Thursday, October 28, 2010

And the winners are....

... for my 125th follower: Joann March!  Congrats Joann and thanks for following!
Congrats Button!  I will get your gift certificate out ASAP!
... and for my comments drawing....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Custom earrings about to be given away....

... to whoever becomes my 125th follower!  We are so close now!  Come on over and follow my blog!

Once we reach that 125 mark... I will also be drawing a name of one of my blog commentors for a $25 gift certificate to my Artfire Studio!  So, don't just follow, make a comment on an entry or two as well.  Every comment you make is an entry in the drawing.  Entries from October 11th till the present date please.  Leave me some comments and get entered to win!

Friday, October 22, 2010

An addition to the Coralgate scandal

I would like to put up some links, should you, my intelligent readers, care to investigate this "scandal" further and draw your own opinions and conclusions from it.  I am linking to articles about coral bans, preservation, mining methods, blogs about Etsy, actual forum threads on Etsy and other bits and pieces I think you may find interesting in furthering your interest on the matter.
I am not saying "You should read this right now because I said"... just providing further information should you so choose.

I am also going to once again put up my personal opinion on the matter.
I would like to encourage others to do the same, since I believe and have for some time that they treat they handmade artisans like crap.  But, you be the judge on this one.  I know my ruling for myself.
Here are the links.
An article about a coral ban and how it is effecting local business.
An article someone did online about the outrage over this Etsy Storque blog.
A variety of threads from the Etsy forums on the topic.... some more about being angry for being silenced and some about why the article upset them.
The actual Storque blog post that started the whole thing.
A feature article about the blog poster on another site.  People have been blasting her in the comments section.  I'm not condoning nor condemning this behavior.  My personal belief is it was Etsy's stupid mistake and not hers.
This one was posted in one of the angry comments on the above blog in response to her featured sketch of moonstone earrings.  I found it an interesting read for the sake of learning about where my supplies come from.
One of my favorite blogs for all issues with Etsy.  Just a smattering of how angry Etsy has made its handmade artisans.
A great site that talks about coral, its endangerment, environmental causes and reason why it is being harvested.  If you really want to take a stand on the issue of coral preservation, this is an excellent resource.

That is all dear readers.  I leave you to daw your own opinions and conclusions.  Any comments on this you wish to leave would be greatly appreciated.  Add to the dialogue.  Agree to disagree and things will go well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Etsy and the "Coralgate scandal"

Red Coral Wire Wrapped Hoops

Alright, I've kind of been avoiding this blog entry since I didn't really want to bring more attention to the site I left behind.  I've seen more trouble on there than is worth mentioning and spent more money on their fees than anywhere else.  I left for many reasons and I'm very glad I left before all of this transpired.  That being said, I have finally decided that perhaps I DO need to write this blog entry.
*takes a deep breath*
Let me begin with why I left Etsy in the first place.  I was a member of the Etsy community for I'd say about 4 years.  In that 4 years I had experienced marginal success.  My jewelry sold alright... though the sales seemed to come in spurts.  My costume orders were high from mid-September to mid-October but often times I found that I could not always keep up with customers demands and eventually stopped taking custom orders there. 
One particularily low day, I realized how much of my actual profit had been going to Etsy over the years.  I also stopped to realize that I had not sold an item in any shop for almost 9 months straight.  And I realized what drives the Etsy machine was relisting and charging fees.  At that point, I decided I was done with them.  The jewelry market there was swamped and I just didn't have the money to keep up with the "big Etsy fish" anymore.
I was told about Artfire by a friend I had met on Etsy.  I've been there ever since and have nothing listed in any of my Etsy shops.  I have shopped there a little bit since.  That will stop.  From now on, if there's an artist I like and want to purchase things from ad they are only on Etsy, I will kindly convo them and ask them to email me privately to arrange the sale.  Etsy will get no more of my money.
set 6 pcS  sponge Coral Branches 28-36 Bead Strand red orange  , top drilled coral FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ADDITIONAL ITEMSNow, onto the "coralgate scandal".  First off, I want to go on the record as saying this is my OPINION on what has transpired and what I think of it all.  So, before you all blast me for it.... keep in mind I am entitled to my opinions and this is in fact my blog.  So, while you don't have to agree with me, posting comments blasting me for not believing the same thing you do... well it's just tactless and rude.  That being said, I do not believe any of my readers would do such a thing.  You all seem like civilized people who can agree to disagree with me without getting personal.
I don't want to rehash the entire situation in detail so... the short version.
Etsy has a blog calles the Storque.  They invited a guest jewelry designer to write a blog to be featured on the Storque.  The blog she wrote was about coral as being an endangered species and how she believes we should all boycott coral beads and jewelry made from it etc.  People on Etsy got all upset because Etsy did not put a disclaimer on this blog post stating they do not necessarily hold the same beliefs and the poster.  There are all kinds of things wrong with what Etsy has done and caused with this blog post.  So, as I display pictures from Etsy artisan shops that display coral, I'll dissect the pieces of this scandal and give my opinion on them. 
Point 1: Etsy should not have posted this opinionated blog entry without a disclaimer unless they share the viewpoint of the poster.  It has been pointed out by numerous Etsy sellers since this whole scandal errupted.  Even large newspaper and broadcast mediums put up disclaimers when they featured or interview someone with an opinion on a controversial issue.  Heck, telvision stations put up disclaimers before infomercials on late night television for crying out loud!  This is standard practice and for good reason.  And it's not a difficult thing to do nor would it cost them any more or less money that it did to put up the blog entry.  Common sense people!
5 Strands Red Coral Necklace With Red Silk ThreadPoint 2: If Etsy did/does in fact agree with the poster view point, they should have banned coral from the site prior to the entry being posted.  I don't mind if a gourp of individuals wants to take a stand or support a cause they believe in.  But don't do it half-assed and just because you heard someone tell you a little piece of the truth about the issue.  If you want to take a stand on an issue, do the research yourself and decide if it aligns with you and your beliefs before jumping on someone's band wagon.  Activists and even just regular everday schmos will in fact selectively edit the facts in order to get more people to follow their cause.  Look into it before joining.  Then, make your decisions accordingly.  Be an intelligent adult about it.

Point 3: By not doing either of the above points, Etsy has essentially alienated their sellers.  They are allowing a featured artist to essentially tell all the readers to boycott products made from coral which in turn makes the actual sellers on Etsy who do sell and use coral look like environment moronic monsters.  This is what has everyone on Etsy pissed.  It's costing them sales and thus is going to drive business away from Etsy.  Kind of shooting themselves in the foot aren't they?  Since it's the artists on Etsy that have created the name, recognition as well as generated all that revenue.  The revenue that pays the Etsy administration's salaries.  Hmmmmmmm....
Point 4: While Etsy has acknowledged that it has upset it's artists and has attempted a half-assed apology stating that the above point was not their intention, they have done NOTHING to atone for it.  The blog post is STILL there.  Perhaps the deepest cut of all.  They will not acknowledge they made a mistake.  They will not do anything to defend what they did nor are they doing anything to fix it.  I guess it would be one thing if they had taken a stand and said "No, we have nothing wrong and here's why" but they haven't even done that.  They just acknowledge they've made people angry and then move on as if nothing has/was/is happening.  Wow.  Salt in wound there eh?

There are several other points that many Etsians are arguing, all of which I see as completely and totally valid.  I do not feel I need to discuss any more of them in great detail because really... I think it's pretty clear here that Etsy screwed up and won't admit it.  While I have previously stated I have nothing listed on Etsy now nor will I ever again for completely different reasons, I would not like to state for the record.... I WILL NOT BE BUYING ANYTHING OFF OF THE ETSY SITE EVER AGAIN.  If I want something from a artist over there, I will contact the artist directing to arrange the sale.  I will NOT allow any of my hard earned money to the Etsy admin.  I WILL continue to support the artists if they are willing to work with me OFF ETSY.
So, there you have it.  Feel free to comment, add, whatever.  Remember, this is my opinion and I felt it necessary to express it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The "Green" movement and its effect on jewelry making~ Part 2 Gemstones

Welcome back, readers!  Here is part two in my series exploring the effect that the 'green' movement is having on jewelry makers.  I would like to explore the realm of gemstones as today's topics. 
I know many jewelry designers and creators, myself included, love to work with gemstones.  Whether they are in bead form, cabachons or faceted stones, there's just something about a gemstone that is unique and attracting to the eye. 
To start with, there are typically two types of gemstones on the market today: natural gemstones straight from the earth and man made or grown gemstones from labratories.  These two options in and of themselves can often spark controversy.  So, let's take them seperately, starting with natural gemstones.
Natural gemstones, like another other mineral in the earth, are a limited resource.  Since these minerals occur naturally in our earth, this means that is can take thousands of year and the perfect conditions for some of these minerals to build back up into the stones we recognize as gemstones.  So, while the earth is still capable of producing more of these mineral deposits, it is a very lengthy and condition specific task.
With that being said, there does not seem to be a visable end to the supply of many gemstones at this point in time.  I have not found any information about gemstone depletion aside from an article about Tanzanite.  Many tourist spots across the US and around the world have mines where tourists themselves can mine, dig and pan for precious and semi precious gemstones.  I myself have done this time and time again.  It's an enjoyable activity!  And it's nice to see exactly where your gemstones and beads are coming from.  It can also teach you a lot about the properties of certain stones.  For example, mining your own opal can very quickly teach a person how very fragile this mineral is.  The tendency of veins of opal in rock to crack and shatter while being dislodged from the earth is a clear indication of what care one must take with a ring displaying a fragile opal.  I've had many a friend who have had their prized opal rings crack and shatter.
There's a lot of controversy surrounding the mining of gemstones like rubies, diamonds and emeralds.  In countries outside of the US where these stones are mined, the workers and work conditions are not what they ought to be.  Because of this, many jewelrs are looking for  what are called "conflict free" gemstones to use.  An excellent source for more information regarding this is the following link:
Synthetic, man made or labratory grown gemstones are different in that they are not naturally occuring in the earth itself.  Scientists and geologists have done the research and discovered methods of growing these mineral deposits in controlled labratory environments.  Thus, they have created man made rubies, emeralds, diamonds and sapphires.  Much of today's commericially sold jewelry is actually made utilizing these stones.  After all, they look the same, have the same properties and the cost tends to be much lower.  There is less labor involved with growing gemstones versus mining them from the earth. 
So, there's a little more information and a really goo resource on the topic of gemstones.  If any of my readers have more information or some informative links or resources, please leave that infor in the comments section so I can update and better inform my other readers.  Feel free to add!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The 'Green' movement and it's effect on jewelry making~ Part 1 Silver

There's been a lot of hoopla on Etsy over the renewability of certain objects and materials used in jewelry making lately.  And it's sparked an interest for me in researching that topic.  I am always interested in the discussion between being more "green" and it's effect on artists and their work.  I think it's great to be green but the speculation lately has been about what can be done and what can not.  At any rate, it's a great topic to investigate further.  And I want to look for more information and give myself and my readers a better picture to draw thier own conclusions from.
*For the record and preceding my article and research findings, I would like to state that I am not going to post my opinions nor views on the renewability of materials or resources I research nor am I going to put down other artist who use or do not use these materials and resources.  I wish this article to be informative and nor a deragatory diatribe about how we should or should not support certain handmade artisans based on this information.  I believe each human being on this earth capable of making that judgment call on their own after educating themselves about the topic and forming their own opinion of the issue based on their own personal beliefs.  I will not shove my beliefs at you if you would in turn do the same for me.*
That being said.... let's begin our information hunt.  I want to start with a material that I use sparingly in my designs due to the high cost: silver.  I wear a lot of silver and therefore have a natural curiousity to learn more about it.Sakura Cherry Blossom Pendant - Silver Necklace  Handmade Fine Silver Seashell Freshwater Pearl Necklace PMC-  Seashell  Rainbow Moonstone Sterling Silver Bezel Set Stacking Ring 6mm  Ocean Weaves Artisan Wire Wrapped Sterling Silver Hoops
When one searches for information about silver mining, it is brought to light that a lot of mines that produce silver also produce other precious metals that may bring a higher price than silver.  This would lead someone like myself to conclude that perhaps many mines are more concerned with mining those other metals than silver but this is once again speculation.  To delve more into that idea, I would have to interview someone in the mining industry... which I may consider for a later blog.
I also made the observation that there seems to be quite a small list of mines actually producing silver at all.  Makes me really wonder about how much more of this resource is truly available.  Also makes me curious as to how many companies out there are going to be asking to recycle silver bits and scraps as well as perhaps unused or broken silver jewelry.  Reminds me of all those gold commercials we are seeing at the moment on TV.
I've also made an observation from looking at several different mining company websites.  It appears that many of them have either purchased more land for mining purposes or are in the process of acquiring more land.  some companies have expanded their operations on land they already own.  To the outside observer this means that the mineral resource is perhaps less than it used to be.  Again, without further information from the source it would be difficult to say for sure.  Just for you own personal research, here are a few good links for researching on your own.   This is a great resource.  It gives you live prices on silver as well as a comprehensive lists of silver mines.  You can link to many of these silver companies websites directly from here.  I know there are those of you out there that HATE when others site Wikipedia for information but I believe this particular page is a good source.  I like that it gives you an idea of where in the US silver ore is being mined.  It's always good to be conscious of where your metals come from if at all possible.  This is just a cool resource that gives you a good list of how much volume of metal each mine produces as well as their listing price for silver.  There's a ton more information there as well that I haven't really deciphered what it is or means.

Another thing I discovered as I delved into the mining of silver is how they extract the metal from the earth.  Most mining is a pretty earth invasive mission.  Most minerals are extracting from the ore, or rock containing the mineral, through a process called smelting.  Smelting is a chemical process in which the minerals are leached from the ore using other chemicals such as carbon or mercury.  Many other chemicals can and have been used in the smelting process as well.  Smelting also involves roasting or melting out minerals and chemicals from the ore.  This process can also produce hazardous chemicals as biproducts.   The one that comes to my mind most readily is cyanide.  My father used to tell me stories of the copper mines in MT.  He pointed to an old smelting chimney on an abandoned mine once and showed me how the trees on one side of the mountain still to this day do not grow.  Cyanide gas still resides in soil there.
I would venture a guess that gold, copper and other metals are mined and extract in much the same ways as silver.  So, this information could really span over those materials as well.
Sterling Silver Bangle    Silver Fancy Ball - Pendant in Argentium Silver   2 Pcs Indian Handmade Antique 925 Sterling Silver Round Dotted Beads  Chinese Miao Nationality silver ring
Now, while this this information can paint a pretty dissmal picture, please understand that in no way is this article meant to sway you in one direction or the other.  I am merely providing information.  Also, keep in mind that new and better ways of mining are always being discovered and researched.  I am aware that more and more efforts to recycle metals and minerals are being employed.  We are always changing and always moving in new directions.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Over 200 FB fans celebration SALE!

I now have over 200 fans on my FB jewelry page!  That's awesome!  I want to celebrate by throwing a sale.  From now until October 22nd everything in my studio on Artfire is 20% off!  Madness!  Party time!
Had your eye on a certain piece.... now's the time to purchase!
Just head to my studio and see the savings for yourself!
Fools and Jewels

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thinking about selling online? Part 2~ The Pros

I began this small series of blog entries yesterday with the cons about selling handmade arts and goods online.  I chose to begin with the cons so that the pros might keep you, my readers from being discouraged.  And without further ado, here are my pros about selling online.
1.) It is easy and fairly inexpensive to get started.
Most online sites that allow artists to sell their wares are very user friendly.  For example, I currently sell my jewelry on  Artfire is extremely easy to use.  They have tools that make listing items very simple and quick.  There are all sorts of "short cuts", such as their shipping profile button.  You can save a shipping profile and just click the button on all your listings after that.  Makes listing items a shorter and smoother process.
As for cost, many places charge fees based on the number of listings you have.  Some places, such as Artfire, charge nothing to set up a basic account.  Absolutely free.  Now, that being said, paying the fees on Artfire to become a Pro seller are definitely worth the investment.  They offer you more tools and services as a paying member and depending on how much you are selling it can easily be covered each month.That's just a decision each seller has to make for themselves.
2.) Your items are seen by anyone who has internet access and a search engine.
Instead of only being seen at local arts and crafts fairs or in boutiques in your immediate area, your items can be seen and purchased by anyone in the world who has internet access, a search engine and a working paying account.  With a market that large, it should increase your chances of having your work seen, recognized and possibly even sold.  Now, that being said... you have to go out and promote your work on the web to make certain it is being seen and searched by the spiders on the web.  We call this SEO or Search Engine Optimizing.  That's a whole different topic for an entirely different blog entry though. ;)
3.) Your customers can browse your items at their leisure.
One of the most wonderful things about the internet for me is that I can order whatever I need to from the comfort of my own home.  I love to order things late at night while I am in bed with my laptop watching the Late Show.  And if there is something I can't find in my local shops, chances are I can find it online and have it delivered right to my door.  This is true of your customers.  They can find your products on their time.  I also find this helpful when doing craft shows.  If someone sees a piece at a show I do but can't afford it at the time, it's nice to be able to hand them my business card and say "Here's where my shop is.  You can stop in later and see if it's still available."  So much simpler for that person.  Plus, there is the added bonus of having that person go out and share your website information with their friends, work colleagues and family members.
4.) Your items will find their niche or reach their target market.
Let's say you make handmade children's clothing.  But you live in a place where there are relatively few children to be found.  Not a problem!  Your online shop can be seen by anyone anywhere and therefore, the customers for your products can find you and your products.  Let's say  you make something a little off the beaten path but live where there is little to no interest in your art.  Not a problem!  There is a market of customers out on the internet somewhere probably looking for items just like yours.  Selling online allows you to find your market and your market to find your products.
5.) Selling online can generate revenue.
Yes, you can make money selling online.  I'm not going to promise you'll make boatloads of cash and be able to quit your "day job" or pay for a cruise or anything but who couldn't use the opportunity to make a little extra spending cash now and again?  Am I right?

I know there are once again probably more pros I am missing.  If you would like to add to my list, ask a question or comment on your experiences selling online, please do!  Comments are encouraged!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thinking about selling online? Part 1~ The Cons

I know that more and more artists, crafters and hobbyists alike join the online community everyday.  They have heard stories of people who have been able to give up their day jobs and concentrate just on their art by selling online.  They have heard how their hobby could make them extra cash and help pad their bank accounts.  They have more and more handcrafted items in their house taking up space and need to unload them somewhere.
Whatever their or your reasons, online selling has it's pros and cons.  Like all things, you only get out of it what you put into it.  For the sake of our sanity... let's do this in a list style and only elaborate on points that need it.
I'd like to start with the Cons first.
1.) The online market may be saturated.
I find this one very difficult to overcome myself.  I am jewelry designer and creator.  The more I sell online, the more I realize just how MANY jewelry atists are selling their things online just like me.  And there are some amazingly talented artists among them.  It can be very discouraging.
2.) Your shop can get lost in a sea of other online shops.
This is directly related to con number 1 in many ways.  If the market for your product is saturated it means that your items and shop can get lost.  Customers often find themselves overwhelmed when they search for items.  They can be just loaded with possible matches to their search criteria and it's a LOT to look through.
3.) There may not BE a market for your items.
A good friend of mine has always said "There has to be a place for macaroni angels".  She was referring to the sudden shift of her church's holiday craft bazzarr towards be a much more upscale artist market.  She insisted that there still needed to be a place for creations like macaroni angels made by children and others.  She right but, the online market may not be that place.  There are some items that just are marketed towards a smaller margin of consumers and therefore, selling online can become a tough thing. 
4.) The economy does effect consumer spending, even online.
Let's face it, the economy impacts everything.  If consumers are financially strapped for cash, they are more likely to spend their money on less expensive necessities and not on handcrafted artistically made items.  This can either help or hinder your shop.  Me personally, I sell jewelry.  People with little money are more likely to spend it on groceries and gas than on the items in my shop.  After all, you can't eat jewelry... or at least I wouldn't recommend it.
5.) You often times need to spend money on your online shop in order to make money.
Another con that is closely related to the economy.  I have found more often than not, in order to successfully grow your onlins shop you need to invest money into it.  I am talking about membership or listing fees on sites such as Artfire or Etsy, ordering the necessary supplies for your work, advertising slots on websites or blogs, even new camera equipment to take decent eye catching photos of your products.  It can all add up.  And if you don't have the initial money to invest in those things, it can seem like your shop just isn't being seen.

I want to pause here and let you, the readers, chew this over and comment.  I plan to do the Pros list in the next blog entry.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New wire work pieces

I am working on my wire wrapping skills and techniques and trying out new designs with these.  I am trying to create pieces with a variety of textures and colors.  Let me know what you think could be better, added, taken away, etc.  I am always looking for feedback to help me grow and improve my designs and techniques.
These are the only two designs that my blog is allowing me to upload photos for at the moment.  I have two other pieces as well but I'll have to upload those pictures later on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Craft Appeal

This was the piece that was awarded this morning
So, a little over a week or two ago I received an email from a lady named Hannah.  she is the creator or person in charge of a site called Craft Appeal.  It's a great site for artisans to use as a promotion tool.  Basically, you open a free account and upload pictures of your pieces to it.  Then, they are available for viewing on the site and will link to the listing in your shop, wherever that may be.  And in addiction to that, they can be voted on by the viewers of the site.  I woke up to this pleasant surprise in my email box this morning...


CraftAppeal users think your work is awesome and have voted to award you the "Best Overall Jewelry" Award for your Spring Surprise necklace!
It will now be proudly displayed on our the CraftAppeal home page and continue to give you great publicity!
But wait...there's more!
As an added bonus we would like to offer you this award emblem of achievement, this embeddable widget for you to use on your own site to facilitate ongoing promotion and recognition of your creativity!

Needless to say, I am hoping to get this widget listed on my Artfire studio page and am placing it here for all to see!
Here's the site... get out there and display your work!

And the first winner is....

  ... Tak!  Tak is the winner of my first commenter's drawing!  Congrats to Tak!  Contact me for your gift certificate code!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


... at 107 followers and holding steady... I think it is time to draw a name from my commenters and give someone a gift certificate to my studio.  I will keep at this until I do in fact get to 150 followers, giving away gift certificates to commenters along the way... randomly.... when I feel the fancy take me.  So.... here's your last entry to comment on to get entered.  I'm drawing a name tomorrow morning for a gift certificate.  Get to commenting, readers!
One of my new wire wrapped pendant pieces

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wire Wrapping~ How did it all begin?

Crystal gem wire wrap necklace Aquamarine Citrine Tourmaline Garnet Photo by Mandala Rain

I am a novice wire wrapper.  I look at some of the artists out there that also work with wire and I am ASTOUNDED by their work.  Absolutely astounded.  However, this does lead me to ponder how and where the art of wire wrapping started.  I plan to explore some of my wanderings through the history of wire wrapping with you today... only some.
Lightning Ridge opal, drusy diamond sterling and fine silver pendantPhoto from Bohemian Wire Wrapped Jewelry on the Rocks
Upon beginning my research I was astounded to see that many sources site that the earliest surviving examples of wire wrapped jewelry have been dated back to 1000 BC.  I also discovered that many of these early wire wrapped pieces showed signs that soddering had not yet been discovered.  So, essentially these craftsmen had to rely on their skills in their wrapping to hold the piece together.  And the fact that they have survived as long as they have is a true testament to the quality of their work and level of their skills.
Original wire work was done with thin strips of metal.  Metalsmiths would hammer bits if metal into thin sheets and then cut those sheets in strips, thus creating wire.  Filigree was the most common use for this 'wire'.  Bits of it were woven much like baskets are woven to create settings for stones.
Interesting links for further wire wrapping history information:

Many cultures have some form of wire wrapped jewelry in their history.  I was fascinated to discover how world wide the artform has been and still is. 
I plan to continue to study and perfect and expand on my wire wrapping designs and techniques in the hopw of someday being half as good as some of the artists whose work I have shown here.  This last picture is my latest wire wrapped creation.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The concept of "Upcycling"

One of my favorite things to do in my jewelry design is to use things that need new life. Many people use the word "recycling" or "upcycling" to describe this method of taking something that is used and repurposing it into something new. I love this concept. It is good for the environment and allows for creative expression through everyday items. Here are some examples of things I have used in pieces I consider "upcycled".

Bottle Cap pendant GRAB BAG- Fun and colorful resin pendants
1.) Old bottle caps and pop tabs.
I really enjoy taking old bottle caps and turning them into interesting jewelry pieces as well as magnets and coasters.  I myself use resin and confetti or other "found objects" to do this.  I have seen other artists simply use paper print out and glue.  The sky is really the limit. 
I have also seen other artists, such as Cindy's Creative Crochet, using pop tabs to create new and fun
accessories. Pop tab wallets - custom orders

2.) Vintage costume jewelry bits and pieces.
This is hands down my very favorite kind of thing to upcycle.  I love to buy and use old vintage costume jewelry pieces in my newer designs.  For example, this sim
ple bracelet Vintage milk glass with czech glass beaded bracelet~ small, 8.5 was made by taking this old vintage milk glass neck
RESERVED - divapixie - Milky Rounds with a Wink - Vintage Milkglass and Rhinestone Necklace for Rescue or Bead Harvest

and adding in czech glass beads and findings in my normal stock.  Lovely, simple and upcycled.  I've done LOTS of pieces like this and
they are some of my best sellers.

Steampunk GRAB BAG- Resin pendant and watch parts gallore!
3.) Sea shells, watch parts and other "found objects" available.  Anything you can find in your everyday surroundings is considered a "found object".  I've seen LOTS of creative ideas with this concept.  I myself have used pressed flowers, watch parts, microwave parts, computer mother boards, confetti, catalogue and magainze cut outs, cigar bands and so much more to create unique and unusual jewelry pieces, magnets and coasters.  There is really no limit to what a person can do with found objects.  A friend of mine in an art class once used a large clam shell she had.  She actually punch some holes in it and placed rivets in the holes!  It was an amazing piece and a stunning idea. 
So, whatever you choose to recycle or "upcycle", be it old clothing, vintage pictures, pop cans, bottles... have fun with it!  Everything has the potential for creative rebirth in the right hands!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bead Trends and submitting photos for publication

In April 2009, a friend and fellow jewelry artist walked into my classroom after the dismissal bell had rung for the day.  She had with her a copy of a magazine called Bead Trends. 
"I think you should submit photos to this publication."
"they published my things and your wire work is way better than my bead stringing.  Submit something.  See what happens."
She dropped the April issue on my desk, smiled and walked out again. 
I flipped throught he magazine and saw all the wonderful things that people had created.  Could my pieces really compete with these seasoned artisans?  By the following morning I had decided to investigate the magazine further.  I went to their website and poked around a bit.  ALL their photographs were submitted by artists, some of whom design and create jewelry for a living and those who likeme are hobby jewelry designers. 
I read up on their requirements for submission and decided to try it.  I submitted three photos of pieces I had created and waited to hear back.  It was so simple.  All I had to do was send an email to the address listed with my name, contact info, a description of the piece in question and a photo of the piece.  Simple. 
Amazingly, they accepted one of my rings for publication!  I was thrilled! 
The editor wrote a letter explaining that I was to send the ring to their company in a secure box, well wrapped and insured to them within a specified period of time.  They would then have their photographers photograph the item and then would send it back when the issue with my piece feautred was released.  They also sent two copies of the magazine as well as a $20 certificate for me to spend at Fire Mountain Gems. I thought this was a great deal!
I have since submitted and had several other jewelry pieces accepted for publication, including a pair of earrings featured in this month's issue.  I highly recommend this publication for great jewelry ideas as well as a means for getting pieces published.  It's great PR and super easy to get pieces accepted. 
My next goal is to be the 16 page feature artist in an issue.  Still working on that idea though.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fun with party favors

So, in addition to wire wrapping and beading, I also use resin work in my jewelry designs.  I started using resin as a means to make some "steampunk" pendants for a custom set I was commissioned to do about 3 1/2 years back.  Once I saw how simple it was to use Easy Cast resin (this is a trademarked brand by the way), I decided to explore the options of this medium.  I bought some different sized and shaped molds to use.  I began searching and experimenting with the different kinds of things one could put inside of resin.  I have used everything from confetti (which is super fun) to dried flowers, watch parts to magazine and newspaper cut outs.  I even scanned some of my original artwork and photographs into the computer and printed them up for encasing in resin!

Bottle Cap pendant GRAB BAG- Fun and colorful resin pendantsNow some of you may be asking "Cindy, what does this have to do with party favors?  Glad you asked! 
Recently I threw my boyfriend a birthday party.  He decided he wanted to do some kind of party favors for the guests as well as a prize for a game we would all be playing.  But, neither of us had much money to go and purchase anything... and we didn't know what to buy anyways.  Then the light bulb in his head went off.  He remembered that I make things with resin.  He asked if I could take some of the pictures we had of him and turn them into magnets and coasters.  Brilliant idea! 
I tell you all, it was the most fun with resin I have ever had.  I wish I had thought to take pictures of them before we gave them to our guests.  The recipients of the magnets and coasters thought they were brilliant as well.  I just love the idea!  And what fabulous gift idea for the holidays.  They are absolutely customizable.  I'll show you some samples of coasters I've made from various materials.
Alarm clock parts, confetti, cut outs from an old model catalogue, cigar bands and even pieces of old play bills made excellent coaster fodder.

So, get our there and explore the wide world of resin!  Make magnets, jewelry components, coasters... the sky if the limit!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The "Follower's" Special

Golden Green swirl wire wraped hoop earrings~ faceted glass, copper
I have decided to run another giveaway special!  I am so close to having 100 followers on my blog and I think that's a good reason to have a celebration of some sort.  So.... here it is!
The 100th follower on my blog will receive a $10 gift certificate to my studio.
The 125th follower on my blog will receive a pair of custom made earrings.
The 150th follower on my blog will recieve a custom made necklace.
 Lampwork bracelet in teal and blue~ silver colored wire, czech glass

BUT WAIT!  There's more.... I also want to reward those followers who are actively reading and commenting on my blog entries.  An active follower is worth their weight in gold to me.  Starting with my "Ask the Artist" blog entry, each time a follower comments on a blog entry I will enter their name into my hat for a drawing.  The drawing prize.... $25 gift certificate to use in my studio!

So get out there and be active!  There's only five more spots till the first prize will be given out!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Steampunk~ What is it all about?

This is my first blog entry in my series of "Ask the Artist" blogs.  SarasinArt from Artfire asks:
"Hey Pixie, I see a lot of Steampunk jewelry around now. Can you explain where that concept came from and more of what it's all about? Thanks! "
Steampunk necklace~ pearls, cogs, rhinestone, copper wire wrapped
This is an EXCELLENT question and a great topic for this blog.  Thank you SarasinArt!
I went out on a search last evening to find a true definition of what "steampunk" really is.  There are a lot of references out there to explain it but I am choosing to quote the article "Steampunk 101" from as my definition reference.  They refer to steampunk as meaning "Victorian science fiction".  They continue on to state "Here “Victorian” is not meant to indicate a specific culture, but rather references a time period and an aesthetic: the industrialized 19th century."
In other words, Victorian clothing, fashion and ideals combined with what then would have been considered futuristic.  Think of combining motorized, steam driven objects with corset, bustles and waistcoats. 
The term itself came about in the late 1980's according to the article. "The term “steampunk” was not coined until the late 1980s, when author K. W. Jeter used it humorously to describe a grouping of stories set in the Victorian period written during a time when near-future cyberpunk was the prevailing form of science fiction."  The article goes into more detail about the associations made with the word "steampunk" and also references items that are often associated with this fashion movement as well as dissecting why they have become so iconic to the movement.  I highly reccommend this article for more in depth detail about all things considered "steampunk".
Now, as for my personal experiences with this movement, I actually have very few.  I was first asked to create some "steampunk" pieces about 4 years back.  A good friend of mine was going to a Convention event in central Minnesota.  My jewelry sales, then hosted on Etsy, were next to non-exsistent at the time and I thought perhaps I could send her some jewelry pieces to wear at Con to spark interest in my jewelry shop online.  She said the types of pieces people at Con would most be interested in would be "steampunk" inspired pieces.  I had no idea what on earth that meant.
After a short stint of research online, I made a run to the hardware store to pick up some nuts and bolts.  I also had some parts from an old microwave I had recently taken apart.  I lashed these together into a pendant and brooch (the pendant is still with me today and is listed in my Artfire Studio).  My friend said the pieces were nice but not quite steampunk.
I continues on in my quest to make steampunk items and have tried MANY different things.  Here's what i have discovered from my experiences.
~Some people prefer gears and cogs on their jewelry that have motion.
~Some people think gears and cogs on anything is great.
~Some people scoff at the idea of putting gears and cogs EVERYWHERE.
So as you can see... it's a subjective thing.  Just like any of type of fashion, steampunk fashion is left entirely up to the person wearing it.  I now subscribe to the steampunk fashion community on livejournal.  I often read posts where the controversy over what is or is not steampunk can get rather heated.  Everyone seems to have their own opinions and views on the matter.  It is essentially, like so many other things, left to interpretation.Steampunk inspired wire wrapped pendant copper & brass
So you see, truly finding things that are "steampunk" is actually quite difficult.  I prefer to think of some of my jewelry pieces as 'steampunk inspired' rather than truly steampunk.  I'll let the discerning participant decide for themselves.

Well SarasinArt, I hope this helped or at least pointed you in the correct direction.  I know it took me a long time to truly understand what is in fact steampunk.  So many people on online selling venues abuse the word to generate more views in their shops.  So, it is a word that can inspire and generate controversy.