Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Amazon & Etsy

Wind Dancer Studios Artisan Made Jewelry

I have wonderful news! I'm both thrilled and terrified at the same time.

I love Etsy and am perfectly happy there but with the tinkering they've been doing I'm just not seeing the growth I expected. I could whine and complain but that doesn't change a thing. I have consistent sales and from what I've read that puts me above average and I'm good with that so I'm not planning on leaving or putting my shop on vacation or anything like that.

When Amazon announced they were planning a new Handmade Marketplace I applied.
I applied ...... and I was accepted!

Statistically Amazon has 10 x the customer base @ 250 mil customers so my sales should increase at the same rate which would surpass my goals for the year. Which would make me one happy camper.

Crunching the numbers I need only three sales per day to make an income sufficient to contribute to household expenses. I didn't realize how much I missed that until the thought of being able to pay the bills even when the weather isn't cooperating with the bread and butter business became a possibility.

Amazon gives me the opportunity to create more growth. A lot more growth! That's where the terrifying part comes. I know I can handle three sales a day, I can replenish stock fairly quickly depending on what's selling. The terrifying part is Amazon has the potential to create much higher sales than that.  Amazon does something Etsy doesn't do, advertise. Amazon knows marketing, everyone knows Amazon!

Then this morning, my note from the universe was this:

"The Evolution of a Dream" 

Dream is implanted into brain. 

Dreamer becomes thrilled. 

Dreamer becomes terrified. 

If no action is taken, terrifying thoughts grow into flesh-eating monsters. Dream is considered unrealistic. 

If action is taken, Dana, terrifying thoughts are revealed to be paper tigers. Confidence soars, miracles unfold, and dreamer begins to saunter. 

Either way, nothing remains the same. 

    The Universe

If you're going to dream, dream big right? It's all about taming those paper tigers!

Hey if Etsy sellers are known as Etsians........ will this make me Amazonian? Wonder Woman here I come! Hello, Diana's eyes are only a tiny bit bluer than mine! lol

Wonder Woman: by artist Alex Ross

Thanks so much for stopping by!
We'll see ya next time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Me and the Boy - a Little Family Time

wind dancer studios, coin rings, family time
US Golden Dollar  & Quarter  Dollar Coin Rings

I've been busy but my muse has been quiet. I can make while not entirely "woohoo I so want to do this", but I prefer the woohoo. It keeps everything fun, which is why I do this. My stress levels have been higher than I thought they were I guess, I pushed hard at the beginning of the year and I enjoyed that, but I underestimated the amount of down time my muse was going to require afterwards.

So you can understand how happy I was when I told my son I was planning to make some rings over the weekend and he piped up with, "Can I make some too? I still want to learn to make some coin rings. "

And that is just what we did!

First we picked out some coins to use. He has wanted to turn his golden presidential dollar coins into rings for quite some time now. We also picked up a Quarter and a Mexican Peso. I have a Casino token around here somewhere I had planned on using, but somehow it got missed. Maybe next time!

Then we gathered up the tools needed, he went downstairs and picked up a drill and I pulled out my punch set. Marked the centers of the coins and got our holes started. Not without casualty though, I apparently opened my punch set upside down so Alex used it that way and mushroomed one of my punches. oops, ah well that's how you learn ....

wind dancer studios, making coin rings, family time
Forming the ring on the mandrel.

We used a hammer on the quarter and gave it a textured finish that is really pretty and then switched over to wood and leather mallets for the Peso and the Dollar so we wouldn't destroy the details of the coins.

wind dancer studios, making coin rings, family time
Peso Ring

We only set out to make them to fit his fingers so there are things we would probably do differently if we needed to size for a specific size smaller than that but it was a great learning experience for us both. And he hasn't taken any of them off, except for washing hands etc, since we made them.

wind dancer studios, making coin rings, family time
Wearin o' the rings, just sounds good doesn't it :)  Looks good too.

That's how we spent our weekend. How'd you spend yours? Feel free to tell me in the comments or on my page on FB. I'd love to hear from you!

Til next time!
Thanks for stoppin by!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Left Handed Loop Tutorial

Loops and wrapped loops are something quite a few beginning jewelers struggle with. The headpins purchased at most craft departments are steel and don't bend easily, making them think they are doing something wrong or just aren't very good at jewelers making. A nice loop does take a little practice and armed with a little how to and the proper tools it can be done quite easily.

To get started you will need wire or purchased head pins and a pair of round nose pliers

or forming pliers

and a pair of chain nose pliers.

flush cutter

and optional crimping plier

These days they have a one step looper tool -

but it won't make wrapped loops, those you still have to make yourself and I'm going to give you a quick tour of how I go about making them.

To make a simple loop drop a bead onto your head pin and using your thumb bend the wire over the top of the bead in an upside down L. The bead being on the straight portion. Grab the wire between the jaws of the pliers and roll.

Making a loop on a Head pin, WindDancer Studios, free tutorial
Using a head pin.

Continue rolling until it looks like a lollipop.
Trim the excess.

To make a link you'll do the same but loop both ends. Generally when making links I'll slide quite a few beads onto the wire and work from the roll. This saves time and wire.

Wind Dancer Studios, free tutorial, simple loop link
Using round nose pliers to make a simple loop link

Wind Dancer Studios, free tutorial, simple loop link
Using Forming Pliers to make a link.

To make a wrapped loop you'll do pretty much the same thing but you need to leave a space next to the bead for your wraps.

Wind Dancer Studios, free tutorial, wrapped loop link
Making a Wrapped Loop Link

This time we'll place our pliers next to the bead and rock it to the side. The tip of your plier leaves a little space between the bead and the bend.

Wrap the wire around the tips of your plier until you have your lollipop but don't cut the tail.

Grab the tail with your chain nose pliers and wrap it around the space beneath the loop. Wrap as straight across as you can and fill the space.

Trim the excess and tuck the end in close to the wraps with your chain nose pliers.

Sometimes wraps can be a little uneven or the tail just doesn't want to tuck all the way in.  A helpful hint in these cases is to use your crimping pliers and very gently squeeze around the wraps and tail end to even them out and tuck the tail.

Can you spot the wonky links?
Got going too fast on I have to fix them.

The links I found for the pliers had great pictures that showed the pliers tips so you know what you're looking for. I also turned myself into a contortionist so you might have a better view of the plier tips as I worked. There are a full range of product price points and you should purchase what you are comfortable spending as you will get what you pay for when it comes to pliers. I have some really nice very expensive pliers that I absolutely love, I have some mid range pliers that are very nice and fit my hand beautifully and I have regular hardware store pliers that I've owned for many many years, they all do the job I want of them. Treat your toys and tools with respect and they'll last a long time.

I thought you might like also like to see a video of a right hander so you can see the motions. I often use both hands switching back and forth without thought so I thought this might help to see it both ways.

I hope you find this helpful or know of someone who might.

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

Friday, July 10, 2015

of Flags and Heritage and Love

MagPie Approved:My G-Grandfather
My G-GrandFather Adam Rott born in Russia 1884
Immigrated to the Dakota Territories in the US the same year.

I’m going to touch on a topic that may be, well is, politically charged. This is simply my view, you may share it or maybe not, but it is mine none-the-less.

I am for lack of a better phrase, an American Mutt. I am not a “purebred” by any means. My family has been here so long that we predate the conception of the USA. Seriously, I have DAR lineage as does my husband, though technically that would be SAR. For those not in the know, Daughters/Sons of the American Revolution, descendants of patriots and/or soldiers of the American Revolution on the rebelling side. I have Native American heritage as well, obviously also predating. I have generation after generation of immigrants to this country of ours. So much so that I can’t really identify with any of them. Nothing more than stories have been passed down, cool little tidbits like we're descended from Robert the Bruce, one G-G Grandfather could speak 13 languages and was a professor before coming here and another was stoned to death for swimming in a white man's swimming hole, but no important traditions or culture. Just that family is what matters in this world.

My family is a very long list of immigrants. Family matters. So I take great offense when the politicians/or their pundits begin spewing the noxious verbiage that immigrants are what is destroying the fabric of our nation.  EVERY LAST ONE OF US is a product of immigration. Exceptions to any Native who is not of a mixed heritage. You and I are not destroying our country, neither is anyone else looking for a better life.

What could destroy this nation is the notion that left and right aren’t flip sides of the same darn coin. We will rip ourselves apart if we don’t all come to this realization. All this venom has us on the brink of a virtual Civil War. Pointing fingers and blaming each other for the actions of our elected officials and their pundits. 

My family has lived in most parts of this country North and South, and yes when it came time for the American Civil War, they also fought North and South.

MagPie Approved - My Family, My Heritage
My G-G-G-Grandfather wearing his Civil War Confederate uniform in this family photo taken in Mississippi.

Some of my family fought under that Rebel flag, I don’t pretend to know the reasoning it was not a story that was passed down. In fact it was never discussed at all that I’m aware of. I only know of it from my own research. To me, that flag was just a part of history. It meant nothing more than an act of rebellion. In my eyes it stood for nothing more than a final rebellion against authority. Had any family history been passed down in regards to it I might have felt differently about it but that was not the case. My guess is, it wasn't the case for most other folks either.

While I was still researching my ancestry on I found a record I hadn’t seen before. Spelling variations in this line had made searching an adventure to say the least. I clicked to view it, a Slave record. I thought at first maybe someone in the family had been indentured for some time. Imagine my utter dismay when I discovered it was a recording of my family members ownership of slaves. I was immediately sickened, my stomach was doing flips and tying itself in knots. You can’t own another human being, it goes against everything I know to be true and yet, there it was.  My brain tried to reconcile this, purchasing their freedom so that families could remain together. That’s a noble thing right? Always the optimist and seeing the world through mine own eyes, historically I know the odds of this are slim and it saddens me still.

I live in the South and I am proud to call it home for so many many reasons, but that flag holds no loyalty for me. It never meant more than a last act of rebellion.

Juanita is a friend of my Aunts for as long as I can remember. She has the most gentle voice and she was always just the sweetest person. I didn’t know it at the time but she was the foundation of my beliefs in equality. She wasn’t anything ugly at all,  She was Juanita. A beautiful human with a beautiful soul. How could anyone hate that? How could anyone hate her?

To know that a flag whose meaning to me was simply of rebellion was used to hurt and oppress the likes of Juanita and countless others like her, hurts me. It holds no loyalty for me. Go ahead, return it to history. 

That doesn’t mean I think we should destroy it. To forget the past is to doom ourselves to repeat it. It doesn’t mean I no longer love Gone With the Wind either. It’s still quite the tragic love story. But we learn and we move on, and in the words of Scarlet, we live another day.

Thanks for stopping by and for listening to me ramble on yet again!
See ya next time!

edited to add this post I found on FB, as I believe it bears repeating:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hand Crafting of Angry Words

I struggled with this post for quite some time, I just could not make myself post it this last week. Ordinarily I don’t believe in criticizing another person’s work. There is so much more to be gained by by pointing out the positives by lifting up another person and helping them improve in a positive way. But I also believe if you’re going to teach something your best should be put forward.

Everything I wrote last week sounded angry. I rewrote it and rewrote it, trying hard to find kinder words. I found them or quite a few of them, until I began talking about the craftsmanship of the necklace and they turned angry sounding again.

It bothered me, I mean really bothered me. Why on earth would someone else’s work make me so angry sounding? She wasn’t copying me. She’s very obviously a beginner, I should have soft words for her, encouraging words. That’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t anger per se, it was sadness, disappointment in the thought process that someone whose work is so obviously a beginner, thought that was good enough to present to my community as professional. That this is all you can expect from hand crafted. It breaks my heart.

You should have at a minimum mastered the the skill set required for the class you’re teaching!

To present yourself as a teacher when you are nothing more than a beginner who has yet to master the basic skills looks bad on all of us. It disparages those who have taken the time to master the skills. It’s no wonder so many these days have the opinion that hand crafted is the lowest form of skill. Traditionally a craftsman is the highest skill level you can achieve and a craft isn’t playtime, it’s a skill, a trade. You begin teaching children, learning at a young age because it takes years to master the craft, children haven’t yet been told they can’t or aren’t good enough so their natural aptitudes are fully receptive. Dancers, Gymnasts, Artists, Musicians all traditionally start young.

I see this practice a little too often in some of the groups on FB, "I’m going to teach this class on xx-xx-xxxx, please someone I need a tutorial so I can learn". Excuse me? How the heck are you qualified to teach a class if you don’t even know what the heck you’re doing?  An honest learn along beside me experience can be wonderful and is preferable to I am a teacher let me teach you, when you don’t actually know yourself.  smh

Promotional Photo for a Jewelry Class in town

This is the promotional photo for a new business in town and it is the reason for this post. Among other things this shop is going to be teaching jewelry making @ $80 per class, classtime runs one hour. For this class the event listing said they’ll be teaching memory wire and elastic bracelets and you get to use the leftover beads to make a pair of earrings. I’ve taught this class for free to my Girl Scout troop and as a room mother at my kids schools over the years.

Seriously, Deliah’s current class is $35.oo to learn to make her sweet little dragonfly. This lady is charging $80.oo for memory wire & stretch bracelets with a pair of earrings. Where I live. sigh

Let me say this again, If you’re going to charge double the going rate for a jewelry class your own work had better be at least on par with what you’re teaching.

Let me also say this, please don’t use fuzzy photos to depict your best work. If your bust is covered in lint and is that paint? learn to love your photo editor, or don’t use it as your look at what I can teach you photo. Remember this is for a business, an actual brick and mortar, the photo needs to pull in customers so the owner can pay the bills - business. She’s already set herself up as a Bargain Basement store (I’ll save that rant for another day) don’t add to that perception.

Bad photo aside why on earth is she using elastic cord on a slip on over the head necklace?  Gemstones can cut through soft materials fairly easily and elastic cording may be ok for lightweight/plastic beads or shorter lengths as in a bracelet but the longer you go the more weight and the more stretch, the greater the chance the stones will cut through. Use beading wire. Proper materials for the proper application. If you don’t like the feel or drape of wire then a waxed cotton knotted between every so many beads will do, but you still need to finish the necklace properly and a visible frayed knot isn’t.

Then there’s the wire wrapped necklace. This is what I do, I worked hard to learn to make a quality product and everything I have written (and rewritten) this last week about the quality of this necklace just sounded angry.  Her elevator pitch for the class was to learn to make jewelry so you can wear it and gift it to all your friends and family.  I don’t mind the mixed metals, I use them all the time, but do try to tie the whole thing together by adding some of the other metals to the focal so the dangles actually make sense. You have a copper focal here with brass and pewter dangles with nothing to tie one into the other.  Those loops though, cause me the most heart ache and are how I know she is a beginner. Loops are a very basic technique, I know it can be hard to get the hang of, that’s why I have a free left handed tutorial in the works for them but good grief get a looping plier if you can’t make loops and you’re planning on teaching jewelry making. You’re charging too much money to pass bad skills on to other people. Egg shaped I could let slide, I still egg a loop every so often, you get going too fast and it happens but these loops aren’t snugged up, they’re cockeyed, curve off to the side, and the wire ends bypass the pin and are sticking out just waiting to poke/scratch someone or snag and ruin a sweater.

This necklace set is so filled with beginner mistakes that it’s completely possible I could be totally off base. Maybe it isn’t the instructors necklace at all, maybe it’s a students necklace. In which case they should be marketing the photo as such, with a caption along the lines of “look what  Miss NewJeweler made during our jewelry making class. You can make this too! Sign ups are now open.   Instead of the elevator pitch mentioned above.

So my dear readers, the take away is this. 
1. Always put your best foot or photo forward.
2. Share your knowledge but be honest about the level of that knowledge.
3. Quality work is important for EVERYONE, don’t scratch or poke your customers, friends or family, even if they’re students.  
4. Waiting to post until you can find the soft words may cause you to miss a week blogging, but at least you’ll still like yourself. 
5. Choose your marketing carefully, it reflects on you and the business you’re doing business with.
6. Stores that advertise artisan made goods using the words rock bottom prices earn themselves rant time T.B.C. I’m not at all sure I can find soft words for this one. It may end up being a compilation of others blog posts about how wrong and hurtful this is. And that list is a long one.

So that’s last weeks post, late for last week a hair early for this week. More rant than normal but points we all need to be reminded of on occasion.
Thanks for stopping by and listening to me I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Integrity MattersIntegrity MattersIntegrity Matters
1: honesty, probity, rectitude, honor, good character, principle(s), ethics, morals, righteousness, morality, virtue, decency, fairness, scrupulousness, sincerity, truthfulness, trustworthiness.
ANTONYMS dishonesty.

You are nothing if not your word. If you cannot be honest in your business dealings, your life dealings then I need to rethink our association.

Harsh words? Maybe. Maybe not.

We’ve worked hard to get where we are. Long hours in all kinds of weather (reminder: bread and butter is construction) in good health and bad. We’ve sacrificed, scrimped, saved, prayed deposits would clear before checks did, and made the conscious decision to remain small when it would have been easy to spend the money and go big. We’ve been self employed for over 30 yrs, we’ve had good years, we’ve had lean years. But in all years we’ve kept our integrity. Do what you say you’re going to do and do not do what you say you won’t. Just be honest and fair.

We’ve worked hard to build this home of ours, we expect people to treat it and the surrounding land with respect and integrity when working around it. Just as we would around theirs. This last few days for example, Entergy (our electric company) has a tree service out trimming the lines. We had a tornado a week or so back and an ice storm a couple months back that caused a couple outages in the area. I told the tree service I understood the need to keep the lines clean, our trees were not an issue but I could see a couple limbs that might become one. I gave permission to trim those branches with the strict admonition not to butcher my trees. 

At first, they were doing as asked, I glanced out the windows every so often and all was good. Right about the time I was convinced they were going to do as promised they started work on a tree right next to my house. So I watched some, then it happened. Instead of selectively pruning back the branches as I had asked and they had promised, they start cutting all the branches within a vertical plane, removing 30-40% of the trees canopy in a matter of minutes just butchering my tree. I could not get out there fast enough to stop it.

I run out there screaming at the top of my lungs - ever try to be heard over a chain saw AND a bucket trucks diesel engine? (My throat still hurts) I’m screaming at him to stop, stomping towards him, I swear I must have looked like a banshee because he stopped and I’m cursing (not my best moment) at the top of my lungs for him to get off my property (that’s putting it really really nicely) I had called the husband on the way out the door, he stopped at the bottom of the driveway told the foreman I was livid and that wasn’t good, they both come up the hill and everything, and I mean everything, cutting and clean up comes to a complete stop.

Can’t glue the branches back. Facepalm. Just don’t lie to me, do what you say you’re going to do. He promised he wouldn’t, and he did it anyway. No integrity.

Now before folks start with they have an easement and they can……. no, they do not. There is no recorded easement for this line. It was placed illegally without consent through the middle of the property. When I realized (I had called the previous owner to find out who to talk to about maintenance- she didn’t know they had even run lines) neither they or the city had an easement, I tried to work with them. Entergy refused to trade an easement for a hook up (they charged me well, wouldn’t even allow us to dig our own trenches and charged us for that too) and then refused to move their line to the property line where it should have been placed, poles already existed, and no one would have had issue with trimming as it was already cleared of all trees. The city provided free hookup to my house, a pump, and replaced the waterline so it was at a proper depth (it was exposed along several spots in my driveway) in exchange for their easement. I am not an unreasonable person, you just can’t walk onto someones property and say I think I’ll just take this slice right here and then pretend you negotiated an easement. It doesn’t even fall under grandfathered as the line isn’t that old. They just took and took some more and continue to take. 

I do have a written agreement with Entergy for a different line that no chemicals will be used on any of my property. Last year they sprayed and killed all my roses, because the little rose bushes along my driveway were an obvious threat to their overhead lines. But the briar, poison oak and sumac that grow much higher are not. There will be lawyers involved before it’s all said and done, of this I’m quite sure. Not that it will do any good, no integrity with these people at all. None.

It’s really sad when the businesses that are supposed to be serving you do nothing but trample you. I think it’s time for solar and/or wind, we have plenty of both up here, for free. Then I just need a really big wall……………. ok maybe the wall’s a bit much. sigh

See ya next time!
I do hope your week started off sweeter than mine.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

15 Things I Learned From Being Rude

This summer’s project is improving search tags and descriptions in my shop on Etsy. Descriptions I do ok with, but with mobile screens being so much smaller than a desktop or even a laptop, being succinct takes on new importance. When going into the details of something I love, I can get a little wordy. Search tags on the other hand…… I need to be a little wordier with, and the words seem to fail me, go figure.

As I said last week, I follow Marie Forleo, her blog and her You Tube channel, mainly for her focus on business. Now I was a business major in college - but that was some time ago and  I like a refresher every now and again to remind me of what I already know. Sometimes what I know needs a tweak to apply it to an online store, that’s why I like Marie. She reminds me what I know and her fun demeanor allows me to see things in a completely  different light.

I noticed recently several of her videos have made mention of tips for writing copy. Hey! I’m working on tweaking that! One of the tips mentioned was "be rude”. Take out all the fluff and be as abrupt as possible. Look at what’s left and keep what works. Put the fluff back where needed. Talk about a fun exercise! Oh my!  I noticed when you’re being abrupt to the point of rude, you get all kinds of search terms, how about that!? Duh, they’re flowers….. did I have flower as a search term? No, no I did not, why not?  My first go at being rude and I was having a blast! I can’t say it helped that particular description as it was already pretty to the point but it did provide key words and an aha! when I realized I hadn’t been using my photos as well as I could have been as a marketing tool within the shop. I mean the listing was for a pair of earrings I had made as part of a collection. Sure I had linked to a shop search that would bring the other pieces up but I hadn’t included the collection photo, slaps forehead!! That’s when I realized I had several pieces with matching earrings I hadn’t done this for either, so…..
Wind Dancer Studios, MagPie Approved:  15 Things I learned From Being Rude
The Original Box
Wind Dancer Studios, MagPie Approved:  15 Things I learned From Being Rude
MagPie 1#  Penelope
Wind Dancer Studios, MagPie Approved:  15 Things I learned From Being Rude
The "New" Box

Out came the brand new plastic tub! Everyone is always going on about how you need a light box. I really like natural light but in the last couple of weeks we’ve had about two feet of rain, yes feet, Twenty Four inches of rain. The skies have been DARK, and the air has been, well, wet! Very wet! 

Wind Dancer Studios, MagPie Approved:  15 Things I learned From Being Rude
Paige's Pottery
Some time ago Brenda of B'Sue's Boutique asked if any of us had tried using a plastic tub as a light box alternative. I went ahead and picked one up figuring if it didn’t work I could always use it to store extra pillows or something. I bought a big tub because if it did work, the kiddo might like to use it for her pottery too. When I realized I hadn’t been using my photos to the best advantage I decided to give that tub a try and I started with her pottery! 

The kiddo had made herself a light box awhile back, Magpie number one LOVES it, she has claimed the box as her own. Unfortunately for the box, this meant she was sitting on top of it, after she had knocked it over, and fell through the paper “wall” The box is now sitting next to her real kitty cube where she can play in it to her hearts content. The tissue kiddo was using as backdrop got stuck to the wall…… and it’s been there for months lol So I grabbed it to use as a white backdrop.

Wind Dancer Studios on Etsy; MagPie Approved: 15 Things I Learned From Being RudeWind Dancer Studios on Etsy; MagPie Approved: 15 Things I Learned From Being RudeWind Dancer Studios on Etsy; MagPie Approved: 15 Things I Learned From Being Rude

What I learned:

1: when shooting reflective surfaces, wear black
2: my camera underexposes nearly every photo
3: iPhotos new incarnation as Photos doesn’t do a very good job of removing fishing line when earrings are hung from it.
4: nor does it auto brighten white anymore, only grey
5: I need a greyscale card
6: no or very soft shadows in the afternoons light at this window (east facing)
7: I don’t mind a white background if there is texture
8: I’m still unsure of crumpled tissue paper as a texture
9: plastic tubs are mobile and give a clean flat surface to shoot on/ inside or out
10: my camera may get dizzy after a fall but it is an amazingly tough gadget
11: I NEED a new tripod
12: I think we could use watermarks for the kiddos pottery and my jewelry photos.

So that’s what being rude has taught me. Who’d a thunk it? 

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