Thursday, December 31, 2009

Year in Review, Part One

On this last day of 2009 I pause to reflect on two particular goals. First, I think back to March when my first goal for Heifer International was to be able to purchase a trio of rabbits. That came and went so quickly it made my head spin. (Have to love the progress graphic I kept updating...)

I know that people are always skeptical when a project is much more successful than they anticipate but I attribute at least two factors here in that I'm very passionate about both jewelry and my causes and also what I'm creating reflects my true self and it is liked. Now it's time to stand in front of mirror and get my brain to believe the truth!

So when I totaled up all the regular sales for December and made the Heifer donation, it was enough for almost three sets of honeybees, US$80 for December! That puts us at US$345 for 2009 which is way way way beyond everything I anticipated. I am honored that my jewelry is out in the world being enjoyed and that it is helping empower families with sustainable food.

A secondary goal that surfaced in late October was for the Prostate Cancer Foundation in celebration of Movember. For all the Mo-Stache necklaces bought in the month of November we donated US$5 each. It was such a popular item that we kept making them through December (although I changed the donation to US$3 per necklace to help cover the cost of materials and shipping).

We were able to have all our donations matched per dollar through the Safeway Foundation. In two months we raised US$180 and plan on continuing the Mo-Stache in our Etsy shop.

Thank you to everyone who made 2009 a phenomenal year -- here's to continued success in 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sea Change -- or how I need winter to be done already, thanks.

Actually, the more I look at this necklace it is rather evocative of a stormy ocean, oh well. But I've had these freshwater pearl beads since September when we were able to go to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The little green shells I picked up a couple weeks ago and something just clicked in my head with the satin ribbon.

It's a piece that makes me wish it smelled like the ocean too...


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Everything I learn is from the Internets.

I said that yesterday to Rebecca aka Smelly Rhino and it took her fancy. It was true when it came to craft shows though and I participated in my first one yesterday with the Etsy North Georgia street team. We had a holiday bazaar at Jan aka Pamper Pantry's house and I thought it was fantastic. I definitely want to do more and I learned a lot from the experience.

Katey aka Snarky Design shared a table with me and our minds work brilliantly together I must say. She had the purple fabric and boxes for giving everything different height on the table. The Friday night before we were randomly talking about holiday decorations and she told me to bring my wee lil tree and we ended up putting earrings on it.


I had also seen a blog post by Galleria Linda on custom earring cards. She had a photo from a friend who had made some tent cards so they would be able to write on the back, etc. I picked up some of the same cardstock I've been using with the eco-friendly theme (it is also 70% recycled content) and that's what I used for the flat part of the table.

These were a great idea and really worked well for people. They were able to pick up the whole card and touch the earrings and easily take them out to try them on, read the back for the materials etc. without a lot of hassle. I will definitely do that again and would recommend it to anyone who likes to do their own packaging.


Although the tree with earrings for ornaments was a cool idea, in practice it didn't turn out to be as effective. The way people would scan our table was to start at the left with the pyramid bags that Katey had made and then down to the earring display cards. I would have to point out the smaller pyramid bags under the tree and the earrings on the tree. I think the reason was that people are used to seeing trees as decoration and we were using it out of that element so it was a disconnect. Once people were shown how the tree was being used though then they had no problems with it.


Janine from Girl Sew Pretty had a really lovely way of displaying her bracelets and necklaces with what looked like willow branches in a large glass jar (and forgive me because I should have snagged a photo) so something to keep in mind for the next show!

I felt very prepared from having read some other online info about what to bring to a show including a mirror which got borrowed by quite a few other people at the show. The traffic wasn't overwhelming and it was good to be able to talk to the other team members as well. We are definitely going to do these more often!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Ethical Jewelry Handbook: a Resource Guide for Jewelers Wishing to Adopt Exceptional Standards -- free e-book by Marc Choyt

I first read Marc Choyt's e-book on the jewelry industry's current best practices in regards to fair trade, eco-friendly and ethically sourced materials about six months ago. When I was first researching how and where to find sources to use in my own work, his website and this information was like a pot of green gold.

He just e-mailed me an updated copy and you can get a copy by simply e-mailing him a request. Please see his website for more information. The e-book is 140 pages and filled with articles of interest from mining practices to how to implement simple practices in your business to make positive steps.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Start to Finish: Pentaloops earrings

If I haven't been posting much it's because I've been busy -- some of it the not so great busy but a large portion has been working on orders including one for a Greek Orthodox church in Wisconsin who wanted a plethora of Pentaloop earrings for upcoming festivals.


The Pentaloop earrings use beads made from Mykonos Greek clay made by Linden Avenue Designs. I first found MaryAnn's fantastic beads when she posted some of her listings on Twitter. Her prices are great and she has wonderful customer service. She also likes to feature how her creations get used on her blog so please do check out her beads!

The coiled earwires used in these earrings are handmade. Surprised? I was too at how great they turned out. Please visit for the fantastic free tutorial by Abby Hook on how to make them. You'll need to register but its worth it and they also have other tutorials worth checking out.


For these earrings, while you can substitute beads and metals as desired, you'll want to be sure the beads have quite a large hole, almost a donut, otherwise your jump rings will fight for space and you won't get the dangly motion that is so attractive with these earrings.

I used 19 gauge pure copper wire for the jump rings. I hand wound the wire on a 9mm knitting needle and then cut the rings with a jeweler's saw. You can use a flush cutter -- I just had a lot of jump rings to make and the saw goes more quickly.


I have found that when cutting jump rings with a jeweler's saw if you use short coils, less than an inch in length and wrap them in masking tape you'll get a cleaner cut and the tape keeps most of the metal bits from scattering about.


Especially because the jump rings are on the big side, I recommend conditioning them by opening and closing them flush, and smacking them a few times with a rubber or nylon mallet. Although most books will tell you not to tumble your jump rings with your shot or tumbling media because you'll be picking out jump rings forever, I had so many jump rings I decided to go ahead. I wasn't picking them out for too long...


Because the finished earrings have a clay bead component I didn't want to chance tumbling them at the end. Tumbling did a nice job of getting most of the errant burrs out of the jump rings but I still kept a small file handy for ones I found while I was putting the chains together.

Once you have at least 10 jump rings you can start to make the chains for your earrings. Open one jump ring and add two of your beads -- close the jump ring. Open another jump ring and pass it through the second bead you added to the first ring and then add another bead. Repeat until you have used 5 beads and 5 jump rings. Set this chain aside and make another with your remaining 5 beads and jump rings. You should have two lengths of bead/jump ring chain when complete.


I made coiled earwires using the method described in the tutorial from mentioned at the beginning. To complete the earrings I opened the last jump ring from my bead/jump ring chains and added the earwire.

During this process I made twelve pairs of Pentaloops!


Mykonos Greek Ceramic Beads by Linden Avenue Designs

Coiled Earwires Tutorial by Abby Hook on (free with registration)

Pentaloops Earrings at Seedlings: Jewelry Because on