Tuesday, December 6, 2011

From There to Here

So I was just reading a blog from my friend Marie over at Skye Jewels, and she was reminiscing about designs from last Christmas and revisiting some of those, and it got me thinking about my stuff from Christmas last year. While hers are absolutely gorgeous, mine are quite different. Not that I didn't make pretty jewelry then, but my designs were so much more simple, because it was before I discovered Vintaj Natural brass and all the techniques of filigree wrapping, altering metals, wire work, or anything really. If you look at the stuff I was making then compared to what I do now, the change is astounding.
Here are some items I made prior to Christmas last year...notice my earrings are all simple, one headpin style beaded things (although still pretty beads!) and all my necklaces are just beaded. No hard wire, no filigree, no metal other than the clasp. While they are pretty beaded things, they are a little one note compared to what I do now. These are all things I made for my mom.

Which brings me from there to here. Talking about designs, I was brainstorming ideas for Christmas presents yesterday, and I realized that I actually design much better if I have an outline. I don't mean necessarily a drawing, but at least a concept and idea, especially if I am wanting to use certain colors and components. All of the above necklaces were made organically. Meaning I just started beading, and would remove and add new beads, etc. until I found a pattern I liked. Most of these I probably restrung several times before I was satisfied. I should have invested in a bead board to save myself the trouble of having to restring, but I didn't, and I still don't have one! I work in the same way sometimes when linking beads, but I tend to think things through a little more now prior to starting.
So here are photos of some of my favorite designs that I made this year...see the change and see how I've used my imagination to go beyond stringing beads...

January 2011 - First necklace I sold this year, went for $100 sold via facebook.
This is before I got my first vintaj order. It is all glued with E6000. I have another filigree like the one used in the background, and I started trying to do another one like this using rivets instead of glue, but it didn't come together quite as perfectly as this one did. It is hard to see in this photo, but all the little teeth on at least one gear on every section actually lock together like a working clock's gears would. I also really love the right side. I created that faux toggle and have the double chain, one of my favorite designs that I came up with during creative play. This whole necklace was just a creative work of art for me, one of the first times I ever experimented with E6000 glue. It was also after discovering Vintage Jewelry Supplies, which my mother introduced me to as she had gone to school with Susan Street, an accomplished jewelry designer who owns the supply business. She also has a great techniques page that was a huge key in unlocking this change in me.

February 2011 - Starry Night Necklace for Vintaj Challenge (It was my first contest and I won, talk about a boost to my ego, lol)
This thing literally took me weeks to make. The first thing I did was paint the large round blank. I painted it with acrylic paint and covered it in diamond glaze, then repeated that layered process several times to give it more dimension. The glaze would break up the paint slightly as it hardened, and it just has this really neat effect, but you have to see it up close as it doesn't really come through in the photo. I then wrapped it in the filigree and sectioned together the hand painted compass and star and filigree. By they way, the compass is painted on the back and filled with diamond glaze as well, and there are crystals on the backside of the larger filigree and the little one as well. Basically its really pretty from the back as well. Ok so then I had thought so much about it, and I knew I wanted to do some sort of 3 dimensional thing with beads, and that just took some experimenting to figure out. I used half hard wire on the upper 3 beads and soft flex for the 2 tail sections, so they have more flexibility. The other little drops are all made with wire. The original design was WAY over the top! I had multi spirals and one huge spiral on the left. Luckily, I edited last minute. I had stayed up ALL night working on this the night before submissions were due, and had photographed it and everything and was ready to send it at 9am. Submissions were due by noon, and at 9 am I decided to edit and removed the large section on the left side and replaced with the simple 2 drops. That was a very good decision, as the large section made the whole thing a little too conceptual instead of being just awesome lol. I ended up submitting it, literally, at like 11:55 am. I can't tell you how elated I was when I won. I practically cried, you would have thought I just won an oscar or something.  My friend Meg wore this for me during Pumpkintown and it looked amazing on her. This is currently at the local Arts Council Art market for sale, but I may submit it to a magazine at some point.

May 2011 - Nautical Path Bracelet
I made this for my trip to the beach. I was especially fond of that hand painted compass, because it really had this look of having been sunken at sea or something, but my favorite part of this design is the little arched tube bead that I encased in bubbly shaped crimp covers, beads, and the nautical sand dollar charm. The bead combo was nice too, with gorgeous lapis lazuli, round window beads, and very cool glass beads that reminded me of sea glass. I used wire to make dangles out of little capri blue teardrop beads, which was a favorite of the lady who purchased it at the trunk show in November. I really loved this one, going to have to make myself another one to keep. : )

November 2011 - Green Earth Bracelet

I made this one and immediately had to make 3 more that were similar but with different color schemes, beads, and embellishments. Then I sold two and left the other one at the Arts Council. It was a purple one.I kept the green one and wear it often, but it is on my etsy site and I may take it to a local gallery store here in town. It was just a fun design concept using a lot of crystal drops with brass and hand painted components, and it utilizes the vintaj leaf blank really well. This will definitely be a repeated design concept, although no two will ever really be the same. 

Overall, I feel like this year has been very productive for me. I took what was a hobby and made new years goals to use every spare minute I had to work on designing and to be creative somehow every single day. I have worked hard to stick to those goals as much as possible. I have gone from beading on a strand to winning a contest, being editor's pick in another contest, being a featured designer on the Vintaj Blog, doing my first 3 local craft shows, including the trunk show at the arts council where I was top seller, approaching my first gallery and getting accepted, getting approached by owners of other galleries, and landing 2 magazine entries (the only 2 months I actually submitted, I was chosen, so cool. Look for my jewelry in Feb and April Bead Trends next year, and hopefully more after that, need to submit some more items.) WHEW!!!  For a part time thing that I'm doing from my livingroom coffee table, not too bad, right?  Sometimes when you work really hard, it really does pay off, and if you'd asked me this time last year what my goals would be in my jewelry, I wouldn't have been able to tell you any of those things, because this time last year I didn't even know it was possible. I have accomplished things I didn't know I should dream for myself, so here's hoping next year I can have more targeted dreams and actually make some money too, because at the end of the day, none of that successful and exciting stuff matters if you have no money! I haven't gone over figures yet, but I'm certain I did not have a profit this year. I had to invest a lot in my supplies and tools to even get started, and I haven't produced and sold enough to make all of that back yet. Now that I have a better sense of my design style and a better grasp of the techniques I enjoy implementing, I think my time will be better managed and my supply purchases more purposeful, instead of just buying a lot of everything with the hope of stumbling on something cool. Here's hoping I can find the time to do all of the things I need to do in order to reach my goals next year! 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Success - Shops - Supplies - Repeat

Ok. So here I am. Officially through with my first trunk show, and officially the highest seller of said trunk show. Am I proud and elated? Of course! Have I already spent all my money? Of course! What can I say, it is the Christmas season. So now I have a $400+ order in my shopping cart over at Vintaj ready to check out, just waiting on the next promo to be released because I'd much rather have 1 or 2 free items than a bunch of stuff I don't need, and the current promo is just that...stuff I don't need because I already have plenty of it. So I'm impatiently waiting. Meanwhile, at said trunk show I was offered my first shop by a local gallery. Then the other day my sister and I went to Chattanooga, which is about an hour away from me, to visit this little shop called the Leo Gallery. They had a lot of steampunk sort of stuff, and I was wearing my clockwork necklace, so I casually asked her if she'd be interested in selling my jewelry in her shop, and she was immediately like, YES. So I've been working the last few days, not on Christmas presents like I thought I would be, but rather on items to restock my inventory and bring to the local galleries and shops. I also left about 15 items at the arts council when the trunk show was over to sell in their shop. It is getting to a point where I'm really going to have to sit down and crunch numbers and figure out a business plan for myself, as well as make an inventory spreadsheet to keep up with what items I have in various shops, since I'm about to have things in 3 different places. I also am having to really decide what I want, because it kills me to have to part with some items of my liking, and some things I want to keep on my etsy site, but I have to remove the items I am bringing to other stores to avoid double selling one of a kind items. Its turning into more work than one would think a simple hobby might require, which is making me ponder if I should just retire my real estate license and go for this thing. I realize as much as I'd love to not pay my $450 national dues in December, retire my license, and just make jewelry, realistically I'm not quite ready for that yet, since I don't have my business plan made or any idea of how much money I can make monthly from these shops combined with family/friend, facebook, and etsy sales. I also need to have a goal for the number of shows I do a year, and 3 isn't going to cut it if I'm doing this full time, that will need to change to about 20 probably. Which is a lot of work and will take a lot of preparation and organizing. Luckily I at least had the 3 this year and have gotten my feet wet locally with a lot of success and positive feedback, so I'm ready to venture out and try some more distant shows. I'm hoping to add several this next year as well as get some basic classes together to start teaching, so I'll definitely be posting on that whole venture. In the meantime, I am off to make a bar of bracelets for the gallery in Athens and a rack of earrings for the Leo Gallery...now if I could just afford to place my vintaj order, pay my dues, and buy Christmas presents too...decisions decisions...  
Does anyone else have issues with the business side of things? I'd love to hear any advice or feedback. I purchased a pricing calculator online from someone for $5.  Based on that tool, I underprice everything, lol. A pair of earrings I thought $18 would be reasonable for should be $28 per this tool. I forget to add a percentage to my wholesale price...although paying 25-40% to the shops selling my jewelry is changing that habit really quickly. Here is the link for the pricing calculator if you are interested in purchasing it for yourself. You can use it for pricing anything handmade, not just jewelry.

Jewelry Pricing Calculator

Here's some photos of things I sold at the trunk show. I sold 2 pairs of these cufflinks, only have 1 left! It was exciting to see them in an actual french cuff sleeve for a change.  Also sold these gorgeous bracelets. It was all about the bracelets, which is why I'm busy painting and riveting some new designs in various color themes. They pretty much are all about leaves, flowers, and nature. I don't have anymore of the fairy components, or I'd totally be making more of that middle bracelet. I love it sooo much!  I doubled up the large open gears from vintaj  and they look so much better that way, no hollow rough edges on the backside!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giveaways and Moving Forward

I want to win the @vintajco & @beadaholique.com Crystal Copper Giveaway! #ilovevintaj

I'm entering to win a great giveaway at the Vintaj blog. I found out today that one of my favorite earring designs is going to be published in the April 2012 Bead Trends magazine; I'm so excited and can't wait for next year!
I've been extremely busy starting my website, my supplies shop on etsy (StashBoxElements) and promise I'll start blogging again very soon!! Its just been one of those falls that leaves very little time to reflect on anything. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Website

I finally got around to getting my own website, check it out and sign my guest book to be entered into a contest to win something I made at the end of the year.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

You can find my jewelry where?

Back in January when I opened my artfire account, I signed up for the pro account, which costs $10 a month. I told myself that I would give it a year, but I've just about decided to throw in the towel early. Granted I haven't devoted as much time and effort into it as I have over at etsy, but I have at least had 10 sales since Feb on my etsy store, but I have had 0 at artfire - where I'm spending more money every month! Sorry artfire, I guess my product isn't really compatible with the shoppers.  

Meanwhile, I was told yesterday that someone working in a local, privately owned pharmacy spotted a pair of earrings on a friend of mine and inquired about them, and after looking at it closely, they asked her to bring me, my cards, and a few pairs in so they could sell them. With Reflections salon interested too, I'm beginning to wonder if there is a market for these here in town. I really need to figure out my pricing point on them and make sure its fair to me while including whatever their markup will be, probaby at least 25%.  I have not had to mark anything up yet since I sell everything myself or on my online store, so all of my prices have been wholesale, nothing more than a dollar above it at most, so if I begin selling these in retail shops, I will also have to mark them up on my site and at shows, because I can't undermine the retail shops promoting my jewelry. Point is...if you want some butterfly earrings, get them now because the prices are probably going up by about 25% here very soon! I have already begun accepting Christmas orders. In fact I have a custom necklace to design and execute and at least 6 pairs of butterfly earrings, and its only September! If you place your orders now, you will get the prices that are in effect now as well...food for thought! : )

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Busy and Blessed

Vintaj Blog Designer Highlight

I am the featured designer today over at the vintaj blog, visit the above link to check out my very first interview/article and share in my excitement!!  I'm so thrilled. This has truly been an amazing week. In addition to having my first feature article, I also received word that one of my submissions (also a vintaj design) is going to be in the Feb 2012 edition of Bead Trends magazine. It was my first attempt at submitting a design, so its pretty amazing and awesome that it was picked! Hopefully I can make a habit of that and get things submitted every month and maybe have a few items in throughout the course of next year.  My first downtown arts market event went great as well. There was no advertising, but I still managed to make a few bucks, and everyone told me later that my booth was a hit and received a lot of traffic. I didn't realize...I guess I was too busy with customers. ; )     Here's the booth set up, which is still a work in progress:

In addition to having all of this going on, we tiled the kitchen floor this weekend. Everything went great and it looks beautiful...but we forgot to account for the added height it added to the floor, and our refrigerator now doesn't fit under the cabinet where it is supposed to go...so we are going to have to rethink our layout and design. Right now its in a completely different spot, and its actually growing on me, it seems like it really opens up the feel of the space as well as the views into the other rooms. You can see in this photo where it is now as well as the pretty new floor - tiles are 17 inch tiles that we got from Knox rail salvage for $1.99 each, wow!  We love how it looks so much like slate, but its ceramic tile. Anyway, the refrigerator originally was on the left, and it would stick out so far that it made it seem very narrow, and it blocked the view into the living room area, which is now opened up. The den also now has a view of the refrigerator and pantry, so if the boys are trying to sneak sweets or something, its easier to stop that now.

Now, today I have a lot on my plate. I have to get my necklace ready to send to Bead Trends for photography, set up a home inspection for some buyers I'm working with who are buying an amaing house (another blessing in my life that could not have happened at a better time, otherwise I would have had to retire my license this year due to not being able to afford my dues/fees) and do about 3 bpo reports, fun stuff! Once all that is off my plate though, I just got some new Vintaj products from beadaholique that I'm dying to try out, and I plan on doing my first "how to" series, so stay tuned! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Busy Bee

Like this month's vintaj theme, I have been quite the busy bee. Not only has the month of August been the busiest this year (or even longer) in my day job (Real Estate), but it has also been my highest grossing sales month since I started my jewelry business. Of course you have to take the bad with the good, so I wasn't surprised when I shredded a tire and had to get 2 new ones, or when the hot water heater that was 30 years old finally gave out in my kitchen!  
I finally made my way down to the athens area council for the arts this last week and was so relieved and happy when the director was very pleased with my work and immediately approved me as an opening weekend vendor for the new downtown Athens Art Market. I am so excited, it is happening this Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Don went and bought me this cool ladder shelf that folds up to display my jewelry.
I would have begged my dad to make me something, since he does beautiful custom furniture, but unfortunately he cut off his right pointer finger last Saturday and is recovering, but is pretty much down to 1 arm at this point until its healed up and all the gauze removed.  I thought he was going to puke when I told him I bought this shelf for $90. It would probably cost him about $300 in materials alone to make one, but it would last a lifetime and be incredibly beautiful!  Definitely worth the cost, and once I have caught up a bit in my self investment and am profiting, I'm definitely putting orders in.

Meanwhile, I'm taking the week off of bpos to bang out as much jewelry as I can. Im trying to focus on "lines" and not have quite as big of a variety. My jewelry styles are super varied because I want to try everything, but I'm trying to keep it to steampunk, riveting, handmade beaded chain work, butteflies/dragonflies, and resin/polymer clay. I have a lot to do just in editing, pricing, blocking, and in general figuring out my set up. Come see my booth on Saturday at the pavillion in downtown Athens to see what it ends up looking like, or just stay tuned to the blog if you are out of town b/c I will be posting pics!  I have also been printing out and laminating these awesome cards for my earrings...I think they look so cool!
 Here are the newest wings
 blue/purple wings, now glazed
 Cool Vintage earring cards
 Love this one!
 Alice in Wonderland Cards as well

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The design dream

I've been making a lot of custom jewelry lately, and I always spend a long time during my design process, but its even worse for custom orders, because I'm so anxiety ridden over everything being perfect. I'm not sure what is normal as far as time goes, because I've never watched anyone else in the design process before. I know mine can be frustrating at times, but it can also be inspired design, and sometimes I even exceed my own expectations, which probably aren't as high as they should be, because for some reason my brain seems to be programmed with a cap on what success I can achieve or what goals are even appropriate. I suppose this is because of the fact that there are many artists in my family who have struggled, so it was as if growing up, to want to be an artist or anything in the arts industry would be a huge gamble and a waste of money, an unattainable pipe dream, and therefore I just wrote myself off as not quite talented enough. Which is really sad. Because now I look at some of the things that I created, on my own, designs born 100% (or at least 90%)  from my own imagination, and I practiced everyday in being creative, to think outside the box, to do something different, and I think maybe that worked pretty well for me so far. I haven't had the opportunity to get any training at all yet. I have design ideas coming out of the wazoo, but I don't have the tools in my toolbox yet that are needed to execute them...when I do have them...watch out cause I'm going to be taking the jewerly world by storm!  In the meantime, I'm going to just keep plugging away and doing custom orders, and maybe one day my higher aspirations will be realized and maybe they won't be, but this design dream is mine to own now, and I'm not going to be hanging it on the shelf anytime soon.  : )

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Butterfly Frenzy

Over the last week or so, I've introduced a new line of jewelry, mostly earrings so far, incorporating my husband Donovan's buttefly wings, made from polymer clay.  They are a very lengthy process! His 3rd cane of blue and purple wings took him a good 2 hours to finish, but the result is so gorgeous and amazing! So far he's made me pink, blue/green, and blue/purple versions. I am going to request standard orange/yellow monarch colors next, and after that...who knows? I may get really crazy! I have so far given away 4 pairs of these as gifts, and my models have been showing them off, and now I have orders in for 6 pairs of earrings.  I also have been told that Reflections salon here in Athens would love to have them for sale in their shop, so I need to get as many made as I can in the next few weeks, because I have a feeling they are going to sell very well!  Here is a photo of Donovan at work during the cane making process, the end results of all 3 types in earrings, and a larger double version of the new blue/purple wings used in a larger pendant on a necklace.


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Boy

Well school has officially started for my little 2nd grader. He is growing up so fast. Some of that I'm thankful for due to his rather difficult personality at times. He takes after both his father and I in those ways...lol. In all seriousness, Jaidon is so incredible in so many ways, but he is also quite the little head butter. He's a true Taurus in that way, and we butt horns when it comes to things like getting him to eat his dinner, picking up his bedroom, doing homework, etc.  It can be any little thing really, that's the thing with him. I've learned over the past 7 years how to approach him with various things and have less conflict than he does with dad on those levels...but he still knows how to push my buttons!  Needless to say, I'm honestly glad school is back in session, because admittedly I was going a little insane having both him and my 3 year old Keller at home all day every day...and my housecleaning sessions were beginning to unturn things like 2 month old apple cores under furniture, rotten cheese, basically food and juice spills and all sorts of complete nastiness all over my house. Not to mention that with 2 little boys and 1 nearly blind husband, my bathroom totally smells like a truckstop urinal 24/7, no matter how often I clean the toilet and floors. (Although daddy would argue that none of that is his fault, and he's right, I'm only joshing him) Its entirely the boys, they truly are disgusting, and I really don't get it, because up until I absolutely couldn't keep up with them, I've been a pretty big neatfreak, and I've basically been yelling at them to clean their rooms their whole lives...taking toys away, timeout, the whole deal...but it just doesn't seem to work.  So...having 8 hours a day to catch up on what they have used, abused, trashed, or peed on in the other 8 they are home and awake is nice, because I would literally NEVER get any work done if I were expected to keep up with them. Even my mother is beginning to realize my plight after keeping the boys a few hours here and there during the last few weeks...they are a handful, so if you see me out an about with them and I'm looking like a hot mess, well don't say I didn't tell you so!

Anyway, I'm thinking about starting a little youtube channel for Jaidon to do weather forecasts on...what do you think about that? He's a little weatherman, ask anyone who knows him! Lol  Here's the picture he drew from the first day of 2nd grade. Notice at the bottom he has a little cloud showing the whole rain to evaporation process, with the rainbow on top? And that's a tornado on his shirt. Jaidon, Lord of the Weather!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Day in Knoxville with Don and the boys

We went to Knoxville today to pick up the porcelain tiles we purchased from Rail Salvage, and then took the boys up to the Norfolk Southern Hump Yard to see if we could show the boys the trains and huge roundabout and such, but really weren't able to get that close. We stopped by the old depot though and checked out the exterior of the museum trains, because it was open by appointment only. We walked around downtown for a bit and then took the kids to Zuma, which I'd heard was cool, but we found it to be quite disappointing, and nearly half of the games were out of order.

Overall it was at least a day without typical boredom being at home, and both the boys, as well as Don and I, were happy to have a break from the normal routine, especially since the first full day of school is tomorrow for Jaidon! Here are some pics from Knoxville that I took.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Plans

Its been an extremely busy work week for me with the day job. This whole entire year I've cut down my work load in order to concentrate on building my jewelry business, but due to those fun, unexpected expenses life throws our way, I had to pick up the bpo work for a bit. This week since Monday I've been assigned a whopping $925 worth of bpo orders, and I'll certainly take them! In the past, a busy week has been about $200-$300 worth of work, so this is pretty much unheard of for me, at least as far as this year has gone. I have finished all of 3 of them, and the rest aren't due until tomorrow and Sunday, so I'm taking the rest of today off to hopefully get my house clean and maybe spend some time with my family for a change!!  (shocker!)  In the meantime, here's my latest creation...  very simple, earrings that are super pretty...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Work Work Work

I spoke too soon (or I should say blogged too soon) because I ended up being assigned 12 bpos and 2 mtrs Monday! Its been a busy few days and I still have 6 orders to finish up somehow, hopefully by tomorrow night!!  I also had the joy of having a flat tire about 45 minutes away from home on Monday. I ended up having to get 2 new tires at the price of $298 after tax.  Guess the work came at the perfect time!!
Meanwhile, Monday I entered a contest at the vintaj blog. It was a contest that involved leaving a comment. They chose their favorites and are letting the public vote. The winner gets a nice package of beads, that I really really want and need. Please vote for me and share the link! My comment is #3.

 Even though I've been super busy, I still took a little time last night to make my sister a necklace that I promised her I would. I'm submitting it to Bead Trends as well. Here it is:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Enter the Vintaj monthly bead giveaway here!


So even though I am supposedly getting slammed with bpos today, so far I've only had one come in so I'm still being somewhat lazy...and although I said I'd stop designing to clean up, I couldn't help but make just one necklace last night...  here it is.  Happy Monday!!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Bead Mess

I desperately need to clean up my bead mess...I would say bead table, but if you have been to my house you know I am referring to my coffee table, which has become my extremely messy bead table. Every time I sit down to start cleaning things up, I start designing instead, and end up getting even more things out...it doesn't help that the boys like to play "tornado" and basically bring their wrath to the table. I still have a box of wooden beads that Jaidon dumped over the other day, and a 7 year old's version of picking up isn't quite on the same level as mine...  : )    I expect to receive several bpo orders on Monday...this being my day job and some much needed work, so I will probably take the next 2-3 days at least off from making jewelry...I will make it my goal to spend my free time cleaning during those days, and hopefully the next time you see my "bead table" it won't resemble complete and total chaos!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This blogging thing takes a lot of time!

So I really want to start a blog because I just have so much to say and share with you all...unfortunately I also want to get my day job work finished up and get to sleep eventually, so I don't think the first real blog is going to be today or even tomorrow by the looks of it...but stay tuned because I am really going to try to start blogging very soon!