Monday, February 28, 2011

Collecting: Why Do We Do It?

They say the first step is to admit you have a problem.  Well, here goes.....I AM A COLLECTOR!  Yes, it's true.  Over the years, I've collected dolls, Xmas ornaments, fabric, yarn, beads, books, glassware, china get the idea.  Somewhere along the way, a good portion of those things I loved have become a huge weight around my neck.  A lot of the stuff has been packed away in boxes for years.  I don't even remember half of what is taking up space in the storage room and closets throughout my house.  I'm not enjoying any of it!  Does that make any sense to you?  Why do I keep it all?

I think the urge to collect goes back to our ancient ancestors who had to collect things to help them survive long enough to have offspring and guarantee the survival of human beings as a species.  Okay, we survived, so why do we continue to have the urge to collect?  Here are some of my thoughts on that.....

1. To acquire knowledge and learning

2. As a form of relaxation and stress reduction, an escape from our hectic lives

3. For personal pleasure, including appreciation of beauty and pride of ownership

4. For the fellowship and social interaction with other collectors and non-collectors

5. A competitive challenge, the urge to have the most and the best

6. Recognition by fellow collectors and perhaps even non-collectors, a status symbol

7. Altruism, since many great collections are ultimately donated to museums and learning institutions

8. The desire to control, possess and bring order to a small corner of the world

9. Nostalgia and/or a connection to our history

10. Accumulation and diversification of wealth, which can ultimately provide a measure of security and freedom

There has to come a point when enough is enough though, right?  I think I've reached that point.  So, what now?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Creative Block: Strategies To Overcome It

Staying creative is hard work.  But sometimes, there seems to be a wall between me and my creative self.  This week is a prime example of that strange phenomenon in action.  So what can you do when 'creative block' strikes?  I've learned some strategies that can help and thought I would share them with you, gentle readers.  And maybe, just maybe, I can apply them myself and knock my own wall down in the process.

1. Dont sweat it. Do something else. Dont try to force it.

2. Go for a walk, a swim or a workout. Do something physical, to take your mind off of it, and to get the oxygen flowing back into your brain and body.

3. Check your inner self to see if you have been getting enough sleep, enough rest, enough vitamins and nutrition through a healthy diet.

4. Practice deep breathing or meditation.  Try to release the stress and open up the channels again to receive the creative force.

5. Create in a different medium. Switch directions. If you are a fashion designer move to painting to be inspired. If you are a writer, get your camera and go outdoors & take pictures.

6. Change your subject matter. Work on something else for awhile. Choose something of a completely different topic or pick something that you know nothing about. Stretch your brain in a different direction.

7. Stop being so responsible. Stop being perfectionistic. Even if only for a moment, or a day. You need to give it a rest sometimes.

8. Go out and have some fun! Fun is an amazing creativity energizer and motivator.  By being distracted from your deadline or project for awhile, you'll be amazed what new inspiration will show up.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Test Marketing New Products

According to Wikipedia, test marketing is a small-scale product launch used to determine the likely acceptance of the product when it is introduced into a wider market.  This is a practice I highly recommend.  Items that I thought would be wildly popular because I liked them and was having fun making them have been sitting in my inventory for two years and are destined to be taken apart this year so their components can be used in new projects.

Believe me, there is great value in testing the viability of a product before spending lots of time and money developing it.  Many a company have gone under quickly by not employing this strategy.  You want to make absolutely sure that your product is something people want to buy.  It's a fact that four out of five new products fail to catch on and sell.

Your test market should not be too limited.  Some items don't budge at one event but will fly off the table at the next.  I typically carry a product for a year and if there is no significant movement, I re-evaluate whether I want to give it a second year.  Many items never make it to the second year.  I'm not going to give valuable display space to something that is not selling.

Online aution sites could be an inexpensive way to test market products also.  Ebay & Etsy are the main ones that come to mind but there are many others, possibly some more focussed on the type of product you are creating.  iCraft is a Canadian site similar to Etsy and ArtFire is another such auction site.

I've had some real lemons in the last couple of years....treasure necklaces, pocket meditation beads and tri-bead pendants created with beautiful lampwork beads made by Canadian artists.  Last year, I carried pewter pins & pendants in pagan & Celtic designs that did not catch on either.

There are a number of reasons some products just don't work out....the cost might be prohibitive, the idea is too different for people to accept, a design flaw, etc.  I cut my losses, learn from my mistakes, and move on to newer, better things!  And there are plenty of new products and designs coming in 2011!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Have a Dream

Perhaps the word 'dream' is a bit too ethereal for my purpose here.  A better word might be 'goal'.  Yes.....I have a goal.  The goal is to build my company, Jasper Moon, into a viable entity that will provide me with plenty of income in my retirement years.

How that dream or goal will ultimately manifest itself (a retail gift boutique, a thriving online business, or as a wholesaler of handmade creations) is not important right now.  As long as I stay focussed on the end result and take small achievable steps toward it each day, I know it will happen.

To keep me from getting too overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it, I have started a flow chart to break it down into more digestable bites.  At the very top is Jasper Moon, with my logo flanked by two big dollar signs.  Below that are the major steps needed to reach the end result desired.  Underneath that are the minor steps that have to be achieved to reach the major goals.  Next comes the yearly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks required to get me closer to the realization of my dream.

The most important component in the whole process is to keep on believing.  In the words of Napoleon Hill, a twentieth century author of personal/success principles, 'Anything that the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.'  I choose to believe.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Vendor Profile: Stick To The Story

Stick To The Story is a collaboration between a husband & wife team, Dave & Victoria.  He creates one-of-a-kind walking sticks using the distinct shape of the wood and treasures of nature as inspiration.  Only by grasping one, Dave says, will you understand its purpose and if it was meant for you.

Inspired by her husband's work, Victoria began writing a story for each staff.  These tales will enhance your understanding of the walking sticks, and the journeys they were meant for.  Any divine guidance given during the creation of the stick is included in the story.

According to one satisfied customer, the stories enhance the sticks, give them a background and make them seem like they're already a friend to you.  In her words, 'The couple selling them makes you feel like, instead of walking into their booth, you are walking into their home. You're not their customer, you're their guest. And it's almost as if you're adopting the stick, not purchasing it, that's what the story does for them.'  She loves her walking stick and the story.

Buyers of unique items are not looking exclusively to buy a 'thing'. They are buying a story to tell others.  You can describe your item in bland terms and people may still buy it.  They can still tell the story of finding a one-of-a-kind item but if the story stops there, the value ends there because the story is nothing special.  That ultimately limits how much you can sell, and at what price.  Bottom line....stories sell products.  Dave & Victoria are employing one of the most effective marketing tools around. 

To see more of their work and to find out where you can get your own unique walking stick, check out their Facebook page...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Three Keys to Success

There are three important keys to success...

1. Being in the right place at the right time.
2. Recognizing that you are there.
3. Taking the action you are inspired to.

Let me illustrate with an example from my own life. 

Two years ago, we were at a week long, outdoor event close to Ottawa.  It was the first time we'd ever attended this particular event, and because we were late arriving, our vending booth was set up way in the back away from the main traffic flow.  We were not particularly busy and had time on our hands.  Luckily, we always bring projects to work on for just such occasions.

I'd had this idea percolating in my head for make Tree of Life pendants...and had brought all the necessary supplies to put a few of them together if I had the time & the inspiration.  It turns out that I had plenty of both.  I was quite impressed with how well the first one turned out and promptly put it in a display box & into the jewelry case on the table.

The very next person who walked by, saw it, loved it and purchased it!  And before I had time to complete the second one, someone else rushed up and asked us if we were the ones selling the handmade Tree of Life pendants.  Her friend had purchased the first one and she had hurried over to get one too. 

Unfortunately, I'd only taken enough supplies to make seven trees.  I could have sold twice that many, or more.  The design has evolved since those original trees, but the Tree of Life pendants are still one of my best sellers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jewelry Design: What Comes First?

You've all heard that age-old, unanswerable question, 'What comes first, the chicken or the egg?'  In relation to jewelry designers, what comes first; the materials, findings & focal pendant/bead or the concept/idea of what you want to create?

After conversing with several other jewelry designers I've come to a conclusion; the creative process is as individual as the people conceiving them.  Personally, I'm inspired most often by the work of others, seen online or in magazines.  I begin by modelling a feature in their design that appeals to me and incorporate it into my piece, adding my own special touches & unique flair.  The end result rarely looks like the original inspiration but it 'is' what gets the creative process flowing for me.

The difficulty that I experience in bringing some of my concepts to fruition is finding the bits & pieces that I am envisioning in my head or have seen online.  It's frustrating and sad that a lot of those design ideas die on the drawing board for that reason.  Unfortunately, for the most part, buying beads & findings internationally is rarely cost effective and one of my main aims is to keep my pieces affordable.  Also, since I am very tactile by nature, I need to touch & feel the components I want to use before I buy them.

Other designers can find a special focal bead or pendant and build a whole collection around it!  They get inspiration from the symbolism & meaning of gemstone beads and create their pieces from there.  That is where the creative process generally begins for them and I admit that it does happen for me sometimes.  Prayer beads especially lend themselves to design by symbolism.  For example, my Tree of Life prayer beads use colour & the tree pendant to represent/symbolize the four seasons and the cycle of life.

So, after pondering & examining this question for several days, I still don't know what comes first, the chicken or the egg.  Maybe it doesn't really matter.  There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to design jewelery.  It's an expression of the individuality of the creator and that, in & of itself, makes each piece special.  *smile*

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Birthstone: Amethyst

This magnificent gemstone ranges in color from deep purple to pale lavender depending on the presence of manganese and iron.  It traditionally adorned the robes and crowns of rich & powerful monarchs because purple is the color associated with wealth and prosperity.

Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote that amethyst holds the power to dissolve evil thoughts and activate one's intelligence. It is often used during meditation to provide an overall sense of spiritual balance. It is also thought to evoke feelings of serenity and calmness in those who  wear it.  This popular gemstone has been venerated as a symbol of peace and unification in many cultures around the world. 

Some naturopaths will use amethyst to help treat insomnia and sugar imbalances, and to relieve headaches.  Healers have been using amethyst to increase their psychic abilities and intuition for centuries.  It is believed to help fight addictions of all kinds.

Amethyst is a naturally-occurring, macrocrystalline variety of quartz. Geodes containing amethyst crystals are formed when clay, silt, sand or gravel are deposited and compacted by running water. Some of the largest amethyst geodes have been found in Brazil. Other locations where amethyst is found include Sri Lanka, India, Uruguay, Germany, Madagascar, Australia, Mexico, Africa, Russia, Canada and the United States.

The abundance of amethyst makes it an affordable choice for jewelry makers.  It is available as beads in a variety of shapes & sizes, gemstone chips and faceted stones; something for any of your creative projects.  Amethyst is one of my favourite gemstones!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Steampunk Jewelry

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that became popular during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used, typically the 19th century and usually Victorian era Britain, that incorporates prominent elements of science fiction or fantasy.  Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology (chronologically out of place) or futuristic innovations as Victorians might have envisioned them; in other words, they are based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, art, etc. 

Steampunk jewelry is designed to reflect the culture and fashions of that subculture. Like other non-mainstream movements, steampunk places great importance on the value of beauty that reflects unusual or antiquated ideals. The jewelry is often bold and aggressive in appearance, but usually attempts to retain at least a hint of femininity.  It seeks to reflect strength while still appearing feminine and intelligent.

Jasper Moon will jump onto the steampunk bandwagon this year and be test marketing a few products made by a local artisan.  This steampunk butterfly pendant will be one of the offerings.  What do you think?

Steampunk jewelry is usually handmade and almost never mass-produced. Clock parts are often used in the construction of individual pieces. Old-fashioned keys are also very popular, as are antique bits & pieces, such as pill cases, thread cutters and tiny knives.  In order to reflect an antique feel, steampunk avoids the use of bright, bold colours. Instead, favoured colours are brass, bronze, copper and dark silvers such as gunmetal, brushed aluminum and titanium. Black and white are not popular; ecru, rich browns and shades of gray are much more common.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What are Komboloi?

Komboloi or Greek worry beads are an instrument of relaxation and stress management.  Like most Greek folk art, the history of komboloi is confused. Some claim that they are a 20th century addition to mainland Greek culture, arriving only seventy or eighty years ago and quickly achieving fashionable status among all classes.

It is believed that they have a more ancient history though and are a mimicry of Turkish prayer bead strands, adopted by persecuted Greeks to mock their captors in the 11th - 13th centuries AD. Still another theory suggests that the Turkish conquerors forbade their Greek subjects to shake hands, and the beads were introduced as a way of reminding Greeks to not shake hands. Others assert that they are derived from the knotted prayer strands (komboskini) used by Greek Orthodox monks. As the word komboloi means 'group of knots', this may be the true origin.

Until recently, komboloi were the only used by men, and were rarely seen in the hands of women. But now, as they go beyond cultural tradition they have become a fashion accessory, with both men and women carrying them.  Beautifully crafted strands are appearing in fine jewelry stores, and older strands are becoming prized collector items.

Traditionally, worry beads have a multiple of 4 plus 1 beads, so 17, 21 or 25 beads, with one larger 'shield' bead and are usually, but not always, adorned with a tassel. They can be strung on leather, string, or fine metal chain. Although they can be made of any type of bead, organic beads like amber or coral thought to be more pleasant to handle than non-organic materials such as glass, metal or minerals.

Please understand that worry beads do not have any intrinsic religious significance. Whatever their original purpose was, today they are simply a fidget toy of Greek origin, so pull them out when you are waiting in line, travelling on an airplane, anxious about something, or stressed out & need to relax.  Fiddle away the stress, anxiety and boredom.  Doesn't that feel better?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vendor Profile: Country Rune

I have met so many wonderful vendors who have become friends in the last couple of years that I want to share some of their work with you over the next few weeks.  Let me introduce you to Rose and her company, Country Rune.

Rose and I met at the Kaleidoscope Gathering, an annual non-denominational Pagan camping event, at the Whispering Pines campground 80 km. east of Ottawa in 2009.  She was in vendor's row selling her wares, just like we were.  The product line of her company, includes Runes (the alphabet of the Celtic, Germanic and Viking tribes that, as well as being used for spelling words, can be used for divination) and copper jewelry.

Wood burning has been a passion of hers for years.  She tells me that the smell of the wood burning is very relaxing for her!! 

She started with a simple wood burner creating Runes from reclaimed wood (see above).  She later upgraded the wood burner and started making coasters & plaques, creating images that followed the patterns of the wood grain.  Next came the visits to thrift stores looking for wooden products to enhance with pictures of nature...birds, dragonflies & flowers.

When she started having issues with her feet, she began creating copper, chain mail anklets to ease the pain and help her walk.  Nothing she could find commercially fit her properly.  She figured that others would have encountered the same problem, so she decided to make them to sell also.  Now, her jewelry line includes not only anklets, but bracelets and necklaces as well.

You can see more of her work and contact her from the Country Rune page on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Going Camping This Weekend

Now, before you think I've totally lost my mind, read on.  We'll be camping inside a large, 2 acre warehouse in Barrie, ON for an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event called "St. Valentine's Day Massacre".  The SCA, founded in 1966, is an international living history group with the aim of studying and re-creating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century.

There's going to be fighting, fencing, archery, thrown weapons, Arts & Sciences classes & competition, children's activities, a Silent Auction, presence competition and much more.  We went last year and had a great time!  Note to self: 'heated warehouse' does NOT mean it's 'warm'...we'll be out of the elements, yes, but be sure to bring plenty of warm clothes and blankets.

It's not a huge event, I believe there were about 80-120 people there last year, but it IS a lot of fun and sometimes you just have to go for the 'fun factor'.  We'll be dressed up in our medieval garb and peddling our wares for the weekend, meeting & talking to some interesting people and enjoying the entertainment.  There's even a big feast on Saturday night with a selection of period dishes to savour.

If you want more information on the event, go to....

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Paper Beads From Uganda

KWITE essential BEADS are paper beads made by 30 women and one man of the Lacan Kwite tribe in the Karimbe internally displaced people (IDP) camp run by the United Nations.  This group meets 3 days a week to make beads, to socialize and to provide mutual emotional support.  The beads are made out of recycled advertising flyers. They select paper that has the range of colours that they want in the finished beads.

The advertising flyers are cut into long triangular strips using an old paper cutter.  To make the bead, they roll the paper tightly around a small stick and glue the pointed end. It is important that they are rolled tightly to ensure a quality product.  The stick is removed and they are strung on a string and dipped into a sealant and dried several times over the course of a week.

Next, the beads are restrung to make bracelets, necklaces and earrings.  Before being shipped every strand is inspected for defects and if a bad bead is spotted, the whole necklace is restrung. They are proud of their work, and are committed to making beautiful and original products.

I was introduced to these lovely beads when I received a paper bead star attached to a gift basket I was given at a holiday party late last year.  I was so intrigued, I went online to learn more about them and the people who crafted them. 

A woman from Guelph, ON discovered these lovely beads early in 2008 when she was in Uganda doing mission work at the camp.  She desperately wanted to promote and market them in Canada, so when she came home PaperBeadWorks was formed.  They are committed to fostering a sustainable business relationship with the beaders and craftspeople of Uganda to ensure longstanding employment for the community. In addition, 100% of profits are re-invested into community projects directly affecting the beaders and craftspeople.

To learn more about PaperBeadWorks and the people who make these beads or to browse the online store, go to....

Monday, February 7, 2011

Never Be Afraid To Ask

You should never be afraid to ask...for help, advice, information, whatever.  It could lead you down a new path, enhance your life and/or make you smile.  As long as the question is appropriate to the situation and not offensive to the person you are asking.....go for it!

Case in point....when I was in Shoppers Drug Mart after the holidays, I saw something that caught my eye in the clearance aisle.  There was a small metal display stand holding 4 or 5 children's Xmas bracelets.  I thought to myself, 'I could use something like that at vending events.'

Rather than leaving the matter in the realm of thought, I asked one of the employees if I could speak to the manager.  When he came over, I enquired about the fate of the stand once all the bracelets were gone.  Were they going to throw it out?  Yes, indeed, they were planning to toss it into the garbage bin.  The manager of the store graciously asked me if I would like to have it.

I explained to him that I make and sell jewelry at craft shows, and how such a display stand would be very helpful to me.  He immediately took the few remaining bracelets off and put them in a clearance bin, then walked over to the cashier to tell her that he was giving me the stand.  How fantasic is that? 

Now, if I'd been afraid to ask the question, I would not now have this fabulous piece to display my bags of beads on!  Free of charge!  There's even a groove on top to hold a sign on.

Previously, the bags of beads were heaped into a basket and customers really had to root through to see everything, or 'anything' for that matter.  You must admit that this fabulous display stand is a better option....I may start selling more beads now because people can actually see them.  That would be good.  *smile*

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pantone Spring 2011 Colour Trends

Pantone, a famous name to printers, artists, and designers, is a company that creates standard colour formulas for ink, paint, dye, etc.  Since colour is such a subjective thing, it was necessary to create one benchmark to go by.  That way, when you tell the printer you want red, you can pick the specific swatch that corresponds with a formula to mix the ink.

Outside of the printing world, Pantone releases a semi-annual colour chart predicting which hues will be popular in women's fashion for the upcoming season, driven mainly by New York fashion designers.  This is important to jewelry makers since we'd like to create harmonious pieces to go with what women will be wearing, right?
Every person likes something different because of their brain chemistry.  Their perception of any colour is essentially a chemical reaction between the eye and the brain, with perhaps some life experience thrown in the mix.  Suffice it to say, that colour is deeply personal and highly individualized.  No two people will discern, react or experience colour in the same way.

Artists and fashion/jewelry designers can create harmony, calm, energy, excitement, or any other feeling through their prudent use of colour. By learning all you can about colour, you'll be able to predict how people might feel when they see your work.

Here are the Spring 2011 colour trends, according to Pantone and New York fashion designers…

From left to right, starting with the top row....Honeysuckle (Pantone 18-2120), Coral Rose (Pantone 16-1349), Peapod (Pantone 14-6324), Beeswax (Pantone 14-0941), Silver Peony (Pantone 12-1206), Russet (Pantone 18-1235), Regatta (Pantone 18-4039), Blue Curacao (Pantone 15-4825), Lavender (Pantone 15-3814), and Silver Cloud (Pantone 15-4502).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shopping at Thrift Stores

You don’t shop at thrift shops?  Why not?  If you have a picture in your head of dingy floors, bad lighting, and torn clothing heaped together, you might be pleasantly surprised.  Oh sure, there are a few like that around but for the most part, you will find that they are well organized, brightly illuminated and a veritable gold mine of unclaimed wealth. 

6 Reasons to Shop at Thrift Stores

1. It’s an inexpensive way to bolster your wardrobe, stock your cupboards and beautify your surroundings.
2. The goods are in better condition than you might think. A lot of the merchandise is barely used and it’s not uncommon to find designer labels and high quality brand names.
3. You’ll find things there that you can’t find anywhere else, like vintage jewelry & collectibles, unique t-shirts, and cool jackets.
4. It’s environmentally-friendly. You are re-using existing items, therefore decreasing the demand for new products. In turn, fewer resources are burned creating new goods and you saved a fantastic, perfectly usable item from a landfill site.
5. You’re supporting non-profit organizations doing good work.  The proceeds from thrift stores help disadvantaged people find jobs, rebuild their lives after a tragedy and also fund medical research.
6. It’s fun. If you have bargain-hunting tendencies, thrift stores might be a little piece of heaven for you. I love finding a good deal and knowing that if I’d bought that sweater new, it would’ve cost five times as much.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your thrift store shopping experience…

Go in with a plan…know ahead of time what you want to look for but keep your eyes open for any unexpected deals.  You’d be surprised the amount of well-made, expensive clothing that is hiding in thrift shops, just waiting to found. Sometimes you have to dig for it, but it’s there.  Keep in mind that there might be some quality pieces in brands you’ve never heard of, or with the tags completely missing.  Check for holes, stains, missing buttons, and loose seams, and pass on something if it looks pretty worn or stretched out.  Always try things on. If it doesn’t fit well, then it’s a needless purchase and will only clutter your closet.

Don’t take children along if you don’t have to.  Shopping at thrift stores means having to sift through lots of aisles of crammed-full racks.  It takes time and children will get bored quickly.  Find out when your local store’s sale days are, the bargains are even better!  Go often.  If you don’t find anything this week, try again in a week or two.  Store inventory changes constantly, so you might strike gold one week, and come up with nothing the next.

One of the things that I always look for are quality, vintage beads to use in my jewelry projects.  I love the thrill of the hunt; that one in a million chance of finding a real treasure!  It keeps me going back again and again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Year of Jewelry Project 2011

The Year of Jewelry Project was conceived in 2004 by the Creative Wire Jewelry Forum as a personal challenge for members of the forum.  The challenge was to create one piece of jewelry per week, photograph it, and post it to both a personal and group blog.  Each week had a different theme which the participants could choose to use for inspiration, or they could follow their own goals and creative impulses.  The main aim was to keep a regular schedule of creating new pieces.  Members of the forum commented on the various submissions each week, and all of the participants were able to track their development over the course of the year.

In 2005-2006, the project was dubbed “The Four Seasons of Jewelry” and the themes were loosely based on winter, spring, summer and autumn.  The following year, the project reverted back to its original name, and has been running ever since.  A number of the archives from previous years are still available online but, unfortunately, not all of them.

Some years there are more participants than others.  Each participant has their own reason for starting on the journey and each person gets their own personal reward from it.  It’s a great motivator for anyone who is a procrastinator as it helps them develop a new habit to keep a schedule of continuous creativity.  If you are just looking for inspiration for your own jewelry projects, their website is a great place to start.

To participate in The Year of Jewelry Project you must register and create a profile. Registrations are accepted at the beginning of each quarter, so even if you have to drop out at some time during the year, you can always join in again when you’re ready.   You do not have to be a participant to post comments about participants’ submissions.  All comments are moderated therefore do not immediately appear on the site, so be patient, your post will show up soon.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tanzanite: Rare & Beautiful

Tanzanite is the blue/purple variety of the mineral zoisite which was first discovered in the hills of northern Tanzania in 1967.  Tanzanite is noted for its remarkably strong trichroism (the property possessed by certain minerals of exhibiting three different colors when viewed from three different directions under white lights), appearing alternately sapphire blue, violet, and burgundy depending on crystal orientation.

In its rough state, tanzanite is usually a reddish brown color. It requires artificial heat treatment to 600°C in a gemological oven to bring out the blue violet of the stone.  Tanzanite is a rare gem.  A finely cut tanzanite can be more expensive than a diamond.  It is found mostly in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The mineral is named after Tanzania, the country where it was discovered.

It is purported that Tanzanite is a gemstone that brings visions.  It has a special ability to connect one with the spiritual world and bring that connection into one's life in the form of knowledge or manifested aims.  It is thought to bring the revelations of the gods.

Tanzanite can be used to treat and heal the skin.  It also has been helpful for re-aligning the spinal column and in awakening people from comas.  Tanzanite was recently "adopted" as an alternative birthstone for December.

I was fortunate enough to find a strand of small tanzanite chips the size I needed to make some 'blue' trees at a gem & mineral show last year.  They were much more expensive than other gemstone chip strands that I purchase but I just had to have them!  Unfortunately, the holes in half of the chips were too small to thread onto the wire I use for the tree of life pendants.  Attempting to carefully use my bead reamer to open up the holes a bit resulted in a lot of breakage.

There are a limited number of the small trees still available for $20.00 each.  Once they are gone, they're gone though.  I may not be able to find the tiny tanzanite chips again.  Contact me now to find how how one of these special tree of life pendants could be yours.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bird's Nest Pendants

I'm always on the lookout for new ideas and designs.  During a recent web surfing journey, I came across a site that proudly announces on their homepage that it is 'a community & tutorial marketplace for jewelry makers'.  They have tutorials, articles of interest, a discussion forum, an extensive gallery of artisan's work and jewelry making tips.

One of the many things that caught my eye was a tutorial for a bird's nest pendant.  The lady that posted the tutorial is a photographer and graphic artist who has a small seaside studio in Victoria, Australia.  She claims that making jewelry keeps her sane and creating tutorials to share with others is a lot of fun.

I purchased her tutorial and was very impressed with the quality of the photos and the clear, concise instructions.  If I had never made any jewelry before...was a complete beginner...I would have been able to follow along and complete the project.  See the results of my first attempt below....

I will definitely be making more of these and offering them for sale at events this year for $10 each, including the adjustable waxed cotton cord making them 'ready to wear'.  This one is made with coated copper wire and glass pearls.  I'm already pondering on whether or not I should make some with sterling silver wire and real freshwater pearls.  Of course, I would have to charge significantly more for those.  I think they would look very elegant though, don't you?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Rising Price Of Silver

Last year, the price of silver climbed from $15 to $30.  For the month of January 2011, it has been hovering between $28 - $31 USD per troy oz.

Even with the price doubling in 2010, industry analysts are predicting silver will be much higher by the end of 2011. How much higher? Nobody knows for sure, but there are several educated guesses and conspiracy theories in the news.  The predictions range anywhere from to $50 - $250 per oz.

The price increase is good for investors but bad for jewelry vendors.  Consumers still expect to get silver jewelry for last year's prices.  For retailers and vendors to remain profitable, however, the price to consumers must rise to meet our current cost. 

We are already feeling the pain of the increase in sliver prices.  Our recent acquisitions cost significantly more than we were able to buy the same items for last year.  The new Tree of Life pendants are a classic example.

These pendants will be now selling for $29.50, while supplies last.  By autumn, when our stock will need to be replenished, we will no longer be able to offer them at this amazing price.  No, I did not take this photo myself.  I'm still working on improving my skills in the photography department.