Monday, March 30, 2009

A fellow blogger's giveaway!

I'm been following a blog by Chocolate and Steel - Christine Street. She's doing a giveaway contest - take a look and enter if you like! She makes beautiful jewelry using materials and techiques that I haven't ventured into yet - but I hope to eventually! I also hope to do a giveaway in the upcoming months.

I just love her ring, called Pebbles.. ..Summer Such pretty colors! Ring making is on my list of things to learn this year.

I'm looking forward to Thursday this week as I'll be taking a class on riveting metals together. I think it will add a whole new diemnsion to what I can achieve in my designs. I have a boat load of ideas of things to make using rivets!

Make Someone Happy

Quote of the day: "It makes me happy to put a smile on someone else's face!" - Elise

We hear a lot of requests these days urging people to get out and volunteer in their community. The need is so great. Today's quote was said by a 16 year old volunteer at a Seattle food bank, where I volunteer my time regularly. Her goal today, besides being helpful by packing and distributing food, was to say a perky "hello" to everyone she came in contact with and try to get them to at least smile back. In return, she received joy. And oh, she was overflowing with joy! She was genuinely surprised at how much she enjoyed being there.

There are times in our lives when we can give help, and times when we need to receive help. If you can give, do so. You'll be rewarded with unexpected joy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The warmth of copper

I am loving copper today (but only after it's oxidized). So warm and earthy. I spent today working with some copper wire. The pendant features a Tiger eye bead that has some beautiful deep streaks of color. I am really happy with the way it turmed out (yes, as is my usual with my creations, the third time's the charm). I waste a lot of materials and time getting things just right, but I think it's worth it. I call it "Copper Tigress". Clever name hey?
I also made 2 infinity link bracelets out of 18g copper wire. I'm very happy with these also. I love the way copper looks hammered and oxidized.
I've been looking at my fused fine silver "Circle of Love" necklace that I posted a few days ago and something just didn't look right to me. I decided that the jump rings that I had use to attach it to the chain were too large for the piece. Smaller rings wouldn't work because the circle is too wide. I debated whether to put holes in it and attach the rings to the chain that way, but eventually decided that was too risky. I wasn't sure if the circle was wide enough to not have the punch get too close to the edge and pierce the all the way to the edge and ruin the entire circle. So, I used very tiny jump rings to wrap the chain around the circle and attach to the chain itself. I think it works better now. Decisions, decisions.
I'm still working like crazy preparing to bring lots of items to MN in April! Only problem is that I am sorely neglecting the house, kitchen detail and the hubby. He's very understanding, but....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Team EtsyRain gathering today

One of the advantages of etsy is that sellers in various parts of the country can gather together to form teams and network with each other. Here in western WA, there is a TeamEtsyRain - it's a great group of sellers and the team organizers are very, very good at creating networking activities and getting the word out about various shows, news, opportunities, etc...

Today we had an informal lunch and 9 sellers gathered to meet each other, network, share stories, ideas and suggestions. We all each brought a sample or two of our work; it was very cool to see what other people make. Beautiful items! I think I may have to go etsy shopping, soon!

Here's a list of the websites of those in attendance, so you can see what they make and sell. Visit their shops, and buy handmade - their quality and creativity is unbelievable!

Dana Durham - wonderful knitted and felted wool handbags and painted wine glasses
Suzanne Tidwell - creative handmade towels and clothing
Dina Templeman - fragrant handmade soaps - cloth diapers - and at Country Cuttins
Char - fabulous handmade stitchery
Kristin - happy hair accessories
Kasey - fun children's playthings and new things made from old T's and at NuetoME
Jill MacCorkle - beautiful beaded jewelry
Beth Newfeld - incredible felted bags, scarves, gloves
Marlo Miyashiro - clever fabric totes and jewelry
and me, Sandy - a shameless plug for my own jewelry shop!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get on the right track and TAKE ACTION!

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."-- Will Rogers

This is a quote that I've come across 4 times this week; yes, 4! This is not a coincidence. The quote must be out there in the world, just waiting for me to sit up and take notice of it I've noticed!

So far, I've left my etsy site to basically market itself, with the exception of a few days of showcase slot purchases. I really need to figure out how to get more people to notice my site and to know that I'm out there in e-world. How? I'm not sure. Tomorrow I'm going to an etsyrain team lunch to meet and network with other etsy sellers in my area. My hope is to get a discussion going about how we market ourselves. Do we tell people about our site face to face? List and re-list daily? Pass out brochures and business cards to everyone we know? Ask for word of mouth advertising? Send out yet another mass email? There are so many excuses not to do any of these; I'm shy, I don't want to burden anyone, I can't afford it, I'm not tech savvy enough...yada yada... None of them really hold up, do they? Truth is, I need to do this myself. Figure it out and just do it.

It isn't as though I haven't been trying. I've listed new items, re-listed some, posted better photos. I plan to show many friends and family my new items when I visit MN in April. I'm going to networking events. I blog. I'm told I should facebook, but I haven't investigated that yet. I need to think of other things, but what I really want is magic!

In the past week, I've listed 13 new items on my etsy site and had about 50-60 visitors per day. Today, I haven't listed anything new and only had 18 visitors. Nothing new = no hits. I think I need to learn more about tagging and how to bring more new visitors to my site. I need to network more. Somehow, I need to make people aware of my work. I need, I need, I need. I sound like a broken record. Research, research.... off to research. Then - off to take action.

What do you find works the best for your shop in regards to boosting awareness of your site? Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Lemonade Award!

I have been nominated by Kathleen Krucoff (Reflections of a Glass Artist), for A Lemonade Award!

I am honored to be nominated and thank Kathleen for including me in her list of inspiring artists/bloggers. Kathleen is a fabulous glass artist with a keen eye for color and design and even more importantly, to me, she has been a source of kind guidance, encouragement and inspiration in my venture into this artistic world. Be sure to view her work at
What is a Lemonade Award? It is awarded to bloggers that show a positive attitude and gratitude. Now it's my turn to share....

Here are the rules for the award:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great Gratitude and/or Attitude.
3. Be sure to list and link your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Nominate your favorites and link to your post.

My Choices for the Award:
Pam, The Blue Between
Kristi, Dream Some Designs
Kristin, Happy Flying Buttons
Jewelry by Desireee
Cathy Holden
Kathleen, Reflections of a Glass Artist
Havi Brooks
Twisted Sister Arts

All of these bloggers have been an inspiration to me by their words, their art, their attitude and kind encouragement. My thanks to all of you!

When life hands you lemons, always make lemonade!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A marathon jewlery making weekend

I spent the entire weekend making jewelry. Neglected the house and the hubby. I'm going to MN in a few weeks and several people have told me they are eager to see my things, so I want to bring as much variety as I can produce and I want to bring things they haven't seen before. I'm excited to show off my work to friends and family!

I got a nice shipment of wire last week, so I have many types and wire gauges in stock to do whatever I want to do! Options are a very thing! I put aside my sheet metal for the weekend and got back to wire work; a nice comfortable place to be for me. I made several items and got a good start on a few more. I did some fine silver fusing (fire! - my favorite) and need to finish some clasps for them and oxidize a few other items. I listed some this weekend and will continue to list other items throughout the week.

I had a strand of lapis beads and made a necklace out of them, but I'm just not happy with it. The edges of the spacer beads are blunt and scratch my neck when I tried it on, so I'll have to come with another plan. I hate taking things apart and re-doing them, but it always comes out better the second (or third) time around anyway.

I've also been working hard to make my photos better. I usually just use Office picture manager to edit my photos, but this weekend I downloaded Picassa photo editor, which I've used in the past for real estate photos. Can't quite get the hang of it yet and I need to review some of the software's basics before I can use the shots I've edited there. It does have some flexibility that office doesn't have, but it's missing the ability to have complete control over the size of the picture, which I don't want to give up. Maybe I'm just missing that part of the software.

The cats will sleep well tonight - I've put away my hammer and steel pounding block for the evening!

I hope you had a good weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Artistic" Photos?

I've been reading a fun blog lately by FlyingButtons Here she talks a few times about the importance of lighting and staging listing photos in order to convey the feeling that you want your listing to portray.

I'm still having a hard time just wrapping my head around the whole "artist" title, since I've never really made anything "artistic" until my recent (1.5 years) period of jewelry making. I have yet to call myself an "artist". But, I do spend an awful lot of time dreaming up ideas for my jewelry and even more time creating it. Admittedly, I am consumed and passionate about my "artistic" hobby. And it is not a cheap venture, so I need to sell my "art" in order to afford to make more. That's the practical, business major, former Realtor side of me. But then again, I do get warm fuzzies knowing that there are people out there wearing my jewelry and enjoying the way it makes them feel. Oh, I'm so conflicted!

Anyway, back to the photos... artistic photos... I went on a mission today to find props for my photos. I was going to take pictures of a bird nest pendant to be highlighted in my breast cancer awareness fundraiser collection. I wanted something pink for breast cancer identity, something earthy to coordinate with the bird nest, something soft looking for love and caring feelings. I found items in a scrapbooking dept at a craft store. Green leaves, pink rose petals, shimmery pink petals, pink paper, sheer hearts. All that for a tiny little photo! The props get so muted that they don't really show as anything defined, but I think they do add a certain fresh "feeling" to the photo. This took my afternoon, mind you. Time is valuable, too, isn't it?

I have to wonder how much effect a "great" photo vs. a "good" photo has on a person's buying decision. The other night, I listed a pair of earrings with what I thought were quite good photos. Once they were in etsy however, they looked darker than they had on my computer while I was editing them. So, a few hours after I listed it, I lightened all of my pictures and re-entered them. In the middle of that process I got a convo from a buyer, saying she was trying to purchase the earrings but she got an error message saying that the listing was no longer available (it was because I was editing the listing). She assumed they had already sold and she wanted me to make another pair. But - she was buying them while looking at the too dark, original photos! Flyingbuttons' blog posts regarding photos are geared towards getting into a treasury, but ultimately, that boils down to being seen by buyers and being enticing enough to keep looking at the item in the photo and hopefully moving deeper to look at your entire shop; then to actually purchase an item!

So my question is, with 40,000+ jewelry listings on, does a great photo make enough of a difference versus a just a good photo?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jewelry for a cause - Breast Cancer Awareness

It’s been almost 2 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m happy to report my first “completely normal; you don’t need to come back for a year” mammogram! During that difficult year of 2007, I was graced with the love and support of my family, friends, and kind strangers.

In honor of all who struggle with this disease, I’m introducing a new line of fundraiser jewelry, “The Awareness Collection”. Some of these items will have pink awareness ribbons; others will just have a subtle hint of pink for those who prefer to honor the cause quietly. Other items may simply be jewelry that I create with intention of sending strength and courage. I will keep introducing new items throughout the year.

I will donate all of the proceeds of every item sold from my "Awareness Collection" to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. I will keep the total amount continuously posted on my website and will make the cumulative donation at the time of the walk in Sept, 2009.

I got the idea for this jewelry fundraiser from a dear friend who, as I was facing chemotherapy, had 4 identical bracelets made. Her intent was that I would wear mine and, she, my-sister-in law and my daughter would wear theirs every time I had chemo. They became our chemo day bracelets and a reminder that they were thinking of me and sending me strength (we live in separate states, so they couldn’t be close to me). The bracelets were made with the feng shui bagua colors, with intention to help put my life in balance and harmony. What a beautiful intent and I treasure that bracelet. I wear it on my breast cancer fundraiser walks & I even wore it to my recent mammogram!

To all who support this cause, I offer my sincere thank you. To all who have been touched by this disease, I offer my wishes of strength and courage and my heartfelt encouragement and prayer.

If you haven’t already, schedule your mammogram today!

Look for the Awareness Collection on my etsy site in the next few days!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's official - I'm addicted to metal - I can't stop!

I love metal! There's just something about working with it that draws me to it and makes me feel grounded. It's as if it calls my name and says - "Sandy! Come back to the office and make something with me!" I've probably spent 10 hours today in my office/studio, barely able to see the huge desk space (or the floor) because it's covered with projects. Copper here, sterling there, a batch of Viking knit on the other desk, some pieces being tumbled in the tumbler, a pile of steel wool dust from polishing off liver of sulfur, a photography corner, etc... Needless to say, my space desperately needs to be cleaned up and re-organized. But it's so much more fun to create! Tomorrow will be a clean up day so I can re-group and get back to metalwork next week.

It was a productive week though; I made a bracelet utilizing a lamp work bead that I purchased last summer in MN. The bead just screamed to be joined with Viking knit and I think it turned out really well. I pushed a 14 gauge wire through the middle of the Viking knit and put the bead in the middle. Even though it has a clasp that I made a clasp with the ends of the 14g wire, it is really stiff and feels like a bangle bracelet. I still need to do a little finish polishing before I take final photos and put it on etsy. I wish my photography skills were better, I spend a lot of time taking and editing photos, and I'm usually still not happy with them. I'm trying to make my photos a little more colorful with background paper; sterling doesn't really grab one's eye very well all by itself and I don't use much color in my designs.

A while back I purchased some alphabet stamps and experimented with them today. It's really difficult to get everything lined up straight and as you can see, I need a lot more practice! I can get about 3 letters lined up, and then the 4th letter is never quite right. Maybe I should just make some discs that just say LOL on them.

A couple of mixed metal earrings sold on my etsy shop this week, so I made a couple more pairs and listed them. Check them out on my etsy shop - link is on the right!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My "Simply Sprial" necklace is in a treasury!

I am once again honored to be included in a treasury compiled by fellow etsy artist It's a very clever theme - items with focal points ranging from 1 through 12 in them. My sprial necklace is photo # 7 because it has 7 spirals in it. It must have taken her forever to search and find her items for this treasury and I am thrilled to be included!
Take a peek at her shop (above) and at her treasury (below) - bet you can't resist counting the focals in each picture!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Treasury of EtsyRain (Seattle area) Artists

Today I made a treasury filled with incredible blue items, all made by local artists. We need some blue sky here and these items made me smile. This treasury will be active until 9:00pm on Monday. Take a look!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Beads have a plan of their own

I set out today to make a necklace out of a strand of lovely graduated sized turquoise beads and sterling spacers. I strung and re-strung and just couldn't seem to find an appropriate necklace design for them. While I was flinging the strand around, it landed on my wrist and looked and felt beautiful! The beads were telling me they need to be a bracelet, of course! I just needed to listen to them guide me.

It does seem that most of the time I make something, I go back and re-do it, sometimes several times, to get everything right - the right balance, color, shape, weight... While I sometimes find that tedious when I just want to get something finished quickly, I try to remind myself that it's all part of the process of making jewelry. It isn't about getting to the destination. It's about the journey. That's really what I love and find soothing about jewelry making.

My jewelry making day was made even better today because a dear friend joined me for the afternoon. She's a brilliant peyote beader! While we create, we more importantly build our friendship.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Another new toy!

I have another new toy in my toolbox! It's a doming block and punches. After some serious experimenting with copper (much cheaper than sterling) sheet metal, I graduated to sterling and made several new pairs of earrings. I used my disc cutter to make the circles, hammered and/or textured each and then used the doming block to form each into a gentle convex dome. Oh, such fun! I discovered a new tool store in the area (one that my husband didn't know about) and now he says I have to share! The right tool for the job applies to me, too!
Look for my new earring series in my etsy shop. They all remind me of planets and such, so I named them accordingly. I like them so much I made 2 pairs to keep for myself. If anyone has any great name ideas for them, please let me know!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tools of the day

I recently purchased a disk cutter and today I made a couple of pairs of earrings using sterling silver sheet metal. First I cut the disks in the cutter by placing the sheet silver under the size hole I wanted, then I pound the cutting die through the sheet, resulting in a disk. My edges were rougher than I would like to see so I had to sand them smooth. I know it's not the best cutter in the world, but I will purchase a better one later on, probably sooner than later actually. I first did some disk cutting in a class I took in January, using my instructors' disk cutter. It was much better quality than mine and gave a cleaner and easier cut. Then, I sanded the edges and hammered some texture into the disks and brushed them to a satin sheen. Then I polished them in a tumbler with steel shot in it, to give it a nice, professional finish. I mounted them together by piercing a hole through them, placing a jump ring through each hole and connecting them to a pair of sterling silver French ear wires. One pair is now listed on etsy and I'm keeping one pair for me! Last night I made a mint green necklace and earring set, so be sure to check my website for new items!