Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Freebie from FoundHandmade

FoundHandmade is a site devoted to advertising your online shop, wherever it may be: Etsy, ArtFire, 1000Markets, personal website...

Normally, it is $5/month to buy one "block", which is basically a small image of one item that you are selling. They also offer larger blocks and featured item blocks at higher prices. If someone clicks on your image, it links them directly to that item in your shop. A great tool for bringing new customers to your website!

Right now they are offering a free 1-month block to anyone who posts about FoundHandmade on their blog. So, if you want a chance to advertise your handmade goods, vintage wears, or supplies, write your post and link back to by 2/28/09. Then e-mail your blog link to They'll send you details about how to upload your free block. Click here for more info about this freebie.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slow, slow, slow...

Do you ever have those days where you ask yourself: "Why is it that I am doing this again???" I'm talking about this whole jewelry business thing. Don't misunderstand; I LOVE what I do. I'm not planning on stopping any time soon! But some days (or weeks) are harder than others.

Recently the economy has been going down the toilet, as most of you already know. But I told myself I wouldn't give up. I've continued to work as if nothing is different. I have made several new pendants and have daily updated Etsy, 1000Markets, and my main website. Granted, there's always more that I could be doing. I'm not too savvy when it comes to marketing. I really do the bare minimum: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, etc. BUT, it seems like I have not been making my normal amount of sales each month. At first I thought, maybe people are just being cautious, and not spending money. But as I scan other shops, I see sales everywhere!

Ok, I should stop the pity party. I have to confess that right before I planned on writing this post, I got a sale from my Etsy shop. Yippie! It had been almost three weeks since my last one. That is quite a dry spell for me, especially with how much listing I have been doing this month. At least I know the buyers are still out there.

So, I will keep plugging along, because that is what you have to do in a business. Someday I will discover the secret to successful online selling. It could be that I just don't have adequate time or energy to invest at this point in my life. I have to remind myself that it's OK. I do have two cute little boys to take care of every day. I can't spend every waking minute on the computer!

If any of you have any easy, non time consuming tips you can share, I would love you forever! In the meantime, here is my latest creation. I love, love, love these colors of glass!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Custom Design

I love to get special orders from customers. It's easy when they request a previously sold item, or if they want something in a different color. But sometimes, custom orders can be particularly challenging if the customer really doesn't know what they want. They give me a few guidelines, but ultimately tell me that I'm the artist, and to use my best judgment. I don't know why this intimidates me so much. I design things from scratch all the time without anxiety. I guess it's because if I make something on my own, and it doesn't turn out like I'd plan, I just scrap it and move on. But when there is a customer on the other end waiting for some fabulous creation, I really feel the pressure. It's good for me, though. I have to force myself to be inspired, even when there is no inspiration there.

Recently, I was asked to make a pendant (a gift for the customer's wife) using birthstone colors for three different months. One of the months also happened to be their wedding anniversary. First, I had to check the months and see if I even had glass similar to these colors. Thankfully, I lucked out there. I had three transparent colors similar to amethyst, ruby, and blue sapphire. The colors would have looked better in opaques, but the closest stained glass store is an hour away. So I used what I had. The next step was to design a pendant that would combine the three colors in an attractive way. I've done two-piece pendants before, but never three. I tend to avoid multi-pieces in general because smoothing out the solder between glass pieces is very difficult. So this was definitely a challenge.

Attempt #1

The overlapping rings were to represent the wedding anniversary. I felt like it was a clever idea, but it ended up looking too cluttered, especially with all of the uneven solder seams underneath. I could tell that I just wasn't "feeling" this pendant, because the craftsmanship wasn't quite up to par, and it didn't really represent my signature style. So I scrapped it and tried again.

Attempt #2

This second one felt more like me. The shapes are more modern, and my soldering was much smoother. I scrapped the "rings" idea altogether and just went for spirals. I decided that I shouldn't try to cram too much symbolism into one pendant. In the end, what matters is that the customer is happy, AND that it looks pretty around the recipient's neck.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Painting as therapy...

"Squares" - acrylic on canvas board

I used to paint highly detailed, labor intensive still life's and master studies in oils. This type of work usually only caused anxiety and frustration in me. I would get to a point during the painting where I wanted to throw my brushes across the room and slash a large hole in the center of the canvas. (I'm sure all of you painters out there have been there...) Nevertheless, I would always trudge through the frustration and finish the painting anyway, sometimes happy with the results, sometimes not.

Those days are over...for now, at least. Lately, when I feel like painting, I squirt a bunch of random colors out, grab my palette knife, and have fun. It's such a release for my mind to not have to think about what I'm doing. I love letting the color and texture take over. The process really does put my mind at ease. And even if I don't produce a great masterpiece, I still end up with something that's fun to look at. Which, in my opinion, is the whole point of visual art.