Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Little Cherry Hill on Etsy

One of the people I feel very fortunate to have met since I've started blogging is Emma of Little Cherry Hill. The first time I saw Emma's work on her blog, I was so impressed with her ability to turn bits of silver and stone into truly beautiful pieces of jewelry.

Green Grass Turquoise and Yellow Jade Pendant


Labradorite Lariat


Green Jasper Ring

 
I was surprised to find out that she was still fairly new to metalwork and hadn't yet opened shop. I quickly discovered that we had more in common than just an interest in working with metal for jewelry - we both hate hot weather! Reading this made me feel an instant connection to her, and though it seems like a strange thing, it was that little personal touch that prompted me to feel comfortable leaving a comment despite being socially very anxious. That personal touch has been a constant throughout Emma's posts, and her openness about her work and her experiences has been one of the things that makes reading her blog so enjoyable and interesting for me. I also know from reading that she is someone who drives herself to do the best she can and prefers to take the time to get things right before she does them. I have no doubt that all of these things be an asset to her and something that her customers will benefit from and appreciate once she gets her shop stocked and ready for sales.

Which brings me to her shop! I'm so excited for her that she will soon be adding items at Little Cherry Hill on Etsy! I don't know exactly what or when, but I really hope you'll keep her in mind and add her shop to your favorites. In the meantime, you can keep updated by becoming a fan of her Facebook page.

Thanks so much for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Favorite Place

This last week I was able to finally get back to Hovey Pond with my mom after a winter of a walkway too icy to enjoy. This place is amazing, and I was so glad to see it again! We came across a male Mallard swimming in the water right near the edge. He whipped his head around at us uncharacteristically when I started talking to him, which led me to scan around for a possible mate. Sure enough, she was only a few feet away from him in the grasses, completely still and obviously nesting. Can't wait to see the babies when they arrive!

I could go on about all the wonderful wildlife to be found there, such as the three Pileated Woodpeckers we watched hopping from tree to tree about 15 feet in front of us one day, but I'll let my not-so-wonderful photos speak instead. I didn't have my camera on the day of the woodpeckers, and I can't seem to find my pictures of the Great Blue Heron or various butterflies I've taken on other days, but here are a few acceptable shots from last year.

Love the curly tails on Mallards!
 

Just one area of this beautiful place - the stream leading from the back marshes


Gorgeous Canada Geese in the back marshes


Red-winged Blackbird in the reeds leading from the marshes to the main pond


Mommy Mallard with seven babies, oh my!


Getting some much-needed rest, I'm sure


Northern Green Frog - way too cute!




This may be the baby Painted Turtle we named William - 
he couldn't have been bigger around than a silver dollar


Yes, this Snapping Turtle is as huge as he looks!


Common Whitetail Dragonfly, one of my favorites!


Can't even begin to identify this guy, but I love how he's looking at the camera!


If you're interested in seeing some pictures of the gardens at Hovey Pond, check out this local site I just found. Also, there are some really beautiful pictures at Flickr from visitors to the pond who know how to take a good photo. Hope you enjoyed my little tribute to the return of Spring in our area, and that you all have a great day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Very Vee* on Etsy

This post is special to me, because today I'm finally featuring the work of my very good friend, the multi-talented Vee of Very Vee* on Etsy. I've mentioned her enough in my posts that anyone who has been reading for a little while knows what a source of support and inspiration Vee has been for me. We met very soon after I opened my shop on Etsy, and I saw immediately that she was someone I'd enjoy getting to know. This was a big deal for me because after years of depression and self-imposed isolation, the mere thought of social interaction of any kind was awkward and anxiety-ridden at best; terrifying and debilitating at worst. Somehow Vee understood and always made me feel comfortable, never judging, but always supporting. She challenges me, but doesn't push, and most importantly she makes me smile. She encouraged me to start blogging again and to start my Facebook account, both of which scared me and have been so helpful for me to do.

I quickly discovered this is a woman who can do anything she puts her mind to, creatively and otherwise. She is self-taught, and just in the time I've known her she has learned how to do beautiful amigurumi and has expanded her shop to include those items and a selection of bookmarks she is now making as well. Here are just some examples of Vee's work, with photos that link to her listings:

On a Dark Night


Winter Wonderland Charm Bracelet


Beatrice Bunny & Calvin the Cuddly Koala


I've ordered from Vee as well, and she's very focused on making her customers happy. She ships right away, packages beautifully, and doesn't neglect the personal touches that always make receiving an order special. I hope you'll take the time to check out her Etsy shop, as well as her Facebook fan page & her blog. Spread some love while you're there, she will return it!

Thanks for reading, and I hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Circle of Friends


After an incredible first week on Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised [read, shocked!] when the lovely and talented Jules of Black Heart Jewellery passed along the Circle of Friends Blog Award to me. I first found Jules while I was on a hunt for jewelry with a gothic flair. I just can't remember exactly where, because I promptly visited all of her sites and bookmarked, hearted, fanned & favorited. If you know me, you know this is not typical behavior, but here are a couple of examples why [click pic to visit listing]:

Turquoise and Black Double Stranded Bracelet


Amethyst and Black Triple Stranded Necklace


Everyone on Facebook has been so kind to and supportive of me in my first few days there, and Jules is a perfect example. Not to mention she has awesome taste in music!

Now to the award - there are rules:
1. Create the circle by sharing 5 things I love to do
2. Pass along the award to 5 bloggers from whom I would love to learn the same

I've chosen to leave making jewelry and spending time with my family off the list as givens, so here are my 5 things:

1. Feel - This is both basic and huge, because without it I would have none of the rest. I know because I've been there! Being alive is about feeling: emotionally, physically, and intuitively. When I feel I know I'm alive, and I'm very lucky that I can now say again that I'd rather feel even miserable than not at all. I'm even luckier that I can say I feel good more often than not.

2. Laugh - Related to 1, but definitely deserving of its own place in the list! I love to laugh, everything from a snort to a giggle to a full-on, gasping, tummy-straining fit. Yep, I snort. There's no doubt laughter is therapeutic, and I wouldn't necessarily argue against it being curative in some cases. Luckily I have a family that both loves to laugh and knows how to make me laugh. Every one of them has a great sense of humor, and when we're all together, we're that annoying group at the big table that probably makes you want to leave the restaurant.

3. Explore - I love to investigate places and ideas. Some of my favorite activities are hiking in the woods, walking along the train tracks or the river, exploring abandoned buildings, wandering through cemeteries, and driving down roads I don't know. I love to stop and observe, then move on to the next thing. If I'm stuck at home or hiding from the world [which I do often], I'm reading online or in a book, trying to learn about plants and animals, digging through forgotten beads, or going through bones from my collection and trying to figure out to what kind of animal they belonged and from which part of its body.

4. Spend quality time with my animals - Quality time means holding, petting, talking to or just sitting with them every day, and it's very important to me. It calms me, cheers me, energizes me, helps to stave off my depression and just generally makes me feel like I'm being a good "mother". Everyone gets attention every single day, including the fish.

5.Listen to music - I couldn't live without it! I'm almost always playing something when I make my jewelry, and I absolutely have to have music playing when I'm driving. Unless I'm having a hard time processing information on a particular day, I like to listen to something while I'm writing. Without music, the world would be a much duller, uglier place. I also love to sing, and my husband and I make up songs for each other and the animals all the time.

That's it! Thank you, Jules, for asking. :) The 5 people from whom I would love to hear the same are:

1. Vee of Very Vee*
2. Susan of Trouble Ink/Crafty Crafts
3. Emma of Little Cherry Hill
4. Kristin of Dream Bubbles Reverie
5. Emme of Gothic Soul Retreat

Off to let everyone know. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you have a great day!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts on Tags, Part 2

First, a photo of a plant I would actually spend the money on for a mature plant if I could find one. I tried seeds, but that didn't work out for me at all.

Tacca Chantrieri [Black Bat Flower]



Continuing from yesterday, the following suggestions are just my personal thoughts on what to avoid in your tagging. I could be completely off base, but they make sense to me and I think it's worth trying something different just to see if it works. I thought I had three, but I've decided to stick to two. I'm not as big on "don'ts" in general anyway. :)

Don't:

1. Use the same word in multiple tags
If you're doing this you could probably use the repeated word as a separate tag, which will also help if you're having a problem coming up with enough tags. An example would be "glass beads", "stone beads","crystal beads". Using Etsy's main category choices of "glass", "stone" and "beaded" instead will place you in the results for people who are browsing by category, which will open you up to more potential views. People will most likely narrow their search from there, which is where your own "crystal" tag would be applicable.

A note about this particular example is that someone searching for "glass beads" is most likely not looking for jewelry, but is looking for beads. This would mean that your presence in the results is irrelevent to them, which doesn't help at all with a sale.

2. Use subjective terms
Even the notion of what is and what isn't subjective can be subjective itself, so this can be tricky, but an example would be using words such as "pretty" or "classy". People have very different ideas of these things, so you may want to try using words that are more indicative of a style instead, such as "delicate" or "classic".

Some links that could be helpful if you don't use them already:

Lists
Etsy Storque's Seller How-To: Tag-o-rama with Descriptive Keywords
Wiki's List of Colors suggested by Etsy's Guidelines for Tagging

Tools
Thesaurus.com - I'm a word nerd, so that's is an all-around favorite
Also suggested by Etsy, Craftweasel's Tag Tool - I've only played with it a little, but it looks pretty cool!

Scrapping my materials musings for now because it was more of a question anyway, and the thinking is a bit slow today, so I can't quite figure out how to ask. I can't actually even remember why it seemed important to begin with! Ah well, such is life for the moody. I hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thoughts on Tags

After a few days of browsing through some really beautiful Etsy shops, I've just had an interesting conversation with another seller about shop visibility as it relates to tagging items. I'm usually either comfortably oblivious to or completely out-of-sync with trends, but I have noticed that tagging has recently been a topic in the Etsy emails and on a couple of the blogs I follow. I'm not prone to writing about what everyone else is, but my window-shopping and convo have prompted me to share a little "Dos & Don'ts" list of suggestions I've found helpful as well as some of my own thoughts. These aren't revelations & I'm certainly no expert, but they may prove useful.

Do:

1. Use all of your tags
It seems obvious, but just this morning I've seen three shops that don't even come close. One had simply chosen four of Etsy's main categories. Tags are one of the things Etsy uses for calculating search results, so it's very important. First use any applicable main categories provided by Etsy, then get creative! * For ideas on the kind of things to include in your tags, check out Guidelines & Tips: Tagging on Etsy.

2. Use root words
A common example of this for jewelry would be variations of the word "bead". Unless it's already an Etsy category like "beaded" and "beadwork", or very particular to your listing like a book titled "Barnyard Beading", you're better off using the base word. Etsy's search results will include any variations and your listing will be relevant to more searches. Bead may not be the best example since you could also get lost in the number of results, but I'm sure you get the idea. And don't ask me where the barnyard thing came from, I don't even have a barn. * More info on increasing your visibility can be found at this Seller Workshop Recap & this Etsy Success Tips article.

3. Include specific terms where applicable
In most cases it's best not to get too technical with your tags. However, if you make unique or unusual items, or use specific techniques or materials, it's a good idea to include a related tag. This can open your items to views by the focused shopper as well as the casual browser. An example from my own shop is a pair of deer toe bone earrings I'm about to re-list [hey, I like them!]. In addition to "bone", I  included the term "phalanges" as a tag because there just might be someone interested in science or anatomy who could stumble upon them while searching for medical drawings of a hand & decide there's nothing they'd love more in the world than a pair of earrings with toe bones on them. Or maybe they just watched that awesome episode of "Bones" in which Bones flails her fingers around in front of the baby, saying "dancing phalanges, dancing phalanges!" and now they want some of their own. These things could happen.

I also have three "Don'ts" and a couple of thoughts on materials lists, but I'm actually tired after this one, so I'll do that next post. I hope this was helpful to someone, and that everyone has a great day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Little Village

After my post mentioning the Five Combines yesterday, and hearing from my parents that our village is two centuries old this year, I decided to do a little research into Hudson Falls, NY. This may only be interesting if you're local or like history, but I'm posting it because you never know! The area began with the building of a sawmill in 1764, and as early as 1792 it was being called Sandy Hill. 1810 saw the incorporation of the hamlet into a village, and in 1910 the village became Hudson Falls. This settled some confusion for me, because I was certain our area just turned 100 years old, not 200. Kind of neat that we get to celebrate two centennials in one!

Celebrations here are in the form of Sandy Hill Days, during which local bands play, rides and games are available in my old elementary school field, and an arts and crafts fair is held in the town center at Juckett Park. I just found a beautiful photo of the park from a local photographer on deviantART, and I'm hoping she'll be okay with me posting it here. There was a link for downloading, so I decided to post first and then contact her so she can take a look at how it's being used before she makes her decision. Hope you don't mind fg38, but please let me know it you do! :)

Juckett Park in Winter 
by funygirl38


And because I love old maps, here's one from Old Maps.
Sandy Hill c.1884


I think I've mentioned before that this is a small area, and I've discovered the population to have been recorded at 6,927 as of the 2000 census. It will be interesting to see where we're at once the numbers are calculated for this year's census - filling out my own form today!

We have a neat little area historically, so if you're interested in that kind of thing, you might want to read more about the history of Upstate NY  or check out some notable residents of Washington County. We also have a lot of people involved in the various arts here, including famous poet William Bronk and writer Michael Kaye [that would be my dad!]. And that ends this one - I hope I didn't bore you too much, and that you have a great day! :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just Keeping Up

Not brimming with excitement about posting today, but I promised myself I would write a little something at least every couple of days regardless of how I feel. It helps to keep me focused, and I usually feel better afterward.

My first few days with a Facebook fan page have been much better than I dared to hope. I actually have fans! People have been just wonderful with the Link Love, visiting my shop and fanning it or fanning me back. It's a great way to spread the word about your shop, and the people who participate are so sweet! I'm overwhelmed by the number of views and hearts my newest listings have gotten, and I'm grateful for all of them, as well as my new fans. Truthfully, I was pretty much convinced I'd meet with less than enthusiasm for my page and my shop. I really had to talk myself into starting the page, then again into actually publishing it, and part of that was trying to convince myself it was okay if I didn't get more than just one fan in my friend, Vee. It's all been a very pleasant surprise! I've also been very kindly featured in Vee's newest treasury! I hope you have a minute to check it out - it's one of her always popular BNRs, so if you sell on Etsy, you can buy into her next one.

Yesterday was really nice, because it was the first day here warm enough to take Eris outside. After most of the Fall and the whole Winter having to content herself with just me, Chris and the cats to keep her interested, she was obviously excited to get on some grass again & watch the traffic go by. I'm not sure I've ever seen her tongue come out as far as it did when Chris first walked outside with her, and then she flopped around my neck and arms like a fool, squeezing and contorting! She had visitors from the neighborhood, including a very excitable pitbull throwing himself against me while I was holding her. She was her typical sweet, wonderful self and simply sniffed at him with her tongue. We wanted to bring her to her favorite tree at a local spot called the Five Combines, but there were too many people there enjoying the afternoon and we didn't want to scare them. While she was out, we measured her at about 62" long, and she's bigger around than my not-so-small upper arm!

The Five Combines
[borrowed & edited from the above site]


I'm about to place an order for a sterling silver bear charm, and maybe a moon, for my next commissioned bookmark. It's going to be just like this one, but with one of the charms added to each end. Ordering supplies is always fun, but a challenge since I always want to order more than I need or can afford! So off I go - hope everyone has a great day, and yes I do feel better! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Something I Didn't Kill


 
And a closeup under my daylight bulbs


I love this plant! After all the leaves died last year, I just clipped off the remains down to the tubers. Then I pulled them out of the dirt & put them on paper to dry for about 24 hours. After they were completely dry, I popped them right back into the same dirt in the pot, gave them water until it started running out the bottom, and tucked the pot away in my upstairs hall closet. It stays pretty cool and very dark in there, so they were able to go into hibernation. I watered them about once a month until I pulled the pot back out about a week and a half ago. I stuck it in front of the window, watered, and now the largest leaves are about 6" tall! It was my first experience with overwintering the plant, so I'm very pleased.

A neat thing about this one is that you can eat the leaves, flowers and roots. The leaves should be eaten in moderation, as they contain oxalic acid, which can have a minimal effect on a healthy body's absorption of calcium. I've read several places in addition to the links above that cooking will reduce the concentration of oxalic acid, which is typical with cooking [as long as you don't drink the resulting broth!]. I have chomped on some of the leaves, and they have a pleasant tartness that reminded me of the wood sorrel leaves I used to eat all the time as a kid, and sometimes do now as a natural treatment for an upset stomach. I probably don't need to add that you shouldn't just go around eating things unless you know what they are, but for some reason I feel compelled to. :)

On the jewelry end of life, I made & listed another bookmark yesterday, which you can check out by clicking the pic.

Black & Grey Bookmark with Swarovski Crystal & Hematite


I also got a treasury yesterday, which I called Making Friends with My Girly Side. Please check it out, and all the beautiful shops, if you have a minute - there are pinks! Hope everyone has a great day!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Item & I Get Political

I couldn't stand looking at my empty bookmark section much longer, so even though I still have other new items to list, I made another bookmark first! Click the pic if you'd like to see the listing:

Bookmark in Blues w/ Swarovski Crystals & Cloisonné


I also published my Facebook Fan Page, which you can see in my new welcome at the top right of the page. Thanks to the link love discussion on Vee's fan page, Very Vee, I already have two fans in addition to her! Link love is a way for people to get out the word about the various places they can be found online. I'm planning to add the topic to my own fan page discussion section so people can drop by and post their links. :)

Yesterday I warned you that I'd be getting a bit political about the health care bill being debated here in the U.S., so here goes! Frankly, I've been quite overloaded with the whole thing for a long time now and have tuned a lot out until very recently. I have little tolerance for the news to begin with, I think because it's one of those things that can trigger at least a mild depression for me, but this issue has been particularly drawn out and reported ad nauseum. However, my mom wrote an excellent letter to our district's Congressman, Scott Murphy, and I wanted to pass on an edited version here so you can customize and send it along to your local Representative if you want:

"[I am/We are] writing today to respectfully but strongly encourage you to vote YES for passage of the health care bill. 

Please [reconsider/maintain] your stance on this critical economic and social issue, and help to pass this important legislation. Help those who desperately need it, and then continue to work to promote wellness, cut costs, and hold insurance companies accountable. Profit-making is good for businesses, but these obscene insurance company record profits & bonuses do not reflect a "need" to increase rates. They instead reflect greed at the expense of all of us: those who are cut off, denied, or cannot afford insurance and are forced to use emergency rooms or delay treatment until their illnesses are so severe that the costs are much higher; and those of us who have insurance and are both appalled at the choices these people are forced to make, and tired of paying the high costs as a consequence.

We worry and scream about a few avoidable car company related injuries and deaths, yet do nothing about the thousands of avoidable health care crises and deaths propagated by health insurance companies making health care decisions and denying coverage year after year.

[I/We] hope you will step up, be brave, and do the right thing - vote to approve health care reform NOW!"

Republicans are all expected to vote 'no' on the health care bill, but for a regularly updated count of expected votes by House Democrats, you can take a look at The Hill's Whip Count. To contact your local Representative, you may want to visit the House's Write Your Representative page, which has a nifty little tool for locating who your Rep. is and how to contact them. I hope that helps if you're interested in getting involved - supporters of the bill, or even just the passage of something at this point, are up against a very vocal group of those who are against it. If you happen to be one of the non-supporters, I can certainly 'forgive' you for your position, and maybe you can forgive me for mine? ;)

Phew! Resuming normal broadcasting... I need coffee. Hope everyone has a great day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

1 Day Sale & Help Me Find Chain!

First, the sale:
March 11th was Eris' 2nd Birthday, and today marks 2 years that she's been with us. In honor of her special day & ours, I'm offering 10% off anything in my Curiosities/OsteoWear section up until 11:59 tonight! The discount will be in the form of a Paypal refund applied as close to immediately after payment as possible. A shot of our beautiful girl last night:


And a little sneak preview of my next vial:


I haven't decided if I'll leave it as is, or add ribbon for hanging it on Halloween/Christmas Trees, rearview mirrors, windows, etc.

Now my call for help:
The other day, I ran across some gunmetal chain I bought a long time ago, and I'm getting ready to start making some necklaces with it. Somehow I had forgotten how much I love gunmetal! Thanks to my recent sale, I've just ordered some matching findings from Artbeads. I've really found their prices, service and quality to be great so far. I also love that you can order from them by the piece, and because of it I'm even left with some money after my order!

Anyway, the problem I'm having now is that I just can't find this beautiful chain anywhere for reordering when I run out. It's somewhere around 1.8-2mm wide and is a 5 to 1 figaro style. I can't find any evidence that it's plated, but most of them seem to be, so it's possible. It has a nice heavy feel to it, but I have no clue what the material is. I bought it at a bead shop in California, which I know closed down, so it's not like I can go back and grab some or even find them online. In short [ha!], Help!



I love everything about it & especially would like to find the style in a chain that isn't obviously plated or coated. A free pair of sterling and glass earrings made for you in your choice of color [provided I have it] to anyone who can point me to a place that results in a successful order of the chain I want. I do plan an actual giveaway when it seems there are enough interested parties, so this is more like an appreciation gift.

Next time I get kind of political about this whole health care mess, not something I'll do very often, but things are moving far too slow and my mom wrote an awesome letter [which I proceeded to hack to bits in an effort to make it more customizable, sorry maman!]. Whatever your views, I hope you'll give it a look-over and some consideration. If you agree you can send it along to your representative, and if not we can agree to disagree. Hope everyone has a great day! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Treasury & Giveaway by TICC

Susan of Trouble Ink/Crafty Crafts on Etsy has kindly included one of my necklaces in her newest treasury, Shiny N Bright. My capture below links to the treasury while it's still up, so I hope you'll go have a look and check out all the great shops:


It's a pretty one, and the necklace of mine that she included is one of my favorites. As you can see from her other choices, I'm in wonderful company!

Susan is also holding a giveaway on her blog right now, and the winner will receive one of her beautiful dream catchers, as well as one of her brother's lucky shamrock amulets. She's offering a ton of chances to win, and I have yet to finish putting in all my entries. If you decide to enter, good luck!

I sent Vee the new bookmark for her mom yesterday, and I had the best time packaging it up! Can't divulge any specifics of course, but I really hope she enjoys getting it. Thanks to my mom's work as the official KSK Designs' Shipping Department, and my dad as my new Photo Advisor, all is beginning to run smoothly. ;)

Next post I ask for help locating some chain, and a successful buy gets you a free pair of sterling and glass earrings made for you in your choice of colors. Provided it's a color I have, of course, so pink is pretty much out unless you'd be happy with the sometimes pinkish-looking alexandrite. So brush up on your Googling skills, have your list of suppliers handy, get ready to beg, borrow or steal for the info, because I want my chain!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Product Line

I've completed, posted and listed my first bookmark! It's a reserve listing, because my good friend and awesome fellow Etsy seller, Vee, is planning to buy it. The bookmark will be a gift for her mother's birthday, so it's special and I really hope she's happy with it. Thank you in advance, Vee, and remember you're still loved if you change your mind! Either way, I really enjoyed making it and am thrilled to have begun my newest group of projects. I'll be listing my bookmarks in my new Book Jewelry section. This one is garden-themed, with a sterling ladybug and flower link, and Swarovski crystals. For now, you can check it out by clicking the photo:

Garden Bookmark


I did start to watch the Ghost Hunters episode last night, but managed to pass out about halfway through. Not because I was bored, I just got very tired, which is to be expected I guess when you wake up at something like 3am. I'll have to look for it online. One of the cutest things in the world is that Eris watches the show with us every week. She's either draped around my neck or at the bottom of the bed with her head on the wooden end frame, but always facing the TV!

I should probably mention that I've made some changes to the blog over the last few days. I now have a My Etsy Favorites page, which you can get to via the navigation links along the top. It's a huge Etsy mini with my recently hearted items. Also on that page, I'll be adding image links to Etsy sellers I love who have them, similar to the one there now for Scrivener's Retreat under the mini. If you'd like to be included there, make up a little logo and I'll add it. I'm thinking 125x125 pixels to keep it consistent, but whatever you have should work. I'm planning to make my own too, so link exchanges are always welcome!

I also moved my SRAJD and Etsy for Animals badges to my About Me page, and changed my labels to a cute little cloud instead of a list in the interest of keeping my side column a little shorter. Lastly, I added a little RSS feed link button thingy in my side column under the pic of me and Ed. Very exciting, if you have an RSS feed reader of some sort, that should keep you updated on my new shop listings. Ok, enough of that, I have some packaging supplies to gather. Hope everyone has a great day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Area on Ghost Hunters Tonight!

Keep forgetting to post this, but yes, it's of great importance! The TAPS team recently visited my area to do an investigation of Fort Ticonderoga, and the episode airs at 9pm tonight on the SyFy Channel. That's 416 on my TV - hopefully you're well aware of what it is on yours! :D

Fort Ticonderoga has been doing ghost-hunting tours for a while, but it seems they've now revamped them to include information about the findings of TAPS. Unfortunately I never took the tour before, but I do hope to go still. The fort is about 40 miles from me, located right by Lake George, which is a hugely popular tourist destination and is where I used to work in the summers during high school.

My humble opinion is that you should just be watching Ghost Hunters anyway [still can't believe they came up with a show to drag me into reality TV!]. However, if it isn't your typical Wednesday night viewing fare, you should check it out. Fort Ti is a neat place with an interesting history, which I'm sure they'll touch on in the show.

Looking Back

Over the last few days, my family has been trying to convince me that my slump in sales is not indicative of how things will always be or some overall statement on the hideousness of my jewelry. Yeah, I can be pretty harsh on myself, but the fact is I do actually like the things I make and would wear most of them myself. A nice bonus is that if things don't sell, I can! Keeping in mind that sometimes to move forward it helps to take a little look back, today I'm reminding myself that there are other people who have liked what I make enough to buy. Images link to current similar listings on Etsy, sold listings on Etsy, or just bigger images of items sold elsewhere. :)

Jet Swarovski Crystal Collar & Earrings
[both sold, earrings only sold on Etsy - similar collar available]


Amethyst Czech & Vintage Glass Necklace
[similar available]


Predator and Prey Vial


Oxidized Hill Tribe Silver & Swarovski Crystal Necklace


Mary Necklace


Oxidized Hill Tribe Silver & Swarovski Chain Necklace


Sterling Silver Garnet Station Necklace


And one more which I've had to take down from Etsy because it's now on reserve for one of my husband's friends:

Organica Earrings: Deer Phalanges, Wood & Fossil Beads on Sterling


What amazes me is that most of the pictures actually are hideous! With all the talk on Etsy of how important photos are [and I agree], it's nice to know that even when they aren't very good, items can and do sell. Also amazing is that only two of these sales were to my parents. :D

Tomorrow I plan to post a new poster sketch, or treasury if I can get a spot. It's pretty and girly, so be on the lookout, because that's not likely to happen often! Hope everyone has a great day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

A New Day

The last couple of days haven't been the best for me. Nothing particular, just a touch of the blues maybe. My motivation has been down and I've felt very unsure about my jewelry, my shop, myself. It happens sometimes to everyone, but for me it carries an extra implication, which is that it could be a sign of an upcoming depression. I'm trying to stay focused on maintaining the little routine Ive set for myself: taking the head meds, making sure to eat, getting a little exercise, spending quality time with all my babies, and staying creative.

For the most part I've been successful - even finally got to work on my first bookmark yesterday. I also had a really nice chat with my friend Vee last night. It was the first time I've chatted in over a year, and it cheered me up to talk with her. I tend to be more comfortable when I have time to think about my responses, so phone conversations, chats and face-to-face talking can be stressful. It wasn't always that way for me, but I think once the bipolar depression really settled itself in, my thinking became just a little bit slower. I still feel a bit off this morning, but like every day, I'm working on it. The scene in the photo below is what greeted me upon my first look out the window this morning, so it's not all bad!

 

I have a walk by the river with my mom to look forward to a little later this morning, and a fresh pot of coffee brewing. Eris shed last night, so I'll be collecting that from her tank shortly for use in some of my vials. It was the cutest thing - as soon as she was done eating last night, on my way to putting her back into her tank, she started to push her nose into my arm. Chris and I couldn't figure out what she was up to, but it turned out she was trying to use me as a shedding aid! She had gotten the skin off her jaw by the time we got her back in to use her log. Wish I had gotten a pic, she looked so funny! It was also kind of nice to know she feels so comfortable with us that she would do something like that. Most snakes tend to get very grumpy and touchy during shedding time, but Eris is just a big sweet baby. A very big sweet baby... she's now about as long as I am tall, which is a not-so-imposing 5'2". I may be exaggerating on my height by about 1/4 of an inch. :D

Hope everyone has a great day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beautiful Jewelry by Shadowolfsilver on Etsy

One of my new Etsy favorites is Shadowolfsilver, whose Art Nouveau Inspired Red Ruby Pendant was included in my most recent treasury. The shop was started just a few weeks before mine, in November of last year, but it's obvious that owner and silversmith Shadowolf is far from new to his craft. The pieces are unique and complex, reflecting creativity, talent and a skill carefully honed since his introduction to silversmithing in 1976. His attention to detail in relation to both design and construction are indicative of an artist who truly loves what he does, and after a short conversation with Shadowolf, it's clear this is his passion. I had a hard time picking favorites from the shop, but here's a little sampling [photos link to listings]:

Sterling Silver Nouveau Earrings


Adobe Linked Sterling Silver Bracelet

 

 Victorian Inspired Pendant

 

So many beautiful items, definitely worth a look around. Be sure to check out his Wolf Paw Print pieces and the Itsy Bitsy Spider Bracelet if you go - I love them! :)

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Picnik

My time without my beloved Paint Shop has prompted me to look around for other photo editing options, and today I'd like to share something I found. I know I went on for a while about photo stuff in my last long post, so I promise to keep this one relatively short.

Via Etsy's somewhat intimidating Seller Handbook, I came across the how-to, Brighten Your Photos with Paperama. It's a brief tutorial by seller Paperama for using the web-based photo editing program Picnik. I just gave it a try using the first image I chose for my most recent choker, and here's what I came up with:

Choker Before

 

Choker After


It's only a first try, and looks over-processed to me in ways I have yet to figure out. The background also looks yellower than in the photo I have on my listing, which was edited with the program that came with my computer. However, this does give you an idea of what can be done with the nifty little program without even having to register. For the sake of playing around I cropped, brightened, upped the contrast & exposure, and sharpened. There are several other tools on the site as well - if you decide to give them a try, have fun!

I'm also happy to mention that I'm currently featured in my friend Vee's newest treasury. It ends tomorrow around noon, so I hope you'll check it out while it's still up! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Treasury Up [A Blurb]

For anyone who's interested, I finally managed to not sleep through getting a treasury! The Lab is now up at Treasury West, so be sure to check out all the great shops & show some love. :)

New Choker, A Bit About Photos & Crystals

I've updated my Sales page with details about my March sale, and I've finally listed one of my new necklaces! You can check it out by clicking the photo - it's one of the items on sale this month.  :)

Forest Green Seed Bead Choker w/ Swarovski Crystal & Vintage Glass
 

I got impatient waiting for my new Paint Shop to come, and managed to figure out how to get a somewhat decent picture using the image program I found on my computer. It has a crop function and an enhance button, which just sharpens the image a bit. The only missing aspect that I ever use for the image area is background lightening, which just helps the jewelry stand out more for the purposes of a photo. I also like to add borders in complementary colors around the image because I think it's a nice finishing touch and sets the image apart, hopefully in a subtle way, in search results.

My personal and admittedly very amateur take on image editing is that you should never use color enhancement, and certainly shouldn't add effects! There are times when the picture on your screen just doesn't look like it does in real life, but that can be corrected to a great extent with proper lighting [sunlight or full spectrum bulbs seem to work best] or even some experimenting with your backgrounds. Once you get into color editing, it's easy to start playing around too much with your image, resulting in one that's less true-to-life and potentially misleading. If you're really having problems with a particular photo, I think the best way to go is to just honestly state so in your item description, along with the best description you can come up with for what the piece looks like in real life. Refer to the images you've included in your listing for comparison to help give people a better idea of what to expect.

I also mentioned effects, and this is a particularly annoying thing I've actually seen some people do, mostly on eBay. I haven't seen any obvious example of it on Etsy; just another reason I love that community! Granted, all image editing is an "effect" to some extent, in the sense that it manipulates the original pixels via mathematical logarithms, but I'm referring to things like adding fake sparkles to crystals or fake light reflections. Admittedly, I'm particularly interested in image editing, but I'm far from an expert and even I can spot the glaring deception. No biggie for me, I cluck disapprovingly to myself, make a mental note to never shop there, and move on. What concerns me is that there are so many people who have no reason to know or care about this stuff, just see the pretty sparkles, and buy. I guess that would be fine if they were actually going to get what they were expecting from the photos, but I've particularly seen this technique used by sellers who are offering so-called Swarovski crystals at obvious non-Swarovski prices.

My suspicion is that these are actually glass products being called crystals to increase sales. I know from experience that this happens, because I bought one time from a seller I didn't know, thinking I was getting a great price on crystals. It took me a little while to figure out exactly what, but I realized there was something off about them pretty quickly. The color wasn't even, the facets didn't meet exactly, and the shape and size of the bicones differed from each other. After some research, I concluded they were most likely Czech glass or maybe a Celestial Crystal product. Both beautiful alternatives, just not the Swarovski crystals I had ordered, was expecting, and would've sold to customers as such if I hadn't made sure to investigate. If you buy or use Swarovski products, there's a great little guide at Fire Mountain Gems to help you ensure you're getting the real thing.

The best way is to find a reputable seller you like and just stick with them no matter what wonderful deal you may think you'd be getting elsewhere. It doesn't have to be a big seller - I've bought from some great shops on Etsy that are trusted resources. I just think that too much shopping around in pursuit of cheaper prices can open you up to more deceptive sellers and end up costing more in the long run. Well, this was much longer than planned! Thanks for reading if you got this far. Hope this was helpful to someone, and I hope you have a great day!

My Dear Readers