Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pros and Cons of Etsy Beta testing

Looking for Bead Soup? You can find it HERE !

Etsy has been doing a little Beta testing streamlining the shopping cart and cleaning up the design of our front pages. I am NOT in the test group, when I'm on Etsy everything looks like normal but I'm able to see the differences when I click on a link in my e-mail . This is how one shop looks in my browser.

Cool little thing I can do while reading my e-mail is open the links without opening my browser. Makes reading email so much faster! This is how it looks when I opened the shop in my e-mail. 

Same shop, same listings, same computer.  First thing you notice is the banner is gone. It's a much cleaner look and as a designer I like that, BUT  they just erased her branding, her personalization of her shop. Quite a few shops pay for that, and quite a few more make a living creating that for others. Ouch for both of them!! I like her banner, it has clean lines and is relevant to her shop.  I'm also a little partial to my own branding including my banner :) They've even shrunk the avatar a touch,  it's surrounded by a white frame making it appear bigger, but a side by side in full size screen shots, shows it's smaller. If they keep this streamlined look a work around for losing the banner could be to move it into your slideshow. Use it as a header or footer for your photos.

Next thing you notice is the featured items are gone. I'm actually on the fence about this, I have been using mine to showcase one item from each shop section. 1 Brass, 1 Copper, 1 Silver, 1 Gold. Lately I've been using it to point out items relevant to the month, birthstones, holidays etc. When you list things in time for early shopping, they end up buried for the last minute shoppers, featured items makes it easier to find them. I like this because it allows me to give a little extra to my customers. But as you can see in the comparison, it also drops the newest items in the shop below the fold. You have to scroll to see them. When you have seconds to convince someone to click through and browse your shop, you don't want them needing to scroll just to see what you have. IMO that's ArtFires biggest design flaw in their storefronts. So while it's nice to showcase, I suppose if something had to go that would be one I'm ok with. I do actually want you to see what I've got!

Moving on, you might notice the welcome/shop announcement is gone. So much for Hi how are ya?! In some small way I get that too. Some shops seriously abused that tiny space, Elevator pitch people. Keep it succinct! Most do just that, some don't use it at all. I really like my welcome message and would hate to see it go. I could move it to my about section if needed and will probably do a copy/paste into a text document just in case....

The side bar feels much cleaner in this new layout and the About section is up top, that's a good place for it honestly.


Pros:                                                                       Cons:
Cleaner layout                                                        Loss of Branding
Easier Navigation                                                  Smaller Avatar
Larger photos above the fold                                 No Featured Items
About Section in the Forefront                              No Welcome Message

The two things that are key here is a Con loss of branding and a Pro larger pics above the fold. 
Hopefully the two can be resolved in a positive manner. They aren't mutually exclusive and I think can be blended in a way that serves us all.

Unfortunately, I never know when clicking inside the window from my email will end up opening my browser so I didn't get a good look at her shipping profile from the beta test in order to do a comparison of that. I know they've been testing moving shipping into a single click during check out and that this has made quite a few people unhappy. There are plenty of places that don't show shipping, including Amazon until the item is in your cart. It's kind of hard to compare our tiny presences to Amazon in regards to shipping though. I have a feeling they may receive bulk shipping discounts we don't.   Not having seen the disappearing shipping costs myself I don't feel I can honestly compare anyway.

What I do know, whatever Etsy decides to do with the results of their testing, we as shop owners NEED to be able to roll with it and adapt. So find the good, find the challenge, find whatever it is that motivates you and find a way to make it work. Every change Etsy has implemented to this point has improved my ratio of views to sales and I am good with keeping that trend going.

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


Seems I get to be a part of the testing aferall. I was updating photos and my shop changed - just - like - that! This is what my shop looks like today.......

I like the aesthetics of it. Got to keep my banner! We'll see how it goes from here, but it this is nice so far :)

Monday, May 19, 2014

May's Birthstone = Emerald

To save you from needing to scroll to find it.....Bead Soup is here: Bead Soup Reveal #8 

In keeping with my monthly quick series on birthstones....The month is May and the birthstone is Emerald!

Wondering if I should tell the hubs he is a beloved wife - probably not though he is much beloved.

Who first beholds the light of day
In spring's sweet flowery month of May
And wears an emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and happy wife.

Agate was also on the list as the month's birthstone up until about 1912 when it converted to Emeralds alone.

Our treasury feature this month offers some wonderful finds in those gorgeous shades of green.
Someone remind me and I can do an Emerald City theme next year :) in the Merry Old Land of Oz....you're singing it now aren't you? It's ok I am too...... a snip snip here and a clip clip there.....ah Dorothy!

Etsy Treasury in Emerald Greens

And again I don't have any Emeralds in my shop, I am really going to have to do something about getting a few more birthstone type gemmies in there. Thankfully I do have a couple greens!

14kt gf filigree, green aventurine and rose quartz, necklace
Gold Filigree Capped Aventurine and Rose Quartz Necklace

Brass filigree, mossy agate and tourmaline neckalce
Vintaj Wrapped Mossy Agate & Tourmaline Necklace

Silver, shell, enameled discs and lucite flower earrings
Spring Gears - Enameled Earrings

Silver, labradorite, emerald green glass earrings
Labradorite Drop Earrings

Copper, abalone, copper filigree and green crystal necklace
Woodland Greens Abalone Heart Necklace

There you have it!
Thanks for stoppin' by!
We'll see you next time!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party #8 Reveal Beckoning Bohemian

Welcome to Bead Soup Blog Party number 8. The reveal date has finally rolled around and I am excited to show you all that I have made. This is my fourth time participating in the party and I have found it every bit as inspiring as the first, second and third times. This year my partner is Dana James, I wrote a quick blog post introducing her to you here.

She sent these wonderful soup ingredients that just called Bohemian to me, and when I say called I don’t mean whispered. My muse was very clear this was the direction we were taking, and then she went into creative overdrive…………

Together we made armloads of bracelets.

memory wire bracelets/anklets, colorful bangles, copper & leather cuff

I had never played with memory wire, can you believe it? The stuff has been around for nearly as long as I have been playing with beads and I have never even touched the stuff. Not even once. I had in my mind’s eye stackers. armloads of pretty. I started with the teals, inspired by those gorgeous blues in the lampworked beads. Added those sweet sweet floral head pins and Hey, as long as we’re making stackers, let’s play! I grabbed up many feet of aluminum electrical ground wire riveting the ends together and wrapping the resulting o’s with yards of colorful threads and pearls, adding beads and bells for loads of super lightweight, super colorful, super happy bangles. Super right? We were going to town making these fun little things and it dawned on me, I hadn’t touched a single soup bead since bracelet number one - gasp! Never fear my dear, these are meant for stacking together!!
Returning to the memory wire this time I worked in earth tones picking up the subtler colors in those gorgeous lamp worked beads.

Ready to get in some metal work I made up some textured copper strips and wrapped up some leather fully intending to use one of the clasps Dana had sent. But when I was ready for it, the clasp just didn’t seem to work, sigh. Not one to argue with my muse I finished the clasp using a piece of the leftover copper and textured it so that it matched beautifully. 

I remembered I had this great little bracelet wire from the Bead n Button design challenge that I hadn’t gotten around to using and what better way to showcase one of those lamps than that? I added a stamped filigree, a little flower with crystal center, and a Czech picasso leaf. Just sweet!

Then I made some connectors and played with those cool little copper bars and beads Dana sent. They looked really good with the larger lampworked beads and bracelet number 14 was born. This time I did use one of the clasps Dana sent :)

I had sketched up a design for the focal and ordered the bits I needed from B’Sues. I finished out the detailing while waiting in the lobby at the Drs office while the hubs was getting his eyes dilated. I had planned on etching the mehndi style designs but all I managed to do was discolor the metal ;/ hmmm

While I contemplated discolored metal I formed and forged some frames then wrapped up a couple pair of earrings. I LOVE these earrings. The first pair have Cognac hydro quartz and matching crystals from the soup stash and the second feature those sweet peach pearls Dana sent.

Brass choker - lace & flowers in brass and copper

Back to work on the focal I decided I would engrave it instead. Using a dremel and very slow speeds I did something I thought I could not do, I engraved a straight line. Seriously, I once answered a question about engraving with a no you can’t use a dremel, you need special tools……. ahem I stand corrected. ( I think I might really want those special tools now though - engraving is kinda fun!! )

So I engraved not just front but back. Riveted vintage opals and wired the brass lace into place. I added hand made flowers again with crystal centers and a short length of crystal beaded chain.

At this point I thought I was done. I had very little soup left, bullet casings, crystal points, a clasp, pearls and crystals. I so wanted to make one of those cool bullet casing points but the points are 1 mm too big ONE. The hubs says you just need to stretch the casing. LOL That’s all….. the muse leans over and says I have an idea…..

brass and copper dragon entwined around a quartz crystal point

….. and a dragon was born. The focal piece was my favorite up until this point. Pun not intended! I wrapped the point in a strip of engraved brass, followed by a woven strip reaching up behind into wings. At least it did. I didn’t like the way the one wing was sitting. I thought it was too low. I’m using brass, brass is a fairly hard metal and is brittle when work hardened. I gave a slight bend to the wire, and snap! off came the wing. I had to take the whole thing apart and rework the game plan. This is one of those times when uh oh is truly to your advantage. I made a second pair of wings and sawed a new head added vining swirls to the end of the bale to make the back as interesting as the front and wow! Even my son loves this guy. And look….. the second clasp found its way in too!

At the time of this writing I still have several days until reveal……… I wouldn’t be surprised if another little something found its way into this post as my muse doesn’t think we’re quite finished yet :D

As I was saying with the delay I had several extra days to play! And play I did, I finished up two UFO's you can see that post here (fortunate I did too, as I needed a blog post lol)  AND look at that! Two more pair of earrings found their way into the blog party!

forged and wrapped brass hoops, woven and scrolled brass copper and smokey quartz dangles

First pair is a simple forged pair of brass hoops wrapped with a peach pearl and the second woven and vined brass and copper with smokey quartz and crystal.

I still have quite a few ideas swimming, seriously inspiring this round, BUT it's only a few hours away until reveal. Yesterday was the hubs birthday and Mother's Day is this weekend. I think I'll play with my muse again in a couple days, right now I think I'll spend some quality time with my family and start hopping bright and early - or after I've had a couple sips of coffee  and can form coherent sentences!  :)

We have close to 500 participants again this year… wow! Make sure to visit Dana’s blog  to see what she made with the goodies I sent her (that’s where I’m headed first!! ) then head back to Lori’s blog Pretty Things    to catch the rest of the hop!

And if you'd like to peek at my past soups you can always visit these pages

Bead Soup 5
Bead Soup 6 
Bead Soup 7

Thanks for stoppin by!

We’ll see ya next time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

While we wait....

As you may have noticed, no soup this weekend. We've had a slight postponement, the reveal will be this coming weekend May the 10th instead.

I thought then I might share a couple UFO's I managed to get finished this week - told you my muse wasn't ready to stop! lol

cluster earrings made of Smokey Quartz and Peridot gemstones w/14kt gold filled accents

Technically these earrings weren't a UFO as I had the gemmies (Smokey Quartz and Peridot) pulled to make them and the design decided on but I had not actually started on them. They've been on my desk since the Artisan Whimsy call for pieces using these colors for the next issue of Bead Chat. ummmm I didn't quite make that deadline, oops.

Glass beads and Pearls in warm rich coppery tones with copper accents and copper heart pendant.

This sweetheart however, was definitely a UFO. It has been sitting on my desk since welllll before Christmas. I love this necklace, but it just kept getting interrupted by life's little happenings. I also kept running out of jump rings. I tell you, I've sawn rings for it three times, once even drawing blood! But I still ran out!  Hand knotted glass pearls on cotton cord, it's extremely soft and supple. The jump rings at the clasp are soldered closed. Normally I would use unsoldered rings to make a safety break, but if enough force is used to require a break, the cording should give and the knotting should keep the majority of the beads from scattering across the floor. Hopefully we never find out!!

While, as usual, I did all the metal work the design is a variation on Leslie's seed bead bracelet found HERE, she kindly shared it a Bead Soup or two ago. It makes up VERY comfy and I have used a variation of it for several necklaces now.

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