Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Beaded Affair

Lois of A Beaded Affair is the talent who created this incredible wire wrapped ocean jasper. I like how the center wire curves to reflect the natural curve and circular patterns on this ocean jasper cabochon.

When Lois gets a free moment from running her realty office in the Philadelphia area (Willow Grove in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania) or from wire wrapping gemstones, she seeks out incredibly beautiful bead strands for listing at her “candy” store. She has fancy drilled amazonite, malachite coins, graduated garnet, sardonyx with very striking white stripes, deliciously colored Botswana agate, and so much more. Currently, she is offering free shipping when you buy 3 items or more. Don’t forget to grab some very hard to find square copper wires so you too, can give a try at wire wrapping gem cabochons. So check out her
Etsy store right away. You won’t be disappointed. She is an avid antique jewelry collector too.

I’m so glad to be a teammate with her at the eSMArts Guild. Lois will be our store manager for the new
Team Shop. She is one of the most qualified candidates, plus the fact that she has a big heart. Proceeds of the shop sales will go towards good causes. So check out the shop for more details. Basically, the eSMArts shop is filled with a spectrum of handcrafted art created by the team members. Where else can you find a better one-stop shopping shop for the upcoming holidays?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleaning Silver Jewelry

Being a jeweler, several customers had asked me how to clean their sterling silver jewelry without the hard work of hand rubbing with polishing cloth. I usually use a polishing lathe or a tumbler to clean my creations before they ever leave my studio. Well, not everyone have access to these equipment. So I did some research and found the following organic method that only requires simple household items. (Note that this WILL NOT work on silver plated items or jewelry with porous stones such as turquoise, pearls and shells.)

You will need –
- large old pot (DO NOT use this pot for food prep afterwards)
- aluminum foil
- ½ a gallon of boiling water
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup liquid dish soap
- plastic spoons
- strainer

1. Line the pot with aluminum foil.
2. Spread out your sterling jewelry in the pot, making sure they don’t touch each other.
3. Mix the baking soda, salt and dish soap and put in the pot.
4. Add enough water to cover the jewelry (about 2-3 inches) and bring the water to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Avoid breathing the fumes or putting your face near the steam.
5. Use the plastic spoons to gently move the jewelry pieces around so that they touch the aluminum surfaces.
6. When your silver jewelry is shiny again, pour everything out into a strainer and rinse with water.
7. Dry and buff with soft cotton cloth.

As an alternate to cooking your silver in a pot (Steps 1-4 above), you can also use the same concoction of baking soda, salt and dish soap in an aluminum pie pan and pour boiling water into the pan. Let soak for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process as needed until the silver pieces are all clean (using fresh baking soda, salt, dish soap and boiling water each time.)

Sterling tarnishes when exposed to moisture in the air. When storing your silver jewelry, put them in anti-tarnish bags or zip lock bags and keep them away from direct sunshine. Silver will react to eggs and rubber products like rubber bands.

Hope you find this tutorial helpful!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Find Your Target Market

When I first started making jewelry, I pretty much make what I like to make. I tried to learn all the different interesting techniques, soaking up all the information my brain can hold. It is magical to be able to create all those beautiful sparkly objects.

Then I wanted to be able to sell my work to replenish my supplies and buy new tools. I plunge into researching on how to make this new obsession into a legitimate business. At that time, I would hear people talking about target markets. Heck, I didn’t know what that meant. I figure that “if I make it, they will come.” Ha! So on with hunting down shows to apply to, and jumping with excitement wherever I get accepted.

Well, I learned my lesson really well this weekend. It was like my light bulb was turned on by this craft show. Sales were so slow today that I decided to play a game. Each time a new person came near my table, I would try to guess whether this person would stop and look, whether she would pick up a piece of jewelry to take a closer look, or would she make a positive comment, or would she make a purchase. All this was based on my first impression of this shopper.

Although I barely made enough to pay for expenses, I learned a valuable lesson. Each artisan will have his/her own markets, depending on their art medium and style. Some questions to ask in order to find your audience would be:

- From what neighborhood(s) will my potential buyers be from? Well-to-do neighborhood with manicured lawn or fixer-uppers?
- From what kind of income range? Will they have discretionary income? I know, it can be hard to tell in this economy.
- What age group are they? Younger or older?
- Will I have the highest or lowest price points in the show? You really don’t want to bring your $100 items to places where most other people are selling $5-$10 items.
- Will my art be appreciated? Are these people used to buying imported mass production or will they appreciate the handmade process by local artists?
- Do they mind having the same things as everyone else or would they prefer uniqueness?

- How are they dressed? Conservative? Flamboyant? Chic? Casual?
- Are they wearing any jewelry? If they are, what style?

I’m sure there are more to the above list. The one advantage or disadvantage in selling online is that the target market need not be defined as clearly as direct selling in art shows. As an artisan, I’m glad I get to do both. If I only rely on virtual sales, I would not have learned how to define my target market even to this date.

Well, I’ll just jot this weekend down as an experience. To make myself feel better, I snatched a chocolate cake that was put on half price at the end of the show. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Earrings Winner

On my first blog, I promised to draw a name out of my list of blog followers to receive this pair of crystal cubes and sterling earrings I made. The winner is Jodi of j_craft. Congratulations!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How to Promote Your Website, by Unique Expressions

Unique Expressions: How to Promote Your Website

I found this site and can't help but need to spread the words. A great list with links to many of the social marketing sites. Check it out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Prototype Ring

This is the first time I made this ring, using sterling sheet, sterling wires, and colored resin. It has over 6-1/2 grams of sterling and my hand-signature on the back. The top has a circle within a circle, allowing up to two color combinations. They can be complementary or analogous colors, providing me hours of adventure in mixing and pairing them.

The ring shank is made from heavy gauge round wire and is soldered only to the back of the ring top. The ends overlap, which allows for easy size adjustments. I smoothed out the wire tips for comfort. Customers will never have to worry about their fingers swelling in the summer heat, nor the ring slipping off their finger during cooler weather.

It is a really fun ring to wear, with its bright colors. It’s a definite show-stopper. I finished the ring two days ago and garnered compliments each time I wear it. I made the top almost 1” in diameter so it doesn’t flop around. It is also a good way to camouflage my big knuckles. :)

I haven’t quite decided whether to put this into production yet. I thought I would give my readers and fans a chance to vote. Send me your vote or suggestions/comments below.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm Featured on Judaica Journal

What a nice surprise when I find my work featured on Judaica Journal . It is the only blog journal (that I know of) that dedicates to all things Jewish, and it has an international following. I feel extremely honored to have the exposure on this journal.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SandT Creations

This gorgeous necklace is from S&T Creations in Jeffersonville, IN. She uses turquoise and black beads to create this stunner. Saundra and Teri enjoy working and learning together. One of Teri’s dreams is to visit the Roman ruins in Italy. I’m sure she doesn’t mind taking me along when that happens. lol


This delicate-looking bracelet was woven with tiny seed beads by Elayne. I tried bead weaving when I first started making jewelry. It takes a lot of patience and good eyes. So, my hats off to Elayne. And she is selling this for $42, which is a steal. If you like it, you’d better snatch that up at their Etsy store right away because good deals don’t last.

Elayne is the daughter of the mother-daughter team behind ChezChani. Roz is the mom who makes all the glass beads and wirework. They work out of their home in Las Vegas and are transplants from Montreal.