Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bead Soup In Transit

I can hardly wait until my bead soup arrives.  It should be here this week!  My partner, Fay, will get hers from me too.  Here's a teaser photo of what I sent to her.....

Check out my partners blog, Fay Wolfenden Designs.  Sounds like she's as excited as I am.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Successful Asymmetrical Design

The 'bead soup' from my partner in BC is on it's way to me.  I can hardly wait to see what she has sent!  My challenge to myself, with whatever mixture of colours, shape or size of beads I receive, is to create an asymmetrical piece of jewelry.  It will most likely be a necklace but I'm keeping my mind & my options open for now. I reserve the right to change my mind. *smile*

Simple, yet elegant, balance
What constitutes a successful asymmetrical design?  There still needs to be a balance between both sides.  Using similar, yet distinct, elements to create an informal balance.  If your eye is focused on one particular point and does not flow across the whole piece naturally, chances are it's not balanced.

A good way to get started (for uber-symmetrical people like me) is to lay your whole project out on a bead board or mat.  Before you start stringing, change one element on one side.  Take out a bead and replace it with a different kind or size of bead.  Now, do it again and maybe a few more times until what you see in front of you seems 'right'.

Wish me luck.  It won't be an easy task for me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Cannot Believe It!

The random generator selected me to be one of the 200 participants in the Bead Soup Blog Party that I talked about in a previous blog entry.  I've already been in contact with my partner and started to put together the package of beads & bits that I'm going to send her.

Lori's First Bead Soup

Stay tuned to see what she sends me, what I send her, and what the two of us make with them.  The above photo shows the bead soup that a participant from last year sent her partner.

Searching for Inspiration

I went cruising online this weekend looking for inspiration....

Hammered Wire Cuff With Glass Beads

Wire And Bead Pendants

Pearl And Wire Pendant

Wire And Bead Bracelet
Wait a second, am I seeing a theme here?  Wire work really seems to appeal to me, doesn't it?

Coral, Gemstones And Glass Beads

Shells, Glass And Wire
 Asymmetrical designs really catch my attention also.  I think that I need to explore these two techniques further in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Creating Outside the Box

Last year, I was introduced to the concept of mixed-media jewelry in a book I purchased.  It contained basic tutorials to a selection of interesting and experimental techniques & materials for creating unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry. 

There is something about pushing the boundaries of traditional methods of jewelry making that really appeals to me.  The work of one of the artists featured in the book especially captures my attention & imagination. 

I discovered her Etsy shop this week.  Her pieces are fun, whimsical, free-form works of art.  I aspire to create such pieces one day.  Maybe it's time to flex my creative muscles and explore the possibilities of crafting using non-traditional methods & materials.

To check out all of her work on Etsy, click here.  Her shop name is lluviadesigns.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jewelry Challenge: Leftover Odds & Ends

The Turtle & The Hare

Jewelry Business Success News is running another jewelry challenge.  Will you participate this time?

Your assignment:

Create a piece of jewelry that uses up leftover odds & ends of jewelry supplies or other leftover junque you have around the house.

Along with your photos, please tell a bit about your piece:

-  What's the story behind this design?

-  What leftover odds & ends did you use, and what inspired you to use them?

-  What was your process of creating this piece?

Guidelines for the Jewelry Challenges:

-  These are fun, theme-based design challenges to spark our creativity and inspire us to try new things in jewelry making.

-  There are no judges and no prizes.

-  Each Challenge lasts approximately 4 weeks, from the time the it's announced (today) until the time it closes.

-  The opening and closing of each challenge will be announced in Rena's Jewelry Business Success News newsletter, as well as, on the page that's dedicated to that challenge.

-  All entries must be "family friendly" and non-offensive.

-  Please enter as many pieces as you wish for each Jewelry Challenge, as long as your entries relate to the theme of that challenge.

-  Each entry can include up to 4 photos - so I encourage you shoot enough photos to share 4 unique shots of your entry.

-  Have fun, and be sure to leave comments for each other!

To participate, click here.  To see what the creator wrote about The Turtle & The Hare, click here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Listings On Etsy

For centuries, beads have been used as an aid for meditation and contemplative prayer.  The practice continues today in a variety of diverse spiritual traditions.  The sets of beads I posted on Etsy today can be used to count breaths while you meditate or keep track of the number of prayers you recite. 

Green Aventurine Prayer / Meditation Beads

Please take a moment to check them all out and tell me what you think.  Here's the link.  Keep an eye on my shop this week, I'll be listing more things too.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bead Soup Blog Party

What is a bead soup blog party, you ask?  Well, participants send a special focal bead, some co-ordinating spacers or beads and a special clasp (not just a lobster claw) to their partner.  You do NOT have to send an entire necklace or bracelet kit.

When you get your package of beads, show them on your blog, then make something with them, take a picture, and post it on your blog on the party day.  You must use the focal & the clasp, and if you wish, some of the co-ordinating beads, along with beads from your own stash to create a special piece of jewelry.  Using some of the co-ordinating beads IS encouraged (even if you only make earrings) but not required.

The idea is to help you think outside the box and work outside your normal comfort zone, pushing you into creative directions you may never have gone. You can make one piece, two, three -- you can use the clasp in one piece and focal in another. LOTS to be creative with!

Then on party day, which is March 3rd this time, everyone posts their finished piece to their blog.  You hop around to as many party blogs as possible to see what people have created, leaving comments as time permits.  And you keep the jewelry you made!
Sample Package of Beads

Registration begins today!  Although this is the 5th Bead Soup Blog Party, it's the first time I'm, hopefully, going to participate.  I say it that way because no more than 200 people will be able to take part in it.  When registration closes, a random number generator will pick the group of people.

The organizer, Lori Anderson, had to start limiting the number of participants due to the fact that interest had reached the unmanageable level.  A total of 362 people signed up in September 2011!

To find out more about the Bead Soup Blog Party, click here.  To check out Lori Anderson's blog, Pretty Things, click here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Power of Social Media

A friend shared a link to an article about how to best utilize social media to promote your creative work.  I'm already doing a few thing right, it seems.

I have two Facebook profiles, one personal, one business, and the two are linked together.  I have a blog and I post links to each new entry on both profiles.  In theory, if each friend shared it with two friends, and those two friends shared with two friends....and so on, and so could mushroom fairly quickly.  Last year I wasn't as consistent with my blog as I'd planned to be but that will improve in 2012. 

The article writer recommends sharing some of your product listings, just not so many that people get tired of being bombarded with them to the point where they start ignoring them.  She also suggests highlighting & sharing the work of others.  Oh, another bonus point for me!  I've been doing that already.

Since I work full-time, my opportunities to partake in social media are limited to evenings & weekends.   I have, however, found myself drawn into spending more of that time on facebook or blogs when I really should be doing other things.

Perhaps planning ahead more would help me out, like sitting down on weekends to prepare a plan for the upcoming week.  I could possibly write (or draft) several blog posts and decide what new products I want to list on Etsy. 

Yes, it could be said that I'm currently limiting myself to a niche market and I think I do need to broaden my horizons a bit.  One thing is certain though; the image I project out there in cyberspace is the real me.  I'm a social butterfly in person, so that just naturally extends to the online communities.

Most importantly, I have fun with it.  I enjoy connecting with new people and learning new techniques & perspectives from them.  It keeps me continually evolving, for the better, I hope.

If you'd like to read the aforementioned article by Jess Van Den in its entirety, click here.  If you'd like to learn more about the inspiration behind the copper social media necklaces of Kirsten Denbow Designs, click here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

  - Post to the blog more regularly (so far, so good).

  - Update the website and put together a marketing package so I can promote my products to new age & pagan shops and, hopefully, get some good wholesale customers.

  - Better utilize Etsy, an online market for crafters, adding new items every week.

  - Spend time exploring my spiritual path, whatever that may be, wherever it leads me.  I have a new blog dedicated to the journey, called Jasper's Journey.

  - Organize my house, corner by corner, room by room, and eliminate all the excess stuff that is weighing me down & holding me back.

My aim is to dedicate some time each day (or most days) to all of the above resolutions.  Darn, I think that I may be already falling behind on that goal.  Better get on that right now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Selling on Kijiji

Always looking for new online markets for my products, I began to consider Kijiji as a possible avenue.  Having no experience with it, I turned to my partner (Jerry Penner, The Chain Mail Guy), who's had moderate success selling there.

Here are the tips he gave me.....

   - Read the Terms of Service. Learn what you can and cannot sell there.  Some items, like knives, are forbidden.

   - Search for items similar to what you want to sell before listing.  Find out what other people are offering, for what price. You will be competing with them.

   - List your item in one local market only.  Listing the exact same item in different markets is a no-no.

   - Be prepared for hagglers. Price your item with 15% - 20% wiggle room.

   - Remember that if your price is higher than someone else selling something similar, you may not get any response at all.

   - Use pictures...good pictures.  Adding a photo (or two) is free on Kijiji and greatly enahnces the number of responses.

   - Use clear, simple English.  The people reading your ad may be illiterate, half-drunk, or don't have English as their primary language.

   - Answer as many questions as you can right in the ad.  If you get queries after the ad is posted, it's easy to edit your ad to include those questions & answers as well.

   - Remove your ad when you've sold your item.  Ads do not automatically expire.

   - If you are listing an item in a section that gets lots of listings, your item will quickly get pushed down the page.  You can solve this either by posting in a nearby location with less traffic or going for a premium listing.  "Bumping" your listing to the top page again is an economical way to get your item listed first again.  Price is $2 each time.

   - Make your ad engaging.  Look at what everyone else is doing and *don't* do that.  Dare to be different, to stand out from the rest.

   - Offer free delivery within a certain radius, or throw in an extra something if they buy before a specific date.  Offer a warranty; it can be as little as 1 week.

   - Expect to be contacted by people who want you to sell your item for less than half your asking price.  Hold firm on these people, and tell them about the quality of the item.  You likely won't hear from them again.

So, is Kijiji the place for me to sell my products?  I'm no so sure.  Perhaps I'll concentrate more time & effort on Etsy, where I've had some success.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pantone Colour of the Year

Explosively loud and exceedingly bold, Tangerine Tango has been announced as Pantone’s 2012 colour of the year.   Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it.

Daring as it may seem, Tangerine Tango can be an excellent staple colour for both clothing & accessories and even home decor.  A versatile choice, the orangey hue complements a spectrum of colours including yellow, purple, blue & green and flatters all skin tones. 

Time for all the jewelry designers out there to search through their bead stashes and start creating co-ordinating pieces to wear with the bold & brash colour of the year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Unexpected Finds in Unexpected Places

My partner and I stopped in at a 'surplus' store over the holidays.  You know the kind; dark, dingy places that carry a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing.  He needed some components for a 'thing' he's making, don't ask me to explain what it is, 'cause I couldn't.

Anyway, I was browsing up and down the aisles, minding my own business, when I came upon an unexpected find.  To my shock and surprise there was a whole section of Swarovski crystal beads, pendants & flatback gems!  Now admittedly, the selection was not spectacular.  Obviously, these ones had been slow sellers at the big chain stores, otherwise, they would not now be here in front of me.

The prices were incredible too, a screaming good deal!  I picked up a shopping basket and started adding small packages to it.  The cashier asked me in jest if there was any left on the shelf.  LOL  Really, I didn't get that many.  There are still plenty left for others.

I have no clear idea in my head yet what I plan to do with the beads & pendants but I could not pass up such a good deal.  The flatback gems are the perfect size for some of the pewter cloak clasps and pendants I sell.

Proof again that you should always be on the lookout.  Keep your eyes open.  You never know what unexpected treasures you will find in the most unlikely places.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January Birthstone: Garnet

Garnet is the modern January birthstone.  The stone occurs in every colour of the spectrum, except blue. Any of these colours is permissible to wear as the January birthstone. 

The word garnet is derived from the Greek word 'granatum' that means 'pomegranate seed' which reflects the shape and color of the crystals.  Garnet can be found in the U.S. (Arizona), South Africa, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Myanmar (Burma), Scotland, Switzerland and Tanzania.

Raw Garnet Stones

Healing, strength, and protection are among garnets' powers and it is often worn to relieve inflammations of the skin. It is also believed to regulate the heart & blood flow and aid in curing depression.  The traditional metaphysical properties for garnet are awareness, commitment, regeneration, insight and removing negativity.

In earlier times, garnets were exchanged as gifts between friends to demonstrate their affection for each other and to insure that they meet again.  During the Middle Ages, it was believed that the red stones would stop bleeding. Many early cultures believed that garnets were helpful in preventing and curing blood disorders and infections too.