Oct 302005

Wore a Halloween sweater to church today. Decided (as usual) that I needed a pair of earrings to go with it, so I took the sterling silver Ear Threaders (purchased from Rings and Things) and put orange and black Swarovski crystals and tiny glass wafers on them. As I was leaving the house, my husband got an odd look on his face, came over and eyed my new earrings.

“What the heck are these???”
“Ear Threaders. They’re cool, aren’t they?”
“They’re weird.”

I rolled my eyes and said “They’re a hot item right now. They’re very trendy”, smiled and walked out the door.

At church, fully a dozen women commented on my cool ear threads. One just reached over during choir practice across and the pew and started playing with them (that was a little weird, but I do know her pretty well :-)). Several asked if I was selling them.

So I guess my measure from now on when I’m unsure of a new item, line or trend is to ask my husband. If he says something is weird, I know it will be a hit.

Oct 292005

The Tale of Two Vendors

In the last two days, I’ve received orders from two of my favorite jewelry suppliers: Fire Mountain Gems, and Rings ‘N’ Things. In both orders, I got exactly what I ordered (I always detail check in my orders!), a fun freebie (FMG pin from Fire Mountain, standard Jolly Rancher and Tootsie Roll Midgie from R&T), and plenty of packing material.

The packing material gets tossed in the trash. I have enough garbage(and packing material) laying around, I don’t need to collect more!

Thursday, when I inspected my order from Fire Mountain, I seriously cried out in dismay. The sterling toggle clasp assortment was visibly tarnished…even through the plastic bags it was packed in! Upon further inspection, I found fully 1/3 of the clasps looked like hell. 🙁 I called FMG, got a very helpful staff member, and was offered free tarnishing cloths. HUH? No, I want new clasps. These look awful! No problem, just send them back, we’ll send you another shipment. I do have to say that even with a problem, FMG is fabulous to deal with. So today I ran to the Post Office (had to ship out two other bracelets anyway!) and mailed off my return. Now I’ll just be pacing until the replacement comes in!

Friday (today), order from Rings ‘N’ Things arrived. In the shipment, I have some boring findings: ear nuts, clear wire stoppers, headpins. BUT! Woo-eee…I have some brand spanking new EAR THREADS. This is one of the coolest and newest fashions, and I can’t wait to work with them (and of course wear them…I can’t make something without wearing it too!). Plus, when I order more than $75 from R&T, I request a free bag of “ugly beads”…yep, some of them are hideous, but there are always treasures in that bag…and it’s FREE!!! And of course, that extra little stash of candy (which I should share with my son, but Halloween’s just around the corner, so he’ll have plenty of his own.)

That’s all for tonite. Looking forward to playing with my new “toys” this weekend…..

Oct 282005

Do you ever get bored with your current level of crafting? Do you strive to learn new things, or do you tend to stick with the same activities, varying your patterns or starting new projects?

Me, I get bored pretty easily. Once I’ve mastered something, I’m ready to move on and learn something new. I have a long list of the jewelry making and beading skills I’d love to add to my repetoire –

  • Precious Metal Clay – clay that’s infused with bits of silver. Shape it into what ever you want and then use a torch to burn or or a kiln to fire away the clay. You’re left with 99% pure silver. Yummy, yummy creations are possible.
  • Lampworking – I must be a firebug in disguise or something…lampworking also involves using a torch, melting tubes of glass into intricate beads that can be shaped like anything you can imagine. Some of the lampwork I’ve seen is just amazing!
  • Bead crochet – intricate weavings of beads and textiles that range from simple ropes to delicate and involved patterns
  • Peyote and right-angle stich – working with seed beads is probably not at the top of my list of “want to learn” but I’ve gotten a taste with creating the bead netting, and the possibilities are endless!

Of course, finding the time to take classes, the money to buy supplies, and the room to set up (another) workshop are the problem. 😉 It’s still nice to have a list to work on to keep growing in my craft.

Oct 272005

I set a goal for myself tonite to get 5 magnetic clasp bracelets made. Created some cool looks for fall: Carnelian and socho jade (moss-greenish quartz that’s varigated like turquoise), turquoise and red coral, hot pink freshwater pearls and a square white cat’s eye, sapphire blue Swarovski bicones and the square white cat’s eye, tigereye and silver plated spacers.

I love the magnetic clasps, and got a good supply from Fire Mountain Gems in my last order. These have a strong magnet, and are not going to be pulled off easily, even with the heavier stones. The clasps are great for older folks, anyone with joint pain, and heck, anyone in general who’s ever turned themselves upside down attempting to fasten a clasp!

If you are using magnetic clasps, test them with your beads before crimping to be sure the magnets are strong enough to hold the bracelet on your wrist. You might even want to add a small length of non-metallic chain as a safety net, just in case it does come apart (I’ve read about people who have had their clasp attach itself to a shopping cart handle, but I’ve never had that happen. Have “picked up” safety pins, paper clips and staples from my desk and gotten some odd looks from co-workers in meetings though…..)

Oct 242005

Goodness, I’ve been so busy the last couple of days I haven’t even had time to blog!

Had a good show at a local high school…Halloween jewelry didn’t sell as well as I thought, so now I’ll leave it on my web site and then put away until next year. Who knows what the coming seasons will bring!

I have some custom work to get done and mail out – a set of carnelian earrings to go with a bracelet, garnet and heart-shaped cat’s eye earrings to match another bracelet. A breast cancer awareness bracelet that was special ordered, and a Salvation bracelet for a gift.

Then there’s all the catch up that needs to be done. I heard comments that I needed some “clear” or more neutral earrings, so I’ll be digging out Swarovski crystals in neutral tones. I also need to replace all those Halloween earrings on my spinner with Christmas and winter themed. Earrings are quick and easy to make, but I don’t get my creative fix from them. 😉 I’ll treat myself with a wire project when I get done with what I “need” to do.

Better get busy!!!!

Oct 212005

Tried an experiment tonite. I had some great, deep blue, round turquoise that I wanted to do something original with. Using some 18g wire, I fashioned a 3-strand cuff-style bracelet, alternating the turquoise with Bali silver. Crimp beads at either end of the beads were used to keep them in place – first strand had the beads at one end of the wire, second strand were just slightly off the center, and third strand had beads at the opposite end of the wire.

It’s a very unique piece…I have to try to figure out how to best photograph it (scanning won’t work, and I’m a little challenged with “modeling” for digital).

Sometimes experiments work, sometimes they don’t. This one happened to click.

Oct 202005

My new title? Award Winning Designer! Can you see me grinning from there?

Yes, that’s right…my sterling wire and Swarovski crystal necklace was chosen as a “Top Pick” by the Rings N’ Things staff in their annual contest! It is one of my first and favorite (so far!) pieces made with wire. Very abstract and delicate, but makes a statement. To read the story behind “Sparkle and Swirl”, you’ll need to visit rings-things.com, click to the Design Gallery and then on to the 2005 Contest Winners. Under the “Additional Top Picks”, check out the “Mostly Metal” category…and there I am!

Sparkle and Swirl

While I’ve been beading for some time, I only started working with wire this year, so I’m really thrilled to have had this piece chosen. Wire is fabulous to work with…I love the freedom to make abstract or conventional shapes, add beads, just go crazy and be original. I’ve already got a piece in mind for next year’s contest…but I want to perfect it a little first.

I’m still on Cloud 9 and want to thank the Rings ‘N’ Things staff for the honor of being chosen. They were the first vendor I worked with, so it’s fitting that theirs was the first contest I’ve entered with my work!!!

Oct 192005

It’s October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month…and I attempt to wear some kind of BCA jewelry every day to help promote it. Today, however, I took out an outfit to wear to work that a) didn’t go with my BCA dangle necklace, b) cried out for gold accessories, not silver, and c) didn’t work with anything I had made up already.

So what’s a girl to do? Whip up a bracelet before work, of course. 😀

That’s one of the things I love about having my own “jewelry store” in my spare bedroom. If I have time (and sometimes even if I don’t!) and don’t have accessories to go with what I’m wearing, I can go create something off the cuff. Believe me, I have enough “stuff” in there to make myself a necklace/bracelet/earring set for every combo in my closet!

There’s a definite advantage to knowing how to make my own jewelry and having stock on hand. The disadvantage, of course, is that if I get a burr under my saddle and decide I just HAVE to have something specific and I’m on my way out the door, I’ll generally be late to where I’m going. Can’t let that creative energy go to waste!

I like my new bracelet, which is gold with pink Swarovski crystals and a gold awareness ribbon charm. Looking at it reminds me of the work that’s yet to be done in breast cancer research and making mammograms available to underprivileged women…AND it reminds me to make an appointment for my own mammo.

Have you made your appointment yet this year?

Oct 182005

Watched a little Monday Night Football tonight while working on some projects. I needed to make earrings for the next show: candy cane striped beads for Christmas, turkey charms for Thanksgiving, skeleton charms for Halloween. I also have some awesome lampworked pumpkins that are perfect for fall as well. They are super delicate and need a lot of concentration when I work them them so I don’t accidently take off a stem.

I have a lot of people ask me where I get all my beads…besides my favorite local store, Eyebeads (which gives me an awesome wholesaler discount), I have great online vendors, and I do get many, many beads from eBay, including those cool glass pumpkins. So far, I’ve been fortunate in dealing with reputable, decent vendors…even when I’ve been dissatisfied with an item, they have gladly refunded or exchanged items.

Speaking of which, I had an idea for Thanksgiving last night. I need to head over to eBay and see if I can find something to fit the bill. 🙂

Oct 172005

Decent show yesterday. According to some sources, if you bring in 10x the show entry fee, it’s a success. I brought in about 20x entry fee, so I guess it counts. Sold two Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets, there’s a nice donation to the Avon Foundation!

First show of the season is always a trial and error. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to set up, but I left my Red Hat Society jewelry put away and managed to get out Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thought I had all the necessary supplies, but I managed to forget extension cords and a power strip. Luckily the promoter had an extra one. I had a GREAT spot – lots of room, and traffic was nice and steady.

I think I need to write an article for BeadingHelpWeb.com with a list of “bring along” items for shows. The site is going to be up and running very soon…I’m really excited!

Next show is Saturday, October 22. Another local high school show. I’m looking forward to it!