Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Not yet.

I think it's kind of funny how I need a certain mental energy to blog. Lately I just haven't had it...all of my energy is being poured into jewelry design.

(Speaking of, my wonderful slice of watermelon tourmaline arrived yesterday. It is stunning and I'm feeling not worthy. I'm actually a little panicked because I can't come up with an interesting design that compliments but doesn't overwhelm it. Bright it may be, but it's still delicate.)

So, a few things.

To give myself a little more creative direction/feed my little artist soul I'm giving myself an assignment. I haven't quite hashed out the details, but I am going to design a piece every day based on something that happened that day, or something in my surroundings. The piece can be very loosely based on this inspiration or quite literally based. It's kind of like the drawing a day that this woman did and exhibited at St. Ben's. I will make them all, eventually, but obviously I can't finish many of my designs in a day.

If I complete a design and am totally and completely happy with it, I'll do another.

We will see where this goes.

I also need to make brooches, yo. I keep lusting over all of these felty fabric yummy ones on etsy so I think it's time to play with metal.

Monday, March 30, 2009

oh the things you can think

I will officially be showcasing my jewelry at an open house in April. This is a big deal. There will be lots of people.

And a total of 14? hours. 14 hours for people to mull and touch and buy.

I think sleep is going to take a backseat for the next few weeks, as this show is at the end of April. I need inventory!I just spent $60 (that I don't really have) purchasing chain for all of my pendants. Tonight I go on a hunt for square wood rods (ooo a pretty necklace is in store, yes it is). I need more sheet silver. Badly. I'm down to my last bit, 2 more backings for pendants or rings and I'm done. One more foot of square 18g wire. My other wire is slowly dwindling too. That is really no good. But...unless I make some more sales I cannot fund my little jewelry-making biz. Slooowly but surely.

Also, my mom is my biggest fan. She is buying her first pair of earrings from me and I hope she loves them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

p r e v i e w

Last night I got home late, but with finished work. I love finished work and want to share it right away. Unfortunately it was after 10 and the only lighting setup I had to work with was a daylight bulb shining down on my little broken chair.
Since I really can't take the quality of pictures I'd like on etsy, I snapped a few for a PREVIEW facebook album.
I think I will do this more often...I've had a lot of response on facebook and it makes me feel productive.

I also sold 2 lil knotted stacking rings - one last night and one today! I relisted again so maybe there will be another sale in store for the weekend?
Etsy listings coming soon...for now a taste:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I have an addiction, sir!

Ohohoh this day is off to a good start! Yesterday my chances of finding a decent flight to New Orleans in April without a million connections was looking damn near impossible. I wanted a specific flight so I could travel with friends, but it was Obscenely priced. Today, the price on it went down nearly $300! As the travel agent said, "It was meant to be, this is the one!"

So now that's one thing out of the way. I suddenly feel so productive.

But...the real fun is...
This little pretty is mineminemine!

Now it's design time. I hope I can come up with something perfect for it. It'll be a prong setting to show off maximum color, perhaps make a chain to go with it as well? Need to figure out how to incorporate the bail. Sigh. I do generally prefer bezels when it's not a faceted piece, but I don't want to cover up any of that dark green rim. We will see what comes out of it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I've yet to decide which stones to buy, and I added a new option into the mix...various square cushion cut cabs of carnelian, labradorite, and prehnite. Oooo I just don't know.

As much as I would love to buy the big slice of tourmaline, I think that at this point in time my focus should be more on bulking up my inventory. I want to do 2 (or 3...) market days downtown this summer as well as 1 day at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. On the other hand, I think it would be good for me to have some big ticket items in my shop, ones that are on the higher end of pricing and really pop. Decisions! My biggest problem!

Depending on how well everything sells at the open house, well, I need to get moving. I'm also going to have a little "jewelry party" of sorts for a group of women my dad works with because they really like jewelry and want to see what I'm making.

ALSO, it's that time again...CLEANING CASTINGS! If you've never done this just be happy. Your fingers, files, dremels, flex shafts, and whatever else you have are silently thanking you right this very moment.

I have roughly 26? 29? I lost track? pieces to finish. Lilies, poppies, coral. Pause rings, Caviar rings, Landscape rings. Pendants, castings made from molds, etc. So.much.stuff. And they all have giant gouging sprues sticking every which way. It's going to be a long month.


I can't get that bracelet made out of the 10 pieces of tourmaline out of my head. I think I will end up buying them. Maybe I will just suck it up, spend the money, and buy both.


Yup. I think I will.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

pay day!

I'm a little magpie, yes I am.
When I was little and my parents made the mistake of taking me to a bead store, I'd spend their hard-earned money on every little charm and bead I could get my hands on. I had quite the collection at one point in time, but it's been lost over the various moves in past years.
My first jewelry class, in high school, took a field trip to a local jewelry store that sold jewelry supplies. They had drawers of cabochons, each one with different little surprises. Carved amethyst, stones with no names, beautiful slabs of bruneau canyon jasper. Such a treat it was, finding this store I likely would have never stepped foot in otherwise. I bought as many stones as I could that day with the cash I had (likely $40, still a fair bit for what I was buying) and returned later with my mom (who had more money, of course) to buy others.

Basically I bought so many stones that I am STILL trying to find uses for all of them. I'm down to the last few and ones that even though pretty I probably wouldn't have bought today. One unknown doesn't have a flat bottom, rather it's arched. I still haven't figured out what to do with it. Another is a lovely jade green with some solid white marbling in it...but mostly at the bottom which would be covered by a bezel. A few blue goldstone which enamored me then but not as much now, and one last blue tiger's eye.

Right now I am lusting after coin pearls that are not drilled for bezel-setting and slices of watermelon tourmaline. As well as the lovely multicolored turquoise I've recently received in the mail and some beaauuuutiful square cushion-cut cabs of carnelian and labradorite.
So now the question of the day is...do I splurge and buy these at 10 for $48?

Or do I go for THIS (same amount of money for 1)?

And, someday when I have lots of money, I will buy these:

Monday, March 23, 2009

of windmills and ponies

This weekend was a field trip to get lost on the backroads of southeastern Minnesota.

By get lost I mean we pulled out the GPS to find the town I used to live in the long way. It brought us to some seldom-traveled gravel roads and places we wouldn't have found otherwise. It also got no service for pieces of our little drive which made things more interesting (but we still managed to not get very lost).

Going through a 4-cornered little town with a farm store on one, gas station across, and a church kiddy-corner to that I said "wouldn't it be neat if we found the windmills?"

As we came up over a hill I ate my words. There we were, driving straight to them. They stretched on for miles and miles.

After awhile I found a little gravel road, turned my car onto it, and stuck us right in the middle of two giant fields, full of the power-gathering machines. The last picture perhaps illustrates just how many of them there were (and how they went on for so long that we couldn't even see the last ones)...but even that picture does not do it justice.

At night I can see their red lights flashing in unison when I'm driving home from the barn. So, so beautiful.

Before our drive we went to the barn which makes me happy and peaceful and content. My sister rode our mare, Cholula. Doesn't she look GOOD? There will be lots of hill work in the near future to develop that butt.
I also made a pendant last night, but I have no pictures as the stone isn't set/the silver not polished. That will be happening tonight. + polishing a barn friend's lovely necklace (I made my first clasp for a standard chain, I'm so happy to have everything possible be HAND MADE) + making & polishing Megan's earrings. I have a lot of stuff to be making oh my oh my.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

oooo lists.

I love making lists. I love planning out how much I'm going to get done, what order it will be done in, and crossing items off and feeling accomplished. I love lists even when they sit around unfinished. I love lists even though they don't really help my productivity level at all.

So here is my THURSDAY list because there's been a lot of brainstorming lately.

Things to make:

Herbs & Spices series (not just pretty colors, but chunks of leaves and stuff too)
Fabric series (bezel-set pillows, tulle, etc)
Felted series (needle felt stuff to be set in bezels or used as beads)

(I am missing mixed media)

Also, I have an addiction to buying cabochons. It's gotten pretty bad. I now have a total of 10 turquoise cabs to set (2 are on the way). I just bought a 10mm square cushion-cut carnelian, and a 12mm labrodorite of the same cut. As I was dozing off yesterday the ring design for the labrodorite was perfected and I needed it. My bank account is telling me otherwise.

I am now lusting after pearls (particularly coin pearls) that are not drilled for bezel-setting fun. I want to make everything with pearls. Maybe next paycheck.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

repetition & finding motivation

It is so refreshing to read other metalsmiths' blogs. I mean, really.

Because of a multitude of reasons I haven't pushed myself as much as usual (not enough time, limited resources, too scared, etc). During my college jewelry classes I would set myself up for a challenge in every piece, because those were the pieces I wanted to create. The ones that make you want to rip your hair out and make you come up with all sorts of ridiculous ways to make it work how you originally envisioned. When those are finished it is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Unfortunately it's also why I never want to make the same thing again.

Once I finish a piece and have that sense of accomplishment from the completion I am done. DONE, done, and done. I may wear it, I may be thrilled beyond belief with what I was able to create, but I am DONE. Neverwannaseeyouagain kinda done. Rather, Never wanna MAKE you again.

You would think it would be easier, right? Since I've made it once the second time is bound to be smoother? I don't think so. I am quite afraid it's going to be even more difficult to replicate a piece. I become scared when I write on ANY of my items that I would just LOVE to make you another one in your size. Of course anything handmade will have variation, but how much is too much? What if I just can't pull it off?

From a business standpoint, I know I have to get over this. If people are drawn into your shop or your work because of a specific SOLD piece, you have to be able to either replicate that sold piece or if it's OOAK, work with them to create something similar. If you can't do that, you likely lose a customer.

What's so refreshing about reading other metalsmiths' blogs, then? A couple of things. First of all, this is something we all struggle with and we all will struggle with so long as we're actually trying to make money with our craft.

I also mentioned that I'm too scared to push myself...mostly because I don't want to waste materials. I know that if I push there's a good chance I'll end up with scrap metal instead of a finished piece some of the time.

But you know what? That's how you get better. And that's how you create those really incredible pieces that you are proud to show off. And EVERYONE who works with metal KNOWS that there are just some of those days that you don't have it, and you're going to ruin stuff.

And what else is refreshing? Inspiration. Yup, I just admitted that I look to other artists (even those who work in the same medium as I do) for inspiration. No, I don't think I'm copying or stealing anyone's ideas. Yup, I think people need to get over themselves.

But that's a post for another day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

next life = dragon!!

My lovely sister modeled my jewelry for me - all of my earrings and pendants can now be seen on a real person! Well, soon. As soon as I upload them and whatnot.
Speaking of taking photos of your earrings for sale in someones GASP EARS...I really do not see what the big deal is. It wasn't until I browsed etsy and read things like "made to order! Don't worry, your earrings will never be worn by anyone else!" that I was even made aware that this is an issue to people.
Are we really that germaphobic? Really? I mean, of course I will clean them off before they go to their new home. I assume other sellers do as well. Even if they don't? Alcohol is an amazing substance...it's like miracle working. It kills stuff. Clean them yourself once they arrive if you're that paranoid.

The title refers to this (oh please let this link work) excerpt from Ant Farm.

(search for "karma" and start reading at page 104)
I was talking about my karma to Megan: "Karma needs to do something nice to me soon. I keep dedicating all of this good energy from my yoga practice to others, why can't a girl get a break?"

And that's when she sent me that link.
The karma comment stemmed from the fact that my sales have been non-existant. This makes me sad. I am sure I need to do all of this social networking stuff, advertise, get out there more, etc. Or maybe I need to rack up more karma points?

I wonder what others' secrets are. I see metalsmiths who have hundreds, even thousands of sales. Perhaps my work just isn't to the point where it stands out enough? Do I need more consistency in my design and style? Is it the stupid economy and my poor business-starting timing? Should I take more risks? Should I have more "basic" pieces I can make over and over? (Have I mentioned I hate making things over and over but am trying to suck it up and do it anyway because I know it's important to my business?)

I'm not sure what the answer is. Some days I wish etsy and the internetz was easy and people would see my jewelry, fall in love, and buy stuff. The end!
PS isn't picture retaking going well? I think so.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Etsy Listings!

I have 2 more items to post (a cute lil stacker with copper accent + 'tall' stack of stackers) - hopefully tonight.
And, of course, after I finish all of my stone setting madness I have several others for later in the week as well. !!
Take a look:



Monday, March 9, 2009

ring things.

I was so unbelievably productive this weekend. I have 12 new pieces and spent a million hours working on them. It was exhausting.

My biggest frustration lately isn't even my torch. It is rings. And getting their ends to touch for soldering. I feel like I'm jewelry stupid because I can't imagine it should be THIS difficult. It literally took me over a half hour the other day of carefully filing and checking, discovering they still aren't touching, more filing and checking, etc before I had them close enough.

I asked some friendly metalsmiths on etsy and got some tips. And was told it may get easier after I make a few...hundred.

So that's my latest project. Rings. A lot of them.

I've order a rawhide mallet to assist in my ring-making journey, as well as a 3rd hand and some chain. I bet people would like to wear their pendants immediately. So I bought some chain to do that. And now I need to make clasps. The list is never-ending.

NEED like NOW:
wood blocks
c clamps
block with V cut out of it for sawing.
a saw for wood (just a little hand held guy) if we don't have one

I also NEED to find my battery charger for my camera so I can take pictures of the pretties.

Friday, March 6, 2009

oh it's friiiiday.

Yesterday I was musing (or rather being quite annoyed with myself) about how I always manage to forget something when I'm going out the door.

See, yesterday I sent my waxes to the casting place. As I was writing an email to the person that I have been corresponding with at the casting place, specifically this sentence - "I'm still not sure what type of mold will be best for -" I realized that there was nothing to mold in the box I had just sent out. All 20 waxes were in there...the 3 silver rings were not. Sigh. So I hit the delete button a bunch of times and instead wrote, "Please disregard the invoice which says the box contains 3 silver rings. It does not. Those will be sent out tomorrow."

I was determined to have a better day after that and not forget anything else. I was quite pleased with myself when I remembered the bags of my jewelry stuff along with my notebook. When I got to my "studio" ala plastic table in my dad's garage, however, I was overwhelmed.

Everything was a disaster. I have no organizational system at all and that's become a problem with the more supplies and tools I collect. After some damage control I got to work....and quickly realized I forgot my saw. And my ring mandrel. And my dowels. These 3 things were kind of key to making nearly everything on my list. At least I had...sand paper?

So...I only managed to make 2 things, sadly, but tonight I will make more! I enjoyed it because I was able to play with my new copper wire as well as my earring jig that I purchased from another etsian. I'm becoming quite enamored with copper, despite it's skin color-changing abilities and being a "cheap" metal. It's so pretty!

These are DONE (aside from polishing)
1. Irregular circles Copper Pendant (um, thanks to my mother I was singing the few words I knew of "The Circle Game" over and over and over while making this)
2. Irregular circles copper earrings with SS hand-forged (ooo my first try) ear wires
3. Blue paua shell drop pendant

These are on the Schedule (over the next few days)
1. blue paua earrings
2. lula earrings
3. polka dot earrings to match polka dot bracelet
4. lil lulas
5. Megan's custom earrings! (I will be doing these first, actually)
6. piles and piles of stacking rings
7. and then starts the pendants list...

We'll see how quickly I get sick of making earrings.