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Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Booth Progress

Whenever I make a change to my booth I take some pictures.  They let me stand back and look at what my customers are seeing.  During a busy day, under my tent, I don't always have the time to really analyse the change.

A small piece of the patterned fabric has been used for several months now. It is covering a wooden crate.  The crate serves several purposes.  First, it carrries supplies to my venue, second, it sets on top of the table to add some height to my display, and third, it's laying on it's side with the opening in the back, so it can be used to store my mini office, where I keep receipts, pad, pen, water bottle, etc.

In the past, all of my tables had the black fabric (cheap black sheets from Walmart), as a base, and shear material on the very top, to add some color.  But, I felt like it was boring.  I had some of the patterned material left over, that covers the crate.  So, yesterday I did an experiment and draped it over one of the tables.  I also had a pink rug.  It was an impulse buy from Dollar General.  Without thinking much, because setting up needs to be fast, I tossed it on the table.  It, adds some interest, but I like the way it gave a soild backgroud for the jewely laying on top of the rug.  Then, all the jewelry displays and risers were addeed.

Looking at it now, I want to make another change.  To the far right, (see the top picture), the folding tall filagree stand needs something heavier to be displayed (by the way, it was $2 at a yard sale, and 2 cans of spray paint).  It looks very airy fairy.  I'm thinking, thinking, thinking.  The bottom shelf needs something to catch the eye, perhaps a tall bust with a necklace with matching earrings.  The very top shelf is a bit to hign to display jewelry, so maybe artificial flowers and another Visa/MasterCard sign.

My secret weapon is the stand, that is on the very outer edge of my display, with the stack of small suitcases.  The case contains inexpensive earrings, that I make from a couple of beads (and maybe, beadcaps or a spacer) on a headpin.  Each set is in a tiny ziplock bag.  There is a noticable $9 price sign to catch their eye.  Ladies love to stop and rumage through these earrings.  It makes some of them stop in their tracks.  It makes others want to see what the other ladies are looking at.  When they are looking at these earrings, I gently mention, 'these are 3 pair for $24 and I take credit cards."  This gives us an opportunity to gently interact. Then I smile and walk away, to get out of their space. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

I carry my cash and I-phone (for credit card transactions) in a small plain purse, with a long cross body strap.   There is a tall chair and 3rd table that I can setup whenever I'm at a larger venue or whenever I want to display more jewelry.  Here at the Elkins Farmers Maket, I don't need a chair, because there is a perfect short wall to chill out on (when the traffic slows down, never when there are customers nearby).

You may have noticed, from the pictures, that some of the smaller items are face down - 'Be aware off wind during outdoor events'. :-)

Thank you for visiting my blog.  Have a joyfilled and creative day!
Linda          www.lindasinish.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Patina Removal Experiment

One of my more time consuming processes, in the studio, is removing the excess liver of sulphur.  It's a job I don 't look forward to.  It seems to really take a lot of time out of my day, time that could be used for something more productive or fun.  So I did a little experiment to see if I could come up with a similar result in less time.  I think I've been successful!  If you should decide to try this technique you might want to do a test, just to make sure you like the final outcome.  It's a real bummer to put lots of time and effort into a piece and then destroy it with an experiment.

Left to right:  1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend 
Left to right: 1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend

I'm including several pictures of the same shot, because I'm not a photographer.  It is my hope that several pictures with slightly different lighting and background paper will be helpful in relaying the results.

I normally remove the excess liver of sulphur in one of two ways.  First with the use of 0000 steel wool.  It takes a lot of time, especially when there are dozens of pairs of earrings on the work table.  The second is with a polishing disk on my Dremel.  This technique really gives a shine to the high points, but leaves too much in the tight spaces that the disk can't reach.  So, my quest for an alternative.....

I searched Google for suggestions and just wasn't satisfied.  Then  I remembered a technique I read in 'Making Wire Jewelry' by Helen Clegg and Mary Larom, Lark Books Publishing.  They mention using a non-chlorine abrasive cleanser.  I believe their picture shows Bon Ami.  With no Bon Ami in the house,I reached for my can of Bar Keepers Friend.

Left to right: 1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend

I did 3 batches of the same jewelry item, using a different technique for each batch.
  • First Batch:  Dry steel wool was used (the item on the far left in each picture).
  • Second Batch: A wet tooth brush with Bar Keepers Friend was used (the item in the center of each picture).
  • Third Batch:  A wet cosmetic cloth with Bar Keepers Friend was used (the item on the far right in each picture).

Left to right: 1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend

I was the least impressed with the second batch, where I used a wet toothbrush with Bar Keepers Friend.  I think the finish looks dull and too much of the liver of sulphur was removed.  I believe the toothbrush was too harsh and had an effect on the copper.  I also think the brissels reached into the nooks and crannies and removed too much of the liver of sulphur. I really like to have a bit of the darkness remaining in the nooks and crannies.  I like the contrast.

Left to right: 1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend

The third batch was very quick and easy and the finishing result looks very similar to using the steel wood.

Left to right: 1) Dry steel wool, 2) wet tooth brush and Bar Keepers Friend, 3) wet cosmetic cloth and Bar Keepers Friend

The winner is............ the third batch, using the wet cosmetic cloth with Bar Keepers Friend.  A similar visual look to the traditional steel wool method and a whole lot quicker!

Thank you for letting me share and thank you for visiting.  Have a joy filled and creative day!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Accident

I was excited to received any invitation from Barbara Lewis to join her Facebook page 'Happy Accidents'.  A place where we can post our "happy accidents." They can be anything from our creative life ... jewelry making, gardening, cooking.   So being a team player, my creative sub-conscious set out to have an accident.  This is nothing new!  As much as I strive for perfection, it's not always achieved.

Today I was working on a new link/drop design that I'm using at first in an earring.  Later it will take other paths.  The link/drop is a familiar design, but with some creative tweaks.  There is a gap between the outer and next to the outer path of wire.  The outer path of wire has been hammered and the inner 3 spiral paths have been pushed outward to add dimension; 3 small wrapped drops were added, then everything is oxidized (because I must!) .  Onto the home stretch - you know where I'm going - out comes the steel wool.  I must admit that I was getting really frustrated removing the oxidation from those tiny crystal wraps.

Here's my happy accident!  Magically, one of the tiny crystal wraps managed to sneak it's way up and back over the connector loop, into my hand.  It was saying 'clean me up before putting me on the earring drop!'  What a time saver, stress saver and smile saver.

Have a creative and joy filled day,

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Flower! A Pendant! Oh My!

I have been a fan of wire jewelry artist and author Linda Jones for years.  I have most of her books.  She writes a terrific blog and frequently offers wonderful wire tutorials.  Her most recent free tutorial is a happy flower pendant.  And of course I just had to have a go of it. 

My pendant, as certainly your version will to, has taken on a bit of my own style.  First, with my choice of beads.  As I went searching for the perfect beads, I was immediately drawn to the smaller 4 mm dark purple crystals for the center of the flower.  As the flower started to evolve, I felt it needed some color inside the peddles.  Instead of adding beads down the center of each peddle, I decided on just one bead in the center of each.  I must admit that decision was based on my being tired and seeing these larger 8mm crystals in a lilac color conveniently in front of me.

On the left, Linda Jones in Silver.  On the right, mine in copper
This pendant can be changed up with different colors and types of beads or with the use of different wire. How about using twisted wire? Or bronze wire? Or pearls? There are so many possibilities. Take a look at the silver pendant by Linda Jones. Isn't it lovely! And then mine done in antiqued copper.

Thank you for stopping by, Linda

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Evacuation & Shoppers

I’m (was) writing this blog as a draft on my laptop because I have no Internet service.  There is no electricity, so I have taken a solar light from my garden and it’s lying on my desk.  My windows are open to allow the cool mountain air to make me comfortable, since there is no air conditioning.  My dinner was crackers and peanut butter.   I think I hear someone saying ‘Good night John Boy’. (A few days later, when TV was available I learned this was from a huge and fierce storm that effected OH, WV, PA, MD and VA.)

Today was a day for my memory book.  My tent and I were at the Elkins Antique Car Show.  At noon, the Fire Marshall announced on his bull horn, that everyone needed to evacuate the park.  It’s interesting how my mind reacted to that statement.  It was as if I were dreaming.  I spoke with my friends in nearby tents and asked ‘Did he just say we are to evacuate?   They were as stunned as me.  For a few seconds we all just stood there trying to assimilate what was going on.  Those few seconds (maybe 5 at most) seemed long and dream like.  Finally, my brain accepted it and I finally said ‘why?’, since I had only heard part of the announcement.  The answers varied, but the bottom line was the region had been hard hit by a storm the night before, with winds up to 85 mph.  The winds knocked down trees taking out the electricity.  As a result, the town of Elkins was running out of water because there was no power to purify it.  So the Major made a decision to get people back to their homes.  (I learned later that with the shortage of water, they wanted to avoid an accidental fire in the area.)  Also, the gas pumps are run on electricity.  All of this just paralyzed most of the State of West Virginia.  I’m writing this here in my jewelry blog to let those who haven’t done an outdoor event to be prepared for ‘anything’.

So we packed up our tents, grabbed some food from the vendors and skedaddled home.

Before we were forced to close up shop I overheard some new and interesting comments from the shoppers.  I’ve learned some lessons and thought I’d share.
1)      A shopper said to me while looking at my dragonfly pendant: “Do you have another one of these?” I thought she wanted to compare their look before making a purchase.  So honest me said “Yes, I have one more.  She then turned and walked away.  Lesson – I think she wanted a one of a kind piece and since I had another pendant she wasn’t interested.  In the future I will say “This is the only one like this.”  Not really a lie since each is a bit different.  Secretly, I thought ‘Really!? One of a kind at this price!  But, people are people.  Some are delightful, some are stressful.

2)      Another shopper looked at the $38 price sticker on one of my detailed wire pendants.  With a distorted look on her face and an attitude and tone to her voice, she said to her friend “$38! I can get that at Walmart!  Secretly, I wanted to say “Oh, you want the flea market down at Crystal Springs!”, but, stopped myself and told myself that ‘She’s not my target customer base and it’s good that she moved away from my tent.  I found out later from my friend Jen who makes incredible Lampwork beads that she said the same thing about a pair of her earrings.

3)   A shopper was in love with my new sun catchers.  I couldn’t run her credit card, since there was no internet connection, so she said she would go get cash and be right back.  She never returned.  This was an unavoidable situation, but the lesson is to do everything you can to get them to commit to the sale, because they won’t return, for whatever their reason.  Next time I’ll be prepared with “I can take your check!”

One final observation that I think really effected my sales.  The weather was HOT and HUMID!  I really think this has a huge impact on shoppers moods and actions.  I had a lot of people look, touch and have positive comments about my gemstone pendants.  They typically sell quickly for me.  But, not one was sold.  Either the weather or the circumstances from the recent storm, something was bugging my customers.

The power has been restored to my area and I'm back in my air condioning...la la la la la.
Have a creative, joyfilled and cool day.
Thank you for stopping by, Linda