Friday, April 29, 2011


I'm sorry to shout, but I am extremely excited.

Finally! After much work (and only a moderate amount of wine) my website is finally live! I am doing a dance here, let me tell you. A dance that only slightly looks like a tipsy walrus. A very giddy tipsy walrus. No, I am not going to upload it to YouTube. You'll just have to use your imagination.

The old site looked like this:

Laurel Moon Jewelry & Beads Website

I think the new site looks a little cleaner and prettier:

Laurel Moon Jewelry & Beads

Beads, cabochons, gems, and findings! The website is full of all sorts of great treasures. If you're interested, clicky here: Laurel Moon Jewelry & Beads

Sunday, April 24, 2011

At last...Laurel Moon on Artfire!

My internet connection has been dreadfully slow while I wait for a part to come in, so I decided to spend today working on a project I've been putting off for some time...starting up my Artfire shop!

Today I took 200+ pictures, cropped and fixed them, resized them, and saved them all. I also used the Etsy import tool to bring in a set of listings into Artfire. What a nice time-saving device! I'm definitely happy that they've made it so easy.

I like Etsy, but in today's huge internet market, it isn't enough to be in just one place. I think you really have to maintain more than one sales presence, and I hope that Artfire will be another great place to hang my hat.

You can find me here:

Laurel Moon on Artfire

It will take me a little time to get all the inventory into the shop, but so far, so good! I just hope my connection issues get resolved soon, so I can get more things going.

Laurel Moon on Artfire

I can't wait to fill this shop with yummy beads!!

I also took a bunch of pictures of new jewelry made with small skeleton keys and mermaid pendants. I can't wait to list them!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It was supposed to be a simple necklace.

So simple, in fact, that I decided to sit down and make it last week, even though it was late at night. I figured it would only take a few minutes and then I'd photograph it the next day.

After all, I only needed five beads, some wire, some chain, and a key.

First, I went through my beads (no small feat) and isolated the size I wanted to use, and the color. Then I went through my chain and found the style I wanted to use. The perfect size was too small for a hook clasp to fit through, so it was either use a toggle or use a separate piece of larger link chain for the hook clasp.

With a necklace this short, sometimes it's nice to have the versatility of an extendible clasp, so I decided to go with the chain and hook clasp method.

With that all figured out, I went to work.

I cut the chain the wrong length. No problem, right? I just figured out the length of one side and compensated by cutting a new piece of chain for the other side.

Then I put the beads on, and realized that the chain was still the wrong length. Only it was an entirely new wrong length.

So I cut the key and bead pendant off, and began to redo the chain. Again.

And then I had to cut the key off the bead pendant, and I cut the top of the key and ruined it.

At that point I had to sit still and decide whether to a) continue in what was turning into a completely fruitless endeavor, b) stop for the night and try tomorrow, or c) hit the chocolate stash and never look back.

Amazing how much trouble a wee little necklace can cause, isn't it?

I decided to forge ahead (fortunately, I have several keys), which was probably a really bad idea at the time, but overall it did come out nearly as I'd pictured it:

Laurel Moon Jewelry, key necklace

I think I might change it around a little for the next one. I'd rather have the beads closer together, for one. But really, what I'd pictured was a small, unobtrusive necklace, the kind you can wear every day with any kind of clothing or colors. I like it so much I think I might make one for myself.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An amber challenge

Recently a friend gave me a bag of amber beads and asked me to make jewelry from the beads for her four daughters.

I immediately thought that earrings would be the best use of the beads. There were different sizes, colors and textures, which would make it a little tricky, but I knew that there were enough similar beads to make some nearly-matched pairs.

The challenge was on! Today I sat down and designed four pairs of earrings.

Amber earrings, Laurel Moon Jewelry

Hopefully each daughter will like her pair of earrings! I think there are enough different styles to make a pair for everyone.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Consider the Lilies

While visiting my parents this weekend, I browsed at a few antique stores.

Now, I am not normally one to look for antique stores. But recently I thought that it might be fun to see what I could find that might work with jewelry designs. Working with resins and bezel cups has become so popular recently that I thought I might look for interesting postcards and other paper goods.

Imagine my surprise when I found stereoscopic cards from the turn of the century! I had no idea that so many still existed. These cards feature two images, and work with a stereoscopic card viewer, which is basically a pair of glasses with a framework that extends out from the lenses. You place a card at the end of the framework, and then the image appears to be in 3-D. Anyone who had a ViewMaster growing up is familiar with the concept.

Intrigued, I went through the whole collection at one store. There were several that seemed interesting, and I pulled those out and put them to the side. There was an entire series which dealt with the Japanese invasion of China, I believe, and they numbered in the hundreds.

Some of them were just exquisite. This one is entitled "Amidst Nature's Beauties, Tower Grove Park, St. Louis, Mo., U. S. A." The little girl seems to glow in the image; it's rather haunting.

Stereoscopic card, Laurel Moon

This one is called "Frankfort's Popular Palm Gardens, Germany." The edge of the card proclaims "Polychrome Stereo View, Reproduced from Original Stereoscopic Photograph." It occurs to me that this was a rather economical method of traveling! What better way to see the sights of a distant land than in the comfort of your own home, at the tip of your own nose? Especially during a time when travel could be both difficult and hazardous.

Stereoscopic Card, Laurel Moon

"Street in Old Mexico" fascinates me. The colors are rich and dusky, the look of the trees, the textures...

Stereoscopic card, Laurel Moon

The last card I'm going to include in this entry asks us to "Consider the Lilies."

Stereoscopic card, Laurel Moon

According to the back of the card: They belong to those good "old-fashioned" plants which frequently and justly come newly into vogue, but they are less understood and less discriminatingly appreciated than almost any other plants of prominence.

So lilies were considered old-fashioned even during Victorian times? Interesting! As always, tastes are cyclical, and the new falls to the old, and then the old cycles again, becoming new. It's interesting to see that we, as humans, are so predictable, even a hundred years later.

I picked out the cards I thought were most useful as background images or just in terms of visual interest and texture, and I bought them. Each one contains a slice of life, a scene, an intriguing image. I think I will put some of these up for auction on eBay.

[Ignore this series of numbers and letters; it's for Technorati's validation.] RCG6PEV9AJDH

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fun at InterQuilten!

While I was visiting my parents, my mom wanted to stop at a little quilt shop in Interlochen, MI. From the minute we pulled up, I knew this was somewhere special. (Please forgive the quality of my camera pics; I have no photo editing software installed on this computer.)

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon visit

The door was intriguing. It looked like the door to a new realm; it reminded me of a hobbit dwelling. The whole design of the building on the outside was unusual. I could hardly wait to see the inside.

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

And the inside did not disappoint. The walls and the ceiling were all entirely lined with wood. There were natural wood accents everywhere.

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

There was a dazzling array of fabric everywhere I looked.

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

The interesting thing about the quilting world and the beading world is that they often intersect. I sometimes sell beads and cabochons to quilters, and often beaders are quilters and quilters are beaders. There is bead embroidery on quilts, and beaders are becoming more aware of incorporating unusual materials in their beading, such as fabric.

One of the things we have in common is the tendency to stash yummy materials. We have racks full of beads; quilters have closets full of fabric. We love to hoard our supplies! Patterns and materials and tools, oh my!

Another thing we have in common is that color is so important to us. As beaders have a palette of beads, quilters have a palette of material.

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

Just as we have a rainbow of stringing materials, quilters have a rainbow of colored threads to choose from:

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

Everywhere I looked in this shop, there was succulent fabric to choose from. Wonderful colors and textures and amazing quilts, too!

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

The shop owner, Tawni, was incredibly friendly and helpful.

InterQuilten, Laurel Moon

What a wonderful gem of a store! I'm so glad I was able to stop in and see her amazing shop. You can see InterQuilten online here. or stop at her store on M137 in Interlochen, MI (about twenty minutes from Traverse City) if you get the chance.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The new website is nearly done!

The first website was a little challenging. The software was not what I'd hoped it would be. On first glance, it seemed like a good program, with a lot of bells and whistles. Customers could rate products on a five-star system and leave reviews. There was an inventory management system where I could type in the quantities of the products. There were weight fields so that shipping could be calculated. I was a little taken aback by the look of the sites it created, but with a bit of revising, it didn't look like such a bargain-basement site.

Once my website designer and I really delved deep into it, however, it turned into a bit of a headache. The image manager system it used was horrid. With up to four pictures per product, there are a lot of images that have to be stored, and the image manager would lump them all together randomly. You could not sort them by date or title. At the end, I had 42 pages of images and I just gave up sorting through them. Instead I would copy the file name that I'd uploaded to the image manager and just paste it in.

The weight system turned out to not have enough different divisions. There were issues with a lot of different things on the site. One of the most glaring for me was the strange horrible grammar and spelling of the various system messages and displays. One button proudly displayed "IM NEW HERE." There was an error message that read, "I'm not sorry, but that product is not available."

After enough of these setbacks, I decided I wanted to use different software. My website designer enthusiastically agreed, and we've been working on a new site ever since.

Last night, I uploaded the last product. Now I just need to tweak the verbiage and check the photos, as well as test the site. I'm very excited about this and I'm hoping that it turns out to be a better system. I'm already happier with it in many ways. The look is nicer, the error messages aren't rude, and it isn't bogged down by a ton of affiliate bells and whistles that I don't need.

I'm including some of the new product pictures I've been taking, too:

Vintage Japanese gems, Laurel Moon

I am crossing my fingers that this will be a better solution to the need for a website than the other software was. I'm already far more impressed with the new site.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The new look of my Etsy shop

I'm getting very excited. Laurel Moon on Etsy, my beading supply shop, is undergoing a facelift. This is what the scans looked like:

Laurel Moon Etsy page, before

Here's the beginning of the new look, with pictures instead of scans:

Laurel Moon Etsy page, after

I like the closeup pics. They make it less obvious when Etsy crops them slightly. I think I'm going to try doing that for nearly all the pictures.

Sadly, this translates into more work, of course. But to have a nice look, it's probably worth it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pictures, pictures, pictures

I have taken nearly three hundred pictures this week. My camera has been working overtime!

Pictures for eBay and Etsy are important. You're only as good as your pictures, after all, and they must convey everything about your product in a very short period of time. They need to be clean, focused, and interesting, all at the same time. For Etsy, they should also be somewhat unified, so that your shop looks visually cohesive.

I have been thinking about overhauling all of the pictures in my Laurel Moon vintage bead shop on Etsy, and I finally had a block of time this week to do it. So I went through and pulled all merchandise that was still represented by scans, and I've taken new pictures.

Some of the pictures are okay, and some of them are great improvements.

This was my original half-drill bead assortment pic:

Vintage half-drilled beads, Laurel Moon

It was a scan, as you can tell. It does give the size and shape, but there's just something about a picture that makes me much happier:

Vintage half-drilled beads, Laurel Moon

I'm now experimenting with glamorous closeup pics for my thumbnails, hoping that they'll entice more people to click:

Vintage halfdrilled beads, Laurel Moon

Well, I guess they're only glamorous if you like beads.

The thing about Etsy is that you have to list or relist things continually in order to be seen in their search results. Because I have such low-cost beads, I am reluctant to relist, and therefore I try to avoid it. But for these new pics, I definitely will. I hope it'll draw some new traffic in. Plus, when it's done I'll have a much more cohesive shop appearance because everything will be on a similar background.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Designing for friends

Most of the time when I design jewelry, I am simply designing around a pendant or focal point. I pull together the colors from the piece, or I bring in a new color, and I focus on complementing the central element in the way I think best suits it. There is no "audience" for the piece, so to speak; other than general thoughts of how one would wear it, durability, ease of use, etc., there is only a faceless person on the other end from me that represents the owner-to-be.

Sometimes, though, I make jewelry for someone specific.

Boston Terrier necklace, Laurel Moon

I found these paper beads in a store, and immediately thought of a friend of mine who loves Boston Terriers. And I bought the piece and decided to keep it very simple. She is an active person, someone who does not like a lot of fuss in her clothes or jewelry, and so I kept it streamlined and put a toggle clasp on the end so it would be easy to put on and take off.

You know, I've made some complicated pieces of jewelry for family and friends before, pieces with a lot of movement or wirework, and then often I see them wearing the simpler pieces much more often--pieces I would never have imagined they'd like more than the other, more complicated necklaces. It's intriguing to see which jewelry becomes a standard part of the wardrobe and which jewelry is only an occasional addition.

Part of the fun of designing for a specific audience is that I can picture the person wearing it, and that influences the design process.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shipping breakthrough! Part two.

A continuation of my shipping blather...

Up until last year, I would handwrite the address on the box, put a return label on, and then take all of the packages to the post office, stand in line, and the postal worker would weigh each package and sticker it and then I'd pay. But then I started wondering about online solutions. After a little bit of research, I discovered Endicia, and I decided to try their service. I paid $9.95 per month, bought a Dymo LabelWriter 450 printer, and started using that. I bought 3-part labels, and soon realized that I didn't like the extra work of sticking on three labels.

Then I found out that there was a single long label (2.5"x7") that one could use. However, my boxes are 6" long! So I kept with the 3-part labels that I'd bought. Eventually I ran out, though. I ordered the long labels and decided to try using Paypal again.

? The advantages with the Paypal method were many. The customer gets an automatic notice that the item has been shipped, and a tracking number, and it's automatically marked as "paid and shipped" within eBay. Plus, with Endicia I had to type in the name, address, email address, weight, etc. With Paypal, I only needed to verify the weight. Also, eBay automatically marks the DSR as the highest rating if you ship with this method, which is a great bonus. And I could cancel the Endicia service.

Sadly, it was a big mistake at first. I set up the multiple-shipment queue, and clicked to print twelve labels, and...everything got stuck. I ended up having to void all the labels and I caused a lot of confusion with the customers, who thought I was cancelling their orders. Plus, I had no 3-part labels, just the long labels, so when I used Endicia, I couldn't find the right option to print on them, and ended up using the 3-part layout, which meant I had to cut the labels apart by hand and stick them on. So now I was doing even more work.

Finally I decided to try again, but with a single label. I set it up and tried printing it, even choosing the second choice of Dymo label printer instead, and it still didn't work. It froze.

It just seemed crazy to me that it wouldn't work. Then I started thinking about it further, and I decided to give it one last chance, but instead of using Internet Explorer, I used Firefox. Firefox is my default browser for everything, but since I got the new computer and Windows 7, my old HP printer refuses to work with it, and only works with IE, so I'd been using IE to try to print the labels.

And worked! I have to wrap the labels around to get them to fit, but other than that, it's fantastic! No more cutting apart labels, typing in customer addresses and having to double-check that I've typed them in correctly, and no more having to update eBay with what's been paid for and shipped. Plus, the tracking number rocks! I am absolutely thrilled.

I love technology when it works!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Shipping breakthrough! Part one.

Ah, the joys of shipping, of labeling packages, of bubble wrap, sing to me of box dimensions...

I actually enjoy shipping. I like organizing, and sticking labels on boxes, and typing in addresses. It's a weakness. Most kids like getting new clothes for their birthday; I was entranced by office supplies.

I buy my boxes from Uline I generally use 6"x4"x4" size boxes, except for right now, because I accidentally ordered 4"x4"x6" boxes, which are a bit of a pain, as well as an important lesson on double-checking the dimensions before I hit "add to cart."

When I first started selling on eBay, all of my shipping materials (except tape) were recycled materials, including boxes. Eventually, though, I realized that I couldn't get enough small boxes, and I kept having to ship things in boxes that were too large. This got costly and also used extra packing material, so eventually I found Uline and started buying small boxes.

Shipping boxes, Laurel Moon

These boxes have peanuts in the bottom of them, but I usually use grocery bags. I have friends and family who collect them for me. I also save the tissue paper from gift bags and the packing paper from new shoes and just about anything else I can pad the bottom of a box with.

When I mail beads, I put them in 3"x4" bags like this:

Shipping; Laurel Moon

And then I wrap the bag in a strip of bubble wrap, which I get from a local store.

Shipping; Laurel Moon


Ahem. This is the secret to my shipping success; being able to encase items in this hardcore bubble wrap is the best thing ever. This is why I don't use boxes smaller than 4x4x6. There's not enough room for the bubble wrap. It does lead to a situation or two where it probably seems like overkill, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Shipping; Laurel Moon

After I put the bubble cocoons into the boxes, I fold up the invoice and a business card and use it to pad the top, and then I seal it with more packing tape and it's ready.

This is getting a little long, so I'll continue it in part two, tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I went to a show, and I came back with...more beads

This shouldn't have surprised me. As always, I just can't help but get new inventory. I had a great time at the Madison show, and then I went shopping.

The first taste of yum:

New strands, Laurel Moon

From left to right: Rutilated quartz, fossil coral, amethyst slices, imperial jasper, rhyolite, red creek jasper, ocean jasper, sodalite, silver needle agate, and smoky quartz

I sold several pieces of rutilated quartz at the last two shows, so I've decided to carry more semi-precious stone. In fact, I'm thinking of selling some on Etsy, even though I generally don't sell any semi-precious stone online except for closeouts.

The thing is, I keep finding really special and unusual beads, and I want to share I think I'm going to start doing so!

I also checked out a semi-precious stone trunk show, and found some really nice beads:

New strands, Laurel Moon

From left to right: Rhyolite, soo chow jade, brioche agate, porcelain jasper, and apatite.

I can't wait to design with these. Sometimes the simplest cut--a round or a chiclet--is the most attractive in a necklace, and I'm eager to use these!

And a sneak peek of some new show merchandise:

Glass pendants, Laurel Moon

These were so jewel-like, almost like candy! And the molds are terrific--you can see how great these Asian-style shapes are. I can't wait to take them to a show.