Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Have you ever picked up one of your old pieces of jewelry...one that you haven't worn in ages and thought "Why don't I wear this more?" Or you find a piece in your jewelry box that you had forgotten about...it's like finding brand new jewelry.
The same thing happens to me when I dig through old pieces that I've created and sort of forgotten about. Sometimes I just never get around to photographing them. Other times I do photograph them but then just never get them posted. Others are up on my site and just haven't sold for one reason or another, but when I look at them after months and months I think how beautiful they are.
I've been going through my Etsy shop and deciding which pieces will stay there and which ones I'll post in my new 1000 Markets shop. One pair of earrings I've had for quite awhile...they're rather funky and asymmetrical in design. At one point I had decided to just take them out of my shop all together, but recently I took another look at them and decided that they are worthy of being sold. It just will take the perfect person to find them and wear them.
They are made with Precious Metal Clay (PMC) - the base is covered in something called "slip" (a paste like substance) that I added to give it a bumpty textured look - and then a long worm that I twisted into weird abstract shapes with an extra little ball plopped in for good measure. Then I antiqued them to bring out all the nooks and crannies - and adds a dimension of color.
They definitely aren't my standard style - I generally prefer things to match and be the same shape and size. But I think they do deserve to be in my shop...so I moved them from Etsy to my 1000 Markets shop. They're more artsy fartsy and fit in bette there. :)
So go back through your old work or your old jewelry. You just never know what surprises you'll find.
Monday, March 30, 2009
There's a problem that I notice though...if you are not extremely specific in what you want you will get a bunch of junk bids from artists who just bid on everything without really taking into consideration the needs of the customer. As someone who has requested projects I can tell you that there are some very unprofessional business folks out there. They only seem to care about getting a sale.
When I bid on someone's request I try to be as specific as possible in order to meet their requirements. What's the point of bidding if you can't do what they've requested? But it can sometimes be difficult because the requester doesn't include all the details for what they want. Being vague isn't always a bad thing if you want a lot of items to pick from, just realize that you will be inundated with bids.
So while I love Alchemy - both as a customer and an artisan - I definitely think there should be some guidelines for people who post their requests.
The number one most important thing to remember when writing out an Alchemy request - Be Specific.
If you know that you want a gift for your sister don't just ask for a "gift for my sister"...you will get 100 bids. Seriously.
If you don't know *exactly* what you want at least give specifics like "she likes flowers, she doesn't wear earrings, she has plenty of jewelry, her hobbies include xyz, her favorite color, fragrance, etc." This helps keep your inbox from being filled with jewelry bids...because trust me when I say that jewelry alchemy requests get pounced upon quickly.
Also, it is important to Be Realistic. Do you really think that you will get a quality piece if you ask for a "Sterling Silver Freshwater Pearl Necklace with Swarovski Crystals" but you only want to pay $7.00??? Seriously? That is an insult to any jeweler worth their salt and I never bid on such insulting requests. It tells me that you care only about cheap and not quality - so go to Walmart.
If you honestly don't know the right price for something bid $0.01 and ask for reasonable offers. If the prices all seem too high perhaps your expectations were too low. Browse around the category that your item falls in and see what other people are charging for similar products. Who knows? You might even find exactly what you want while browsing.
I highly recommend Alchemy to find your perfect item - whether a blanket, a t-shirt, or something really obscure. Just try to use common sense and give the artisans as many details as you can think of. :)
Friday, March 27, 2009
"VivaLaModa is a bi-monthly magazine created to show the greatest and coolest fashionable and hand made things that we can find. But we don’t want to talk only about fashion or beautiful stuff we find. This magazine will also host articles about green products, toys, decoration, product reviews and many more things.
We want to support indie designers and crafters who make things with their own hands (not to forget we also love vintage!), and give readers information about the handmade world."
Excellent. The more focus on Indie designers the better, I say!
Their site says they are currently looking for people who design their own line of clothing, with focus on different collections throughout the year. It's a great opportunity for exposure so contact them.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Grizzly Mountain Arts, husband to Good Dirt Jewelry, is incredibly talented and I am in awe of his creations.
It's hard to pick a favorite but this Starfish basket tops the list.
I especially like Dave's background - Fish and Wildlife! My father worked there for years prior to his death. I hold a special place in my heart for them.
"Ponderosa pine needles are gathered by Dave and Jo in the Ochoco National Forest, then cleaned and stored to be used in basket making. Dave also uses dye to alter the natural color of the needles of some of his baskets. Artificial sinew is used as the binding material as it is much stronger than raffia. In order to maintain the refreshing smell of the pine forest, we do not seal our baskets."
I'm so impressed with this duo and glad they are both part of the new PNW marketplace.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I am beyond excited to announce that the Pacific Northwest Market on 1000 Markets is now live!
It's taken quite a few weeks and there are more details to be ironed out but we are now accepting new members and looking to grow the market. We have lots of great ideas and goals for promoting the market and the member shops, both online and off.
We are looking for a variety of diverse artisans who make up this amazing part of the world. If you live in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington state and are a handcrafted artisan please check out the membership requirements (they aren't that strict) and join us.
Monday, March 23, 2009
So when my tumbler stopped working I was a bit panicked. I don't exactly have the money to replace it right now.
Instead of just tossing it I decided to open the tumbler up and see if I could figure out what the problem was.
Can you see the issue? *grin*
I'm so thankful that it was an easy and obvious fix. It took me less than 10 minutes to unscrew all the screws and find the band had fallen off the wheels (or whatever their technical name is). Took 10 seconds to fix it. And clean out some of the crud.
My tumbler is working like a charm now. Yay!
Friday, March 20, 2009
However, when I do believe in something I feel like I should share it...and if I can make some extra money doing so, all the better.
I decided to sign up for a jewelry related affiliate program with David Weiman who I have followed for several years. He even included some of my information in an online book he created...I should go find that. :) He writes and shares his knowledge through his Marketing Jewelry website, book, and e-mails.
So while I will earn some money if you click his link I did not join for that reason. I truly think that his advice on jewelry - selling, marketing, and making - is valuable for a jeweler at any level. I hope you think so too. I won't inundate you with links or posts about the Marketing Jewelry site, but when he posts updates or e-mails that I find valuable I will share them.
Feel free to give me your feedback as well. If you don't find it valuable then I may opt out of the program. Though I honestly think you'll find the information useful.
This is the response I got from Representative Adam Smith. I can NOT believe he is trying to blame this mess on the Chairwoman of the CPSC!!! Talk about passing the buck. I heard her interviewed on Hugh Hewitt's show and she does not want to enforce the law but must. But at least he acknowledges that the law's strict interpretation by the CPSC is not a good thing. I appreciate that. The response from Rep Murray was more of a brush off.
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about H.R. 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue, and I would like to take this opportunity to respond.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. CPSC works to reduce the risk to the public by working with specific industries and other interested parties to develop product safety standards. In addition, the Commission is responsible for issuing and enforcing product safety standards, researching potential hazards and recalling hazardous products.
Congressman Bobby Rush introduced the CPSIA in November of 2007. It came to the House floor for a vote on December 17th and passed with a vote of 424-1. The bill was signed into law on August 14th, 2008 and went into effect on February 10, 2009. As you may know, the CPSIA sets levels of acceptable lead content in products for children under 12 years old at 600 parts per million (ppm), and requires manufactures to certify third party tests for lead and certain types of phthalates. The current lead content limit will be phased down to 300 ppm August 14, 2009 and 100 ppm by August 14, 2011, if technologically feasible. Additionally, the lead and phthalates testing is required for all children's products whether produced on a global scale or in a family workshop.
Since the bill's passage into law with broad bipartisan support, there has been increasing concern that its application by the CPSC may impose unreasonable restrictions on certain products, like bicycles and motor bikes, and leave little room for possible exemptions to retailers and small businesses. The CPSC's strict interpretation of the law has led ranking Democrats, Representative Henry Waxman and Senator John D Rockefeller IV, to ask President Obama to replace CPSC Chairwoman Nancy Nord. Overall, this is a very difficult situation; we must find the appropriate balance of protecting our consumers without over-regulating our businesses.
In January, the Consumer Product Safety Commission voted to issue a one year stay of enforcement for certain testing and certification. This provides limited relief to some crafters, toy makers, and children's garment manufacturers until February 2010. These producers will not need to issue certificates based on testing of their products until additional decisions are issued by the commission. However, all businesses, including those exempted by the one year stay, will still be expected to comply with the safety requirements of the CPSIA.
As a father of two children, I take the work of the CPSC very seriously; the safety of my family, and all families, is extremely important to me. I will work hard to address your concerns with my colleagues and look into the issues you have raised. I appreciate your concerns, and agree that businesses, manufacturers and retailers, may be negatively and unfairly impacted if certain requirements are not fully considered and clarified.
Again, thank you for contacting me on this issue. Please don't hesitate to contact me further should you have any additional questions, comments, or concerns on this or any other issue.
Member of Congress
They passed this law...all of the politicians together. With no concern about the actual effects on consumers and businesses. It needs to be repealed completely!
Learn more about this law and how it affects you.
Help Save Handmade Toys
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I thought I was done with website issues when I had my website gal take off the shopping cart. But apparently something is still up.
I don't really even want a real website anymore. If I knew which site I wanted to focus all my work I'd just have my domain point to either Etsy or 1000 Markets. But I still am working on both shops.
My site apparently gives people a message that there's a virus on it..which I have no clue how to find or even how it would have gotten there. It also gives a warning that my security certificate is expired, which it is, but it shouldn't matter because there's no shopping cart and no one is sending me information through the site.
Having a site is a pain. I think I want it to just be a front page that has some links to my Etsy shop, my 1000 Markets shop, my newsletter sign up page, and other various links. Maybe I'll chat with my web gal about that. Not that I have a ton of extra cash to make a ton of changes. But I really do want things to be simple.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I'm thrilled that he's started a shop on 1000 Markets and enjoy his contributions to the growing market.
I think his work is incredible.
When I picked Andy to feature today I had no idea that his dog Jethro needed some medical attention ... and in order to assist in funding Andy is having a special Jethro sale. Of course the picture of his sweet dog tugs my heart strings.
Head on over to Andy's blog to read about his special Jethro sale. And add Andy to your list of favorites...
Andy Mathis Art Co
Andy Mathis on Etsy
Andy Mathis on 1000 Markets
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Someone sent me this great link to create my own banners. How cool is this?!?
Banner Fans - Banner Creator
I haven't tried it yet but it looks really cool. Have you used it?
Monday, March 16, 2009
The show was VERY slow. From my own personal observation (parked pretty close) to the mutterings of the vendors things weren't going so well. Of course it was Saturday morning and they'd just opened. But I heard one vendor talking about previous years when there were hundreds lined up to get in, compared to this year when there were only 30 waiting for the doors to open.
I only spent money with two different vendors. There just wasn't that much that attracted my eyes. A lot of the same stuff, still too expensive for what it is, with the same vendors. I almost always buy from one particular vendor but their prices are too high and another vendor had even better quality product.
I spent way too much on pearls. I'm such a pearl fiend. It's not even the majority of my work but when I see pearls I lose my head. This particular vendor is so well organized...every strand is marked with a price and a code. If I ever need to get more I will know exactly what to ask for. And their products were 30% off the marked price...which is great since I was happy with the marked prices to begin with.
The various colors of pearls available made me swoon. I found some small near rounds that were almost black - I bought two different variations ... one with a green tint and the other with a blueish purple tint. But so dark that you really have to hold them up to the light to see the color underneath.
Then they had these incredible deep dark raspberry colored HUGE teardrop pearls that called my name. They're awesome. I showed my mom and she immediately started oooo'ing and aaaahhhh'ing. LOL
I seemed to gravitate towards the blues and reds this time though I did get some gorgeous smooth discs that are a golden peachy color.
I made a bracelet and a necklace this weekend with some of my new pearls and I did get photos taken, but not edited. I'll share soon.
Anyway, the only other vendor I spent money with was one selling lobster clasps and basic findings. Not all that exciting, but they seemed to have the best price of the show and I've bought from them before. I was nearly out of lobster clasps and had run out of vermeil head pins.
I estimate that I was at the show for around 2 hours, maybe a little less. It just didn't take long to go through everything...It seems like there were fewer vendors than before.
So then I headed to the mall and talk about opposite...I could not find a parking space. And the place was packed.
Do you think hobby jewelers are discontinuing their hobby and therefore sales are slowing at bead shows? Or are those who sell their jewelery stopping as well?
Friday, March 13, 2009
I thought about how I'll probably want to sign up for some of the craft shows that I've stopped doing in the last couple of years. But I also thought about how boring shows are and how I really didn't enjoy them the last year I did them. Especially because I was always doing them by myself.
Then it hit me...what if I hired myself out, not to sell my own work, but to relieve other people who have to do shows by themselves.
Okay, it might not be a million dollar idea, but it could provide a (very) small amount of money. Say I hired myself for $5 per 15 minute break. In some of the larger shows I could very easily watch 30 booths in an 8 hour period (giving myself 30 minutes for my own bathroom breaks). That's $150 a day...$300 in a weekend. There were some shows that I didn't even sell that much. Plus there's no overhead (except time and gasoline) and no booth fee!
I know I would have hired someone for $5 for a 15 minutes of free time when I was doing shows. Heck, I would have been willing to pay $10 sometimes.
The key would of course be establishing a reliable reputation. You don't want just anyone watching your stuff.
Some high school shows have the students booth sit but I have not found this to be a very pleasant experience. Most can't answer basic questions (and I don't blame them for this...it's just the nature of it) from customers, nor do I really trust them to take money (or credit cards).
But if someone who already knew how to take credit cards, and was familiar with basic craft show concepts, could booth sit ... I think the repeat customers would be there as well. Travel to a few different shows, you always see some of the same vendors.
And word would spread if you did a good job.
What do you think? Would you pay to have an experienced and trustworthy person watch your booth for 15 minutes while you got lunch, went to the bathroom, or browsed?
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Now during the week I'm creating even more and I cannot wait to share with you some of the new things...they're a big challenge for me so I'm very proud of how they are turning out.
But this weekend I stuck with simple. Like these simple Freshwater Pearl and Fine Silver Twisted earrings. They're so cute that I may have to keep a pair for myself. I think they'd make really great bridal earrings for a bride who wants something a little different. I'll have to show them to my little cousin, who is getting married in August, and see if she likes them. I am of course doing her jewelry. *grin*
I must have weddings on the mind because several of the pieces I made were definitely wedding themed...even though I would wear them to work as well.
The design of this Freshwater Pearl Sterling Silver Necklace allows me to use extremely high quality pearls but not have to charge an arm and a leg. The largest pearls are near round and near 8 mm with gorgeous luster. They were not inexpensive pearls for me to buy wholesale but I had to have them.
Of course I had to make matching earrings too. The luster really shows up well in these photos, but in person they are even more beautiful.
I also finished a non-wedding, funky piece of jewelry ... another lampwork dangling necklace like my Mermaid's Tail. The lampwork is done by the same artisan and I really do wish I could find her name.
I made this one with 14k gold filled accents instead of my usual silver and think it turned out really nicely. Your thoughts?
I had quite a few other creations, some of which I haven't even posted to my shop yet. I'm definitely falling behind in taking photos and posting...I'm creating too fast. lol
Check out my 1000 Markets shop to see my new work as I add it this week and next.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Two Seaside Babes caught my eye and are on my list of shops to hit when we find out the sex of the baby.
Look at this adorable Octopus!!! Hello adorable!
And since my little one will be born in October I'll need to make sure their head is covered and cozy...and this darling knit buckle Beanie will definitely do the trick.
And until they get old enough for the buckle beanie I think they'll look spectacular in this Flapper Beanie.
How freaking cute is that?
This shop is definitely being added to my list of places to shop once we know what we're having. She is also on Etsy and has 100% positive feedback.
Oh...and if you like the look of those buckle beanies (which I do...I might have to have one for myself) she makes them for big kids too!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Did you know that the law requires BOOKS to be tested or pulled off the shelves of libraries? That's right. Your kids are in danger from The Cat in the Hat. Look out! Good thing the government is here to save us.
Do we really want to be a "bubblewrap society" as Rick asks on his blog? I sure don't. Risk is part of life.
Anyway...we can't stop fighting to amend, or even better repeal, this insane law.
Rep. Dingall is looking for your stories. Here is a letter that he wrote with questions - questions that you can help to answer.
And send your personal stories (email@example.com) about how this law affects you. For me, it doesn't affect my business (yet) but it does affect my choices as a consumer. I WANT to support handmade and used clothing and toys. I'm not worried about my (unborn) kid dying from lead tainted yarn. Sorry. I have way more important worries.
I wish the government would butt out.
Friday, March 6, 2009
As an artisan, or at least I consider myself one at this point, my sales are down but not out. I'm noticing that most of the orders I get are for custom pieces or pieces that can be personalized, like my birthstone Cherry Family Tree necklace.
So if sales are down, why did I just spend $180 yesterday on supplies and over $600 today on classes? Ouch.
I am looking forward. To the future. I am an optimist and even though things are dark right now, and honestly don't look that much brighter in the very near future, I see a light at the end of the tunnel. And I want to be prepared with the skills and know how to take advantage of the upswing in optimism and purchasing.
This summer I am going to take FIVE jewelry classes at the Puget Sound Bead Festival. I love this event. The Bead Factory puts it on every year and do such an amazing job. They get incredible vendors and wonderful teachers and I am SOOOOO excited for July to get here so I can learn more about jewelry design and the tools to make my skills better.
I am able to pay for the classes using money I've been saving for several months now from my jewelry sales. I don't need to take money out of my regular savings account or let the charges sit on my credit card. I planned ahead. My supply spending has decreased a LOT in the last six months, which allowed me to save more. Because in all honesty I probably already have WAY too many beads, pearls, and supplies. :)
What are you doing to prepare for the future? Can you afford to take classes to improve your skills? If not, can you go to your local library and maybe rent some videos on your craft to learn more?
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it comes this year, next, or it doesn't appear for several...it is out there. We can't give up our love of creating just because times are tight. Keep preparing and learning.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
One of them led me to a neat blog Sew, Mama, Sew. If I sewed I would be so in debt to her shop with all her amazing fabrics. Holy cow. Would it be wrong for me to just buy fabric to have on hand? You know....just in case I ever learned how to sew? :)
The blog has some incredible projects, including one that looks like even I could handle it! A pincushion.
What really caught my eye was an incredible tutorial for a Rice Heat Therapy bag. How cool is that? My aunt loves these things. They make great gifts. Maybe someday I'll dig out some of my fabrics (yes, I've already started my collection) and make one.
Who am I kidding? I'd rather buy one. :)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I love her color combinations.
Like me, she creates because she must...it's simply part of who she is. And also like me, she finds inspiration in this beautiful part of the world, the Pacific Northwest.
Her earrings are perfect for spring and summer - and her prices are affordable. Get a pair as a gift and for yourself! =)
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The good news is that they are back and "badder" than ever!
HHG is a great way to promote your work, build a newsletter list, and have fun!
Last time, one of the entrants from my website won a gift box! =)
You can learn more about this fun program on their new website. Participating as a sponsor only costs you $20 up front, plus your donation. I think I donated three or four items last time. You can send up to 20 full sized (not samples) items but consider quality over quantity.
I haven't decided what I want to donate but it will probably be something that I don't have offered for sale...a one of a kind goody. We'll see. I'll definitely right more about it later.
If you have any questions about my participation experience let me know!
Monday, March 2, 2009
Yesterday I managed to avoid nausea for the first few hours of the day so I made two necklaces and two pairs of earrings. Of course, the sea sick feeling kicked in before I had the energy to take photos. So I'll have to wait for another day to do that.
Hubby seems to think that I'll abandon my jewelry once the little bean comes. And even before it comes - I want to take some classes in July and he's trying (key word) to veto them because I'll be further along then (about 6 months).
I just don't see that. Do I have to stop being myself just because I have a rug rat? Will I now be defined ONLY as a mom? My mom had hobbies when we were younger. Well, when I was in third grade at least. She made the most beautiful porcelain dolls. And she was a master gardener for most of my pre and teen years.
I just don't want to be stuck in the garage. My mom laughed when I said I didn't plan to move my work station and said that I will teach my kid that certain things aren't toys. I know that's probably wishful thinking, but I am not looking forward to baby-proofing my home. Why can't a kid be taught that mommy's beads are off limits? That the fire place is HOT? Or that you don't eat dog food? Why is that so difficult a concept?
I know...the moms out there are probably laughing at me too. My mom is really looking forward to me having a kid just like me. Which honestly would suck. I was a brat!
I told my mom that I wanted to do the craft show at my work in November...it'll be a month after the munchkin arrives. She laughed.
I'm supposed to stop my life? It's the ONE show I want to do for the whole year...I can't get some help for the four to six hours it will take?
Besides that, Christmas season is the biggest selling season. I'm supposed to not sell my jewelry during that season because it's a newborn?
Can you tell that I'm conflicted? I refuse to give up on ME as a jeweler. And of course I want to be a good mom too. It can't be impossible to do both can it?