Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Live from Brazil!

My friend and coworker Sandra went to Brazil and just got back Monday. Thank goodness she's back. I'm always stressed when I can't ask her questions! I've been in this role for three years and I STILL need her help constantly.

But I'll forgive her for leaving me since she brought me such gorgeous goodies!!!

I have another coworker friend who is majorly into stones and she thinks these black ones are raw rough garnets!!! I think they are freaking awesome and I WILL figure out how to use them in some sort of jewelry creation.

No idea what these are...I swear some look like Apatite. Do they have apatite in Brazil?

My coworker friend thinks these are flourite. They are UBER delicate and flaky. Pieces were coming off very easily so I'll need to be careful with these. No jewelry from them. :)
I love getting presents!

Experiment Gone Wrong

Well, I don't experiment very often. I'm a wuss and I admit that freely. But I had this idea in my head and I just had to try it out. It didn't work. In order to prevent others from wasting some $$$ on these gorgeous crystals and then ruining them I thought I'd share my results.

I really wanted to fuse silver with some crystals and they now make these fabulous circle crystals. So I ordered a few and tried it out. I actually melted the crystal to the silver! And the crystal cracked and, in the case of the blue crystal, discolored.

So this is one experiment that blew. :( I still want to create with these gorgeous crystals but will either have to use seed beads and the only stitch I know (peyote) or wire wrap for security. I don't want to use open jump rings ... although I suppose if I used half hard sterling wire it would be fairly secure (if the wire was thick enough). Stay tuned!

Deep Breaths

How in the world is November almost here?!?!? When did that happen!!! I just realized this morning that Friday is November 2...and that is the first day of a craft show I am doing this weekend. ACK!

Thankfully it is a local show, not too huge, and I have most of my gear packed up from the last show and ready to go. Plus it is an indoor show so no tent needed. But still ... I am scheduled to take that day off, which I forgot about. And I need to get a little more organized. Even small shows are stressful and hard work.

Not only that I have all of a sudden gotten more orders than I'm used to - both from my main website and from my Etsy Gemstones store. I'm greatful and excited but exhausted. It clearly doesn't take a lot of orders to make me crazy. LOL It's the combination of working full time, having a two hour commute each day that wastes my time, and then coming home to hubby and dogs who need attention. That leaves me about 2 hours before bed. Or 3 if I go to bed late - which is not good for me and leaves me with headaches and more chances to get sick.

I'm honestly not complaining. Really. I get the biggest thrill when I see an order come through on my jewelry website. And I'm glad to be getting rid of my excess inventory of beads and things. I like that other jewelry designers are getting to use beads that just sit in my house - lonely and waiting to be part of something beautiful.

Oh, and Kodiak goes into surgery today. :( My poor baby boy! I won't get to see him until tomorrow and then he'll be half drugged, shaved, and with that big cone thing on his head. Look how adorable he was as a puppy! He was pure white when we brought him home. He sure has darkened up.
Looking at his puppy pictures makes me smile. :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Warn Your Grandparents (or Parents)

This story (may require a subscription) in the Wall Street Journal burned my hide. As if seniors don't have enough issues facing them, being tricked into estate planning with insurance companies shouldn't be high on their list of worries.

So here's the scam. A sweet little ol' lady gets a post card in the mail that says - "The government is going to take away your medicare" or "Get Free Estate Planning" or even "Your Estate Will be Wiped Out by Taxes".

"Some cards gush about sweepstakes prizes, and returns may be used by marketers in any number of industries. But state regulators say the most ubiquitous type of card is delivered to seniors on behalf of insurers. Often plastered with American flags, such cards may cite "changes in your Medicare benefits" or
mention "new legislation" passed by Congress that will "affect you and your heirs" -- along with references to research by federal agencies or AARP on how to handle such changes."

Sweet little ol' lady (SLOL) is concerned and fills out and returns the card for her 'free' information, thinking the card is sponsored by a government agency or AARP. Not so much. Said ol' lady then gets a phone call to set up a meeting with an 'estate planner' who then goes on to convince her to transfer her life savings into some mutual fund or insurance policy.

"During their meeting, she recalls, he "asked me what I had in stocks and bonds" and convinced her to move her $170,000 IRA, invested in mutual funds, to an American Investors deferred annuity. She says she only realized later that she was limited to withdrawing 10% a year. Any withdrawals beyond that sum were subject to a penalty as high as 17% in some cases, the state complaint says. "

Most of these policies have huge fees for premature withdrawal and tie up SLOL's funds when she needs them most. The story includes one gentleman who's money was restricted from him until he turned 90!

"Soon after they mailed the reply, a living-trust marketer, and then an insurance agent, showed up at the couple's Morganton, N.C., home, Mr. Williams said in an affidavit filed in state Superior Court in Raleigh. Mr. Williams, an 83-year-old retired factory worker, says the agent talked him into transferring much of the
couple's $179,000 nest egg into annuities that barred them from tapping the bulk of their money, unless they paid high penalties, until Mr. Williams was nearly 90. The commission on such products is typically 9.5%"

My full time job is in the financial world. I'm not a financial planner or anything but even I know that when you're retired - the whole point of your retirement funds is to live! Not to invest your money and then not be able to touch it. That's where I am in life, not where my grandfather is.

These slimey tactics are how companies are currently getting around the "Do Not Call" registries. Be sure to warn your grandparents and parents (well, you too I guess) to not fill out any kind of card that offers "free" assistance and definitely check into who is trying to sell you stuff. Nothing in life is free...my mama taught me that!

Don't Fall for it

I'm not normally a naive person. I've become more and more skeptical as time has gone by, but sometimes I get a little off my game and slip up a little. Wednesday was one of those days apparently.

My website has a 'contact me' page. I prefer this to having people try to e-mail me directly. Mainly because if they e-mail me from their own e-mail address the Spam filter might snag it, but when using the contact page the message always comes through just fine. The only drawback to me is that when I see that I have a message I get a little excited...somebody is contacting me!

Lately, I don't get nearly as excited. Maybe 1 in 10 queries is an actual customer who wants or has a question about jewelry. The other 9 times it is someone who wants to sell me something, link to me (nothing wrong with that), or wants me to join something. Sometimes these are also important messages, but often they are not.

Soooo...I got a message on Wednesday:

"Dear Madam:Our affluent readers have questions about your items for sale.When is the best time for me to call or email you?
Sincerely,Lisa M.
Fashion Avenue News Network

Her contact information was also listed (phone, web address, e-mail) but I don't really want to give them a free link. Go ahead and google them if you're interested.

Needless to say I must have been tired that day because I actually fell for it! I e-mailed her back with my contact information and that I'd be happy to answer any questions. *sigh* Yesterday I get a reply...and what a shock. She's asking me if I'd like to give her $500 to advertise on their website. Some question.

I love their pitch (*enter sarcasm here*). Trick me into thinking they're actually interested in an interview or my work. Then ask me to give them money: "Our affluent readers have questions about new designs - where to find the latest designs? We want to suggest your name to all our affluent readers."

Okay, I get it. You think your readers are affluent. Try another adjective. K?

Please don't try to trick me into advertising. I may fall for the initial inquiry but $500 is not a small amount of money and I'm slowly learning what avenues are worth my advertising dollars and which are not. I'm sure as heck not going to invest in some company that tries to trick potential advertisers. To me that is dishonest and a little too 'slick willy' if you get my drift.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fire Scares Me!

Of all the natural disasters out there that could affect me, flooding and fire scare me the most. Earthquakes I can handle. Windstorms, fine. Even a volcanic eruption wouldn't scare me too badly unless it actually caused a fire.

The fires in California freak me out and I feel so horrible for all those affected. I cannot imagine being so helpless and unable to defend my home. I asked my hubby yesterday, "can you imagine losing this?" pointing to our home and all our comfort. We are so blessed.

In my inability to help, I found a fabulous person who is selling donated items to raise funds for those in need affected by the fires. I donated a pair of my earrings...
As soon as the link to purchase them is up I'll add it. In the meantime, here is Merimello's Etsy shop with a couple of other donated items up for sale.

I know that some of the folks in Cali are well off financially, but I don't care how rich you are - losing your home like this is devestating and traumatic. Even the smallest kindness means so much. I hope that my donation can help provide a little comfort.

Hot Cops

My friend Jenn C e-mailed me this fabulous article which made my heart sing. :) You see, I get to see my very own handsome State Trooper dressed up in his work gear and I must agree that they are the best dressed. Way to go Washington State Patrol!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Got Tagged

Boooo! I am so ticked. If you don't agree with me, leave me a note. Don't vandalize my property.

I have had the same bumper sticker on my Rav4 for over four years -

"Land of the Free
Because of the Brave
Thank You Armed Forces"

And I believe that heart and soul. I rarely glance at the back of my car every day going to and fro. Hubby summoned me outside this afternoon to show me that someone had crossed out "Thank You Armed Forces" in black marker.

*Insert Angry Red Face Here*

Piss off is what I say. Now I am on a mission to find the most obnoxious, conservative, thankful bumpersticker I can find. I have one that says "An Armed Society is a Polite Society" that I find rather amusing. But I really want something to thank the troops.

If you disagree, that is just fine. Put a bumper sticker on your car to counteract mine. But don't touch mine! I would never, ever, in a gazillion years deface someone else's property just because I disagreed with them. I didn't do it during the 2004 elections and I won't ever do it. I can't say the same about liberals who think they have the right to silence an opinion different than their own.

Again I say, piss off. Oh this just makes me so mad.

Body Care Goes Natural

With all the scary news stories lately about lead in everything from your kid's train set to your lipstick I've been more and more aware of natural products.

I am not a hippy, dippy, no leg shaving, long haired, granola eater (not that there's anything wrong with that) who thinks that all chemicals are bad and we should be living as one with our mother earth. I love me some un-earthy TV. And you won't find me with flourescent lighting until it looks like my pretty soft light bulbs do now.

However, I am starting to make more of an effort to filter out the chemicals and unnatural items in my food as well as other products like lotions. There is some research out there (isn't there always) that claims some chemicals used in lotions can cause cancer. Although everything seems to cause cancer these days (I am not going to stop chewing sugar free gum) it makes sense to at least be aware of what you put on your skin.

Paraben is one of those things that are being targeted as being bad for you and possibly linked to cancer. Parabens are chemicals that are used as preservatives - found in everything from lotions to toothpaste and even as a food additive. A 2004 study apparently found parabens in some breast cancers - however the study did not say the parabens were the cause of the cancer.

Some say that the whole 'paraben free' is just a gimmick that natural green companies use. But I say, why add any preservatives or chemicals to your skin if you don't have to? We're already exposed to so many every day, it can't hurt to reduce your exposuer. Luckily there are lots of options for going all natural, paraben free, and reducing your exposure to more chemicals.

One of my favorite Bath and Body independent companies is Mi-Spa. Her Peony Blossom lotion sits on my desk at work and hubby smells devine in her Brown Sugar & Spice lotion. Makes me want to eat him all up. :) We also enjoy her natural soaps. We like "Chocolate Truffles" but she also has exotic flavors like Lettuce and Coconut Lemongrass. Oh and her dry roll on perfume is to die for. SO simple to throw in your purse and put on right before work or after a workout. Again, I'm partial to the Peony Blossom.

Buy three bars of soap from Mi-Spa and get 10% off.

I've found several other natural (or 99% natural) bath and body product providers out there who also look fabulous.
Ablutions has this Organic Lip Butter that sounds too tasty and are priced just right for stocking stuffers at $5.

Why do skincare product names have to sound so edible? It makes my mouth water to read "apple orchard", "mandarin raspberry", and "pineapple sorbet" from Winks & Company. *insert Homer donut drool here* Making them even more inviting is their juicy ingredients for nourishing the driest of skin.

Lest men think that they are being left out - Essentials for Him has some tough and manly skincare products (is that an oxymoron???). How freaking cool is this tough Power Wash? You don't have to be a wimpy metrosexual to smell nice. And it's convenient and easy to use - I know how important that is for my hubby.

There are so many delicious and independent bath and body folks out there. Why not switch your skin care products to a company that cares - most are small business folks who live and work in our own communities. At least you'll know where your lotion comes from - not a scary sweatshop in China!
More fabulous companies (in no particular order) -
Cioccolatina - Natural Handmade in the UK
Shea Radiance - Creamy Body Butters and More
In Kristin's Shower - Fantastic Bath Bombs
Flower Peddler - Natural Bath Products
Natural Magic Soaps - 100% Natural Soaps
Vintage Body Spa - Indulge Your Body
Holly Rose Aromatherapy - Essential, Fragrant & Naturally Handmade

Monday, October 22, 2007

Pretty Beads

I have so many beads - it really isn't even funny. I mean, seriously...I could practically open up an entire store just with the beads I have now. It's kind of pathetic. Selling them on Etsy has been good because I know that designers are going to actually use these poor lonely beads! I am unnaturally attached to these inanimate objects.

Plus, it helps fund my metal and wire purchases. I'm really low on thicker wire but because our roof started leaking (can you believe that!!! As if we needed one more thing to go wrong the roof starts to leak on Friday. Grrrr!) I can't justify buying more unless I sell a lot more supplies.

So I'm pimping my supplies here again. I really do have some neat beads...ones that I hate letting go of, but realistically know that I'll never use because there are only so many hours in a day. Aren't they pretty?!?!

I'm seriously tempted to keep this round Carnelian stone set in sterling silver. It's heavy duty and gorgeous.

And these Apatite nuggets are stunning...deep blue color. Apatite is not a cheap stone so I don't even know if these will sell...if not, I guess I'll just have to keep them. Bummer. :)

The latest batch that I'm going to start adding to my Etsy shop are now in my Flickr account - it's the third batch of photos I've taken this month already. And I haven't even gotten around to posting all of the other ones. Looking at the photos makes me want to keep them. But I have to be strong. *sigh*
Anyone want some??? It'll help fund a doggy surgery and roof repair. :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Glad to have you!

I'm so blessed. Things have not been the most pleasant lately and yet I am not nearly as sad or stressed out as I could be. People have left wonderful and supportive comments. My husband has been unusually patient. And work has said to do whatever I need to do.

Exhaustion is close to setting in but I have jewelry to design tonight. Of course through all this chaos life goes on and people need jewelry. Jewelry makes me smile! :) And creating pieces for others to make them smile is another blessing.

Tomorrow will be the first time the whole family is together since grandma died on Tuesday. I imagine it won't be particularly easy. I HATE HATE HATE to cry or show weakness - especially with family. I don't know why. I can cry at work and not be mad at myself but let my own mother see a tear and I want to rip my hair out. Sheesh. Issues? LOL

I'm sure we'll go through her clothing, see what fits the skinny young cousins (though they are much taller than grandma, some of her nice shirts may fit them). I don't want any of her clothing. Mom has her wedding ring and my great-grandma's wedding ring. I'm sans-ring right now (another story for another day) so she's going to ask grandpa if I can "borrow" it. We'll use that word so my aunt doesn't get ticked. :) We'll see. I don't need "things" to remember her but I would like to be part of her legacy in jewelry. I think grandpa and I will start cutting stones so he can teach me how it's done. I'll be putting a lot of miles on the car this winter that's for sure.

Have a happy Friday and go hug your relatives!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When It Rains...

As if we didn't have enough to deal with right now, Kodiak needs surgery again. This will be his third. God love him. He's such a sweet dog and has so much energy and excitement...well, not now because he's drugged up, but normally.

He was only 9 months old when he first hurt his leg - he liked to dig holes and we think he tripped in one and tore a muscle. That cost us nearly $5,000!

Last year we noticed him limping on his other leg and finally took him in to the vet. He had torn his ACL. *sigh* So another surgery and $2,000+. And it was so emotionally draining for me. I ended up sleeping on the couch because we had him set up and caged off from the other dogs. He had to have his pain pills every so many hours and could only go outside to potty on leash. He would cry so horribly that I ended up calling hubby in tears...it was breaking my heart. I hate to go through that again! Plus, his hair never did grow back all the way from where they shaved him!

It looks like that surgery didn't stick. Either the wires they put in broke or he's got a new issue in the same spot. They took x-rays yesterday (oy, $300!) and the change in his bones and scar tissue in less than one year is so sad. It's dangerous for his other leg because it has to do all the work to compensate for the bum leg.

Our boy is 6 1/2 years old and still acts like a puppy. He can handle a lot of pain but that's not fair. I want him to be comfortable and healthy. Is that too much to ask? He loves to go on walks but pulls to hard, even when he is in pain. He'll have to be on the gentle leader for the rest of his life I think (he hates it!). I just want him fixed and not in pain!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You're Never Really Ready

My grandma died today. Sometime after 3:30 p.m.

It's not like it wasn't expected. She's been "dying" for years now. A year and a half ago my mom pulled me out of bed and had me drive an hour to the hospital to say goodbye. She didn't die then. She's been kicked in the head by a horse. Had four kids before she was 24 and had to have a hysterectomy. She hunted. She fished. She baked.

She and grandpa worked together every day for their whole marriage - almost 60 years! She worked in their office when he ran the Petrolium business. And kept the books for their Christmas tree farm. She ordered all their findings and stones. She had great taste - I like to think she passed it on to me.

She loved to shop. She discovered the internet and that was very dangerous. She bought amazing things. It's not like they were rich but she always bought high quality.

I don't know what grandpa will do. She hasn't been home for over a year now so at least he's more used to being alone. But they were high school sweethearts. They married when she was 18 years old. It wasn't a perfect marriage - they fought and had their issues, but it was true love. Even when she had lost most of her teeth, just a few weeks ago when I visited, he kissed her square on the mouth and told her how much he loved her and how beautiful she was. He always embaressed me when he would say "isn't she sexy?" and laugh. He's been saying that since before I can even remember. She'd get all "mad" and swat at him for saying things like that in front of us grand kids. But he never stopped. I'd always say "ewwwwww...grandpa!"

I know I'm lucky. I got to know my grandma for 29 years. Heck, I got to know her mom, my great-grandma, for 18 years. But it still seems too short a time! I got so angry with her for being a hypochondriac - she could have lived for so much longer - but for her many hours in bed with "headaches." Mom finally told me that she thought grandma suffered from depression - which was never really diagnosed or treated way back when. There's so many reasons for her decline - her idiot doctor who prescribed any and all medications - even when they conflicted and made things worse.

At some point, even imaginary ailments become real when your body says "Fine...you want to be sick, I'll be sick." The muscles deteriorate. The heart starts to go. A stroke. Another stroke. A hip break. Finally unable to get out of bed even if she wanted to.

I knew it was coming eventually. She psyched us out so many times in the last three years - making us think it was her last moment. My mom e-mailed me at 2:30 saying that grandma wasn't doing well (at which point I just rolled my eyes - she's never doing well I thought). She had 104 temp and they thought it was pnemonia. Mom called around 3:00 to say that she was getting worse - she was gasping for breath and her legs were cold.

Mom was trying to get there to take grandpa to say goodbye. She didn't make it. A little before 4 p.m. she called to tell me. I was at work and even though I KNEW it was coming, I reacted by bursting into tears. WTH!

I did not even cry at the age of 8 when I found out my dad died. My grandma is the one who broke the news. Her and grandpa were my surrogate parents.

I have no idea if I'll go to work tomorrow. I keep bursting out in tears. But the work has to be done - my coworker is on vacation. And it's not like there's anything I can do right now. I'll be in charge of getting funeral invites and apparently grandpa wants me to help write the obituary. I don't really want to. It's too painful. They want a slideshow of some sort. I don't see how I can deal with looking through all the photos when she was vibrant and active.

I hate feeling this way. I feel weak and incapable of any coherent though. The next few weeks will not be pleasant. :(

Rutilated Quartz

I love this gemstone. Rutilated quartz seems so mysterious to me...the golden inclusions (sometimes called "Venus hair") can arrange themselves in any number of ways to form beautiful patterns within the quartz stone.

It's apparently not nearly as mysterious as I imagine since quartz is the most common mineral on Earth, found in practically every environment and as a component of almost every rock type, making up 12% of the earth's crust. Most quartz is valued because it has no inclusions, but not rutilated...the more gorgeous lines and inclusions the better!

Different minerals can create the lines (called inclusions) within quartz. My favorite is the rock crystal quartz with golden lines, but it can also occur as rutilated smokey quartz and rultilated milky quartz. And less commonly known is a variety known as "tourmalinated quartz" which has black or dark green tourmaline crystals instead of the golden inclusions. I'd love to see some of that in person!

Because there are two different types of minerals (with different degrees of hardness) it can be difficult to get a good and smooth cut. My grandfather apparently has the skill to create gorgeous cabachons. Below is a Rutilated Quartz Cabachon hand cut and polished by my grandfather and grandmother, photographed with some rutilated quartz rough uncut stone. Maybe someday I'll be good enough to try my hand at cutting it!

Bernadine Fine Art Jewelry

Monday, October 15, 2007


I love bangles and I've been itching to make some to offer on my website. Well, this weekend I finally got up the nerve and the energy.

It took forever to fuse each large circle. I started with my largest torch (which is still a handheld one so it's not that big) and wound up using both of my handheld torches at once. One in each hand! Doing that made things go much quicker.

Picking the gemstones took almost as long! I couldn't decide which I wanted to us. Do I use all round or do I go with some abstract nuggets? For the time being I decided to go with round gemstones - Smooth Lapis, and then faceted Nephrite Jade, Amethyst, and Black Onyx. I may add a beautiful round faceted Rose Quartz and Rock Crystal if I can find some before Spring.

Sizing these is interesting...I have to cut the wire and fuse it so determining the length of wire needed for a specific size will be my next goal. For the time being I wanted a few put together for photographs.

I generally wear a size 7 1/2 bracelet and I am able to also fit a size 7 1/2 bangle over my hand, although it's a tight squeeze. A size 7 1/2 bangle is 2 1/2 inches in diameter and at the widest point my hand is 3 1/2 inches wide (before I squeeze it down to 2 1/2 inches). If you are unsure I suggest ordering 1/2 a size higher than your normal bracelet length.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's It Worth?

Ahhhh...pricing. The age old delima. It's a surprisingly touchy and personal subject. I am shocked by how personal some people take their pricing and any criticism or questioning about how they figure their prices.

Jewelry pricing is a tough one - especially handcrafted jewelry. You can find people selling handcrafted bobbles for as little as $1 up to thousands and thousands of dollars. Who is to say who is correct? If it works for them and they are able to sell why does it matter what they charge?

I think it does matter though. While I am just one random person in the universe and my opinion matters about as much as that rock outside, my views on pricing have changed drastically over the last few years.

When I first started creating jewelry to sell I worked with glass and base metals. I wasn't shopping carefully for wholesale - I just went to the local bead store and bought what caught my eye. Selling a pair of glass and base metal earrings for $5 when you first start out isn't completely unreasonable.

One thing I didn't think about when I was selling those $5 earrings - Are the people buying $5 earrings the same people I want to target in two years? What about when I start using sterling silver, or gold, and gemstones? The type of customers who want $5 earrings aren't as concerned about the type of materials I use - they just want a cheap pair of cute earrings. There's nothing wrong with that, but spending time building my customer base with these people doesn't make a ton of sense.

Additionally, it never occured to me that while the materials going into the earrings may have cost me $1 out of pocket, there are tons of other expenses that aren't as tangible - "Overhead."

Things to consider when figuring out prices:
  • Electricity - Yup - it takes power to create. Lights, drills, tumblers...stuff takes electricity to run and help you create
  • Rent - Sure you're working at home but you're using space in your home that would otherwise be used for something else. If you were to try to create elsewhere you'd have to pay rent. It's not free to use space at home either.
  • Tools - It takes quite a few tools to create good jewelry. My husband swears that I do not need one more hammer. He's wrong. I have all sorts of pliers and cutters and hammers. They cost money. And I use them to create my jewelry.
  • Mileage / Wear & Tear - Whether it's driving to the post office to mail orders or driving to the local bead store for that emergency bead run, you put mileage on your car. It counts.
  • Shipping - Do you factor in the shipping costs from the bead store to you? I didn't. If I bought a strand at $10, that's what I thought it cost. Well, duh...if I ordered 10 things and shipping as $10 I need to add $1 cost to each thing I ordered.
  • Packaging - Whether you put an item in a small plastic zip lock style bag or you have gone out and had silky personalized baggies created, this cost needs to be recouped. Then there's bubble mailers or boxes, bubble wrap, tape, tissue paper, gift boxes, etc. It adds up.
  • Show Fees - Do you do shows? I hate them but I still do them. It costs a lot - it's not just the show entry fee. You have tables, table covers, canopy for outdoor shows, receipt books, pens, display items (busts, earring stand, etc.), and the list goes on and on. I'm always shocked how much stuff I end up bringing to shows.
  • Website - Do you sell online? Did you pay for your website? I did. It's not cheap (although for me it was soooo worth it). Even if you have a "Free" site (a friend or family member, or even you, created it) it's not free. You, or the creator, spent TIME making your online storefront. Then there's upkeep and maintenance. Oh and the cost just to connect to the Internet - don't forget that. Nothing is ever "free".
  • Photography - Take a picture, it'll last longer. But getting good photos is HARD! It requires a digital camera if you're going to do it yourself. Then you need time to learn and take good photos...which can take years. Don't forget photo editing software. And the time it takes to edit photos - which can range from 5 minutes to an hour for each photo. Don't even get me started on hiring someone to take good photos for you - it's worth it but your jewelry has to be priced higher to help pay for it.

I'm sure there are even more overhead type expenses I could come up with if I thought about it longer. But I think this list is pretty good. I don't see how anyone could really figure out a per piece cost from all of that, which is why it's so hard to factor overhead into our pricing - even though it is really important.

I think I need to go raise my prices now. That list depressed me!

Want more? Visit Rena's Home Jewelry Business Tips on Pricing. She's got some great articles. Eni Oken also has a price calculator you can use as a guide for pricing your work.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Did It!

Soldering has been one of my biggest hurdles in creating jewelry. Doing new things is sometimes hard for me...I stress out and get anxious. The idea of having to use the chemicals required for soldering (pickle, flux, etc.) stressed me out.

Tuesday night I took yet another class to help me overcome this fear and I think I may just kick it! I made two really fun and pretty soldered pendants and will try to solder by myself at home soon.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
Here are the two pendants I made in class. The first is a jumbo funky pendant, which is too big for me but someone may enjoy wearing.

The second is one I made while waiting for others to finish their fusing/soldering. I'm a fast worker. :) I love this one!

I have all these ideas floating in my head for new designs now that I think I've conquered my fear of soldering. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's Not Monday

So why does it feel like a Monday? My head feels like it may explode at any moment. Waking up with a migraine makes it very difficult to get out of bed, but I managed to drag my sorry butt into the shower. If it were any other week I would have called in sick. But my coworker is going on vacation starting tomorrow and there is too much to get done before she leaves. When she leaves, my world turns upside down. I may be a bit cranky for the next two weeks.

It's bad enough having a pounding migraine and all that comes with it - but it's even worse when traffic is rancid. It took me 40 minutes to drive what normally only takes 10. You'd think people in Washington state, where it rains constantly, would know how to drive in the rain. Think again.

Arriving at work 25 minutes late and finding out that you were supposed to be at a meeting 20 minutes ago is also not the best way to start a day.

All in all, it feels like a Monday. Oh, and I forgot my lunch. I need a nap!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Danger of Consensus

I love this article in the New York Times (and I generally can't stand the NYT!). It shows the danger in supposed "consensus" among scientists. And I think it speaks to much more than diet.

"We like to think that people improve their judgment by putting their minds together, and sometimes they do. The studio audience at “Who Wants to Be a
Millionaire” usually votes for the right answer. But suppose, instead of the audience members voting silently in unison, they voted out loud one after another. And suppose the first person gets it wrong.

If the second person isn’t sure of the answer, he’s liable to go along with the first person’s guess. By then, even if the third person suspects another answer is right, she’s more liable to go along just because she assumes the first two together know more than she does. Thus begins an “informational cascade” as one person after
another assumes that the rest can’t all be wrong."

So if the scientists can get it so wrong on something like diet (and don't we all know people who have tried all the different diets out there?) who is to say they are getting it right on other issues.

I need to confess something ... *gulp* ... I'm one of those "green pagans" who doesn't necessarily believe that global warming is man made or that we can do much of anything to affect the earth's atmosphere. *ducks as people spit in anger at their computer screen*

I know...sacrilege!!! It goes against everything I was programmed to believe as a child...and it certainly goes against popular mantra today. But what can I say? I'm a rebel. And people who say it's been scientifically proven haven't done their own research or opened their minds to those who disagree. It's another case of 'informational cascade' as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not saying we can't affect our own local environments. I'm all for recycling and not dumping motor oil down the drains (save the poor fishies!). I don't want all the forests chopped down and I love a clean outdoors. But changing my light bulbs isn't going to prevent the earth from warming or cooling. (Check out this on CO2) The earth has been going through environmental changes since the beginning of time. We're just in another cycle. Man will adapt to his environment, whatever that may bring.
"The truth is, read any legitimate scientific study on climate -- including IPCC's -- that suggests human influence is the dominant cause for global warming, and you will discover dozens of qualifiers like "could," "possibly," "potentially," and "may." For all the certainty and consensus that global warming fear-mongers assert, those sound a lot like weasel words."
This is why the whole idea of the government getting involved in anything more than security freaks me out. They screw it up every time. The "global warming" issue will be no different. Go green if you want, but don't be fooled into thinking that if you use cloth grocery sacks you're saving the earth (I LIKE my plastic sacks...I use them for lunch bags!). And don't fall for government "helping" with new laws and restrictions. The earth is a much bigger entity than any human could impact. It'll be here long after we're all dead and gone.

So don't let your kids come home scared that the world is going to end if you don't change your light bulbs. They were telling me the same thing 20 years ago. I never really fell for it then and I'm not falling for it now.

"Consensus is the absence of leadership." Margaret Thatcher

More fun things to read...
Watts Up With That - Climate Change
Climate Audit

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Words in Print

I'm so jazzed. I've been quoted in a really neat online magazine - Jewelry Selling Insights. The article I am in is about doing home shows. I've only actually done 4 shows total but I really do feel that my experiences are valuable for others who haven't done any.

Check out October's newsletter and read up on a variety of interesting topics, including home shows. (newsletter requires Adobe Reader to view - it's a free program available to download online)

This is a great, short, newsletter that is packed with valuable tips and tricks for any jewelry designer.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I Love My Dogs!

Probably too much. I spoil them beyond what is socially acceptable. But these businesses enable me!!!

My dogs DESERVE ice cream. They put up with mommy and daddy being too lazy to play or walk. They put up with brushing and grooming, which they hate. My poor Kodiak is practically an invalid. Quinn is an old lady. And Trooper is a puppy...and all puppies deserve ice cream.

I found special doggy ice cream at the grocery store...but looking at the ingredients freaked me out. All kinds of chemicals that I can't pronounce. I care way more about what my dogs eats than what I eat. :) So no chemicals for them.

And then the Daily Candy goes and finds this amazing organic ice cream for dogs!!!! I must order some.

How can I resist this face???

Or this one?

Or this one?

If mommy gets to eat her unhealthy, chemical filled Ben & Jerries then the poor doggies get to eat organic yummies.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Your Kids Are Watching You

I don't have anything else to blog about today...and I find this mildly amusing and extremely disturbing.
"...guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and supported by the
commonwealth, doctors across Massachusetts are interrogating our kids about mom
and dad’s “bad” behavior..."

Who defines bad bahvior?

The actions of some of these do-gooder doctors is frightening. Reporting parents to law enforcement for gun ownership!!!! It's called the 2nd Amendment folks. Look it up. Am I going to have to worry about my kids someday saying "Yes, my daddy has guns." He's a cop for freaks sake!

I am all for protecting children against sexual abuse, but assuming that all daddys are perverts who abuse their children is an insult and twisted.
"The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared all parents guilty until proven

And guilty based on their view of right and wrong. Don't scoff...it's a slilppery slope. They encouraged kids to spy on their own families in Nazi Germany. Teachers told students that it was their duty to the nation to rat out their own parents. It's a symptom of fascism. And it's frightening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kids Have it Easy

Okay, not always, but gosh darn it they have so many cooler options than I had growing up! Look at this incredible play dough I found last night while flipping through my Gooseberry Patch catalog.

"Fruity fragrances in an ultra-soft dough...let the good times roll! Kids will
have endless fun playing with this set of play dough. Created by a mom, it can
sit out for up to 16 hours before hardening. How many doughs can say that? Each
tub contains 4 ounces of non-toxic dough that smells good. "

Oh my goodness! Is it wrong that I want some for myself?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Honoring the Bracelet Lady

So, I ranted yesterday about the whole pink and breast cancer awareness as an ad gimick thing. But I really do care - honest. Not because it's breast cancer but because it's cancer at all. My father died of colon cancer which had then spread to his whole body. Cancer is an ugly and painful invasion for all involved.

While I won't be making things to sell, I am going to participate in a bracelet making project. And you can play too!

Cagey Crafters is an online forum for those crafty jewelry types among us. One of our wonderful moderators found this story about a woman, Lisa Fewox, who started a bracelet campaign in Jacksonville FL. She didn't have cancer and noone in her family had cancer but she felt compelled to do this. Her efforts touched people's lives and made them better.

Then one day...ironic tragedy struck. Brain cancer. Violent and harsh reality.

But her spirit lives on! Our group is making bracelets in Lisa's name. Our donations will be sent to the news station and distributed as per Lisa's legacy. Will you contribute?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Starting to Hate Pink

It's October. I think of Halloween - orange and black. But it's turning Pink! I know what I'm about to say is completely politically incorrect and probably will horrify at least half of you. Sorry bout that.

I am sick of Breast Cancer Awareness. I'm just tired of seeing ads. I'm sick of companies trying to convince me to buy something because it's pink. I saw Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup in PINK yesterday!!!

Let me clarify. I think my reasons are logical.

Cleary, any kind of cancer is horrible, sad, and a tragedy for all involved. But why is breast cancer so much worse than any other kind of cancer that we need a whole month devoted to it? Is it because it involves women? More women die of heart disease than of breast cancer - heart disease is actually the #1 killer of women. More women die from lung cancer. More women die from Digestive system cancers (stomach, colon, etc.).

Heart disease is actually the number one cause of death for all Americans - male and female. And I don't think there's a whole month devoted to heart disease (is there? edit - there is...it's February!).

So there's that. But also, I just have issues with all the "buy this item and we'll donate" marketing. I realize that it's a feel good way to get people to buy your stuff - "buy my item and you'll be happy with the item and even happier because some of your money will go to a good cause."

That's great - but can't I just give my money directly to the cause and it will have an even greater benefit? Plus, how do I know what organization you're giving to? It could be one with 90% overhead!

*sigh* I know...some of you are probably screaming at your computer. Please relax. I'm not trying to belittle the tragedy of breast cancer. But it's no more a tragedy or life altering experience than colon cancer. Both are going to change the lives of all involved.

And lest anyone accuse me of being insensitive (which happens a lot) I do donate to Susan G Komen foundation every year. But I don't sing it from the rafters because I have issues with people / organizations who "brag" about their donations. I feel it's a private matter (more on that someday later).

So go shop...but at least support small and indie businesses. They seem to give more per $1 spent than the big corporations.

Women Of Hope
A Planet 4 Creation
ZeVin Creations
Anna Bella
Rotem Gear

As for me, I'll be making some breast cancer specific jewelry - but I'm not selling them - they'll be given away. So you can't buy them from me. Sorry. :)

Be Healthy!