Friday, February 13, 2015

Way too long between postings!

I cannot believe that two weeks have passed and I have not blogged!  I meant to.... well, you know how it goes.  Life gets in the way.

I have been creating, though.  I updated my Etsy shop with a bunch of spinner/worry rings.

And I finally took the plunge and made a couple of rings with a copper base and sterling silver satellite ring.  The reason I waited SO LONG to use copper as the base for the ring is that when I first started to use solder, I used WAY.TOO.MUCH.  The problem with that is the overflow of silver solder onto the copper.  I do use copper solder, but it still flows silver.  Now that I have gotten used to this process, I have economized on my solder usage!  And, most of the overflow (when this happens)  is quickly "erased" with the Flex Shaft (still in love with this tool)!!

I also FINALLY bit the bullet and I started a website on Indiemade. (There is a link to my new shop in the top right corner of my blog, or you can click here to view).   It took me a full two weeks (few hours here, few hours there) to set it up.  The first week was - pardon my language - pure hell as I am so slow on this technology!  However, I now have to admit, after I look back on those two weeks, it really was not that difficult and is quite user-friendly.  In my world, the glass is always bone-dry - I must work on my pessimism!

I have several reasons for putting myself through this self-imposed technology-hell. 

  • As I am sure most of you are aware, Etsy has changed and is now chock full of mass produced, not-even-close-to-being-handmade items.  I am but a teeny weeny speck of an entrepreneur in this sea of mass production.  Indiemade seems to be dedicated to artisans - not mass production.  But, I am not getting rid of my Etsy shop  - I just want to test the waters "on my own", if you will.  I included a link to my Etsy shop on the Indiemade site.

  • I am toying with the idea of selling components, at least as time permits.  Like these toggle clasps, pictured below.  I have actually been asked by a few people, via Facebook, to create and sell components - I even complied and sold a few. On Etsy, the fees really add up in selling lower priced items such as these, so an Indiemade website seemed like a good fit. We'll see... 

  • I was also approached by the owner of Miracle Horse Rescue to consider creating some jewelry with the initial MHR.   I already donate the proceeds from my "regular" jewelry sales to the rescue, but this is more personal.  Not sure if there will be a market for this, but I made a few items and loaded these into my new shop.

On a business note, Facebook has imposed massive restrictions on users who are trying to sell their wares via a link to their shops.  I started a business page late last year.  But, unless one pays for specific ads to be shown in feeds, not many users even see what is posted.  I don't blame Facebook - after all - they, too, are a business.  However, it is getting harder and harder for small business - especially artisans - to get the word out.  

I even recently upgraded my phone to an I-Phone 6 Plus (OMG - I love it!)  I actually reactivated my Instagram account.   As soon as I figure out the best way to tag things on Instagram (translation:  how do I do this????), I may actually start using it!

Making handmade is one thing.  The commitment involved to marketing and selling is another, and it is sometimes overwhelming.  So, I will continue to just keep trudging along, list more items on the new website, and attempt to break into "The Market".

On a personal note, my mother and I both contracted the nasty flu on Christmas - she was 2 days behind me...I knew she should NOT have brought me that cup of tea!  Anyway, I am 100% back to normal, but it has taken its toll on her.  Three trips to the doctor - last Friday's may have done the trick, as he prescribed a different antibiotic.  Her cough is almost gone, snifflies are almost gone, too.  But, her stamina and energy level is taking a looooong time to return.  The doctor said it could be another full month before she returns to "pre-flu normal".  Today was the first day in weeks that she wanted to go anywhere, so a quick shopping trip it was!  I hope no one else comes down with this nasty, nasty bug!

I always seem to end my blog posts with a weather why change now?  MAN, it is cold out there!!!  

I would appreciate any constructive criticism on my new site, if you are so inclined!  I need all the help I can get! 

Thanks for stopping by today - have a wonderful weekend!!


Friday, January 30, 2015

Copper, Copper, and more Copper

The early part of this week, my mind has been mush.  But the past two days - in between errands and general life-stuff, I was able to create a few bracelets.  Most importantly, I wanted to practice with my flex shaft!

I am so pleased with this tool, people!  I have done so much research on what grinding, buffing, polishing wheels to use in which order.  I needed to put it practice before I forgot everything I read!  Well, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I am in love with this tool!

First up is this 1" wide copper bangle.  I used 18 gauge solid copper.  I had a hard time getting this puppy soldered, but I persevered and was so pleased!  I knew I was pushing it with my butane torch...but this girl has 2 of them (gotta have a backup)!, so enough heat was generated.  I also put a fire brick behind my charcoal brick, so that helped to "hold the heat" until solder flowed.

Happy with the wide band, I made a smaller, 1/2" bangle.  NO issues soldering this at torch was was all I needed.

Then, I progressed to this adjustable, mixed metal cuff style bracelet.  I have lots of little sterling silver discs from making toggle clasps, and I used one of my Fretz texture hammers that has circle shapes to apply the texture to the cuff.  Feeling brave, I even soldered the copper links in the chain.

This last bangle is my favorite.  It's so simple, but the little nest of wire on top - soldered for durability - just adds so much to the bangle.  I also textured all 3 sides of the bracelet.

I made some sweet little sterling earrings this week, featuring tiny round and textured discs, which I soldered to some ovals discs.  I also wire wrapped two tiny opal Czech glass beads to the top of the earring.  However, I have been struggling with trying to take decent pictures of these earrings...I finally gave up!  Sterling on sterling is so hard to photograph!  Shadows....too bright...too dark.  Ugh.

Judging from all the chatter on Facebook, the news, the papers...I believe there is a football game this weekend.  I will be in my studio watching Netflix!

Thanks so much for stopping by today - have a wonderful weekend!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 27, 2015

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of my father's passing.  I cannot believe it has been 10 years, as I remember the day as if it was yesterday.  However, instead of being gloomy that his physical presence is gone, his spirit does remain and he has left quite a legacy  - a legacy to celebrate.  So, I'd like to share a few reasons to back up this statement.  

The beginning... That's my dad on the lower left- he had what I like to refer as a "shit eatin grin" (pardon my language)...even as child!  I get that grin from him!

First, there were 2
June 5th, 1954

My Mom is STILL a looker!

Mom and Dad's first Christmas - 1954
  Don't let that frying pan fool you - I bet it was all for the camera!  Mom was the Chef in the house...except at the grill, which was left for Dad!  She is about 5 months pregnant with my brother in this photo.

And then there were 4

I felt it necessary to share this next picture, taken on my 5th birthday.  My brother and I (youngest boy, youngest girl)  share the same birthday of December 16 - just not same year.  And, my oldest brother and older sister also share the same birthday  of April 27 - again...same day, but not the same year.  And back "in the day", requisite attire for young ladies was to wear matching outfits...even though we were not twins.  And the matching "hairdos" followed....luckily I am not sharing those pics! :)

In this picture, I think they are smiling because all four of their children FINALLY left the nest....

This picture is of me and Dad and it was taken about 14 years ago.  It's one of the last of the two of us taken together.  Boy, was my hair short!

But...from those two people, the family has grown...This was taken at my niece's wedding in July 2014.  Four children, Five Grandchildren, and Two Great Grandchildren. .. has grown again.

The most important legacy (in my opinion) he has left is the next generation.  The picture below was taken Christmas 2013 - these cuties are my niece's twins - that's Ollie on the left and Evie on the right...OMG so much cuteness!  Notice I am holding on to them for dear life...they were tiny - 4 months old!

September 2014 - way too much cuteness in one photo for me!

And this is Gavin - one of my other niece's newest additions - he is now 5 months old and has the sweetest disposition (just like his Great Aunt Patti, as I am sure my family would agree- LOL!)

I miss my Dad - but I will continue to celebrate his life, 'cause it was a life worth celebrating for sure!

Thank you for stopping by today!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Bead Porn!

It's been a while since I have "shared my finds" this is some of what I have recently acquired.  I was a little scared to type Bead Porn in my title...goodness know what a google search will do with that name.  Oh well...

First up are these gorgeous lampwork beads made by Susan Kennedy of Sue Beads.  It's no secret that blue is my favorite color.  But, when it is this deep and rich, and accented like these, well...'nuff said!

The next set of pretties are lampwork by Judith Billig of Icarus Beads.  Her etsy shop is in "vacation mode"...but I bought these  from an online auction on one of the way-too-many Facebook Groups that I belong to.  Her Facebook page, where she updates her beady goodness, can be found here.  Anyway, these beads have just a touch of pastel, encased in a thick, thick layer of clear glass, in an awesome square/dice shape.  I have named them Pastel Icicles, 'cause I think the name fits!

This next set of beads - a very large set as a matter of fact - is by Jenelle and her husband Daniel of Beads and Botanicals fame (link to their Facebook page here) .  Again - another auction win!  They contain her "famous" sea salt blends...Winter White is the title.  Swoon!

This last set of lampwork finds is from Catherine Steele.  Yes - another Facebook auction!  I was online the instant she posted this picture, and let me tell you, I had to fight to win this one! :)  I had seen her beads in matched sets, so I felt lucky to find this one!  Each bead is different and has intense colors...and I just love the bicone shape!  A link to her Facebook page is here.  

I am on quite a few email lists, one of which is Dakota Stones.  This is dangerous! :) Well, last week Dakota Stones announced that they had begun carrying large-hole gemstone beads.  While I adore gemstones, the holes are so tiny and not big enough for my first love - wire (except the thinner gauge wires, which don't hold up for what I make).  I don't tend to string beads with beading wire - I love the look but I hate crimping (HATE!) :) Most people prefer large hole beads for fiber or leather.  Not me....I instantly saw wire going through these beauties! 
From Top to Bottom: Picture Jasper, Yellow Jade, Faceted Sunset Dumortierite, Impression Jasper, and  Sky Eye Jasper
So far, I have made these earrings with the Impression Jasper.  I just love all the colors flowing in that awesome heishi shaped bead!

I finally felt well enough (worst flu EVER) to attempt to solder.  So, going through my stash of cabochons, I was so pleased to find this little Picture Jasper.

And, I used some of those Picture Jasper large-hole gemstones and some 18 gauge sterling silver wire.  I am a happy girl!

I am happy to report that I finally used the Flex Shaft to polish up the pendant.  OMG!  What a difference from using a Dremel!  With the big fat Dremel, I had to hold it in my left hand, with the jewelry in my right hand (I am right-hand dominant).  But with the Quick Change Hand piece I purchased (link here), I was able to switch - in seconds - from one mandrel to the next to polish this quickly.  And, this handset is so darn slender - and I held it in my right hand - so, again...I am a happy girl!

Today is Monday, which means errands (ugh).  But, I am happy to report that my mother is finally well enough to leave the house and wants to go shopping with me.  So, I will joyfully run those errands today!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  I love to read your comments!!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Year...New Tool

In the past 6 - 7 years that I have been making jewelry, I have burned-out not one, but two Dremel's...such talent!  I have no idea how I kill these machines, but I do!  So, after I murdered the last one in December (only 1 speed of 3 was working), I decided to bite the bullet and buy a Flex Shaft.  I did LOTS of research to decipher which one would work best, and I decided on this model.

I buy most of my tools, wire, sheet, etc. from Rio Grande.  I was lucky enough to  purchase this when they were offering a 3-day special on shipping.  Cause I gotta tell you, the shipping from Rio can be expensive!  So I bought a few accessories as well. The motor HAS to hang from the bench (or desk, or whatever one is using).  Since my bench is made of solid wood, I decided to buy the swing arm that is drilled into the bench - so much more secure than using a C-clamp.  (This is the swing arm model that I purchased - link here).  

I am so glad there were no camera's on me when I drilled the holes into my bench to bolt this baby down...I measured not twice, but 6 times!  Success!  I also had to move my bench around so that I could plug the foot control directly into a grounded outlet - no extension cords or surge protectors here!  Let's face it...I am in the basement and no one would hear me if I electrocuted myself!  This new bench location setup is much more efficient, too.

I have shelves everywhere in this space, and I was able to move my most-used tools directly to the left and right of my bench.

I went ahead and purchased the magnetic tool arm and the peg arm for the swing arm, and I am so glad I did! One side of the magnetic arm holds about 90% of my files.  Instead of digging through a drawer, they are so easily accessible now. 

Swing that arm 180 degrees, and I was able to hang many of the drill and sanding mandrel attachments to the other side.  The best part is that the Dremel mandrels work with the Flex Shaft - thank goodness! 

I have not yet hung anything from the peg arm - but I will!

Since contracting the flu on Christmas, and caring for my Mom who is also healing from this nasty, nasty bug, I have only done a bit of wire wrapping - I need to be at 100% before I can wield a flame around!  But I am almost there and I cannot wait to utilize this new tool and see what it can do!

So, have you purchased any new tools lately???  Do share!!!

Thanks for stopping by today - have a wonderful rest of the week!