Thursday, April 30, 2009

Back to Business

I'm back from was short but oh so much fun. We went to Cannon Beach, OR and the house we stayed in was right in front of Haystack Rock.

View from the back yard.

Sunset on Sunday night.

There were a gazillion starfish.

It was so wonderful and mostly relaxing...although taking care of 4 dogs in a strange location is never easy. Especially when you can't let them off leash EVER. The dogs had a great time and I'll be sharing the doggy stories on my Home Zookeeper blog soon. We discovered that Timber is part fish. :) And we have some incredible and fun photos. You can see most of the photos (the ones that are public at least) in my Flickr account...or if you're labeled as family you can see them all.

I'm also ready to create new jewelry! I've got all kinds of ideas floating in my head. It's great to be revived and inspired.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Photo Contest

I entered one of my photos in a contest...maybe it's not the best one. Maybe I should enter a different one. It doesn't say you can't enter more than one. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Introducing Minimalist Designs

Once I get an idea in my head it usually becomes an obsession. I asked for some advice a few days ago when this particular idea was fermenting in my brain.

I decided that because I love creating jewelry - all kinds of jewelry - that this actually made sense for me. It will allow me to create simple pieces of jewelry that don't cost a ton to create (or take too much time) and that I can offer for lower prices than my other jewelry.

So...introducing Minimalist Designs. It's not the best name, I don't think, but it'll do for now. And for now the focus will be mostly earrings. They take me the least amount of time to create and have the lowest cost. I'd like to add necklaces later but I need to find a good inexpensive (more inexpensive than what I have now) supplier for chain. It might be tougher to create inexpensive bracelets (based on my pricing model) but I am going to try eventually.

I had a blast making the first sets of earrings and think they turned out great. I made them all in an hour and a half or so and it took longer to photograph and edit the photos than it did to make them. I hate that part! =)

I decided that even the photos would be different from my other designs so I took them outside against a more rustic (aka simple) background).

Let me know what you think. I'll be posting more pieces throughout the day today and tomorrow ... I want to spread out the listings.

Oh and these designs will only be offered in my Etsy shop. My 1000 Markets shop will be reserved for my more artistic and intricate (or more expensive) pieces. I'm still working to increase my knowledge and skills and don't plan to exclusively create these simple pieces. But it just seemed like a good time to add a less expensive line to my work.

A few other details...

Discounts will still be applied to these pieces - I priced them so that I will still make a profit even after the discounts I know are floating out there (I participate in the Indie Coupons and have at least two sets out now).

No free shipping though ... I'm going to ship everything USPS First Class and use as few extra packaging elements as I can. My goal is of course to protect the pieces, but to do so as inexpensively as possible to keep the shipping cost down. This may mean that I recycle old boxes to use as protection, but I'll also still use bubble wrap. I'm still trying to decide on the right envelopes though. Any ideas?

You may also notice that even my descriptions are different...just the facts ma'am. If you see something that I'm missing and should be including in the details please let me know.

I love feedback...any feedback. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Creative Features - Annette Piper

I know I mentioned my competitive streak in my last Creative feature post ... one facet of that is jealousy. When I see talented jewelers designing such stunning pieces my little green jealous friend rears his ugly head. I try to tamp it down by appreciating the beauty that others create.

Annette Piper is one of those jewelers who has an eye for color and combines her stones in a stunning array of jewelry...and who makes my little green monster jump up and down. *grin*

One of the pieces I found on her site that I just fell in love with is this stunning Spring bracelet. I love the combination of springtime charms and bright spring colors.

Annette is definitely not afraid of color and uses it liberally throughout her work. I love her combination of dark red coral with white freshwater pearls.

It takes skill to put together stunning color combinations without looking messy or random and Annette pulls it off spectacularly.

Visit her blog and check out more of her work on her website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stay of Execution

So for now I still have a job...I wrote about it this morning on my other blog here.

1000 Finds - One Crafty Mom

Staying with shops who are members of the Pacific Northwest Market on 1000 Markets, I'd like to introduce Didi Lemoure of One Crafty Mom.

Didi has been in business since 2002 and she sure has refined her craft. I love her clutch bangles - what a clever idea! At least for those of you who can use smaller clutch size purses. :)

But she doesn't just make those amazing bangle clutches, she is another multi-talented artisan. I also love her art boxes and would love to have one on my wall.

Please visit Didi's shop. I'm sure you'll find something you must have. =)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Should I Do?

I have an idea but I'm torn. It involves designing and making jewelry that I can sell for less than $25. Very simple designs obviously...nothing too complex.

I've always railed against people cheapening handmade products...but in reality I have many, many stones that would make lovely small and simple earrings that I could price fairly low and still make a nice profit. It doesn't take me very long to make simple earrings...a lot less time than it took me when I first started making jewelry.

Of course, my previous thought was that I'd rather have fewer, higher cost sales, than more lower cost sales. But if I lose my job I'll have plenty of time to work on all sorts of jewelry.

And in this economy I think people who want to support handmade artisans may appreciate a less expensive, but still high quality, option to buying mass produced products from overseas.

Everything about these pieces would be "minimalist" ... even the shipping and packaging. I wouldn't include gift boxes or bags ... just simple plastic zipper style bags with bubble wrap shipped in the smallest envelope I can use. This will keep my shipping charge down. Right now I charge $5.50 for USPS Priority with delivery confirmation. I use the Post Office boxes (which I get for free) and try to reuse bubble wrap and peanuts when we get them. I was hoping to be able to charge less than $2.50 for the minimalist pieces.

But I can't decide if I want to dive in and do it full throttle - open up a separate Etsy shop just for these minimalist pieces - or combine them into my current Etsy shop. Or maybe I should just transition my entire Etsy shop into a more minimalist shop and use my 1000 Markets shop as my more artistic expressions shop.

The whole idea rests on whether or not I lose my job tomorrow of course. If I do I'll have plenty of time...if I keep my job then things won't change that rapidly, though I may start listing a few lower cost items.

I hate not knowing what my immediate future brings...there's nothing I can do except go to work tomorrow and find out my fate.

Do You Know Your Customers?

I'd like to share an article by David Weiman. I always appreciate his insight and ideas when it comes to selling jewelry...and really believe it will help anyone who sells their work, regardless of what you make.

I hope you like this article.


How to Learn More about Your
Handcrafted Jewelry Buyers

© by Dr. David Weiman. All rights reserved.

Successful handcrafted jewelry sellers understanding how a buyers’ values and motivations lead to strong and long-term connections. And current customers are the best source of new business through leads and referrals!

You can develop profitable, long-term relationships with clients, too, if you’re not already enjoying them. Here are some questions you can ask your current clients to get a better sense of what they value in their experience with you:

1. Why did you buy from me?

Some people feel silly asking this question. I don’t. I ask my clients this all the time, and I have never had someone refuse to answer.

2. What did you like most about the exchange we had?

Asking them what they liked “most” results in them prioritizing what was most critical in the exchange. It’s the one thing they valued the most about the interaction.

3. Was there one thing that made more of a difference than any other in your decision to buy?

For example, was it expertise you have, or a design quality? What was the one thing that seemed to make the biggest difference? The answers will help you understand the “logical” side of their choice.

Bonus Question: If you know the person referred other clients to you, you should ask what he or she said to that referred buyer. Knowing how current clients get others to buy from you is critical to learning how to market yourself.

I’ve learned a lot from asking this question of clients who have referred others to me. In fact, it has changed how I market myself in some areas, because the referring client’s words were so powerful and effective.

Learn more about the motivation and values of your customers, and why they enjoy buying from you. Keep asking and keep learning. When you apply what you know, your business will keep growing. And you will, too.

About the Author: Dr. David Weiman, "the Jewelry Marketing Doctor," is a psychologist and internationally-known expert on marketing and selling handmade artisan jewelry. He is also the marketing director for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Step by Step Beads, and Step by Step Wire Jewelry. His new book, 101 More Great Jewelry Selling Techniques, is available -- along with many other books and tools for selling handcrafted jewelry -- at where you can also sign up for his free "Jewelry Seller" e-newsletter.


Sell more of your
handmade jewelry!

Introduction to Marketing and Selling
Jewelry Shows You How!

It's an audio seminar on CD and Workbook (with 3 FREE bonuses)
to help you sell more for the prices you deserve.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Creative Feature - Always Wired Woman

Can I admit something? It's hard for me to feature other jewelry artists on my blog. *grin* Let's just say that I have an incredibly competative nature. But I do my best to put it aside because we can all help each other. :)

So I'd like to feature Joella of Always Wired Bead Lady today. I love her chainmaille pieces!

I don't have the patience for chainmaille and always admire those who do.

Her story sounds a lot like mine ... beading since she was a young girl but really starting to focus on making jewelry later in life.

Please visit her blog and her shop.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Creative Feature - Heather of Square One Beads

I'd like to introduce you to Heather of Square One Beads.

She makes more than just beads although I love this set of tan lentil beads, but she started her career making jewelry. I fear that if I pick up a torch and glass I'll get completely addicted to making glass beads. :)

Multi-talented, Heather is also a painter.

And she's a dog lover, which of course I love. Her doggy apparently needs our sympathy. *grin*

Please visit Heather's site and her blog. She's got something for everyone.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A New Necklace

I've slowly been creating some new pieces and adding them to my 1000 Markets shop, though not as quickly as I'd like. While my nausea is a lot better than it was it still seems to knock me out at night. I went to bed last night at 6:30! Sheesh.

So while I normally would have created this necklace in a few days, instead it took me a few weeks. But I'm really happy with the results.

I hand carved the pendant design so that I could mold the PMC into it ... Do you think it looks like tree bark? That is what I was going for. Hubby didn't really see it but I do. I guess it's kind of abstract. But I love it.

It's a huge chunk of PMC so very heavy and thick. I decided to bead a strand of pearls instead of putting it on a sterling chain, but the nice thing with having a mold is that I can create another pendant and do different designs.

A couple of weekends ago I also created this pretty purple freshwater pearl bracelet - blue and purple I should say. It turned out a little longer than I wanted at 8 1/2 inches but I know there are people who want that length.

Sometimes it's fun to just string together random pearls. :)

Last but not least I re-discovered these stunning beads that I had forgotten about in a drawer. I have no idea exactly what they're called (anyone?) but I'm pretty sure they're a Jasper of some sort. They don't need much in the way of accents, but I wanted to put a little sterling swirl on one side. So I did.

But it can also be worn the other way so the swirls are in back. I just love the design of the stone and each one is completely different.

I've got some other new pieces that I am working on ... but it's slow going. Plus my camera battery died ... I hate it when that happens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1000 Finds - Ellen Morrow Arts

A new addition to the Pacific Northwest Market on 1000 Markets, I was struck by the beauty of Ellen Morrow's fabulous artwork.

Bright and vibrant colors are the main ingredient of her work, along with her natural subjects. From fogs to fish and birds to cats, she captures nature in all its wonderful spirit using watercolors.

I love it when artists create their work in other forms than pieces for the wall...our walls are full so gift card sets are much more likely to find their way into our house. I absolutely love her birds and flower cards.

Working from Eugene Oregon, Ellen is a welcome and wonderful addition to the PNW market.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I think that some stress is good. Like the stress of having a couple of orders at once. I like that stress. It inspires me to work harder and make things.

The stress I have right now though is not helpful. Next Wednesday, April 15, is not only Tax Day, it's also "D" day for associates at my work. In other words...we'll supposedly find out who is laid off and who still has a job.

It's hard to think of anything else lately...mostly because I can't plan ahead. If I lose my job my life will change drastically, but not necessarily for the worse. If I keep my job things stay pretty much the same and I can continue on as I have been for the last 9 years.

I like to plan. I'm a planner and a control freak. I admit it. :) So not knowing anything is completely stressing me to the point of not being able to create. Or write in my blogs. It's like everything else is in the back of my mind and this one event is fully up front...alone and overwhelming.

So if I seem quiet the next week and a half, you know why. And things will either become a lot more busy at home and with my jewelry (and by extension this blog) - or things will stay pretty much the same.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Do You Stumble?

I'm not a huge fan of social networking for the sake of promoting my business. I just don't have the patience or the energy to really put a true effort into doing it "right."

And apparently it would be a waste of time anyway.

This is a great article by someone I found linked through the Switchboard forums (love that place) and I found her insight to be refreshing. And comforting.

It's good to know that my efforts can be better spent actually designing jewelry than making myself crazy twittering and stumbling and pimping myself on Facebook.

I enjoy Twittering actually but not as a marketing tool...just for fun. I've also learned some great information about a variety of topics from those folks I follow. I do post sometimes about my work but mostly it's personal stuff or interesting tidbits I think others will find interesting.

So don't knock yourself trying to get the most stumbles or tweets. Everyone else is doing it and I've found that when everyone else does something I usually want to go the other way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tell the CR Blog They are WRONG

I am disgusted. I usually consider Consumer Reports a decent publication and company but their blog post about the recent CPSIA rally is disgusting. Their promotion of the law is pathetic and truly lazy reporting.

Head over to their blog and leave your comment about their complete lack of investigation.

Spammers Will Burn in Hell

I just spent 10 minutes deleting the dumbest spammer comments made on about 15 of my recent posts. I dread the idea of going back to even older posts to see if they spammed me there.

What is the POINT of spam?!?! Not only that, do those losers actually think that I won't delete their "comments"? Full of key words and links that are completely unrelated to anything in my blog ... and they don't even make sense.

I have zero tolerance for this kind of thing. I don't leave comments on blogs just to get link backs. I only leave a comment if I have something to say...usually because I like what someone else has written. Or I disagree. Or I at least have something to add.

These spam losers need to get a life and use their time to do something constructive. Not piss me off and clutter up my site.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happily Handmade Giveaway

How could I have forgotten!?!?! The Happily Handmade Giveaway starts TODAY!!!!! Start visiting all the sponsors and signing up so that you might win one of the amazing prize packages. Each one is valued at over $300!!

I hope someone who signs up on my page wins. *grin*

If it weren't for Leila of Lightning Bug Designs I'd be so screwed right now. I got sick last night (this dang baby!) and totally forgot to upload any photo or anything for my site. Thank goodness she'd already created my sign up page. She rocks so completely! :) So THANK YOU Leila for getting my page up and ready for people to enter!!!

1000 Finds - Kooyman Designs

I'm loving the 1000 Markets Pacific Northwest marketplace. We have such an amazing group of artisans that I'll have plenty of fun and unique goodies to share with you.

One such amazing and talented artisan is the folks at Kooyman Designs.

A cooperative effort between husband and wife (which I think is very brave *grin*) this duo creates their amazing work out of Arlington, Washington.

In their own words:

The toys I make are heirloom quality, using the best quality materials with the highest possible craftsmanship intended to last to be enjoyed by many generations. As parents, child safety is of the highest priority. This is why we use non-toxic and food grade stains and finishes on my toy and kitchen products. For a wood toy to last even one child’s lifetime, the wood must be protected. Without protection, one cup of juice spilled on a wood toy would virtually destroy it. Causing staining, sticky nastiness that is impossible to clean.
They don't just create children's toys, though I love them and know that I must have one for my upcoming crumb cruncher. They also design kitchen gadgets like their Tortilla press. I wonder if I had a tortilla press if I'd be more inclined to make my own tortillas. :)

I'll definitely let folks know when I decide on a toy to purchase for my little peanut. :)