Friday, August 13, 2010

On Vacation!

I put my Etsy shop on vacation mode until the first week in October. I'm still working on various projects but they are all for myself or for gifts. I realized that I hardly ever make anything for myself and that's just not I'm correcting that! See y'all when the weather is cooler!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh I lurve you.

I was mad one day and told a fib to my hubby that I didn't like technology. He laughed and I knew I lost whatever argument was going on. What a huge lie...I lurve is the magic that continues to fascinate beyond the everyday miracles of existence.

To that end, I just purchased a Pepe Jump Ringer from Otto Frei (they are on sale right now plus they had 5% off during their Las Vegas show, and decided to put it through some quick paces with some Celtic cage earrings.

One thing that had slowed my testing of new chainmaille designs was the need to either create jump rings or buy them. If you've priced jump rings, you know they can get quickly expensive and while I will need to continue to purchase them for things like anodized aluminum, I want to be able to make my own things out of copper and silver (sterling and argentium) as needed.

I had been using knitting needle mandrels and sawing them with a jeweler's saw which is fine for very small batches but it

After some initial messing about with getting the jump ringer configured correctly (and note to Otto Frei, your instructions included with this product are *very* confusing) I whipped up enough jump rings to do one pair of these fun earrings.

So next I am tackling a Jens Pind chain and have promised hubby a helm of some sort...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Work finished! My version of steampunk...

Last night at the bookstore, I thumbed through a book all about Steampunk jewelry. I think all but one of the pieces had a watch part connected to it. I even predicted to my friend Katey, I says to her, I says, "I'll betcha all of the stuff in that book has a watch part or cog on it."

So I had started a freeform copper pendant, riveted and then I made a setting for a prehnite cabochon. I wasn't sure what type of chain I wanted to have it connected to and had been thinking about chainmaille of some type. However, I'm waiting until I get a jump ringer system until I do more serious mailling just due to how tedious it is to do lots of jump rings by hand.

I had seen some different types of chains in Tim McCreight's "The Complete Metalsmith" book and thought of a variant where I took one inch lengths of 12 gauge copper wire, planished and filed the ends, drilled a hole in each end, and then connected with smaller jump rings. The chain has added charm of looking like bones!

I also made a toggle clasp to match and a simple bail for the pendant and then dipped the whole caboodle into some liver of sulfur concoction. After much work with some 0000 steel wool, I am so happy with this necklace. I can't wait to wear it a bit to show it off...perhaps with a top hat, or a steam declare this is something steampunkery without a cog or a watch part.

To the airship everyone!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pearlsplosion: where copper meets a gajillion freshwater pearls.

I've been creating...just not getting very much listed but I'm trying to reverse that during the summer especially for many of my unique pieces. This bracelet, Pearlsplosion, I'm particularly happy with not only because it swam around in my head for a looooong time before I put it together but because it starts out with minutiae and builds into one grand piece of wrist candy.

I used 8 different colors of pearls in clumps of 2 and 3 in sections over hammered, oxidized copper washers. Each pearl was wrap-looped (doubled up for strength) on handmade copper headpins. Clumps of pearls were then attached by a copper jump ring to a crossed set of bright aluminum jump rings. Those jump rings connect the larger copper washers which are all different sizes, slightly!

Just love how every piece is a bit different but it all comes together in the end, don't you think? I went through quite a few of my pearls so need to keep my eyes open for some more lovely colors -- these are all greens, blues, a touch of purple and cream/white.

View more photos on the Etsy listing and thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Work in progress: Riveting!

Ever since I borrowed a book on cold connections (metal) from my good friend and metalsmith Melissa Moloney, I've been smitten with rivets. To clarify, the kind made with wee tubing. I tried the kind with just wire and didn't care for it as much but I can see the merit of it so ya know, keep it in the skills arsenal.

For someone who claims to dislike working with small things, tiny slices of tubing aren't exactly the easiest to deal with either. I found myself putting down some paper towels under my workspace because the little bits of tubing kept running off. I need to make a sheet of double-sided tape to stick things like that during the middle of a project.

This freeform copper pendant with prehnite stone needs some polishing up and I will likely play with some oxidization with it as I really love that look with copper. Next part is the chain. Work in progress!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mother's Day Jewelry Show and Sale at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA

Come visit Seedlings: Jewelry Because at our shared table with fellow metalsmith/jewelry designer Melissa Moloney at the upcoming event at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, GA -- details below and at the Callanwolde website!

[From their website if you don't want to click...]
SATURDAY, MAY 8; 9 am to 2 pm
SUNDAY, MAY 9; 10 am TO 4 pm
Callanwolde presents its first Jewelry Show and Sale on Mother’s Day weekend. Original, handmade pieces created by the Callanwolde jewelry making instructors and students will be available for sale in all price ranges. Family members will have an opportunity to purchase unique and thoughtful gifts for that special someone. Springtime at Callanwolde is a sight to behold. Bring a loved one and pick out that special gift. The event will be located on the Callanwolde grounds at the Samuel Goldman Retreat. For more information call 404-872-5338.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March, in like a lamb.

So I've been taking quite an extended leave of absence from my previous very active online presence. I think it has been important to take the time I need to let my brain get used to how things are now with my Dad gone. I still don't feel 100% awesome most days...just less pained lately, more introspective.

I have been keeping busy though through no fault of my own! I've done a handful of custom orders as well as working on some random projects such as a chainmail purse (as modeled by Mauricio!). Orders have been steady through the Etsy shop and my brain is starting to wake up for new projects I want to tackle this year. My Etsyversary, if you will, is March 29 so it might be fun to do something with that...not sure yet.

This post is more of an 'I'm still here' post and a 'kick-start my booty' post so more as it comes to me, just like always.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Memories from the Front Row

My Dad loved movies, maybe not quite as much as he loved books, but enough so that one of my favorite memories involves when VHS/VCR rental really took off and we would go to the Aardvark Video in town, he would let my sister and I pick out a movie and he would get a couple, we might get a pizza and then the whole family would watch movies practically all weekend.

My Dad passed away last week, on the 14th of January, and to keep busy and to capture some of the memories that our family and friends had I wanted to make some memory books to take to his memorial.

I remembered that my friend Rebecca Salcedo made bound journals for her Etsy shop Outward Bound from recycled movie and TV placards. I sent her email to see if she had any sci-fi, fantasy, western, action covers that might be cool for this project and she said, 'come on over and let's look.'

We found some cool covers and Rebecca dipped into her older movies stash and we found some of Dad's favorites too. After much slicing, dicing and stacking everything was assembled and I'm so excited to share them when I get home.

Click here to view an electronic version of the inside of the memory book. I didn't change the formatting so it shows the left and right sides together -- hope it's not too confusing!

Thank you Rebecca for helping make some memories about my Dad even more special.

CaringBridge Site for John Turner

Outward Bound, handmade notebooks journals sketchbooks from recycled and re-purposed materials on Etsy

John Turner Memory Book, PDF

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Accidental Nesting

I had a recent sale of my leaf shaped hoop earrings in argentium sterling silver to someone in Australia. I sent her a conversation to see if they were for a gift or if she needed special packaging etc.

She replied: "Thank you for your note-great service! These earrings are so pretty. I had a similar pair that I bought in Australia, by a Melbourne designer, that had a little silver bird cutout dangling from them but I lost one one night. I can't afford to replace the pair entirely so I'm finding bits and pieces so that I can make a similar pair. I've salvaged the bird and bought a swallow bird cutout charm on etsy to complement it. But I haven't been able to find the right shape hoops until now. I think yours will be perfect."

She had found some silver bird charms from a different Etsy seller so just needed the leaf shaped hoop style earrings to recreate her earrings.

I had made some wee versions of the regular round hoop earrings and included a pair because I like to get new designs tested by folks. I had email from her with attached photos with this note: "I'm mailing you to this address because I forgot to attach an appreciation pic to my feedback on etsy and I don't think that the convo system has a provision for sending attachments. I just wanted to say thanks again for your great service. I love the earrings and wore them all day yesterday. But the charms I was going to put on them actually look better on the smaller pair! I was so chuffed that you sent me an extra pair anyway but even more so now that my little birdies look good on them."

I also love her feedback: "I wish there was another button next to the green + sign that had two plusses on it! This seller was a great communicator and extraordinarily thoughtful. And I wore my earrings as soon as they came out of the mail box. Thank you!"

This made me so happy and I posted the photos on the Facebook page as well. I love hearing about and seeing photos of people enjoying their jewelry!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Handmade Artists' Forum Blogtastic: Heather's Haven

You'll notice one thing about my jewelry -- I don't work with the tiny beads. Those wee, willy nilly seed ones that make me squint and send my fingers sprawling trying to keep up with them. I have a HUGE amount of respect and admiration for crafty folks who not only work with these tiny wonders but create amazing jewelry. Although Heather creates in other media, it's the teensy bead aspect I'm focusing on for my blogtastic feature.

Take this beaded cuff with Russian serpentine, just lurve this!

Heather is extremely active and supportive on the Handmade Artists' Forum. I love that she takes the time to comment on other posts and keep the Share the Love program going.

Links for Heather's Haven:
Blog --
Etsy --
Artfire --
Twitter --
Facebook --

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Year in Review: Part 5, Life Lessons and the Important Miscellaneous Stuff

I realized after looking at my short sheet of things I wanted to talk about in a year-end review that I could probably stretch on indefinitely...I do like to get rambly. However, one of my 2010 blog goals is to get back to my Start-to-Finish series and also join in with the new Handmade Artists' Forum blog ring so that will start this upcoming week.

Now, to bring this series to a lurvely, bow-wrapped finish with part 5...Life Lessons and the Important Miscellaneous Stuff.

Be Generous
Be generous when possible, and product appropriate. Depending on what someone has ordered I may include a small pair of earrings so they can try out a different material or color. I had a lot of earrings in a particular style I made at the beginning of 2009 that for whatever reason were not as popular as I thought they would be but when I include them with orders I get feedback that they get the most compliments. It has been a sideways lesson to me in what I think will be popular and that I prefer to do made-to-order jewelry but that also if you give people a sample then they will understand your vision better.

A large part of what Seedlings: Jewelry Because is based on generosity especially our connection to Heifer International (20% of all regular sales go straight to the cow to speak). I do that because I'm in this for the love of what I do and feel strongly about giving that back how I can. I am so blessed in so many ways and where I can, I have to share it.


Try New Things
I started out offering one kind of earring. I branched out by offering multiple colors of that same earring. I branched again and used some different beads and charms. I got curious about chainmaille and hammering metals. I took a metalsmithing class (well, most of it). I took a plunge and made necklaces. I tried new metals and fell in love with copper. There are so many things still that I want to do and try (and yes I'm keeping a notebook so I don't lose track) and that keeps me excited for 2010 and beyond.

You never know what you'll find out about yourself until you let yourself take risks. Be bold, be brave and forge ahead in your adventures!

Make Friends
Hello other OCD control freaks out there who like to reinvent the wheel...we have a secret group that meets frequently to remind us we don't have to do everything alone. Join as many teams, guilds, groups as are appropriate and active to what is specific to you -- don't be afraid to get involved and then get uninvolved if things fall apart (it happens).

One group I highly recommend for all crafty folks is the Handmade Artists' Forum. Additionally check out the various Etsy Teams to find some good fits.

The online folks I have met have transformed my experience from something I did to share with co-workers into something deeply meaningful that is shared regardless of geographic boundaries. I was also lucky to find a regional Etsy team (Team NorGa) filled with fantastic crafty folk who have become real life friends (as we like to say in the online world).

Share What You Know
I like to say that everything I learn these days is from the Internets (or for you purists, the Webbernets). I praise the folks who have been out there reinventing wheels and take the time to post their successes and failures. Here is a short list of my favorite tutorial sites or blogs where people make a point of sharing: [Many lessons here are free, you just have to register.] [All kinds of crafty tutorials and look for exchanges where you can participate and right your own to submit.] [From Karen Ferrante.] [From author Sharilyn Miller.]

Keep On Going
At a few points this last year I really felt either overwhelmed by projects I took on (getting shop stocked, getting social media going, actually creating stuff) or like doing nothing at all (hello September).

I recall one of the most important lessons I ever learned from my dad when he taught me how to catch a softball -- at one point I missed the catch and the ball hit me in the jaw. It surprised me and hurt and as a little kid, it made me cry. We paused and he told me that I needed to get the mitt in front of my face if that's where the ball was going and that sometimes I might get hit no matter what but that I couldn't let it stop me.

I think back on all the crazy jobs he tackled to keep our family going through the years and all the crazy jobs I've been willing to do to keep mine going. One of the last significant conversations we had was about a moldy wall I found in my house and how I was annoyed to deal with it. He said, "It's the moldy walls that keep us going, give us a reason."

My reason for creating jewelry has been because it's a spot of beautiful that comes from the real me, the true me, beyond any facade I have to wear at my real life pays the bills job. Find your reason and make it your passion and don't let it go -- put it in bold letters on your wall, do whatever you need to do to remind yourself why.

Important Miscellaneous Stuff
Many other fine blogs have written about the importance of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), pricing and product research, branding and packaging, and to a lesser extent customer service so I am putting some links on those topics here because all of those things were very important to me in 2009 (and areas where I will continue to learn and explore in 2010):

Crafting your Etsy shop (Purple Lemon Designs):

Pricing Handmade Artisan Jewelry (Jewelry by Jules):

Strands of Thought [all sorts of great topics from Susan Sheehan's blog]:

Monday, January 4, 2010

Year in Review: Part 4, Search Engine Optimization

SEO, or search engine optimization, with all its talk of keywords and their relevance can at least be daunting and at most feel like the emperor's new clothes with what it can promise. For Etsy shops, the veil was lifted a bit last year with the release of an in-depth guide to how the bits of our listings relate to what shows up specifically on Google, Be sure to download the PDF guide from the link about halfway down the page.

Traffic from search engines is consistently number three for me beyond direct Etsy traffic and social media sites (Twitter and Facebook). It is an ongoing project to tweak my shop and listings so that I'm compliant with the current best practices in this area but I consider it worth it for the exposure in search engines. Googling information has become commonplace and a verb to most people.

At a minimum you should set your shop up to use Google Analytics so you can monitor your shop traffic, referring sites, keywords and more. This tool can track more than just your Etsy shop (I use it for my blog and regular site) and is it's own beast that I won't cover here. Click here to view a video from on setting up Google Analytics in your Etsy shop.

Using the info gleaned from Google analytics can help determine shop weak points or trends to products you hadn't considered. The other thing it helps with is figuring out how real world people look for your products. I hadn't considered this when I was listing my chainmaille jewelry pieces because as someone who crafts, I have a different vocabulary then someone who is looking for the same thing (unless they are also someone who crafts). Click here to read an article on Handmade Marketing about how to get more out of your Google Analytic reports.

My hubby pointed this out when he said, "why do you call it chainmaille with the extra letters at the end? If I was looking for the same thing I wouldn't call it that." Keyword searches confirmed that.

After thoroughly reviewing the Etsy SEO guide, the first listing I experimented with for a variety of keywords was for a chainmaille keychain. In the title I gave it a few common synonyms such as keyfob and I also just called it chain mail in addition to the particular chain weave I used. I may have gone a bit overboard with the length of the title but I immediately started to see traffic using some of the keywords I had put into the title and description.

In the past I had just been putting fun names in the title and giving whimsical descriptions. I still name quite a few of my creations and enjoy spicing up my descriptions but in order to maximize how people can find me through search engines I do the regular details first.

One thing I am working on is finding a good balance to the length of my descriptions. I know from reading in the Etsy forums that many people find very lengthy titles a turn off. Apart from Etsy sellers who for the most part aren't the folks buying my jewelry, the only technical reason to keep titles fairly short is that after a certain character description they don't show up in search results. Click here to read more on Etsy's The Storque blog about tags, titles and relevant search.

While you are making a listing Etsy has provided a tool to show you how your title and the first part of your description will show up in search results. I use this to make sure that what I've put in doesn't look odd and gets the most important information first.

An area that Etsy is in the process of opening up to all sellers is inclusion in the Google Product Search Syndication. There are very specific guidelines about how products can be inserted (see more at and
. I had been putting the phrase 'Free Shipping to the US' in my titles but will be taking this out and just putting it in my policies and shop appearance information so that my listings won't be excluded.

Making some simple changes to listings as you move forward can make a big difference without overwhelming you to what you already have listed. If you decide to renew or relist an item that is a good time to review the information you have and how it might affect search engine results if you don't want to do a massive overhaul at once.

Not sure what "regular" people are calling what you create? Give Google AdWords: Keyword Tool a try or ask your friends or Facebook fans for some feedback.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Year in Review: Part 3, Product Photography

My photographs were terrible when I started. I had no clue about macro settings, light sources…anything really. I had a digital camera and tried to get clear photos but the flash was just really harshing everything up. Here’s an early example (28 January, 2009):

My friend Katey Jackson of Snarky Design ( says to me, “build a lightbox and find the macro setting on your camera.”

So, I did. I even wrote a tutorial on how to make your own cardboard lightbox based on my research and experience,

The change was dramatic and turned me into a macro photography nut for a bit (lots of photos of all the small things around the house in my Flickr feed somewhere...). Beyond all the things you can do with your descriptions or keywords having clear, beautiful photographs of your creations is one of the most important things you can do to improve your shop.

I still continue to experiment with how I like to show my jewelry but other things I have improved during 2009 would be to add at least one shot showing scale (I typically hold the item in my hand) and to have a model wearing the item (myself usually or if it’s a unisex or men’s piece, my hubby). I would like to do a professional photo shoot at some point and had one planned in late 2009 but had to cancel it due to timing and money.

I’m in the process of creating a new lightbox that is a bit more flexible than my early cardboard one. I also found I liked the darker look of taking shots from my workbench as opposed to the very bright white backgrounds of the lightbox. I know this is something I can switch out once I have a new lightbox so it’s an area that I continue to enjoy learning new things with.

Switching up your product photos doesn't have to be super expensive but it can be time consuming. Do your research on what you can do within your budget and comfort level and set a goal to do a little bit at a time. One tip I learned late in the year was to take new photos of items that you relist. That way if you have been really unhappy with the photos it will give you a reason to get everything set up and make the photos better while you are going through the process anyway.

What have you done during the year to improve your photos? Comment with links on your before and after photos (I think I deleted most of my before shots...) or other tips.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Year in Review: Part 2, Daily Listing or Renewal on Etsy

I'm a sucker for anything where secrets are revealed. I think marketers know that but most of the time once you get to the magical unfurling, its information you already knew! My curiosity still ends up making me click though and during this year my inquisitiveness has led me to some activities that helped sales in my shop.

This installment of my Year in Review covers daily listings or renewals on Etsy.

When I started my Etsy shop in March I used to list everything I had made all at one time. What I would notice would be a rush of traffic for the next day or so and then nothing until I put up more listings. Since your new listings start at the top of the area (in my case jewelry) and then go further back in the pages, that visitor behavior only makes sense.

Some folks keep their product higher in the pages by daily renewal which at a twenty cent fee is the same as a new listing. Since I tend to create in multiples I prefer to do new listings but have sometimes done a renewal especially if I have products that are expiring.

When I started to do a daily listing not only did I decrease the amount of stress of photographing and writing descriptions for my jewelry but I noticed a change in my traffic and where it was coming from. My Google analytics switched from top traffic as Twitter and Facebook (primarily from me posting links) to being direct within Etsy or from keyword searches in search engines.

I break up the week by days into “creating” and “marketing” with the middle of the week for the actual doing i.e. crafting whatever pops into my head (and taking photos right then is possible) and the weekend for promoting. By having a stash of ready to go photographs I can easily do my daily listing when I have time typically very early in the morning or right when I get home from work.

Whether you set a renewal budget or have the type of product that will benefit from new listings, I recommend you try doing something daily and see if it helps your views and sales. Try different times of the day on different days as well. This also makes a difference with Twitter traffic especially.

More on search engine optimization, product photography and social marketing in the next few days!