Thursday, February 25, 2010

I have, I have, I have...

So I have this whole pile of jewelry to make, which of course I hope to show some of later, but first--we had an unprecedented SNOW DAY Here in Texas.   Sooo cool, the kids had so much fun so I thought I would post that a little--because what's the point if you can't enjoy your kiddos?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fluorite and Pearl Earrings (Lisa) ON SALE

originally uploaded by mshartel.
This is the Lisa. An Old friend of the family recently made a purchase at my etsy store ( and since I like to throw a little gift in the jewels I send, as an appreciation piece, I asked Lisa what she liked in the way of colors.

Lisa likes purple. So, I went with Purple Flourite (for organization) and Purple Pearls for elegance and tranquility. I put it all on gold filled chain and earwires for a hint of richness, and sent it off.

I enjoyed the piece so much when it was finished, I named the design in honor of her, and thus the "Lisa" was born.

Friday, February 19, 2010

So, record time...

This has never, ever happened to me. I made a sale in less than 4 hours yesterday. From completion to listing, the item was sold out within just a few hours--amazing. I have made a few sales like that before, when I would make something in front of a person--but never online.

I usually let my hubby take pictures of the jewels I make--they seem to draw people in because the fun he has taking them just add intrigue to the jewelry. Lately he has been making story lines with his photo's.

This story line for this particular piece was adorable--probably leading to its quick sale. He set my daughter up outside in out back yard, finding a piece of jewelry, taking it from a tree, and wearing it. It's cute because the piece itself had this natural appeal--which is what I was going for in designing it.

The necklace itself was called "The Isolde" named as a literary reference, my first in a series of literary heroine inspired pieces.

I made it with rich greens and copper to allude to the beauty of ireland and the simplicity of love we all strive for in a way.


You can see the rest of the story on my facebook fan site:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Found this..

originally uploaded by batzy.
This is super funny, and though I do feel this sometimes with the economy, I don't know if it is my real job, or just something to keep myself entertained. Don't get me wrong I have been making jewelry since I was in college, and selling it well when I lived on Fort Lewis. There were a lot of loyal customers who would buy from my friends Shop--whom I sold my jewelry to there. Actually her shop is on Etsy now as well. She is Paulasantiques2, ( if you see any jade or pearls, chances are I made them. She has wonderful antiques and still sells at the PX on Fort Lewis.

Also, if you are at Fort Lewis you should see her store, she has these great ruby necklaces I had hand knotted. When I say ruby necklace, I mean the entire necklace is made of Ruby. Imagine a necklace with a total of about 100 carats of hand knotted ruby roundelles, that's what I made. Tedious, but so stunning when finished.

Monday, February 15, 2010

So the Pictures...

So we're selling online now. Super fun and a lot, I mean a lot of work.  Here's a little something I've learned though--but before we get straight to the point, I have to tell a story.

My husband likes to take pictures--I found this out when my father gave him a fabulous camera after Timmy, our first born arrived.  He took pictures of everything, anything he could find or could.  You should know this was in 1999 that TJ was born, so all this was done one film.  I am actually pretty sure we still have undeveloped rolls laying around. Because shooting on film is pricey stuff.

When we moved back to the states in 2000, something happened to his beloved camera.  We kept trying to fix it but it just was kaputt from the move.  He was so upset.

So this year I got him a fancy camera.  A nice digital camera to start playing with.  After he stopped worrying about how much money I had spent he was thrilled.  I was as well, because, after all I secretly knew I would be taking pictures of my jewels I was finally going to sell online.

Then, reality set in.  See I had some photography training in the military, even with some Nikon digital cameras (they same brand I had bought him.  But here's the thing: I may have training, and some what of an eye, but photography is not my love.
That's a picture I took.  It's nice enough, it has some personality.  But there is not a lot of love in the picture, just the piece.

My husband took a picture or two for me those first few days--and lesson learned.  It does not necessarily help to have training, you have to have live and fun in the photography of your pieces.   I love my pieces, I take my time and work really hard on each one.  They are meticulously crafted, and a personal reflection of what I love, the stones.

But even with all that, I can not make something interesting like my husband can. So from now on, he will be taking pictures of my jewels--its just the way to go.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

After the first...

I sold my first piece shortly after I started making jewelry. It was such a rush, such a high I couldn't contain myself. I actually called my husband in the Middle East and told him immediately. Then I started getting orders.

The trouble when you first start is understanding how to get findings and parts before you lose all your profits in supply cost. I had to learn this the hard way, i.e., do not buy one single finding for one single piece, unless you absolutely have to. But try not to.

There are great retail stores out there though, that will help new designers in any way they can. Because to them, a designer means business in more ways than one.

You are not going to get much of that one on one at the shows, but you are not going there for training per se. Which you could do however,  as many shows have seminars or classes also available. But, we go to shows for current beads, findings, supplies, connections and of course shiny stuff.

Shiny stuff is super important no matter how you look at it.

However when at the show, its so important to do this. Do not only look at pieces YOU like. That's great and all and we all have our creativity to go to, but look at trends you see at shops, to see what will sell. I can not tell you how many pieces I have bought to make, just knowing they would sell even though personally, I hated it.

You have to determine a few cash-cows to cover the artistry of the rest of your pieces. Art pieces are going to make your name, but selling pieces keeps you in that business.

Personally I know right now that Shell Pearls sell big time, big time. Especially multi-colored ones. You can get good shell pearls at a retail store for about 30-40 bucks a strand or 10 bucks at a show. But why make them? They are big, simple and sometimes gaudy? shell pearl pricing: retail

Because of the price you can get for a well made shell pearl necklace.  And the fact that most major celebrities have worm them in photogenic places.

I make them all the time, but personally would never wear them, or even make a set for me.  However, I have been commissioned at jewelry shows to make them for friends and family I have brought along.  In cases like that its important to know a good commission price.  I always do the same price when stringing or knotting beads.  Mine is pretty cheap, but you can go with what you are comfortable with.

Going to shows and bringing those who like your jewelry already is a great way to keep sales up. Plus, its girls time. Who wouldn't want more of that?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The people you meet at shows.

Don't get me wrong, I love my retail shopping at jewelry supply stores just as much as the next person. It's great, there is a certain intimacy when working with the sellers in fabulous stores. Especially when there is a wonderful store like Fusion Beads in Seattle. They have a great little play area in their store and they let the kids get interested in the beads and beading like no other store I have found.

But when I walked into the Tacoma Dome for the show the first time, it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I must have only spent a couple hundred bucks there that first time, mostly on inappropriate buys--half of which I never used.

See, there are reasons to be trained by someone other than yourself. Someone to teach you that purchasing good findings like sterling silver and gold filled is an important--and often expensive lesson to learn. (I have so much gun metal and base metal still in my stash I will probably not ever use).

But when you first walk into the shows, you are overwhelmed, we all are--Everything is just so shiny, and here regular people can buy the gems at better prices than retail mark ups in regular hard or online stores.

And as a small purchaser, you can network with certain dealers/wholesalers. There is one that was always up in Seattle and Tacoma (when I lived there): You and Me Findings. They had pretty reasonable prices, a little over the top, but they all knew their business, and knew the findings. They also knew one key feature of me as a buyer: I would keep coming back because they treated my kids' interest in the product they sold as the greatest interaction on earth. That to me was better than any product they were selling. I would pay extra for that service if I had to. But with You and Me, I really didn't have to.

I have not been to a jewelry show in Tacoma or Seattle since we moved down here with the military. (Near Austin, Texas). However, at the Tucson Show, I found You and Me Findings. They remembered me, and my kids, and later my mother when she was shopping. Because I had done so much business with them in the past they gave me a blanket 10% discount on everything and a few things for up to 25% off.

But when my mother was shopping there the next day, they gave her the same discount.

Companies who do the show circuit, especially those like You and Me Findings, are the reason to keep going to shows. The whole world of wonderful stones, beads and findings is opened up to you--even at a small scale like the Tacoma Dome.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Starting the journey toward Jewelry Obsession.

Here's a little secret about me: I often do not wear jewelry. I own a lot, of which about 98% was made by me, and I have this wonderful custom jewelry box my husband commissioned in Korea when he was stationed there. But I often do not wear it.

So how does someone who does not wear jewelry become obsessed with making it--even so far as getting a license (we will get into the merits of getting a business license later.) and going to wholesale and retail shows? Two words: My mother.

Nope, she is not a big designer, she does not own her own jewelry retail show, she rarely even makes jewelry with the gems she buys at shows and retail locations. (one of our personal favorites is Fusion Beads in Seattle--best customer service ever, I sure hope I don't get in trouble for putting that there, I should have asked, lol.) But here is the story-which trust me is funny.

Mom lived about 10 minutes from me in Washington State. One weekend I found out I was super sick with some horrible form of Bronchitis. Meanwhile my husband was deployed to the middle east and I had three small children. So I went to my mother's house, so that someone could watch the kids. I gave her my atm card to order delivery each night I was there because I could only get up and take the kids to school and go get them in the evenings.

As the sickness wore on, I got a little loopy and delirious. Well she lived around the corner from Shipwreck Beads ( So she did what any mother/grandmother would do: She convinced me I needed to buy something to entertain the kids as I lay in her bed--she was gracious enough to give me her bed while she slept on the couch.

So, we went. And she had a wonderful time spending my husband's money--and I did not stop her, I wanted to make it as easy as possible on her with the three kids in a one bedroom apartment. I must have shelled out over 300 bucks that weekend alone. then I sat in her bed and played. It just felt right, holding the stones and findings.

When I was well, I wore some of my jewelry, and a friend stopped me and sent me to the Post Exchange at Fort Lewis to show the jewelry retailer there my stuff. Suddenly I had a buyer and commission work--and no training at all. I started having enough money in my account each week to a) buy more supplies and b) get gas for my car. And the jewelry? It was all mine. I worked on commission yes, but I had a knack for what people wanted and would wear--and how to create something when only seen, either on a person or in a magazine. I don't know where it came from, just that a person who never wears jewelry can suddenly make high-end stuff people want.

Then I found the shows. But that's another story.

Why shows?

Why do we go to gem and jewelry shows?

It's not just to see all the shiny goodness. Trust me.

I go to get ideas, which seems perfect enough, right? Also the prices are often better than buying at your local retail jewelry store.

But that's not why I go to shows--and certainly not why I just spent 15 hours each way with three kids in the car going to Jewelry Mecca in Tucson, Arizona. Over the next few days I will be getting into why I do what I do, I hope you will join me for the ride.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The issue with Jewelry Dealers

It's a good time here in Tucson for the first time for the shows. However there is this huge problem the 'gate keepers' have as I go from show to show. Makes me a little pissy.

When I go up to a show, just because I have three kids with me, frankly you as a dealer have no clue who I am or whether I have money. None. By making the determination that I am not worthy of your time when I am looking around with three antsy kids, you have now made me decide not to buy from you.

It's a sad state of events. You really are not pulling it all out, by not working with me the way I as YOUR CUSTOMER want to be treated.

Damn fools. Lost a lot of money from me this weekend I will go spend online at their competitors shops.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Longest Drive. EVER. But, yeah not really.

Yeah, I admit, it's totally been worse--it really has. But seriously, why do I do this driving forever thing anyhow, why don't I just break down and get a plane ticket?

Because each and every one of these gem and jewelry shows I go to, no matter the state, I bring three kids with me. Yes that's right three--ages 7, 9 and 10. And seriously, the thought of a plane trip with each of them, scary thought.

But why the show? Why not a regular bead store or even random chain craft store.

Simple. It's about quality. It's about price, and it's about feel. The shows offer not only bulk discounted prices for gold and silver. But they let you touch, feel and sense wach and every stone or part you may want to buy and put in your personal jewelry.

That sensation is incomperable.

And, I like to get the pieces together for cheaper. And sell them for better prices. So that even those with the least amount of money can have high quality, low cost fine jewelry.

So I drive, I drive with three crazy kids across the Texas desert, then the NM dessert, and soon, in about 15 minutes, the bottom half of the Arizona desert.

So I can hit the largets gem and jewelry show in the country, at least once. Now for the coffee that is going to take me the rest of the way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Yeah, so i am writing this even as I am late to pick up my kids, which will in turn make me late to take one to counseling. This ought to be super fun.

I am so excited to get to the bead show--but want to make more jewelry in the meantime. Instead, I am watching "OutFoxed" for my media class, and its making me mad. Honestly, I don't get Fox news, they never wear good jewelry on there. CNN on the other hand is full of surprising ideas to make, as was the local news in Washington State.

I find shows on the CW also worthwhile, as well as Grey's Anatomy, Bones and a few others. Yes I watch TV to see what looks fun to make, I get ideas off the news, and other media in order to better design jewelry.

Odd, I know.

But, it works for me, I guess I can just look at something and see how it would be made. Which is why my wedding ring irritates me so much, like seriously, who would make a dolphin's eye out of a ruby instead of an emerald or even sapphire?

But it's okay hubby, I still love you, and your design.

Now to get the kids and pine over going to the show for a while.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting Excited

Well we leave in a few days for the Jewelry Show. I can hardly wait. Although I am having trouble keeping my eyes on the prize and not buying new stones and findings retail that I would be able to get there faster, cheaper and with more umph.

I am staring at my vast quantities of beads, buttons and bobbles wanting to make some new designs, but its just not coming to me. I think its the homework and housework I should be doing blocking my path to designs.

I hear the summer sun color of Turquoise is going to be big this spring.

And, I am signing up for the Austin Fashion Week when I get back. It's August 14-21 in Austin, Texas. I am very much looking forward to that and the stress that goes along with it.

All in All next weekend should be fabulous, I am looking forward to seeing Mom and Sarah and surrounding myself in all that glitters.