Monthly Archives: February 2007

Yay or nay on the beads?

Teal Nugget Glass BeadsYay or nay on the beads.  I think they’re looking pretty elegant.  They’re time consuming so I only got 2 done in this color scheme and went back the next day to make more and only got two more done and realized that I left a step out so they’re more of a greener teal color.  So, rather than a set I’m offering eclectic pairs this week.  (not up yet, but if you’re on the mailing list you’ll get a notification when they are).

You beadmakers out there might wonder, why so time consuming?  They’re just dots and lines. What you might not realize is that there are three layers to this stringer work.  Remember my harping on layers being the key to depth of design?  Yep.  That means every dot and stripe of color you see on these beads consists of three applications of very thin string(er)s of glass.

<>They’re the same style as the beads on auction right now, the Tan and Black ones that I showed a few days ago.  I’m wondering if they’re exciting enough to continue on in this vein.  I mean, everyone does lines and dots, don’t they?  What else is there to do in a straightforward stringer design other than swirls?  Don’t answer that, there are tons of things.  Basically I’m asking, even though the process of these is more complicated than meets the eye, is the design too elementary?

<>It’s confusing to me because the past, at least, year has been working with enamels, frit and organics.  This new work is a more clean look and it just feels funny to me.  One thing I can say is that I’ve been enjoying making them…which is not something I’ve ever been able to say about precise stringer work like this.  In the background I have been messing with some new designs but they haven’t struck me enough yet to show you…I’ve been accumulating lots of nice wonks that will eventually be a fused something-or-other…or not.

Anyway, when I say something like ‘I’ve been enjoying making them’ you know I need to do more to get them out of my system or they will haunt me until I do.  Another reason they take a bit longer is because I’ve been using that wonderful Lauscha black glass and it melts slower.  On top of that, this is a bigger size than you may think.  21mm square by 11mm thick.  I’m waiting for a smaller size tool to arrive so that should make it go a little quicker and thus more enjoyable.

Advertisements

Gossip…

GossipOk.  Don’t run away on me when you see (or hear about) this one.  Something you might not know about me but may have been able to guess is that I am interested in outsider art.  Unconventional art.  With shows and inventory behind me for a while I have the opportunity to do some more creative work (if you call this creative).  And not that my show inventories aren’t creative but these are the times when I’m coming up with next years inventory ideas.  Don’t worry…this won’t be what I’m offering to my mainstream customers at next years shows.

Anyway, one of those things to work on was a submission for an exhibit by the ISGB called ‘Metamorphosis:  the life cycle of a glass bead’.  Let me first just say that that title told me that it meant glass beads.  As the day got closer I read more carefully and realized that it was for glass bead jewelry and while I’ve been wanting to start working on these kinds of pieces for a long time, it didn’t fit the criteria and I missed the deadline for a jewelry piece.  BUT.  Blogging is a great thing because I just went to their site to provide the above links for you and I see that their deadline has been extended…there just might be hope for me.

So, why Gossip?  As I said in an earlier post, my inner workings have been taking over my pieces, starting with the Stitched beads.  I’ve always wanted to do pieces that speak to social issues but it hasn’t felt right yet.  Lately I’ve been wanting to express myself and use my art as a tool for healing.  I love to read stories or hear about troubled artists and writers and how they express their inner workings through their art…my counselor mind finds it morbidly interesting.  Like Edgar Allan Poe or Vincent Van Gogh.  Andy Warhol to an extent.  Possibly even Brittney Spears soon, eh?  While I don’t think of myself as disturbed (though some might wonder) I do have the same issues as everyone else.  Old hurts, new hurts…issues.  They’re all around us.  We all struggle with something.

This piece happened as it is becoming more and more apparent to me that words hurt.  Whether they’re said directly to someone or behind their back.  Whether they ever know it or not.  Whether they’re true or not.  Words in the form of gossip have no redeeming qualities.  None.  Zero.  Before you call me a hypocrite I will admit, I’ve been on both sides, as have most of us.  Being on the side of being talked about by others hurts.  It has helped me to see that I have hurt others too…whether it be directly to them or the fact that I participated in gossip and didn’t stop it.  The latter I feel even worse about.  I let waters be poisoned and that is what I am trying to work through with these pieces.  Believe me, I have a lot more to go…whether I show them or not.

In relation to the Metamorphosis entry idea, this unfinished piece represents what gossip can do to you.  Not how gossip hurts people, but how it can distort you when you’re a part of it and participate in tearing someone else down.  It makes you ugly.  It made me ugly, especially on the inside.  Yuck.  Hopefully some day I will be able to show you pieces of beauty after I am able to say that I handle gossip around me in a better way, and within myself.  Who knows…maybe then I’ll even be able to do florals.

Sharing blogs…or blogrolling…

Amber Pod BraceletThere is a thing called ‘blogrolling’ that is when you have a list of blog links that you read, right on your own blog.  I realize that I can be funny about sharing interesting blogs that I find, for many reasons and it’s really weird.  I go on kicks where I search for new and unique blogs and when I find what I think is interesting I put them into my Bloglines, which is a reader that consolidates all of your blogs.  Blogs must have a ‘feed’ in order to work with Bloglines and more and more people are using readers like this to optimize their blog reading experience.  So get a blogging software that uses feeds!

Anyway, I love to follow links from other people’s sites but I don’t like putting links on my own site. What is that all about?  I think it goes back to an old hoarding/protecting issue but we won’t go into my psyche right now.  So, I will try to be more forthcoming in my blog sharing…maybe even start a blogroll at some point?  One step at a time.

So, the first one I want to share is a blog that is an awesome art/craft business blog of a professional.  We see lots of amateurs out here, like me, building out businesses but still relatively new.  This one is from someone that has been around for a while and really seems to have it down but also is real about what it takes and her journey.  Luann Udell of Durable Goods was a pro back in the day when I was doing polymer and she continues.  I hope you will find inspiration and great information at her blog, just as I have been doing.

A favorite customer of mine…

First Dibs Bright Glass Focal Bangle BeadDo you remember this bead, or the ones like it?  There were two of these.  You know of my ongoing struggle with bright beads but people loved these!  Lightly etched and a big mish mosh of color.  Just because the colors don’t appeal to me, they sure do to others and yes, I need to do more.  Any suggestions of what you like?   Anyway, you also know that I don’t pride myself on being a jewelry designer either.  (But I’m working that one with encouragement from Melanie of Earthenwood Studio…I just love her stuff).

Well, I got a visit in Tucson from one of my favorite customers, Donna Fuchs (Penguins Nest).  You can see some of what she and her students have done with these beads at that link.  AND.  If you’re anywhere near Canton, Ohio, where she’s located and want to take a class on jewelry making with lots of silver, contact her.  (I hope that’s ok to say).  She was wearing some of her pieces in Tucson and my helper/mom wanted to buy them right off of her.  I have to tell you, if I were a jewelry-wearing person I’d want her stuff too.  Very cool, unique designs that use silver wire-wrapping with really funky beads.  Go see for yourself!

Black and Tan on eBay. A little bead talk today…

Well, I decided to get back on eBay. I’ve been meaning too for some time because it’s a good way to help people find my web site. So, we’ll see how it goes. Plus, I have more time now since I’m not pressured by show inventory and preparation. Here’s the most recent set and a little background below:

black and tan glass beads on eBay

It’s been a while since I’ve made a set. I got sucked into the thrill of making larger focal beads, which is funny because I never thought I would like that. Just another reminder to never say never. I should know better by now…every time I even think that, it’s only a matter of time before I’m involved in that very thing. So I make it a practice not to rule things out.

<>Anyway…the beads. I’ve had this pound or so of black Lauscha glass laying around for about 4 years. I think I was saving it for a special occasion because it’s more expensive than other black glass. In the meantime I’ve been struggling to get through 10 lbs of black Vetrofond glass that I stocked up on because it was less expensive. ARGH. I hate that glass…it devitrifies just enough that it frustrates me just looking at it. Is any devit not frustrating? Yes, I use the EDP devit to my advantage. Anyway, I must have gotten a bad batch but it was too late to return it by the time I got to it so I struggle through trying to find other uses for it. Almost done but more Lauscha black is on the way…it’s worth the extra cost.

<>Last week I wanted to make Black and Tan beads, which I’ve never done, but felt the urge. I knew the black glass would give me fits and would be a waste of time time and then I remembered. I had some Lauscha black somewhere. I found it. It reminded me why I love Lauscha glass so much. Out of my own character I will say that it is ‘dreamy’. Can you believe I said that? Dreamy. I mean, just look at them.

<>And the tan. Wow. Once again I am reminded that layers add depth and elegance. In the not so distant past when I would attempt beads of this type of design (dots and lines) I would use one base color with another color for the dots and lines. Blah. How flat that can be. But make those same dots and lines with three layers of stringer work and BANG!

Another thing. What is UP with dots and lines? Since when do I do that? It’s more along those lines of following where my creativity takes me.

Side note: I think it’s funny that I don’t really think of myself as creative but here I sit making a living making things. But I guess you don’t have to be creative to do that.

So my whatever-you-want-to-call-it took me to Black and Tan Dots and Lines. And I was diggin’ it. I want to do more. How long have I been making organic-like beads now? Well, all that work at the torch paid off. I went back to the more detailed work and the sweet spot of the flame found me. Yes, it found me. It just happened. I’ve longed for that. I’ve searched for it. I’ve cursed the fact that I couldn’t be there. Last week it found me. And then I ran out of propane. HA! But not for long.

Enjoy! What colors would YOU like to see? Leave me a comment…I’m on a roll.

Dreaming of boys…

That sounds good, doesn’t it? On the lighter side today I’m just going to rattle a little today. Those of you new reading my blog might have come in recently and seen all of the business-like posts…Tucson reports, selling analysis, etc. I like to mix it up and have a little entertainment and thought-provoking content mixed in at times too. Today I talk about bit about a dream I had last week…not necessarily the dream but what has been kicking around in my head. On to it…

Recently I had a dream about a boy I knew in high school and it made me wonder what has happened to some of the people I graduated with.  I know we all do that.  The thing is, I don’t have contact with anyone from high school.  I went to a small private high school in a different state and didn’t really have the kind of hang-out friendships that I did with other friends that lived nearby.  In that situation you never even really hear through the grapevine what so-and-so is up to.  So, sometimes I wonder.

This particular boy was not very nice to me, but I don’t think he was to anyone.  In high school though, that could be a crush…who knows?  The reason I bring this up is because it’s funny to me that over 20 years later I still remember him as that boy.  I know I’ve changed a lot and I’m sure he has too.  I can’t imagine him as a 40 year old adult being so mean.  And I wonder how people who don’t know me today remember me.  Yikes.  I guess if any of them ever found my blog they would have a better feel for me that I do them.  I just think memories are interesting.  We all see/remember things differently.  Maybe he wasn’t mean at all.

Selling on eBay vs. shows…Part I

Cube Pillar Glass BeadsI was recently asked to blog a little about my experiences and findings regarding selling on eBay and selling at shows, since I’ve done both.  Thank you…I love suggestions!  While I’m not a pro at either, I have been somewhat successful doing both.  My overally impression is that you can do well at either, or any venue for that matter, if you just work it and work it and work it.  While some sales venues just stink, many can depend on the effort you’re willing to put into it too.

Ok, on to specific areas…

What sells.
I found that most anything on eBay will sell, if you’re at least a mediocre beadmaker…and you’re willing to start your items low.  I see eBay as the place where people look for bargains, or that diamond-in-the-rough beadmaker that no one has discovered yet and their prices are still really reasonable.  I’m leaving out here the beadmakers that get big dollars for their beads because given the numbers of sellers at any give time there are only a handful of the big price fetchers.  But like I said, if you’re willing to work it, I believe you can gradually get better prices.  By working it I don’t mean just on auction, I mean posting on forums, advertising, promoting yourself, getting your name out there, etc.  This is going to sound strange but what sells for me best on eBay is all of the stuff that I don’t like to make.  The stuff I love to make sells least.  I think many beadmakers find that to be true and it baffles me.

What sells at shows?  In my experience, the stuff that I’ve put my heart into.  Whereas on eBay anything glitzy seems to sell (maybe that’s what come across most in photos) at shows I find that my more well thought-out, from-the-heart pieces really get recognized.  Something that is distinctly me and not like everything else around me.  My Monet beads sold great when I debuted them and then my Stitched beads were a hit at this last show and the one before it.  Whereas brightly colored beads tend to sell on eBay too, I had some really reasonably priced small, brightly colored lentil beads at two of my most recent shows and I don’t think I sold one.

Pricing.
I won’t even begin to try and understand eBay pricing and what people get for their auctions.  Some go way low and some go way high.  Name recognition definitely has something to do with it but not how well known you are but how well known you are and how much your beads are known to sell for seem to be part of the equation.  Of course, nice beads are part of that equation too.  I’ve heard it said that you should make your minimum bid only as low as you’re willing to let go of your beads for without feeling burned because if you start at $.99, there is a chance that they will sell for $2.49…and that is an awful feeling.  Again, if you’re willing to work it as your business venue, you can build up your ending auction prices over time. 

At shows I can only speak again, from my own experience.  While I feel that some of my designs could command higher prices (and I’ve been told that by other beadmakers as well as customers) I believe in earning what I deserve for the time I put into the work .  As with any business, I will allow supply and demand to determine my pricing as time goes on…that is, when the day comes that I can’t keep up and my lead times get too long, I will raise my labor costs and thus, my bead prices.  I like to make it affordable for jewelry designers and shop owners to be able to purchase and resell at a good markup for them.  I also work in wholesale pricing at certain amounts.  If you have a good product (uniqueness really helps in this) and price this way, serious buyers recognize it and jump all over it…and they come back for more.

Customer Expectations.
eBay can be very impersonal and I don’t really know what customer expectations are.  I’ve had some strange interactions regarding auctions and also web site sales, all via email.  I have heard many stories and have encountered a couple myself where someone emails or posts on a forum of their dissatisfaction with a set of beads and it’s written in a really personal way…rather than just saying, ‘these are different than the color I thought they were’ which is fine and I understand…monitors are different, but behind a keyboard they say things like ‘I’m really disappointed in your work…you usually are much better than this’ which they would never say in person…that is, at a show.  So, I don’t really know what customer expectations are. 

While on eBay you can only tell what some people like based on what they buy or maybe a nice email here and there, you can see what people like at shows right up close, whether they buy or not.  You can see what people struggle with if they have to choose between pieces.  You can hear their conversations of why they don’t buy something or what they’d want more of.  They will actually talk to you and you can talk to them about what else you can offer in the way of shape, color, size, etc.

Ok, that covers the specifics I was asked about.  If anyone wants it drilled down further or has any other questions, please let me know.  I’ll continue on in the series as the days go on and let you know what I like and dislike about each, what costs are included and maybe even some surprising things I’ve found that I never expected.