Color Style Kyle

Combining art, creativity, design, family, health, humor and books.

Archive for January, 2009

October Book Group Expo in San Jose CA: Funny, Fascinating, Amazing

Posted by Kyle Design on January 11, 2009

Van Jones, author of the Green Collar Economy, with Kyle Design artist Kyle McKeown Mansfield

Van Jones, author of the Green Collar Economy, with Kyle Design artist Kyle McKeown Mansfield

Writer's Money Clip - A "Think Positive" Reminder for Aspiring Authors

Writer's Money Clip - A "Think Positive" Reminder for Aspiring Authors

I once again attended the Book Group Expo in San Jose, CA in October 2008 and absolutely loved it! What a wonderful experience for any book lovers, book collectors, writers, authors, readers or book group members. It gives you excellent ideas for book group reading lists and discussion questions. And they have books for sale and book signings with the authors afterward – all in one place!

There are so many great ideas flying around, so many like-minded people, so many fascinating authors. These writers are really smart, well-informed, opinionated, insightful and very funny – I think that’s why they are so successful.

The Book Group Expo is structured as such: Discussions of a particular theme or topic, referred to as “salons“, are set up with a moderator and three or four writers in a living room type of setting in small conference rooms. The feeling is quite intimate and open, much like our own reading group meetings, which comfortably encourages many questions from the audience and a free exchange of thoughts and ideas. Just like a book group, just on a slightly larger scale without being intimidating, as I assume is the organization’s intention. Well done!!

Book Group Hip Flask - A little something to facilitate the easy flow of ideas

Book Group Hip Flask - A little something to facilitate the easy flow of ideas

As an artist myself, it is oddly enlightening to be on the other side of the attention. I love these artists’ works, so it is interesting to gain a deeper understanding or at least just some insights into what the authors had in mind and how they approach the creative process. I just want to drink in everything these creative individuals have to say – learn from it, incorporate ideas into my own approach to work, enjoy their pieces more.

I always appreciate customers who take the time to let me know they love my work, and would have to assume the same of other artists whose work requires solitude. (Although book tours and signings might be too much at once – I am lucky because I get encouraging gems from customers nearly every day – quite often just the little boost I need when running a small business feels overwhelming.) So I ran to get in line after the each salon was finished to get my book signed and better yet, have a brief chance to talk with the author.

Of course, being part of a book group myself, it is a wonderful opportunity to get ideas for new books to suggest at our next meeting. Some of the authors and books that really impressed follow.

Solar Homes Business Card Case - Solar Energy and Green Building Techniques are among the many solutions we can implement today to fight global warming.

Solar Homes Business Card Case - Solar Energy and Green Building Techniques are among the many solutions we can implement today to fight global warming.

Van Jones, Author of The Green Collar Economy: It is so reassuring that brilliant people are putting their minds to work on resolving the looming issue of global warming. I’ve been to other lectures that left me so discouraged, but Jones lays out ways of dealing with the issue now and what needs to be worked on. I left the lecture hopeful, and expressed that to him later. Hope is VERY important. We can’t get discouraged or dwell on the negative, especially when there really are solutions NOW. And don’t be fooled by those serious photos of him online or on his book jacket – granted, he writes on a serious topic – but he has a great smile and is quite friendly and approachable.

Engraved Bookmarks - If you enjoy reading, then you'll love using a beautiful bookmark which can be personalized with designs, colors and engraving.

Engraved Bookmarks - If you enjoy reading, then you'll love using a beautiful bookmark which can be personalized with designs, colors and engraving.

Terry McMillan, Author of The Interruption of Everything: You can’t help but be drawn to her. She is funny, real, insightful (and lives here in the San Francisco Bay Area!) On the creative process, she has experimented with typing with her eyes closed so that it removes a layer of analyzing between her brain and her writing, just to allow it to flow without editing it. I loved Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, so I can’t wait to read her latest one.

The salon was “Woman, Be Wise: Strong Writing, Strong Women“. Authors included Toni Mirosevich, Kathi Goldmark, Susanne Pari as well as McMillan. We laughed the whole way through the salon session with her and the other authors. (Talk about a “feel good” experience! I pitched her book at my group and it was selected for our February reading selection.

Kate Jacobs, Author of The Friday Night Knitting Club: I’m currently reading her book for my January reading group selection. There is something special about having listened to an author discuss her characters before reading the book – it somehow makes the characters seem more familiar or real. On whether she works with a set outline when writing a book , Kate described her process as something like being in a car on a road trip with all of her characters and having a general direction in which they are headed, but not knowing ahead of time what twists and turns or detours they might take. Her latest book is Knit Two.

Three Dog Hard Glasses Case - Protect your reading glasses with these crush-proof eyeglass cases

Three Dog Hard Glasses Case - Protect your reading glasses with these crush-proof eyeglass cases

Other authors that were very funny and entertaining were Garth SteinThe Art of Racing in the Rain (a story written from a dog’s perspective that sounds great), Andre Dubus IIIHouse of Sand and Fog and The Garden of the Last Days (for which he had to do research at strip joints (!)), and Mildred Armstrong Kalish – Little Heathens (about growing up on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression), Annie Barrows – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I could go on and on!

Join Book Group Expo’s mailing list so you’ll know when the next one is. (Previous one was in June 2007, so if varies every year.) If you go, bring a friend and enjoy the day!

Please visit my website Kyle Design for more unique Book Group Gift Items, Business Card Holders, Hard Eyeglass Cases, Dog Lover Gifts, Unique Bookmarks, Engraved Money Clips, Gift Ideas for Authors and Writers. We create affordable gift items in hundreds of cool designs and a range of gorgeous colors, plus offer engraving services, too.

Posted in Bookmarks, Books, Business Card Cases, business card holders, Events, Flasks, Glasses Cases, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Reading with a 10-Year-Old-Girl

Posted by Kyle Design on January 7, 2009

Lightning Bolt Earrings - Great Gift for Harry Potter Fans

Lightning Bolt Earrings - Great Gift for Harry Potter Fans

Last night, my 10-year-old daughter and I just finished reading the 7th and final Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, finally, after picking it up and putting it down for six months. We had just finished book six, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, (the movie comes out July 17, 2009) last summer (loved it!) when the seventh book came out, and I guess we just weren’t ready to immerse ourselves again so soon.

The 7th book was oddly not gripping in the beginning – we’d read half a chapter here and there, then just not get back to it for a month – and if a book is not grabbing the interest of a 9- or 10-year-old, just try getting her to read it aloud! (Not to mention the roadblocks of the challenging made-up words that even I kept stumbling over!)

Book Lovers Wooden Trinket Box with Open Book Design

Book Lover's Wooden Trinket Box with Open Book Design

Reading is a chance for us to have mother-daughter time alone together. Usually with a book like this – long, many new vocabulary words – the plan is to have her read one page and then I read one (although depending on how tired she is it might be several for me.) We held to no hard and fast rules about who should be reading when – the idea is to enjoy the experience and get it done. If it takes too long, neither of us will be inclined to want to read, defeating the whole point and taking the joy out of reading. And ruining our special time. Terrible thoughts!

Silver Friendship Bookmark - Beautiful Gift for Friends in a Book Group

Silver Friendship Bookmark - Beautiful Gift for Friends in a Book Group

The holiday break gave us the time we needed to really get into the story about the adventures of the three friends – Harry, Ron and Hermione – and although we were good about switching off reading in the beginning and middle, toward the end I was doing most of the reading because it was just so exciting! (“Oh no! –  Yes!! – Oh NO!!! – YES!!!!) The fastest reader prevailed. Neither of us were arguing about the arrangement, although she wanted to read paragraphs here and there, and I encouraged her to follow along with me, pointing out words that had tricky spellings or pronunciations or to confirm she new the definitions.

Vampire Tape Measure - See how much progress your kids are making with reading!

Vampire Tape Measure - See how much progress your kids are making with reading!

Reading aloud is good practice for both of us. I keep my dictionary handy, too. Often, when asked about the fine point of a definition, I wanted to make sure I had it right. Heaven forbid that I teach her wrong! No “bad mommy” here.

We’re glad we hung with the book. Very satisfying. Very done, too.

So I just stepped into the kitchen for breakfast before posting this, and what does my daughter have in her hand? Twilight. Guess I know what book series we’re reading next.

To see more of my unique gifts and jewelry, visit Lightning Bolt Gifts, Book Lover Gifts, Twilight Gifts or Friendship Gifts.

Posted in Bookmarks, Books, kids, Movies, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2008 Holiday Wrap-Up – What Was Hot at Kyle Design

Posted by Kyle Design on January 4, 2009

The holidays are always the busiest time of year for us at Kyle Design because of our unique selection of engraved gifts and functional art. It is always interesting for me to what the standout designs were for each year, so here’s what was hot for us for holiday 2008:

Butterfly Compact - A mirror that reflects beauty

Butterfly Compact - A mirror that reflects beauty

Butterflies: Butterfly images are perennial good-sellers, but in particular this year. We sold a lot as wedding ornaments engraved with the date of The Big Day. Also popular were Butterfly memorial ornaments with butterflies being a symbol of transition from this life to the next.

Shark Attack Key Ring can be engraved on the back with a humorous message.

Shark Attack Key Ring can be engraved on the back with a humorous message.

Sharks: Popular as Christmas ornaments and as desk accessories. Were these being given to an attorney as a humorous lawyer gift ? San Jose Sharks hockey fans? Surfers? People who loved the movie Jaws? Someone who makes really good shark fin soup? We never really know until someone tips us off.

Vampires: This one I could figure out. What with the Twilight movie that came out in November and the popularity of vampire books like those by Ann Rice, Stephenie Meyers, Bram Stoker, Laurell K. Hamilton and Stephen King, vampires were, not surprisingly, big, big, big.

Pharmacists now have a stylish way to wear their ID badges with this attractive beaded lanyard

Pharmacists now have a stylish way to wear their ID badges with this attractive beaded lanyard

Swimming: Big winner for us. Actually introduced it last year but swimmers really found us in the search engines this year! It’s a popular sport, but what’s out there most places is fairy predictable – T-shirts, caps, key chains, coffee mugs. I think customers were really happy to find something more artistic, something unique – earrings, money clips, ornaments, eyeglass cases.

Pharmacy: Our other medical gifts have always done well and a pharmacist design was an often requested image, so the introduction of this pattern received the reception we were expecting. Especially popular on beaded lanyards, business card cases and ornaments.

Wisdom credit card holder may help you make good purchasing decisions

Wisdom credit card holder may help you make good purchasing decisions

Wisdom: This Chinese symbol made a big debut – who couldn’t do with a little more wisdom in their life? I like the Jimi Hendrix quote, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” My staff member Susan wisely predicted that the Asian character would be hot, so we prepared extra. Good call!

Retractable Badge Holder with Cupcake Design - Fun way to show some personality at work

Retractable Badge Holder with Cupcake Design - Fun way to show some personality at work

Cupcake: Yum! One of my daughters is thinking about having a cupcake birthday party, so I figured I better do a design for it so she can give out party favors with cupcakes. I also got her the giant cupcake pan that is the size of a cake for Christmas. She is very happy.

Squirrels: Cute, industrious and great entertainment for dogs (and humans). On our daily dog walks, we are always chasing squirrels, so for Christmas I gave our dog Milano a Squirrel Christmas ornament engraved with “The one that got away”.  😉

So, there you go. 2008 in a nutshell.

Squirrel Christmas Tree Ornament makes a great holiday gift for squirrel-chasing dog!

Squirrel Christmas Tree Ornament makes a great holiday gift for squirrel-chasing dog!

Click any of the photos above for more special gift suggestions or visit Kyle Design for cool Shark Gifts, Lawyer Gifts, Squirrel Gifts, Butterfly Gifts, Pharmacist Gifts, Vampire Gifts, Swimming Gifts, Wisdom Gifts and Cupcake Gifts.

Posted in Business Card Cases, Christmas Ornaments, Holidays, Unique Gifts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Leonardo da Vinci Drawings at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco with Kids

Posted by Kyle Design on January 3, 2009

Artists throughout time have produced works that feature the human face, such as Kyle's "Faces in Profile" stain glass night light.

Artists throughout time have produced works that feature the human face, such as Kyle's "Faces in Profile" stain glass night light.

My husband and I took our kids (11 and 9) to see the San Francisco exhibit Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings from the Biblioteca Reale in Turin (Italy) at the Legion of Honor. It was a real treat to be able to see the drawing (under glass) very close up. The museum even supplies magnifying glasses for use for those who’d like the extra help with really seeing all the details. Many of the drawings were done in metalpoint, a technique that uses a metal stylus to sketch on specially prepared paper and which results in particularly fine details.

Unique Business Card Holders for professional artists, painters and designers. Perfect for geniuses, too!

Unique Business Card Holders for professional artists, painters and designers. Perfect for geniuses, too!

Leonardo da Vinci had four main areas of interest that he explored throughout his life: the human face (and how it ages), the human body, horses and flight. These themes appear again and again as he studied these subjects. In any one codex (hand-written manuscript) of his, the pages often contained  both images and text, sometimes right on top of one another or completely surrounded within the body of text.

He truly understood the musculature and how little changes or movements affected the results. You can see this extensive knowledge coming through in his work. I was struck by just how well he portrayed the power of the figures and horses, by really seeing the fine detailing of shadow and line. The pieces are powerful.

Wild Mustang Christmas Ornament is the perfect gift for horse lovers. May be engraved, too.

Wild Mustang Christmas Ornament is the perfect gift for horse lovers. May be engraved, too.

When leaving the exhibit and seeing other works by other artists from about the same time period (Francesco Pesellino, d. 1457, for example), it is stunning just how exceptional da Vinci’s work is. A point that I easily made to my children by comparing the works on the spot, who then really got it, because they could immediately make the comparison and appreciate the work of this true master.

Da Vinci (1452-1519) was a contemporary of Michael Angelo (1475 – 1564), and apparently felt somewhat threatened by the fame and attention the younger artist was receiving. Da Vinci apparently didn’t finish much of his work – too many ideas, too little time perhaps, or it is likely he was just seeking knowledge for its own sake – which affected his career at the time. But if this competitiveness helped spur him on, then lucky for us – his works are a gift to mankind.

Sea Turtles are a popular image for both children and adults - depicted here on a silver vitamin box.

Sea Turtles are a popular image for both children and adults - depicted here on a silver vitamin box.

On an amusing note, one of the informational signs at the show provided background on the Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library), mentioning that it holds works by Rafael, Leonardo da Vinci and others. So what does a nine-year-old tune into? The fact that Rafael and Leonardo are both names of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ll take it.

The show ends tomorrow, so hurry! November 15, 2008 — January 4, 2009 at the Legion of Honor.

Click on any of the photos above to see more of my Artist Gifts, Faces Gifts, Horses Gifts or Turtles Gifts or visit Kyle Design for more unique business card holders, night lights, holiday ornaments or vitamins cases.

Posted in art, Business Card Cases, business card holders, Christmas Ornaments, Gifts, Night Lights, Shopping | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Glass and Metal Inlaid Wood Memory Boxes for Men and Women – New at Kyle Design

Posted by Kyle Design on January 3, 2009

Handsome inlaid wooden boxes for men and women have it all - design, color and style!

Handsome inlaid wooden boxes for men and women have it all - design, color and style!

New today at Kyle Design: Gorgeous mixed media wooden boxes that are inlaid with decorative metal etchings, bright glass and iridescent film color accents in the center. These stunning boxes are available in 100s of gold or silver designs and 9 different color systems, so you can totally customize the look and feel of the boxes to suit the recipient. We can even engrave a metal plate inside the lid or on the side front of the box to express your sentiment, message of thanks or the dates of a special event.

This is one of those new items mentioned in yesterday’s post about New Years resolutions. I had the parts for this box ready to go back in October, but never quite got it together. Why? Often, there are just too many decisions about how I want to present an item, what options, what photos. (Perhaps closer to the truth – I love starting projects and exploring all my ideas but don’t enjoy following through on all the details quite that much.)

Anyway, here’s why I got bogged down on this item. A sample case:

The Photos: I photographed the original boxes with two in the image, but after cropping the photo into a square each box was so small that you couldn’t even tell what design was in the middle. Therefore pointless. I was hoping to give the impression that there are more than one color/design available but obviously hadn’t figured out how to do that effectively yet. Had to set up the shots and rephotograph. Again. Then process/crop/adjust the digital images. Again.

Soft, smooth colored glass provides a beautiful backdrop to the hard-edged metal designs and the handcrafted textured film.

Soft, smooth colored glass provides a beautiful backdrop to the hard-edged metal designs and the handcrafted textured film.

The Color Choices: Most of my items are available in about 40 colors, whether iridescent film or anodized aluminum. For these boxes we have an added degree of complexity with the glass colors used in combination with those colors. Question: do I allow customers to create whatever combination of glass and color accent they want? Which at this point would be 40 film/aluminum colors times 9 glass colors equals 360 color combinations. In either silver or gold, so multiply that by two to get 720 metal/color combos. You really could create your own look. Match your wedding colors, tie in with company colors, use someone’s favorite colors.

But there are risks…. Allowing customers complete control could potentially result in some really ugly match-ups. Here in the studio we can see what the true colors really look like with each other and would know when something just wasn’t right. Perhaps too daunting. (Limit colors!?! I’m an artist! I love colors! It just goes against my natural instincts to limit colors!)

But – if I do, how many color combinations do I offer? Do I keep them neutral or go for more wild combinations?

Must…make…an…executive…decision. Final decision: Start somewhere. Nine color combinations (for now) that stay within a color range.

Option Groups: With that decision made (whew!), it was back to the drawing board regarding how to present the color combinations and how to format them. Do I just show a chart of the glass colors and a chart of the film and aluminum colors and, when is comes to how the two look together, just let the customers use their imaginations?

Perhaps too challenging. Alternately, If I match up the colors, how do I photograph them – just the piece of glass and a piece of colored film together? Or displayed with a metal design for a more realistic look? Do I show a real design or would that be confusing to customers when they believe they have selected another pattern? If I use metal in the photo, do I use the silver or the gold or both? Worn out yet?

This memory box features a man and a woman with upturned faces and makes a beautiful gift for a couple starting a new life together.

This memory box features a man and a woman with upturned faces and makes a beautiful gift for a couple starting a new life together.

And so on and so forth. Not to mention just getting the materials and size descriptions correct, listing the features of this particular box that distinguishes it from the others on my site, and using keywords and terms that will help those looking for such an item find it in the search engine results.

Finally, I settled on the box arrangement in the top photo above which hints at other colors and shows the gold metal finish in the corner. I cropped a color system photo that displays a portion of a design with both glass and film in it. I used silver for all the images. I built a drop down menu for the color option group on the website. I measured the box, updated the text, checked my links and finally,

I put my Glass and Metal Inlaid Wood Jewelry Boxes in 100s of Designs on the site.

Whew! Check out the final results and tell me what you think. Thanks in advance!

Posted in Artistic Gifts, Engraving, Gifts, Unique Gifts, Wood Boxes | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Happy New Year 2009 – What Will Be New, New, New at Kyle Design

Posted by Kyle Design on January 1, 2009

Stain Glass Fireworks Night Light - Celebrate the New Year and add some excitement to a dark corner!

Stain Glass Fireworks Night Light - Celebrate the New Year and add some excitement to a dark corner!

Happy New Year 2009! Although I didn’t stay up to the bitter end, I know for sure it arrived because I woke up to hear the fireworks in my neighborhood going off at midnight. But now I’m up early (5:00 a.m. and it is oh so quiet outside) and thinking about what I want to add to my site this year.

Kyle Design’s New Year’s Resolutions

1. Finish New Items: It’s time to finish up all my half-started new items and get them up on the site. These include a new line of beaded jewelry, wall mirrors, switch plate guards, magnetic badge holders, 5″ square jewelry or valet boxes (like the Prosperity Box below), among many other items. I don’t think this problem is the result of procrastination so much as distraction from so many things to do….

Futuristic Business Card Holders with Carbon Atom symbolize new developments, advances and hope for the future.

Futuristic Business Card Holders with Carbon Atom symbolize new developments, advances and hope for the future.

2. Expand New Thematic Gift Pages: So many designs, so little time….  I added 65 new design series just as the holidays were hitting. I only had time to create a few items each for my new animals, numbers, sports, technical professions, foods, Asian characters and symbols pages. Time to expand the product pages of all those new designs. Yes, we have global products which you can customize with any of our 350+ designs, but customers often prefer to see how a particular design actually looks on a product. We’ll keep at it!

3. Dare I Say It – Create More New Designs: Even after making a big push to get fresh designs done in time for the holidays, there are always more that customers request – usually the day after the cutoff. This year those requests included skiing, a tank, jigsaw puzzle, the numbers 60, 75 and 80, a kitchen theme, New York, Eiffel Tower, field hockey, hope – and the list goes on. Right now, I’m looking at a list of nearly 100 ideas. I do love designing, but it is also very time-consuming and physically exhausting, so I can only do so much at a stretch. If I can kick out 20 or 30 in the next month or so I will be very pleased. If anyone has a suggestion for a new pattern I should be doing, bring it on! Please! I listen, really. No promises, but if there is enough interest you may see it show up in a future design run. {Thank you in advance 😉 .  }

Valet Box with the Chinese Character for Prosperity - Great gift idea with a positive sentiment for the New Year

Valet Box with the Chinese Character for Prosperity - Great gift idea with a positive sentiment for the New Year

2008 Was A Good Year. Our focus on organization and preparation really paid off during the 2008 holidays – we were really busy (and were very thankful for it)  – but the season has never gone so smoothly or efficiently for us. Not to say we haven’t identified  a couple more areas that could use improvement. (I can’t keep popping off with “oh yeah, that’s something new I just added…” when a customer asks about something that my staff has no idea about.)

One benefit of being in business as long as we have – since 1982 – is that we have the time to work out the kinks and get our act together. But products, times and systems do continue to change, so there are always new challenges. Kudos to my staff for all their great ideas, suggestions, organization, efficiency and depth of knowledge. It keeps our customers – and us – happy.

So here’s to a great 2009 and a happy, happy New Year!

For more fresh and new gift ideas, please check out my inspired New Year Gifts, Prosperity Gifts, Scientist Gifts, Fireworks Gifts, Business Card Holders, Night Lights and Jewelry Boxes.

Posted in Business Card Cases, business card holders, designer, Holidays, Night Lights, Shopping, Wood Boxes | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: