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About Me

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Francestown, New Hampshire, United States
I am the owner of Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms (www.mirrixlooms.com) and an avid tapestry and bead weaver, among other things. Needless to say, I love my job!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Cats

The local cat lady, this lovely woman Julie who rescues all the abandoned cats around here and finds homes for them, asked me to foster two of her cats, each a year old.  They were kittens she was sure she would find adopted homes for but that didn't happen.  Not for any fault of hers or theirs.  She needed them out of her house so her husband could paint their room (the guest room) to be used for soon to arrive guests.  She wanted me to take the cats for a couple of weeks.  Sure, why not?

I had been eyeing these guys already. Their picture was posted on the bulletin board at the post office.  They were in a ball together.  I never called her.  I was resisting.  But I knew.  Yeah I knew.

And then I hooked Julie up with my friend Pam.  Pam was looking to adopt two male kittens.  She was hoping for part Maine Coon.  I showed her some kittens Julie had that were coming up for adoption.  We ended up visiting the kittens.  Tomorrow these two adorable boy kittens are going home with her.  And yes I think these little guys are part Maine Coon.


They define adorable and Pam will be the best Mom.

Okay, but what about the cats that I will be fostering.  Sorry, no picture.  I did meet them today but I forgot to bring my camera.  They were a little shy around me since they haven't known many people other than Julie who has spent a ton of time with them.  Bear is grey.  He's gorgeous.  He has double paws and he's a big guy.  Noodle, who actually is his cousin although they've been together since they were tiny, is butterscotch color like Butter, also fairly large with enormous paws.  They are sweet and they are beautiful.

I promise to take photos once they arrive and when they let me.

Oh, and this "foster thing."  Yeah right.  Do you really think I am going to be able to give them back.? And that's the rub.  Foster means adopt.  So yes tomorrow I am adopting two beautiful year old male cats.  They need homes.  I have a home.  Life is good.

Loom on its way to Mexico

What a journey.

I headed off for FedEx yesterday finally (it's an hour from here) to send the loom to the

Isla Mujeres Women's Beading Collective.  I was told that I needed to send it via FedEx because if I sent it through the Post Office it would not be received.  I was so excited to be able to see this loom off to  its wonderful and final destination until they handed me the bill.  Close to $200 to send a loom that is worth not much more than that.  I just couldn't do it.  Something inside me screamed:  NOOOOOOOO!

So I high tailed it home and scurried off to my local Post Office.  Cost to send from there:  $55.  Chances of it arriving at destination:  close to zero.  They begged me not to.  Packages heading for Mexico cannot even be insured because it is so unlikely they will survive the journey without falling into unintended hands.

I came home and left the loom in my car totally discouraged.  I emailed Layna who remembered that her original emails with the Collective stated that if the cost to ship was outrageous they might be able to find a visitor to hand deliver it.  Layna emailed them with the new story.  Fewer than twelve hours later we were given the address of a woman who lives in Connecticut who will be hand delivering the loom in early May.  Our very own personal guardian angel.  It figures.  I should not be surprised.  This whole thing has been blessed from the get go so how could it possibly not work out beautifully.

I headed back to my Post Office with a new address label.  They got a good laugh out of my latest story (I am their own personal comedy of errors).  Thirteen dollars later the loom was on its way to a certain arrival into the right hands.  Thank goodness!

So thank you to all those who made this happen.  It's happening!!!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jewelry for sale on Mirrix website soon!


With the new website will come a new section in our store where I will be selling my beaded jewelry.  To that end I've been taking pictures of some recent work I thought I would share with you.  If you can't wait until my jewelry hits the website, you can pay through check or paypal.  Email me for details.  Shipping in the continental U.S. is free.


Detail of below necklace

Circular herringbone weave and a triangle peyote and herringbone clasp: $169

Circular herringbone: $69

Circular Herringbone: $69


Circular herringbone with triangle herringbone and peyote triangle clasp: $165


Detail of above




Mis-matched triangle herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Herringbone and peyote earrings: $45

Monday, April 25, 2011

Whidbey Island Workshop Reminder!


Whidbey Island, Washington 2-day Tapestry Workshop:
Dates: May 28th and 29th, 2011 10 am - 4 pm
Instructors: Claudia Chase: President of Mirrix Looms
Windwalker Taibi: Tapestry weaver, spinner, co-owner of Raven Rocks Studio and Gallery
Elena Zuyok: Marketing Director of Mirrix Looms
Location: Whidbey Island, WA (near Seattle) at Raven Rocks Gallery (http://www.ravenrocksgallery.com/Home.html)

Class Description: This two day workshop will take students through the entire process of weaving a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet. From warping the loom to finishing techniques, students will walk away with the skills needed to use a Mirrix Loom. On the second day, as students begin to finish their bracelets (note: these can be turned into wall hangings and not bracelets if you'd prefer) they will be able to try their hand at weaving with handspun yarn and learn some more tapestry techniques on a larger scale as well as see the process of making handspun demonstrated. Each day will begin at 10 am. There will be a break for lunch (there is a beautiful cafe right nearby, or students can bring their own lunch and spend some time enjoying the beautiful Whidbey Island scenary. At the end of the day there will be a break for wine and cheese.
Cost: $320 + $55 material fee (which includes the fantastic cuff bracelet kit)
Please email elena@mirrixlooms.com or ravenrocks@whidbey.com for more information or to reserve your spot.

After April 15th there will be no refunds.
cuff bracelet

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Made In America!

Mirrix Looms are made in America.  They always have been and they always will be.  Even if we could multiply our profits a thousand fold by having them produced overseas, we would not for one second consider doing so.

This whole being in business thing, besides paying those pesky bills, is about fun and joy and a feeling of accomplishment.  For us, in particular, because we are manufacturing an item that is a tool for creativity the joy lies just near the surface.  We aren't faking our excitement for this product.  We really feel it.

There was a six year period when I was heavily involved in politics (as a three term State Rep. . . . I retired fall of 2010).  My time was split up in so many pieces, among Mirrix, the State house, my family.  I didn't feel like I did anything really well anymore.

The  double-edged joy of being able to devote all my time to Mirrix (and artwork) and my family as well as being able to work with my daughter, Elena, our Marketing Director, has given me back that joy times a google, (as we say in our family long before anyone else knew this word because my Dad was a scientist and he brought this word, which is a number, home to us when I was a tiny child. . . . and google-plex, which is a google times a google) .  Wow, that was a digression.

What I intended to write about is Made In America.  And so I shall continue standing on that soap box for a bit because it is a passion of mine.  First a cute little symbol to get me inspired:









It is inspiring isn't it!  Our flag.  It tells so many stories.  My hope is that someday, once again, it will tell the stories of American manufacturing.  The question we have to ask ourselves is:  why are so many American products made overseas?  Could it be greed?  The profits of shareholders and CEO's? Yeah, I think so.  But when you distill the problem you come up with the disturbing truth:  if we send our products over to China to be made by workers who make $1.50 an hour (which has risen from $.50 a hour) what do we really gain?  As a country, we gain nothing.  It's only a loss.  A huge loss.  Those products aren't so cheap when you factor in the loss of American jobs, the crippling of our economy, the huge disparity between the very rich and all the rest of us and the loss of hope and joy among those who cannot work a decent job in the good old U.S.A.

If I were asked to find one solution to all our current problems it would be:  bring those jobs home.  Close your plants in China and bring them back to our great country.  Sure, we get paid more than $1.50 an hour and those CEOs and shareholders will have to suffer with a little less.  But wouldn't the renewed strength of our great country make up for all of that?  Let's innovate renewable energy here (not in China).  Let's assemble our American cars here.  Let's continue to make our looms here (which, by the way, is still frequently the case . . . not just with Mirrix!)

Imagine a world where those of us who wanted jobs could have them?  Imagine a world where we didn't have to replace our appliances every few years because they were made well in America.  Sure, they might cost a little more.  But since quality control is so much easier when the manufacturing facility is underneath your nose and since Americans are known for their high production standards and because a person who is getting paid a decent wage and can take care of his or her family or his- or herself is a person motivated to perform well . . . well, then the costs of Made in America are trivial.

Recently, Mirrix has been listed on a bunch of Made in America websites.  Two sites that sell only products manufactured in America now sell the Mirrix Loom.  We are so proud of this and proud to be part of a handful of companies devoted to keeping the jobs here.

A final note.  This is not to say that we should not buy products made in other companies.  But buy products made in other countries because those products are the best ones.  For example, of course I buy all my silk from China.  And of course I buy most of my beads from Japan because they are fabulous.  I do not buy my beads from Japan because they are cheap (they are not).  And clearly no one in America is able to compete with that quality (because they never have).  I am not opposed to buying from other countries when clearly the product is either superior or different from anything made here.  But  I am opposed to American manufacturers sending their jobs abroad.  I want to see an Apple computer plant in Detroit!

Now off to look at some American-made kittens that Mirrix might have to adopt.

Off my soap box.



Don't forget to see these American made looms!:  www.mirrixlooms.com

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Must read post for pregnant women

I am making an exception to my rule of only posting about the creative process because I feel that anyone thinking of getting pregnant or already pregnant needs to read the following article.  This was reported on NPR this week.  It's important for those who might need this drug to know that if your Dr. tells you the prescription will cost $15,000 you can say to him/her:  I know it can be gotten for $300.  This is such a scam by a drug company even the Federal Government was shocked.  And don't be fooled.  This drug company did not develop this drug.  It's been around forever.  They just stole it and then decided that since the cost of a premie (because this drug prevents premature birth) is $51,000 and hence they could charge $30,000 for this drug.  They later cut it in half when the Feds balked.  Since the previous price had always been about $300 . . . well, read on.  Be warned.  This is one huge reason why our health care is so expensive.

I've also posted the FDA statement at the end of the article.


Price Slashed For Drug To Prevent Preemie Births

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ATLANTA April 1, 2011, 05:23 pm ET
The maker of an expensive drug to prevent premature births slashed the price by more than half on Friday, following an outcry over the high cost and moves by federal regulators to keep a cheap version available.
The drug is still pricey at $690 per weekly injection but it is a drastic reduction from the $1,500 price charged by KV Pharmaceutical Co. when it went on the market last month. The company also announced rebates and other steps to give the drug to needy pregnant women at little or no cost.
The price cut came two days after federal officials said they would not stop specialty pharmacies from continuing to make a generic version that sells for $10 to $20 a dose, as has been done for years.
The company got government approval in February to exclusively sell the drug named Makena (mah-KEE'-nah). But the price stunned doctors who prescribe the drug and private and public insurance plans, including state Medicaid programs, that pay for it. The drug is given to high-risk pregnant women to avoid another early birth.
The pricing controversy exploded after The Associated Press reported on the issue early last month, with some members of Congress calling for a federal investigation.
The Food and Drug Administration, which has no say in drug pricing, took the unusual step of announcing that the special pharmacies could still make the cheap version for individual patients if doctors prescribe it. Typically, those pharmacies aren't supposed to make versions of licensed drugs, and KV Pharmaceutical had warned them to stop making the preterm birth drug or face enforcement by the FDA.
But on Wednesday, the FDA said that "to support access to this important drug, at this time and under this unique situation," it would not take action against pharmacies that make the drug.
The agency acted because of the public worries that women won't be able to afford the drug, federal officials said.
The suburban St. Louis-based KV Pharmaceutical had earlier defended its pricing, saying the company is spending a quarter of a billion dollars on the drug's development, including $60 million in research.
Chief executive Gregory J. Divis Jr. had said the $1,500 price was justified to avoid the mental and physical disabilities that can result from very premature births. Preemie care can cost an estimated $51,000 in the first year alone, he said.
KV Pharmaceutical officials were not available for an interview on Friday, said a company spokeswoman.
In a statement, Divis acknowledged that prospective buyers of the drug were not happy. He said company officials were cutting the price because they want to make sure all women can get the drug, noting the "budget challenges facing state Medicaid programs and other payers."
The weekly injection is given for as long as 20 weeks; the price drop cuts the maximum cost of treatment from $30,000 to under $14,000.
KV had earlier announced a patient assistance program to provide the drug to uninsured and low-income women. On Friday, the company announced an expansion of that program, lifting income limits so most women would pay less than $20 per injection. It also offered to cap costs for state Medicaid agencies and health insurance plans.
"They had to respond, they had to bring the price down, because people were so outraged," said Dr. Kathryn Menard, a University of North Carolina specialist who oversees a state program that has been providing the cheap version of the drug to women at risk for preterm births.
She added that $690 is still pricey, and many obstetricians may prescribe the compounded version.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, an early and persistent critic of the original price, called the cut "a small step in the right direction," but said "KV Pharmaceutical is still putting profit over patients."
The company benefited from nearly $21 million in taxpayer money that was spent on early research on the drug, he noted in a statement.
The drug is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. It came on the market more than 50 years ago to treat other problems and was withdrawn in the 1990s, though not for safety reasons.
But the drug got a new life in 2003, with publication of a study that reported it helped prevent early births to women who had a history of giving birth prematurely. Obstetricians began prescribing the drug for more women, but it was only available through "compounding" pharmacies.
Initially, doctors were glad to hear that KV Pharmaceutical was licensing the drug. It meant it would be manufactured in an FDA-regulated facility, with tighter controls and follow-up testing to ensure quality and consistency from dose to dose.
But doctors also say there have been no reported problems with the safety or quality of the cheap version. So for many obstetricians, the perks of having an FDA-approved drug may not make up for its still-high price, Menard said.
Also Friday, the March of Dimes issued a statement announcing it was severing all professional ties with the KV subsidiary that is marketing Makena.
The advocacy group was getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the subsidiary, Ther-Rx. The March of Dimes had celebrated the FDA approval of the drug back in February, and was at first muted in its criticism of Makena's price.
The organization, which heavily relies on volunteers for fundraising and other activities, came under fire from some of its supporters. In recent weeks, March of Dimes officials pushed for a price cut.
"They trusted this company, and any bit of (financial) support they got from the company is not worth what they're going to lose by continuing a relationship with them," said Menard, who is president-elect of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
In a statement, KV called the March of Dimes decision "disappointing."
———
Online:
FDA statement: http://tinyurl.com/fdastatement
FDA STATEMENT
For Immediate Release: March 30, 2011
Media Inquiries: Beth Martino, 301.796.7603, beth.martino@fda.hhs.gov 
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA
FDA Statement on Makena
 
On February 3, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug Makena (hydroxyprogesterone caproate) for the reduction of the risk of certain preterm births in women who have had at least one prior preterm birth. KV Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s owner, received considerable assistance from the federal government in connection with the development of Makena by relying on research funded by the National Institutes of Health to demonstrate the drug’s effectiveness. It also obtained seven years of exclusivity under the Orphan Drug Act, obtained approval under FDA’s accelerated approval program, and received expedited review.
 
For many years, a version of the active ingredient of Makena, which is a synthetic progestin, has been available to patients whose physicians requested the drug from a pharmacist who compounded the drug. Generally, FDA has exercised enforcement discretion with respect to most products made through traditional pharmacy compounding. This has included products made from the active ingredient in Makena, hydroxyprogesterone caproate.
 
Because Makena is a sterile injectable, where there is a risk of contamination, greater assurance of safety is provided by an approved product. However, under certain conditions, a licensed pharmacist may compound a drug product using ingredients that are components of FDA approved drugs if the compounding is for an identified individual patient based on a valid prescription for a compounded product that is necessary for that patient. FDA prioritizes enforcement actions related to compounded drugs using a risk-based approach, giving the highest enforcement priority to pharmacies that compound products that are causing harm or that amount to health fraud.
 
FDA understands that the manufacturer of Makena, KV Pharmaceuticals, has sent letters to pharmacists indicating that FDA will no longer exercise enforcement discretion with regard to compounded versions of Makena. This is not correct.
 
In order to support access to this important drug, at this time and under this unique situation, FDA does not intend to take enforcement action against pharmacies that compound hydroxyprogesterone caproate based on a valid prescription for an individually identified patient unless the compounded products are unsafe, of substandard quality, or are not being compounded in accordance with appropriate standards for compounding sterile products. As always, FDA may at any time revisit a decision to exercise enforcement discretion.
 
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tapestry Purse done!

I spent the beginning part of this morning sewing together the tapestry purse.  I actually enjoy this part of the process.  I especially like sewing on the beads.

Let me show you the pictures and describe the steps.

This picture of the finished purse was taken on my bedside table before I wandered back to my studio to take the real pictures.


I sewed silk to the back of the weaving before I sewed the weaving into a purse.


I tucked the ends of the braid into the two corners of the purse before sewing up the sides of the purse.

Then I sewed the braid onto the purse with beads on each side of the braid. I then beaded around the flap of the purse.  This disguises all ugly seams.  And since most of my seams are ugly, beads are definitely my best friend.

This is the back of the finished purse.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alas, two weavings off the loom

The tapestry/bead silk purse took a little longer to finish weaving than I had anticipated.  Maybe I got distracted.  I was anxious to get it off the loom and so as a result, I avoided weaving it.  How does that make any sense whatsoever?  I also had to finish the tapestry/bead cuff because it was living on the same loom.

Just finished!  The tapestry purse weaving did pull in slightly but I can hide that when I fold it up and adorn it with beads.  I like the colors.  I am looking forward to putting on the braid that I made to exactly match it.

Silk Tapestry and bead weaving on Mirrix Loom


I really do like the color combination.



Another cuff bracelet in the making


Side by side.

The silk braid!


Now to sew this all together!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Non-woven necklace

I have been weaving a both silk/beaded tapestry bracelet and a cellphone purse, also made of silk.  Taking longer than I thought it would.  I also made a braid to go with the bracelet.  Thought I would get it all off looms by today, but it might not happen until tonight.

Meanwhile, I finished this necklace, no part of which was made on a Mirrix Loom.  I will be taking jewelry to the show we'll be doing in Oregon in June.  Normally, I sell my jewelry in galleries but I am getting weary of having to up the prices to deal with the gallery commission.  So, I am going to try to do some direct sales.  We are poised to upload a bunch of jewelry to the website, but waiting until the launch date of the new website, predicted to be end of this month.

What I like most about the below piece (besides the beads, which are gorgeous) is where it sits on one's neck.  Just the right place.  That's a hard thing to get right.  The center piece is also the clasp.  I love doing that.  Direct sales price for this piece:  $175.  Email me if you are interested!


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Can't always be weaving

Yesterday I worked on a small purse and bracelet tapestry/bead weaving for quite a while.  Maia, always there to help, watched me from behind the loom the entire time.  She has become my weaving cat.  Butter, on the other hand, prefers to sit on the top of my computer chair.  Guess he's more high-tech.  But he does love to play with just about everything on my work table especially bobbins of thread.  Nothing is more exciting to him then those.

Maia working hard to make sure I don't make a mistake.

Butter working hard to make sure I write my blog.

This morning I decided to finish a project I had started two months ago.  My brother had bought my son, Zach, a soap stone bear.  Zach, who also carves soap stone among other things, loved that bear.  One day I went into his room to discover the bear in two pieces.  Someone had knocked him down.  I immediately felt guilty, because the bear had been living in my studio while Zach was in school.  He had asked me to keep the bear there for safe keeping.  Maybe he knew this would happen.  But last summer since Zach was home for the entire summer playing farmer, I put bear in his room.  I bought glue and kept trying to pester Zach to fix bear with me.  He never did.  So after he returned to school after Christmas break I bravely attacked the problem myself without any skill sets or large clamps.  Instead of clamps, I used yarn, of course.  I tied that poor bear up and left him for two months to heal.  Today, finally, I remembered to take off his bonds and believe it or not the glue job worked the arm was flush to the body.  However, there were globs of glue and bear looked awful.  Three hours later and a bunch of sand paper and polishing thinga-ma-gings that go on the dremel later, bear is looking pretty darn good.  A lot better than I had expected.  He is dancing again.  Say hi to Zach's fixed bear.  And you thought I could only weave!  The thing is I could have stood there all day polishing this guy.  And of course it made me want to grab a piece of soap stone and carve it . . .which I am desperately trying to not do.





Friday, April 1, 2011

New Free Mirrix Bead Pattern

Our monthly free Mirrix Bead Pattern will be uploaded today.  That little circle isn't on the actual pattern.  I must have put it there while reducing its size in photoshop.  So ignore the circle!  Check it out:  www.mirrixlooms.com