Friday, February 20, 2015

books, boxes and booze

I've been packing up my mom's house all week and its a lot of work.  I find myself throwing out at least one contractor garbage bag full of trash every day.  There are about 30 boxes full of stuff that I still have to go through with my brother, which I put in the basement.  Then there are the 30 donate/sell boxes, things that are not trash but that my mom doesn't want to move or my brother and I don't want to keep. Of course my mom has about 20 boxes so far of things she is moving to her new apartment. Its a lot of boxes.

There are a lot of books.  Books are really heavy.  I would love to donate them to a charity book fair, but they don't provide a pick up service and I am not lugging 8 boxes of books in and out of my car.

I've found a lot of cool things in mom's house.  First of all my dad kept a lot of records.  I now know exactly what the household expenses were in 1979, 1980. 1981.... you get the picture.  And this was all before computers.  I also have every card and letter I ever wrote to my parents as well as all the report cards. I think these things are only cool to me and my brother, but we should have a good laugh this summer when we go through them.

And then there are the bottles.  My parent's liquor cabinet contained all sorts of strange libations which were so old that that bottles where still sealed with those tax stamps they used to use in Missouri.  Mom still had three unopened bottles of scotch and whiskey which we gave away.  The rest of the booze was undrinkable.

Well, I'm off to Council Shop to drop off eight bags of clothes for donation.  Then to the dry cleaner to give them two shopping bags full of wire hangers. Finally to the grocery store's change machine to convert my mom's giant bag of change into paper money. I'm thinking its about $200 worth and she will be donating it to charity!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

so many decisions, so little time

This week was a stressful one.  I spent three and a half hours at Home Depot ordering tile, vanities, countertops, sinks and faucets. I had sourced everything in person and through the website.  My contractor Bob gave me all my measurements. I had my samples and my computer printouts of everything I wanted to order and with the help of Jason, the awesome design consultant at the Home Depot everything got ordered.  Still, it took three and a half hours. 

What did I learn?  Home Depot has awesome stuff, but most of the awesome stuff is not in the store. You have to look on the website.  The stuff in the store  is builders grade and good for a fast remodel.  I want something a little more custom, but not too crazy expensive.  Bob suggested I check out bathroom vanities that included sinks and tops and I was able to find a couple that fit perfectly in my two remodeled bathrooms.  I got lucky with the tile and was able to find floor tile for the kitchen in store.  I went for Carrera marble in one bathroom and white subway tile in the other.  I ordered all metal Kohler faucets for all the sinks and showers.

Then I was off to Appliance Discounter in Ballwin.  OK, here is my shameless endorsement, Joe was awesome and gave me a great price on new appliances for my kitchen redo. I got my Bosch Dishwasher, a Samsung pantry door refrigerator, an LG wall oven and an Electrolux gas cooktop.  Yes they all match. And the cooktop and oven were from open boxes so I got a super great price.  I have to tell you that I researched brands, reviews and prices before I bought and I did good!

So I'm pretty much done shopping.  There are a couple of light fixtures to get, and they are the "jewelry" of the home so I better not go overboard.   I also have to decide on the type of fireplace I want for the Den.  I'm thinking ethanol.....any comments?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

exciting news

There are a lot of changes going on around here.  Some make me scared, some nervous, and some excited.  But I think that for the most part change is good for me.  It makes we more active and more creative and even if it the change is something I didn't necessarily want or plan for, it can be a good thing.

Case in point, my mom, who is 88, fell and broke her arm.  Its a bad break and she was in a cast for 8 weeks and is slow to heal.  It was, of course, her right arm.  So she could use it to do anything.  I think that the fall made her see how difficult living alone had become.  So after a few weeks she made a decision to move into an independent living apartment in a senior residence.  My brother and I had been urging her to move out of her single family home for many years now.  But I am glad that the decision to move finally came from her.  And once she had made it she was excited about it.

Then she and my brother came to me with an idea.  Why don't I move into my mom's home when she moves.  I can renovate it to my liking, sell the home I have now and be able to live without the burden of a big mortgage.  I presently live about a mile away from my mother, in a slightly larger house, decorated to my liking.  I have lived here with my two daughters since my divorce 9 years ago.  I love my house and so do my kids.  But they are getting older and one is about to leave for college, I have to think about what was going to be better for me financially in the long run. Now that I have decided to move back into the home where I grew up, I am super excited!  This is a fantastic opportunity for me to design and create a space that is totally my own. The skies the limit, well maybe not, I do have a budget.

I invite you to join me in this journey as I pack up my mom, renovate the home, sell my present home and then move in and decorate, all while running a business and parenting my girls. 

My Mother and daughters at her home, taken before the Homecoming Dance 2014

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wish you were There

I missed seeing so many of my customers at the NY NOW show last week.  I know the weather in New York was horrible.  It seems it always is during the show.  But I had hoped that many more of my gift shops would have made it out to the city to stop by. 
Still I got some great new accounts, including the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles and The Tenement Museum in New York City.  I am proud to have my work available in both those places.

If you did not come to the show than you missed seeing my new Tab Necklaces!  They are silver ( of course) and feature popular sayings in English on one side and in Hebrew on the other!

The first day of the show my small chapel locket was stolen
:(
Perhaps I should consider that a compliment?

Friday, January 9, 2015

my upstairs office

This the story of how I turned a useless space into an important, functional part of my home.

 This is basically how it looked before.  But It was usually filled with junk and things I just wanted out of the family room.  Oh, and the sink dripped 

I had the bottom cabinet, sink and mirror and sink removed and a shelf added.  I painted the whole alcove turquoise, found this awesome metal tanker desk on Craigs List for $30.  Found a chair at a second hand office supply store for $35 and had it recovered in orange vinyl at an auto shop.  Added a few bright accessories and the results is a super cool office!



My Home 
Office


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hamsa with Heart

I have been asked many times to create a Hamsa necklace.

The Hamsa is a symbol used in both Judaism and Islam.  Many people love to wear Hamsa as a religious symbol as well as a symbol of happiness and good luck.  Because there are so many versions, I wanted to come up with something unique and beautiful.  the result is a double layered design with has a beautiful texture,  There is a cut out heart shape on the front and a double chain 18" sterling silver necklace passes through the pendent.

As usual the design is made by hand in my studio out of fine silver.  The necklace is $72 at my etsy store.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dog tags

 Introducing these new handmade fine silver dog tag necklaces.  I create each dog tag pendent by hand in my studio, one at a time. 

They hang from an 18" long sterling silver 1.5 mm ball chain.














          The pendant is available in three different motifs.  All the dog tags have an English word or phrase on one side and the Hebrew translation on the other.

"I believe"
"Peace"
"I am my beloved and my beloved is mine"

The dog tag necklace is available at my
Etsy store.  For wholesale inquiry please contact me.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Niche Award Winner 2014

I am proud to have won the Niche Award in the Judaica category for my fine silver "Freedom Mezuzah".

I made the mezuzah for the 2013 Museum of Imajewnation's show which was held in St. Louis.  Please see the previous post for more information.

The Niche Awards were held in Philadelphia in January 2014, during the Buyer's Market of American Crafts.  Unfortunately I was not able to attend the ceremony, but I was sent a beautiful glass trophy.

This award really means a lot to me.  It gives me credibility as a judaica artist.  I has exposed my work to a greater community.  Hopefully it will lead to bigger and better things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

what's happening

Well, I haven't posted in a while.  That's because I have been super busy in the studio working and preparing for some wonderful shows.

In December (11-15), I am in San Diego for the Union of Reform Judaism Biennial.  This convention is incredible.  The spirit of the people attending is so exciting and uplifting.  Oh, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking.  I am selling my Judaica and Jewelry (retail) at the Biennial's exhibition hall.  But if your temple have a gift shop I will have information on purchasing wholesale.  I have packed up my boxes with all my displays to be shipped out.  I now I am making lots of original pieces to sell at the show, and yes, the leather bracelets will be available!

I also just got my Booth assignment for NY Now in February.  I will be in the Handmade section at the Javits Center in booth #9451.  This wholesale only show is the best in the country.  So if you are a store or gallery, please come by and see my line.  I have so many exciting things.

This is a men's version of my studded star.  It comes on a 20" heavier ball chain.  People have been asking for men's Mogan David's so I am hoping that everyone likes this.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leather Bracelets

I sell to a lot of small gift shops in temples and they are always asking me to make something more affordable.  Ok, cheaper-but with the same style and quality all my pieces. So last month I was tinkering around in the studio, trying to come up with another great Bat Mitzvah gift.  I remembered that my daughters always come home from camp with an arm load of friendship bracelets, that they made or traded.  The bracelets stay on until they inevitably fall apart, and off.  They are really cool and a bit bohemian.  I really like them, so I see do many high end jewelry designer, so why not make a Jewish version.
I found a great American made company that makes leather cording in great colors.  I designed a bunch of silver charms, a chai, star, heart, hamsa and a shalom charm.  After a lot of experimentation I decided on a double strap design with a silver button closure. 

I'm still experimenting on the colors I should offer.  I've showed them to a couple shops and they have really liked them.  So Im making more and will have them on had for the URJ show in San Diego in December.

They are about $32-$34 retail. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Niche Award Finalist 2014

I checked my email this morning and I was delighted to find that my Freedom Mezuzah was chosen as a Niche Award Finalist in the Judaica catagory.

I created the piece especially for an exhibit at the Museum of ImaJewnation last year in St. Louis, called Freedom Imagined, Freedom Lived.  Here is my Artist Statement about the piece.



Freedom Mezuzah
Rachel Kranzberg Miller
Fine Silver

We were slaves in Egypt, imprisoned and forced to build the temples and mausoleums for Egyptian Gods and Pharaohs.  The pyramid shape and hieroglyphics texture represents this. The doorway, recounts the connection between the lamb’s blood on the lintel and door posts of the Israelite homes in Egypt on the night of the exodus, protecting the Jews from the 10th plague-- the killing of the firstborn in Egypt.  The Ten Commandments are represented at the top of the piece, the ultimate prize for the Children of Israel.  Inside the Hebrew script texture provides a safe and loving home for the scroll.  For me, the Jewish home is the most important element in my life and my art.

This mezuzah, unlike most traditional Mezuzot, opens and unlocks, from the front, thereby allowing one to free the scroll from its home and examine or study the text inside.  

The Niche Awards are given out by Niche Magazine, as an award for excellent in fine crafts for American and Canadian Artists.  

The Mezuzah was purchased by the Karma Fine Crafts in Newton, Mass. and is available for purchase as well as many other creations from Rachel Kranzberg Miller


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In the Etsy Shoppe

I am so sorry that I haven't posted in a while.  I have been super busy.  First, there was the Buyers Market.  It was so great to meet so many of you retailers and make new friends and contacts along the way.  Then, it was Passover, and I was so busy cleaning and then cooking.  The sedars were great!  Now I am finally settling down and getting down to business, filling orders, and preparing for my next big wholesale show this August in New York City.
I will be part of New Yorks Newest, which is the new vendor part of the New York Gift Show.  My booth will be at Pier 94, not the Javis Center.  But if you are a Retailer looking for new talent it is the place to be.  I plan on bringing a lot of secular jewelry to the show.  I am working on some great one of a kind pieces.
Meanwhile, my Etsy shop is full of the Bronze Mezuzahs casts from my silver originals
and much more affordable! Check them out, they make great housewarming and wedding gifts.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

five more weeks

In just five weeks I am off to the Buyer's Market of American Crafts in Philadelphia, my first wholesale show.  I've been super busy creating order forms, invoices, line sheets, labels, advertising and marketing materials.  It's been a real learning experience for me.  Here is a sneak peek at the pictures and sign that will hang in my booth.






I have also been working on my line and samples.  I basically have two groups of things I am showing.  Of course I have my fine silver one of a kind Mezuzots, Yads and Jewelry.  But I also have a select group of Mezuzahs and Jewelry which is cast from the original designs and can be ordered in multiplies.  The designs have been coming back from the caster these last few weeks and they look really nice.  I am very excited about this new venture which could really expand by business.














 My ad in the Winter edition of Niche magazine is out and I have already gotten a lot of inquires and orders.  This makes me even more excited for the BMAC show!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

new and exciting

First of all I have very exciting new!  I am a finalist for a Niche Award in Judaica, otherwise know as Jewish theme art and ritual items.  For those of you not familiar with Niche, it is an award given by the Buyer's Market of American Crafts, the foremost most important whole craft show in the United States.  Niche is the magazine which is read by most retailers who buy original art jewelry and crafts. The awards are quite prestigious.  I will be featured in Niche magazine, on their website, and be honored at the BMAC show in Philadelphia in February.  Right now the 2012 winners are still posted, once they change over the website I will let you know.

I decided to apply for the award last spring.  My feeling was that if Niche thought my work was worthy then it would be a sign for me to go to the next level.  This is exactly what I am doing.  I have designed a wholesale  line of Jewelery and Judaica that I am showing at the BMAC show.  The work is all cast from my original designs.  The jewelry is all in sterling silver and the Judaica (mezuzot and yads) will be available in antique bronze and white bronze.  I am so excited about this line.  My work has a unique voice which I feel has been missing in Judaica.  It is neither traditional nor ultra modern, but a mix of eclectic styles which is indicative of how many of modern Jewish households and people look like.  I will also be showing my original fine silver mezuzot.  They will be available for galleries

So right now and am embarking on a very busy and exciting couple of months.  I am preparing samples, pricing, making line sheets, preparing packaging ideas and designing a trade show booth.  Special thanks to all my friends and other artists out there that I have called on for their advice and encouragement.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ARTstravaganza 2012

I am happy to be a part of Best of Missouri Hands Holiday Show this year.  It is back at the Artist Guild in Oak Knoll Park in Clayton.  This is a great venue and an important juried show.  There is a great variety of jewelry, art, and crafts, all from members of the Best of Missouri Hands.  

11th Annual ARTstravaganza November 9-11 2012 Show Hours: Friday Evening 4:00 to 9:00 PM Saturday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Sunday 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM At the St. Louis Artists' Guild, Oak Knoll Park, Clayton, MO 63105 for more information call 636-293-6864.

Please come by and visit.  There is also live music and wine tasting!

This is my last retail show of 2012.  I am busy working on a new exciting project in which to show my work.  Stay tune for more information next post! 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chanukah Bazaar

It's that time of year again.  The Bnai Amoona Congregation Chanukah Bazaar is this Sunday, October 28th from 10am-1pm.  I will be there.  There is usually a great selection of vendors that have really cute holiday gift stuff. I I making some extra earring right now that will make some great presents. Of course I will have my Mezuzots, Yads and Jewish star necklaces.  You can also order Yads to be personalized for Bar Mitzvah presents that will become a real heirloom.  Stop by if you get a chance.

Bnai Amoona is located at 324 S Mason Rd, in Creve Coeur Missouri.

Monday, October 15, 2012

SMM Show

I am very excited to be a part of the Society for Midwest Metalmiths show this weekend at the St. Louis Ethical Society on Clayton Road.  I recently became a member of this group of Artist, who provide support, education and also grant scholarships to artists training in the Metal Arts.  There is a huge amount of talent in this group.  It is definitely worth a stop at this show, even to browse, just to see some really new and exciting jewelry and other projects in metal.

The show is Friday, October 19th, 3pm-9pm and Saturday, October 20th, 10am-4pm.  Please stop by and say Hi!! Here is a link to Show info and some eye candy.

http://www.midwest-metalsmiths.org/MembershipShow.html

Friday, September 21, 2012

reflections of raw

Last night I participated in a different event for me, RAW ensemble St. Louis.  It is part of a national movement that stages art experiences all around the country.  It was a very different experience for me.

There were all kinds of Artists participating in the event, both visual and performing.  A couple of the musical acts went too long and were not that exciting.  The band Unifyah, Reggae inspired sound, was excellent.  Also the burlesque act, Jeez Loueez was quite entertaining.  There were some other performances that went on way too long or were a bit disturbing, like the male pole dancer.

The demographics of the "party goers" were mostly about 21-35.  And most were not interesting in buying anything, just looking.   Everyone was very impressed by my work and very complimentary, they didn't complain about the price, value, only wished that had more money to spend on something .

Thank you for everyone who came to RAW and also those who bought a ticket but couldn't make it.  Special thanks to Erin Mahoney, my cool hip young friend, who came early and stayed till the end to help me set up, sell, and take down.  I am pretty sure we both explained Judaism and the use of mezuzots at lease 3 dozen times.  My apologies to all Rabbis and Jewish scholars for any misinformation we may have communicated.

With all experiences I learn something.  Last night I learned that my new lights from Ikea were  a great investment.  I think my booth looked better great.  I met a lot of interesting people and most were very complementary and excited about my work. I also learned that if you grow up in St. Louis and have the name Kranzberg, their is always going to be someone who knows someone in your family!

I also probably will learn more things in the weeks to come, and hopefully this opportunity will lead to others.





Saturday, September 1, 2012

RAW:natural born artists



I want to tell you about a wonderful event that I am pleased and honored to be a part of.  It’s RAW: St. Louis Presents ENSEMBLE, On Thursday September 20th at the Coliseum Club on Washington Ave in St. Louis. 

RAW is a national independent Artist organization which promotes creative success for many genres of art including independent film, fashion, music, visual art, performing art, hairstylists, makeup artists and more.  The organization puts on party like events to showcase talents.  I was contacted by Raw: St. Louis and asked to be a part of their next event September 20th.  I will be selling my Jewelry and Judaica pieces at the event. 

Raw asked artists to sell a certain amount of tickets to the ENSEMBLE in order to participate.  I would love you to attend (it promises to be a great party) but even if you can’t make it please consider buying a ticket and sponsoring me as an artist.  To do so just follow this link, http://www.rawartists.org/stlouis/ensemble and then indicate me, Rachel Kranzberg Miller, as the artist you are supporting.  The tickets are just $10 each.

There were over 600 people at last month’s event so please try to stop in for a drink, a show and some creative inspiration.

Friday, July 6, 2012

inspired and renewed

I'm sorry I haven't posted for a while.  May was crazy, emotional and hectic.  It definitely was not a great month for me, although there were some wonderful moments amidst the chaos.  But after my daughter's wisdom teeth and then getting both girls packed and off to camp, I was able to get away for a week and have some real time for just myself.  In June I went to New England and connected with some old friends and familiar places.  As a result I am feeling renewed and inspired! 

The last few weeks I have been spending a lot of time in my basement studio.  But don't feel sorry for me.  The heat in St. Louis is oppressive, so the basement is a very nice place to be, and with few interruptions I have been able to make some very exciting pieces.  I've made four new mezuzot, which I will feature on my blog in the following weeks.

I am focusing on making objects that inspire me.  Sometimes that is Jewish Ritual pieces, other times that is jewelry pieces.  The important thing for me is to have my heart and soul reflected in the piece.  I think that it shows in my work.  I know that when I feel that I have to make a certain amount of, lets say earrings, for a show, they are not as successful as I would like.  I am pledging to be to guild first by my creativity and whim and then by other factors. 

I also have some exciting news, One of my pieces, The Hidden Star locket, is featured in a juried Art Jewelry show in a Gallery in Oklahoma City.  I won an Honorable Mention for the necklace, please visit this link for more information on the show. Spiritual Juried Jewelry Metalsmith Show