Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The other day I came across this new (to me) site with all sorts of articles on selling your work online, marketing, business tips, pricing, and even crafty tutorials. Handemadeology - The Science of Handmade While the site is very etsy-centric, the information, tips and tutorials are worth reading even if you do not sell online.
A few examples of articles I've been reading:
A guide to surviving regretsy - Should you ever find your self there. It's not necessarily time to pack it in!
Lori Bergman wrote a little tutorial on how to make lampwork beads on vintage skeleton keys.
Why press releases no longer work - and what does.
Enjoy - and you might want to wait til you get home before looking at the above links. I take no responsibility for any reduction in productivity today ;-)
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Personally, this year will be the first time (in a number of years) that I will have both children in school full time. My youngest starts grade 1 next week. As tempted as I am to spend my first week of freedom snuggled up on the couch with a bunch of brainless novels - I know I would get bored pretty quickly. I'd feel pretty guilty as well as I do have a to do list about 10 miles long ;-) What I do want to focus on are the things you've all heard me blabber on about before. Exploring more mixed media jewelry projects, using enamels, improving my bead making and metal clay skills. I suspect just those alone will keep me busy for some time to come.
We do have some awesome classes coming up in the next couple of months. Classes are an excellent way to kick start your creativity. When it's in my budget, I never shy away from taking a class where I think I'm proficient. I find I always learn something new - a new way of working with a material, new combinations, new/different tools. And then of course classes in things I know nothing about - even If I have no intention of using that particular method in most of my creations, it's always nice to have new skills to add to your repertoire.
The big news this fall is of course our two guest instructors. Michael David Sturlin who is teaching 3 different classes for those of you who are eager to expand your metal working skills. Michael is a world renowned goldsmith who is on the faculty of the Revere Academy of Jewelry. This is a fantastic opportunity to study with one of the 'greats'.
Free hand fabricated fine silver chain (Crochet) October 18th - 19th
Forged Links and Modular Elements October 20 - 21
Pierced Prong and Cabochon Pendant October 20 - 23
We also have Leah Fairbanks! Leah creates stunning little miniature worlds in glass. Dwyn and I are particularly excited - and of course were both signed up. I can only take one, as much as I'd love to take both! Learn how to make gorgeous petals, backgrounds, vines and leaves in her floral garden class. September 16th and 17th
Leah is also teaching a Sea and Seashore class - mermaids, fish and other fabulous sea creatures! September 18th and 19th
Monday, August 29, 2011
I love this ring - sorry - but I just love it. First time I made this, it came about because I just dropped the stone into the bezel and it fitted perfectly and wouldn't come out. Well - that was easy!
Stephanie Dixon loved the idea too - but she made hers with a little Apoxie clay to hold it in place - which also elevates the stone a little - which looks nice too.
After last week's ring project, I had some clay left over, so I put a small ball in a square bezel ring, and put the stone on top. Awesome.
It's just a matter of picking colours!
Crystal Copper with Copper!
Here, you can see and compare side by side. From the left, Crystal, Silver Shadow, and Black Diamond.
Click on an image below to go to the website if you want to make your own! (The link will go to the correct page - and you can pick your colours from there.)
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Trim around the leaf using a craft knife or pin tool, then gently peel off the leaf for your second earring or use a new leaf if you wish. Then allow to dry and fire according to the clay you are using.
Fire, brush with a brass brush (careful with the wires) work harden the wires and polish.
Unfortunately the firing of my Copprclay was an "Epic Fail" (to coin the latest phrase that my two boys have been using). Arrggh! I have good luck and bad luck with CopprClay, not sure what went wrong in this case. I will try again and refire it when I have some new carbon. I love the texture of the Copprclay but its reliability is not there for me, PHOOEY.
Above is a photo of the failure. Metal clay doesn't fire properly it has a "feel" to it. It may sound like metal and can even be burnished but it won't hold up. The photo shows one example, the copper came out with a dark colour and as you can see it is brittle. Sometimes refiring it will work. I will let you know what happens with these pieces.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
What makes a booth successful?
- They make a great first impression. They can be seen from a distance and provide an overall sense of the artist's sense of style before you even enter the booth
- A great booth is wide open with no little bits of furniture or display racks blocking the entrance. There is also plenty of room to move around in the booths
- They use colours to enhance the products, not overshadow them
- The display fades into the background, they are not the first thing you notice. The products are the first things you notice when you look around the booth
- Items are, for the most part, displayed in the prime area between waist height and eye level
- The items are displayed at a variety of heights. Rows upon rows of straight lines are a sales-killer
- The display is solid and functional. All parts can stand being manhandled by a large number of people
Make a great First Impression
As you think about your booth it’s important that you keep your brand in mind. Think of an overall colour scheme and the mood that you want to set. If you haven’t yet done the One Word Challenge now is the time.
Imagine being at a large outdoor craft show with 200 vendors. It’s a sea of white tents. Indoors you are faced with a sea of bright colours, or if it’s a smaller show just a sea of tables. Your first job is to stand out from the crowd and attract the customer into your booth.
Curtains are one of the easiest ways to set your mood. I always have bright blue walls and from a distance they stand out in that sea of white. Curtains also define a space.
So what if you don’t have any walls? Maybe you only have a table in a sea of other tables. You’re a creative person, get creative. Try 2 coat stands placed behind your table, now string a curtain between then. Voila, instant wall that places a visual barrier between you and your neighbours (competition). If you have more space use 2 ladders. Hang a curtain rod between the ladders, not only can you hang a curtain, you can hang posters. Use a large swath of fabric to cover the ladders and use the steps of the ladder as display shelves. These suggestions also give you something to clip lights onto.
Use your walls. Imagine standing at a craft show and looking down the aisles wondering what to look at next. From a distance shoppers can’t see work on a table, nor can they see tiny small work (such as earrings). Makers of large work such as sweaters or artwork have a big advantage here. If you make small work get yourself some posters. I also have my posters laminated for weather protection.
TIP: check your local printing companies. Rather than paying for actual posters I use The Printing House for 11” x 17” photocopies. Full colour - $2 each. Bargain! For laminating I use Staples, there’s also Kinkos.
Picture frames are a nice way of making a piece of jewelry look extra special. Try putting a piece of foam core covered in fabric in the frame so that you can pin the jewelry on. Or you can use screen or mesh in the frame to hang earrings on. You can either hang the frames on a wall or stand them on a table.
Speaking of tables, if you are using tables you must use a tablecloth. (Unless you have gorgeous wood tables instead of the folding card tables most of us use). Always use plain coloured tablecloths. Screaming bold patterns simply distract from your work. For the same reason avoid super bright colours unless your work is even brighter, and avoid metallic cloths.
TIP: Use double-sided tape to make sure the tablecloth doesn’t get pulled out of place.
Use risers for vertical height. People look at eye level, not down. Putting your work flat on a table is not only visually boring it doesn’t attract attention from a distance. There are many crafters who use the boxes they bring their work in as risers. Simply unload your work and then cover them with fabric to match your tablecloth. Use double-sided tape to secure your risers to the table.
As to the actual props that you use, let your imagination run wild. Kitchen stores are a great source of props. Mug stands make nice earrings stands. Check out home décor stores such as Winners and Homesense. If you look closely at other people displays you’ll notice that most of us are very well acquainted with Ikea. Whatever you decide to use make sure it’s sturdy. It’s one thing to look cute but can it be bumped and jostled by a crowd without breaking?
You must create a booth that is a showcase for your work, not a stand-alone fabulous booth. Some booths are so pretty, so creative, so much a work of art on their own that the product is secondary to the display. Your display is the supporting character in your act. Without it the show can’t go on but it should never get a starring part.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I've had a whole bunch of projects in mind to show you all the different things you can do with our MetalFX powders - but as I am still without a working camera (yes, still) as I can't find a replacement battery charger that works with my particular battery for less than $120 - I'm still trying to find a cheaper option. :-)
I can still tell you all about them though!
1) Did you know you can make your own glimmer mists? Those of you who do paper arts or scrapbooking have already been completely appalled at the prices of glimmer mists (or I have been at least)
If you have no clue what I'm talking about - Google 'Glimmer Mist' it will of course take you to various company websites, so I don't want to point you directly. It will certainly give you lots of ideas on what you can do with these sparkly mists!
- Purchase a little spray bottle at the dollar store. Fill it up about 1/2 way with water, add a couple squirts of white glue, and a couple scoops of MetalFX. Shake well, and then shake again. Shake for a long time. You can then mist your papers or artwork with your homemade glimmer mist! If the colour is too faint for your liking, add more scoops of MetalFX until you're happy with the results.
2) Make sparkle resin cabs for rings or earrings.
- You can mix a small amount of our MetalFX into resin to create stunning and shimmery cabochons.
- or add the MetalFX to resin and then coat flat metal findings with it. Gives a shimmery enameled look!
3) You can make your own shimmer paint.
- mix some white watercolor paint, with a bit of MetalFX, and a bit of water.
- Also you can mix it with a pearl medium (paint section of art supply store) and store in small jars.
4) Mix it into, or on top of Polymer clay!
I'm sure there are many more, and I'll certainly share some specific projects (with images) once I have my camera working again.
Charlotte's Web - er - beads
When I first got into beads - way back when we all rode woolly mammoths to work and they hadn't invented the Internet yet hardly - Ha! Anyhoo, back in the day - I was taught that a "Charlotte" was specifically a size 13 seedbead with a single facet. Now, however, the term gets thrown about with abandon - referring to any size seedbead, it seems, with faceting. Was my original source wrong? Did the meaning change and I didn't get the memo? Am I a stick in the mud? Probably yes to all the above. Ok - I will relax and allow that these size 15/0s with a facet can be Charlottes too. Although, it begs the question: who is this Charlotte chick and why does she have so many beads? Hmmm?
MetalFXGlimmery, shimmery, shiny stuff. More metalFX colours for you to play with. These top grade metallic powders have wonderful shimmer and appear different colours from different angles.
And if you are looking for some ideas for using them, check out this week's project, Magic Mirror! It's something a little different - an embellished compact! So you can check out how gorgeous your jewelry is when you are wearing it.
Bails!Ok, all the "bail out" jokes have been done to death - and not by us, either. So let's skip those - and just point out that we have a number of new sterling silver bails - some of which are a little different. These Twisting Leaf bails are designed to work on briolettes, drops, etc, anything with a narrow end - rather than a flat top.
Oh, and speaking of nice ends - some new pearl clasps too.
Other new stuff too - so click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you feeling intrepid, (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!
Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Grab a cup of tea and check out the etsy metal blog for incredible eye candy, artist interviews, tutorials and much more. This should keep you busy enough til our midnight update ;-)
Monday, August 22, 2011
Well - last week's update with the crystal letters - I just HAD to make a signet ring. With a dragon.
The Swarovski crystal letters - such a score! Letter-shaped crystals - who knew? Anyway - because they are out of production and were only ever special order - it's hard to find a complete set - so - in the absence of an actual "D" for Dwyn, Dragon, or DragonJools - I had to get creative. The P, rotated 180 degrees - looks like a lowercase d - and that was good enough for me. Actually - I was going to do dJ - but miscalculated how much room I would have - so "d" it is.
A small ball of black Apoxie clay, a dragon charm, my d, and a bezel ring finding. (Links below if you want to make your own.)
First up - a little surgery was required on the dragon charm. Snip, snip with the wire cutters ...
... and off comes the hanging loop.
I also used my fingers to put a gentle curve in the dragon, so he would curve more naturally into the domed shape of the top of the ring.
Then, I added the d, and propped the ring up to harden, and left it overnight. I wish I had noticed the ridge I accidentally left in the clay, but oh well. Something to remember next time.
Click on an image to go to that item on the web site if you want to make your own signet ring!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I will trim again.
After the second trimming i will check and smooth the edges. After this point I will let the leaf dry. If it is still not tapered I may try and smooth and sand the edge slightly when it is dry or leave it.
One important thing to be cautious about is that when you are rolling your leaf in the clay be sure to make your clay thick enough (this depends on your leaf) so that the central vein does not cut through. The above photo was an attempt to show that if you go too deep you may end up with a weakness at this point.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Like everything else about our micro business there’s no formula or guarantee about how to display your work. The key points are to have a booth that is consistent with your branding. If you make high end work, a table covered in burlap isn’t the way to go. If you make funky hemp $10 bracelets, expensive locked glass cases are wrong. You also want a display that stands out, something as eye-catching and unique as your work
In this post I’ll discuss the basics of booth display. There are some key elements that every booth needs, make sure you have these before you even think about curtains or display busts.
Picture this, you have a long table with all your work beautifully displayed. You stand proudly behind it doing your happy dance as the customer stands in front of it and says “Yes, I’ll take that $500 necklace”. Now, she’s a big woman and she has a huge purse.
Where is she going to put her purse as she roots around for her wallet? Not on top of your display. Not on the floor. While the customer is standing there no one else can see your display. Where is she signing the slip for the credit card? Once the customer has committed to buy, remove her from the display area to a small space at the end of the table. Let her put her purse on the table while others shop. Have a place to gift wrap that expensive necklace (and a place for you to store that packaging).
TIP: NEVER leave your cash box alone or out in the open. Fanny packs, while not the most flattering fashion accessory, are a crafters best friend.
Signage is all non-verbal communication with your customer. The point of good signage goes far beyond displaying your company name. Good signage encourages people to stay in your booth, it engages the customer with your work. If you have a special technique have a sign. Pricing is signage, every item should be priced. For a full discussion on signage, read this article. And here’s a challenge for you, what are 5 things you can tell your customer without opening your mouth?
You’ll be amazed how much stuff you’ll have for your booth. The jewelry is nothing, it’s one or 2 shoe boxes. It’s the duct tape, double sided tape, hammers, cable ties, extra light bulbs and extension cords, packaging that take up so much room. And customers don’t want to see this. While it’s tempting to stuff it all into a giant bin you’ll need to be able to access this during the show and find stuff. If you have to pull a big bin into the middle of your booth and dig down to find another sales book you’re getting in the way of your customers. Make it functional, make it tidy.
Flexible display for different layouts, be modular
You don’t know what you’re going to find until you get there. When you see the show take a look and work out where the traffic is coming from. Position yourself so that your best work is on the right. Marketing factoid, 90% of people who walk into a store turn right. If you are using a table top display, don’t do 1 8’ table, do 2 4’ tables. That way you can have one long table, or an L-shaped display should you be lucky enough to have a corner.
TIP: corner booths are worth paying extra for.
Jewelry is portable. There’s a lot of downtime. You’re paying to be at the show so be there. You’re not paying to read a book or listen to your ipod. Working on your stuff shows that you’re busy and engaged in your work. This also means that you can make adjustments as you go. Remember, people are shopping at craft shows because they want to buy handmade, making something in your booth shows that it really is handmade. It also involves the customer in the process and gives them a sense of belonging.
TIP: work on your own craft. If you are a jewelry designer, make jewelry in your booth, not knitting.
It doesn’t matter how pretty a booth is, if you can’t stuff it into a car, dolly it into your space and set it up within a reasonable amount of time then it’s not going to work. If it takes 6 hours to set up and 4 hours to break down, then you’ve just added 10 hours to a 2 day weekend show. Not a viable option.
Speaking of pretty, display objects such as heavy glass vases make look really nice when you set them up at home, but consider that these will have to be packed, jostled around and then manhandled (by you) to their temporary location. Nothing sucks more than setting up your booth at 6 a.m. and discovering that a key piece of your display has broken in the car (been there, done that).
And lastly, on the subject of transportable, make sure you can transport this yourself. You. You alone. Just you. Building a booth that requires a team to move just means that you’re beholden to finding help for every show. It’s nice to have help (especially if it’s free), however what if that help has something better to do on a Saturday morning at 6 a.m. than schlepping a tent into a park?
Next week booth display 201.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Are you fortunate to have your weekends/evenings to yourself? Or do you try to squeeze in a few hours late at night after the kids have gone to bed? Do you put aside other chores in favour of jewelry making? (Ha! - anyone who has seen my house knows I'm guilty of this one)
I'd love to hear your comments - and any time management tips you may have...for those of us lacking in that department ;-)
Thursday, August 18, 2011
I've been sitting on a couple packs of Fast Fire Bronze for a while now. My summer has been much busier than I thought, and I only just got a chance to open a package on the weekend. My first observation was that it felt considerably drier, and sandy - which is completely different from the original bronze. I'm not entirely sure I like the workability - but I thought I could certainly get used to it if it fires correctly. Earlier today, I popped that first batch into the kiln. It's been ready for hours, but I've been avoiding looking into the kiln. Eventually, I just had to know if it was a success, or yet another complete failure.
So - Tada! It worked, and I'm beyond thrilled. I've done a thorough sinter test which includes purposely breaking a piece, sawing, filing, and just generally banging the (*&% out of it to make sure it's nice and solid. This batch is certainly solid and completely sintered.
I fired this batch in the small stainless pan with lid on stilts in the kiln. Ramped fast to 1525, and held for 2 hours. It was at room temperature when I finally removed the pan from the kiln. I'm encouraged enough to make something a little more elaborate out of the rest of the package. For this batch, I was really just making little spacers and earrings. I didn't want to invest too much time into my designs if I was going to end up with a pile of dust. ;-)
I'd like to buy a vowel ...
Now you can buy a vowel, or the whole word even. This is because we found a stash of out-of-production Swarovski crystal letters. Not rhinestone appliques, but actual rhinestone letters - gleaming faceted letter shapes - sparkling like diamonds. OOOOh boy!
What is really fascinating to me about these is not just the possibilities of spelling out words, making signet rings with initials on them, personalizing stuff - which is all fabulous, and I've been doing some of that - but the shapes of the letters - just as shapes. We've had good, old, reliable shapes of stones in the past - the oval and round and square and rectangle stones - solid, dependable, trustworthy. But now, here we have a bunch of exciting, dazzling new shapes that evoke all sorts of new ideas. I don't see E's - I see castle turrets, I don't see U's - I see horseshoes. V's are arrowheads, and Y's seem to walk on two stumpy legs while L's are made for walkin'. Check out today's project to see what happens when you start using letters as a pattern!
It's a bead. It has a dragon on it. What more do you need, really? Beads and dragons go together like chocolate and ice cream, Ben and Jerry, campfires and marshmallows. Next year is the year of the Dragon - just in case you needed an actual excuse.
Does the absence of garnets in your jewelry box have you seeing red? Well - it's time to fix that! New garnet beads in round, faceted round, and chips.
Other new stuff too (Charlottes, anyone?) - so click on a link or a picture above, or start with the Main Page, if you feeling intrepid, (there is a LOT of stuff there), or chunk it down into bite-size portions by checking out the categories: Click on a link and go crazy! Firepolish, Pressed Glass, Swarovski Crystal, Seedbeads, Stone and Pearls, Preciosa Crystal, Metal Beads, Other Cool Beads, Findings, Metal Clay & Supplies or Books, Kits, Tools. Look for the "new" tags!
Or maybe check out all our free, yes, free projects. A new one every week.