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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: