Thursday, January 31, 2008

One More Day - Enter to Win

Have you entered to win yet?

To win a pair of my handcrafted earrings simply visit my website and pick out your favorite piece of jewelry - let us know which one it is in the comments.

This thread is the official entry for my site. Good luck! A winner will be chosen tomorrow night.

And don't forget to check out the almost 1,000 other blog opportunities to win fun stuff!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Deal of the Day at Rare Bird Finds

One of my favorite shopping blogs is Rare Bird Finds. They find some of the weirdest and fun stuff and I've found many great goodies for gifts from their discoveries.

Tomorrow they launch Deal of the Day...and guess who has the first deal?


So check out their website - the deal will only be up for 24 hours and then *poof* it's gone!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway Rocks!

Oh what fun. Let's give stuff away. :) I'm # 419 (for now) on the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival.

Enter to win a free pair of earrings -

  • Visit my website ( and pick out your favorite item.
  • Leave a comment here on this blog entry (include your first name and last initial if you enter anonymously) and name your favorite item on my site.
  • If you enter anonymously you must e-mail (casto @ castocreations [dot] com - remove the spaces and don't spell out dot) me so I know where to contact you if you win.
  • If I don't hear back from the winner after 2 days I will pick another winner and keep going until someone wins!
  • Your comment won't show up right away - I moderate them. But don't worry...all (appropriate) entries will be posted. =)
If you don't win don't feel blue...Use the code "Carnival" to get free shipping for the rest of the month and February.

*** EDITED: To say that duh! There's an end date. :) Let's say we end on Friday at 8 p.m. (Pacific Time) Friday nights are my very favorite time of the week and I'll be home alone while hubby is at work so no distractions. =)

OH...and sign up for my newsletter if you please. I'd love to share future deals and announcements with you!

Adventures With Grandpa - Thwarted by a Dop Stick

Weathermen are always wrong it seems. It was supposed to snow on Saturday so my mom and I were a little hesitant to head to grandpa's house. But he was really looking forward to our visit, and so was I, so off we went in my mom's new little box shaped car (Scion). The freeway was fine but the back roads were a little shiny. We didn't slip or slide but my aunt, who joined us and arrived about an hour after we did, said it was icy when she got off the freeway.

So while there was no snow, it was freezing cold...hence the scarf and sweatshirt you'll see in my photos here. The rock room (yes he has an entire room) is in the basement ... and it is COLD!

My adventure actually begins with trying to find a size 10.5 women's ring with a bezel setting for a cabochon at least 13 x 18 mm. Yeah...didn't happen.

While my soldering skills have increased over the last year I was still supremely nervous ... but I marched on and created my own dang ring mounts. The first bezel I completely melted...oops. But the next three, after several heinous attempts, finally worked (well, mostly...the next morning I woke up and got them out of the tumbler and one of the bezels had fallen off ... so I had to re-solder it before I left!).
Anyhoo...grandpa seemed pretty impressed with my work. But I think he is slightly biased. :)

We started setting up his equipment ... And let's just say this equipment has seen better days. It is OLD! Older than me (going on 30) and I was a little concerned that it wouldn't work properly.

We had to take time to clean everything out - there were old shavings/dust and quite a few dead ladybugs in the grinder saw.

Going through his rocks to pick out which stones to use took us a little while. We kept finding all these really cool stones that were so beautiful - but too beautiful and unique to use on a practice run. So grandpa found a nice slab of Sodalite and I decided to use a slab of stunning natural Tiger's Eye.
I really love that I can tell people for sure that this stuff is completely natural. And I mean ... some of his stuff hasn't even yet been cut into slabs and looks like it came right out of a mountain. It is that natural. Some stuff you can't even find anymore. I can't wait to play with that stuff!

Grandpa goes first and cuts his Sodalite. It's a gorgeous deep blue color and it's no wonder they call it "poor man's Lapis" because it is hard to tell the difference when you have this high quality of Sodalite.

I watch him cut and his finger hits the blade! He just laughs (the old fart!) and says that it won't cut he sticks his finger on the blade on purpose to prove it. That actually makes me feel better about using it (I'm a wuss when it comes to tools - I even flunked Shop!) though I didn't plan to purposely drag my finger across it.

Then it was my turn. I got my slab and marked it to the proper size cab I wanted to create for my ring.

Don't laugh at my hair or clothes please. It was really cold down there!

Then I started to cut.

The machine is super loud and the vibration went through my whole body. But it was really fun!!! As if I need a new jewelry design addiction ... now I want to cut stones!

The next step after cutting around the basic shape - grandpa instructed me to not cut too close to the actual line because we shave it down to get the exact shape - is to grind it down.

One thing I learned - the side you mark will end up being the BOTTOM. So the pretty design that I thought I was going to have on the top ... not so much. Thankfully the new top design isn't so bad. But I'll have to remember this in the future.

Grandpa went first to show me how it's done. Look at those hands! Boy have they seen a lot in 80 years.

Then it was my turn. I like this part too!

The goal is to grind it down until it will fit into the ring mount. And finally mine did.
The next step would be to attach the bottom of the stone to a Dop Stick with wax. The problem we ran into ... the wax would NOT stick to the dang stones. Oh, it would stick enough to make us think it was working but when grandpa then tried to start sanding the stone would pop off. He's not sure if the wax is just really super old and no good or what. But that foiled our plans to complete our rings that day.

I really wish he lived closer. It takes about an hour to get to his house but I'm definitely excited and ready to go back down. I have cut a stone once before with him but I don't remember enjoying it nearly this much. Perhaps I've gained enough confidence since that time to have faith in my ability to finish a piece. All I know is that the weekend can't come fast enough. And I'm glad it's still winter because once summer starts I know grandpa won't have the same amount of time to play - he's still a farmer after all.

It never did snow that day, although I did wake up today to an inch and some fun driving conditions.

Stay tuned for our second adventure in stone cutting. :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fabulous Friday

It's not fair that I should have a bad headache on a Friday. Grrrr!

Besides my actual job I have several projects to work on tonight before heading to grandpa's house tomorrow. We're going to cut stone!!!

I'll be taking lots of photos to share. I hope I am able to create something from start to finish. *crossing my fingers*

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Professional Matters

Being a small business means having to compete with the big boys. Some people don't give Indie designers the respect they deserve and it is up to us to earn that respect with extra effort to customer service and professionalism.

I buy a LOT of indie stuff. I love supporting artists and crafters and I have found some really unique and special gifts that you can't find at Walmart or Target.

As a buyer, not just a seller, of Indie designs I pay very close attention to the way a person conducts themselves as a business entity. Do they contact me after my purchase? Is my purchase shipped quickly? And when received is it professionally presented?

Tips for Professional Presentation:
  • Go the Extra Mile - Do not simply put your item in an envelope and ship it off. It's tacky. Take time to carefully wrap it to protect it if needed. Add a ribbon or something special to present it to your customer. Even a simple piece of gift tissue paper with a sticker works.
  • Do Not Reuse if it's Not Clean - I reuse bubble wrap and peanuts but that's it. I do not reuse bubble mailers. I sometimes will be able to salvage tissue paper but that's only if I haven't ripped it. If I ship in a bubble mailer it is new and clean. I find it very tacky to receive a used bubble mailer taped up and patched when I've ordered a new and clean item. I *will* reuse boxes if I can completely remove or cover writing and make it look new again.
  • Creativity is One Thing - This goes back to the reusing issue ... Some people seem to think that they have to use every piece of cardboard or paper in their home. I've heard of packages shipped in cereal containers and toilet paper rolls used to package items. Not cool. Would you ever receive a toilet paper roll from a major business??? NO! Even businesses that are so called "green" would not do this. It's tacky ... beyond tacky. Just recycle your food containers and toilet paper cardboard, k?
  • Include an Invoice - Especially if you sell supplies, but anytime you ship an item that was purchased you need to include an invoice of some sort. Even half a slip of paper with the purchase written down is better than nothing. Have you ever ordered from a major business and not received some sort of invoice? Nope. Not going to happen. I know it is an "extra" piece of paper but do you really think a forest will die if you include an invoice? Use recycled paper if it bothers you that much.
  • Thank you - Thank you goes a long way. Include some sort of hand written note thanking your customer. I have received packages with absolutely no personal touch at all and I hate it! At LEAST write thank you on the invoice. At the very least. I include a hand written special card with a couple sentences handwritten thanking my customers for their purchase.
  • Make It Pretty - When I open my package do I "oooo" and "aaaahhhhh"? Or do I at least smile? I hope that my customers enjoy looking at their purchase before they even see it. I have custom boxes that I tie in a ribbon. Inside pieces are placed in a silky custom gift bag. I believe it's a lovely presentation. You don't need to be that fancy but it should look like you put some extra effort into your packaging.

It is the small things that make customers remember you. Your packaging also helps brand you. The more they see the same logo or packaging the more it will be associated with you. Tiffany's won't be changing their little blue boxes any time soon. =)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Oh my gosh...if I hadn't just ordered from Soapy Love I would order these in a heartbeat. How stinkin' cute are they!?!?!?!

I swear...this woman is so talented and creative.

More Recent History

Sometimes I forget that Communism is not dead. That it has been alive, though in a weaker form, even since the Berlin wall fell. It amazes me that it was only 1989...only 19 years ago. I was 10 going on 11. I don't remember any of it and know more about the Communism of Russia than East Germany.

This is a fascinating article from Wired Magazine. It always boggles my mind that dictators, tyrants, and despots keep such organized records of their crimes.

"...23-year-old plumber named David Gill, a democracy activist barred from university because his father was a Protestant minister. He was secretly studying theology at an underground seminary in Berlin..."

To imagine living in such a state - that you could be barred from attending university because your father was a protestant minister - that you could be forced to "study underground" ... is almost beyond my comprehension.

"We had all lived under the pressure of the Stasi. We all knew they could know everything," Gill says today. "But we didn't understand what that meant until that moment. Suddenly it was palpable."

People whine and complain about the US government. They malign the current (and former) administration(s) as being akin to fascists and nazis. People who do this are morons of the highest level and have no logical or analytical molecules in their pea brains. They are the same people, those who "speak truth to power" against the government, which allows them the greatest of freedoms, who would be rounded up and jailed, tortured, and possibly executed in actual fascist states.

"A team working for the Stasi Records Office (BStU), the newly created ministry responsible for managing the mountain of paper left behind by the secret police, had begun manually puzzling together bags full of documents, scrap by scrap. The results were explosive: Here was additional proof that East Germany sheltered terrorists, ran national sports doping programs, and conducted industrial espionage across Western Europe. BStU's hand-assembly program also exposed hundreds of the Stasi's secret informants — their ranks turned out to include bishops, university professors, and West German bureaucrats."

As if there had been any doubt - at least to those with eyes open to see.

No privacy. No secrets. No power of individualism without fear of retribution.

"By preserving and reconstructing the Stasi archives, BStU staffers say they hope to keep history from repeating itself. In November, the first children born after the fall of the wall turned 18. Evidence suggests many of them have serious gaps in their knowledge of the past. In a survey of Berlin high school students, only half agreed that the GDR was a dictatorship. Two-thirds didn't know who built the Berlin Wall."

I'm fascinated by history and wish more people studied it, with an eye toward remembering and learning...and not repeating.

You know you need more beads.

Continuing to go through my bead stash is sometimes a fun project but it makes me a little sad to see how many beads I have that I will just never get to use. I have SO many!

And I've started updating my Etsy Gemstone shop with new offerings - some of which are very cool and unique (if I do say so myself). I was so inspired when I bought some of these pieces but now my mind goes blank when I look at them. Except that they are so beautiful! It is very hard to let some of these go. Like this fossilized wood pendant. I absolutely adore these (I have a couple) but can't think of what to do with them. My mind completely blanks. And they are too lovely to keep hidden away in my supply drawers.

Not everything has made it to my Etsy shop yet so if you're interested in anything you see in my latest Flickr folder let me know. I'll try to get it posted right away. Most items have 4 pictures, one of which has a small description of the item, and if it is posted in Etsy it says "POSTED".

I also started creating findings of Fine Silver for people to enjoy - I love fusing and sometimes if I don't feel like actually making jewelry I find that it's relaxing to just sit and fuse or melt metal. :) I know, it's weird, but it's cheaper than therapy. So I decided to start offering some of these findings for sale as well.

So far they are all fine silver but I may experiment with 14k gold and sterling one of these days. Maybe.

In the interest of getting rid of AS MANY beads as I possibly can - if you spend $25 I will send along extra beads for free! No extra shipping cost or anything. And they won't be crappy plastic beads. Uh huh. Depending on what you buy I'll send along something complimentary from my stash of unphotographed beads that I would otherwise sell. PLEASE, pretty please with sugar on top, mention this when you check out...because I guarantee you that I will forget in my excitement to get your order ready to ship.

Oh...and any Swarovski Crystal fans? I've broken down and started going through my huge stash. *sigh* I adore crystal but I rarely use it in my work any longer. I'm also adding some gorgeous faceted teardrop CZs that I bought ages ago but haven't managed to work with yet. They are so beautiful and I know someone out there will be inspired by them.

I feel like shopping in my own store...maybe I should just keep some of these. *grin*

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Challenge Yourself!

I confess - I am not good at trying new things. I'm a perfectionist and if I can't do something exactly right the first time I get a little annoyed.

So sometimes I need a little push to expand my horizons.

The Cagey Crafter's 2008 Color Challenge/Contest may just be the push I need this year.

Based on the color palettes from the Color + Design Blog post on butterflies, all entries have to have some sort of butterfly theme - even the most minute or hidden butterfly.

Then people will vote on the entries (which will be anonymous - no popularity contests here!).

Join in won't you? I look forward to seeing what people create and we'll see if I manage to get myself entered.

Crafters ADD

Am I the only one who can't focus? All my life I've found myself interested in various arts and crafts projects. As a little girl I played with crayons like a crazy girl and as I got older I discovered embroidery floss. My friends and I created "friendship bracelets" with rainbow of colors available. Then I learned to cross stitch and did that for several years as a young teen.

My great grandmother taught me to crochet. She tried to teach me to knit but I never could grasp the concept. I made several scarves and even a blanket as a teen.

Rubber stamping was, up to that point, my longest obsession. I had my own job and my own money and I spent a LOT of it on rubber stamps and supplies. I think I had some talent at it. I took over my then fiance's coffee table creating cards to sell at my work's craft show.

I actually kind of miss making cards, but I think that's my Crafter's ADD acting up again. Because last night I started crocheting again. As if I need another project to start and leave half finished. As if I have the spare time to create a blanket! But I sat in bed for a good 45 minutes crocheting away ... my husband thought it was hilarious. But it won't be so funny when I start pulling out all my card supplies and taking over the coffee table again!

Don't worry ... I'm not quitting jewelry because I created more of that yesterday too (it was a busy day) but I swear I have ADD when it comes to arts and crafts. Wave some colored paper and string in front of me and I go into a daze.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

I'm giggling at this great article written by my pal The Funky Felter on Etsy.

I am definitely an Etsy "middle child" as suggested in the article. I love Etsy and enjoy being part of the site but I'm not exactly swimming in sales. And that's okay with me...for now. =)

Dog Days

You know your dog is completely at ease when they sleep like this.

Even when I was walking around him to get a better shot he didn't move because he knows I would never hurt him. He's my sweet baby boy. And enjoys his new bed.

Trooper thinks Kodiak's new bed actually belongs to him. Quinn was trying to have a rest but he was having none of that.

He's such a bully...but a cute bully. You may think he's alpha...nope. Kodiak really is the alpha dog but he's just a quiet sort of alpha. He definitely expresses his alpha-ness when necessary. And Trooper has learned to respect Kodiak's alpha ... when absolutely required.

And clearly he was not respecting the alpha dog here - trying to bully his way onto the blanket.

Our dogs are so entertaining!

Friday, January 18, 2008

I Second That!

Have you ever created something that just didn't seem ... right. Maybe it was a little lop sided. Or there was one bead missing in a pattern. Maybe you were just experimenting and didn't like the way it turned out, but it wasn't so horrible that someone else might not like it.

This is where the concept of "Seconds" can be very handy. And good for your business.

My mom makes a trip each year to Seattle to visit one of her favorite artists, who's name I can't recall right now. She creates beautiful ceramic tiles and sculptures - I've only seen her "cat" works because that is what my mom likes.

So every year they go to her seconds sale. And they always try to get there early because it has become a very popular event. She has work that has been slightly damaged - maybe chipped or a small piece missing - as well as older designs that are all discounted.

And so every year my mom buys at least one of her pieces.

People love a deal and most are fine with slight imperfections, as long as those imperfections are pointed out and do not damage the overall integrity of a piece.

I started a section in my Etsy shop for Seconds and am slowly starting to add pieces that have been sitting around doing nothing because I never felt right offering them on my main website. Some are a little "off" but still pretty. Some are designs that I experimented with but found that I didn't want to create them consistently or wasn't inspired enough to keep making them.

Offer seconds to your customers and I am sure they will jump at the chance to own your work at a discounted price. Just be up front and honest about why you consider it a "seconds" piece.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


For those who don't know - I work full time for a large global investment firm. I won't name names but it has been in Fortune's Top 100 places to work for as long as I've worked here (going on 8 years).

Today was our company meeting and while I used to look forward to them, this year I wasn't so excited. It used to be held in December and the first year I was here they served us a really nice breakfast. I was enthralled. And they gave us the rest of the day off after the meeting was over. I loved that!

Then they moved to theater type seating because we had gotten too big for the buffet scene. That was okay, and we still got the rest of the day off when it was over. And they typically announced new benefits or extra days off for the coming year.

The last couple of years the meetings have been much less ... oh what's the word ... I guess "personal" is the best I can do. It's less about the whole company of associates and more about a select few (mostly the sales folks) and the company financials. Which is great! I do want to hear about that sort of thing. But it's gotten so technical and choreographed that it's kind of ... dull.

This year's wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. It was too long and at one point I felt like they'd turned the heat on because I was going to fall asleep! We also felt like we were watching an old Kung Fu movie because our CEO was speaking from London (first year ever...also feels weird...I know we're "global" and everything but this is our headquarters) and the sound wasn't keeping up with his mouth. So he'd talk and his lips would move ... *pause* ... and THEN we'd hear what he said. It was very distracting.

We get back to our desks and found a nice little gift - for all associates here for 5 years or longer - a lego like building block - very heavy duty and heavy. Mine has a 5 year block and my coworker's had a 5 year and a 10 year block (she's been here more than 15 years!). So in a few years I'll get another 5 year block. Whee!

All in all, I'm still glad to work here. It is flexible enough that I'm able to practically work full time (well, maybe three quarter time) on my jewelry business. Most of my vacation time in the last two years was used for jewelry art/craft shows or preparing for shows. Two years ago I went to the huge Tucson gem shows.

I feel like I have the best of both worlds. And I need to remember to appreciate that every day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I wish I was as brilliant as some of the sellers on Etsy - this one in particular cracks me up every time I see her new designs. I love sarcastic humor ... and her "Hate Mail" line makes me giggle.

Have you ever been at the mall or grocery store and been abused by the sight of misbehaving munchkins who are less than cute? I have. I want to scream at the mother (or father) "Get control of your child or leave!" but that would be ... let's say socially unacceptable.

So Carol Lee Designs has come up with the perfect solution - Hate Mail mini Cards that say "Nice Parenting Skills Jackass."

BRILLIANT! No need to confront - passive aggressive is the way to go in these situations. Slip it in their purse or set it on top of their ice cream while they're in line. And walk away. I think they'll get the message. :)

I think I will recommend these to Rachel Lucas who has some neighbors with devil's spawn.

Carol Lee has other designs too - some aren't even hate related. But those are really my favorite. Everything you always wanted to say but Hallmark wasn't stepping up with the right words.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Trooper Has a Girlfriend

I am giggling - Trooper Bear has a girlfriend at daycare. I just called to see how my babies did today (it was the first time at daycare for Kodiak and Quinn) and the lady there said that Trooper was going to be sad because his girlfriend is moving.

Poor guy! Apparently he and a pure white Siberian Husky named Nikki are very good friends and they play together most of the day.

I wish I could get a picture of them together!!! I love that he's having fun there - and I love that he's TIRED and not a monster at home. =)

He looks like a monster doesn't he? HAHAHAHA! Daddy thinks its funny to put hats on him.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Women Arm Yourselves

Gun control means using both hands. Thank God this woman was armed!!!

If watching that video and hearing her 911 call doesn't convince you that you NEED to defend yourself - you need more medication than I do.

Perception is Everything

Etsy is a wonderful community of talented people creating and selling handcrafted (and some vintage) goodies.

As much as I love the variety, one thing that drives me bananas is the tendency for artists/crafters to under price themselves. Handmade products have MORE value to me than something cranked out in a nameless/faceless factory. And I believe that if we, as artists, do not value our own work, then how can we expect buyers to appreciate it and pay for it?

Take for example this lovely ring made by Beads in the Belfry (love that name!). It is made with sterling silver wire and a flower of Shianna Hill Tribe silver (not cheap), and a green Aventurine stone. These are all very good quality materials and, with the price of silver bounding towards $17 an ounce, they aren't cheap.

Nina is currently charging $19 for her ring. I have suggested to her that she raise her price. One reason is the materials - while it may not be a LOT of wire being used (and she may have bought her wire when the market was closer to $14 an ounce) she needs to remember that when someone buys all her rings - she will need to buy more silver at the current market value - which will inevitably be higher than when she first purchased.

Not only that, but while the "materials" include the silver and the stone, there are other costs that aren't so tangible. Business expenses need to be factored in as well - business cards, receipt books, tools purchased to create, time spent educating one's self, internet charges, advertising (time and money) Etsy and Paypal fees, and on and on and on. These things add up.

My second reason for suggestion she raise the price is perceived value. If I see something, let's say a pillow, that I like and someone is charging $20, I consider it a 'good' price but I will keep looking. In fact this actually happened to me at Christmas. I kept looking and found a $40 pillow and bought that instead. Why? Perceived value.

I'm sure the $20 pillows I found were just fine, but to me as a buyer, a person only charging $20 is either just starting out or not serious about their business.

For this ring, $19 is not enough for a highly perceived value. It should be at least $30 for a buyer to perceive it as valuable. Nothing about it has changed except perception.

I am not saying that people won't overcharge or price inappropriately for the materials / time. I have seen rip off prices too. But the biggest issue I see on Etsy is underpricing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Not Your Grandma's Crafting

Some people hear the word "craft" or "handmade" and see the little old white haired lady crocheting doilies or doll clothes.

Maybe 50 years ago!

Today's arts and crafts crowd is hip and young (at least in heart if not in age). Etsy is proof of that. I love Etsy. I could spend all day there browsing the amazing works of hand crafted love, chatting in the forums, and trying to snag myself a Treasury. Oh, and of course posting my work to sell.

Handmade is becoming mainstream and more valued than anytime in several decades. With big box stores, 'made in China', and safety recalls everywhere - people are starting to treasure the personal handcrafted work.

You know that people are starting to take handcrafting seriously when articles start appearing in The New York Times and Business Week. I knew that crafting was big business, but $31 BILLION in 2007 is fabulous!

Let's hear it for another great year in 2008.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bead Lover's Heaven

Want some nice beads at a crazy good price? WITH excellent customer service?

Go shop with the Jewelweaver.

Starting tonight at midnight (guessing that's West coast time since they are in California) they are having the biggest sale I've ever seen them have.

A huge clearance section 20-50% off their already great prices. PLUS their regular discounting system is given a boost...normally you don't get 5% off until you've hit $100 in your shopping cart. But with their sale, spend just $50 and get 5% off...spend $100 and get 10% off...and so on. That's ON TOP of the clearance prices.


Not that I need anymore beads. *grin*

New Year, New Designs

I don't often write about my own work but since I stayed up late last night posting new items I thought I'd share.

I finally got up my nerve to try to set my own stones and I think they turned out fairly well. The earrings above are fine silver with lab created blue sapphire cabochons. They are meant to be organic and "rough" looking. I love how they turned out. I also set a natural Ruby into one of my Cherry Tree it!

Another new technique for me is soldering - not only silver but I got up my courage to solder 14k gold filled wire! I was thrilled with the results, but because I use silver solder there's a bit of silver on the gold. So I paired them with silver in these earrings. :) And a gemstone - apatite is pictured. I plan to purchase some 14k gold solder but it's crazy expensive. Although I also want to try soldering 14k gold... *gulp* That will be a nerve wracking experiment.

I have tried to avoid doing one of a kind designs but at the last show I attended I found some stunningly beautiful faceted stones that I just had to have. They were not cheap and there were not multiples available. I found some stunning briolettes in Cognac Quartz and a set in Peridot. I also got some discs that are too beautiful but I haven't used them yet.

The photos of these make the right earring Peridot look crooked but it's not ... I am not the master photographer.

I just got some new gemstones in the mail and can't wait to play with them. And there are more on the way that will be made into stunningly beautiful rings. This year is starting off with a bang!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Have You Joined MyWares?

Selling online is tough. There is a lot of competition and getting your name to potential buyers can be a challenge.

If you are looking to expand your wholesale accounts, as I am, you should look to join MyWares. I've heard some good things about their website and several folks I 'know' (in the virtual online concept of knowing them at least) have had wholesale orders because of this site.

The best news? It's FREE to apply and join if you are accepted.

Simply go to their website and click on the Join link. Fill out the application fields and send a couple photos and details via e-mail. It's that simple. If you're approved you will get to create a page for free.

Good luck!

Friday, January 4, 2008

What's That In the Sky? It's MOONstone.

There have been several discussion on Etsy about identifying stones. One of those was how to tell Rainbow Moonstone from Opalite. I must admit...I thought it was pretty obvious. But then again I've know the difference for awhile. Though if someone is unaware of both I can see how they might not know better.

So...having said all that, let's look at both.

Opalite is sometimes called Opalized "Quartz", Sea Opal, and Opalized Glass. It is a manmade glass that is very pretty but often confused as a gemstone. Some vendors do it on purpose while others just aren't educated. I once had a visitor to my booth at a show looking at an Opalite necklace and commenting on how inexpensive it was. She said that she had bought one recently for several hundred dollars and she just loved her "opal" necklace. I was sorry to inform her that it was a manmade glass rather than a gemstone. She was very disappointed. There's nothing wrong with using Opalite in jewelry but designers need to be fully educated and honest with their customers.

I really enjoy the properties of Opalite - it picks up the colors, or changes color, based on the colors surrounding it. On a black background it will appear more blue, while on a white background it glows more orange/pink.

Rainbow Moonstone on the other hand can be supremely beautiful and expensive when found in high quality pieces. It can also be referred to as Ceylon Opal.

"High-quality rainbow moonstone is usually chatoyant and sometimes displays a strong cat's eye. The floating-light phenomenon and sheen of moonstone are called adularescence or schiller."

From the Rings & Things Gemstone Index

Using rainbow moonstone in my work is a challenge - mainly because it can be difficult to photograph the beautiful blue flashes present in high quality stones.

Rainbow moonstone goes with anything - any color and any season. It's a versatile stone that plays well with gold and silver. Pairing it with other stones is fairly easy because nearly everything matches. I am a great fan of this stone.

It also comes in peach and gray moonstone but I don't like those as much. It's funny that some vendors are calling it "silver" moonstone. I suppose that does sound a bit better than gray.

Rings and Things

Thursday, January 3, 2008

One More Goal for the Year

A conversation was started on Etsy about having a backup plan in case something happens to knock you out of the race.

So add that to my list of goals for the year. My husband would have NO clue what to do with my website, my blog, my Etsy shop, my e-mail, my supply Etsy shop. Nothing.

Then again, we both need to create our living wills, not to mention regular wills. It's not something we think about and not something we want to think about!

I Need to go to the Range

This is why I need to get to the gun range. I'd really like to get a conceal carry permit.

Man Thwarts Grocery Robbery

I have a bumper sticker that says "An Armed Society is a Polite Society"... a bit simplistic but there are so many examples out there where an armed citizen could have stopped the slaughter of innocents.

I don't understand people's fear of guns. But then again I learned to shoot my grandpa's rifle when I was 12. I was able to hit the center of the "O" on a Folder's coffee can from the second story deck at his house. :) Not sure I could do that now but I'd sure like to try.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back to Work

So it is a new year and I'm back in the office. *sigh* Having time off gives me a glimpse of what life is like without the "9 to5". My house is cleaner. I was much less stressed. Though I was getting bored - there were plenty of things around the house that I had left to work on.

I definitely needed the break from work. I was so lethargic and not caring about much of anything. I've been doing the same job now for 3 years and I still enjoy it - but it isn't nearly as challenging as it once was. But put it together with a nearly full time jewelry business and the challenges come out of the woodwork.

My goals for 2008:
  • Buy a Kiln - and use it! But this also means cleaning out the garage. Husband is somehow concerned about having a kiln in the kitchen. *shrugs* As if it's any less dangerous than me playing with a torch?
  • Apply for the NWCA - Northwest Crafts Alliance. *gulp* The jewelry category is brutally difficult. I look at the current members and my shoulders sag just a bit. And it's due in 8 days! Eeeek!!!
  • Get Better Organized - Sort of a miscellaneous catch all but my work space is still not as organized as I would like it to be. Nor is my record keeping system. I haven't even entered 1/10th of my paper work for 2007. *sigh* Lots to do this month.
  • Get rid of or sell supplies - I am overrun with beads and findings that I will never use in a million years. Not only do I need to sell them to recoup some of my money but I need the space for metal, wire, enamel, etc.
  • Enter Invoices, Sales, Etc. on a Monthly Basis - I was going to say weekly but that isn't realistic. It would never happen. But I need to at least do it monthly. My stack of paper to input for 2007 is ridiculous.
  • Send out a newsletter at least once a month - I started doing that towards the end of the year '07 but really need to work harder at consistency.
And those are my modest goals for 2008. I hope that by attaining these goals my sales will increase as well.

Here is to a happy, healthy, and safe New Year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Great Advice - Goals vs Hopes

I have "met" so many amazing people online - and especially on Etsy. Chris Parry is one extraordinary jeweler who has some great advice and wrote a great blog on the difference between Goals and Hopes.

I'll be writing about my goals for the new year soon.

Chris Perry - Goals or Hopes