Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Online Venue #4 -- Etsy

I really didn't intend to take so much time off after Christmas, it just sort of happened. But now I'm relaxed and refreshed and back at it!

My fourth online venue is Etsy, a lovely collection of all types of handmade items plus vintage goodies and some great supplies. I've had my shop on Etsy since May of 2007, and my sales there are pretty decent. I make sales of more higher-priced items primarily from my regular website, but I make more frequent sales on Etsy. The fee structure is a little more "friendly" than Ruby Lane, and I can control to an extent how much I spend with Etsy by how often I list new items or relist older ones to move them to the "front of the line".

Etsy is also the online venue on which I spend the most amount of time. Photographing multiple views of each item, editing the photos, and listing is just one part of the Etsy experience. I also spend time browsing around adding things to my Favorites, and I check in with the forums at least once a day. If there's a hot topic that I'm interested in, it may be a couple of hours just reading all the responses! All-in-all, I'd guess I spend about 10 or 12 hours a week on Etsy-related activities. I guess it's a good thing that all my online marketing and sales efforts don't take that much time each--I'd never sleep!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Online Venue #3 -- Ruby Lane

It was March 2003 when I joined Ruby Lane. It's a lovely, well-run site for selling Antiques, Collectibles, and Artisan works. From a buyer's perspective, the quality of items for sale is good, the integration to paying with PayPal is seamless, and you can find lots of really cool stuff. As a seller, there are lots of "rules", but objectively I have to admit it makes for a really nice site. The fees are high, too, but you get a lot for your money. The search feature works well, the customer service department is responsive, and they spend a lot advertising the site to a highly-targeted market. So I stay, even though I pretty much just broke even between fees versus sales this year. In fairness, I have to admit that I didn't "work it" as well as I should have this past year. Which goes back to my Spread Too Thin? post a few days back.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Online Venue #2 -- eBay

The place I've been online the second-longest is eBay. I've been a seller there since 1999. Although I have "unloaded" some personal stuff from time-to-time, I mostly sell little mini-sculpted pendants. Some one-of-a-kind, like made with dichroic glass cabochons, and some with semi-precious gemstone cabochons. Sometimes I list matching drop earrings. Yes, it's a limited inventory, but I use eBay as sort of a "loss leader" for my regular website. The mini sculptures and drop earrings are small and quick to make, so I don't have a lot tied up in production costs. I can sell them for lower prices than I can in my store or on my website--after all that's what shoppers on eBay are looking for, right? A bargain. Then when I ship the item, I include a newsletter and a flyer about my full product line on my website. Once in awhile I get a nice order from that, so it's definitely worth it!

Unfortunately, this past year, and especially the last few months, my sales on eBay have been severely declining. In fact, for the last two months--for the first time in almost 10 years--I spent more in eBay fees than I made in sales. Sad. So I've curtailed the number of items I've been listing. I can't bring myself to give it up completely, but it certainly doesn't make sense to spend more than I'm making! Check it out here if you're interested in some super deals!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Online Venue #1--my website

My first, most important, and longest-running online presence is my own website. First established back in 1995, it was originally merely a bunch of pictures and prices. A virtual catalog, if you will. The pictures were terrible--it was way before I had a digital camera, and even after I took several shots of the same item, after they were developed I had to choose the "least bad". And often the "least bad" was still pretty bad! I had no clue about staging, lighting, composition, or any of the things that made for an attractive picture. But it was cool that I was online! I felt like a total business-grownup!

I scrapped that website in 2001 and hired my most excellent webmaster Eve to design something new and fresh, and definitely more user-friendly. The new site was launched in February of 2002, and is the one I still use today, with updates just about every month and modifications as often as we decide they're needed. For instance, the photography...(that darn photography, it's definitely an ongoing learning experience!). Over the last year and a half, I've been reshooting all the pictures and Eve has been upgrading the layout. Bigger, brighter, clearer pictures--if you poke around the website you can tell which pages have been done and which haven't! And you'll also discover some of Eve's cool touches--for instance, try the rollover of the stone/bead names and you'll see a picture of that color stone pop up!

Although I personally don't "maintain" the site, I do shoot all the photography, write the text, and make the decisions (or at least most of them) about what to do next and how it should look. I send everything to Eve and she does the maintenance. I am one client among many, so sometimes she gets to it quickly and sometimes I'm the "last in line". And why don't I bitch about this, you ask? Because Eve and I have been friends since junior high (and that was many, MANY years ago). Because no one else could possibly do the "perfect" job for me that she does. Not only have we known each other for more than 35 years (so she knows me well!), at one point in the late '80's she moved to Florida and made jewelry with me for a couple of years. She has always been a phenomenal artist--drawing, painting, crafting--so she was a natural with the jewelry design. She knows how the jewelry is made, what it's made of, the techniques involved, and how best to "showcase" it. What other web designer could boast that? After she left Florida and went back to Albuquerque, she went to school for graphic design and started her web design business. So because we've known each other personally for so many years, because I know what a talented artist she is, and she knows how the jewelry works, it's the perfect symbiotic relationship! And my final reason for not bitching about being "last in line"? Because that's often about when she gets a payment check from me!

As this was to be a summary of one of the online venues over which I spread myself, I will close by estimating that my website takes about 4 or 5 hours a week of my time. And because it is the main window through which the world can see me and my jewelry, it's definitely a worthwhile investment of time!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Spread Too Thin?

Man, I feel guilty when I let so much time go by between posts! I have to wonder if I'm not spread too thin. The powers-that-be in online marketing make you think that if you're not "everywhere" on the Internet, then you're nowhere. I am currently trying to maintain my presence on about 10 or 11 online venues, and I have to say that NOT ONCE have I gotten to all of them in a single day. Is that bad? Or is it okay to do a few of them one day, alternating with the others on the next day? Seems to me that it keeps things "fresh" if I alternate. Or should I look at it like if I don't do all of them every day, I'm not maximizing their full potential? I can drive myself crazy trying to figure it out!

Maybe I'll spend the next 10 days blogging about each one in turn. At least that will give me something to post about!


Monday, December 8, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 12-7-08

Just in time for those holiday parties...I've come up with a new style of Ear Sweep. A line of rhinestones that glitter like diamonds, perfect with an upswept party 'do and guaranteed to get noticed! You can buy these and a couple other colors in my Etsy shop. And see the rest of my Ear Sweep designs on my Contemporary Concepts website!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Pattern Wire Bracelet

Last month I did a post on some great stuff I inherited from an old friend (see "John's Mojo, November 3rd). This bracelet is one I made from some of the pattern wire I got. It's a different pattern than any of the ones I have already. Gorgeous, huh? You can buy it in my Etsy shop. And I have over 100 other bracelet designs on my Contemporary Concepts website. Great gifts for all the ladies on your holiday shopping list!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things I've Done (and Not Done)

Surfing around Entrecard this morning, checking on my favorite bloggers, I ran across this. I found it particularly interesting because my mood lately has been so bleak. This lovely little list made me think of many of the things I've done in my life, and reflect on things still left to do. So I "stole" it from Following 31, who stole it from At The Creek, who stole it from Mommy, I'm Home, who got it from A Day With Twins, who stole it off ScrapbookChic, who stole it from another...and so on. I just think it's awesome. The things I've done are in bold.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to a charity.
7. Been to Disneyland.
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch-hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors.
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied.
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance.
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visted the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a marial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp.
67. Bounced a check.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy.
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone's life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a lawsuit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee.
100. Read an entire book in one day.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

For the Man in Your Life

If there's one thing I've learned in my 24 years making jewelry, it's that men are far pickier about their jewelry than women. Some men won't wear jewelry at all (my husband is one--although I've got him wearing a simple wedding band, he doesn't even wear a watch). Those that do wear jewelry are very particular about the style they like.

If your man is one who does wear jewelry, and he likes a bold ring, you might consider a holiday gift of a cool, handcrafted wire-wrapped ring. They are available in your choice of more than 20 different gemstones, in gold or silver wire, and in any size up to 14. You can see the rings on the Rings page, and the available gemstones on the Stone Samples page of my website. I'll need orders by no later than December 10th to be guaranteed delivery in time for Christmas. Feel free to call me toll free at 1-877-731-GEMS (4367) to discuss your needs!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

From Found Items to Fancy Accessories

I have a customer from New York--Liz--who comes to Florida to visit friends two or three times a year. And each time she brings me something she's "found" for me to make into something "fancy". She frequents antique stores and estate dealers because she loves discovering old stuff that can be recycled into something new and cool. This last time it was a strand of garnet beads and a pair of vintage crystal clip-on earrings, which she had me combine and upcycle into the necklace pictured above. She has a pair of dangle earrings that I made awhile back, with garnet and crystal beads and liquid gold heishi--the necklace is constructed to match the earrings.

The other thing she brought me was the turquoise-blue scarab. It used to be a pin, but the pin back had broken off. Her antique dealer had it in a box of stuff that he considered "useless". Needless to say, that's Liz's favorite place to look! She had in mind a fancy scrollwork pendant with a double bail, something that would have an "Egyptian" feel. She even provided me with a little sketch of the general idea. Helpful, but not really necessary--it seems Liz and I are on the same wavelength most of the time. She's had me make several pieces over the years, and has yet to be disappointed!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-18-08

Nothing. That's right--not a thing. Tuesday is my day off, so I didn't even set foot in my shop. After I dropped my son off at school, I went home and worked online awhile, so it wasn't a totally "wasted" day. I have several online venues where I sell my jewelry, so I've got to keep up with them. My Contemporary Concepts website, and Etsy, and Ruby Lane, and eBay (some great bargains there!). All need a little "love" most every day. Plus there are the social networking sites that have to be maintained. Facebook, Indiepublic, Flickr (although I have to admit I'm not very good about keeping up with all of them!) I did take a nap yesterday afternoon, and I didn't get the dishes done, so I guess I was a little bit worthless.

That's probably because yesterday will likely be my last day off until the holidays. I usually start my holiday hours Thanksgiving week. No Tuesdays off, open until 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays, and until 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. I'm always open noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by! Even with all those online venues, there's no way I could post pictures of every single thing I make! Plus it's fun to fondle everything in person, isn't it?


Monday, November 17, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-16-08

My "sea glass ladies" are due to start arriving next month. They are a group of women from all over the country who come to Florida with their husbands and families as "snowbirds" to enjoy the winter months in relative warmth. Some of them arrive in December, others in January, and they stay for 3 or 4 months. They first found me two years ago, and I have become a "hot spot" on their lists of activities to enjoy while they're here!

They tend to clean me out of whatever sea glass jewelry I have made, so I spend the late summer and early fall making as much sea glass stuff as I can. I did these six pendants yesterday.

They also go out walking the beach and find sea glass of their own, which they bring to me to set. And one day last spring they invited me down to their little community center to set up for the day and make and sell sea glass pieces. That was fun--they're a great group of ladies! I already have an invitation for the coming spring, but we haven't yet set a date.

In the meantime, I'll keep whipping up a few sea glass pieces whenever I get a chance! Mostly pendants, but also some bracelets and earrings. You can see some of my available pieces in my Etsy shop.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

What I Made Yesterday, 11-15-08

For awhile I was trying to do a "What I Made Today" post every few days, but I discovered that it was more difficult than I anticipated. It's not that I don't make things nearly every day, it's more that by the time I get something made, photographed, edited, and uploaded, it's too late to write a coherent post before I have to run out the door. So I just wouldn't post. Then it became too many days between posts! So now I've decided a "What I Made Yesterday" post would be more productive.

Yesterday it was a few sterling bracelets. I find I sell a lot of bracelets around the holidays--they make great gifts. I have more than 100 styles to choose from, and I customize the size and color. You can see all available styles on my website. You'll also want to check out the far-right column on the page, where you'll find a list of gemstone beads. Just roll your cursor over the gemstone name and you'll see a pop-up of the bead color. And for further gemstone research, you can check my Stone Samples page.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

God Bless Our Veterans

God bless this country's veterans.

I can't see how the words "thank you" can ever come close to expressing the gratitude we as a nation have for the men and women who have served for us over the years. But it's all I've got.

Thank you!


Monday, November 3, 2008

John's Mojo

I first met John Stancato nearly 20 years ago at a craft fair in a park in Ft. Lauderdale. An older gentleman, he had recently retired and was looking for something to do to fill his time. He thought making wire jewelry looked interesting, but he couldn't get any wire jewelers to talk to him. I wasn't surprised--back then, way prior to the Internet and all the "sharing" that goes on here, wire jewelers were proprietary and paranoid. Anyone who showed any interest without a wad of cash in their hand MUST be stealing ideas! Sad.

Personally, I've always been a believer in karma. What goes around comes around. Plus, I wasn't at all paranoid, and since wire jewelry making had been around for thousands of years, it was ridiculous to harbor any "proprietary" delusions. I was happy to talk to John. He and his wife Eileen were just the most delightful people, laughing a lot, obviously crazy about each other, and genuinely interested in what I had to say. (At that time, I had only been making wire jewelry for a couple of years, and hardly considered myself an expert!)

Thus began many years of an ongoing and fulfilling relationship. I saw them a couple of times when I did shows in the Ft. Lauderdale area, then they moved to Lady Lake, which is northwest of Orlando. I opened my store in 1992, and they would come down occasionally and we'd talk and laugh and share ideas and designs. We spoke on the phone once in awhile. It surprises me to look back now and realize how little physical time we actually spent together, when I know in my heart how close we were.

John became quite successful at wire jewelry making. He would always swear that I taught him, but I beg to differ. I remember showing him a couple of moves, and talking about different techniques, but John was a natural talent. He didn't need any real "teaching". He just "got it". He made jewelry until it overflowed his workshop, then he started giving it away to friends and family. When everyone they knew was adorned to the hilt, John and Eileen decided they needed a different outlet to get rid of the already-made stuff, so John could make more! They tried a couple of craft fairs, but craft fairs aren't easy. They're time-consuming, expensive, and exhausting. (I quit doing them about 4 years ago because they became cost-inefficient, especially for the amount of effort involved. Hey, I'm not 25 any more!)

Fortunately, John and Eileen lived in an area that's kind of "artsy". North Central Florida...Mount Dora, The Villages, smaller towns with quite a few retirees looking for things to spend their money on. John eventually had his pieces in three different galleries, one of which he'd go into a few days a week and make jewelry on the spot. Everyone loved him--he was quick-witted and had the most amazing, infectious laugh. I'll never forget it. Even the thought of that laugh makes me smile!

Sadly, my dear friend John passed away in July 2006. Of course, I wished--and still do--that I'd made more of an effort to see him more often. But I had my store, I had gotten married, had a son...life was busy. I know John understood, and probably didn't think anything of it, but it still makes me sad.

Eileen and I have kept in touch. She calls periodically. I send her a note or a newsletter now and then, sometimes with new pictures of my son Ricky. Then last week she called with an offer. She had all of John's tools and supplies and didn't really think they'd be worth anything at a garage sale, and would I like them?

Would I like them? Are you kidding?! I know Eileen knew exactly how much that offer would mean to me. Wow. John's stuff. John's mojo. I couldn't wait! So Eileen and John's two daughters, Marie and Linda, came down last week with a van full of goodies. I had no idea it would be so much (although looking around at my own work space, I should have had an idea--we wire-workers are a pack-rat bunch!) Eileen and Marie and Linda and I all had lunch at the restaurant next door, and we talked about John and laughed...a lot. It was so great. I got a bit emotional, but what's a few tears among friends?

Then I spent the next four days organizing and putting away all the fantastic stuff I'd inherited. Tools and stones and beads and wire and all kinds of little bits and pieces of really cool stuff! And my favorite thing? See that little white box in the top left corner of the picture above this post? There were a couple of those, they're what I call "leftovers". Beads and bits of wire and stones that sit around on the workbench until you're so sick of the clutter that you scoop everything into a box or a ziploc bag and start fresh. Then you "rediscover" that box or baggie, maybe years later, and have a new infusion of creativity because of these little bits that you'd forgotten all about! I've had these "leftovers" for years, but it never occured to me that other people may have them, too. And now that I think about it, I'd be willing to bet that anyone who does anything crafty has their equivalent of the "leftovers" box buried somewhere in their work space! (Come on, admit it! You're not alone!)

I haven't actually had the opportunity to make much since Eileen brought me this stuff. Like I said, it took me four days to organize and put it all away. Then we had an "event" here in Cocoa Village Saturday night, so I had to be ready for that. But today is the day! I'm digging in to the beads and stones, tapping into the fresh creative juices that have been dying to flow since last Wednesday. And I'm going to use some of John's tools. Maybe a little of John's mojo will rub off on me!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Never Dreamed I'd Have to Do This Again!

There are very few pieces I make that take me as much as an hour to do. Even fewer that take me longer than an hour. I've been wire-wrapping for more than 20 years, so I've had lots of practice! THIS thing took me THREE HOURS!

It's a custom setting for a customer named Alice. I first made this ring for Alice roughly 10 years ago. I don't remember how long it took me the first time, but I'd be willing to bet it was even more than three hours. (This time around I had the original setting to look at--the first time I had to "figure it out".) The stone is huge, about 1-1/8" (28mm) long by 7/16" (18mm) wide by 1/2" (12mm) deep. I don't ever set stones that big in rings because, due to their size, the wires forming the prongs would be so long that they would have no stability and the stone would immediately fall out. Well, Alice wasn't to be deterred. She was sure I could come up with something! Hence the double-band. It spreads the wires further apart so they can form the prongs and stabilizing designs without being quite so long (and weak!) Alice was thrilled with the result, and the ring was worn proudly and without incident for more than a decade.

Well, like most of us as we get older, Alice's fingers have "grown" a bit. The ring no longer fits. So she brought it back to be made larger. It's not really possible to enlarge a wire ring more than 1/4 to 1/2-size, so a "remaking" was in order. I swear, I distinctly remember when I had finished it the first time, I was SO relieved! Man, I'd never have to do something like THAT again! Oops...

The original setting is on the right. I actually made two changes to the design as I was crafting the new one. Can you spot the differences? ;D

Now, I really don't want to have to do a setting like this again. I really recommend that a stone this large NOT be set in a wire-wrapped ring. But I DO have a lot of wire-wrapped rings that are equally as gorgeous that I make on a regular basis (and they don't take me three hours each to complete!) You really need to check out my Rings page on my website. My webmaster just got done uploading all new pictures, and they look great!


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Spending Practices

It's obvious to me, just by the number of bodies (or lack thereof) coming into my store, that people are nervous about money and cutting back on items that they deem unnecessary. My business has been slower for the past 6 months or so, and I think I'm getting pretty good about cutting the fat out of the budget. But I'm going to guess that our household is not the only one with differing opinions on what's "unnecessary."

I ran across another blog recently that was asking how everyone was dealing with the current eonomic situation. I thought about it awhile before I came up with a list for the Etzes. Right now we've agreed to open the windows in the evenings and unplug the jacuzzi to save on electricity, cut back about 90% on the number of times we go for takeout food, and buy generic hot dogs instead of Oscar Mayer. I also have to proclaim that I've cut back from 2 energy drinks per day to only one! (Thus saving about $2.00 per day...I'm quite proud of this sacrifice.) I could live without the premium-movie channels on TV, but hubby would have a fit. He would probably like to see me subscribe to fewer magazines, but I really enjoy my weekly dose of Newsweek, Time, and TV Guide. (The National Equirer I borrow from my brother, so it doesn't cost me any extra.) Granted, we still have quite a few indulgences, but hey, the mortgage is getting paid! So for right now, here's to the diversity of "necessity"!

Now, why don't you pop on over to my website and start your Christmas shopping? I've got beautiful handcrafted jewelry in unique styles that are sure to get noticed! (See the Osmena pearl set above? Cool, huh?) I guarantee the goods are great and will be well-received, and the customer service is second-to-none! Plus it might allow me to indulge in an extra energy drink this weekend, and I'll love you forever!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Cool! I just discovered Technorati, a major "hub" for all things blogosphere! In order to "claim" my blog with them, I need to post this:
Technorati Profile


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging on the Back Porch

Tuesday is my day off. For most of the year, anyway. Starting next month I'll probably go into my shop every day, including Tuesdays. I'm hoping to be busy enough with both customers and special orders to justify not having this one lovely day to myself.
It's cooling off a little in Florida. Mornings and evenings are already a blissful and balmy low-to-mid '70's. During the day it's still warm...like today it's about 84 degrees. But I'm sitting outside on our screened in back porch, with a lovely breeze sweeping through, and it's really, really nice! Our house is on an acre of property, and is set near the street, so we have a terrific back yard. One of my favorite things is to sit out here with my husband on weekend mornings, just talking and surveying "our domain".
This has to be short, because I still have to vacuum this lovely back porch, and the dishes aren't going to load themselves into the dishwasher. And I've only got half an hour before I have to go pick up my son from karate. I just wanted to share a bit of my bliss with you today!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Custom Rings? You Betcha!

My husband's Aunt Ginny is a jewelry hound. She just loves jewelry. She's got diamonds and fancy colored stones and custom settings, and she likes to wear it all (not all at once, of course!). And I'm so pleased that she likes my stuff, too! I've got cool, unique designs, and she especially likes to "put together" her own custom pieces using elements from different styles. Recently she was in my store looking at rings, and was admiring some of the chunkier styles I've been making. After quite a bit of time looking at all my loose stones, and taking a bit of design from this ring, and changing a little of that ring, we had our "final answer". I finished them just a couple of days ago, and since she hasn't picked them up yet, I thought I'd share them with you! You can see all my ring designs here, and I'm happy to customize any one of them just the way YOU'D like it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Never Enough Time

Wow...it's been a week since I blogged! I can't believe how fast my life seems to fly by sometimes, yet how little I feel like I'm getting done!

When I first started this blog, I was sure I would be able to come up with lots of stuff to write about. Every morning when I'm getting ready for work, there are random thoughts and memories and funny things all flying around in my head. And then by the time I get my son to school and get to work, they're all gone. Maybe I should keep a little pad of paper in the bathroom to jot things down!

I did quite a bit of work today. Nine bracelets and fifteen pairs of earrings. But I didn't get a picture taken, partly because I have to leave work in less than an hour, and partly because they're all "sale" items--inexpensive things made especially to sell at "the-economy-sucks" prices. I may post a few of them on the Special Deals page of my website, but I'm hoping to sell most of them during the craft fair we're having in Cocoa Village this weekend. I'm not selling on the street in the actual fair, but it does draw a nice crowd, so I'm looking forward to lots of bodies in my store!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Goodbye My Van, Hello My Car

A few weeks ago, my trusty old 1997 Voyager minivan died. The transmission just quit engaging. The engine would run, but it wouldn't go. Wah! I'd been driving it since my son was born, so that's 8-1/2 years. Over the years, little things started to go wrong. There was an issue with some "recall" work that I never had done, so anything electrical on the steering column quit working. Sort of. The cruise control wouldn't engage. The windshield wipers would work when I wanted them to, but also sometimes when THEY wanted to. The horn would not work when I wanted it to, but took to blaring all on its own when I turned corners. Yikes! I had my brother-in-law the mechanic yank it out for me. The tape deck ate a tape and wouldn't let go. The left tail light quit working, and it wasn't a burned-out bulb--it was electrical. Somewhere. We could never find the problem. It had an oil leak. The inside heater hose (part of the radiator/cooling system) sprung a leak and had to be bypassed, leaving me with no heat for the winter. Granted, not much of a problem for most of the year in Florida, but it does get chilly in the wintertime and I am NOT a fan of the cold!

It's a list of little things, things that I could live with for the most part, but an extensive list. We decided it wasn't worth putting in the $1200 - $1400 it would take to replace the transmission and still be driving a vehicle with all those "issues". So we got me a new car. Well, a used new car. A 1995 Infiniti J-30, pearl white, with a sunroof, leather interior, and a butt warmer! (Big yay!) You would never know it's that old. There's a little wear on the steering wheel, but other than that, it's pristine! It's gorgeous! (See picture above. Jealous?) The hardest thing to get used to has been being much lower to the ground than I was in the minivan. And the gearshift is on the "floor" to the right of the driver's seat instead of on the steering column. So once in awhile I'll grab the windshield wiper lever and try to "shift" with it. I always feel pretty stupid when that happens!

It's a great car. It's gorgeous. It handles beautifully. It gets decent gas mileage. Looks like I've got my ride set for the next decade or so! (By then my son will have his driver's license, and he's already planning on inheriting it!)

Monday, October 6, 2008

What I Made Today, 10-6-08

It's been a "rings" day. I guess the inspiration hit when I took a look at my ring display case this morning and saw how many size 6 rings have been sold. I don't like having blank spots if I can help it! Not all of these rings is size 6, but enough of them to fill up the holes (and a few holes in some other sizes as well)! You can see all of my available ring styles on the Rings page of my website, and some of the rings pictured above in my Etsy shop.
And yes, I really did make all of these rings TODAY!


Friday, October 3, 2008

What I Made Today, 10/3/08

Whenever I sit down to make stuff, it's usually a bunch of things in the same category. You know, like pendants one day, earrings the next. Today was a bracelet day. I did about half a dozen, in different styles. I'm picturing two of them--the "grapevine" style. You can see all my bracelet styles here. There's still a couple of hours left before I go home for the day...maybe I'll make a few more!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Big Boy's Big Toy

My husband is an avid airboater. Loves big, loud things that go fast. Calls the alligators that populate the St. John's River where he normally runs, "redneck speed bumps". Loves to camp out and sit by a fire swatting mosquitoes and cook steaks on a makeshift grill.

Me? Not so much. I'm really not the "pee in the woods" kind of gal. Fires are nice, as are steaks on the grill, but I'd just as soon have an air-conditioned bathroom 30 seconds behind me!

I did go out on the airboat with Rick once. He'd been offering to take me out for years, and I'd always declined. That one time, it was right around our anniversary, so I told him it was his anniversary present. It was okay. Not horrible. But not something I can say I really enjoyed.

To be honest, he's probably just as happy that I DON'T want to go all the time. That's his relaxation time, his alone-time or out-with-the-guys time. Likely not as much fun if he has to watch out for what I might be getting into, or listen to me whining about having to pee in the woods! I can stay home in my air-conditioning, reading or watching TV, and he can go out and run those redneck speed bumps. Better for our sanity and our marriage!

Monday, September 29, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/29/2008

Sea glass! I've got so many pieces, in an array of beautiful colors. I made about a dozen mini sculpted pendants today...these are just a few of them. And I'm going to make a few pairs of earrings before the day is done.

Even though I live in Florida, almost all my sea glass comes from Michigan. There's some great sea glass in the Great Lakes! My first batch I got off of eBay, several years ago. My latest batch came earlier this year. I had a lovely older gentleman in my store who bought one of my sea glass pendants for his wife. He commented that he had a whole bucketful of sea glass that he'd picked up over the years along the lake, and that he'd like to see something beautiful done with it, so he was going to send it to me. I thanked him, of course, but didn't really expect any follow-up. Well, lo and behold, about two weeks later a big, heavy box shows up. A layer of foam, a layer of sea glass, another layer of foam, another layer of sea glass, and so on... All told it was about 7 or 8 pounds worth! So I've got plenty to work with for many years to come!
Do you have some sea glass in a drawer or a bowl somewhere? Some lovely pieces you've found while on vacation maybe? I'd be delighted to set them for you! Little pendants like this are only $19-$20, depending on the size of the piece of glass.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/27/2008

Two-tone jewelry is always popular. This anklet is silver wire with gold beads. I also have one with gold wire and silver beads. And a whole bunch more--see them here. And the best part is that I can make them any size you need! Especially for those of us who are no longer 16 years old with 9" ankles (you know who you are!) 10 inches? 11 inches? Even 12 inches? No problem! A sweet treat for all those upcoming holiday parties--dress up your ankles in style!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Do You Know What an Ear Sweep Is?

An Ear Sweep is a bobby-pin style earring that goes in your regular piercing and then sweeps UP your ear! Get the multiple-pierced look without the extra pain! I have more than a dozen styles, in gold or silver and your choice of gemstone or crystal beads. I've been making them for more than 15 years, and I can guarantee they make a great gift. Interesting, unique, and probably not something the person already has! My mom wears them all the time, and says that people are constantly stopping her in the grocery store or at church, asking about the Ear Sweeps. And that's what cool jewelry is all about, right? Getting noticed? (I wear Ear Sweeps myself most of the time, but the only place I go is to my store, so the only people that see me are customers. But I sell a lot of them because I wear them!) You can see all the available styles on my web site.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Manly Shark's Tooth

This mammoth shark's tooth is the second I've set for this particular customer. The first one was drilled front-to-back at the dip in the center, and all I had to do was make a heavy-duty bail. This one was not drilled, so I had to make the setting more ornate, yet sturdy enough for a man. Not bad, huh?

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Gorgeous Wine Glasses

I love shopping on Etsy. Tons of great handmade stuff by incredibly talented artists. I'd actually need to win the lottery in order to get everything I have my eye on! But sometimes an opportunity comes up where actual cash outlay isn't necessary. COOL! About 6 months ago, I did a fabulous trade with a fellow artisan on Etsy. From me, Vickie got a gold bead ear cuff and a charoite mini-sculpted pendant. From Vickie, I got the most gorgeous set of wine glasses and a matching candle holder. She hand-paints these exquisite floral/leaf/vine designs on glass, no two exactly alike obviously since each is an original work of art! For me she used purple and green, my favorite color combination, and I love, love, LOVE them! (They are similar to the ones in the picture.) She can customize for you, too! You simply MUST check out her Etsy shop now!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/18/08

As usual for this time of year, I'm filling in inventory in my store. Today I made a dozen pairs of this style of earring in sterling silver...all different colors of beads. I'm working on some chandelier earrings, too. Maybe I'll post them later.

Yellow Roses

Every four or five weeks, there's a gentleman that comes through Cocoa Village selling roses. He always stops by to see me, with a dozen yellow roses in hand (my favorite). He KNOWS I'm going to buy them. Business has been pretty bad this month--September is traditionally my slowest month--so I don't really have any extra money, but I decided that the psychological and emotional pick-me-up was just what I needed. They're only $5 a dozen! And I'm WORTH it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/15/08

Today I'm restocking my eBay auctions. I list a variety of little gemstone pendants, some with matching earrings, and I had sold a lot of the more popular colors. Hence the "restocking". These four little guys went up today, all with matching drop earrings. Starting to think about holiday gifts? Want a good deal? Check here.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/14/08

I spent most of the day uploading pictures and descriptions to some of my various selling sites (Etsy, Ruby Lane), but I did manage to throw together a terrific pattern-wire bracelet. This one is the "Mountains" pattern in gold. I've got a lot of different pattern-wire bracelets on my website.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leftover Heaven :D

Wow...my lack-of-leftovers-distress was wiped out big time last night! When I got home from work, my darling hubby had been to the grocery store and brought home FILET MIGNON to cook out on the grill! And even after he had worked all day and then spent a couple hours in the garage working on his airboat trailer, he still whipped up a most excellent dinner. Yes...filet mignon, plus baby peas and seasoned rice. Not only was there more than enough to eat, we didn't get to it until nearly 9:00 p.m. It was hard to put down the fork--everything was so delicious--but I certainly didn't want to stuff myself.

By the time I got to work this morning, I could hardly wait for lunch time and my luscious, luscious leftovers!


Friday, September 12, 2008

I Had No Leftovers Today :(

My husband used to be a chef. For like, 12 or 13 years. He's an amazing cook, and consequently does about 90% of the meals at our house. Not fair, you think? Well, it's partly his own fault, because when we first got married, he TOTALLY intimidated me in the kitchen. He'd hover in the background while I was cutting vegetables or selecting spices, making these vague fluttering motions with his hands, like he wanted to snatch away whatever I was doing and do it himself. Well, after awhile, I just LET him!

We've been married 10 years now, and I've gotten comfortable enough so that when I do feel like cooking something and he starts hovering, I just tell him to get the heck out of the kitchen! Most of my cooking, I do have to admit, consists of opening a bag, box, or can and following the directions. Hey, I'm no fool...I may be able to cook something "fancier", but Rick can do it so much better! Why would I cut off my nose to spite my face? LOL Plus he always makes more than we can eat at one meal (the last remnants of restaurant mentality?), and so I have lovely leftovers to take for lunch the next day.

Rick quit "chef-ing" when I got pregnant with our son, a little over 9 years ago. He decided that he'd rather be a father than work every night, weekend, and holiday that the restaurant business requires. He now owns and operates a lawn service. But we live in Florida. It's HOT here in the summer. My poor hubby comes home filty and exhausted, and the LAST thing he wants to do is stand over a hot stove. So I do more of the cooking. Or at least more of the bag- or box-opening! Last night my son wanted his leftovers from the previous night--biscuits and gravy. I had a hot dog. Rick was working in the garage until very late, and I think he threw some spaghetti in a pot and covered it with sauce out of a jar (he calls that his bachelor dinner). So I had no lovely leftovers for lunch today. Boo hoo.

Maybe I can entice him to cook some time this weekend...?


Custom Order Dichroic Earrings

I have a long time customer named Joan who came in to see me the other day. It seems Joan has embarked on a new hobby...creating and firing dichroic glass! She had with her two pieces of fantastic hot pink/purple glass with lots of overlaying dichroics that she wanted me to set into earrings. Here's the result! I was pleased, she was thrilled, and I decided to share them with the world! She is more than a little excited about her new undertaking, and eager to get right to making some more creations. Will she need some of them set? Well, let's just say I have a feeling I'll be seeing lots more of Joan!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/11/08

Pink! Freshwater pearls (yes, they're dyed) combined with large mother-of-pearl discs (also dyed) for a flirty, girly look. Strung on Accu-Flex beading wire and finished with a magnetic clasp--easy to get on an off all by yourself! It's 16" long and the matching earrings are included. Gotta have it? Grab it at my Etsy shop!
It's still early, so I might get something else done today. Or I might upload pictures to Flickr. Or I might get around to writing the fall newsletter for my store. Or...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Learning Curve

I feel vaguely ridiculous and more than a little intimidated as I flounder on with this new venture. You'll see a post below the What I Made Today, 9/08, called Incredible Handmade Soap. I actually just finished that about 20 minutes ago, but it's date-stamped on Monday. I checked all of my internal settings (not being entirely sure of what I was looking for), before I realized that the date-stamp-thingy must pick up the date and time that the post was started! See, I actually started that post about wonderful handmade soap on Monday, but decided I'd like to get permission from the people I feature before just plugging them into my blog. So I saved my "start" as a draft, and continued it today. Now I feel slightly "out of order"!

Also, I checked my Comments on my previous blog posts, and one was from my most excellent webmaster Eve. For those of you who don't know her, it probably sounds perfectly legitimate. To my trained "ear", however, I could tell she was laughing. We've been friends for more than 35 years, so I just know. She's an amazingly talented artist and graphic designer, and works wonders with my main website, and in that respect she intimidates the hell out of me! She writes pages and pages of impressive html code, and here I am hunting and pecking at my little pre-fab blog and still not getting it quite right! Fortunately, I enjoy learning, and am determined to eventually figure this all out! If you want to see some real quality, though, you need to look at what Eve can do!


Monday, September 8, 2008

What I Made Today, 9/8/08

One of my frequent "boasts" is that I make new things practically every day. To prove it, I'm going to try to post each day's new creation. This is a 1-Bead Spread Bracelet in sterling silver, featuring a black onyx bead. It is currently available at my Etsy shop at http://wiregems.etsy.com/ or always available on my website at http://wiregems.com/
I do have to admit that since I have spent the entire day getting this blog started, I didn't actually make this bracelet today. I made it 3 days ago. I hope you'll forgive me this one little "fudge"!


Incredible Handmade Soap!

I don't know anything about making soap. I don't know cold processing from hot processing, I don't know how to add scents or mix ingredients or even cut the stuff up when it's done. I only know that I LOVE handmade soap!

I don't think I realized that people still made soap until I opened my shop on Etsy. I hung around in the forums and read posts from soapers and checked out their shops, and I thought, "Hmmm...it might be cool to try some of that!"

Then the problem became WHICH ONE to try! There are so many soap makers with so many lovely, yummy-sounding soaps that it took me about 3 weeks to decide. And then I didn't really decide--I bought soaps from three different artisans! After they all arrived in the mail, I had to spend another two days just "sniffing" them to try to figure out which one I wanted to use first. Honestly, I had no idea it was going to be such an ordeal just to experiment with a new way of getting clean!

I finally chose one I had received from ABreathofFrenchair. She calls it Cucumber Salad now, but at the time I bought it, it was Cucumber Wasabi. I actually discovered it in a forum discussion she had started about whether or not "wasabi" would scare anyone off. At the time, I didn't even know what wasabi was, but it sure sounded exotic and I knew I liked cucumber-smelling stuff. I HAD to have it. As I recall, the forum discussion wasn't even completed before I had clicked into her shop and snatched it up!

ABreathofFrenchair uses a variety of essential oils and shea butter, and her soap is moisturizing, clean-rinsing, and great-smelling! You can probably imagine a handmade soap called Lemongrass Lavender, but how about Kumquat, Fresh Cut Grass, Tangerine Twist, or Grab a Beer? I'm dying to try them all! But of course, one can only get so clean, right? So I have to be patient (and take lots of showers!)

A New Venture

Blogging. I've been thinking about doing it for awhile. I have a lot of interests, and some measure of writing ability, but layouts and html code and tags and all that "official" computer stuff is terrifying! So I hope you will bear with me while I embark on this learning experience, and stick with me as this new endeavor grows!

I plan to write about my jewelry, my family, life in general, and other tidbits that I find interesting. If I do this right, then my hope is that you'll find them interesting, too. For right now I'm going to keep this short, so I can post it and see how it looks on the page. But I would like to try to add a picture. My son, Ricky, started the 3rd grade a few weeks ago, and was patient enough to pose for a few pictures before we headed out: