A big thing that I struggle with in the world of jewelry making is messing too much with my plated brass findings. Plain ol’ brass, no problem. Add the super amazing finishes to them, and I have a hard time committing to actually using them. Sure, I pick them up and fiddle with them, dream a little about what they could be. But taking that next step and actually starting… umm, no. I think it’s because they are #1 so pretty already, and #2 that they cost more, so I want to make sure I use them right, and don’t waste or ruin them.
I. am. a. chicken.
Let’s take my current project as an example.
I ordered what is called a muse package from B’SueBoutiques. This one was focused on the current 2-month challenge, which was using what is called chocolate brass,
mixed with this color palate:
So, I of course procrastinated a bit, but eventually I came up with an idea. It was a pretty decent idea, if I do say so myself. BUT it involved messing with the beautifully plated choxie, which, as I mentioned before, scares the living daylights out of me.
I decided I wanted to play with these flowers:
the little ones for sure. I wanted to start with earrings, and see how it went.
Now, this is going to seem a little silly, but the scary thing I had to do was punch a hole. No joke. (No laughing! Well… maybe a small chuckle. I deserve it.)
It seems like a little thing, that’s not really a big deal, right? Well, here’s the thing… That one, single, itty bitty hole that I had to punch would tell me if these would hang well or not. So if it worked, great. No big deal. BUT WHAT IF IT DIDN’T WORK? Then what? What do I do with this flower that has a random hole on one of the petals?
Now do you see my dilemma?
Yes. I know. It’s still pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. But it stresses me out. I made myself punch the first hole, tossed a jump ring in, and it hung just fine and dandy. So we’re cool. The project can continue!
Well, once that stress was over, it came together fairly quickly. I had more holes to punch, then a dangly doodad to assemble for each. I actually took the time to google methods for creating the dangle, and I’m glad I did. I usually make them look okay, but this was way better, with far less time on trial and error. I don’t make them very often, so I think that’s why it usually takes me so much time. (And time-saving on my end = $ saving on yours!)
And since the earrings went pretty well, I decided to go ahead and make a matching necklace. I don’t do actual sets very often, so this was another small stretch for me on this challenge, which, in my opinion, is part of the point of a challenge.
So. Mission accomplished.
Here’s the finished set:
I’ve had some great feedback so far on this color combination, so let me know if you agree!
As always, thank you for stopping by, taking a look, and supporting me and my fellow artisans. We appreciate you so very much!
PS: I just created a separate Instagram just for B.Accessorized, so be sure to give me a follow!
PPS: My Etsy shop is in vacation mode. I’m hoping to get it back up and running very soon. Facebook is the best place to shop right now. Thanks!
Is anyone else out there their own worst enemy? At least part of the time? I know I am.
Remember how I told you last time that we had company for two weeks recently? Well, being a total glutton for punishment, just before they were scheduled to arrive, I decided it would be a fine time to place an order from my favorite supplier. I had a purpose for part of my order, but the timing couldn’t have been much worse.
Do you have a website you love to shop at? One that once you start looking, you can’t stop? Yeah? Well, that’s B’Sue Boutiques for me. I made myself keep my order small, but I also needed to order from her back room at Etsy. (double torture…) I ordered the couple of things I actually had intended to buy, plus a few other small add-ons. Because shopping.
So on day 2 of my in-laws’ visit, my package showed up. Day 2 of 14. *sigh* I made myself wait until they left to open it, as the consequence of my stupidity. The timing of the order was terrible. If you read my last post, and some of my others, you know that it’s not the fact that I had visitors. They would have been totally fine with me taking time to work. But since my workshop is in the guest room closet, it was all packed up, and I had no access to it. Please feel free to roll your eyes at my decision on ordering when I did.
But, the day did come when I could open my package and admire my purchases. I was completely giddy, no joke. I have yet to receive something from B’Sue that I don’t absolutely love. Everything they sell is wonderful.
Hello hello! I’ve been gone for a while (again…) but I’m hoping to be back in action regularly for a while to come. The last 6 months or so have been a little on the crazy side. But I THINK most of the crazy is over.
I’m sure you are all on the edge of your seats, wondering what on earth has kept me away. Well, you can sit back and relax, and I’ll tell you. I’ll try to keep it short though.
After the holiday madness, including my best show to date, we had a couple of weeks off. Then, insanity began. We took a 9 day trip to Disney, which included getting snowed in on our way home. About a week after we got back, I had knee surgery. I had fully intended to keep up on blogging, etc., while I recovered. But I didn’t. I binge watched NCIS instead. And napped. There was a lot of napping. It was amazing.
For week 3 of my recovery, my better half had to go out of town for the week, so my Mom came to hang out with me. THAT was amazing. We had so much fun, even doing basically nothing. We played with polymer clay a bit, and might have had a few cups of hot chocolate… I don’t get to hang with my mom very often, so I really enjoyed having her here.
A few weeks later, we had company for Easter.
Then 2 weeks after that, we had more company.
I had a vendor event in there somewhere.
And my in-laws just came for two weeks.
I love having company. I really really do.
However… My workshop is in the guest room closet.
So, as you can imagine, my things have spent a LOT of time packed away over the last several months. I did manage to make some newer pieces, and I also took some time to purge a LOT of stuff. When we moved from Ohio to Iowa, I did an initial purge, but it wasn’t enough. I went from a huge, for-real workshop to a closet. I really needed to scale back. I still have more I could probably get rid of, but for now, I’m just happy to have removed a significant amount of extra stuff I wasn’t using.
This is my pile of sorted stuff that I’m going to sell. BOOM!
This is Frank. He’s “helping”
Now we just have baseball, the summer musical and all the rehearsals that go with it, swimming (at 6:45am. Super fun!!!), athletics camps, a mission trip for one of the kiddos, a family trip to Montana to see my folks (YAY!), and a trip to MSP to babysit my niece and nephews for a week. You know, a nice relaxing summer. There will be as many afternoons at the pool, friends staying over, and fire pit nights as we can manage. Most of the busy stuff is for the soon-to-be 13 year old. The boys have it pretty easy.
So, now I am hoping to get into a bit of a groove, and carve out some dedicated time for working.
I have an event coming up this fall that I have some ideas for. I will be making some fairly specialized pieces that I hope will really go over well. However, it’s my first outdoor event. I’m a bit nervous about it. If any of you out there in cyberspace have any tips for me, or recommendations for a canopy, I am all ears (or is it eyes?)
I’m really sorry I have been missing in action lately. I hope each and every one of you is doing well, and enjoying life. I know I am.
And feel free to nudge me if I’m not keeping up! And tell me what plans you have for the summer. =D
It just so happens that I have the best dad ever. Well, the best dad for ME anyway. He’s a mechanic, so he knows all the ins and outs of tools. And considering my love and use of tools, this comes in handy.
This summer, my tumbler bit the dust. I use my tumbler a LOT, so I was really bummed. I hadn’t had it very long either, but it was past the warranty date, so I was out of luck. I had just started to hit my groove with a new style of jewelry, and, unfortunately, that style was much more easily made with the use of a tumbler. I make these discs that I have shown you before:
Well, I’m sure you can imagine how much fun it is to file the edges of each and every one of those suckers. Yup, that’s right. It’s not. fun. at. all. So I had a handy-dandy tumbler to do it for me (it saves me a lot of time, and therefore saves $ for the buyers!) Until it pooped out.
So of course I talked to my dad about it the next time I spoke with him. I just like to discuss tools with him. I was certainly not expecting anything from him when I mentioned it. But he just happens to casually mention that he has a spare tumbler that he doesn’t use anymore. Well, shoot. Of course he does. Who doesn’t have a spare tumbler, or anvil, or vise, or wire-twister, or… (a large portion of my tools have come to me courtesy of my father) At some point who knows how many years ago, he needed a bigger one. He tumbles rocks and such all the time. (Eastern Montana is an amazing place to find cool stuff. Moss Agates, petrified wood, etc) So, he said I could have his smaller one.
I had to wait until Thanksgiving to get it, but it was so very worth the wait! I have already tumbled a set of discs, and turned them into pretty things. I was practically giddy the first time I used it. And the creative juices were just flowing. What an amazing gift!
It’s not pretty, but I’m of the opinion that if your tools look pretty, you haven’t used them enough. At least with some tools.
Also, I noticed something when I picked up one of the barrels. There was some stuff rolling around inside. So I open it up and what do I find but a bunch of chips, with a few larger bits of rock, all polished up. I’m thinking some of them are destined for a resin piece. But we’ll see.
Every month, at the B’SueBoutiques Creative Group on Facebook, we have a themed challenge. It really gets the creative juices flowing. This month, Ms. Brenda added an extra challenge, a prerequisite of participating in this blog hop. In addition to the “Vintage Flair” monthly challenge theme, we were asked to Change It Up. She chose 4 popular large pieces from her site, and we had to choose one (or more) of those pieces, then use it in a unique way.
Well, I have had one of the pieces for a few months, a necktie. I knew it was a super cool piece (that’s why I bought it!), but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to DO with it, so it just sat there. Every so often I would get it out, start to lay out some bits to go with it, and then put it away again because I wasn’t satisfied with what I was coming up with. Well, when this challenge was announced, and I took a peek at the 4 options and saw the tie, I figured it was time to use that amazing piece.
But I couldn’t just decoupage it, add a few things, and call it a day, which is a fairly typical use of this piece (with amazing results!). I had to CHANGE it. And that’s where things get a little scary. I had an idea. (even more scary…) But convincing myself to follow through was kind of tough. If there hadn’t been a deadline, I probably wouldn’t have made myself do it.
I was about to start my project, when I remembered that it wasn’t just “Change it up” but Vintage Flair, too. Shoot. The vintage concept baffles me a bit. So, as most people would, I Googled “vintage flair” and “vintage jewelry” and “vintage flair jewelry” And while those images were kind of helpful, I realized the word “vintage” is used to describe just about everything these days, so it makes it hard to weed through the things that are obviously NOT vintage, and try to find examples that I THINK fit the theme. Another realization I came to, though, is that in a way, everything goes under this kind of heading. There has been SO much variety in styles that nearly everything is encompassed. But, things like crystals, pearls, and filigree seem to be pretty standard. So that kind of gave me a jumping-off point.
Not only was I thinking outside the box as I used this piece, I was stepping pretty far outside my comfort zone in jewelry making in general. I tend to shoot for fairly simple looks. And this necklace does NOT fit into that category… And that’s what made it so fun to create.
So, here we go. I decided to cut up the necktie. *gulp* Yes. Cut it into pieces. Like I said, I almost talked myself out of it. But… *deep breath*
Well, I guess I’m committed now… Might as well make the rest of the cuts.
This is what I ended up with after I let my shears have their way:
I decided to go with a bit of a gypsy style. So I used a “map” that had a reddish color to it, which I thought would work well with the direction (Nice pun, yeah?) I was intending to go.
When I’m working on a collage-y type project, I like to grab a container then browse through all of my supplies and toss everything that has potential into the container. So that’s what I did.
Once I had everything gathered, I started trying things out, putting them on top of the pieces of tie, trying different combinations and orientations. I knew I didn’t want to put very much on each one. I wanted the outline of the tie to still be visible. Then it was just a matter of finding a variety of chain to pull it all together.
I have a hard time photographing this large of a piece on a flat surface, but I gave it a go.
I used quite a few bits from B’SueBoutiques. The pearl chain, some filigree, POP! beads, the flower stamping… And the tie of course.
And my FAVORITE part of the necklace. The Evil Eye pendant. This piece makes me so very happy.
I put it on my mannequin and I think it gives you a really good idea of how it looks ON. I really fell in love with this piece. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.
I opted to leave a few inches of extra chain in the back so it can be worn longer if desired.
I was going for a vintage gypsy style… What do you think? Did I succeed?
Oh the wagon. It is so easy to fall off. And I did. Though, if you look at it a certain way, I didn’t really fall off. Maybe. I don’t know. Here’s what happened:
I was all set to participate in a show at the end of Aug. It was an outdoor show, which I have never done before. The people putting the show on had actually approached me about participating, which I thought was cool (and a little strange since I’m still pretty new to the area, but I’ll take it!) So I was excited. They asked me to participate about 4 weeks before the event was scheduled for. I didn’t think it would be a problem on that amount of notice. So I set about trying to find a tent to borrow. We don’t have one, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to invest in one yet.
I also started looking online for tips on doing an outdoor event. I have a background thing that I used once, and liked, but it had some kinks that needed working out, especially on uneven ground. I found someone willing to lend me a tent, so that was awesome. Until my reading informed me that I needed sides and weights for the tent. *deep breath* Okay. More research. And money I didn’t really want to spend, especially on a tent that didn’t belong to us.
I should probably tell you that the event was scheduled for the weekend before school started, which meant meeting teachers, gathering supplies, and all the fun stuff that goes along with back-to-school the week before my event, which is prime time for running pre-event errands. (also, my oldest had a large amount of special circumstances to work out for the school year, AND she got braces the day before my event was supposed to be) *deeper breath*
Phone call. My inlaws are coming to visit! The week before school starts, and through the weekend. Hmm. Hey, they can help! Oh wait. I have to clean the house, which is something I tend to let go when a lot of other things are happening. Toilets become low-priority. But they CAN’T be low priority with my husband’s family coming in. Shoot. Okay. Well. Hmmmm.
(Oh, and let’s toss 3 birthdays in this time period… two of the kids and me, plus sports practices have begun)
Another phone call. This time it was my husband (who was scheduled to be out of town the week all this was going down). The poor guy just called to tell me he was on his way home, and gets me all stressed out, breaking down, primarily over the tent sides and the expense. And he calmly mentions that maybe I should back out of the event.
Wait… WHAAAAA?!? THIS from the most supportive, let’s-make-it-happen guy? And I knew he was right. I have NEVER backed out of something like this, and hope I never need to again. But as soon as I made the decision, I felt better, felt lighter. I was very disappointed, but mostly because it sounded like a fun event to be part of. And the final week and a half before the event was happening, while I was cleaning and running errands, I just kept thinking how glad I was that I wasn’t trying to get the vendor things in order too. So I know it was a good decision. But MAN was it a hard one to make.
So, now I’m scheduled to participate in an event at the beginning of Oct. I’m trying to stay really organized and on top of my to-do list so I’m not scrounging around at the last minute. I probably still will be, but hopefully it’ll be minimal. I’m also working on creating an inventory. And going through my eleventy-seven million pictures and sorting and cataloging them all. Yikes. But I’m getting there. And I’ve managed to work on orders (yay!) and get other random bits of things accomplished. So I’m feeling more ready for this show than I think I have for any others.
I’m sad I had to back out of an event, but I really think it was for the best. And now I’m feeling even more motivated to make things more organized and functional so I can STAY on top of things, and get my listings moving again. I haven’t listed anything in a while, though I have managed to get some photos taken. Etsy, unfortunately, had to take a temporary back seat through all of this chaos. But I think this week I should be able to start pushing that again, and all that jazz. Long story short, I’ve had some set-backs, but I think I am still moving in the right direction. And that’s what counts in the end.
Here’s a peek at some of the pieces I have managed to get made the last couple of weeks. I LOVE them! They make me happy.
I participated in a vendor fair this weekend. I knew going in that it was almost all direct sales, so I really had pretty low expectations for the whole thing. I really had two goals, both of which I met. One, the hard one, was to sell enough to AT LEAST make back the vendor fee. And I did. Not by much, but I did. So that’s happy. The other one I knew I would meet, but in some ways was far more important. I was REALLY ambitious with my displays and setup. I made or altered just about everything I put on my table. I had a really great time doing it, but it was a lot of work, and I really wasn’t sure how it would all come together.
But let’s back up. This is where I started. My idea came last summer at our church’s rummage sale. This lattice was there, and some frames. So, for $10, they became mine. I painted them to make them awesome. And so it began…
Then I had to figure out what to put IN the frames. I knew kind of what I wanted, but I needed to figure out how to make it happen. That’s usually the part where I run into to trouble. But it came together. I tried making something 100% from scratch, but it didn’t go well. And then it dawned on me that I HAD something that would work as a mold. *face palm* So I busted out some velvet displays, covered them with foil so I wouldn’t totally destroy the originals, and off I went.
I decoupaged each of them differently, which was a pain and a lot of fun. I’m not totally satisfied with all of them, but they were close enough for the show.
Then it was just a matter of pulling it all together and making it actually WORK.
I put most of it up in the garage to just do a general “does everything stay where I put it?” kind of test. The most unexpected issue involved the frames. You know how no matter what you do, your pictures always hang just a little off? I was totally cool with that because I didn’t want these frames to hang square. Well… these frames did not want to sit all wonky like I wanted them to. They all hung totally straight. I had to tie them so they would be crooked. The ONE thing I was figuring wouldn’t need any extra thought/effort… Oh well. I got it figured out.
Here’s the beginnings of the setup:
Some things just don’t come to light until you actually set up AT the event, in that specific space. And I have to say… overall it worked out how I wanted it. It felt really good to take an idea from beginning to end, and have it come out darn close to what you wanted it to be. There are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out, but they are pretty minor.
So, even though my inventory wasn’t exactly flying off the tables, I still count the event as an overall success. I learned a LOT, and hopefully I’m on the right track for getting my products out there for people to see (and hopefully buy).
PS: Keep an eye on Facebook for a sale coming up! Also… Mother’s Day is coming!
Once I finished the initial prep for my pieces, which was mostly adding patina with my torch and sealing the pieces, it was time to bring out the big guns. I gotta say, power tools are very therapeutic. Torches are, too. And hammers… I like tools. Once the prep steps were finished, things kind of rolled right along for me. I knocked out some earrings, a ring, and I’m about 75% done with my cuff. I still have plenty of work to do, but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction, and it happens to be the path I started on, which is kind of nice. I still feel comfortable with the western boho concept. I haven’t had to totally re-think anything at this point. Granted, that could change at any time, but for now I’m content.
Where I have been putting a lot of my focus, and where I feel I really need the extra time/effort is on creating the whole “package.” I’ve been looking harder at packaging and presentation, which includes my logo, business cards, what I use for shipping, and even displays and photo backgrounds. Trying to figure out what non-jewelry pieces of the puzzle are missing has been interesting and very challenging for me.
I have been learning so much in this challenge. B’Sue Boutiques provides amazing supplies, but so many other things, too. I have had so much fun learning with the BALC participants. We have been helping each other work through some kinks, finding new ways to look at things, supporting each other in so many ways, and soaking in the knowledge that Ms. Brenda has to offer. I am so thankful to be part of this challenge. In the 3rd and final hop, next month, I will show my finished product line. I’m looking at it as a final exam for this class. I just hope I’m really as prepared as I think.
I have a problem. A problem that I have been mulling over, considering, and pondering for a while now. But I’m finally getting to a point where I’m moving beyond said mulling.
What it comes down to is:
I lack focus.
Not so much on individual projects, but on style, medium, and technique. You know, those things that cause cohesiveness and make things look like they belong together. I am the queen of seeing a new (to me) technique and wanting to try it. Forget the 37 projects I have started or prepped or thought of. This is something NEW. Which means I must learn to do it.
All this leads to a mish-mash of jewelry styles, like:
And an elephant with a crystal
And a SPOON!
Need a bib?
And it makes me wonder if I would sell more if people knew better what to expect from me.
Another side effect of this problem, and the lack of sales, is I have a LOT of inventory. I will probably re-purpose some of the pieces, but before I do… I want to give you all the chance to grab some pieces that you have had your eye on, and at a nice discounted price. (I’ve been meaning to do a holiday shopping sale anyway…)
Buy 1 item, get 10% off.
Buy 2, get 20% off.
Buy 3, get 30% off.
Buy 4 or more, and get 40% off your ENTIRE ORDER.
This sale is through Facebook ONLY. Simply comment on each picture that you wish to purchase, and PM me when you are ready to complete your order.
So, you get to buy gifts for yourself or someone else, and I get to move some inventory. Everybody wins. =)
***While I believe my inventory is up-to-date, there may be things that I have missed. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
Well, I did it. I used my gift card to purchase a large portion of the supplies I need to start experimenting with metal smithing. AND I got payment for the custom orders I did before Christmas (which I forgot to take pictures of… Lame). Which means I can purchase the rest of my supplies from another site.
One purchase down, one to go, and then I get to start playing with fire. *evil laugh*
I’m still totally intimidated. I usually learn quickly once I get started, so hopefully it won’t take me long to get the hang of things. If I can just get myself to take that first step…
I feel like so much is riding on all of this. Say a prayer, send good vibes, wish me luck. Or all of the above. 😉
Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’ll keep you posted. 😉