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!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On What Problems Does Jewelry Solve

Or How not to Hard Sell my wares.
Wind Dancer Studios, Picasso Quote, Jewelry is Art too
Pablo Picasso

Yikes I missed not one but two posts! All this rain and grey skies has gotten my days all running into each other. We've gotten almost the entire years rainfall in the last month! We get A LOT of rain in a year and as you know, our bread and butter business is construction so my head is spinning with all the grey. Hopefully we can get some blue skies to peek through those clouds soon because my poor garden is getting overrun by weeds too and I don't think I want to make mud pies!

Anyway, Enough of that!  This year's goals have been all about getting my ducks in a row so to speak. Photography is an on going evolution in style and product representation and my little Etsy shop is starting to get a mish mash of looks again so I'll most likely be doing a freshening soon to bring back the cohesive look.

The main goals I had for the year were in descriptions and tags. Writing in a way that conveys the things you would feel if you were standing here, or sitting with me while looking at my jewelry. I've started reading up again about writing copy. 99% of what's out there is all about the hard sell or problem solving.

I don't know about you, but I hate a hard sell. I've actually not bought something I needed/wanted because of the hard sell. Seriously, I left and went home to research where else I could find what I wanted.

Problem solving? Jewelry is art, it's adornment, it's personal, it's emotional. But writing to solve a problem. Hey, you know that purple dress you have? This right here..... some how that doesn't quite work for me. It might be the perfect accessory for that dress, but unless I'm creeping around I don't know that!!  I sure don't want you to think I've been creeping around in your closet either, ewww.

Then I came across this video from Marie Forleo. I love her videos, she takes basic business info and makes it fun.

She also had a few tips on how to write that copy so it wasn't hard sell or spammy. I came across Maries videos a while back, subscribed and she quickly became a favorite. You can see why.

Last weeks post was supposed to be a tutorial on making loops and wrapped loops but I knocked my camera off the edge of the bench and it's still a little "dizzy" and having issues focussing where I need it to. As such some of the photos weren't nearly as clear as I'd like them to be. I'll try to get them reshot in the next week or so to get that posted.

In the mean time, I'm way behind on Year of Jewelry pieces and B'Sue is having a June bride challenge so back to the studio I need to go.