Thursday, July 28, 2011

A sneak preview of an awesome auction

Tonight I'm putting one of my very favorite beads on auction. They're vintage Japanese beads from Occupied Japan (1946-1951) in the most amazing dark cherry red color. I have sold a lot of these in periwinkle blue, but the dark cherry red I usually hoard. Every so often, though, I decide to put a few up for auction.

If you're interested in these, they'll be on auction starting tonight at around 8:30 pm EST. Check out my Laurel Moon eBay store later on and they should be listed! Good luck!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bead Table Wednesday

Bead Table Wednesday

Today is a super-busy day, full of eBay listings and preparing Etsy photos and experimenting with my new camera. I have a few minutes before I dive in, so what better way to spend it then to chronicle my ongoing jewelry desk saga?

Bead Table Wednesday, Laurel Moon

This is an unusual desk picture, because this is something I do only once in a blue moon; it's sort-the-stash time.

You see, whenever I have a few leftover beads from a project, or something that's kind of unclassifiable, or beads I was intending on using in a project but just don't have the time, then it goes into a tray. When that tray overflows, I add another tray. When those trays are overflowing, sometimes I put all of it into a big bag just to get it off the desk.

Eventually, though, the bag reaches the breaking point, and I end up sorting. It's generally a much more difficult sorting project, because some of the stuff needs to be made into jewelry, or needs to be put back into my containers, and this means that I have to really concentrate and figure out how to resort this all logically. Which means that it often ends up...back in the bag. There are some beads that have been in the bag for three years.

The funny thing about this sorting project is that I only pull it out when a) I am desperately bored, or b) I am desperately needing to do something else. ha! Isn't that always the way?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Show in a small town

This weekend I did the Arcadia Daze show in a little town in Michigan. I've done it for a few years, and I've always enjoyed it.

There are many fun things going on in this festival. There's a craft show, activities for kids, and pancake breakfasts and luncheons. The parade is always a hoot; it seems like every possible motorized vehicle ends up pulled into service. There are horses and cement mixers, ambulances and vintage cars, golf carts and fire trucks, and the big draw, the Scottsville Clown Band.

I love doing this show because I stay with my parents and it's always lovely to see them. My mother's gardens are in bloom, and I always try to take pictures. Sadly, this time my camera went to black after only twenty pictures. It's a bug this particular model has. I'll be sending it off to Sony when I get home.

Lilies, Laurel Moon

Today I sold a few pieces of jewelry. I like to inform customers about the different elements in each piece. One of the pieces I sold had a handpainted tree that the customer fell completely in love with and was very excited to buy.

The other piece had a mermaid pendant from Green Girl Studios. The customer picked it up and loved the mermaid and the faceted pearls. "Does this piece mean anything?" she said.

"On the back, it says, 'Love bravely,'" I replied.

She looked at me, and I could see that she was touched by the phrase. "I'll take it," she said immediately.

I love that kind of connection! I hope she wears it as a talisman and it serves her well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A glimpse of scale

A while ago, I ordered one of Andrew Thornton's amazing new porcelain/metal clay pendants. Andrew, being the kindhearted soul that he is, included a few extra pendants for me to use in my designs.

Unfortunately, my internet connection has been awful for the past two weeks, and I haven't been able to do much besides struggle with Etsy and eBay listings. However, I think I've managed a workaround for the moment, and now I'm finally able to update the blog. Hooray!

Yesterday I was thinking about Andrew's pendants, and which one I wanted to work with first. My natural inclination was to design around the Day of the Dead pendant. For some reason, though, it just wasn't happening.

I went outside with my husband to look at our gardens, and my husband pointed out that there was a garter snake hanging out in the clematis trellis, winding her way through the vines, four feet from the ground. I was mesmerized, watching her coil and slither.

I couldn't stop thinking about her, and when I went inside and remembered that one of Andrew's pendants featured a snake, I couldn't resist!

I started putting together beads that evoked snakes for me. Anything green, beads with texture, beads with a bit of inner flash.

Andrew Thornton snake charm necklace, Laurel Moon

I especially liked the grossular garnet; it was a really great shade of green, with a high polish look that I really loved. However, the piece I chose turned out to be drilled a little wonky, as they sometimes are, and then I went through nearly two strands of beads trying to find one that would work with 20 gauge. In the end, though, it worked out even better than I had imagined; the piece that fit seemed to resemble the head of a snake.

Andrew Thornton snake charm necklace, Laurel Moon

I had originally picked out several different beads, but in the end, I included only a few. I love the result; minimalist, but still evocative of the serpent, the focus of the piece.

Andrew Thornton snake charm necklace, Laurel Moon

Andrew Thornton snake charm necklace, Laurel Moon

You can find more of Andrew Thornton's amazing pendants in his Big Cartel shop.

*FTC compliance disclosure: the serpent pendant mentioned in this post were provided as a promotional gift for review or design purposes from Andrew Thornton

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beware the pitfalls

Last night I hung out with one of my very favorite people, someone who also has an Etsy shop and works very hard at her craft. We commiserated about many things; lines at the post office, customs forms, the pressure to keep producing new and interesting work.

She paged through my Etsy shop and pointed out things that I never in a million years would have noticed. For example, none of my Etsy listing titles contained the number of pieces in the listing. In some cases this isn't a problem, as it's a single piece. But for people like my friend, an experienced Etsy buyer, this presents a hassle. For the other listings, she can hover her mouse over the listing and it will show the entire title, and she knows in an instant how many pieces are in the listing.

I would never have figured this out; my internet connection is slow and I never bother to hover over the pics because often it doesn't work. If I want to know more, I click on the item.

She also pointed out that having so many different countries listed in the shipping area is confusing. So I have now gone through and edited all of the listings to include the number of pieces in the title, and I've changed the shipping.

We talked about steampunk jewelry and its amazing popularity, and we looked at some of my new earrings:

Steampunk earrings, Laurel Moon

I mentioned that these earrings are getting tons of views in my Etsy shop, but not many favorites. Perhaps it's because there are just so many pieces out there already on Etsy. I think I might try some new pictures and see if that makes a difference.

It's wonderful to look at things through someone else's eyes!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A necklace for myself

I often buy beads and put them aside for myself, thinking I'll make some righteous jewelry for myself later. And then later somehow never materializes. Have I mentioned that I bought a bead from Anne Choi in 2006, picked out kunzite to go with it, put it on a tray on my jewelry desk...and it's still there, even now?

Yeah. I don't have the best track record for getting around to my own jewelry. I know, I know, it's great advertising, and it is, but I just never remember to actually make more. Each year before the Bead & Button Show I think, oh, I'll make some jewelry to wear at the show! And then...I don't.

So when I saw that Andrew Thornton was making a new line of pendants, and that one of the pendants was a raven holding a skeleton key in its beak, I was transfixed. I emailed him immediately and bought one. And then I fully expected it to end up in the hoarding bins.

Last night while I was working on steampunk jewelry, I happened to notice one of my hoarded treasures, a graduated strand of rutilated quartz. It sparkled. It caught my eye, and suddenly I thought of the raven pendant.

Yes, they were perfect for each other.

Andrew Thornton raven necklace, Laurel Moon

Andrew Thornton raven pendant necklace, Laurel Moon

And now it is mine. MINE MINE MINE! I can't wait to wear it!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

And now, steampunk jewelry

I'm not always aware of the trends in beaded jewelry; while I do read several trade publications, and I attend a few shows, sometimes I miss smaller trends entirely.

Not so with steampunk! One of my good friends, Melanie from Earthenwood Studio, has been creating amazing steampunk components and jewelry for some time now. Strangely enough, I'd heard of the steampunk concept years ago, through a Neil Gaiman-inspired graphic novel about a steam-powered robot. I never read it, but I was intrigued by the concept, and when Melanie began exploring steampunk, I remembered it.

My own style has always been beads, wire, flexible beading wire, and sterling silver or goldfill components, so when I started to notice steampunk jewelry appearing in Etsy shops and blogs, I didn't see how I could adapt it to my own style. The use of found objects and copper and brass was a bit daunting.

After some thought about it, and some encouragement from a couple of designer friends, I decided to take a trip down the steampunk path. I picked up an assortment of jump rings, headpins, French hooks, and gear stampings in brass and copper while I was in WI for the Bead & Button Show. I've been so busy that I didn't have time to experiment...until yesterday.

Steampunk elements, Laurel Moon

At first, I assembled the basic components for several different earrings. French hooks, a gear or two, and jump rings. Fortunately, I've done chain maille before, so working with jump rings was familiar.

Steampunk in progress, Laurel Moon

After I had the basic components put together, I began to embellish them. This was the fun part; I could match different stones to the look of the metal and bring together different, larger jump rings. I changed things around as I was making them, adding elements and subtracting elements, exchanging colors of jump rings, until I had a fun set of earrings.

Steampunk earrings, Laurel Moon

It was a very fun experiment, and I look forward to creating more steampunk jewelry!

Friday, July 1, 2011

The organization continues

I am in a state of flux.

A few months ago, I began a rather ambitious project. I decided that I was not happy with the way my office was organized. I literally got up one morning, sat down with my cereal, and was so overwhelmed with the need to change that I just...did it. At least, the big part of it, which meant moving nearly everything in the room.

(For those of you who need a bit of a mental image, I have four desks, a set of storage cubicles, a couch, a coffee table, a rack full of beads, a low cart with a TV, and a round table for shooting pictures, all in my office. Not to mention two floor lamps and three desk chairs. Thank goodness the room is big enough for all of this; in the apartment, I used to have to climb over the couch to sit down at my jewelry desk.)

I realized that my business was important to me, and that I needed to really invest in it with more than just money or time. I needed to invest brainpower. I needed to decide to make improvements based on efficiency. That's when I moved the desks and the bead rack. Certainly that was the most pressing need, and I'm glad that I did it.

However, I've realized that I need to do more. My old jewelry desk, which became the printers-scanner-bills desk, is just not adequate for this task. And I've run out of room in my chief organizational system, which is comprised of my twin Mini Stackables from the amazing Best Craft Organizer company.

Best Craft Organizer, Laurel Moon

I need a new desk system. I need more space. I've already checked out Ikea's website. I will be organized; this is my new battlecry. I'm getting busier and busier and I just can't do it without a good system in place.

My new Mini Stackable is on its way, and hopefully this is just the beginning of a new, more organized me!