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We were together since the very dawn of internet. We shared projects and raised website babies together. Some of them have already left the nest, but there were always supposed to be new ideas and seedlings to keep us busy. My web hosting company, NS, and I were in a solid marriage, which wasn’t always the most exciting or most romantic of the relationships, but seemed to work and serve its purpose.

Then came the day when convenience just wasn’t enough any longer. I started sneaking around and recommending other hosting companies to my clients. “Under no circumstances should you choose NS for your hosting needs”, I even said. NS had cheated me also. The initially free mobile email was now a paid add-on. Even the old-fashioned POP and IMAP emails brought lot of frustration. Seriously, is syncing between devices so hard? It’s not like we were trying to figure out how to squeeze toothpaste properly.

Truth to be told, the relationship had already turned stale, perhaps even moldy, a long time ago. Though it was increasingly difficult to have a real conversation and talk to an actual person, the tech support calls became more frequent. Oh yes -and I’m not proud to tell you this - there once was the dramatic slamming-the-phone-down-incident. Or maybe in this case it was the grant gesture of pressing the red button of my cell phone. It wasn't my lack of effort. I wanted to keep the communication lines open. NS didn't even bother to update the PHP version to 5.4.

There were other trust issues, of course. I wasn’t given access to key controls of the back end code. The little hidden php.ini file proved to be the last straw for the already dissatisfied me. Php.ini is like a checking account or r-rated movie; for responsible adults or experienced coders only. It controls the php memory, which is necessary for Wordpress plug-ins, the very wonderful essence of the WP web sites. NS didn’t let me touch it. True lack of respect! It seemed that NS and I were finally through.

I had already scouted my new shiny armored knight, BH! BH and I were going to ride to the sunset and bright future together. I was initially seduced by the promises for the smooth transfer. I was just supposed to just relax and float from one cloud server-home to the next. I should have known better, with NS things always get messy. Name servers pointed to blank pages, pictures vanished from my blog and I was awfully grumpy for a few days. Truth to be told, also BH and the its migration team should be partly blamed for the mess. It was necessary to have a little fling with the nifty Velvet Blues -plug-in, which repaired some broken links.

After all, I must say: the grass really is greener on the other side.  Life is now full of simple pleasures. Can't stop staring at how the email accounts sync in real time through all my devices. DH gave me a full access to the php.ini. I look forward to never dealing with my ex again.

 

 

 

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My web site for Annamari Mikkola Adornments was barely two years old and it was definitely time to redo it. Mainly, I needed to introduce a new theme that would accommodate web store functionality. Embarassingly, it was lacking the elementary responsive functionality. Now the site navigation is easier to use through all mobile devices.

While I was doing all these coding changes, I thought design could as well be lighter and more airy. Additionally, it was necessary to separate my web design business from the jewelry design. Those two sides of my split personality, desperately needed individual branding. I still need to put together the web store. In the meanwhile, you can visit the Etsy store for limited selection or contact me for special orders.

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Thanksgiving and the recent uncovering of a bird’s nest in my garden made me think of a talisman I made almost 10 years ago. Talismans are objects which are believed to have magical powers. Unlike Amulets, which are for generic purpose, talismans bring good luck for a specific purpose. They also need to be charged with energy by a person who makes them.

Mine was a bird's nest made out of fine silver. I rolled each little twig out of precious metal clay and little by little formed a nest. It was then sintered in kiln which burned off the binding materials and after polishing, a tiny brilliant nest emerged. For eggs, I added two shiny oval shaped freshwater pearls. It could have been used as a pendant, but I just wanted to look and hold it.

At the time, we had already had several painful years of  trying to get  pregnant. It was probably on an unconscious level, that I made this symbolic nest in lieu of building a nest for a human baby. In any case, my thoughts were mostly (as they had been for ages) focused on the void in our lives. When I was concentrating on rolling out those tiny twigs,  I was charging each one of them with lots of hope. As it often happens, once you direct your energy somewhere else, the unimaginable happens. I got pregnant with our gorgeous son.

I got pre-occupied with my rounding belly and the hectic life in Manhattan. The little talisman was forgotten for years until we moved to suburbs and I learned that a dear friend of mine was struggling with the same issues I had. The cynic in me says it was our persistence, modern medicine and our skilled reproductive endocrinologist that deserve all the credit for the success. However,  I would like to live in a world where it’s ok to believe in magic, at least a little bit. So, I handed the bird's nest to my friend in a little box and told her the story about making it. Her son was born less than a year after that.

We decided that it would be great to create a pay-it-forward talisman. So, she gave the nest to her friend S who gave it to her friend K. So, far we have four silver nest babies, all boys by the way.

Oh, and what happened to the talisman next? S has it back on her bed side radiating hope, happy thoughts and energy for number two.

 

When it comes to their own identity, graphic designers are their own worst client. Never happy, always tinkering and rarely have time to sit down and brainstorm. In my own case, I am not only one but two whiny un-paying clients. In addition to the start-up jewelry business, I also have the established graphic and web design studio. Both require different identity and cater to very different people. To make things more difficult, both really ride on my own name and are part of the same company; Annamari Mikkola Creative.

While researching custom packaging options for my jewelry, I decided the old (or not so old, actually) Annamari Mikkola Creative logo will not work as monochromatic option. Paying for two color foil stamping for boxes was not an option either. At the price point I am selling the jewelry, packaging then would have been disproportionately expensive. Since the jewelry business really needed a separate identity anyway, I had to sit down with my sketch book again. Here’s the result:

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A lot happier, a bit cutesy and definitely will work as one color option as well. It will also cover possible new accessory lines, such as scarves. Or what do you think? Comments welcome.

The old logo will mainly liveon the long neglected and soon to be redesigned Mikkola.net site. That will have a portfolio of my 2D graphic design, advertising and web work. The new logo will show up first on the Etsy Store (yes, it’s kind of open and will have more items soon!). Once I get around opening my actual web store, it’ll be seen there as well.

Confused yet? So am I, but it will all be more clear soon. I promise. Just need to sit down with a difficult client first.

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The editor at MJSA Custom Jeweler called for an interview about my business insights and advice. At first, I thought I have nothing to say. Really, I should be selling a lot more jewelry than I do now. Turns out, I have a lot to say. People even commented on the story at the recent industry conference, MJSA ConFab.

See the digital edition here

Download the PDF here

 

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Click the picture above to explore the wonderful otherworldly kinetic mind of Anthony Howe. "A Kinetic Mind" movie by Elizabeth Rudge

The refreshingly simple artist’s statement that is the headline for this blog entry comes from the amazing sculptor Anthony Howe. His mesmerizing kinetic sculptures are made of sheet metal. Somehow  the movement caused by the gentle wind makes them also really organic. Some resemble a flower opening from the bud, some are like an ever moving ocean floor. Some reflect the nature around them from dozens of tiny mirrors.

Howe builds the pieces using traditional metalworking techniques, but the elements are first  conceived with different CAD programs which command a laser cutter.

Mr. Howe worked first as a painter, but then got “bored with everything being static in my visual world”. I’m so glad for that boredom.

Here's a link to another  Anthony Howe interview.