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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is in a (shop) name?

A shop names is the first introduction to a brand, and should therefore send the message you intend it to send. It should say something about your shop, what you sell, or should at least not give a misleading impression of your shop.

There are all kinds of wonderful handmade shops out there. They have unique names that can seem straightforward, but the stories and reasons behind the name of a shop can be as unique as the artisan.

I realized this as I had always made the assumption that the shop name was usually named after the artisan. But in reality some people find their inspiration from mythology, anthropology, family history and other parts of their life.

My shop name comes from a combination of my kids' names. Arielle and Aidan combined to give me Aridan. I liked the idea because it keeps my kids top of mind, where they belong, and it also demonstrates to them their importance in my life. They are proud that my shop is named after them. I had tinkered with other names that involved the words "baubles" and "trinkets", and while they may be fun to say, I felt they tended to trivialize the work I put into my pieces. I also wanted a name generic enough that it wouldn't be misleading if I decided to create items that were not jewelry. That is how Aridan Fashions was born.

If you have an interesting story about your business or shop name, I would love to hear it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Sneak Peek at the New MyArtFire Page

I have been lucky enough to be given a sneak peek into the new look for the MyArtFire page. ArtFire has been making steady strides in continuing to improve and streamline the look and feel of its web presence. As the tools and capabilities of this selling venue become more sophisticated, so do the web pages from which we use those capabilities.

ArtFire has recently updated the look of its homepage at, and has given artisans the capability of customizing their studios to reflect their own brands and styles. Now the MyArtFire page, the dashboard from which we can manage our ArtFire experience has been given a new look.

Below you can see what the current page looks like, and what the new page will look like.

Current Look

New Look

As a person who usually has a hard time with change, I like serious look and feel of the new page. I was fond of the fun colors and icons that have been used up to this point, but as ArtFire emerges as a serious contender in the selling handmade marketplace, where the Internet the crux of its business model, it needs the power of a polished, sleek, well branded site.

I'm liking it…what do you think?

Friday, May 01, 2009

How Much Tweeting is Too Much?

So recently I was reading a thread on the Etsy site about Twitter. Some were saying that they wouldn't be surprised if Etsy was banned from Twitter because of excessive spam (I guess any spam is excessive). People feel strongly on both sides of the issue. Some people feel that you should not be promoting your new listings at all on Twitter and some people feel that tweeting their listings bring views to their items. I have read guidelines from other people on how to use Twitter, but I find that in reality even those outlining guidelines are not always operating within them. I admit that I find that a bit hypocritcal, but I chalk it up that people are better at making rules than following them. ;)

I think Twitter is so unique and so large that there is room for people on all sides of the fence. I do not consider people who promote their listings as spamming, because I only see their posts if I follow them to begin with. It's my choice to see their tweets or not. Personally I like seeing listings from other artists, as I like to see the work that's out there. My husband is on the other side of the fence. He uses Twitter to connect with people he knows already, and to follow news and sports feeds. He would be much more likely to be annoyed by links to store items.

I personally don't see Etsy listings being banned from Twitter, they would have just as much reason to ban any of the other self-promoting segments on the service. I would never tell someone else that they should not promote their listings through Twitter either. The fact is that Twitter will bring more views into your shop. Yes, I agree that we all should use common sense about how we tweet our items. Generally, there should be some general dialogues going on, aside from self promotion. And generally, it's a turn off to see a long queue of listings in a row. But it's a learning curve, and people will do what works best for them, and we're all free to develop and implement our personal philosophical guidelines of who we follow and why.

I value my network, especially the handmade artisan core of my network. Don't be afraid to show off your work, because if you don't someone else will. I don't mind!

Monday, April 27, 2009

My Phantom Obsession Lives On!

I have long had a school-girl crush on the tale of The Phantom of the Opera. I have read the original book, as well as some greatly romanticized versions. I have seen the musical a number of times, and of course I own the movie. Some people don't understand the appeal. I love the juxtaposition of opposing forces in the story. Good versus evil, beautiful versus ugly, light versus dark, man versus woman, and redemption versus damnation. For me, it did what the Twilight series seems to have done for a whole new generation of young people.

So here I've put together an Artisan Spotlight of handmade items that remind me of one of my favorite books/movies/plays. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Handmadeology-A Great Resource for Online Sellers

I am not really new to online selling. I signed up for an Etsy storefront in 2006. But you would think I'd be much farther along than I am in building sales. Well life events pulled me away from my art for a long time. Now I'm back and there have been so many changes, new venues, new opportunities, it makes me a de facto newbie.

In my efforts to learn more about online selling I found Handmadeology. It takes online selling from an art to a science, based on the proven tactics of Timothy Adams, metal artist, blogger and successful online seller.

It's a great resource for online sellers, whether experienced or brand new, that includes articles and videos to improve your selling techniques on Etsy and ArtFire. Additionally, it provides information on how to increase traffic to your selling venues through social networking, such as Twitter, Facebook, and effective blogging.

I found the combination of articles and videos refreshing. The videos are great for people who are visual learners, and like to see, step-by-step, what they need to do. There is also a forum for the site, with the tagline "Connect. Learn. Promote.", the growing community there is an excellent way to learn from other artists.

Additionally there is a directory on the site where you can add your links to blogs, storefronts, Twitter and more, for free. We all like free, right?

Stop by, visit, click a link or two, and see if you learn something new.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Win Unique Handmade Jewelry in the AJDJSS Treasure Hunt

The Artfire Jewelry Design and Jewelry Supply Shops Guild is currently running it's Spring Cleaning and Treasure Hunt event. Below are some of the beautiful selections available in the AJDJSS studios. Visiting these studios will allow you to check out some of the discounts and specials available, and maybe even qualify you to win a beautiful, handmade, unique jewelry design...or two! Check out the rules at

We Marveled at Ancient Aztec Jewelry

The Field Museum in Chicago We recently went to The Field Museum in Chicago. We decided to get membership there a couple of weeks ago, and it provided us with free tickets to the paid exhibits. One such exhibit, The Aztec World, was ending April 19th, so we squeaked in before it moved on. We were particularly excited to see the exhibit because we had been to the site in Mexico City on our honeymoon, and saw the beginnings of the excavations first hand.

It was a fascinating exhibit, but of course I was most intrigued by the jewelry that was on display. To think they were able to make such fine components without today's jewelry making techniques. There were mostly necklaces, and some rings, made of gold, shell, and greenstone such as
Gold Necklace, Photo by David Healdserpentine.

Also on display was a rare piece of textile from a woman's garment. It still had the patterning on it from the inks and stamps they used to decorate their clothing.

If you would like to see some of the exhibit highlights you can find it here:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Combining Colors, Not as Easy as it Sounds

It is a pleasure to work with so many supplies in a variety of colors. Not only do beads come in a rainbow of colors and finishes, so much so that you need a class to identify them all, but metal wire, beading wire, components all have colors and finishes that provide and endless number of combinations with which to work.

Sometimes having that many options at your disposal can paralyze your creativity in putting them together. There are some combinations that are intuitive, and you can easily drift off into creating with them. The true challenge is to put some colors together that are not classic combos, and see what you come up with.

There is a bunch of information on color theory out there, if you aren't already familiar with it. Even if you have the basics down, learning about Near Complementary Color Schemes or Square Tredatic Color Schemes is amazing. There are some wonderful articles out there for jewelry designers at the Beading Design Jewelry site.

Some colors I find easy to work with are black/white, black/silver, pink/purple, and black/red. But to grow as a designer and an artist, you sometimes have to leave the comfort zone and do something crazy. For me, dabbling in citrus and tropical colors can be daunting. Oranges, yellows, a bit of blue and red...oh my!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Our Favorite Vendors

I don't usually like to talk about what vendors I use. It inevitably will happen that someone will have a less than flattering comment about my vendor, and tries to convince me why vendor XYZ is so much better. This tends to get under my skin, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The reason is that there are so many practical, impractical, personal, and pragmatic reasons that people choose the vendors they work with.

The reasons won't always make sense to someone else. Sometimes it's not about the absolute lowest price, or the free shipping, or the lack of the need to purchase a minimum quantity. And sometimes it is about just those things. Other times doing business with a particular vendor is an emotional decision. They make you feel good about your craft, they make you feel they care about you and your order, they inspire you with examples of their in-house talent, and they gain your loyalty by providing useful tools and information in addition to their wares.

Sometimes the emotional and fudiciary reasons are not in alignment. Sometimes a vendor will gain your loyalty, but not provide the rock bottom prices on the latest crystals you need to finish a project.

I use several vendors because no single vendor has all the items I need when I need them. I have different vendors for wire, components, and general beads and crystals. I do try to keep my costs down, so I like when vendors offer assortments that I can use. I like those that offer flat shipping fees. I'm not fond of handling fees, but tolerate them when I have to. Free shipping and no minimums is a bonus but won't be the deciding factor in making a purchase.

Ultimately my point here is that I think sharing information about good vendor resources is always welcome and appreciated, but deprecating someone's preferred vendor, or trying to change their mind about which one is best, is usually a futile effort.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring Cleaning is Keeping Me Busy

Ok, anyone who knows me probably realized I didn't mean actual Spring "cleaning". Rather I'm talking about the upcoming event being run by my ArtFire guild. An ArtFire guild is a group of people brought together by a common mission, who help and support each other in building traffic and bringing business to their studios. Our guild's name is Artfire Jewelry Design and Jewelry Supply Shops.

This is my first experience with a guild. I was a bit hesitant at first, since I tend to be somewhat shy and quiet. But I am very fortunate to belong to this talented group of artisans. They are active within the group, they are supportive, they share information, and they are dedicated to success.

So our first event is kicking off April 17th, and I've been very busy preparing for it. It will combine "Spring Cleaning" specials in each member studio, and a treasure hunt where participants can win a number of lovely bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. I've been heads down preparing some new inventory for this event, so I can put my best foot forward. Come by and check it out. There is even a slideshow of the fantastic prizes:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Something To Inspire Creativity

When creative people are not feeling all that creative, anything that can inspire is welcome. If you have a graphics pad at your disposal, you may enjoy tooling around with ArtRage. It is software that allows you to paint on your computer. I don't pretend I'm a painter. I actually started jewelry design after I realized I did not have my Dad's talent for painting.

Aside from paints, it also provides chalks, crayons, markers, airbrush, and pencil tools. The free version has less tools available than the full version, but still enough to splash colors together, blend, and experiment.

For those who find color combinations scary, this is a safe way to play with them. It even has an eraser if you don't like what you've done. I've included a painting example here, my abstract version of a heart.

I do this when I'm not feeling all that creative, and it relaxes me and allows my mind to wander, and I think that's a much better state to be in when trying to put something new together. I hope some of you may find this an interesting outlet with which to experiment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Blossoms in Metallic Blue

You may not be able to tell unless you look closely, but these two sets of earrings are actually different. The difference is in the color of seed beads used on the outer edge of the blossom. One is made with Amethyst Glow and the other uses a more subtle Rainbow Amethyst. Although not a traditional representation of Spring flowers, they make a colorful, bold statement.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Illusions in Light Blue

I love the look of illusion necklaces, especially made with monofilament cord where you don't have to use crimp beads. The monofilament is strong, and very thin, so it's easier to just suspend the beads by passing back through the beads as you string them. It also makes it easier to space the beads consistently, and is flexible enough to allow for an adjustment or two if needed. These necklaces are so light and elegant. This particular piece is made with 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, and one 10mm glass pearls, complemented with 4mm bicone crystals in heliotrope.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring is Here...Right?

It's been a long dreary winter, even for me, and I love the brisk weather and the snowfall. It seems that Spring is taking it's time getting here though, and I'm tired of days ranging from 50s, 60s, even 70s one day and back in to the 40s or 30s the next. This design is with a bit of green that came too late for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, but still represents the color of renewal and verdant growth. This is made using Beadalon Gold Beading wire, 4mm and 6mm glass cube beads I picked up at the Bead & Button Show a while back, and some silver-lined topaz seed beads. The clasp is adjustable, using gold colored chain and spring ring clasp.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Now It's Purple, Now it's Blue

There is a reason that artists use natural daylight bulbs, like the type that OTT brand uses. With certain materials, such as glass beads, the color looks different depending on if it's viewed in natural daylight or in fluorescent light. This particular illusion necklace was made with crackle glass beads, pink glass pearls and pink bicone glass beads, strung on clear monofilament cord. When I made it early in the day, I chose the beads because they were a light purple color. Later that evening, in the lamplight I noticed they were a light blue. So this piece is perfect for someone who likes variety and shifting shades of color.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Paige's Birthday Goodies

I can't believe my niece is 13 already, a newbie teen, with a keen fashion sense and highly developed individual style. It's actually intimidating to try to design something for such a want them to like it more than just the polite "Thanks, Aunt Kelle." For the birthday girl, I put together a couple items. I like designing with pinks and purples, so it's great that she's a fan of the colors. I pulled out the Swarovski crystals and the lampwork precious babies! Below are the fruits of my labor, and they seemed to go over well.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Red and Black Dangle Earrings

Red and Black Dangle Earrings
Originally uploaded by Aridan Fashions

Representing Jeff's company, he, I and my aunt and uncle all participated in a bowling event to benefit Junior Achievement. As I had mentioned earlier, the shirts were black and red, with some white on the back. I took that as an opportunity to once again spar with my old friend the wire jig.

Such a simple tool in theory, there is much more than meets the eye. What gauge wire you use, and it's hardness will effect the wire shape. Additionally, how many pegs you place in the jig at any given time can make it much easier or much harder to complete a component. I have struggled with keeping the entire piece on all the pegs, and with flattening the piece after it's taken off the jig. Let me tell you, the little plastic spacers used to press the wire down as you shape it is well worth using.

This piece was fashioned on a Wig Jig Centaur jig, using 22 gauge non-tarnish brass Artistic Wire. The beads are 4mm fire polished red faceted rounds and 4mm jet faceted Preciosa crystal bicones. My aunt and I wore matching pairs for the event.

Teardrop Pearl Earrings

Teardrop Pearl Earrings
Originally uploaded by Aridan Fashions

These 6mm and 8mm glass pearls are nicely framed in teardrop shaped earring findings.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cane Glass Memory Wire Bracelet

Cane glass memory bracelet
Originally uploaded by Aridan Fashions

I find cane glass, also known as furnace glass, beautiful and fascinating. It's made by creating and combining glass rods into colorful patterns, and encasing them in clear glass to make a larger rod, then sliding them into different bead shapes and sizes. It comes in varying qualities, with lesser quality glass lacking the shine, clean cuts, consistent holes, and vivid colors of the designer glass.

This bracelet was made using blue cane glass, metal beads, and jet AB faceted round glass beads. It was a gift for my cousin's birthday.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Reflections on ArtFire

So venturing out on artisan selling sites, like Etsy and ArtFire, is not for the faint of heart. It's truly amazing how many talented people there are out there, working hard on beautiful handmade pieces of art. And that's just the start on these sites. I have to admire all these artisans that put the time an energy not only creating their fine pieces of work, but also contributing to the vast community, providing feedback and help to other artisans and the site itself. As much as there is a sense of community, there is also fierce competition. When gathering together the best and brightest, how do you make yourself stand out in such fine company? That is the money question, and one many are still trying to answer. I'm enjoying putting my art out there, and I'm patient, and I learn from my mistakes. Balancing the day job, the family and friends, and other interests, I only have so much time to dedicate to my jewelry passion. It's good that I'm patient. I'm willing to take my time and see where these online venues take me, and what I can offer back.

So here is my latest listing in my ArtFire studio. It's actually the first time I've made a wire yoke. Something about 16 gauge wire used to scare me off, but I'm kind of in a "bring it on" frame of mind lately. These are glass pearls, and my lovely smokey irridescent glass chips.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Red and black, together again

I took bowling in high school, and I liked it. Unfortunately like many of the things I like, I was never very good at it. We can't all be good at everything of course. It's all in good fun. So I agreed to participate in my husband's charity bowling event for work. Low and behold we get bowling shirts! In honor of the black, red and white shirts, I put together this necklace. Among my new bead affairs is the crackle bead. They reflect the light nicely and come in a wonderful range of colors. These are two tone crackle beads, which are my favorite. I went crazy on the centerpiece, loading it down with two colors and two sizes of the beads. It feels nice and sturdy. Black and red always reminds me of a deck of cards, but perhaps from now on it will remind me of bowling.

Bling that reminds me of bubbly

I have a love of tear drop beads. They look so juicy, like a drop of liquid about to fall from a glass or a leaf. I've also developed a new fascination with glass chips. So I've combined my old love and my new love in this necklace. I thought the color of the chips looked like irridescent champagne, and who doesn't love champagne. Drop beads naturally lend themselves to cascading, thus the centerpiece of the necklace takes advantage of that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reflecting on creativity

It might be amusing to people who know me now to hear that I never considered myself a creative person. When friends and family see the fancy birthday cake or the new jewelry or the custom picture slide show, they always say "Oh, you are very creative."

My father was an artist, he could paint and draw. The urge to create runs deep in my family, as we have many talented artists and musicians in the family. I discovered that urge as an adult and a new mother.

Sure I liked to play with art supplies, and make crafts as a child. But it wasn't until I was an adult that the urge took shape, became imperative, to really makes something with my hands. I dabbled in art, water colors, pastels, paints, and drawings. That was fun but I had no real talent for that media. I began making cakes, and got a taste of what I was craving. But it wasn't until I started on jewelry that my passion ignited.

And even with the ignition of passion, and the creation of many pieces, and the experimentation with different material I do not feel that I am a creative person. I can and do make pieces, and enjoy working projects other people have put together, but I truly long to have the vision and talent to come up with those creative projects on my own.

I have learned that the biggest obstacle to creativity is fear. The fear of failure, the fear of wasting materials, the fear of ridicule, the fear of losing passion for the art. It's hard to take the risk of thinking and working outside the box when all those fears weigh on me.

But without risk there is no reward. I'm am eager to make this a year of expanding, building, nurturing my creativity to see what I can coax out of my imagination.

Wish me luck!