Monday, November 9, 2009

Share the Love

As a member of the Handmade Artist Forum every week we try to spread the love. One shop is randomly picked for each day of the week and then we try to promote them and their stores everyday.

Our Etsy shop has been chosen for Sunday, November 15th. Since that is the day that my eldest niece, Diana, is having her Bridal Shower, I will have a one day only, 20% off EVERYTHING sale! Make your purchase on the 15th, write DIANA'S BRIDAL SHOWER in a comment at checkout and I will refund you 20% of your purchase price. I hate to say this but, sale items included! ACK! I know, I'm crazy. But my niece is getting married and it's almost ChristmaHannuKwanzakah so it's really 20% off everything.

To honor the others that have been chosen for this week's Spread The Love, I have picked an item out of each store that I like and I urge you to check them out...

Monday, November 9, Ambient Girl Supplies

Assorted Shells

Tuesday, November 10, Snips & Snails

Cross Stitch Snail Scrabble tile Pendant/ charm

Wednesday, November 11, Jewelry by Judy

Summer Blues Sterling Charm Bracelet

Thursday, November 12, Bread & Circuses

The Tree of Life - Abstract Painting

Friday, November 13, Bizee Bee Creations

Garnet Earrings with Freshwater Pearls

Saturday, November 14, Lasuz Creations

Dove Grey Necklace

And of course, Sunday will be my day. I'll let you pick out your favorites now! So go Spread the Love!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

By: Wendy Moyer

Most women love handcrafted jewelry because it can adorn and enhance any outfit. By its very nature handcrafted jewelry is very individual, colorful and creative.

Why wear what everybody else is wearing when wearing handcrafted jewelry will shout out your individuality? Simple clothing contrasted with an outstanding piece of unique handcrafted jewelry is a fashion statement that will express your individuality.

And, if you purchase designer made handcrafted jewelry you can add exclusivity into that mix. If it's designed for you, handcrafted creations can make you feel very special.

Imagine wearing a work of art that was created especially for you. Jewelry, which, if you put a picture frame around it and hung it on the wall people would gaze upon - as if it belonged in a museum.

Designer Handcrafted Jewelry

If you want to buy handcrafted jewelry that matches your personality and stands out from the crowd then it could be more expensive than what you would buy at most craft fairs.

Part of the cost of your jewelry will be reflected in your choice of metals. The percentage of precious metals used in the design affects the price of the piece.

Inexpensive jewelry is often mass manufactured and made with man-made stones whereas finer jewelry uses the choicest of materials including natural gems. If you choose gemstones to adorn your necklaces, rings or bracelets, their size, cut and quality will have a dramatic effect on the price.

What you're getting with a truly custom designed piece of jewelry is often a unique, one of a kind design that reflects the conceptualization and the skill of the handcrafted jewelry that made the piece. And as with any other work of art, the reputation and skill of the designer/handcrafter will also influence the price.

The Handcrafted Jewelry Creator

Many of the most creative handcrafted jewelers have, over the course of time, learned how to temper their passion with patience. They are champions of an old world artisan's approach to their craft.

They've learned that it can take time to visualize and create beautiful pieces of handcrafted jewelry. A handcrafted jeweler's work of art is a true reflection of their artistic thoughts. Perhaps even more important, their creations reflect their feelings.

If you aspire to create visions of beauty, you also must be patient while the design and fabrication process unfolds - however long it takes. And you must be passionate about your need to create moving visions of handcrafted jewelry that are expressions of your soul.

Article Source:

About the Author

To find out more about handcrafted jewelry go to

Wendy Moyer is a professional writer.

(Editor: Let me add my own words to this wonderful article. Not all "custom" jewelry has to be expensive. Many pieces already created by a jewelry artisan can be customized for you simply by choosing different colors or metals. Don't be afraid to ask. Yes, the choice of metals will affect the overall cost. Gold is more expensive than silver, but copper is less expensive than Niobium. It's all a matter of taste... your taste.

Make a piece your own by changing it slightly or dramatically or having a complete new design made just for you. It never hurts to ask if you can get what you at a price you want to pay.)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Featured Artisans

This month I want to share with you two wonderful Handmade Artisans who define the term.

First up is Tiffany Brotherton. A graduate in Fine Arts from Missouri State University, she got hooked after taking a class by Sarah Perkins, a wonderful designer in her own right. Tiffany is a tool junkie and tends to be inspired by natural forms, flower and plants. "...they are a never ending source of fascination for me." she says. Her jewelry tends to be very sculptural and distinct as wearable art as you can see in her shop, Zoebe, on Artfire .

She advises new designers to experiment with their work and more importantly, document all your steps in notebooks " that you can remake something exactly rather than making it from memory."

Tiffany and her fiancé live in a house full of animals including 2 dog and 4 cats ranging in age from 3 months to 20 years. She says they really love the furry ones.

Tiffany is offering free shipping from now through Novemver 30th and a 10% discount for anyone who reads this blog. Just enter coupon code: MIKIBLOG at checkout.

Our next artisan is Marcella Hogg who creates adorable clothes and accessories for babies. I can't wait until I'm a graunty and hope she's still making them when that time comes. Marcella got into her addiction when her daughter turned 3 this past March. She started making tutus and selling them on Craigslist. Wiser heads advised her to go to Etsy and The Little Ballerina was born.

The rest, as they say, is history and it's still being made. From tutus to clippies to beautiful boy T's, you can see her high quality and loving detail in every stitch. Her inspiration are her children. Three of them all under the age of 3! As expected, she doesn't have as much spare time as she'd like. It usually consists of naptime and nighttime which is when she can get her bows and tutus done in relative peace and quiet.

Marcella suggests that new businesses starting out need to do a lot of promoting. "It took me awhile to get some sales, about a month for my first one." With 3 young children I wonder where she finds time to promote, let alone make all those adorable items. For now, let's hope she continues and even expands her craft. A very talented, and tired woman, mention this blog at checkout, and Marcella will give you 10% off any purchase from her shop!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

October is...

...a very special month for us. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Miki lost her own mother to this insidious disease, so did her sister-in-law. One of her best friends has been battling it for years and so many other women have lost women they love and care for; mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces and friends. So we are dedicating proceeds of sales this month in their honor. October is also Domestic Violence Prevention month and is yet another thing women need contend with.

Our campaign is THINK PINK & PURPLE! We will be donating 20% of ALL sales from all three shops (website, Etsy and Artfire) to "Susan G. Komen for the Cure". An additional 10% of all THINK PINK & PURPLE items will also be donated to "Women in Distress of Broward". It doesn't matter what colors you prefer or buy, you can still THINK PINK & PURPLE by purchasing something from our shops, for yourself or a friend, and know that you've helped contribute a little bit to the search for the cure.

We are joining with other Guilds, Shops and Teams for this fund raising campaign. This Fundraiser will start on October 1st and run through October 31st. Participating Guild studios will be donating a % of their sales for the month to one or both of the causes. We will be listing the shops, guilds and team sites participating in this event so you can help them help others.

***Please 'Help Us Help' these very worthy causes***

If you would like to add your shop, guild or team link to this list, please email us privately.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm not sure if I do or don't. My partner and I attended a local Pagan Pride Festival today and had a really great time. Wish I'd remembered my camera though. (sigh) I didn't get a lot of sleep last night and woke up early today. A little on the grouchy side and I didn't expect much from the festival.

While I didn't have a lot of sales, I did have a great time. For some reason, a lot of gifts came my way. The day started with a bit of negative energy from a group of people who got upset because of my "daring" to use the electrical outlet behind their tables. They were along a wall, I was in the middle of the room and needed electric. The organizers had told me to use that outlet and even supplied me with the extension cord. They kept telling me I couldn't do it, It was dangerous. People would trip. That's what duct tape is for and I had plenty of it.

Anyway, I decided to absorb the negative, throw it away and balance it by doing something nice for someone else. So, I did. I stepped in and calmed someone who had driven 300 miles to be at the festival and was upset with the fact that someone else had "taken over" a large portion of her spot. I figured out a solution and everyone was happy. In return, I received a beautiful silver snake chain necklace and crystal pendant. Great energy.

Then the group that had started the day with a bad vibe, gave me a beautiful plant. I was having hot flashes (lucky me) and some of the young girls were hanging out with me while I was making rings on the spot and fanning me with their fans. LOL I was talking to someone else, mentioning that I'd been there hours and not one sale and she gave me a malachite shard. Told me to put it in my cash box. So I did. I swear to you up down and sideways it's the honest truth, but within 5 minutes of my putting the shard in my cash box, I sold a necklace and earring set for $50. Amazing!

What started out as a tired, bad vibing, icky day, turned into one of the most satisfying days I've had in a long time. Cat had almost as an incredible day, reading Tarot for a lot of people, as I did. Seems there was a log of positive energy around us which drew a number of people to her. Like I said, we get as good as we give.

So, let me send out to cyberspace, some of the wonderful, positive energy that came my way today. I don't know if I really believe in instant karma, but the things that happened today have no other explanation. What you give you get. After all, one of the fundamental laws of our universe is cause and effect so why can't Karma and all the rest be true too? :)

What do you believe?

Updated 09/20/09 11:42 PM EST: Almost forgot to mention that someone is giving us two 10x10 canopy tents. No sides or anything but this will definitely open more venues for us as we can now go to outdoor craft shows with a bit of security from the hot sun and rain. Like I said, instant Karma. WOW I'm a believer.

Monday, September 14, 2009

September Featured Artisan

I'm a member of the Florida Etsy Street Team aka FEST and decided to feature one of our team members in this month's blog. Taffy Knits is a true needle-artist making some of the sweetest knitted and felted hats, bags and objects I've seen, that I just had to tell you about her. Taffy Knits creations are original, quirky and reasonably priced.

Ranging from a beautiful Brick House Bag, which we hear will be featured in DIY Magazine next month, to a Felted Tea Cups Knitting Pattern to really sweet hats, these designs are a must have for anyone who loves handcrafted art.

Now Stephanie, who started Taffy Knits has only been knitting about 7 years. "We had these comfortable evenings where my children had to read aloud to me for homework," Stephanie said, "and I wanted to be doing something with my hands that still let me be focused on them, yet doing something for me at the same time."

Apparently she is so into her knitting, that she will often burn dinner and the kids are stuck eating it. Poor babies. But her wonderful attention to detail shows. "I like to knit an item and then felt it, because it will hold that shape so firmly." she wrote "The Simmering Cauldron and the Tea Pot are good examples of those."

Stephanie loves to share her craft. She teaches at the local library, her children knot alongside with her now and their friends are becoming interested in lerning too. She is helping a whole new generation find the love, peace, serenity, fun and creative outlet in this oldest of needlecrafts.

So do yourself a favor and check out this wonderful Florida artist and tell her what you think. We all need a little encouragement and the work at Taffy Knits is truly superb!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Street Fairs

Street fairs are fun but in the heat and humidity of South Florida's rainy season, they're brutal as well. Cat and I attended the Third Second on Second Thursdays block party, pub crawl, art fair last Thursday. This is a relatively new event that 7 restaurant/pub owners in Downtown Himmarshee (Second Street) in Ft. Lauderdale thought up to try to bring more business to the area in this time of economic recession. We were even featured on the local news and you can see my partner on TV at CBS4. What a hoot!

Besides ourselves, there were a group of marine photographers with some really neat photos, a really great Zen artist and another jeweler who does lost wax casting and a lot of lapidary work making knives out of obsidian, etc. Rolling Rock beer and New Times sponsored the event and were there also. The event benefited the Riverwalk Trust.

While a small event, I managed to make some contacts and even sold two of my pieces. Cat managed to make quite a bit doing Tarot readings and being her usual bubbly self. We definitely plan on being there next month though I will hope and pray that it's a little cooler. We managed to avoid the rain up until the last 15 minutes.

We had everything packed into the carriers and had just gotten ready to fold up the tables and get the car when the heavens opened up and we not only got rain, we got a downpour that had me soaked to the skin in less than 2 minutes. Let me tell you, it's not fun being hot to the point of being soaked in your own sweat. Add a torrential downpour and while it's cooling, it's quite, quite uncomfortable. Remind me to avoid outdoor September events next year. I'm not even sure October is going to be any better. After all, it is our rainy season but I don't ever want to do this again in this kind of weather. ACK!

I have to say I enjoy going to craft fairs and events though setting up and breaking down are hard on my back. We've also got to work more on setting up the right type of display. we're still working on that. As you can see, we bought a couple of folding, adjustable tables from Sam's Club. (Thanks Yahoo Groups!) Cat found some inexpensive black tablecloths and the pretty gold scarf cloths for the tables online. I've been collecting display pieces and think a lot about how to show everything. But it's not easy. We'll be getting a banner made and perhaps next time I'll remember the bracelet display. [sigh]

But hey, I sold some jewelry, made some contacts and had a fun time. Isn't that what it's all about?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This article is coming out of a wonderful discussion I had with a very talented goldsmith who is trying to educate people on exactly what custom work is. He writes this whole article on his site where he talks about fabricating a ring for you, or making a wax carving and then manufacturing it for you, or say you want stones on it, you may have your own or you may want to buy from him. Stones come in all qualities so you can spend most of your money on the highest quality stone or go for the glam and save. There are so many individual pieces that go into making a custom piece that people tend to shy away from it. All of the above mentioned type work is what most people think of as 'custom', but actually, anything can be custom. A simple droplet earring in the colors of your, a wire wrapped ring, with the birthstones of your children, a funky necklace made to complement your grandmother's old brooch, they're all custom pieces. The most important thing he taught me was... "If you can't walk into a store, point at something in a case and buy it, it's 'custom'. So when you think of custom work, don't think 'expensive', think 'exact'. You get exactly what you want, rather than simply choosing from what's available!

That can be a great boon to someone who absolutely LOVES this earring, but would much rather have it in silver and red, or copper and peach or any other metal, crystal combination. It's very easy to do and in some cases, such as doing this gold earring in silver, will actually cost you less. But you'll still get the bragging rights of "It was custom made for me."

The person I'm talking about I just met on the Orchid forum part of the Ganoskin Project. Pete Schlosser has 7 years experience as a gold smith in the trade, currently lives in Minnesota with his wife and is seriously thinking of moving down here to Florida. In true southern tradition, We all would be so plea-ased to hay-uve y'all come and live dowen here with us. LOL Of course I think the move is a while away. Considering between Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens and Palm Beach is not an easy choice. I'm all the way down in the depths of South Florida so anything north of Boynton seems foreign to me. I just gotta get me out more. LOL You can find Pete's site at The Goldsmithy. In his own words, "How fast things change. Here's my website, now ancient in design (2003?). Every piece shown is that old, I never update the site even though I probably should."

Anyway, I'm hoping that you will learn a bit more about what custom work is and why you should always ask if someone will customize a piece for you. It's the best way to get exactly what you want, at a price you want to pay.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Artfire Rocks!

They've just given us a way to have our Artfire Studios on our Facebook Fan pages and you don't have to leave Facebook to find everything we make and sell. I think it's awesome and hope you'll check out Mikicat Designs Facebook Fan page and our new Artfire Kiosk. It is so cool.

In the meantime, I've been working on some new pieces. A 4-in-1 European chainmaille Ring in Sterling Silver, and a really small micro Byzantine weave in 14k gold and Blue Titanium. I haven't priced them or even gotten decent photos yet. But that will happen. Here's a picture of the 4-in-1 Ring. It's so pretty.

I also made a pendant to match the Snow & Ice Earrings I sold. I was so inspired and it came out so nice, I almost don't want to give it up. But when you get a custom order, you can't keep them for yourself. (grin) But it did come out nice and sparkley and pretty and matches perfectly with the earrings of which there are one more pair left!

The end of the month is almost here and our Grand Opening hullabaloo is winding down. I've also put some great things up for sale and reduced prices on the Website, our Etsy shop and our ArtFire Studio. Now is the time for some great savings on beautiful handcrafted items for yourself or to give as gifts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I made a Sale!

Okay, I'm blocked for blogging. While I love to write and think I do it well, I don't always know what to write about. After a wonderful chat with the Florida Etsy Street Team tonight, I was complaining about not having any sales. I've been with Etsy for many months now and only made one online sale... to my cousin in Atlanta. I've been waiting and waiting for another sale. Well, we had a fun FEST chat. Talked about Florida sales tax laws, Facebook business pages and how to get fans, some of the wonderful work that others do, blogging and tips on selling, and more. Joining this team makes me feel a part of a community. We're all handmade artisans and whether we work in fiber, clay, ceramics, photography, painting, jewelry or any other type of art or craft, we're a community brought together with one common goal. To help each other learn from our mistakes. To guide others over the pitfalls we fell into. To learn from each other the things we need to learn to make a success of what we love to do and to never give up hope.

Like I said, it was a great chat tonight. A bit fast and it went quick, but I loved it. But the point I'm trying to make is that good karma comes to those who do good. Something happened before I even got to the chat. Something I didn't know about because I hadn't checked my email or my store before logging on to chit chat with everyone. When the chat was over, the first thing I did is what I usually do before going to bed... I checked my Etsy site and, just for the heck of it, clicked on Sold Orders. WOW, color me floored when I found that someone had bought a pair of earrings.

This is my second sale online since I opened the store back in April. I'm so glad that I can make a few more of these as they happen to be one of my best sellers at craft fairs but they are limited edition. Once I run out of the components I won't be buying more and will go on to new designs and ideas. So I am thrilled that someone finally found me, who wasn't a relative, and liked them enough to purchase.

This is so exciting. I'd like to feel it more often. But I don't want to use this blog to blatantly advertise just myself. So next week, look forward to a blog about tomorrow night's Florida Gold Coast Gem & Mineral Society Meeting where, I hear, one of our new members will attempt to teach some of the old lapidarists or is that lapidaryists (lapidaryers?) how to do wire wrapping. This I have GOT to see. LOL


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Atlantis Lives!

Almost a year ago I created a pretty loopy chainmaille earring with Swarovski Crystals. I decided to call it Atlantis Spring. Since then, I've had requests to make the same earring in different colors. So, I decided to create them after the seasons. Yesterday, I spent 4 hours making jump rings in the size I needed, and creating the same design in my version of the Four Seasons.

Atlantis Crystal Spring uses 4mm Swarovski bicones in Aqua, Light Rose AB, Crystal AB and Tanzanite. I've varied this for others exchanging Tanzanite for Violet and Aqua for Aqua AB. The Aurora Borealis effect of these crystals creates a rainbow of colors when the light hits it just right. These colors explode with the promise of Spring.

Atlantis Crystal Summer, made with gorgeous Swarovski colors in Peridot, Light Rose, Jonquil and Light Peach, is beautiful combination that reminds you of the soft colors of hazy, lazy summer days.

Fall reminds me most of the changing of the seasons. Though I live in South Florida, which doesn't have much of a fall to begin with, I remember from my years in the north the beautiful colors of the changing leaves on trees. I used the colors Erinite (a beautiful Swarovski leafy green), Topaz (for the orange tips of the leaves), Jonquil (for that touch of yellow) and Smoky Topaz (just the right amount of brown).

Lastly, there's Winter. Cool, chic, mysterious. I chose the colors of Jet for long winter nights, an icy Crystal AB, the beautiful new Air Blue Opal looking like the evening snow and Black Diamond AB.

All of these are currently available on my web site. Eventually I will be adding the choice to custom pick your own colors. But for now, if you want to choose your own, just email us. Whether you choose 1, 2, 3 or 4 colors, each pair of earrings has 24 4mm crystals with a 4x5mm Swarovski Simplicity Crystal AB dangling from the bottom.

One last thing... while the earrings are made from Sterling Silver jump rings, the headpins are now made with silver plate. I do offer the option of upgrading to ball headpins (as seen in the Spring version) in Sterling, Argentium or Fine Silver for a small extra charge. I really would like to know what you think of these color combos and suggestions for others. It's such a fun earring to make. I can even imagine them in pearls and crystals for a beautiful bride. In fact, I think I'll create a pair like that right now.

Friday, July 17, 2009

July Featured Artisan

This month I am also featuring Haffina Creations! A wonderful blogger, artisan, designer and Guild Master. This wonderful woman not only writes articles for but also formed the Artfire Chainmaille Artisans Guild, creates some beautiful jewelry and sells it in her studio. She's even started to make polymer clay beads and opened a new studio just to sell them to other artisans. Check out her blog and learn all about her latest passions, what's news and how, like me, she just doesn't find enough time to do everything she wants to do.

Haffina is offering a special Christmas in July sale so check out her offerings at her Artfire studio.

Website Opening Delayed

Our web store is still not live :( and we're hoping to get it open by the end of the month. In the meantime, Twitter followers can still get their discount on any item in our Esty Shop or our Artfire Studio.

Please let us know how you feel, what you like, what you dislike. We really need feedback from our customers and would like to make a piece specially for you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Latest Creation

I've been spending so much time online, trying to get the web store loaded up with my designs, promoting my fingers off to get more Facebook fans so I can reach 100 and lock in our name, Tweeting, photographing, describing, typing, etc... that I haven't had a lot of time to work on actually doing what I love to do, designing and making jewelry.

I'm lucky enough to have a new sister-in-law who just started her residency in Radiology on Monday. Amma and my brother, Noel, came down to Florida for a visit for this 4th of July weekend. They live up in Boston and I'm lucky if I get to see them once a year if that much. I wanted to give her something special so I created a design inspired by their love.
I've always liked the different "Tree of Life" pendants out there and decided to try my hand at making a pair of earrings. I call them Tree Heart because I used beautiful green and pink Tourmaline, the colors of the heart chakra.

Tourmalines are gems with an incomparable variety of colors. The reason, according to an old Egyptian legend, is that the tourmaline, on its long journey up from the center of the Earth, passed over a rainbow. In doing so, it assumed all of it's colors and that is why it is still referred to as the 'gemstone of the rainbow' today. It is available in a wide variety of colors
from black to bluish-black, dark brown, yellow, medium brown, blue to neon blue, lime to dark forest green, red and reddish purple, yellow, pink, and colorless.

Bi-colored and multicoloured tourmalines may be green at one end and pink at the other, watermelon tourmalines are green on the outside and pink on the inside. Some stones are dichroic meaning they appear to change color when viewed from different angles.

Tourmaline is believed to strengthen the body and spirit, especially the nervous system, blood, and lymphs, and enhance flexibility, happiness, objectivity, compassion, serenity, balance, positive transformation, healing, strength, tolerance, love, spirituality, joy, peace, and understanding. It is also thought to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers.

The Heart Chakra is the center from which feelings of love emanate. It is also associated with other virtuous emotions, such as joy, happiness, honesty, respect, compassion, understanding, and generosity, and with loving oneself in a sincere, non-egotistic way. This is also the chakra through which we connect with others whom we love or have affection towards. Once forged, these links are very hard to break, which is why people suffer so much through the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a loved one.

The colors of the heart chakra are green (Emerald), red (Rose Quartz) and white (Silver). The red corresponds to the rose light of love, while the green signifies the lower or gross emotional body functioning of the heart center, which is focused on self, security, and accumulation of and attachment to and pride in physical and emotional possessions. The white or silver of course signifies spiritual purity.

I used a 20mm sterling silver square wire ring and tiny tourmaline chips. These aren't the most perfect earrings I've ever made but I love 'em. Wish I were a better photographer. I'll just have to make another pair and maybe I can get a better photo. Please, tell me what you think.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This and that

Blogging isn't easy when you're not used to it. I think I'm too stiff and need to loosen up a bit. So I'm going to do something that seems against all the marketing rules, but to me, means community and sharing. I'm going to tell you about a wonderful designer I found. Theresa aka Studio618 started following me on Twitter, and, as I do when anyone starts to follow me, I check out their Twitter page too.. which led me to her blog, which led me to her Etsy and Artfire shops. Viewing her designs and reading her wonderful blog, I could only wish to achieve her ability with metals, wire, beads and stones. These are some of the most breathtaking designs I've seen and I am honored that she thinks me worthy of following. Not that I tweet about anything more than my upcoming webstore opening. LOL But I think many of you would be well served to take a looksee at what a wonderful artisan this woman is.

I can only aspire to such talent and will keep working hard to increase my knowledge and skills. It's such a joy to make jewelry. Definitely satisfying and I am so glad to be a part of such a large community of talented women.


Well, our Grand Opening for our online shop is scheduled for this 4th of July weekend. Let me tell you it's been a hectic month here. First with finding the right web designer who can not only design the website but program the shopping cart, help with marketing and all the other stuff involved with getting a presence on the Internet. It's not easy. But a little bit fun. I found a wonder, wonderful designer and knowledgeable marketer in Delia Cumming of She has a ton of patience and actually listens! I love her logo design for us, though it may need a bit more tweaking. Still, I realize now how hard it is to program and design a website for someone else.

I haven't been designing or making much jewelry this month either. Just trying to get good photos and get as much inventory put online as possible is taking up a lot of time. I will be adding more and more this entire month, but not quickly. I still have the Etsy shop and Artfire studio and will maintain them for those who like to wander. If you find anything on either of the shops that's already sold, please email me and I'll be happy to provide a custom piece for you if possible.

So get ready for something to happen. Right now just what that is, is anyone's guess. {chuckle}


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've started a web ring at WebRing® for Chainmaille Artisans. Anyone who has a current and active website or blog is welcome to join. Doesn't matter if you're a professional or hobbyist, Web rings help us promote each other, share interesting new sites related to this passion and keeps the Internet turning. LOL

To join, simple go over to WebRing® or copy and paste into your browser. Then click on Join This Community in the upper right. Log in, follow directions for placing the navbar on your website or blog and approval should be forthcoming within 24 hours. Don't forget, you must place the navbar code into your website or blog or you won't be approved.

I hope to see many people joining me. And I promise to maintain this ring by making sure everyone keeps their site up and the navbar properly listed. I hate it when a web ring stalls. :)


07-02-09 Update: After promising to maintain this ring by making sure everyone keeps their navbar up and properly listed, here I go and screw it up during the makeover. I'm temporarily suspended myself from the ring and hope it'll be back up and running this weekend. Apparently, though, the page spewing forth validation errors because of the WebRing code. So it's true, stuff does happen. :(

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is there such a thing as a "perfect" web designer? I'm not sure, but perhaps we can come close. I've been looking for someone to re-design my website and blog, put up a shopping cart on my site and help me with SEO, search engine optiminzation. So, I found There I listed my requirements, what I expect and my budget, which isn't very high. I really didn't expect much but imagine my surprise when I got 7 responses within 3 days!

So, I spent the next week or so talking to web designers. Many of whom insisted that I host on their servers. Those were eliminated immediately since I already have a host server and am not looking to change right now. Others were wonderful graphic designers, but didn't have the programming skills I needed to include my shopping cart. I'm good with graphics myself and am really just looking for someone to make my pages have style and consistency... my style, not theirs. As a jewelry designer and artist, I'm drawn to certain designs.

Some people had more experience in one area than another. Some tried to be everything to everybody. I found a wonderful woman I feel comfortable with and now, Delia of AKMWebCo, and I will work on getting my website looking pretty, easy to navigate, eCommerce plugged in and, this blog seamlessly integrated. At least that is my hope.

So, stay with me through this process and find out the ups and downs of working with a designer. With luck, I'll be able to have time to make more jewelry and photograph it as well.


Friday, May 29, 2009

So, how do you break into a field where there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of other men and women doing the same thing you're doing and trying to sell the same or similar items? As someone in that position myself, let me tell you it's not easy.

People like to buy from those who've already made a name for themselves, who have credentials in their field, or who have something so outstanding and original, no one else has anything like it. In the handmade jewelry field, with so many talented artisans in the world, that's rapidly becoming a rarity.

So, how do you get yourself to stand out from the crowd? A good question. Follow along with me as I learn the tips and tricks of starting a new business, in a field of thousands, during a major recession. This should be interesting. LOL

My first steps have been to start this blog, hoping that others will want to take a look and tell their friends. I've joined Etsy and Artfire where I can sell my items, but again, I'm lost amidst a myriad of other people doing the same thing. I'm on Facebook, where I can urge my friends and family to tell their friends to tell their friends, etc., about what I'm doing. I'm Tweeting on Twitter, joining Artisan forums, getting a quote on having my Website redesigned and learning about SEO, Search Engine Optimization.

Along with becoming as good as a professional photographer so my jewelry looks good, over the coming months I'll be talking about each of these issues. Highlighting what works, and what didn't. Featuring the forums, guilds and other places to network and above all, hoping to tell you how to do this all successfully and still have time to make the jewelry you obviously love to make and need to sell.

Not an easy task, but please stay tuned to see what's new here.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What's in a name?

Some designs just scream out for a name. something other than Byzantine links and rings. Simple. Appropriate. But it doesn't evoke what the piece really looks like. I've been calling once such piece I made Byzantine Scallops. Appropriate, but not evocative. At a recent show, a little girl came up to me and told me I made pretty Seahorse Bubbles. I looked at her in puzzlement until she pointed out the aforementioned earrings. So, do I keep the name Byzantine Scallops or rename them to Seahorse Bubbles? I'd love your opinion and here's a picture of them. Tell me what you think.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Wedding Preparations

My eldest niece, Diana, is going to be the first of my three nieces to get married. And I am soooo excited. She and her sisters are the daughters of my heart. I love them more than life. So this Saturday will be the first day of Bridal shopping. My sympathies are going to be with the Bridal Consultant who will have to deal with my niece, Diana, a very strong-willed woman, her two sisters, two best friend, Auntie (me) and her Mom. I've been watching "Say Yes To the Dress", a Learning Channel reality show that takes place at Kleinfeld's in New York.

OMG, what these people go through to find the right dress. It's
not just price, which can range from $1,000 to a whopping $24,000, it's finding what makes the bride "feel" it's the right one. They do say that the more people the bride brings to the consultation, the harder it is. After all.... everyone has an opinion and that could get the bride confused. But I have faith in my niece and our family and friends. Most of us pretty much agree on what will look good on her.

Of course, as her Auntie, I've elected to cr
eate all of the jewelry for the Bride and the Wedding Party. Can't do anything until the dresses are chosen but I am getting so excited. Her colors are ivory, fuchsia and sage. For a January wedding in South Florida, it's perfect!!!

However, I could use some advice when making wedding jewelry as this will be a first for me. Hints, tips, inspiration, ideas, anything anyone can share will indeed, help me do the best I can for them. Last thing I want is for them to think my work is too cheap or unprofessional.

The closest I've come to anything bridal looking are these Pearl drops. But I think they'd be more for the Mother of the Bride than the young lady herself.

So, I'll do my best. But I could use some help from the experts and others with a good eye. :) Oh, did I tell you I'm all excited!?


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Something Blue

I bought the tutorial on doing the Cool Cubes necklace from the Interweave store. It was hard, but a lot of fun! Especially considering I have dozens of square glass beads in every color imaginable. After creating the cubes using 3 different colors of aqua/blue, I decided I didn't want to make the exact same thing as in the tutorial. So I combined all 3 of my current disciplines, beading, wire wrap and chainmaille, to create something more unique. I made sterling silver byzantine links and wired up Swarovski crystals along with the beaded cubes. Here's what I wound up with.

I then decided to create matching earrings and luckily had Swarovski drops in the right color. Amazing how some things work out isn't it?

This was a blast to make and I can't wait to make these cube again... perhaps with fall colors?


Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting people to pay you

I never imagined when I decided to design, create and sell jewelry that I would not only have to be an artist, but a top notch photographer, web designer, graphic artist, marketer and writer as well. Not all of these jobs come easy to me but if you want to sell your creations, you have to be able to show them to people. I can't tell you how it's been stressed in so many other blogs, tips, hints and advice written elsewhere, that taking good photos of your work is not just important, it's essential. You need to capture the eye of people who have a myriad of other handmade artists to choose from. Why should they choose you?

Most jewelry purchases are impulse buys. And that, only when there is disposable income available. Something is is increasingly rare in this current economy. So how do you get people to part with their hard earned cash and give it to you? Not an easy question to answer and there are no hard and fast rules. I will try to share what I'm learning as I make my way to finding these answers myself.

As a newcomer in this market, I am fighting against well established designers. But I also have the advantage of being able to pick their brains on what works and what doesn't. First and foremost I keep hearing about good pictures. And I understand that completely. If I saw the picture on the left I'd never buy it. But the one on the right really makes a difference and catches my eye. While the picture on the left looks ok, by lightening it up, cropping and zooming in a bit the bracelet itself commands center of attention.


Okay, they're not the best but I'm still learning too. BTW, take it from me, natural light is the best but don't forget to change the ASA on your camera to 400 to gather more light.

Well, I'm off to go working on pricing for a show I'm attending on Saturday. Wish me luck.


Monday, April 13, 2009

My First Piece

The very first piece of jewelry I designed I am now using as my logo. It came out so beautifully and I was so happy with it. Of course, because I combined both Silver wire for the jump rings which need to be smoothed out and silver plated wire for the eye pins, it now has to be completely redone. But I was inspired by a simple japanese chainmaille weave and the ladder-like tuquoise intermixed with Swarovski Crystals in such a beautiful color as to remind me of a beautiful, sunny, white cloudy day.

I call it Crystal Clouds.



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