Thursday, December 12, 2013

Playing with Fire

No seriously -- it's been a rough holiday season in my etsy shop.  I have no clue what is going on with views and sales -- mainly I am concerned with views.

It's just such a strange phenomena -- to work incredibly hard throughout a few years to really build it from scratch -- then to have it explode into something wonderful.  Something where you can almost see the light of "why yes, I can make this work."  Then -- something changes.  Something you really can't figure out what -- like you have worked on SEO for the shop, worked on photography, perfected your product and descriptions, and still you are often dead in the water.

It's a time to just maybe thing about having other venues.  I have played with the idea of my own shop / storefront website, but to be honest I am not very good at coding.  (Don't worry, I still try, lol).  So, instead, I keep plugging away on Etsy -- feeling like a "new" or "undiscovered" shop this holiday season.

So -- I played around with Artfire -- another handmade venue -- which has a nifty Etsy import thing to make integration pretty easy.   However, what Artfire doesn't have for me is an app that goes "cha-ching" whenever someone purchases an item.  Also, not as easy to integrate into my Facebook platform -- also I am not familiar with how guilds work as opposed to teams, and since its the holidays, I really can't spend time I should be creating / listing / mailing on reading up on how to rebuild a shop again.

But -- I did figure out how to do this little thingy :)

Check out directly from here. Fast. Secure. Simple.


maggiesjewelry's ArtFire Shop

Monday, December 2, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy -- Weekend.

It was a busy weekend around here -- in and outside the shop.  Several products sold out over the holiday weekend -- which is to be expected when its a small scale handmade shop here. 

Which also caused me to do a little soul searching.  I have been watching how things are going and have been planning a few changes for the shop come 2014:  maybe my own website if I gain the energy to do my own coding in addition to all the other aspects of the shop, maybe a move from Etsy to another smaller, more handmade friendly venue.  There has been a lot of chatter on Etsy of late because of the definition change of "handmade" within Etsy. 

For some sellers its kind of a scary proposition -- having built up a community on Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, etc., of people who love your work -- and then it feels like with all the SEO work one puts into their shop that they are still put back in the back of the line for views.  It's just a hard proposition.

Oh yeah -- did you know that my shop venue, Etsy, changed the rules on what can be labeled "handmade"?  There is all kinds of chatter going on across the interwebs about it -- and it was a polarizing decision made by Etsy.  Personally, I like the community -- but I feel like I am working too hard to re-list items to be seen even when I have pitch perfect SEO after a few years of tweeking.  I even change my SEO according to the yearling changes that happen just before the holidays, sending us all into a tizzy as our "views" and "favorites" crash and burn, like clockwork, each year.

So, as a small handmade shop -- I've been soul-searching, between the cooking of the holiday meal and getting items set to ship this morning, and deciding how I am going to go about 2014, as the changes on Etsy become more pronounced.  (Jan 1 is the day some changes go into effect -- which won't effect my shop as I am in compliance with it all, but it may shove me down the listings because I am a small, one woman shop, and can not compete with manufacturers. ).

Until I make these decisions, however, I will be plugging along making the most beautiful stuff I can muster. Ahh, love the garnets for the holidays. 

Also, as a shameless plug at the end of this posting, check out the rubies, sapphires and emeralds I have in the shop for this holiday season.  You know that's right :)


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks


I love this day more than any other day in the year.  It means so much to me that I place it's importance above my anniversary, my birthday -- literally any day.

To me it's not just about all day cooking -- or the perfect smells everywhere throughout the house.  It's about the actual act of giving thanks.

Thanks for the simplest things can really be the most profound at this time of year -- for me, it's been a rough year and we certainly are giving thanks for the tiny things.  I, for example, am so thankful for my absolutely perfect children.  No seriously, I was telling my oldest just again today that if he were not my kid, we would still be friends.

And yes, I know the necessity of not being my kids' friend for the rest of the year -- but today is mine and today they are the three people I would most like to spend time with.

This year, thanksgiving is triply special for us -- because it coincides with Hanukkah.  No, we're not actually Jewish -- but we love food, so this holiday brought out the possibility of dozens of new recipes we will try many of tomorrow.  The other reason is that Thanksgiving is crazy late this year -- making the four day miraculously match-up to my birthday.  

I will find a way to wrap it all together, I promise.

Until then, best of thanks to all of you fabulous member of this tiny community -- I am thankful for each and every one of you.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Playing for Keeps...

Little known fact -- my shop was actually non-productive yesterday.  Not because customers didn't come browse, and not because I "couldn't" make anything new for the shop.  Not because of anything "normal" that would cause a shop to be actually offline -- in fact the shop itself was online, I was just flapping in the wind struggling.

So, here's the thing -- my kids are tech-savvy little ones, often addicted to the plethora of electronics available today.   On weekends, I often scramble around the house and the shop, cleaning, organizing, cooking, and this last weekend was no different.  However, my youngest -- the super bright special needs one -- was playing with my laptop when he could, and when he couldn't he was playing with the desktop.

So, I log on on Monday and realize, quite quickly in fact, that in this adventure I call my etsy shop -- I am not only the owner, designer, marketing department, photographer, production department, etc., etc., etc.,  but now I am the IT department also, because my son has a thing for downloading things that should not be downloaded.


So, I was lucky in that the shop was rather slow yesterday, I just had to mail a few items from the weekend and finish designing one custom order.  My day was spent cleaning up the hard drives on two machines -- which are now working fabulously -- with two different versions of windows, while planning dinner, and the season ahead.

But -- that was not without moments of  "I will never let this kid play with the computers again,"  and "where did my ruler go to measure this item," to finally "wow, I actually do have to use algebra in calculating how much wire to cut for custom sized hoops, who knew?"

By the way to figure out how much wire to cut for hoops, you either use Pi times the number of inches you want the for circumference, or ask my oldest to calculate it -- which is often what I do.  I really thought getting a degree in Communications would insulate me from Pi -- but not so much.  The oldest, or my human calculator as I call him (did I tell you he took the PSAT's WITHOUT a calculator?) is quite hysterical when I have to ask him for mathematics help in the shop.

But all in all -- with the downtime provided recently, I have been playing with dainty again -- and later today I will put up some mixed metal earrings that are just adorable, so watch out for those.   Until then -- here are a few cute things I am playing with while I get ready for the show next weekend.

I just love this little dainty style.  And in Emerald Green?  Who could hope for a better stocking stuffer?  At 28 bucks a pair for handmade sterling silver and gemstone earrings -- these are a bargain.  Oh -- and free domestic shipping to boot.

Okay, so these technically are not new -- but the photos are :)  Just look at how much fun I had playing with the depth of field on these gorgeous Pink Garnet Hoops.  Oooh, sparkly.

These are kind of a new design -- really they are a total mix.  Playing off of the dainty trio earrings, and the half moon / leaf ear wire, I wrapped a pink garnet that has a caramel undertone onto a sterling silver handmade "leaf" ear wire - then dangled and dangled some more.  These almost didn't make it to the shop thanks to my teenage daughter.

Now -- back to reality and working out a few more things in the shop, kitchen and on the laptop :)


Monday, October 21, 2013

Wondering if you were right...

I often do not open up a lot about my family on here -- I stay pretty focused on the shop.  But, a little event the other day happened that is just too cute and too heartwarming not to share.

I picked my daughter (she often takes her leave shopping freely in the shop by the way -- which is a way I determine what designs will sell pretty well as she has fabulous taste.) up from school last week.   She often stays after because she has a deep need to do exceptionally well in school.  I can't blame her for that.

She told me a story about the earthquake drill they held at her school. But, before I get into that, a little back-story:  this is the first year in a long time that my youngest (special needs) has been in the same school as his older sister.  He is often in special classes for his behavior which is related to some fears he has that cause extreme anxiety in the poor little man.  But, this year those two are together.  And while my daughter is two years ahead of my son, they happen to share the same lunch period in middle school.

So, I am driving my daughter home from after school tutoring and she tells me about my son getting in trouble during the earthquake drill for wandering off.  Yes, I know it is wrong for him to wander off, but I ask her, since she also mentions that he got in trouble earlier in the year during a fire drill: "What did he do during the first drill?"

Because really, if you think that my youngest pretty much reacts to situations like he did before -- it will make sense to find out what was happening the first time he "wandered off."

Well, according to my daughter, my son went during the fire drill to find her -- and make sure she was safe.  Apparently in that moment he couldn't distinguish between whether the drill was real or not -- so he went to find her.

This is a big clue, I explained to my daughter -- when he got in trouble during the earthquake drill, he was probably going to find her.

This made her feel good, I know because she smiled and even though those two bicker probably more than normal siblings do -- in a moment of perceived emergency, my youngest went to find my middle child and stick together.

Flash forward to a conversation I was having with my dear friend who wondered if her kids would do that in an emergency.  And I came to the realization that the reason my kids were doing this in these moments is because it is learned behavior.   See, these kids of mine have been through some pretty harrowing events in their young lives.

When the oldest were very young, there was an earthquake up here -- and from that moment, they saw (though they probably don't remember as they were very young) how I react in an emergency:  There is nothing, absolutely nothing that will keep me from bringing my kids together with me in an emergency.

Then in 2009, my kids and I lived on Fort Hood, less than a mile from the shooting location.  My husband was away training some Army personnel and we were alone on base getting horrible information in the few hours after the shooting.  (That communication was horrifying -- I actually did a project on it in my communications class about how badly it was handled).  My youngest at the time almost didn't make it in the gate to get home that evening because of the timing of the shooting and the timing of shutting down post.  As it was, he was a good hour late.

And I remember my oldest asking me what I would have done if my youngest hadn't made it through the gate that afternoon.  My response was short, stoic and absolutely truthful:  I would have found a way to get to him even if I ended up in prison getting through the gate to him.

I think it's moments like those -- moments of no matter what kind of crisis, either drill for the future or real crisis, that made my youngest react the way he did.  He would do whatever it took to get to his sister and make sure everything was okay and stick with her until I got to them if it were something real.  I know that now -- and I know each of them would do it. 

They know there would be no holding me back to get everyone together to safety -- and they know when there is something bad happening at one of their schools that I am pinching myself waiting to hear if I need to be there.  I know to keep away from the schools during those lock-downs-- but I also know all three kids know that I am not far, and if they are in real danger, there is NOTHING on this earth that will keep me from bringing them together.

And so, it's not that odd to me that the youngest would work really hard to get together with his brother and sister.  Even if he is getting in trouble by "wandering off."  True, I had the conversation with him about being where he is supposed to be in these situations -- but I know he will have eyes on his sister from now on, even if he doesn't go find her.

It's an interesting moment to realize that of all the things they could have learned and had ingrained through the years that this is one that actually translated to firm action.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gemstones: Meanings or Chemical Properties?

I am supposed to be writing my Thesis.  I really do intend to write a lot today--but I am amazed each day as we get closer to the holidays how many people are poking around in the shop.  I am honestly humbled by this, as it is always a shock that people across the globe seem to not only enjoy the fun and flirty, but also the conservative, wear-forever, pieces I design.

I spend a little too much time on the metaphysical meanings of the gemstones -- I really got into this from my mother who decided she loved labradorite, not only for its wonderful "flash", but also for the "meaning of the stone."  I remember when we first started going to gem shows she would always gaze at labradorite and chose some because it was "supposed to show me my life's path."

I found humor in that because when we started this, she was in her late 50's and I was in my late 20's.  I remember thinking, "well if you haven't found it by now, I don't know if you will."  She still adores Labradorite, but she has expanded to other stones--she had a thing for Amethyst this year and I am certain it is because of that poem: "Warning."  The first line is: "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple." (Entire Poem). Although, I don't exactly consider her old.  In my mind she will forever be mid-40's, as I remember her from my youth.  True, she ages exceedingly well -- but still, even as I get older, she seems to stay the same age to me.

Amethyst by the way is a healing stone, associated with the planet Saturn and the 7th Chakra. It is said to guard against unpleasant feelings of self, and to guard against witchcraft.  Healers wear it often during healing in order to focus energy, and it is said to help with opening your psychic self.   I am honestly not sure what that all means -- but it sure does seem nice.

Lately though, I have been focusing on smaller pieces -- so that there is that little level of the gemstone, but with a dainty and flirty appearance.  My new favorites are the same design, basically, but rich with meaning.

These ultra-dainty Red Ruby Dangle Earrings are just adorable. 
Ruby is a wonderful gemstone -- a precious stone, but bright red so a symbol of love.  It's perfect for July birthdays as it's July's birthstone, but also adds something beautiful for the holidays.  Considered the most powerful stone in the universe (how did "they" decide that? I mean, do we know all the stones?), Ruby wards off bad dreams, is a symbol of friendship and love and is also a symbol of royalty and vitality.  Supposedly it also helps a person be the best person they can be. 

These dainty sapphires are the same design, but finished in sterling silver to add fun contrast.
Sapphire is an interesting stone also -- and actually the same stone as ruby but with other impurities that change the color.  Sapphires are said to be a stone of fidelity and destiny.  Also, they can help with clarity and financial rewards.  (I should take these off the site and wear them myself, lol.)  I love the color though -- as rubies are difficult for me to pull off with my red hair and coloring.  For some reason it just doesn't work -- but my daughter looks fabulous in rubies, lucky.

These Pearl and Diamond Earrings are a take on the same design -- but with Victorian Christmas Colored Pearls and dainty Raw Diamond accents.  I am surprised my daughter did not steal these yet.
Pearls and Diamonds -- ahhh.  Pearl is my daughter's birthstone and there is some great ancient lore behind the pearl.  It is said to occur when a drop of rain fell from heaven and became the heart of the oyster.  It's also called the teardrops of the moon.  Diamond on the other hand, does not have it's own healing energy, it supplements the energies of other stones.  And in all reality I added them to this design to make the earrings shine a little more.

For me, I like to have the gemstone meanings -- and I like to research what makes a stone a stone.  I sometimes get into the nitty-gritty of what makes that stone a stone.  Take Amethyst, Citrine and Crystal Quartz:  technically all the same stone, they even form together, it's just a mater of the impurities that bring out the color.  To me, that's fascinating.

I think however, no matter how you look at a stone, a something to match an outfit, as something to mean something that you wear, or as a healing stone -- they all comes down to pretty.  And there is deep beauty in how stones are formed, creating the rich variety of color out there in the world.  And frankly, playing with the stones calms my often weary heart and mind -- as imagine wearing them makes customers feel like a million bucks. 

We've been adorning ourselves for centuries with stones, but as a teacher in writing I once had always said -- it's not the pearls that make the necklace, it's the string that holds it all together. I really like that thought -- but sometimes the stringing is harder than choosing the stones.  Just sayin'.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it autumn yet?

My son asked me what season it was right now.  I told him it's technically summer, but you could really call it early autumn.

I really love autumn -- apples are in season right now, so there is a plethora of apple recipes people are pinning to pinterest.  Pears are also coming in, so I can play with that as well.

Yes, I love all that summer has to offer in the Pacific Northwest -- but I grew up in New England, so autumn will always be near and dear to my heart.   Once my dear friend gets over her horrid late summer cold, I imagine I will start to see autumn leaves from Vermont cover my newsfeed. I can't wait.

But, the problem with transitional times like this is that there are so many things to do outside the shop -- make sure the kids are getting into the routine, make sure lunches are healthy and hearty, make sure the not quite summer and not quite fall clothes are cleaned and often -- and make sure that while the body and mind naturally wants to gravitate toward autumn foods when the crisp morning hits, often by lunchtime it is far to warm to think about baking / cooking / doing anything other than take out.

So this transitional period is often a little slow in my shop -- I am honestly not making very much as I get the kids engaged in school, and get everyone used to the fact we are not in summer anymore.

There are some new items in the shop -- they are pretty classically designed, a wear forever kind of thing.  And, I am fighting with the ever-changing rules of facebook, as in: what on earth do I have to do to get my posts seen.

I am also thinking of adding a few other areas of this blog -- like things I find on Pinterest to do (remember I am a klutz who can sprain an ankle sleeping at night -- so my pintrocities are pretty hysterical).  But the thing really is -- I am not all about the jewelry, seriously, I don't actually wear jewelry very often.   There's just a lot more -- and while I am shy, almost painfully so, maybe I should just do it, you know?

I am also starting to make tutorials for some of my designs, which is often fun.

Looking forward to a productive autumn...



P.S.  As a bit of a plug for the shop -- don't miss out on my Sale going on now, my 15 year wedding anniversary is coming up, so it's certainly a reason to celebrate. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Adventures in Jewelry: Double Knotting

I posted this a while back, and it's still a pretty good tutorial.

Now, once the kids are back in school I hope to do some more as we head into the holidays.  But for now -- here is how to do a double pearl knot -- sturdy, and perfectly uniform knots for pearls, gemstones, or really any kind of bead. 

Adventures in Jewelry: Double Knotting: Pearl Knotting is tedious sometimes--we do it for the elegant look as well as security and strength--and sometimes it extends out 16 inch st...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Two Weeks... Just Two Weeks

Am I the only one going just a little crazy getting ready for back to school?  Sometimes it feels like that.

From the sports physicals to shots, to finding the best back to school supply deals, to figuring out when the heck my high-schooler gets on the bus, I am like WHOA!  Stop the world, I want off!

But seriously, it's pretty hairy.  And the bummer is, normally at this time of year there is a late August jewelry show up here in Tacoma or Seattle -- sometimes both.  But this year, it's neither, so I can't even spend a day forgetting about it all.  Of course I would use the excuse with the family:  But, I need to do this for the shop.  Seriously, they buy it every-single-time.

But this year I must wait until November.  So I catch myself often looking longingly at bead shops on Etsy.  Wow -- beautiful small quantities on there.  It's like Christmas whenever I find myself looking. I am just in awe of the perfectly faceted gemstones, and the wire.  There is this one shop in New Orleans that makes fabulous wire -- my mother got me some Rose Gold wire from there, so I have been having a little fun.

You did hear Rose Gold is super big this year? Like amazingly big.  Like, how do I get noticed for having it in my shop big.

These are Emerald Green Onyx (Color of the Year) finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.

Stunning Mozambique Garnet with a pinkish hue finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.  My mother adores these.

So you know those "Alina Jolie" Earrings?  The Emerald ones no one can get enough of? These are fashioned after those -- The are  perfect Emerald Quartz finished in 14k Rose Gold Filled.  Oh Wow -- two birds, one stone.

And don't forget there are only a few days left of the wonderful Birthstone "Peridot" -- it's a lovely green, and there are many items in the shop.

Up next month is the amazingly versatile Sapphire.  Ohh La La.

But for now -- it's time to start pulling my hair out again on the couponing blogs to find the best back to school deals.  You know that's right.  I've heard it both ways.

Yeah, I love Psych.  By the Way -- anyone watching "The White Queen?"  Lovely Jewelry ideas.  It's on Starz -- but the books are better.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Change in Course

Last Spring, I had a few very choice experiences that dominated my personal life. They are generally pretty private -- but I decided to drop my Thesis class and write it this Autumn quarter instead.

In case you don't know, I have to write my thesis for my Master's Degree in Communication and Leadership from Gonzaga University.  Shortly after dropping said course (over half way finished with my thesis I may add) I had come to the conclusion that I just wasn't that into it anymore.

I know, I know -- I decided at my Thesis (the final aspect of finishing the degree fully) that I "just wasn't into it?"  What was I thinking?

Photo Credit:

Well, I was thinking I had spent so long researching and building a thesis around how the DoD, and especially the Department of the Army communicates impacting hiring decisions -- that I HAD to continue focusing on that. 

Heavy stuff.  Even heavier if you are unemployed from DA (like me) and have been for nearly 2 years (like  me) and you watch personnel get hired for virtues such as being a man, being a 'yes' man, and being a retired service member.  (I didn't retire, I did six years honorably).  It made the final process just untenable for me.  It's a tough situation to realize that even following all the rules they say will help you (such as serving, and getting a degree, then an advanced degree) it just doesn't matter. 

So over the course of the late spring and early summer, I chose to just focus on making the Shop a full time gig -- something that would work for me and the kids.  It's been difficult -- and through it all I have been getting emails and phone calls to sign up for my Thesis class again.   I wasn't going to do it.

But then I ran into something absolutely fascinating -- how the VA communicates.  How they communicate with people like me, the veteran.  How they communicate with the public via blogs and their VA (dot) gov website.  And how the morning reports they put out each Monday on how they are doing with claims adjudicating and the back log doesn't mesh with what they tell congress and me as a caller.

An example:  The VA wrote me in April asking if they wanted me to have them reconsider my claim.  That was a tough day -- so I wire wrapped some necklaces.  It was a touch few weeks -- so I wire wrapped some earrings.  It's been a brutal few months -- so I perfected my timing on FB posts so I wouldn't have to wonder if I needed to "pay" to be seen through Facebook's weird algorithms.  But the issue at hand is this:  when I call the call center, the VA says it takes on average 15 months to decide a claim -- but when I look at the morning reports, it says it takes between 232 and 335 days at my local regional office.

Now, I'm no math wiz, but when I asked my teenage son, he verified that neither 232 or 335 days are 15 months.  Kinda makes you wonder, right?
Photo Credit:

But under all the designing I was doing to not face what was going on -- I was of course, in my OCD manner, researching what was going on with the VA.  (I know what you're thinking: this has very little to do with jewelry, but trust me -- it's a catalyst that sent me to almost 300 items in the shop). And in a moment of clarity, after the dozenth email and phone call, I decided to change my course and sign up again for the Thesis.

I begin again in September -- and will be heavily structuring my time during autumn and the holiday season.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystic Jewelry

I was just going over my facebook posts for today and noticed I have a whole lot of "mystic" this and "mystic" that.  Which leads me to say --  what exactly is Mystic?

Well, I would love to think its one of those stones that actually has mystic properties -- but it doesn't, it's generally a heated finish to create an AB or aurora borealus (that's right, northern lights) finish on a stone, glass or I guess whatever they can get the metal (used in the bonding process) to "bond" to.

So -- the nitty gritty.  What is "Mystic"?

They mystic "coating" is bonded to a stone usually using a metal, and most commonly using a clear stone.  That is how one gets "Mystic Topaz" especially.  I know I know it's all shiny and stuff, and it's unfortunate it doesn't actually happen in nature.  I do personally view the process a little different than say heating a stone to change the color.   See below:

Mystic Labradorite Drop Dangle Earrings in Sterling Silver
 This pair of earrings was created with a labradorite roundel that had been given a "mystic' coating -- normally titanium (the metal) bonded through heat to the stone (labradorite) to make it AB shiny  -- like the northern lights.  I know, I know -- why on earth would one do that with a fledspar that normally has actual AB inclusions that makes it shine and shimmer?

(Feldspards are the family of stones that contain Moonstone, Labradorite and Sunstone -- all naturally sparkly and shiny, even the non 'sparkly' regular moonstone).

But, meh, I guess the person who created these stones decided they just needed 'more' -- it's cool, I get it. Kind of.  But, not really.  It's still got that little extra something, you know?
Emerald Green Quartz Earrings in Sterling Silver

These beautiful earrings were treated with heat -- and only heat to bring out this green color.    They are naturally clear crystal quartz -- but in the heating process (usually using gamma radiation heat to bring out other colors -- which is hysterical if you see this became a big pair of green gemstones, like the Hulk becoming giant and green after his exposure to gamma radiation.  Don't worry, you won't become the Hulk from wearing these, but you will look like a million bucks.)  other colors are brought out, in this case "Emerald Green". 

So, why all the "mystic" in my shop then?  I honestly don't know, but I am pretty certain my daughter has something to do with it.   But it sort of is fun to photograph -- just to see if I can bring out those color scapes added to the gemstones in my photography.   Hint:  I am not so good at it.

Pink Mystic Quartz Ring in 14k Gold Filled

Mystic Pink Quartz Cube Drop Dangle Earrings  -- Sterling Silver

Mystic Pink Quartz Post Earrings in Sterling Silver

Friday, August 9, 2013

Magic Happens -- or so the saying goes.

I am going to come out and say it once and for all-- I do believe Magic Happens.   You're probably wondering where I come to this conclusion from, having had a rough month or two -- mostly personal but partly frustration in the shop.

See, in the shop -- summer months are notoriously slow.   Like snails pace -- or more accurately, it takes time for a caterpillar to become a butterfly.  And honestly, who wants to be online shopping when you can be out in the markets, enjoying the sunshine and that one guy selling "Cadillac peaches" who gives free samples?  The juice just drips from your chins, right?  Delish.  It's what summer is all about.

Photo Courtesy the Very Talented Vermont Photographer at Moonshine Designs and Photography.

I have fought the urge to put my shop on vacation mode -- and just go out to enjoy the sun.  Instead, I have just sharply focused when I do things, so that I can spend the summer with the kids, still clean up a bit around the house -- and keep the shop fruitful.

I also made one slight change in the shop that has done a world of good for my psyche.  Usually I have on my listings:  "Ready to Ship in 1 business day."   But, a few weeks ago, I changed that to "Ready to ship in 1-2 business days."

I know, I know, it doesn't seem like much  -- and generally I still get everything in the mail within a 24 hour period -- even on weekends which are technically not business days.

But, in giving myself that little bit of leeway for the summer -- I am now free to have an item sell at say 2 pm, and get it in the mail the next morning without dropping whatever I am doing for the day, but still be within what I promise.  Just knowing I have that takes a load off, I must say.

Granted, when school starts back up, I will most likely return to the "1 day processing time"  -- but the shipping will remain the same -- free and super fast. (I do first class mail for free -- during the holidays, expedited shipping will have a bit of a fee.  First class generally gets across the country in 2-3 business days).

But the one day has left me with some fun in creating -- which means magic for my poor weary soul. 

This Sapphire Necklace is more about technique for me -- plus it is September Birthstone Jewelry, so I had to add it.  I was perfecting my wire wrapping by doing these rosary style dainty necklaces.  So Much Fun.

I am adding this because in addition to being a rare form of apatite -- I love how much fun I had with the photography.  It's a necklace, and individually wire wrapped in sterling silver and this beautiful Green Apatite.

Simple and elegant -- these are the color of the year, and a little bit like Angelina Jolie's famous emerald earrings.  These are Emerald Quartz -- created by heating the clear quartz to bring out the green.  I am not a scientist, so I don't understand all of the techniques -- but I do know they sure are pretty.

I made these as a process piece.  I wanted to perfect the "all in one piece" earrings that these really are.  They are Natural Peridot and Freshwater Pearl, on a one piece "ear wire".

I have made heart hoops before -- but I have not played much with the precious stones on them -- leaving them to showcase the "hoop" more than  the stone.  With these shaded ruby heart hoops -- I played with both the ear wire and the stones to make something very unique.  And I made them in gold because then I wouldn't steal them for my own jewelry box.

I am adding these pearl earrings because I just can't get enough of the color.  Classic and elegant -- the perfect holly red for holiday events.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Music and it's inspirational merits...

Let me be clear -- I can not sing.  Sure, I often do -- off key and in my own home.   There is something deep and emotional about listening to music. In fact much of my jewelry comes from inspiration found during not-one-second-wasted cleaning marathons, while blasting music.

Also, as a former DJ, I do have a deep love of expression through music -- especially when the music is deeply emotional and full of meaning.  But much of my favorite music has the kind of lyrical connotaion that I can make my own meaning from the words.

Take the odd reality of my two (current) favorite songs -- and their underlying stories, as well as the interesting information about me personally that will follow.

This is the original version -- and a full video, which will impart some interesting visuals to go along with the lyrics.  And by the way, the Coldplay version is not my favorite -- it's this one by Weezer: 

They sound pretty similar -- but to me the Coldplay Version seems a little more forced, like trying to force deep meaning out of the lyrics.  Plus, I have a little thing for "Lost"  -- sure it got a little strange those last two seasons and such -- bouncing around through time.  But, I found those last few episodes just beautiful, so well done.

The next song I am deeply in love with, though it is slower, it is also a good song for cleaning:
There is something deep and wonderful about Helleluja --If you close your eyes, you can see the imagry take you away to what the writer is telling you in the song.

Both of these songs have very religious imagery -- and I am not a religious person.   So why are my two currently favorite songs filled with that imagry?  Who knows -- but I will tell you songs to me are about the imagry they create with the lyrics -- which is how I garner inspiration for jewelry from the songs. 

Take Adele's "Set Fire To the Rain" -- imagine the imagery of actually setting Fire to the Rain -- what would this create?  To me in my head, I see Padparadscha Sapphire and London Blue Topaz in a Ring of fire (sapphires)  with the rain (London blue topaz) at the bottom.  It's what that song creates in my mind.

So-- Why am I talking about music here, it's not what this is all about right?   Well a dear old friend of mine once sang a song when we were out one night -- years ago.   I can still hear it in my mind, and the haunt is still as deep as it was then.  Her Voice is just that wonderful and powerful, reaching into the depths of my soul and letting me feel what the original artist meant when she sang this:

So when this old friend said she was raising money to tryout for "The Voice"  I had to support her -- because I can still hear Jewel's words tumbling out of Nastassia's lips.  She is that wonderful a singer. 

Please Consider Donating to her GoFundMe to get her to "The Voice."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oh Gosh, Not the Creativity Slump!

I am sometimes pretty markedly creative, like so creative I get that wisp of a thought that "This Rainbow Necklace will change the world!"  Then several people favorite it -- and my ego rises. I get happy, go-lucky and so excited that people think the same of that rainbow necklace I thought.

Then I wake up to a dreary Seattle morning with no desire to even edit the photos I took the day before for the shop.

I am not a psych major, so I can't tell you in all honesty where this sudden slump comes from.  It's like: OMGosh, this can not be happening -- just after this massive surge.

I woke up like this on Monday -- after having a fabulous surge of creativity that lasted quite a while actually. Most of those new items are similar in nature however -- so maybe it wasn't as big of a surge as I thought.

When I get here -- to this out of creativity place, I write a lot.  I tool around the interwebs.  I look at other items by other creative people and I try to get sparks of imagination. 

Or, I set everything aside and I take the kids to the pool, or out to a park, or something, and just take the day off from the shop.  (Not really as still throughout the day I edited a few photos here and there to post, and watched my shop so I could ship orders quickly).

It's like lightening really -- so fast and furious. But worth the ebb and flow that it works in.

Maybe I should look at my gemstones once more and see if something "sparks" -- or maybe, just maybe I should walk for a while with the kids, after all -- even though they are older now -- they do still see the world in a very different way from me.

Rainbow Necklace

Monday, July 8, 2013

Christmas in July

When I was a kid, growing up in New England, there were a lot of stores advertising "Christmas in July" sales -- it was always a bit over the top with an air of "Sunday, Sunday SUNDAY" commercials on the local stations.  Always (and still) kind of made me chuckle.

I never understood the concept until this year.  See, it's not just for you, the customer, it's also a fabulous time to reorganize my shop and get some really interesting items in front of you. It's something deep-down about knowing my jewelry is out there in the world, and knowing it makes whoever owns it feel like a million bucks.

Take these fabulous (though a new design for me) Ruby Earrings I recently added to my "clearance section" for "Christmas in July."

Ruby Leaf Earrings
They are kind of a hoop, kind of a dangle, kind of a leaf.  But they are this beautiful variegated ruby -- starting at nearly crystal clear at the top and hitting that deep wonderful clear ruby at the bottom.  Plus, I am a sucker for the photograph --it mixes the rustic favorite "prop" rock outside my studio, and the deep elegance of the fabulous rubies.

It's in the clearance section not because it is an old design -- like some of the other items -- but since it's Christmas in July, why not use something that can be either a gift for a July Birthday Girl -- or a wonderful gift to put under the tree -- or give for Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa.  (These are normally $58, but currently on clearance for 34.80).

Some of the other items in clearance are a bit older -- a classic design that will always work, but still, I want to make room in the shop for the "new" designs I am working on. 

See, I have quite a few items ready to post already -- I just have to have time to do it, really.  But what is happening during this "Christmas in July" season-- is I am really playing with different things.  I am trying some use of glass in order to bring in the gemstone look, but to be budget friendly, and I am also working out my Luxury Line (Like if the sun would ever come out today, I have some darling Rose Quartz and Diamond Oxidized Sterling Silver Hoops I would just love to cue at the beginning of the "I'm behind on posting these" line.)

So until I can get the motivation to post those new items -- I am adding to my clearance section some wonderful old favorites -- great ideas for the holidays this year, and several July Birthstone items.

Check out the Clearance Section when you get a chance -- it's dual purpose, Christmas in July, and Clearance after all.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How I price my items...Or, why I now have a clearance section...

I know, I know, this is kind of considered taboo -- like should I really tell you how I come up with the prices for my items?  Probably not.  But also -- I want you to know that there is a delicate formula that goes into my pricing. 

1) I use the highest quality materials I can get my hands on -- this takes a lot of effort to find great "parts" at reasonable prices.  Also added into this little gem of scouring the globe to find what I need, I spend a hefty amount of time on youtube.
     Why youtube you may ask?  Well, I am a totally visual learner, one must SHOW me so that I can become one with what I am attempting.  I seriously can not learn from a book, unless its a book not on how to produce something in my shop, but rather how to think about things. 

2) When I am learning a new technique, those "samples" go almost directly into my teenage daughter's jewelry box.  She has collected so many things over the years, and really her getting the samples is all about me testing the quality of a product I make.  I perfect it so that it will not break once I put that lovely item up for the world to see. 
     And, her dad buys her a new jewelry box in every country he visits with the Army.  She must have an entire college fund in those boxes.

3) I research what the typical prices would be for my "style," the quality of the products I use and so forth, in order to see if the item is marketable at the price it takes to make it. This may seem boring -- but I can't really market an item that the prices are way low out there in the handmade realm, even if my products I start with are visibly higher quality.  I learned this the hard way with the two items below:

Umba Sapphire, Peridot and Green Garnet Earrings

Massive Ruby Solitaire Earrings

The Sapphire Earrings and Rubies above are extremely high quality stones -- made in specific ways to showcase the true stone personality.  The Sapphires sparkle like there is no tomorrow -- they are also very, very rare.  True Umba Sapphires are found only in the Umba Region of Africa, an area only slightly larger than the small area Tanzanite (from Tanzania) is found.  The rarity of the Umba is what makes these long earrings so much fun -- for while they have the chemical and healing properties of sapphires -- well just look, they are pink and purple, and light gray-blue and ooooh sooo pretty.

The Rubies on the other hand are massive, deep wine rubies -- almost a star ruby with that shine.  While my mother adored these mammoth beauties -- they too, because of their sheer size are expensive, just for the gemstones. But because I purchased the stones without researching how well these items are moving -- I had to place them in the Clearance Section, because I only have so much room in my shop for items.

It's sad -- but I just didn't do my research and instead listened to my mother coo over both sets of stones long enough to say: "I'll take them."  Will research better from now on -- both pairs of earrings are now below cost in the shop :(

4) I work out how long it took me, how much time and effort went into the piece, how high end the gemstones were, and add the amount of 14k gold filled or silver into the product.  I then compare this "raw" amount to what I researched before.

Take the piece below:
Labradorite Necklace on Clearance
Those gemstones are super high-end for a jewelry show.  The necklace itself took time in double knotting it -- and the components are 100% sterling silver.  But it's currently on clearance, for 45% off.  Why?  It's summer time, and I am "clearing out" my shop for new items that will be hitting the shop come July.  So the lucky person who is purchasing this on clearance?  They get it at below cost for me.  I basically had to cut out my "pay" and sell this for parts, because I need to make room.

But this is where I differ from big jewelry stores -- and is a key component to my "philosophy:"  I can produce very beautiful items, still pay myself a living wage, and not mark my items up 10 times what I put into them.   However, the downfall of this process of "pricing" is that I really can not go below this 45% off without basically "paying" the customer to take it out of the store.

But -- I can reduce the prices of older items to these extreme lows -- so that you can enjoy them, and I can see them going out into the world.

Check out the Clearance Section here:

It's a delicate balance to price these items so that 1) You are happy with the quality of the product as a customer and 2) I can keep doing it.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hoop Earrings Sale!

All hoop earrings are marked down in the shop by 20%.  No coupon code needed, I manually marked everything down :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Playing around...

You know that saying -- don't mess with something that works? Yeah, I am not so good at following that saying.

See, my problem is that I want to learn -- even if the process I am using is still working just fine. Which, Etsy seems to be doing pretty well by me. It's simple, I can change how my shop looks whenever I want, and with Etsy changing their coding quite often -- I am always having to learn their process as they tweek.

But, I can't just let things lay around, working. So, for the past few days I have been learning how to make my own shop -- I am sure you have seen me play with the coding on here, but I have chosen to try one more step and create my own website / shop.

Look forward to it in the near future -- I will announce it here when I am ready to share. But, remember, I am a perfectionist, so it may be a bit :)

In the meantime -- it's wildflower and sunshine season here in the Pacific Northwest so I will be out playing and getting sunburned more often than normal for a while.

The photo here is a design I am playing with -- I hope to make hair jewels, headbands and some pretty earrings/ pendants with this branch design. Think Art Deco and The Great Gatsby with where these are going :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mother's Day Give Away!!

I struggled a lot through the last week or so, coming up with what to do for Mother's Day this year.  Finaly, a dear friend came to the rescue, suggesting I make it a classic giveaway -- pearls for Mom.  You know, the classic post pearls, which I am now offering in the shop with a modern twist -- hand wire wrapped.

However, for his giveaway -- I am leaving it up to the winner to choose, sterling silver or 14k gold filled.

Be are the two items to choose from,followed by the rafflecopter entry form(s).  This giveaway will end on Monday, May 6th, at Noon Pacific time (3pm Eastern) so that I can get these too you by Mother's day :)

Enjoy, share and please enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 29, 2013

So many changes ...

Well, hubby came home after a 2 month temporary duty down to California (this just short of six weeks home after 2 years away just prior to that -- yeah I know, how on earth do I keep track?  I don't. I rely on the kids to tell me).  And as he was getting ready to come home, we had this stellar weather -- the weather that makes it so you don't really want to sit in your studio working on things?  Yeah, you know it, not a cloud in the sky and 70 degrees. 

So, like anyone, I decided to play as much as I could in between bouts of cleaning.  Neither of these two things ended up working out for me.  Meanwhile the whole pre-coming-home-week was spent with the kids kind of sitting there saying, "since when do you want me to put my clothes in a hamper?  Sacrilege."  No, seriously, it was that bad. 

But, I did get a few items done, and a few requests for custom items that are proving less than fruitful at this point. And for some reason, even though it's not a big color for spring, purple is really working out well for me.  Yeah, I do know there are all kinds of colors for purple, but we all also know that every shade of purple is basically just purple for me.   And Pink :)

Oh and by the way, my dear friend at Moonshine Designs and Photography made me this fabulous shop banner:

Awesome, Right?

So here are a few new spring items I have been working on between dishes, cleaning up after the kids and setting up my old computer since my laptop decided it was done last week sometime.

Monaco Blue Freshwater pearl earrings in Sterling Silver (Posts)

14k Gold Wire Wrapped Fluorite Earrings

Raw Garnet Wire Wrapped Ring in 14k Gold Filled

Rose Smoke Mystic Quartz Wire Wrapped Post Earrings in Sterling Silver

Ombre Pink Ruby Large Hoop Earrings in Sterling Silver (July Birthstone)

Raw Citrine Statement Necklace in 14k Gold Filled (November Birthstone)
And Remember, The Mother's Day Sale is going on for One More week.  I ask that stateside (domestic orders) be placed by May 6th, 2013 so that I can get the items to you for Mother's Day.