Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Word About Wholesale

As an artisan who makes her living with her craft, I long ago decided to include the selling of my work at wholesale as part of my business plan.

In order to offer my jewelry at wholesale I have to ensure that it is priced in such a way as to still be profitable for me. For some of my products, the decision to wholesale was easy. All of my earrings that are priced (retail) anywhere between $15 and $32 are available for wholesale. My higher priced earrings are not. My interchangeable earrings are not. For those 2 product lines, I would rather sell them myself at what I consider reasonable prices, than to raise them for the sole purpose of being able to sell them wholesale.

If you are considering wholesale and have any questions about the details of my pricing formulas, please contact me.

Now a few words about one of my wholesale accounts. There are not many independently owned clothing stores in Anchorage, but there are a few very nice ones. Portfolio and Classic Woman are two stores owned by the same woman and they are back-to-back in a busy area of midtown. I early 2006, I made an appointment with the owner to show her some of my jewelry. I brought in 22 necklaces and 24 pairs of earrings for her to see. She purchased all of them on the spot. For the remainder of that year, I was kept busy with lots of orders for her stores. That year, she purchased over 150 necklaces and countless pairs of earrings. We've been doing business ever since ... at a continuing high volume.

I make a point of visiting the stores frequently to get a feel for the colors that are popular and plan my next order accordingly. Jo (the owner) and her staff have a knack for displaying my jewelry with the perfect outfit. Many customers purchase the entire outfit, accessories included. Jo can sell my jewelry in color combinations that I could never sell at a craft show -- I don't have the outfit to display it with! It may seem obvious, but it's really marketing genius on Jo's part.

I was delivering an order yesterday and took this photo. It was a beautifully sunny day, so there's lots of glare and reflection in the photo, but take a look at her "tag line" under the store name. I love it.

If you can't read it, here's what it says: "an artful collection of fresh clothing for fun people"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Yesterday I cooked up some black beans without knowing exactly what I planned to do with them. I mixed them with a drained can of corn (you could use fresh or frozen), some diced roasted red peppers and some minced garlic.

The dressing consists of 3 TBSP of olive oil, 1 TBSP red wine vinegar, 2 TBSP lemon juice, some oregano and basil, salt and pepper. Add to the above mixture. Let it sit for several hours in the refrigerator. That's it! It's delicious.

Optional additions are diced tomato, sliced olives, thinly sliced red onion.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Working Efficiently

Not that I'm an expert on the subject. You see, I KNOW what to do to be efficient, I just don't always do it.

There are certain repetitive tasks associated with making jewelry that are best done in an organized manner. For example, when I make earwires, it's best to spend a whole day doing it. It's silly to make just one or two pairs. A rhythm develops in my work and the efficiencies follow:

cut 50, 3" pieces of wire
make the loop in the leading edge -- 50 times
bend the wire around the knitting needle (or Sharpie pen) -- 50 times
hammer the top curve -- 50 times
file the ends -- 50 times
put 50 pieces in the tumbler for a while

See? After about 2 or 3 of each of these tasks, the efficiency becomes apparent. I only have to lift the hammer once for 25 pairs of earrings. I only need to lift the round nose pliers once. The same for the knitting needle and the Dremel (for filing).

What I have not mentioned yet, but will now, is that I'm stark raving mad at the end of the process. It's incredibly tedious, which is why I still use plenty of commercially available earwires in addition to making some of my own.

Another task that falls into this category is making simple earrings:

put beads on head pins -- 50 times
make top loop -- 50 times
trim excess wire -- 50 times
add these drops to earwires -- 50 times

Voila! 25 pairs of earrings done.

It's amazing that I have any sanity left.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beautiful Blue Kyanite

handcrafted jewelry necklace sterling silver oxidized kyanite garnets
I purchased a strand of these large, smooth kyanite nuggets a few years ago in Tucson. I've been using them very slowly, for fear of running out. You beaders out there know this ridiculous feeling. An idea came to me for this necklace and I finally decided to use my 4th kyanite nugget -- the original strand only had 21 stones, so panic is still a few stones away.

I wired some softly faceted garnets together, along with small kyanite beads that I think of as bean-shaped. This was then attached to sterling silver chain to finish off the necklace. Something was missing. I decided to add a small teardrop shaped bead of deep burgundy tourmaline to the same ring that was holding the kyanite. Perfect!

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Smooth Green Amethyst . Earrings

handcrafted jewelry earrings sterling silver green amethyst pink tourmaline
When I was bead shopping in Tucson last February, I was totally taken with the selection of smooth briolettes. In the past, I remember seeing mostly faceted brios, but this year, there was a profusion of the smooth ones. Naturally, I needed some of those.

This pair of earrings features some of those smooth stones in pale green amethyst, otherwise knows as prasiolite. I topped them with a loose cluster of pink tourmaline, the palest blue aquamarine and peridot.

This color combination is perfect for spring. They are for sale in my etsy shop.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Jewelry Box - Lovely Jewelry by Brenda

Brenda is another of my teammates on the Artisan Beaders Street Team. Her etsy shop is chock full of delightfully romantic and feminine jewelry designs.

This lovely bracelet is joyful and full of different greens ... perfect for spring. The greens include prehnite and peridot and adorable little butterflies ... all in a well balanced design that makes this piece of jewelry so easy to wear.

Brenda also knows how to keep it simple and classic. The earrings below feature luminous tiger eye briolettes and very special brass earwires.

This next pair of earrings epitomizes Brenda's romantic style. I love the way she combined the intricate filigree with delicate beaded drops.Be sure to visit Brenda's etsy shop and don't miss her shop on 1000Markets!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

I remember the very first Earth Day. I was in junior high. My whole class went to the beach -- I lived on Staten Island -- and we collected loads and loads of trash. I remember thinking it was a fun day.

In many ways, not much has changed. As I do every year when the snow starts to melt in my neighborhood, I bring a garbage bag with me on my morning walk with Xena. Today was my first day to do this, this year. That felt very appropriate for Earth Day.

It always amazes me that my neighbors can be so careless with their trash. Many of them see us picking up their garbage as they drive by, and wave as if they have no clue as to what we're doing, or why. Xena always has a great time nosing around the scattered lunch bag leftovers of the kids in the neighborhood. I follow her, picking up the candy wrappers, soda bottles and such. It's not as much fun as it was in 1970, but I have a compulsion for doing it every year. It takes me about a week to gather all the trash and it's satisfying when I'm done.

Take a good look at your neighborhood. Feel the need to go for a walk?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birch Trees

I live in an area of Chugiak, Alaska called Birchwood. It's called that for a very good reason -- it's full of birch trees. Our 2 1/2 acres is thickly wooded with these majestic trees. They sway together when there's a breeze and it appears that they help each other remain vertical. I love them.

I took pictures this morning of 4 random trees. Enjoy the textures. Find some inspiration for your creations. Or just appreciate the beauty of the trees.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Awesome Spectrolite

handcrafted necklace spectrolite labradorite necklace sterling silver
I purchased several of these spectrolite nuggets from my dear friend Deb. Spectrolite is a form of labradorite found only in Finland. As with all stones with a chatoyant quality, getting a truly representative photograph is a challenge. It tends to look very different on different background colors.

For this necklace, I added some sterling silver spacer beads and a teal colored faceted freshwater pearl at the very top. The color of the pearl comes pretty close to matching the color of the flash in the stone.

I've added this pendant to a sterling silver chain. It is for sale in my etsy shop, or click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kyanite and Filigree

handcrafted jewelry necklace kyanite brass filigree
I found this long slender piece of Kyanite at the local rock shop -- gasp! not at the bead store -- and thought it was gorgeous. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to wrap it with filigree. The challenge was how to wrap it without covering too much of it.

It took 2 smaller pieces of filigree to achieve the look I was after. I enhanced it with some glass beads in light blue, periwinkle and lavender. The brass chain is one of the smaller and delicate chains in my inventory and it only works in certain applications. Many of my brass necklaces are just too bold or chunky to be carried by such narrow chain. I think it works nicely with this slender stone.

This necklace is for sale in my etsy shop, or click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

I still have my April special going on in my etsy shop. But it is only available to newsletter subscribers. Sign up using the form on the right and I'll send a copy to you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Alaska Politics at its finest ... or at its worst

I promised myself that I would never blog about politics, but today, I'm breaking that promise. What's going on in Juneau, our state capital, is beyond the ridiculous. Faced with filling an empty State Senate seat, Governor Palin is making a mockery of the process.

I'll leave the details to someone much more eloquent and well versed on the topic: The Mudflats.

Enjoy the read.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

And now for something completely different ... again!

handcrafted jewelry necklace sterling silver flowers poppies
I had a little more luck with the design I blogged about here. When I started this piece, I actually planned ahead a bit (not my strong suit) and thought to texture the silver disc before doing anything else to it.

Using my rolling mill and my Secret Material, I achieved a very nice leaf texture. I also used my rolling mill to deboss the stems. Brass wire is just the right hardness to leave a nice impression in the silver.

I used some different silver beads as the flowers for a little variety. Hence the name of the piece: One Daisy . Two Poppies.

There are some more pieces in progress with this same theme. I also plan on getting better at melting the back end of the silver wire. Practice, practice, practice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tutorial :: A Simple Clasp

I originally wrote and photographed this tutorial for the Artisan Beaders Blog, but I decided to share it here too.

Let's make a simple clasp. Start by cutting 2 pieces of 18 ga wire: one piece is 2" and the other is 1 1/2". Make sure the ends are cut flush. Trim if necessary. I like 18 ga for this style clasp, mostly because of the style of necklace that I use it with. It can certainly be done with 16 ga wire for a heftier piece of jewelry.

Using the larger length of wire and round nose pliers, make a small loop at one end and a slightly larger loop at the other, both on the same side of the wire.

Choose a dowel. I use a size 10 metal knitting needle, but you could use a Sharpie pen or a wooden dowel. A size 13 knitting needle works well too, resulting in a much curvier clasp. Place the wire on the dowel, off -center, being sure to keep the end with the smaller loop as the shorter end.

Hammer the curve with a chasing hammer on an anvil or bench block. This is not a necessary step, but I like the way it dresses up the clasp. At this point, you can also use a plastic mallet to hammer the clasp to work harden it.

Using the shorter piece of wire, make a small loop at one end with round nose pliers.

Remove the wire from the pliers and place it so the loop is above the jaws, at the very widest point, up against the joint. Be sure the loop facing away from you.

With your fingers, bend the tail end of the wire around this wide spot, forming a figure-eight.

Again, remove the wire from the jaws of the pliers and re-place it on the other jaw. This allows you to continue bending the wire to form a true figure-eight. Trim the excess wire with flush cutters. You can hammer the curved points as you did with the other part of the clasp.

I usually make a whole bunch of these in one session and put them in the tumbler for 2 - 3 hours.

That's it -- now go bend some wire!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Really, Really Big Amethyst

handcrafted jewelry necklace amethyst sterling silver purple oxidized
I listed this necklace in my etsy shop on Friday and it was immediately purchased! So I made another one. These amethyst briolettes are beautifully clear and very deep purple.

I found it very difficult to get a good photo that captured the richness of the color, but this one isn't too bad.

It's hanging on an oxidized sterling silver chain. More details can be found here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Iolite and Garnets

handcrafted jewelry necklace iolite garnets sterling silver oxidizedI added this necklace to my etsy shop over the weekend. I love the simplicity of it. I started with a wire wrapped smooth briolette of clear blue iolite. I then added two drops of teardrop shaped garnet beads. They provide the perfect accent for the casual look of this necklace.

All of the silver is sterling and it has been oxidized to an understated gray.

My newsletter sale is still going on, but you must be a subscriber to qualify. Just fill out the form on the right and I'll email you a copy right away!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Retro Tulip Earrings

I listed these new retro earrings in my etsy shop this week. I found these brushed aluminum beadcaps online and just had to have a bunch. They are quite large and require a big bead under them, otherwise, the bead just gets swallowed by the cap! These matte black elongated oval glass beads are the perfect size.

handcrafted jewelry earrings matte black aluminum sterling silver bead caps

I also listed a few other new things just yesterday, but they were snatched up by savvy shoppers right away. Which brings me to another subject ...

I released my April newsletter earlier this week. I have a great sale going on, but you must be a newsletter subscriber to qualify for it. Take a minute to fill out the form on the right and I'll send a copy to you very quickly.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shiny Adornments - Artisan Handmade Jewelry

Today I'm featuring one of my teammates from the Artisan Beaders Street Team. Kristy of Shiny Adornments is a talented bead and wire working artist who is also quickly becoming an artistic metalsmith.

I admire Kristy's creativity and uniqueness in design, as found in her DNA Double Helix Necklace . Her skill as a wire worker is unmatched.

Kristy also knows how to "keep it simple", as seen in these classic earrings:

In addition to her Etsy shop, Kristy also maintains a shop on Artfire. Stop by both of them to see all she has to offer. Don't miss her hand forged hoops and her lovely hairsticks.

Last, but certainly not least, Kristy's blog is amazing. She keeps it up-to-date with all sorts of useful information for promoting your online business.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

And now for something completely different ...

I've been playing around with some new ideas over the past few weeks. My "Bowl of Shame" (credit to Anji for joining the phrase) is full of failed pieces of jewelry, and while I don't have the process completely figured out, I did manage to make a few pretty good pieces.

Here's the necklace I have listed in my etsy shop. I started with a disc of sterling silver and debossed the flower stems using brass wire and my rolling mill. I drilled holes for the flowers and used handmade ball-end headpins to hold the 2 layers of Bali silver spacer beads in place. Then the tricky part: ball the OTHER end of the headpin to hold the bead flowers in place.

The challenges I encountered were numerous. The length of the back end of the wire needs to be to just right to create a ball large enough to NOT go through the hole. The silver disc acts as a big heat sink and really slows down the melting of the back end of the headpin. This can definitely affect (and begin to melt) the silver disc and the spacer beads. Ask me how I know.

I'm still figuring it all out, but I'm pleased with this necklace. Not so pleased with the huge pile of silver in the Bowl of Shame.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Two Pairs of Mittens

Yay! I finished the mittens -- 2 pairs! The only part that I wasn't lovin' so much was knitting the inner cuff thing. It makes for a great mitten because it snugs against your wrist, but knitting it was a pain -- size 4 double pointed needles are very awkward for me.

I used 2 different brands of yarn for these 2 pairs of mittens. Yes, they were both 100% wool and I knitted them in the exact same way. But guess what? The light colored pair felted and shrunk A LOT more than the darker pair. I can still wear them, but they are definitely snug.

Here's a close up shot of how the liner looks. It really is a clever design.

The second pair with the lighter color variegated wool felted up beautifully.

On with the next knitting project!

Last week, I listed this felted bag in my second etsy shop:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rick's Beads

handcrafted jewelry bead copper brass sterling silverMany of you know that Rick is a talented metalsmith. He didn't get there overnight. He trained as a machinist and worked for many years as a welder, working on some of the largest construction projects in Alaska. About 4 years ago, he decided to try his hand at a different sort of metal work -- jewelry. He has proven to be a quick study and his natural charm (HA!) works very well on his adoring customers (double HA!).

I've decided to add some of his handcrafted beads to my etsy shop. They're gorgeous and can be worn alone or incorporated into a more complex design. This is only one I've listed so far, but there are more to come. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Glacial Reflections

handcrafted jewelry earrings sterling silver brushed white pearls swarovski crystals
These earrings are icy cold and super hot all at the same time. I found these fabulous brushed silver teardrop beads last year in Tucson. I used a few for simple earrings and then the idea for these earrings struck me - a year later.

The tight cluster on top of the beads is composed of little white freshwater pearls and a variety of Swarovski crystals in shades of gray. I always like to hand this style of earring on leverback earwires for the security they provide.

For sale in my etsy shop, or click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rum Punch Necklace

handcrafted jewelry necklace whiskey quartz pink opal garnet
I created this necklace the same day as the Fruit Punch Necklace. I was obviously in a mood some heat ... or at least some warmth!

This necklace features a large briolette of whiskey quartz. It's the color of warm honey, or rum if you prefer. It is joined by a flat teardrop of garnet and an opal in an unusual shade of pink ... like the flesh of a ripe papaya. Juicy.

The chain is 17" long and is finished with a lobster clasp. I purchase lots of different styles of chain in bulk, so I can make whatever lengths I need. This sort of versatility works for me because I don't know what design I'll be working on tomorrow!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lemony Goodness

handcrafted jewelry earrings sterling silver oxidized yellow citrine brioletteI've never been a big fan of the color yellow ... until recently. Now, it seems I can't get enough of it!

These citrine beads are cushion cut (at least I think that's what it's called) briolettes. The faceting is amazing and allows the light to reflect at every angle. Sometimes the beauty of the stone speaks for itself and needs very little adornment. These stones certainly fit that category.

These earrings are perfect for spring, summer ... oh, what the heck, wear them year round!

They are for sale in my etsy shop. Click on the photo to go directly to the listing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I finally decided to try knitting some mittens. I found an adorable pattern for a simple pair of mittens that starts our HUGE and then gets felted, much like the bags I've made.

To demonstrate how big the knitted mittens are, I placed a normal sized red glove over one of them in this photo. Yes, they are big and very floppy.

The yarn I used is dark blue and variegated with specks of color throughout. It seems like a waste to run the washing machine (for felting) for just one pair of mittens, so I started a second pair and will felt them together.

If they turn out ok, I'll share a picture!