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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends.  My wish for you is a joy filled and healthy life, filled with prosperity, and many loving, supportive friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Are You Stuck In Your Box !!! ???

Maybe it's time to think outside 'your' box.

Is it time to change the medium that you use to create?, i.e., from wire, canvas or fiber to mixed media, from 2 dimension to 3 dimension or 3 dimension to 2 dimension.

How about changing the foundation on what you create?, i.e. from a metal base to a glass base, a canvas base to a metal or slate base, a wire base to a paper base?

Do you have a co-dependent relationship with your medium!?

INSERT PICTURE OF FORTUNE TELLER caption:  No!  Not that type of medium!

Put the fear of change on the end table (You can always pick it up again.)  Be a warrior and pick up a new medium!

INSERT A PICTURE OF MY METAL JEWELRY or warrior picking up a fortune teller.

We have a priority and a necessities in this physical life in-order to thrive.  We must have food in our tummies, gas in our vehicles and shelter over our bodies.  That takes money.

It's really lovely when our art form makes enough money to cover all of those necessities, but typically our money must be supplemented.  That usually means working for the 'man' until the art starts to sell consistently.

What if it doesn't sell?  That's when we must think and create something outside of our box!

If your art or craft isn't producing the results or sales that you expect and desire, then why not try to think and act differently.  It's doesn't mean you can't come back to your box.  It doesn't mean that you aren't talented.

If you want people to buy your art or craft you need to give them what they want to buy.

It's sad to the point of depressing when an artist or artisan creates what they believe to be the most wonderful piece of work they have ever seen and then it doesn't sell.  The series or collection of art grows old, dusty and distressed in some untouched storage space.


This sad and depressing mentality that forms inside the artist or artisan will breed more and more sadness and depression.  This cycle can and must be stopped!  It will show up in your art form, your relationships, your bank balance!  It can be changed into happiness.  But, the ego and stubbornness needs to be set aside, even if only for a temporary period of time.  Remind yourself that you can always go back to your original art form.

How HORRIFIC would it be if I had to stop making jewelry because it no one would buy it!  What if I had to change my medium and paint little inspirational sayings on pieces of slate with a cord to hang on the wall?Could I do that?  YES!  Would I do that?  YES!  Would I eventually go back to making jewelry?  YES!

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Art & Craft Fairs & A New Design

I'll start this post with some jewelry and on a positive note.  Later I'll balance this blog with some reality about 2 recent shows.

So the title of this post says 'a new design' and for those who read my blog you know very well that my dragonfly pendant has been buzzing around my studio for years.  The design is new because one of my lovely customers wanted dragonfly earrings to match the pendant, as a gift for her daughter. Motivation or inspiration comes in many forms and frequently it's a request from another human. These were a challenge and I fretted for days. Tiny wings that need to be gently hammered.  The first 2 went into the trash.  Then I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked, took a break from my work table and came back and conquered the design.

Loading my Honda CRV for a show is a challenge.  Heavy stuff on the bottom, cover to cushion and more on top.  And yes, I had to do this on my own.  Whinnnnne!

During November, I participated in 2 shows.  Neither were what I would call successful.  Al tho, I did make a profit at both shows.  The profits were minimal and quite frankly not worth repeating next year. However, this is how you learn about shows and which to repeat and which to avoid in the future.

On November 1st, I did a very well run and juried show.  I was assigned a great location with awesome lighting.  To make it even better, the stain glass artist and her husband next to me made these two days so much fun and very bearable.

November 1st show.  Almost set up.  More displays and jewelry will be installed the next day.  I need to add several inches of trim to my table covers to cover the new additions of bed risers.  

The show was run and organized by the Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild.  They have very strict guidelines.  I was honored to be juried in and then accepted into their shows.

Starting to set up at the Nov. 8th show.  My new folding shelves have arrived (right center).  This is their maiden voyage.

The November 1st show has been held for many years in a large recreational center and has a wonderful reputation and a large number of repeat customers.  There were many people, many compliments and many smiles, but not so many wallets opening.  I think the reason for low sales was the date it was held.  It started on the day following Halloween, so people still had that holiday in their heads and simply were not in the Christmas gift buying mode.

Set up at the November 8th show.  The folks behind me were trying to inch some space from me.  No I didn't allow it.

I made a small profit.  But not enough to warrant all of the time and efforts of getting the booth together, the driving, the setup, the days on my feet, the breakdown of the booth and the putting it away time.  Add that to the time to make and create and I didn't make minimum wage.  I didn't secure any future leads.  I did however learn a lot.  If I'm in a residential area I must consider that this type of shopper needs to be in the mood!  There were several wonderful customers that recognized my style and skill were a rare find and they took advantage and bought many items.  For this I am truly grateful, for the sales and for the validation.  When sales are stopped or slow I immediately think I'm doing something wrong.  In reality it comes back to what I have often written about.....It depends on what's going on in the mental and emotional bodies of the public.

Here's the left table.  One of my new folding book shelves on the left has my cover design from Step by Step Wire Magazine.  Then, my folding pendant display.  I recently changed the back felt from black to teal to bring the energy up a notch.

The second show was such a disappointment and again lessons were learned.  And, again, this 1 day show was saved by my having 2 very awesome booths near me.  We lifted each others spirits.  This second fair was sponsored by the Vienna Women's Club.  They have being doing this show for 40 or 50 years at the Vienna Community Center.  But, it would appear that their style is now outdated and the public is very aware and stayed away.

Here's the right table.  One of my mannequins flanks each table to draw attention from across the room.  There's the other new folding shelf unit and the folding earring display.  Yes, that's a teal colored Christmas tree.  I couldn't resist it!

The lesson.....Just because the show has been going on for 50 years doesn't make it logical or profitable.  I should have heeded the word bazaar.  That word means there are a lot of buy-sell vendors.  The traffic was slow.  I believe it's because the local customers have come to expect higher quality vendors and with experience have learned to stay clear of this event.

My next and final show is on Thanksgiving weekend.  Yes, it's 3 days!  This is the longest show I've done.  It is predicted to be awesome.  It is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild and all artists and artisans are juried members.  This show has a positive 40 year plus history and will occupy all 3 levels of the Vienna Community Center.  I have a few things to tweak in the next few days, but basically I'm ready.  I will blog about this show, but it might takes me a few days to rest and zone out afterwards.

Thank you for hanging out with me and reading along.

Have a joy filled and creative day!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Experiment in the Lab, aka Studio

I've been slammed making inventory for the up and coming Christmas fairs.  Typically, I will make 6 to 12 reproductions of some of my favorite sellers.  That means I can become bored!  But, a gals gotta' eat!

I took a break from my factory assembly line and started to experiment with an idea that flashed in my mind, to create this pendant.  There were detours and changes along the way, as well as an improvement was discovered for the next version of this design. I'll write about the improvement toward the end of this post.

Originally I was going to surround a flat coin bead with a circle of chaos curls.  When I went to pick out a coin bead I couldn't resist this rose colored agate heart.

Front of raw form. I created a long piece of chaos curls and started to form it into a circle.  The wire was resisting (Let's face it, I was in a funky mood.), so I let it take it's own form.

Back of raw form.  I hammered the entire form to work harden the wire.

Here I have added the heart agate with a piece wire.

The back after the heart was wired into place

After it has liver of sulfur applied

The back getting ready to be buffed

After the steel wool has removed  the top layer of liver of sulfur

The back after using the steel wool

Now for the tweaking for a future piece with this design.  I don't like the way the stone just sits on top of the wire form.  I would like the wire to 'hug' the stone.  The next version will have more chaos curls to give the form some depth and allow it to come up and nest around the bead.  This will also add some additional strength to the wire.  This original version is okay, but I'd like for it to feel a bit more stable.  I will put this pendant into the tumbler to hopefully harden the wire a bit more than the hammer did in the beginning.

Yes, I like it.  Now to see if a customer will like it enough to adopt it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.

Have a joy filled and creative day!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cover Girl!!!

No!  Not me!  Well, maybe a future AARP cover girl.  In the meantime, my 'Circle of Love' pendant has been published and made the cover of the October/November 2014 edition of Step by Step Wire. Another of my goals has been achieved.

Once, my submission was accepted, I kept it a secret.  I just don't know the ropes of being published and I thought perhaps something could take a priority over my space in the magazine. Then I received the 'hint' that I 'might' make the cover.  I tried to control my excitement.  It was all I could do to keep from blogging immediately.  But, as a precaution I put some duct tape on my mouth.

I went to the Post Office to check my box.  There was a large envelope with a return address that I didn't recognize.  I thought 'Someone is trying to sell me insurance again!'.  So, I decided to open it immediately, planning on putting the advertising into the paper recycling can.  Gasp!  There was an exciting sound that escaped my mouth. There in my hands was my personal copy of Step By Step Wire magazine with my pendant saying 'smile!"

And, I am sharing this publication with the best of the best!  The creme de la creme of wire jewelry talent!  In the picture above, on the upper right corner, is a design by Cindy Wimmer, Step By Step Wire 2014 Featured Artist and author of The Missing Link, a very awesome book that every wire artisan should have in their library. As of today it's on sale for $13.77 - HURRY!  This is a deal!

What's next for me?  

Well, first, I'm going to go make some of the other tutorials in this publication! There are so many talented artisans and tutorials to choose:  Abbi Berta, Elizabeth Girod, Kylie Jones, Becky Nunn, Bobbi Maw, Diana Ptaszynski, Daleann Stark, Christine Wilson, Cindy Wimmer, and Lilian Chen.

Now, that I'm more confident with publishing, I'll let you in on another secret.  I have another tutorial that's been accepted and it is scheduled for the February/March 2015 issue of Step By Step Wire.

Thank you for reading along with me.  Have a joy filled and creative day!


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bohemian Earrings

I have just completed my first bohemian style pair of earrings.  These were adapted from a tutorial I found on Youtube via Pinterest by Melinda Orr.  Thank you Melinda!  Here's the link to her video Melinda Orr tutorial.

 I haven't made a pair of earrings this large - ever!  They measure 2 3/4" L x 1 3/8" W. These were a bit difficult for me, not the technique but the design, since it's out of my comfort zone.  But, I decided it was time to challenge myself and step outside of my design box. Once my earrings were completed it was clear that I did something different than Melinda's instructions.

 First, I placed the large mandrel of the large step plier on the wrong spot of the wire frame.  Yes, it makes a difference.  My next pair will be better.

I'm not sure what size beads Melinda used.  I thought they were 4mm so that's what I used, but at reviewing her video I'm thinking she may have used 6mm.

And, then, for some reason I thought she hammered the drop loop, but that's not the case.   And, my earwire looks oddly large and I believe it's because I didn't make my frame as wide as she instructed. 

The real error is the location of my cut ends. Oh, my!  I know better!  I must have been in la la land. I'll take these earrings back to the work table and trim the wire ends and hide them to the back of the design.

All in all, I like these earrings and plan on keeping them for myself.  I think they will look great with my hair down, my long jean skirt and tall boots.  Fall is near.  Maybe, I'll post a future blog with this pair compared to the actual design.

Thank you for reading along as I critiqued my first attempt at a new style.

Have a joy filled and creative day.


A Gal's Gotta' Eat!

I always want to make a piece of art jewelry.  It doesn't matter how much it costs or if it will sell.  I want it to be awesome!  But, I also make jewelry as a business.  A business has a goal.....profit.  I know!  It's an ugly word, but it is what it is.

As an art business I have a business plan.  That plan includes goals.  I may want to ignore goals, but the truth of the matter is..... I'm not 12 years old coloring in mom's kitchen.  Insert pouty face!

My first goal:  Is to make a piece that I want to make.  Something that gives me pleasure and fun in the process of creating it.

My second goal:  Is for the piece to be unique, interesting and desirable.

Lost leader is a technique

So, that's brings me to the task of making multiples of the same Christmas earrings.  Don't wanna', but gotta'. Along side of those earrings will be unique, one of a kind, priced much higher, awesome Christmas earrings! And maybe, hopefully, fingers crossed, someone will buy them. YES!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sell More Stuff by Using Enticing Merchandising

For the longest time I have known that my jewelry doesn't sell itself.  I've know that my booth and it's display should be enticing.  Mostly, because I like my own home to be attractive.  Recently I have decided to explore this more.  I wanted to know how and what visual displays can help my business.

It turns out that beautiful, well made, priced well jewelry isn't always enough.  Hmmm!

Enter 'Merchandising'.

Wiki says:

'In the broadest sense, merchandising is any practice which contributes to the sale of products to a retail consumer. At a retail in-store level, merchandising refers to the variety of products available for sale and the display of those products in such a way that it stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase.
In retail commerce, visual display merchandising means merchandise sales using product design, selection, packagingpricing, and display that stimulates consumers to spend more. This includes disciplines and discounting, physical presentation of products and displays, and the decisions about which products should be presented to which customers at what time.'
In my quest of course I went to my friends at 'Google' and found this awesome link.
Here the writer has done a lot of work for us with a list of 14 Tips `no one seems to want.  Pop over to this article for ideas to help it sell.  By the way! Apparently I've been doing it wrong by grouping the unsellables together.  They should be highlighted with great stuff surrounding it.  Now that makes sense to me.  I can hear 'Oh, look at that beautiful piece at (insert high price).  But I can't afford it, but I can get this piece (insert unsellable).  So I'll try it and see what happens.
#5 Display Appeal (leave space between displays) and #7 Natural Props (get rid of (artificial flowers) are of interest to me.  I currently use 3 huge turquoise colored daisies.  They draw the eye to the booth, they receive comments,  Could this writer be wrong?  I must put on my thinking cap.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Getting Into The Mind Of The Buyer

Notice in the title I said buyer and not shopper. I think shoppers are just walking around looking and chatting with no intention of spending any money.  Very much, like going to an art gallery where you are admiring the art on the walls or pedestals. They simply need something to do.  So they go out to where the people are and look around.  That's nice.  I've done it.  But, it doesn't help me the seller.  Notice I said seller and not artist, artisan, crafter or maker of things.

This heart is inspired by the talented Mary-Anne Harvey  I adore her wire designs! 

The buyer is my audience.  They have a mission.  They have a budget.  They have a goal to go away with something new.  There intention is to spend money.

I love my wire and the techniques I've learned and some would say have mastered.  But, I must put my love of wire to the side when selling.  Crazy, huh!  Because the buyer will ouuu and ahhh out loud about the color of the bead, stone or crystal.  That item that I bought in bulk because it works with my wire or metal design. Good gracious!  Of course, it's not like that all of the time.  There are buyers that gravitate to my all wire or metal jewelry.  They see the techniques and love the mystery behind how on earth did I get the wire to do that!  And that buyer will spend their money to wear something that they consider art and a conversation piece.  But, there are a bunch of buyers that just don't see the wire or metal.  They don't see it!  It's not there!"  They just see the brilliant color in the 'accent piece' of the wire.

This is true for myself.  How dare I!!!  Yep!  I've done it!  I was making some pendants and fell in love with this pink agate.  Not the wire!  The pink agate! Not the way I made a double wire bail, or the fat wrap at the top, or those evenly spaced spirals down the face of the agate, not the balance of the piece, or that perfect open spiral, just the in my face lovely pink agate.

This weekend is the International Gem Show and I'll be more aware than ever of what my buyers are magically drawn.

Have a joy filled and creative day!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Swirly Curls Technique is Alive!

A design that started out as an earring has morphed into a pendant.

The other day I received another download of creativity.  This design popped into my thoughts.  Quick!  Get the wire and tools!  And, so I did just that, since those type of creative thoughts are like dreams and are very quick to leave and be forgotten.  I set about making a single earring proto type.  I've learned to make a single earring to start, because sometimes what's in my mind doesn't look as attractive in reality.

My single earring will be turned into a child's pendant for my Great Niece.

The lesson here is I just could not get the swirly curls technique to be a twin.  Not even close.  I even took to the long process of picking up a set of wires and making a swirl, putting it down, then picking up the other and made a swirl and continued back and forth.  Well, that was painfully long, but it did produce a close match.  However, this technique requires me to squish all of the swirly curls together into a compact form. Did you know that wire is alive!? It certainly seems like it at times.  I squished the swirls on one element to form my shape, but the second element decided to have a unique result.  Grrrr!  Now, I like this sort of thing and some of my friends and customers like it.  But, honestly there are so many people out there that must have things matchy-matchy. Even if I practiced and got the element close in appearance, I don't think it's worth the time.  So it became larger and better.  It birthed a pendant.

I will be making more of these pendants with different color crystals for the coming holiday art and craft fairs. I'm thinking of antiqued sterling silver with a red tear drop crystal!  Oh! Yeah!

Thank you for visitng and reading my blog.

Have a joy filled and creative day!

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nile Corp Has a New Storage Cabinet for Beads, Findings, Etc.

I just got an e-mail from Nile Corp about a new cabinet they are selling and it looks perfect.  I plan on ordering one.  Who am I fooling?  I'll need more than one. I'll let you know what I think about the actual cabinet once I have it. I've included a link below in case you want to check it out.

The pictures are blurry from my attempt to enlarge them from their ad. They come in two colors and they need to be assembled.  But, we jewelers know how to use tools, so it shouldn't be a problem to get them together.  The trays aren't included, but The Nile sells them for a reasonable price.

I'm hoping this cabinet will help to make things more organized, as well as save some space.  I need to measure, but they just might fit under my work table.  Right now I'm using a lot of plastic binds and boxes on tall metal racks.  They are as shallow as I could find, but I still find myself looking under several layers of plastic bags.  Maybe this cabinet will help me know what I have and find it quicker.  Or better yet help me to avoid buying a duplicate item.  Here's the link to The Nile Corporation jewelry tray storage cabinet. It costs $33.65 plus shipping.

I hope this information is of value to you.  Thank you for reading along. 

Have a joy filled and creative day!
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Swirly Curly Wire Technique And Sore Fingers

Ah, yes!  Very sore fingers, but I love, love, love the results that have been created from a brand new technique that I have added to my arsenal.  A huge shout out to Mary-Anne Harvey for her enormous generosity with sharing this technique to the world.  Mary-Anne is the first to tell you that she didn't create this technique.  I don't think anyone knows who the creative genius is behind this technique. However, we are thankful.  Mary-Anne has provided some pictures and guidance to give anyone the opportunity to learn and use this technique.  Some folks call it the chaos technique.  I like to call it the swirly curly.  Be aware, that this technique is contagious and some sore fingers may result, since no tools are used. Please check out Mary-Anne Harvey's work on her Facebook page. Click here to go to her Facebook page or go to Facebook and put Rug N Annie in the search box and enjoy her beautiful work.

Compared to Mary-Anne, I am a novice with this technique.  Never the less, I have used it for a few new pieces and my goal is to get better and better.  The latest is a heart pendant that is now listed in my Etsy shop.  But, why not make your own, if you do wire work.  Just follow Mary-Anne's guidance.  Here's the link:  Tutorial by Mary-Anne Harvey

Thank you for stopping by and reading my latest adventure in the studio.

Have a joy filled and creative day!

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

A New Technique

This morning started off like any other.  I gathered my first cup of coffee and received a text message that my house friends were going out early.  That's my clue that I can use the hammer inside the house.  My hammering can be annoying to those within ear shot, so I usually go outside.

I gathered my idea and materials and began a long over due project.  My friend Cindy was very generous and gave me some alphabet and number stamps.  She also requested that I practice using them while making her a bracelet.

I'm so darn fugal and didn't want to practice on an actual bracelet blank, so I cut a few pieces of metal from some scrap copper.  From the videos that I've watched, you're supposed to hit each stamp a single time.  I must not have enough force in my hammer swing because I found it necessary to whack away at least 5 times.  A learning curve I guess.

After I did a bit of practice on the scrap metal I did some measuring to get my words in some sort of alignment.  I was imagining running out of space on the bracelet blank, or being lop sided.

While stamping the letters, the metal decided to curve.  It became increasingly more difficult to hammer with the metal on this angle.

I turned the curved metal over and began to hammer it flat.  I used the regular hammer and not the rawhide hammer (duh!).  This caused some marks in the metal, luckily on the edge.  So I went with the mark and continued it as an artistic element.  Then I trimmed the metal to curve the corners.

Time for some serious sanding.

Now for more sanding with a lighter grit.

Sanding, sanding, sanding

Now I 'thought' I was ready to shape the bracelet into a cuff.  - WRONG !!

Yeah, this dummy forgot to anneal the metal.  The metal had gotten really hard during all that hammering, so it made it impossible to curve.  Insert panic!

I toted the materials outside where I fired up the torch and annealed (softened) the metal.

I flattened the soften metal with the rawhide hammer.


I'm diggin' the colors that the flame left in the metal.  I could remove it if I had pickle, but pickle hasn't made it to my studio.  (I need to shop.  Don't laugh, but I don't know what pickle looks like or where to buy it!) Originally, I was thinking I would use liver of sulfur, but now it looks like this is the finished color.

Here she is.  She needs a coat of Renaissance wax to keep the colors from changing.  The Ren wax is hiding from me somewhere in the studio.) Then I want to put her in the tumbler to harden the metal.  It's still a bit soft.

I am now storing my jewelry in air tight bags to keep the patina from changing.  I am using a small hand held food vacuum sealer and their specially designed zipper bags.  I just put the little hand held vacuum over the 'spot' and it removes the air inside the bag.  Since it's a zipper type bag, I can open and remove jewelry and then reseal it with the vacuum.

The bottom line is I'm okay with the results of this cuff.  I can do better!  I think I prefer to do chemical embossing.  I think the letter stamps are a definite asset to the studio, but in specific applications.  At least that's what I think now.  I've been known to change my mind.  Giggle!

Thank you for stopping by and reading along.

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