Sunday, October 26, 2014

OctoberFest Blog Hop!

Welcome to October Fest! Our fearless leader is indeed fearless, having just endured an impromptu yet necessary household move. I do hope our autumnal offerings brighten her spirits and yours as we hop this weekend. Thank you Rita for hosting and for the opportunity to stretch my creativity.

As I type this our local Fall Fest is underway, I may have to swing by later if I still have time! The theme for the hop is October fest, anything goes as long as the inspiration is autumnal. Living on top of a hill in the River Valley my favorite thing in the fall is watching the leaves turn, it can be the most gorgeous thing, to see the trees in their splendor across the valley, along the bayou, and up along the mountain ridges. The Ozarks to the North and the Ouachitahs to the south makes for some pretty gorgeous views out my window. It's early yet and we're only just starting to pick up some yellows so my thoughts of inspiration turned to the harvest and cornucopias otherwise known as horns of plenty.

OctoberFest Inspiration found on Pinterest
I just happened to have this sweet little pumpkin from BonEcho lamp works out of Canada and as much as I loved this little guy I really hadn't any idea what to do with him, until now. He became my centerpiece for the entire design and in the spirit of a cornucopia I filled the spaces with  happiness and thoughts of prosperity. The leaves are from one of my favorite Etsy sellers, the crystals come from House of Gems, the tiny Tohos from Lima beads and those sweet little roses were fabricated by me.

Cornucopia Inspired Necklace

I played with a little bit of filigree and some of my copper to create the bail and added some reclaimed vintage beads to finish the look.

Well then, there's mine now lets go peek at everyone else's!

Rita is Our Hostess over at Toltec Jewels

and the rest of the hop can be found here.....

Toltec Jewels                            Jewel School Friends (hostess)

Dini Bruinsma                 

Marybeth Rich                          http:/

Mary Govaars                 

Mischelle Andrade-Fanucchi

Karin Grosset Grange     

Andrea Zenith Glick        

Nan Smith                      

Linda Anderson                        http://CherryOnTopDesign.Co

Becky Pancake              

Melissa Trudinger           

Lennis Carrier                

Sue Kennedy                 

Kim Dworak                  

Jo-Ann Woolverton        

Jennifer Reno                 

Veralynne Malone           

Lori Schneider                

Shaiha Williams              

Alisa Siceloff                  

Pam Traub                     

Cryss Thain                    

Maria Lourdes Rios       

Kathy Lindemer             

Carolyn Lawson            

Blanca Medina              

Debbie Rasmussen        

Heather Richter             

Kathleen Breeding         

Carol Dillman                

Chris Eisenberg             

Rebecca Sirevaag          

Sam Waghorn                

Sherri Stokey                 

Gina Hockett                 

Michelle McCarthy        

Michelle Buettner           

Dana Hickey                            You are HERE!! **waves!**

Claire Fabian                   

Cynthia Abner                

Renetha Stanziano          

Jami Shipp                     


Gloria Allen                   

Lisa Johnson                   

Marde Lowe                  

Jill Bradley                      

Toni Gifford                    

Shawnda D'Arcy            

RaMona Woolson          

Esterina Jagiella              

Sandra McGriff              

Mary McGraw               

Alenka Obid                  

Marianne Baxter            

Ann Schroeder              

Inge von Roos                

Robin Reed                    

Suzanne Berk                 

Mowse Doyle                

Diana Miglionico Shiraishi


Andrea Rivers                

Janine Lucas                  

Tanya McGuire              

Anindita Basu                

Mitzie Crider                 

Deb Fortin                     

Cynthia Kent Machata   

Cheri Reed                    

Laurel Hanson               

Ingrid Anderson            

Karla Morgan                

Lori Anderson               

Louise Mccormick-Glazier

Jasvanti Patel                

Susan Kelly                  

Lee Koopman              

Carol Briody                

Kathy Lindemer          

Renetha Stanziano      

Divya N                     

Thanks so much for stopping by!
I'll see you hopping around, I hope!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

of Faith and Magic or Perception and Goals

I'm having a business/pricing crisis and since so many artists have difficulty with pricing/business I thought I'd post here as my crisis could turn out to be beneficial for someone else. :)

In one of the groups I belong to on FB, one of the members posted a set of wood/stone stretch bracelets she found priced at $175.oo. Set of 4. Cute but nothing extra special about them, just a single gemstone connector and wooden beads. At first glance I thought Wow! I am not charging enough. Breakdown the price and it's about $45 each bracelet. Looking up the components and how I charge for bracelets that aren't stretch the numbers seem to be about right. Poke around her shop and she has had 3000 sales, quite a few of these sets. That makes an estimated $90k a yr in sales.  Her shop is full of bolo leather, wooden beads, and single gemstone on a chain, prices from $150 - 890 Nothing that I can't make, using materials I have on hand. 

So why does this create a crisis for me? I look at my shop and then look at hers. She has mostly production pieces, things that can be made made quickly and easily over and over again. I have mostly one of’s with only a small handful of production pieces. We opened at almost the same time, days apart at most, I’ve averaged one sale a month, she’s averaged 11 a week and I haven’t come any where near 90k total. One third of my sales are production work,  20% is custom work, and the other half is one of. 

Until I broke down those numbers I felt the bulk of my sales were production work. I felt I wasn’t charging what I should be, I felt woefully underpriced.

When we compare ourselves to others it creates a "what am I doing wrong" thought process, and that is a dangerous place to be. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

My goal has never been $90,000 a year in jewelry sales. My original goal was a consistent one or two sales a month. Combining all sales from Artfire (I started there and moved to Etsy) sales on Etsy, sales on FB and offline I have met that goal. The whole idea when I began selling was for this to be a self supporting hobby, gold and silver, and all those sparkly things can get a little pricey :) To me meeting your goals is the definition of success, once met it’s time to set new goals.

This crisis though, has gotten me thinking about the direction of my shop, about my pricing, about business vs hobby. The moment I started selling it became a business and I have treated it more like a hobby. Oh, I’ve priced properly taking all things into consideration. Considered other avenues for sales and weighed those options for profitability, and added items based on sell ability. But still, there are things I would do as a business I am not doing now.

this showed up in my feed this am on FB pretty apt I think

Perception is a powerful thing. I don’t really like it when people say I ONLY USE THE BEST. This shop did that, she’s selling wood stretchy bracelets, and has managed to convince people they are something extra special. My hats off, she turned a simple inexpensive material into an only the best product. Maybe my crisis has more to do with marketing than pricing, as we do seem to price similarly. I understand marketing and, having been self employed since the age of 20, I know what to do. I’m not entirely sure why I resist it so much in this endeavor of mine. My hand work has always sold itself, someone sees, comments on it, a little chit chat, asks how much and orders. It’s just different online, and while I can still follow the premise it’s difficult to replicate that "in person” experience online, the warmth of the interaction, the smiles, the laughter, seeing their face when they hold it. I do however, have a couple ideas on how to maybe bring some of that warmth to the screen.

Ok then, having met my goals I suppose next is doubling, setting a dollar amount to aim for. 90k is more than I want, that’s full time work and I think I’m pretty happy with part time!  Up until now I have done nothing more than passive marketing, a little cross promotion working with Etsy teams but nothing truly marketing myself. I have felt like I might be ready to step it up a notch and have been laying out ideas and I think it just might be time to start developing those plans. End of year is coming fast and it will be time to implement them before you know it. So the next couple of months will be all about the holiday season and me planning my marketing strategy. Don’t worry I Hate a hard sell, I won’t even buy something I need if it involves a hard sell, so the plan will still include passive marketing. I’m just going to get much more creative about it.

Hopefully this has helped someone in some small way to remember to use a crisis to push you forward, don’t let it hold you back. You are worth it!

Til next time!
Thanks for stoppin by!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Playing with Fire and Leather

It's been a bit busy around here this last week and as a result I missed my blog post. Busy is a good thing around here though and I am not complaining!

I played a bit last week. Picking up scraps of this and that, little bits of things I twisted up, sawed off, and bought. Put flame to some and wire to others. All in all a productive week and I enjoyed myself to boot!

Originally I had thought I might just play with an idea I got from this tutorial over on the House of Gems Pinterest board. I had two pieces of leftover copper I had sawn off another project and I thought it might be fun to dangle some chain from them.

Since I was playing, I thought why not emboss them? They're a slightly heavier gauge metal so I knew I'd have to anneal first. I lit the torch and thought.... why not play a bit with fire painting, I have to torch it to anneal it anyway. (You're getting a real good look at how my brain works here) So I torch and get some really pretty purples YAY! And I emboss and get great matching imprints for a pair of earrings. Next up we'll drill holes to hang the chain from. Zip zip zip and done woohoo.

I'm really liking the iridescence of the purples.............. I think I have some daggers with that color.
Yup! Then I notice a little piece of wire I had looped up and it fit so nicely into the arc of the shield, so I made another and I really liked it. At this point no matter how I played with that chain I just didn't like it. Too bad too, I had planned on suspending the whole thing from that chain....hmmmm

I really like the rib bone chain I made for my Dia de los Muertos piece and the bars Dana sent for bead soup... I could make some bars to hang these from! So I did....  I played a little too long before sealing so I lost a bit of the deeper shades but they're still really pretty!

flame painted copper shield earrings
Flame Painted Shields

Next up I decided to play with my leather scraps. Rebeka Payne of Tree Wings Studio has these leather feathers that I absolutely adore, I though I might play some and make my own feathers. I even got the kiddo in on it and gave him a piece of leather to play with while I cut and designed a few things. He LOVED it!  and I loved it.

The color of the first feathers I made were the exact shade of the stone I've been playing with the woven bezel for the last couple weeks and I just happened to have one wire left I had no idea what to do with, and tadaaa!

Copper and Leather Wrapped and Woven
Alex claimed this one just as fast as I was able to get those feathers on it.
I've made up several more feathers and have many more ideas for them already. 

Thanks for stopping by!
We'll see you next time!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trees and Branches

It seems I've been on something of a tree and branch kick lately. Must be wishing for the cooler temps of Autumn and the colors it brings as I seem to have also been in something of an orange mood too. More of a pinky/coral orange than a pumpkin orange but still an orange.

pearl & coral necklace with copper cherry blossoms
FW Pearls, Peach Coral & Copper Necklace
Instead of a full on Tree of Life this time I opted for a branch of twisted copper cherry blossoms.
This one is something of a convertible, being wearable at different lengths. The vintage style hook closure allows for an 18 inch length when hooked at the first cap, a 22 inch length when hooked at the flower and a 25 inch length when hooked at the end of the extender. I love the soft colors of the coral I got from House of Gems and how sweet it looks combined with the FW pearls I picked up from Fire Mountain Gems recently during their Dutch auction sale. Perfect as we head into fall and will still be awfully sweet when he head into spring.

copper end cone cut lines


I took pics as I made this one thinking I might do something of a tutorial. Then I found this paper plate cookie basket tutorial by One Good Thing by Jillee and darn if it wasn't exactly what I did to make my end "cones" well minus the tape!

One Good Thing by Jillee
*I punched mine out of copper and ran them through the Big Kick to match the cherry blossom focal first.
*I used my flat nosed pliers for spacing and marked the back side with a sharpie so I knew where to cut to. 
*Punched a hole dead center then followed the fold and cut pattern to make the box. 
*Instead of cookies we have crimped bead ends on an eye pin inside a nice neat little open ended copper box that matches the focal, giving it a special one of a kind touch. 

Isn't it fun to think outside of the "box"?! These can be made to any size you need. I love taking techniques I learned from other crafts growing up and applying them to jewelry.  This will even work for a flower petal bead cap if you use a smaller circle or a larger bead. Just be sure to file those edges and corners, they can be a little sharp if you don't.

Thanks for stoppin by!
Feel free to post any "Out of the Box" techniques you use in the comments.
See ya next time!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Septembers Birthstone = Sapphire

Ever have one of those weeks where you seem to be incurably busy, just getting everything done but absolutely nothing is on schedule? lol I'm having that kind of week now. I feel incredibly productive but my schedule was blown to bits!

The biggest reason, I tiled half of my laundry room ALL BY MYSELF! Half, because I didn't move my washer/dryer/freezer was actually doing laundry while I tiled lol I'll need the hubs for the rest, he's got the saw tucked away where I can't get to it by myself and I'll need to cut some tiles. The part I got done looks amazing! I am really proud of myself  "pats self on back and GRINS"

It's the last week of September and I haven't managed a Birthstone post yet so I guess I'd better!

Septembers birth stone is Sapphire. Sapphires come in a rainbow of gorgeous colors but September focusses on the Blue variety.

A maiden born when September leaves
Are rustling in September's breeze,
sapphire on her brow should bind
`Twill cure diseases of the mind.

From the 15th to 20th centuries Chysolite was Septembers birthstone. (ahem  Peridot! I told you we should give Moonstone another shot...just Sapphire became the go to stone in 1912 and has remained so ever since.

Frosty Blues on Etsy

I definitely need to consider adding the finer gemstones to my list again, I have none in the shop but I do have some beautiful blues.

Wind Dancers Blues
Previous months Birthstones:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Less Than Wordy

I try to post on Tuesdays. I even have the monthly Birthstone posts to make sure I always have a topic, but sometimes there just are no words to write.

It's not that I'm not feeling creative, I've been busy working away. I just finished up a necklace I'm hoping Stringing Magazine will like. I'm just not feeling terribly wordy.

So...... um.....let's see, something worthy of posting about.... I hosted this month's giveaway in the forum. Or basically in our group on FB. Since changed everything up AGAIN the forum has pretty much been dealt its death blow. Sad, it used to be a hopping place. You could barely keep up with all the posting, now crickets, crickets dropping pins.  Anyway, I used very cool little website I let it pick a number based on the entries and then listed all the entries and had it randomize those and ..... Anne won!  I'll be sending her these little beauties. Pendant made by moi - that little tree of life kick I was telling you about :) A pair of agate hearts, some freshwater pearls, and some moonstone, in grays and peach. Not a huge prize package but enough to get a little inspiration going and I'm sure Anne will make something beautiful with it.

Maybe a kitty post next week or birthstones, who knows?

Thanks for stoppin by!
We'll see ya next time!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

25 Sketches: Number 8

On the desk I have beads pulled for several sketches, beads pulled for commissioned pieces and then the spin off designs that develop as I work on these things. Now, my brain needs clean for numbers, but it thrives on having beads everywhere for creating. The ideas come fast and easy when the beads are out, but there is a fine line between inspirational and overwhelm.

I received a couple packages from The Hole Bead Shoppe and House of Gems in the mail this last week... YAY Me!! Most of the beady goodness was placed with projects just waiting for this or that and then a couple new ideas sparked and beads came out for that and I crossed that line into overwhelm. I can work with a lot of beads out, but I couldn't even see my desk anymore! This is what it looked like AFTER I cleaned and put some things away. What you don't see are three stacks of trays to the left and two to the right or any of the tools that live on my desk! No the file doesn't live there, it lives in a drawer to the right.

messy messy desk
There IS a desk under there somewhere!

Completely overwhelmed I had too many ideas, too many projects I wanted to play with right now and all my trays were in use. So I decided, I would work on one small sketch for earrings (they had been waiting on the Coral and Sterling Silver beads I got from House of Gems), then I'd play with the awesome kit I got from The Hole Bead Shoppe and then I could get to work on my idea for Stringing Magazine (that's one of those spin off/sparked ideas lol)

The small coral beads I got from House of Gems were perfect for the earrings I had drawn in sketch number 8. I had some Bali style silver drum beads I thought would look just gorgeous paired with some turquoise and coral and I think I was right, but I'll let you be the judge of that. I think these will be the matching earrings to an embroidered piece I'm getting ready to work on with lots more coral and turquoise! If it lives up to the design in my head it will be a stunner!! At the very least gorgeous :)

One of the things I ordered from House of Gems was a divided bead tray/organizer. I have several triangle trays and they are perfection for pouring beads back into their tubes or baggies but I have the really bad habit of setting tools down right next to them while they're full of beads. You guessed it, I flip a tray pretty much every time I use one, sigh. I've seen the little egg trays and water color paint trays used but I just knew I'd have the same problem of flipping them only multiplied! So when I saw this little gem I had to give him a go!

A Lidded Bead Tray from House of Gems
It's Lidded!! 

Yes, I am beading on top of the MacBook. You saw, I have NO room on the desk!  However, I did move the beads over on top of the sketch book right after I took this pic. I dropped a 2mm czech fp bead and it headed straight for the keyboard and gave me 2mm palpitations.

This little tray is cool! Not only is it a solid bottom with very little chance of flipping but it's lidded! That's right, I can close the lid and walk away without putting my beads away or worrying about the fur babies flipping trays while I'm not there to protect the little beadies.   It has 8 compartments so I can have beads for more than one project in it, say like now while I'm waiting for an order of more of those sweet beads, and I get to work on that necklace idea for a submittal to Stringing Magazine. AND because the compartments are triangular they pour back into baggies pretty nicely themselves. I haven't tried a tube yet but I've got several pulled for projects on the desk....

Design by Rae Burns of The Hole Bead Shoppe

Well, I'd better get going! I'm pretty sure there was one more thing on the to do list today if I can just remember what it was!! .....

Thanks for stoppin by!
We'll see ya next time!