn out


Here is Jeannie with some of her paintings.

Here is a sampling of her work.
She ranges from very traditional/representational art to very abstract.

The Art Shows and receptions will be once a month and we have artist's booked through March of 2011 which is awesome and extremely exciting. There is even some talk about my sister Anita and I doing a "Sister Show" sometime in June or July of next year.

How cool is that? (very)

We have offered Fused Glass classes and an Artist's Way Circle based on the book by Julie Cameron. Those have been well received and I hope to add more classes in Precious Metal Clay soon!

Now we are trying to "gear up" for the holidays.

It is strange to me to think about Christmas in August, but I have never done this kind of retail before. It's a case that if you don't order now - you may lose out on some gooooood stuff man.

The down side is that I will have to take down some near and dear art to make room for new pieces.

We need to keep the place fresh.
Overall - we are doing very well for a new store in a bad economy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Livin' the life!

We hosted our first class at Idiosyncrazies today.  Yvonne Yaar came in to teach a few folks about Fused Glass.  We hope to make this one of our regular classes and add on a few others as well.  I did take pictures but have not had time to download them and post them.  I will add it as a separate post.

We're growing!

On foot, on bike, in car...they come! 

And they like us!  They really, really like us!

We like them too!

Not all of them buy, and that is OK.  They will be back I am sure of it. 

We have taken on the role as shop owner, neighbor, counselor, teacher, friend.  A place to come and just be.  Browse around, relax, take it in, look for something new, find something that may have been moved, chat about....?

The things we have chatted about.  Personal, artistic, environmental, weather, economy.  So many things.

We all have our idiosyncrasies don't we?

Connections have been made.  Business connections, art connections, retail connections, personal connections.  New friends...visits from old friends.

Each have been uniquely and wonderfully greeted with open arms.

Synchronicity - I'm listening.  I'm paying attention now.  It is telling me something.

Amazing.  Gratifying.  Absolutelyfreakingwonderful!

Definitely livin' the life.  It's all good.

Thank you.

From my entire heart...thank you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A day off

I could very easily work at Idiosyncrazies 7 days a week, but I am glad that I allow myself one day to recharge the batteries.  I definitely need it!

We grow a little more each day and that is exactly what we want to do. 

Word of mouth seems to be getting out and customers who have stopped in when they were walking or riding their bike have come back to purchase something.

I cannot tell you how very proud I feel about our little business when customers tell us:  "you have such beautiful things", "we needed a store like this around here" and my favorite "your store has such a welcoming feeling to it."

There have been new items added recently:  wonderful paintings, stunning jewelry, beautiful pottery and more Fair Trade products. 

Here are some photos of the new items that came in recently:

Vases by Susan Jamieson: Petal Street Flower Co. in Pt. Pleasant added the florals to some of the vases.  The end results are simply beautiful!
Squall by Anita Williams

Peek a Boo by Anita Williams

Top Kill, Mosaic by Ann Shaver

Red Bird mosaic by Ann Shaver

Sterling Silver Jewelry by Jessica WardSterling Silver Jewelry by Jessica Ward


Snow Day by Ariana Maribel

I can't tell you how excited I get when new work is added.  This has to be THE best job in the world to see all of these talented people and the pieces that they create.  It's just amazing. 

The anal retentive part of me is still in there and feels the need to rearrange the whole store every time new work comes in.  I want to make sure that everyone feels their pieces are being displayed in the best way possible.  It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle but the pieces keep moving around all of the time so the end result is never the same.  The challenge is very interesting and keeps me going.

Sitting here I realized that there were more pieces that came in that I did not get pictures of, but I will correct that on the next post I promise and I will add the new items as well.

Thank you everyone for making Idiosyncrazies a success - we are achieving exactly what we had set out to do.  It's just so incredible!

Be well!


Monday, June 14, 2010

PINE BARRENS BLUES LIVE AT IDIOSYNCRAZIES

Unfortunately there are so many people talking it's distracting, but here is Paul Evans and Chester playing at the opening of Idiosyncrazies. 

I cannot say enough good things about Paul - he is just a wonderful person!


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Morphadoodles!

Yesterday I got a letter in the mail:



A very BIG letter!

I was very excited because of who it was from:

The wonderful folks from Laborastory!

Dr. I.M.A. Stalk and Professor Electra are the scientists (and Morphadoodles themselves) that work tirelessly and use a little bit of magic, a little bit of experimentation to turn a child's (or a very young minded slightly older person's) imagination into life!

The collaborative effort between child and scientists will result in a one of a kind toy that he/she has created. 
Naturally I am the very young minded slight older person who just had to find out more.  I sent an e-mail to Dr. Stalk and Professor Electra and wanted to know how Idiosyncrazies and the Morphadoodles could work together and bring these wonderful creatures to kids everywhere!

Dr. Stalk and Prof. Electra are very busy in the Lab, but I did hear from some very nice ladies:  Susan, Debbie and Barbara and we hope to work together soon!

Back to my Morphadoodle:
I opened up the envelope and found a "Top Secret" document inside:

Inside this folder were the instructions on how to send in my own doodle to be transformed!

Carefully I drew out my doodle and gave it some color and filled in all of the necessary paperwork needed (Doodle Sheet, Doodle Data Form, and Release Form) to send in my request.  Then I placed all of the information into the envelope supplied by Dr. Stalk and Professor Electra, added my postage stamp and headed off to the Post Office to mail it in as soon as possible!

Hopefully soon I will get a "Lab Report" via e-mail to let me know how my Morphadoodle is coming along.

I'm so excited! 

I feel like a little kid!

I will keep you updated on the status and when my creation comes home I will take pictures and share them with you all.

Everyone can join in the grand experiment!  Just go www.laborastory.com and start the process!







Saturday, June 5, 2010

Good morning New Jersey



And to the rest of the world as well!

It's a hot and sticky mess here today.  It's been hot and sticky all week.  Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Our first weekend went very well, then all of the weekenders left and people went back to work and well...the rest of the week was kind of blech. 

No worries though, we expected that. 

There are a lot of local friends putting out the word and I'm dropping business cards off everywhere I can sneak them in.  We're going to take out some ads in the local papers only.  We had a lot of people who came in last week and said they saw our ad so they dropped in to "check it out"!

A few more artisans dropped off their fine goods to add to the store and we're very happy to have them.  It's fun to be able to see these works of art and handcrafted items and learn why they started and how long have they been doing this. 

I have one more Piney story to tell though because I love these guys.  (I really do)

Back on May 13th, I introduced you to Jack Piper the guy who makes the bird houses.  Just a bit further up the road on Rt. 542 is another gentleman named Michael Jones.  I found Michael the same way I found Jack...just driving down the road.  Outside of his home he has a little stand where he sells "Silly Bears". 

Remember these guys?  Part of my Piney Booty!


The bears are made from pine, but every once in a while he is luck to fine some red cedar to use as well.  (I got the last two).  Micheal doesn't cut down any trees for his craft, he just walks through the woods and looks for trees that have fallen down and gets what he needs. 

He has an endless supply of pine since he lives in the Pine Barrens!

Here is Michael behind his bears!  Each one is a little different and has a personality of their own.

Michael started this business on a bet.  His Aunt and Uncle wagered that he couldn't carve one of these bears, something they had been doing themselves. 

Guess what?  He did!  And Michael won "Silly Bears" - his own little business.

In the warmer months Rt. 542 is a road the leads to popular lakes, rivers and streams in South Jersey.  There are canoe rentals, Batsto Historical Park, campgrounds all around and it's the perfect place to buy, hand crafted Bears, Birdhouses, Jersey Fresh garden vegetables and a few New Jersey Wines as well. 

The pace slows down, much different than Northern Jersey where everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. 

It's pure and simple rural living. 

I also bought a jar of Michael's raspberry jam - delicious! 

So if you are driving on Rt. 542 please stop by and see Michael and his "Silly Bears".  He also is carving shore birds and other little odds and ends.  He sits on his backporch and just whittles away. 

How wonderful is that?



If you can't get down to Green Bank, NJ then come on over to Idiosyncrazies we have a few "Silly Bears" hiding out in the gallery just waiting to find a new home!

Have a great weekend all!  Be well.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Opening Day...part 2

Let me show you a bunch of pictures first of what the store looks like:

My daughter Caitlin did all of the displays and everyone told me how beautiful the store looked!

Just a few views as you walk in for the first time.
Here are Paul (on guitar and vocals) and Chester (bass)
They definitely won a few more new fans yesterday.  The couple that live above Idiosyncrazies only complaint was that it wasn't loud enough to really hear the music.  I gave them one of Paul's CD's to listen to and they LOVE it!
There was one gentleman who came to the opening yesterday and heard Paul singing and came back to buy his CD today.  He told me that Paul's voice just stuck in his head and he really loved the way he sounds. 
Paul and Chester most definitely charmed the audience.  They were even polite enough to take a request from my Dad.  (THANK YOU PAUL & CHESTER you both were fabulous!)

Friends and family all showed up for our "big" opening. 

Betsy, Matt, Lily and Lainey came all the way from Pennsylvania to visit it.  The girls walked away with 2 beautiful Fair Trade Mayan dolls.   (Bets , I hope that wasn't too much sunburn I'm seeing in this picture)
It was a very special treat for me to see them.  I worked with Betsy at a previous job and she kept me sane and happy with her sharp wit and fabulous sense of humor.   Look at those little girls of hers...aren't they gorgeous?


 
This here is Mish-elle Renee' Brown! 
Margie and I worked with Michelle about 10 years ago.  That was the birth of Curly Girl Cakes and Michelle has seen these little babies grow and develop into a business of her own. 
We could tell you some freakin' hysterical stories about Michelle, but our contract with her won't allow it.  (You'll just have to contact her and ask her for yourself)

Idiosyncrazies is the bottom floor of a two story building.  Above us is an apartment. A very nice couple moved in recently and I let them know that we were having music on our opening and hoped it wouldn't bother them too much.  They were great about it and even came down stairs to wish us well and give us a beautiful plant to have in our shop. 
 
Thank you Rob and Robin for being such wonderful neighbors. 
They also have a very handsome Staffordshire Terrier named B.A. Baracus.  He's a terror, he's ferocious he'll lick you to death if you come near him.  We feel very safe with Baracus around!

Our opening exceeded both Margie and my expectations.  Surrounded by family and friends and meeting new people who came in out of curiosity.

We talked today about the future of Idiosyncrazies and how we want to promote the business and the artists/artisans who want and need a place to display their work.  It comes down to this:  Your success is OUR success - so let's work together to make it happen.

We will! 

Thank you everyone again - I don't want to sound like a broken record or insincere but we really are thankful.

Be well all!




Saturday, May 29, 2010

Opening Day!

Wow!

Today went beyond my wildest expectations. 

I am so exhausted I can barely think. 

The opening was wonderful.  We were surrounded by wonderful friends and family members who's words of encouragement, hard work, love and support lifted us up to make this dream possible.

In two short months Idiosyncrazies went from a small idea to a reality.  Everything just fell into place at the right time and in all the right ways. 

This was meant to be. 

Any doubts that I ever had have all vanished and I now understand how why people start a business because of a strong passion for something that they believe in.

I believe in Idiosyncrazies!  I believe that somehow and in someway, someone or something has directed me to this path.

Perhaps it was many things and many people that just came together in the perfect combination at the right time and in the right space.

I keep trying to find the perfect way to thank everyone that has helped make this happen. 

The words just fall flat.  They cannot compare to the emotions that I am feeling at this time and I don't think I could ever actually write it down in a way that would truly reflect how I feel.

With that - a very simple, deeply heartful and a truly joyous "Thank You!" to everyone. 

I love you all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

...the people that you meet each day!

Idiosyncrazies has been....well - CRAZY! 

2 more days until we open and there is still a lot to do.  Our signs are in which is a relief.  Too many artists who have been dropping off work keep telling me that they drove right by because they didn't see any sign.

Still no business cards, but that is not real high on the priority list right now.

I am constantly amazed at the people we have met and the friends who have been willing to help us get up and running. 

One of the women that I met when I was first scouting out places to rent for Idiosyncrazies told me that if everything seems to be falling into place then it was meant to be.

I truly believe this.  This has been the most incredible experience of my life.

This blog has been my way of chronicling my journey.  The lessons I'm learning, the people I meet, the frustrations, the anxiety, the joy, the "oh my God what have I gotten myself into's" and the moments of pure clarity as I sit in this little store and watch as day by day a dream comes true. 

My dream, Margie's dream, Paul's dream, Jack's dream, Dori's dream, Abby's dream, Michael's dream, Clayton's dream, Helen's dream, Wendy's dream, Beth's dream, Michelle's dream, Lois's dream, Judy's dream and so many others who I haven't met yet or will never meet.

Blows my mind away.  It really does.

And the stories!  The people and the stories they have about their art, their craft, their passion for what they do will make my connection to their work and to a customer that much more incredible.  This is not just another piece of jewelry.  This bird house is not what you buy at Target or A.C. Moore, this is an original painting by the artist in front of you, sometimes with the paint still tacky and not a print that you will see at Bed Bath and Beyond. 

Will it be more expensive - sometimes yes and other times you will be surprised at how inexpensive some of these wonderful treasures are when you understand the work and skill and love of what they do goes into each and every piece.

On Sunday I met Dori Daus.  She owns a little business called "The Face of Contentment".



Dori answered an ad that I put on Craig's list.    Actually I think she was the very first person that answered my ad - a simple "Call to artists".

I asked her for some pictures of her work so I could see what she was making and I just loved her jewelry. 

Any kind of art is subjective to me.  Sometimes you like it and sometimes you just don't.  Being a bit anal retentive most of my life you would think that I would like the mass produced, die cut, looks like everyone else's kind of jewelry. 

Nope - that's not really me.  I don't wear a lot of jewelry simply because I'm a bit too rough with it.  Necklaces get broken, earrings get lost, bracelets just "fall off my wrist" and rings that fit my chubby little fingers just don't look right in my opinion. 

But this isn't about me...so let me get back on track here! 

What I instantly loved about Dori's work is the somewhat chaotic but very natural beauty it falls into.  She works with precious metal clays, lamp work beads, fused glass pieces, chain mail, a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a whole lot of personality! 

Dori's personality. 

Fun!  Lively!  Honest.  And (I stole this from her website) her "journey to find contentment while making a little mischief" gives you a good mental picture of who she is.


Similar to other folks that I've met, Dori found herself on the unemployment side of things and decided to make what was a hobby a full time gig.  She sells at craft shows, and stores.  She has a web page and sells her unique and individual pieces of wearable art on Artfirehttp://www.artfire.com/users/faceofcontentmentdesign

Dori's previous line of work was as a special educator and she brings those years of education into teaching her art to others. 

Idiosyncrazies is going to find a space and a place and a time to get Dori in there to have a few classes so that she can share her passion with others.  I have no doubt that her infectious personality will make it a big hit and they will be something that we can offer on a regular basis.

Heck - I want to take a class NOW!

So please, stop by Dori's web site, say Hi to her on Facebook or send her a tweet I have no doubt she will be very happy to hear from you.

Thank you Dori for reaching out and bringing your wonderful pieces to Idiosyncrazies!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Yikes

4 more days before we open.

I'm exhausted, but I feel pretty good.  Yesterday I went home early.  Felt a little light headed and queasy.

Over tired I think.  (I was cranky and I'm not ashamed to admit it)

I took a nap.  Got up and ate some dinner.  Went back to bed.  Slept wonderfully!  Was nice and refreshed this morning.

My daughter Caitlin helped out today.  She finished tagging the rest of the inventory we had and set up some of the displays.  The girl has a talent for this stuff.  She did a beautiful job.

My minion Robin had a much needed day off.  She's been working her tail feathers off!  Plus I think she needed a break from my cranky ass self.  (Thanks for putting up with me Rob!  Love ya!)

Tomorrow I pay a visit to the maker of Silly Bears.  I had a preview of them a few weeks ago with my "Piney Booty" and we've gotten such positive responses that I'm out to get some more for Idiosyncrazies.  He also let me know that he does other carvings as well...ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhahahahaha!

I am dragging along Pop Murphy with me tomorrow.  This should be very interesting!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BFF

Here is my minion Robin:

I have known Robin since I was 5 years old!

We've stayed in touch throughout the years.  Sometimes not as often as we would have liked.   Distances, marriages, kids, divorces - whatever the reason.  Life happens!

It's nice to have a friend that no matter how many years pass, you can just pick up where you left off and continue on.

Robin has been back in New Jersey for the past few months and when I told her about Idiosyncrazies she was the first person to volunteer to help.

And she has helped a LOT. 

She lives 1 hour south of Idiosyncrazies but she's come up quite a few times to help paint, offer advice and a second opinion, helped me scope out some of the local cuisine (we've only tried one pizza place so far....about 100 more to go) and break out into the occasional dance!  (We were usually the first two out on the dance floor back in the day.  Never afraid to act a little crazy and have fun)

Robin will eventually have to go, and I will miss her terribly but I am so glad to have had her here with me and share this experience.  I couldn't imagine it with anyone else!

Love ya Robin! 

This one's for you!

Monday, May 17, 2010

A real gem of a guy!


Thanks to Facebook and reconnecting with old high school pals I have met a true gem of a man.

His name is Paul Evans Pederson.  Tall, burly and handsome with a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile. 

(I stole this pic from another source because I LOVE this photo of him!)

We exchanged a few e-mails, chatted on the phone and finally arranged to meet where he currently displays his beautiful "Pine Barren Diamonds" TM

The "Diamonds" are carefully dug up from old abandon glass works that were famous here in New Jersey.  The sandy soil and abundance of trees for fuel allowed NJ to be one of the premiere glass makers in the late 1700's. 

Paul used to go out with his metal detectors and look for lost treasures and would dig up the occasional piece of glass.  Knowing that there were plenty of old glass works out there he held on to them thinking that maybe he could do something with them someday.

By golly he did find something:  "Pine Barren Diamonds"TM.  Each piece of glass that Paul has found could be up to 200 years old!  He has been given very special permissions to dig in places that no one else has been able to.  These are secret locations that only Paul knows of.

Paul then spends up to 700 hours shaping and polishing his diamonds to make unique and beautiful jewelry.



(this one is my favorite!)

I was hoping for a bright sunny day so that the light would really make these diamonds shine, but Mother Nature was not being very cooperative with me today.

The colors in the glass were created by the companies that made them.  Paul rattled off the name of each one, but unfortunately I don't remember them. I should have written it down.

These unique pieces of New Jersey history will now be sold at Idiosyncrazies!  Paul has also told me to let anyone know that if you want a custom piece he will be more than happy to make one for you.

Jewelry is just one of Paul's many talents.  He is a singer/song writer and writes poetry and has written a book! 

Idiosyncrazies has invited Paul to play at our opening on May 29th and he has graciously accepted.  So if you are in the area that day, please stop by and roam about the store, take in some good music and light refreshments and meet New Jersey's gem of the Pine Barrens - Paul Pederson!

Here is a great song called "The Screamin' Hollar Inn" by Paul.  I hope you enjoy!



Here is a picture of Paul and I when I went out to meet him.  Don't you just want to give him a big ol' hug?  I did! 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

cont...

Let me tell you about Jack Piper.

I found Jack on my way back home yesterday.  I had noticed him putting out bird houses in front of his house and decided to go take a look!

The curvy on on the right is the one that caught my eye!  How funky is that?  I love it!  They are both made out of red cedar. They are so simple yet so beautiful at the same time.

I introduced myself and told him about my store and that I was looking for work just like his and wanted to know if he had anymore.  "Well, normally I do, but I went to the auction last weekend and they wiped me out. A lot of people wanted them as Mother's Day gifts."

He asked me to come back to his shop and he would show me what was left of his inventory.

Here is the PinePiper Woodshop:

It looks like it's an extension of his garage and when you go inside it was the kind of place where guys can site down, have a few beers, play some cards and just relax.


He has a nice little stove, a comfy table and chairs and a small bar.  Definitely a "Man's Den". 
I have to admit - I was a bit jealous.  I love little spaces like that.  Some place you can steal away every once in a while and do...whatever.  Play some music, paint, build bird houses...nice!  Jack plays the guitar too and he's working on teaching himself the banjo.  Maybe the next visit I can convince him to play something for me.

Here he is holding up one of his remaining bird houses!

Jack was covered in saw dust, has an easy smile and is a very friendly guy. We chatted for well over an hour.  Like me he's been unemployed for over a year and struggling to find a job.  He's close to my age I imagine and I think we are both finding it hard to get back into the workplace again.  Finding it hard to get back into working for someone else.

He used to work for one of the local yacht companies, but the economy being the way it is you can imagine that the demand for yachts has slowed down just a bit!

So Jack being an entrepreneur took what was a hobby and decided to "push the envelope" a bit.  He has a buddy who has a saw mill down the road and they help each other out by giving each other business.  Jack gets a good supply of the wood he needs to create his bird houses, frog hotels, push me-pull you's, trellis', boxes...you name it, Jack can probably make it for you!


Here's his shop.  The smell of pine and cedar are warm and comforting - but then I always liked the smell of wood.  This shop has seen a lot of good years and I think it will see a lot more.



Jack is demonstrating how his trellis's are assembled.  It's such a simple design really and completely earth friendly!  The wood will eventually rot out and become part of the earth again. 

Cycle of life continues.

I asked Jack if he was happy doing this and he said absolutely. He makes enough money at PinePiper Woodshop to pay his bills and his mortgage.  He's living a simpler life, NO stress and really loves what he is doing. 

How can you beat that?

I have a feeling that Jacks bird houses will sell very well at Idiosyncrazies and I look forward to driving back down there again to see him and chat some more.  He told me that he makes THE best grave blankets and uses bog peat and mosses that grow right around where he lives!

They are on my list that is for sure!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Update!

I didn't think it would be very interesting to post more pictures of the painting that has been done so far until it's...well done!  Instead, let me tell you about my day today!

I left the house this morning around 8:30 am to drive down to Hammonton to meet Paul Evans, who is an artist, a musician and a writer.  A friend from high school "introduced" us via Facebook.  She knew I was looking for NJ artists and artisans and thought that he might have something I could put into Idiosyncrazies. So we exchanged phone numbers and chatted and arranged a meeting so that I could see his work.  I won't tell you what he makes just yet, I will save that for another post.

There are a few different ways to get to Hammonton from my house, but  I decided to take Route 542.  Route 542 runs from Tuckerton to Hammonton. It's very rural and perhaps a bit backwards and the local people that live in this area are known as "Pineys" which comes from the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  Kind of the Native New Jerseyan - but far from anything you will see on TV - The Sopranos, Jersey Shore on MTV.  They aren't gangsters (well maybe a few in Hammonton), they are hard working, mostly blue collar workers and farmers. 

My parents moved from northern New Jersey to this area when my sister was very young.  I spent the first six years there as well and am proud to call myself a "Piney".  As soon as I get below exit 63 on the Garden State Parkway the smell of the air changes and so does the scenery.  The scent is a mixture of pine, cedar, creosote from the pilings on the docks and salt air.  It may not seem like a nice combination, but as soon as the first whiff comes across my nose, my whole body relaxes. 

It smells like home.

I arrived at my destination, an antique shop right on the White Horse Pike in Hammonton, got out of my car, checked my watch - 10:00 am, right on time!  I looked up at the sign for the store and noticed that the hours were:  Wed - Sunday 10:00 - 5:00 PM.

D'oh!  Today is Tuesday.

My meeting with Paul isn't until tomorrow.

Crap.

After murmuring a few other expletives I got back in my car.

There were a few interesting spots I passed along the way, I decided to investigate!

Hammonton was the hometown of a guy I dated in High School.  I am familiar with it, but it's been almost 30 years since I've been there. 

Not much has really changed.

Hammonton is known as the "Blueberry Capitol of the World".  If you don't believe me well then here is a picture of the welcome sign as you are driving in: 


Blueberries grow wild all over much of southern New Jersey.  The sandy soil is perfect for them to flourish and when I was a kid we used to pick them and eat them right off the bushes! 


This clothing store has been here since...I don't know when.  I've never actually been in the store, at least I don't think so, but I know their jingle by heart:

If you've got a passion for fashion.
And you've got a craving for saving.
Then take the wheel of your automobile
and swing on down to...IDEAL!

I actually sang this the other day.  It just popped into my brain and as soon as I started singing it, my friend Robin joined right in.  If you are really into cheezy jingles, take a listen here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQFlkK9nYYs  If you listen to the talking parts in the very beginning you will hear the woman say:  "It's nothing but a Quonset Hut".  I used to think it said it was a closet hut because I had no idea what a Quonset hut was - but now I do!  (I love the internet!)

Another well know landmark in South Jersey is this: 


The Renault Winery champagne bottle.  Originally there were four of them used as advertisements for the winery:  Egg Harbor, Hammonton, New Gretna and Bayville.  Only 2, the one in Egg Harbor and in Hammonton are still used by Renault. 

Renault is one of the oldest continually running wineries in the country.  It was established in 1850 and is still going!  They were able to make "sacramental" wine during the prohibition by getting special permission from the Government.  Renault has cut down on the production of their wines and is now basically a tourist spot.  They have a very nice tour of the winery, with tasting and a nice dinner at the end.  The tour is fun, but the wine...eh.  Not my favorite.  It's very sweet, kind of like Welch's grape juice sweet. 

Farm markets used to be everywhere here in New Jersey.  Jersey fresh produce is absolutely the best and that is why we are known as the "Garden State".  Actually the name came from the Hon. Abraham Browning who described New Jersey as:  an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other."  He called New Jersey the "Garden State" and the name kind of stuck!

Along Rt. 30 in NJ is this farm market that I can remember since I was a kid:


The White Horse Farm Market.  (Can you see the white horse on the right hand side?)  Route 30 is called the White Horse Pike and there is a Black Horse Pike as well which is made up of several routes that run through NJ:  #168, #42, #322 and #40.  I could never remember which was what when I was a kid, but they basically got me to the same place so that was all I needed to know!  Each roadway will have either a white or black horse somewhere along the way and that was the only way I could really tell.

You can find just about anything you ever wanted or needed along these two roads and my occasional A.D.D. spotted all kinds of stuff. 

Here's an old John Deere Tractor that was left abandoned.  It's become a very nice planter now.  Vehicle planters are very popular among the Piney's.  Most Piney's will have either a car planter, a boat planter, tractor planter, trailer planter...another reason we are the Garden State!  ;)  To the untrained eye they may look like an old car up on cinder blocks that was just left there, but to a Piney - it's like making a barrier reef with an old ship.  We are preserving wild life by allowing the indigenous plants to grow wild which supports local wild life by giving them shelter.  It's a whole eco system of it's own. 


A work of art all by itself isn't it? 

Ok, I know it's not only a Piney thing, but this particular one is!

Gosh - I just rambled and still haven't gotten to Jack or Paul.

I think I will save them both for another post, this girl is going to bed!