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.
A few weeks ago, I ordered some pieces from my favorite supplier. I had ordered similar things in the past, and had very specific ideas on what I was going to create with them. They would fit pretty well into the general look of what I do. I was actually quite proud of my order. In that past, I have done a lot of “Oooh, that’s cool! I think I’ll get it.” ordering. Not a good idea. You end up with stuff that is really neat, but it makes deciding what to make a whole lot tougher. (I might or might not have a decent sized stash of stuff I like but don’t know what to do with) So, this time, I knew where I was going. Go, Me!
I was not disappointed when I got my order. Then again, it’s pretty hard to be disappointed with what you order from B’Sue. I had ordered one more cabochon than I needed, so I could pick once I saw them in person. And I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to find a use for the extra.
The large filigrees I was using for this project were raw brass, which, in my world, needed to be torched. Have I mentioned how much I love coloring metal with fire? It’s SO fun. Anyway, they turned out really cool. I torched them at the same time, but used a bit more fire on one than the other, and got totally different results. Fire is fun, friends. (in a safely controlled manner) Awesome. I was so excited. Before I sealed them, I decided to fiddle around with composition. I had two filigrees and three cabs to work with.
Look how pretty! And totally different.
And I didn’t like ANY of the combinations.
So I started digging. I pulled out a lot of different stuff and started trying various combinations. It took quite a bit of time. But eventually I found some things that I liked enough to start putting them together. I was really disappointed that my original plans weren’t going to come together, but that’s life, right? I had intended the pieces to be long necklaces. But that just didn’t seem right with the direction change. So, they are now bracelets. Well, one is. The other is a bracelet-in-training.
The one that is completed looks pretty stellar, in my opinion. I have had book chain for months, but it’s such a special item that I have been waiting to use it. It needed just the right project. And I could totally hear my father reminding me “measure twice, cut once.” Granted, I wasn’t actually cutting the chain, but the concept was the same. I wasn’t interested in attempting to re-attach any bits to the main length of chain, so I wanted to make sure I separated off the right amounts. The FIRST time. And good golly, that chain is worth every penny. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I’m so glad I used it, even though it was stressful (I hate wasting the good stuff. And this chain is definitely the good stuff)
The end results are slightly different than my usual style, but I think they still work pretty well with the rest of my pieces. What do you think?
Last January, I wrote a post about my goals for 2015 (read it here). I figured now was a good time to reflect and look ahead. So that’s what we’re going to do.
As a person who stinks at follow-through, I gotta say, I feel pretty darned good about how this last year went, as far as jewelry making went. I most definitely had some ups and downs in the level of my effort and commitment, but I definitely spent more time focused on getting where I want to go. I feel like I made a lot of progress. Not so much on actual makering techniques, though there was some of that. But more on the whole business side of things. Let me tell ya, the amount of time making the jewelry takes a lot less time than everything else does, once you finished making the piece. And that’s where I struggle. But this year I did better.
The Build a Line Challenge offered by bsueboutiques.com was AMAZING. I learned so much. It’s being held again, and while I’m not participating, I definitely plan to follow along. I probably drove them all nuts with my constant stream of questions, but there was just so much to learn, and I knew that I had a lot of holes that needed to be filled in.
I believe I sold 8 things on Etsy this year. Not as many as I would have liked, but definitely more than my first year. I am hoping that that means that when I get my act together, and really get active on there, that I will be successful. I created an inventory, and keeping track of everything on there was interesting. I think I still have some kinks to work out there, but at least it’s a start, and a big step in the right direction. Keeping track of everything, including whether it is listed on Etsy, and all that jazz, takes a lot of time. It’s not just doing the things. It’s thinking about the things, deciding when and where to do the things, and, most importantly, why you are doing the things. Moving with purpose. It has been a big change for me to not just go through the movements, but to decide which movements suit me and my product, and what will help get me where I want to go. I have made an effort to not just buy a component because it’s cool, or try out a design because I saw something that I thought was fascinating. If it doesn’t fit into what I want my product to be, I don’t make it. Except every once in a while I play. Because I need to. But my makering is so much more focused.
I had a few months that were very frustrating as far as sales. I strongly considered being done with jewelry making. There are a LOT of jewelry makers out there, so it’s a brutal market. So I have spent a lot of time thinking, and pondering, and considering. I really like making jewelry. But really, I just like making. I don’t have the artist gene. But I have the good-with-tools gene. And the desire to create. For now, that means jewelry. And, thankfully, I ended the year with a very strong show, and I think some of the crowd will be looking for me at future events. That feels pretty darned good. So I will be continuing to make jewelry.
And that means buckling down hard. While I made progress with staying focused and getting more of the business pieces in place, I still have a long way to go. Here are my jewelry making goals for this year:
designate specific time each day/week for specific tasks
work out an efficient inventory system, then use it.
So, basically, be more business-y.
I have personal goals, too, of course. And another sort of business-y effort on the side.
I want to do a quick plug for the Passion PlannerI used it this last year, and really loved it. So I got another for this year. And it’s bigger, and pretty, and makes me super duper happy. If you want something to help you set goals, and stay on top of everything, this is, no joke, the best planner for the job. I have been dissatisfied with every planner I have encountered over the years. And, as a disorganized person, a planner is really important in my life.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I wish you all the very best in 2016!
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 like to think I know my self fairly well. I know my strengths, and am pretty aware of my weaknesses. I don’t consider myself to be overly self-critical, just aware of the areas that need work. And I DO try to work on my weaknesses. I am a lazy, absent-minded, emotional, and messy person. But I’m not nearly as lazy, absent-minded, or messy as I used to be. Emotional is one thing that’s pretty hard to change… I really LIKE when things are neat-and-tidy, but I’m not very good at keeping them that way. I adore organization supplies, but don’t really follow through on actually USING them. Though again, I’m better than I used to be. The main part of our house stays in okay condition, but my workshop… THAT is a different story. Yikes.
Now that you know all that, you should know that I’m married to an engineer. Now, I know that there are plenty of engineers out there that are lazy and messy, but my husband is more the neat-and-tidy sort. He’s really good with things like setting up an organizational system, and then FOLLOWING the system. Crazy, right?
Now, I have a show coming up in a couple of weeks. (I promise this is all going to tie together…) So I have been thinking a lot about my displays and, more importantly, my inventory. A few years ago, I attempted to create an inventory list and labeled everything, etc. But it wasn’t a good system. I didn’t incorporate all of the elements that I should have, so it didn’t work and stressed me out, big time. And I haven’t done it since. Not that I haven’t thought about it, but I have a tendency (here’s another one of those weaknesses to work on) to avoid things that stress me out or make me feel unsure.
So the other day, I had a minor epiphany. I have a fabulous resource IN THE HOUSE with me. Someone that is good at organization, and happens to be very supportive of this whole jewelry business thing. So I asked him if he would help me figure things out for my inventory.
Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why it took me so long to come around to this conclusion. But honestly, it’s not the conclusion itself that is amazing. I actually Asked. For. Help. Which, as we all know, is a saying that you are not up to the challenge on your own. And that is HARD to do.
And then you know what I did? I told him that if he ever has any suggestions for general house organization, I would be willing to hear him out. Because you know what? I don’t LIKE being disorganized. I would love to feel more in control of everything. I just struggle with how to go about it, which leads to anxiety and avoidance. Sometimes I do it well, just not for long. Hopefully that will improve, and I will learn some things.
And just because… here are a few more recent pieces that are about to go up on Etsy and Facebook:
This week contains that fabulous day (surprisingly not a national holiday… yet) known as my birthday. It’s not a milestone birthday or anything this year, so I wasn’t really expecting much more than a night of not cooking or cleaning up, and hopefully minimal fighting among my not-so-little ones. So imagine my surprise when…
…on Saturday, right around lunchtime, our doorbell rang. I caught a glimpse of two ladies wearing big, fancy, crazy hats, so I was a little cautious about opening the door. I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder who it could be (though I did wonder if the Jehovah’s Witnesses were coming to call since they are always dressed to the 9s) but I certainly did not expect two of my favorite people to be standing on our doorstep, wearing cheezy grins and awesomely-crazy fancy hats, and holding one out for me. I keep telling my kids that I’m going to run away from home, and this weekend I got to. It was so much fun. My girlfriends had the entire day planned out. There were pedicures, a fancy tea (aka: middle of the afternoon amazing desserts) at a fancy tea shop, and dinner out with some of my local girlfriends. AND I got to stay at the hotel with them. Ah-mazing. I’m kind of amazed that I have friends that will go to so much trouble just for my birthday. I got to know them when I lived in Omaha, and I’m so thankful that our friendship has stayed solid since I left the Big O.
So… what on earth does this have to do with jewelry making? Well… it has less to do with the actual jewelry making than it does the mental state and dedication involved in jewelry making. Normally, I let this kind of thing interrupt my makering for too long, sometimes up to several weeks of minimal work happening. I tend to let things throw off my rhythm that really shouldn’t. (basically, I’m lazy…) But this time, I didn’t. I was right back at it on Sunday. I tend to fall off the wagon very easily when it comes to all of the promotional stuff, but I said I was going to really push myself, and that’s what I mean to do.
I have a show coming up in about 3 weeks, and I have a new idea for myself, so I need to bust a lot of that out in a short amount of time. And also, I’m trying to figure out how much I want to list on Etsy since I have the vendor event coming. I need to work some of those kinks out, but I’m making progress, and getting closer to where I think I will have the best chance of success.
Some work in progress:
And remember, if you notice me slacking… let me have it! 😉
Yup. I’ve already been starting to push, push, push. Hopefully I won’t drive all my facebook friends crazy, but OH WELL if I do! Truthfully, I’m trying to ease into it, and I do try to minimize the postings to my personal FB. I had a few things to iron out before I could start posting more on Etsy (I switched banks (yay moving!), so I had to wait until all that mumbo-jumbo was 100% taken care of) but I’m going to try to list at least 1 each day, 5 days of the week. I know odds are that I won’t get it done the full 7, so I think 5 is a good starting place.
Also… I JUST figured out, about a month ago, how easy Etsy makes it to post to social media. *facepalm* I’m a little slow sometimes… But I have found the easy-share buttons (like Pinterest and Twitter… Give me a follow!) and have been making use of them. Annnnnd, I don’t know if you noticed or not, but this is the 3rd B.Accessorized blog post in as many weeks! BOOM.
I’ve managed to clear out quite a bit of old inventory via my clearance album on Facebook. Those pieces just weren’t selling, didn’t fit with the style I am focusing on now, and were just taking up space, so I’m glad to see them go. There are still some pieces over there, and the sale ends soon, so be sure to stop by!