Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May your new year be filled with all the things you cherish most.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

If you were wondering...

...what the Cosmo Jet Swarovski necklace looked like when it was finished...wonder no longer!

Cosmo Jet Swarovski and Sterling Silver Necklace Set by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Not the world's best photo, sadly. This was a fun piece to make!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Etsy treasury!

This time, it's supplies! The lovely wintergarden featured my green rose dome beadcaps in her Carnevale treasury. Thank you SO much, wintergarden!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Work in progress

I've been putting together a Swarovski Cosmo Jet necklace. I started it yesterday, but ended up working on eBay listings instead, so it's been sitting on my workbench, half-finished.

My workbench, and Swarovski Crystal Cosmo Jet necklace, still in progress

I have just about always worked on this desk. I've never used a towel or mat to keep the beads from rolling; I usually put each kind of bead in its own tin lid. I have a big collection of tin lids at this point in all shapes and sizes.

I put down this piece of white postcard just to make sure I'm getting the colors right. I used to use Lindstrom pliers, but now I use the red and black handle high-end Eurotool pliers; they're terrific and they're a great price. The Lindstroms were great, too, but the insert often popped out, and they're very fine-tipped. I only need that fine a tip for one project in a hundred, so I would much rather use the shorter-tipped Eurotool pliers.

I really like Swarovski's Cosmo Jet beads. They have such a cool look because they're half clear, half jet. I can't wait to see what this necklace looks like when it's finished.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gifting treasures

One of the fun things about the holidays (at least, for me) is that I get to design jewelry for friends and family. I love giving jewelry as a gift, and if I can tailor something that I know they'll like, then I feel like I've really won the lottery.

This year, I made a necklace for my sister-in-law, and I really love how it turned out. I think the pearls and the Green Girl Studios coral pendant look great together. I might put together another of these for sale, because it just looks so nice. And when she put it on, it really came to life! I like the movement very much.

Coral pendant with pearls, necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I also made her a pair of Steampunk earrings with links from Earthenwood Studio.

I made lots of other jewelry, too. A couple Swarovski bracelets for my mom, and a necklace out of fossil coral for my sister. I'm always excited to see how they'll react. It's a little nerve-wracking, too. I obsess over whether they like it or not.

I also tell them that they can give it back to me if they don't like it and I'll make something else for them. A recycling program, if you will.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you all have lovely holidays, filled with all the things you cherish most.

My Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eggs from Serenity Acres!

My family has announced that they are coming over for brunch on Sunday, and so I decided to go get eggs from the best egg place I know...Serenity Acres! My wonderful friend Trase has begun raising chickens, which led to her egg industry.

Now, I am not a fan of eggs, but I have heard that these eggs are tasty indeed. So I wanted to make sure Sunday's brunch was special, and how better to do that than to obtain Serenity Acres eggs?

And voila! I am now the proud owner of a dozen of these lovely beauties.

Eggs from Serenity Acres

I've been hoping to change our eating habits a little, and buy closer to home. I've shopped at the farmer's market a few times, and I've looked into CSAs. It really does help to support local farmers and it's healthier, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A purple Etsy treasury!

The lovely Bohemienneivy has added my unicorn necklace and earrings set to their Etsy treasury!! Thanks so much!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stretching my design muscles

When I first began making beaded jewelry, the Y necklace was the most popular design. I was "hired" by a local bead/jewelry store to make links for these necklaces. Sadly for them, my first loops were like any other beginner's; a bit on the misshapen side. After a couple thousand, though, I was much better, and, more importantly, I was completely addicted to making jewelry.

My first designs were variations on jewelry I had made in classes. Eventually I started making my own pieces, which were mostly seed beads on Soft-Flex wire. Most of them were ugly. My sister delights in wearing a few of my first pieces, and I cringe every time she does, though she claims that it's "vintage Laurel Moon" and I should be proud of it. I always tell her to say someone else made it.

Anyway, up until this point I had been using base metal, and after a while I realized that "base metal" was considered synonymous with "cheap" by a good portion of the jewelry design community, and I started to buy silver instead. Headpins, earring hooks, beads...I replaced my whole inventory of base metal, except for the charms. I invested in lots of Bali silver and obsessed about the price per ounce.

When I started selling at shows, I understood even better why some designers used only sterling silver and goldfill metals. Customers came up constantly and asked, "Is this silver?" To be able to answer "Yes" is a very good thing, let me tell you. Sadly, I am a Full Disclosure person and I would often get bogged down in the telling of it by listing all of the parts that were sterling silver, which does tend to make some eyes glaze over. But I digress. Sterling silver became the big Selling Point for a lot of jewelry, and it was definitely what was selling.

Fast forward to a few years ago. At this point, I had started designing less. I went into a local bead store, and there was a tray of these very old-fashioned looking components on the counter. I asked what they were, and the owner said, "They're from a company called Vintaj." To my sterling silver eyes, they looked...well, I hate to say this, honestly, but they looked a little cheap, and I couldn't imagine that they'd sell in such a sterling-silver-obsessed market.

But they did sell. And I noticed design after design pouring into the magazines with darkened brass, copper, and bronze. The market was turning. Sterling silver had become so expensive that people were looking for alternatives. I went online and noticed Etsy shops like Lorelei Eurto's amazing jewelry shop, and I realized that it was here to stay, and worse, I had no idea what to do with these new trends.

So I decided to experiment. I bought a small assortment of Vintaj pieces, along with some beads and chain in copper from a different source, and I started playing. Here's one of my first pieces:

Tourmaline and copper necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I made this for a friend for the holidays. The tourmaline was really yummy and I only had a little handful, so this was perfect. And she likes a minimalist look, so I did a less-is-more design.

I'm still trying to understand things about brass and copper; I don't know if I'm ready to sell it at a show yet, for example. But I'm enjoying breaking out of the sterling silver mold.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The lovely smell of basil

For years, my husband has made a flavored salt known as "epice marie" (pronounced "peace marie").

It's a very simple thing to make. Mince your favorite fresh herbs, mix them with coarse salt, spread it into a thin layer on a dish, and let dry. It absolutely must be fresh herbs, and it should be coarse salt like kosher salt or coarse sea salt. The salt absorbs the moisture from the herbs, and the herbs dry quickly, making a flavorful seasoned salt that will perk up everything from mashed potatoes to grilled vegetables to steak. It's extremely versatile.

Usually my husband uses basil and salt, but sometimes he mixes in rosemary or thyme. It all depends on what's on hand. Traditional epice marie usually contains rosemary, garlic, and thyme, but we've found that we really like the flavor of basil, so that's what he uses.

Yesterday's batch is drying as we speak:

Seasoning salt

It fills the whole house with its scent. I love it. It's a taste of home, and I sometimes take it with me on my travels.

Once it's dry, we usually put it in a small bowl and use a pinch or two at a time. Because we use coarse sea salt, I like to take a pinch in my fingers and crush it a little finer as I'm sprinkling it on my food. We've found that it doesn't work well in a salt mill, because the salt is heavier than the herbs and will travel to the bottom, which is why we put it in a bowl. Alternatively, you can also put it in a salt pig:

Salt Pig

The salt pig is on the right. It keeps the salt covered, and then you can use the spoon to access the salt.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Check out this cute treasury!

Thank you, wimzieprints, for including me in this adorable Etsy treasury!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More new sets in my Etsy shop!

I've been having a great time stringing new necklaces and making new earrings. The latest:

Unicorn Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Unicorn! I've had this pendant for ages. It's another wonderful Green Girl design, and I think I'll pop this into the shop tomorrow.

I'm done for tonight. I'm looking forward to the weekend, which will be chock-full of listing and photography and beading and, of course, hot chocolate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm in another treasury!

I've been featured in another treasury! Thank you so much, im2keys!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New charm earring listings, now with color choices!

I've been really thinking lately about my Etsy jewelry shop. I've been revising things and adding a few new listings. I'm about to start working on some new designs, but in the interim I was thinking about what sort of items I could add to the shop to make it interesting.

Then I remembered: charm earrings. When I first started making jewelry, charm earrings were one of my very first projects, and I really loved them. I wore them all the time. And I've sold many, many pairs of them over the years. I have a few good sources for high-quality charms and I'm always looking for new designs.

I have lots of charms stockpiled, and I thought that it might be nice if I set up listings that were made-to-order. I could just provide a single set of pics for each style of charm, and then have a couple photos that show the different colors to choose from, and then I'd make them to order.

Nice, right? But that means I need to make a sample pair of each kind of charm.

And then it hit me: I already did that!

Yes, two years ago, when I was working on putting together my website, I made a sample pair of earrings for each style. Today I dug out a few bins of beads. I dug through vintage Italian lampwork beads, brass stampings, French glass, silver scraps, and Czech satin glass necklaces, and I finally found a little bag containing the treasure. Earrings!

I photographed the colors of Czech firepolish beads that I purchased for this very thing. I have them all labeled with their color code, and I bought a hank of each, a few years ago, so I have a good supply stashed, and the color will remain consistent through many pairs of earrings. (Sometimes Czech beads do vary slightly from lot to lot.)

Best of all, I can just keep relisting these without having to take a new photo for each listing, which definitely simplifies thing!

Here are my color photos:

Charm earring color choices

Charm earring color choices

I like the way they look. I cut and pasted them together so that I could get eight color choices into two images.

So here goes. I'm going to start stocking my shop with these. They're cute and inexpensive and I love the different charms.

Celtic charm earrings by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow, snow, snow

Yesterday it snowed all day.

I actually like snow, as long as I don't have to drive in it. It's pretty, and I do like the winter season. So I was happy to watch the snow fall yesterday, and while it did, my husband and I put up our tree and decorated it.

Our tree is my family tree that is at least thirty years old at this point. It's pretty much your average Charlie Brown tree, if his tree had been plastic. It's skinny and it lists, and the upper part of the tree doesn't fit very well into its socket, which has to be wrapped in napkins. The branches are a bit strange-looking, and the whole effect isn't as much "tree" as it is "vaguely cone-shaped green thing." Still, I love it to bits.

Amusingly enough, when I was little and asked why we had to have a plastic tree, my mom told me it was because my dad was allergic to real trees, and my dad told me it was because my mom was allergic to real trees. That was a little confusing.

After the tree was done, I sat at my jewelry desk and worked on some jewelry. I made a few necklace/earring sets:

Mermaid necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Starfish Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

Tree of Wisdowm Necklace by Laurel Moon Jewelry

I also made a triplet of earrings. No, not a pair, a triplet. I made a left earring, a right earring, and an earring for the furnace duct under my jewelry-making desk. Hope it enjoys looking stylish.

The snow fell, and I kept beading, watching a couple Miami Vice episodes and eating chocolate-covered almonds. Husband made a fantastic dinner and also took care of the driveway, and fixed the generator, so when the power began flickering, I didn't have to panic about how we would keep the house warm.

And this morning, the backyard looks like this:

Snowy pond

I think I'm going to bead a little more today. I've really been enjoying it. And I hope that today is just as nice as yesterday was. I could use more days like that, as could we all, I think!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What a cool widget!

I love Craft Cult. If you're an Etsy seller, it's a great way to keep track of your items' hearts, views, and if you've been featured on the front page of Etsy or the Storque (Etsy's blog).

But there's something new! Check out their Treasury Widget page. This awesome widget generator is incredibly helpful. You basically put in your Etsy shop name, pick which treasury you want to make into an image, choose sizing options and whether you want the widget to be live or static, and then Craft Cult creates a terrific image of the treasury to add to your blog or a blog entries. It's a clickable image, and it makes it so easy to share when you've been featured in a treasury.

Here's the widget, in all its glory:

Nifty, isn't it? I love it! Can't wait to keep using this in the future.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More lovely vintage packaging

I almost hate to open old packages of beads. They're so beautiful, in their own way. For example:

Vintage Japanese packaging for beads

This box contains these:

Vintage Japanese blue 2-hole beads

which are one of my favorite beads ever. They're wrapped in yellowed tissue paper, five sets of 30 beads in each box, and then the box is tied shut with twine. I love finding the old boxes. Some of them use staples instead of glue, or beautiful metal pieces that fit over the sides and are kept in place with tiny nails. Every time I open one of these boxes, I get sad. They're such a piece of history.

Still, it's worth it, especially when there are beads this pretty within.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm in another Etsy treasury!

I've been featured in Adelaida's "Dive into the Ocean" Etsy Treasury!

Etsy Treasury

Thank you so much, Adelaida! It's a gorgeous treasury.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The trick is to want to be where you are.

Occasionally I change the image on my desktop.

Sometimes it's an image of the ocean. Sometimes it's a forest, deep and mysterious. Sometimes it's a narrow cobblestone street, leading to an intriguing new place.

Sometimes it's this, a place I've actually been.

Heron Island, Australia

Sometimes I'm sitting at my eBay desk, frantically packaging orders, and I look across and I see this image, and I remember that vacation, and how wonderful it was to sit on the beach with dear friends and look up at the southern stars and marvel at a fresh and beautiful world.

Packaging can be fun, but it's not the same as sitting on the warm white sand of a gorgeous beach, watching the waves roll in.

Heron Island, Australia

It also isn't the same as canoeing down a river, singing and pointing out frogs and water lilies to each other, and marveling over the rich green color of the reeds.

Huron River, MI

Hawaii. Need I say more?

Maui, HI

But there I am, at the eBay desk, sticking labels on packages, looking at handwritten numbers on bags, trying to keep track of who bought what and which address goes where.

The trick, though, is to want to be there, at that eBay desk, sticking things on boxes. Because the little stuff is more than important. It's the fabric of our everyday lives, it's the cloth we fashion ourselves from. The trip to Australia is just the trim.

Even though the label isn't that important in the grand scheme of things, they do stack up. Every package I process, every trip I make to the post office, every pair of earrings I fashion...these things become a part of me, even though it's for such a short time. They become the weft and weave of my existence. They are the particular moment I am living, the tiny dot in time that is now. Behind me is the vast architecture of the past; ahead of me is the vast ocean of the future. The moment I am in is perfectly balanced between the two.

Even though we often feel most alive when we are on a trip somewhere in an exotic location, smelling the exotic scent of new flowers, our lives are made up of mundane moments; a haircut, filling out a form, checking email. Even though these things often seem like drudgery, they are still part of our experience as human beings.

Taking the time to appreciate the small marvels of our everyday lives is worth it. Even if it's just sticking a label on a package.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Procrastination my middle name.

I love to put things off.

I'm pretty good at brainstorming, but I'm even better at roadblocking. If there's a large task ahead of me, I put together the usual detailed list of parts of this task that need to be accomplished. A, B, C, D, E. Very nice and productive, right?

The logical thing to do is A, right? But my brain isn't content with that. It has to analyze all five steps. And it turns out that there's a problem with D, you see. There's a decision I have to make, and I'm awful at decisions. So I put it on the backburner, hoping that it will marinate in my brain for a little while and I'll come up with a solution.

Then I start working on A, and I might do little bits of C, and then I discover (while working on E) that E has an issue. And D still has an unresolved issue. And I get fed up because no solution has presented itself, and then I just give up. And just before the deadline, I do all five steps, and it's not what I had hoped for and then I'm really fed up.

Seriously. You should have seen what I did in college. I took a directed study class, which is basically one where you pick a project and present a 20 page paper at the end of the semester. No classes to attend or anything like that. What did I do? Oh, I picked a topic, did some research, and then started the paper...the night before it was due.

Yes, you read that correctly. I'd done it before with 5 page papers. But a 20 page paper? Full bibliography? Well, I typed like a demon (on my manual typewriter, no less) and somehow managed it, getting a page per hour put together. It was awful, but because I Had To Do It, I did. It was astonishing that I got an A.

Over the years, though, I've started trying to develop ways to get around the brain issues. I am ruled by my contrary nature, as well; sometimes I "just don't wanna." And I don't.

So I found this blog article, and it has so much good advice: The Complete Flake's Guide To Getting Things Done. And it really spoke to me about how things get done, and why they don't get done, and what I can do to get things done. It was really interesting.

This article just reinforces the idea that my brain doesn't go about things in a normal, logical, adult manner. It flickers back and forth, it gets excited by something shiny, and if it doesn't understand or just doesn't wanna then nothing goes forward. I have had to develop techniques to get things done.

I have a pegboard in my head which is marked with Things I Absolutely Must Do. Things like taxes and mailing bills. It's hard to get my brain to agree to add new things, but sometimes it works, and I've experimentally added a few things like blogging and tweeting.

I also am trying to master the art of deflection. When I don't want to do one thing, I'll often pick up another task which really has to be done (but not at that minute) and do that instead. I try to use deflection to actually get things done now. It doesn't always work the way I want it to, but I've had more productivity as of late.

Productivity is a cycle, I've noticed. There are months of the year where I get very little done; there are months of the year where I get lots done. I've noticed that there are crashing points for me, where I've done a lot and I just don't wanna do anything else, and I think I need to take breaks occasionally so I don't crash.

Overall, I'm in a high productivity phase right now. I've done more in the past four months than I have in ages, and I feel like I'm establishing a new rhythm. I'm enjoying it, too. And the more productive I am, the more productive I want to be.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Working from home

I am unbelievably lucky in some ways. Being mostly self-employed means that, when I'm not out of town on business, I get to stay home four days a week and work on what I want. I'm also incredibly lucky because I live in a lovely house with a wonderful husband, and we have this view:

The view of my backyard

Well, at least during summer, we do. Right now it's much Still, it's pretty inspiring, and I love being able to look out the window and stare at the water whenever I want. It's so pretty, and ever-changing. There are frogs and dragonflies and turtles, and the occasional muskrat. Tadpoles, and shiners. It's teeming with life and it's really fun to sit in a boat and float around on the pond.

However, my office still leaves a few things to be desired. The thing is, when we moved into the house, I stole the master bedroom for my office. In the apartment, I'd used the second bedroom, and I had to physically climb over the arm of a sofa to get behind my jewelry desk. Here, in the master bedroom of the house, I have plenty of room for all four desks (yep, four) and even a table for my photography needs. It's wonderful to have space.

But it's not yet a space of my own, somehow. For years I've wanted a really creative space with interesting things to look at and inspire me, and yet all I have are plain walls and old carpeting.

I think it might be time for a change. I'm going to start pulling out art and doing what I want in here. The eighties pastel curtains will have to go. I want to try and make this a more appealing and inspirational place. I mean, I spend four days a week here, I might as well make it as "me" as possible, right?

I think one of the catalysts was seeing a set of pictures. These amazing offices are so cool! They're from the world's most beautiful office buildings, and I'm just fascinated with how beautiful they are.

I don't have a world-class architect on hand, but I do have lots of pictures I've taken and some elbow grease. I want to do something new and make this a fabulous space of my own.

What's your crafting space like?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it! Thank you to my wonderful friends and family and all of my great customers. I hope you have a fantastic day full of happiness!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I've been tinkering and photographing and tweaking, oh my...

And sometimes it's fun to just stand back for a second and look at what you've done, you know? Helps me to see if I've made progress, or I've slipped further under the mud. Today's experiment: Has my Etsy shop improved at all in the past two months?

I've begun to change the backgrounds, simplifying everything into a white background. I've added a banner and changed my icon to match the banner. And I've worked on taking all sorts of new photographs, some successful, some not-so-successful.

It all leads to this:

Laurel Moon Etsy Shop

The new, improved Laurel Moon Jewelry Etsy Shop. I like the way it ties in with my blog, my other Etsy shop for supplies, and my website.

What do you think? Any suggestions for improvement?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

And now I'm on Facebook. And Twitter!

I've begun a Facebook fan page. Do join me at Laurel Moon Jewelry and Beads on Facebook if you are so inclined.

And if you're on Twitter, I am laurelmoonjewel on Twitter if you'd like to follow me.

In other news, I'm still working on a little secret project that I hope to submit to a beading magazine. It's beginning to look very nice, and I'm very much hoping that it gets accepted. I'm nearly done.

In other other news, the blog is now located solely here at My blogspot blog is now set up to redirect traffic here, so you might have to change your links. Thanks for continuing to take this journey with me!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mermaid necklace and earring set

I've just updated my Etsy shop with this Mermaid necklace set. It's one of my favorite pieces, and I've photographed it a few times at this point. I'm still not certain that the photos do it justice, but the last batch is a definite improvement in some ways.

Mermaid aquamarine and pearl necklace

I've been trying to do a new look for my closeup pics. I like the clustered look of this, surrounding the mermaid in pearls and aquamarine beads, but I do worry that it doesn't really show the necklace enough.

I love this set. The pearls are such nice pearls, and the aquamarine was a very special find; I only found one strand of it and it was a natural for this necklace.

Friday, November 19, 2010

All sorts of new listings!

Today's work involved photographing lots of semi-precious stone beads. You see, I put a few sets of closeout beads in my eBay shop, and they proved to be popular, so I've added a whole slew of them. There are donuts, and faceted beads, and ovals, and butterflies, all very well-priced and it many different kinds of stone. Carnelian, yellow turquoise, labradorite, amazonite, and on and on!

Amazonite and fossilized wood

Kyanite, staurite, yellow turquoise, and agate

Sage amethyst, carnelian, rainbow obsidian

Stop by my eBay store and check them out!

Don't forget--my blog is moving! You'll find it HERE from now on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New doors

Yesterday I opened a fortune cookie and found this:

Doors will be opening for you in many areas of your life.

Right now I feel like I'm looking down so many paths. They're all misty and shrouded in possibility. I have no idea where they will go, and I don't even know which paths to try. I've got a few things in my head to try, and I really am hoping that they are good things, and that they lead good places, but as always, we never know.

I don't often keep fortunes, nor do I give them much thought beyond the initial reading, but this one I tucked in my pocket for later.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm on Twitter now!

I'm fascinated by this hyper-quick way of communicating with people. So far I'm starting to really enjoy it! If you're on Twitter, you can see my tweets under the name laurelmoonjewel.

"laurelmoon" was taken, of course. It nearly always is. So then I spent hours agonizing over what else to call myself. laurelmoonjewelry? Too long. laurelmoonbeads? I was worried about not mentioning jewelry. laurelmoonjewel? Sounds beady and jewelry-y, so that's what I took. Though I did think of laurelmoonsays, laurelmoonwhut, yolaurel, laurelsaysschnarf, laurelmoonville...

Hope to see you there!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

I am easily amused

So a friend of mine got a memo called "Handle with care for TILA BEADS" and I thought I'd share it with you all:

If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times that it is not recommended way to drop sugar cubes out of a saucepot from high.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Looking back on wire-wrapping

In December of 1995 I left a long-term relationship and was faced with suddenly having money and free time again. So when a friend pointed out that there was a new store in the mall, and that they were teaching jewelry classes, I thought, "Why not?"

And so went my money and free time.

The first thing I made was a wire-wrapped bracelet.

The wire was so stiff it was nearly impossible for me to work with it. (I know today that it was German silver jewelry wire, which isn't sterling, and it's quite stiff. I usually use dead soft sterling now, to save my hands.) By the end of class I thought my poor fingers were going to fall off. Also, I'd get two sections done, and then forget how to start again. But I persevered, and made this stunning example of jewelry craftsmanship that you see here.

Note the gaps between the beads and coils...the slanted and deformed loops...and the loose coils. Still, I have actually worn it now and then, just because it's not as bad as a lot of other stuff I made when I first started beading. Mostly this is because I made it in a class, the colors aren't...awful, and the materials are nice Italian beads.

The second thing I made was a necklace. Because it was a pattern for a class, it wasn't bad. Of course, I immediately wanted to make the same necklace in 2358923985623 different colors and configurations. I digress, however, because it was strung on Soft-Flex.

So. Now we go forward to earrings.

It's probably a bit difficult to tell, at first glance, what is wrong with these earrings, other than one is missing its mate. Should you begin to explore further, however, you will notice many interesting details.

  • Very scary howlite star beads dyed to look like lapis. Any sort of energetic encounter with sun or rain, and they'll reveal their true color again: white.

  • Unnecessary jump rings at the top of the star earrings. I suppose you could claim that they would give the earrings more motion, but in truth, they're just...useless.

  • The spirals at the bottom of the stars--if you even noticed them--are absolutely gruesomely formed. Even worse, when you are wearing the earrings (let us hope I never get that desperate), the spirals are facing forward and, as such, are invisible. Maybe that's a good thing. Also, they would most likely catch long hair.

  • Awful, oversize base metal earring hooks.

  • Oh, you think I forgot about the leaf earring? Let me point out its ungainly coil formations and the lower loop, which looks like it got caught in a vise and twisted.

Bullet points are still made of fabulousness.

The reason that I have these shining examples of my early jewelry prowess (ahem) are because of my sister, who holds on to her "vintage" Laurel Moon Jewelry and tortures me occasionally by wearing it. Usually this means that I continually stare at the piece, and eventually work up to bribes, telling her I will rework the piece and give it back to her for free. But she likes them, for some reason. It must be the sentimental value.

Thank goodness my loops got better.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today was a good day

Sometimes you have days where you feel inspired. Where a project that's been languishing on the back burner for years suddenly leaps ahead nine spaces. Today was such a day, and I wish I had more of them!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Another treasury! Yay!

Sobby has included my Day of the Dead charm bracelet in a treasury! I'm so honored. Thank you so much, Sobby!

You can find the treasury here.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

And I'm nearly finished!

I've almost finished my eBay overhaul. I took a long look at my listings, and at first I decided to switch from scans to actual photos.

My brain wasn't satisfied with just one radical change. When it decides to do one thing, it can't help but begin to pile other things on top, until my to-do list becomes truly monumental. Sometimes that defeats me. This time, though, I was determined to get through it all.

Changing this much means that I have to also change my process, and since I'm not a fan of change, this was a big deal for me. I like having a system for things, and and usually I'd rather stick my hand in a hornet's nest rather than change something.

    The Big List
  • Change from scans to pics. This was epic for me, like changing from an ugly but tasty bowl of ice cream to having to create a gorgeous sundae every time. On the way, I learned a few more things about my camera, developed new and interesting curse words, and came up with a horrible analogy about ice cream.

  • Change from block-o-text to bullet points. I LOVE BULLET POINTS THEY ARE MADE OF WIN. They are beautiful. If only we could converse in bullet points, then my life would be complete. All of the information you need about an auction/eBay store item, at a glance.

  • Change the shipping policy. Okay, this one was easy and nearly painless. When I last changed my shipping policy, I totally forgot to change the part about First Class being only available up to 13 ounces, and I accidentally left it at one pound. So that's fixed.

  • Add scale pictures to listings. I have occasionally received feedback that says something to the tune of, "Smaller than I thought." Which makes me sad. I mean, I do put measurements in, but there's this thing I do where I hate to have any negative space so I make the bead as big as the space I have, which means that it looks like every single item I sell is the same size. So now I'm trying to include scale pictures. I tried thinking of how to do this visually, with rulers or a tape measure or with the political leader of a foreign country, but the scale just wasn't readily apparent. Instead, I resorted to the ancient eBay tradition of including a penny. I hate doing so because I think it makes things they're next to a penny. But what else is so recognizable?

  • Miscellaneous changes. I included a line about the scale pic, so that people would know that it's just for reference. At least I hope that's how people read it. I hope no one is thinking they're bidding on a penny. Also, I changed the disclaimer about chips and scratches. I'm still not happy with the end result, but this just leaves the door open for the next time I suddenly get the urge to redo absolutely every listing ever.

  • Fix older listings. There were a few out there that still had some strange wording in the titles or in the description, and a few that were missing some measurements.

And now it's all done. I can breathe a sigh of relief and go back to watching Starksy & Hutch episodes.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's always a struggle...

One of the things that I have noticed about trying to make it as an online jewelry designer is that you have to wear a lot of hats. I don't just mean the usual small business hats like bookkeeper, sales manager, etc. You also have to wear a photographer's hat.

I have had some luck in the past with taking pictures. By luck, I mean that I've managed to have a pretty decent point-and-shoot that captured some decent shots. I can occasionally frame a shot and pretend I know something about composition. However, all of that flew out the window as soon as I sat down and tried to take pictures of my jewelry.

First, I tried pictures with a grey background. It was nearly impossible to get the entire piece in focus, and also, there's the issue of making them square so they work with Etsy's framework. I read some tutorials and decided that I needed to use natural light.

Sadly, my natural light photos turned out...poorly. I used some of them, but I wasn't satisfied. I ordered a little studio set (one of those expandable light sheds, two lights on tripods) and tried that.

The results were still not great. Here, for example, was my original main picture for my peacock feather necklace set:

This was when I was first working with my light shed, and a horrible background.

I've now figured out two issues that I was having; the manual settings were set to ISO 800, and the white balance was a bit off. Last week I took a new set of photos, and the color still seemed wrong. It was okay for some of the sets of jewelry, but this particular set was giving me grief. It looked too yellow.

So I tried again tonight. I adjusted the white balance again, and I took this main photo for the same set:

I wish that there was a magic formula to taking pictures, that I could just input a few numbers and go to town. Sadly, this is not so. And with a small business need to have very good photos to stand out. I'm going to try to keep experimenting and keep taking pictures. I can only hope that I improve.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm in another treasury!

Etsy seller Dominican Lounge has kindly selected my nautilus necklace to be part of her Holiday Treasury.

Thanks, Dominican Lounge!

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Vintaj cabs in the Etsy shop this week

Occasionally I'm lucky enough to get my hands on cabochons with Vintaj brass components folded around them. They're really beautiful, and they're very in style at the minute, with the steampunk trend. I have a few ready to be listed this week in my Etsy bead shop.

They're really interesting. Last time I listed these, they didn't last long, so watch for them!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beads in Bags

Those of you who have met me at shows know that I sell little bags of beads. I'm constantly asked where I get my products from and how I can sell them at such a great price.

What I do is purchase huge closeout lots. A "lot" is simply a term for a specific grouping of product. The lots I purchase are usually boxes full of...stuff. I get the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Some of the things I get are not readily usable. For example, they could be chokers with peeling metal, or bracelets with stickers on them that fall off. I absolutely hate throwing things away, so I often put a lot of ugly in one bag, and not only does the person get a great deal (often well below what's it worth), but I get the ugly out of the way easily. The thing is, there's always someone out there who can do something creative with these things. The necklaces are so cheap that they can use the leather or silk string and just toss the hardware, or the stickers can be taken off and the spaces filled with resin and collage images. The sky's the limit. I sell my bags of product in bins, and I've relabeled the "stringing supplies & misc." container as the "Creativity Bin." And you know what? It really sparks people! I love hearing the ideas they think of.

I spend lots of time just sorting beads. I'll watch some of my favorite seventies or eighties shows (Starsky & Hutch, Miami Vice) and put beads in bags for hours. It's very relaxing and fun.

Here's a great example of a sorting project that took three days. I bought a huge box (70 lbs) of vintage German cabochons, glass gems, and round...uh...beads without holes. It's taken me months to get through the sorting, but when I was finished, I had a lot of really great (and unusual) items. I also have five pounds of round...uh...beads without holes. [grin]

Sadly, I won't get any new lots until early next year, so there's not a lot of sorting for me to do at the moment. There will be, though!

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An eBay facelift!

Tonight I'm going to list a new set of auctions with a new look!

I'm still using the same template, but I've changed the description from a block of text to a set of bullet points. I think it'll be easier to skim and pick out relevant information.

Even more exciting, I actually took pictures this time instead of using scans! I think some of the pics were too light, and I had to retake a few, but overall I really like the depth and dimension that they display.

Also, I've added scale photos to all of tonight's auctions.

Here's a comparison of the old style versus the new.



I'm really excited about the way it looks! Let me know what you think.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Helping out a friend

Andrew Thornton of Green Girl Studios, one of my favorite companies (and people!) in this business, is going through some medical difficulties at the moment. Several bloggers have come forward to help, and someone has helpfully gathered all of the helping links in one place. Click here to see how you can help out Andrew.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vintage multistrand box clasps

As most of you already know, I'm always on the lookout for interesting vintage things. And I really hit the jackpot recently! I found a great stash of base metal box clasps.

The jewelry industry on the east coast was pretty huge during fifties and sixties. They used a lot of beads, and even made their own findings, stampings, and components. These small silvertone box clasps were probably custom-made to suit the designs of the company who made them.

I found a lovely variety of two hole, three hole, and four hole clasps, all in silvertone, as well as some interesting three hole components which would look great as the center of a necklace.

I've just added them to my eBay store.

Don't forget, my blog is moving! I'm posting at both places for now, but eventually it will be located solely here. Thanks!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm back!

I'm back, and I'm happy to be home! I have three weeks to add new items to my brand new website, add new items to my eBay store and my Etsy shop. I'm very excited--I have a few new items that are very nice. Also, I'll be at the Bead Bonanza on Sunday, and then at the West Michigan Bead Expo Show on Saturday. Wow, what a full month this is!

So I've placed my first post on the new blog! I designed the header, and now that the website work is done, I'm ready to start blogging again. I hope you'll continue to tune into my journey! Thanks so much.

Friday, October 1, 2010

My new website is here! Also, new site for my blog.

It's happened!

After a month of taking pictures, editing pictures, writing descriptions, and tinkering, my website is now live!

You can find it here!

Finally, a way to sell in quantity, and to be able to accept credit cards! I'm so happy about this. I like Paypal, but some people don't, so this is a great new development!

And the blog is moving! Very soon I'll be redirecting this blog to my website. You'll be able to find it here.

Thank you for continuing to take this journey with me!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Featured in a treasury!

My small grape headpins were featured in this treasury by Etsy seller lucietales.

Thank you, Lucietales!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A cool blog!

A friend of mine has been taking some beautiful pictures of New York, and I thought I'd share the link:

Changing Shadows, Pilgrim Faces

Some of the images are just beautiful! Haunting photos and lyrical musings. Scenes of New York that many of us will never see.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bring in the new

I have a new computer. My last computer lasted seven years, so this is quite a shift. I've gone from XP to 7, and I have a bigger screen now and a lot of memory. I think the best part of this is that I will finally have better color management. My old monitor was acting very strange by the end, and the new monitor is lovely and the colors look much better. The old monitor made things look darker than they actually are, which was also an issue.

I've taken a break in the website work to get the new computer up and running, and at this point I'm just ironing out the wrinkles. It's been a challenge!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Whew! Photography.

I've been working very hard on photographing beads and cabochons and glass gems for the new website. It's been fun and challenging, as well.

At one point I couldn't understand why my pictures were so grainy--it turns out that I had switched my camera's speed to 800 instead of auto. whoops! I'm so glad that I figured it out.

I've been trying to concentrate on doing a good job, but not getting caught up in making things "perfect." It's difficult, though, because I keep getting distracted by the different levels of light and how dark things look, and I have to stop myself from obsessively just taking the pictures over and over again.

What I like about taking pictures instead of scans is that you get a more 3-D view of the items in question. It looks a little more realistic. The scans are great, but they do have limitations. I think I'll include both on my website.

Also, I think I'm going to take a scale pic for every item. I hate using pennies because it looks a to me, but I can't think of another item that is so well-known and can give such an immediate impression of size.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who can resist a sale?

The wonderful and talented Andrew Thornton is having a sale! He's cleaning out his bead stash, and there are some amazing beads--as well as amazing deals! Don't miss out on this opportunity. Check it out!

Friday, August 20, 2010

New beginnings

My website is inching out of the primordial ooze. Yesterday I put up the first item and tinkered with it. There are so many features and interesting bits and bobs that I'm a little overwhelmed. Mostly, though, I'm intrigued.

One of the things I'm most looking forward to is having to only put up one photo per product, instead of endlessly scanning things for eBay and Etsy. Once I have the products in their places, people will be able to buy multiple units, and I won't have to constantly list new pictures of the same products. I'm also looking forward to being able to accept credit cards directly. This is pretty exciting stuff and it's such a huge step for me.

This weekend I will be getting into my photography cocoon. I'm going to set up my teensy "studio" and begin taking pictures of beads and cabochons. I have to remember that they're not going to be perfect on the first try, and that I shouldn't try to photograph everything at once.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Time for a little cocooning

I have just finished five weeks of intense activity. Houseguests, the PMC Conference, Arcadia Daze, working for friends--I've been running around nonstop for days and now I'm home and ready to take a deep breath.

I have a few weeks home with no obligations, and I am ready to take on a new old challenge...that of my website.

For years my website has languished, wanting love and attention, and I've barely understood how to work with it or what to do with it. I've had numerous issues with stocking it and connecting it to the rest of my ebusiness life. Some of my biggest worries were that I wouldn't have enough inventory to make it worthwhile, and that I would have to rely on someone else to update it for me constantly.

So when one of my friends mentioned that she was using Big Cartel, I got excited. I went through all of the information I could find, and was disappointed when I realized that I would still have to rely on Paypal. The core concept was perfect--a template that one simply customizes--but I can't have another Paypal account.

But I knew that this couldn't be the end to this concept. Somewhere, there had to be a template-based system that could FINALLY use my online merchant credit card account, which has also been languishing for years. Fortunately, a good friend is now in the website-making business, and she is in the process of setting up WordPress for me. Now I had always thought of WP as blogging software, so imagine my surprise when I found out they had a surprisingly robust commerce software attachment as well.

I think it might just be perfect. Template-based, customizable, the ability to take credit cards, and also I can just sandwich my blog right into it. For my level of business, and my level of technology, I think it could be just what I was looking for.

Stay tuned!bl

Thursday, July 22, 2010

And off I go again!

I'll be at the Arcadia Daze festival in Arcadia, MI on Saturday and Sunday. If you're in the area, stop by and say hi!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

And again!

How awesome! I was featured in an Etsy treasury for my jewelry supplies, too! Thank you, Tundradear!

You can view the treasury here!