Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Accountability

OK, I am going to put some "good intentions" into action; and I hope posting this commitment will add accountability to my intentions and turn them into actions and checks on my to do list.  I hope you don't mind being my sounding board, and beyond that any tips and encouragement will be greatly appreciated.

First I'm going to start a daily journal to track what I really do; vs. what I think I do.  The goal is to find wasted time and figure out how to stop the waste; increase productive time and accomplish more.  This "more" will include more jewelry so I will be keeping with the theme of the blog and hopefully sharing what I learn about my own bad habits will help you improve yours (assuming you have any bad habits).

I am also going to start going through the house one room at a time and do the "keep", "toss", and "donate" thing.  What I keep will be put on shelves into containers so it stops being clutter.  More productive time should help a lot with that.

So now I've put the self challenge out there; more to come about how this works out.

In the mean time I would like to share a Christmas gift I made for a friend.  She was very pleased, which makes me very happy!










Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just for Fun


I joined a group at our local library that meets the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of every month.  I think it started as a stitching group but has expanded to pretty much any craft.  It is still predominately stitching, knitting, and crocheting; but there is a man who crafts everything from instruments to boats, some ladies that make home d├ęcor items, and me with jewelry.  Have to admit I feel a little out classed by what I see around the table (some are just pictures as a boat wouldn't fit through the door) but the group views each project and skill as special.  A great group.

Last Thursday I was rushing to get ready to go and didn't have time for much planning (yes I know I could have prepared the day before but that didn't happen,  hummmm) so I just grabbed some supplies that were left over from the wedding project and headed out.  I tried to string some pearls (glass of course) and call it done but just couldn't.  So I cut a length of wire and added some pearls and started wrapping.  Decided the gray needed some accent so I added a white pearl to the focal link.  I was pleased with that and moved on to the earrings.  Finished the first earring and started the second.  About half way through the 2nd earring I realized one of the pearls in the first one was pale pink, opps.  I am not in to tear down and redo, so I made a second wire wrap link for the necklace and used a pink pearl so it would appear intentional if anyone noticed.  Added a joining link and the wire wrap part of the necklace was done; strung pearls for the rest of it and the necklace was complete.  Someone I know calls things like this "happy accidents" and I'm going with that.  I like the finished project and it is not likely there will be another one exactly (or even close) like it.  I am pleased when a set comes together not exactly as planned, it is usually a little better than the original picture I had in my head.


I am happy with the path my jewelry making skills are taking; next I need to take some photography lessons.  I have a friend who takes great pictures (in fact I have several) and I think I'm going to beg or barter for some lessons.  She (one of them) will be moving to Hawaii in a few months so I need to get good fast.  Better pictures should go a long way toward helping me market what I "create"; isn't that a good word, sounds so much better than "make".  So what do you think of these pieces, plain pictures and all?

 



Monday, December 15, 2014

Wedding Set


This is the Bride's Necklace
 I think we have the Bride's necklace/earring set done, will get confirmation on that when the box arrives in MI.  Along with her set I made a couple "prototypes" for the Bridesmaids.  The dresses are going to be charcoal (at least so far, it isn't set in stone yet) so we have pale pink and 2 shades of gray 4 styles.  This set is for my "niece to be".  I am, however, looking to take this experience and expand my jewelry line.  Custom jewelry for Brides on a budget.  Color, style, and scale made to order.  Just need to figure out the best way to get the word out.  If you know a bride who might be interested please share the link.

The pics aren't the best but by the time I realized it, the pieces were boxed up to ship North. 

Dark Gray 8mm pearls and Crystal.




Pink Pearls 8mm with Wire Weave focal and earrings

Medium gray pearls, 6mm, with wire wrap focal and earrings


Pale Pink Pearls 8mm with coiled wire focal and earrings

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

First ETSY Sale

Last night about 9:30 I took one last look at e-mail and was surprised by a message saying one of the dream catchers I had listed on ETSY sold.  I've posted items for sale on ETSY several times but this is the first time I had a sale.    Happy Dance!    I put the box in the mail this morning by 9:30 for its cross country journey.  Of course, now I'm going to work on my ETSY store and wait to see if this is the beginning of many more sales.  Really hoping this takes off; great sales potential, an almost limitless audience, no time spent at shows and events, more time to work on projects, and low fees.  I'm looking for an upward spiral; internet sales resulting in brand exposure, resulting in more sales, more exposure, mores sales; you get the idea.  So if you are trying to break into the internet market, keep at it.  Develop your product line (unique is good), learn how to best display it in pictures; and just be persistent.  That said, I have much to learn.  If you have had success selling on line and would like to share I would appreciate it very much. 

Though local events were not very financially beneficial I enjoy interacting with people; thus, I will do some craft events next year, but only a few.  I'm glad I invested the time this year as I learned a lot and there is no substitute for experience.  Hopefully the time I spend at events next year will be more lucrative.

Here is the piece I shipped out this morning:


 















I hope you will check out other pieces in my ETSY store:
search for "handlcreations" at ETSY.com

or use the link below:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/HandLCreations?ref=hdr_shop_menu



Thought for today:  Do not let the retail hype of the season suck you in.
Enjoy your friends and family and everything Christmas is suppose to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Latest and Best Wedding Set

I think we are getting close to the right scale for the focal link.  I'm very pleased with this necklace; what do you think?  I struggled a bit with the earrings.  Tried several styles, pearls, crystals, and wire, long dangle, heart shaped; none of them worked.  They all seemed to be too much, took away from the necklace.  Then a winner, enough of the wire weave to blend with the necklace and a pearl to tie it together.  Waiting for feedback from the bride.  Excited to here what she thinks.

Note:  the necklace and earrings do match.  Wanted to get pictures after I finished the earrings and didn't have time to go back to the original set up.  Anxious to get pictures out, should I admit that?  







Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Special Event Jewelry

Working on jewelry for a special event.  Very excited about this as the event is near and dear to my heart.  It required my learning a technique I had not tried before.  Here are a couple pictures of the prototypes.  They are just that, test runs, and I will be making more to perfect the technique as well as experimenting with different wire gauges.  Not only is this event special but it is pushing me to grow my talents; and I sometimes need a little push.  I am thankful for friends and family that force me out of my comfort zone.  Looking forward to doing more custom pieces.

Here is what I learned from these:

This piece turned out to be the best scale, but the focal link is a little large; need smaller gauge wire.




The rectangular link is pretty but it is too long.  The next run at this shape will be shorter; or will be 2 links so it can curve in the middle and provide better flow.



This piece is very pretty but much too large; it might work with 2 more strands of pearls but I think it will likely turn into a pendant unless someone wants a very bulky necklace.


Bottom line, the practice was very successful, now I need to improve my technique and knowledge of how the wire gauge impacts size and scale.  Love learning, especially when the outcome is good.  Feedback is appreciated.  Have an idea for something you need?  Send me a note and let's see what we can create.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Food for Thought

Today I spend an enjoyable day with a friend set up at a Fall Festival at a local church.  The weather was great, bright and sunny (I even have a little bit of a sun burn), a little hot but not too bad with the shade of my new canopy.  While the day was enjoyable; so far as promoting our business it was marginal.  The draw was more the games and free food than for the vendors.  Just so I'm clear, I love supporting church events; but especially this time of year I feel the need to be wise about both supporting the church and promoting my business, need to capitalize on the shopping season.  Thus, after discussion with my friend Delta (we were there to promote her photography and my jewelry business) and a couple other vendors, we decided we should attend events that bring vendors and crafters together as the focus instead of as an extra with the games and food being the main events.  I'm writing this just to share what I believe we have learned.  I hope this is information that will help you when looking for venues to sell and promote your business as well as supporting local organizations.  We did make some contacts today that will hopefully be beneficial in the future, for us and for them.  We also got information on some upcoming events that are historically big draws for holiday shoppers.  Not a wasted effort, time invested that will yield fruit; just not exactly as we envisioned it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dream-catchers

Since I last posted I've been to Michigan for a couple weeks.  We worked hard, spent lots of time with family, and got to see the new weanling my brother in law bought to keep their baby company.  An adorable little fellow with lots of spunk.  Wish I was still there but glad I'm home too.  Those who live distant from family, but also like where they live will get that statement.

On the jewelry front I'm excited to be sharing a booth at "Taste of Suffolk" this Saturday (Sept 13th) with my friend Kenzie.  Between the two of us we will have jewelry, candles, wall hangings, dream-catchers, and more.  Now the challenge is to get enough inventory built and hope it is what people "can't live without". :)  Here is the link to the event.  http://www.suffolkva.us/TasteofSuffolk/   Hope to see you there if you are in the area.

The new baby:















New projects:
                        


                        



There will be some seasonal pieces available also.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New friends and new projects

It seems weeks go by between posts, I'm trying to get better.  Well, in addition to all the normal life stuff I've made a new friend and expanded the H and L Creations line to include Dreamcatchers.

First my new friend.  I teach classes at Michael's.  For the last class 10 students signed up, 2 students showed up.  I was prepared for a lecture format but the low attendance allowed me to give each one personal attention.  That attention turned into conversation and resulted in a partnership for a September event; "A Taste of Suffolk".  McKenzie is a young, creative, inspiring, woman; with a 4 month old son and husband in the military.  She keeps me on my toes, motivated to push the boundaries and venture into new territory.  A larger class would likely not have given us time to connect.  Again I realize God always has a plan and it is always the best.  I am thankful for my new friend.

Dreamcatchers; spell check thinks it is suppose to be two words but I keep finding it spelled as one so I'm going with that.  If any of you know which is correct please leave a comment to let me know.  Moving past the spelling issue; below are the first 2 dreamcatchers I made.  I took them to a local church event where they had games for the kids, live music, free corn on the cob, and a variety of vendors; including us (H and L Creations).  I got a lot of nice comments on the jewelry; but the dreamcatchers caught the eye of adults and kids alike; girls and boys.  I think this is an indicator that they would be a good item to put in the inventory for the show.  I like the traditional round dreamcatchers but the variety is limitless; so won't be sticking with just one shape.  I have a great source for horseshoes; my sister has horses.  My husband is great at cleaning and painting metal.  O.K. now that all the work is done it is my turn; start making horseshoe centered dreamcatchers.  How fun is this; and again endless possibilities.  Here are the first 2, will post more pictures in a couple weeks (I'm out of town and need to be home to get the horseshoes cleaned property ).  I'm so excited about this new venture.  What do you think of the first 2 passes at it?











Saturday, July 26, 2014

Steampunk...ish

I like the latest wire pieces a lot but I wanted to change it up a little.  Using the same basic technique but making a bolder statement with the bulkier look that is popular today.  I have also been collecting some pieces I could use to venture into the Steampunk venue; just putting my toes in so to speak, nothing radical.  I don't know that this even qualifies as Steampunk but that is what it makes me think of.  Like it enough to try a few more, what do you think?




Update on the Custom Set

This set was first featured in my July 5th post.  It is my first commissioned piece.  My friend picked the main stones and left the details to me.  That always makes me a little nervous.  Fast forward to a couple days after the wedding (the event she needed the jewelry for) and I got a very exciting report.  A little history; my friend lives in Michigan not too far from Ann Arbor, college town (University of Michigan), very artsy area.  The Ann Arbor Art Festival had recently taken place and at the wedding (she was not the bride) she was asked if she bought the set at the Art Festival.  Since I'm relatively new in the jewelry design world, the idea that someone thought what I made came from a source where much more experienced artists sell, I was THRILLED!  Such a confidence builder and it just feels good.  Don't want to get too confident; just brave enough to push the envelope but not so much that I get arrogant (that is never attractive).  Thanks for letting me share my excitement.  Same technique, different styles to come.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wire and Crystal Dragonflys

The delicate colorful dragonfly draws the attention of many artists who attempt to duplicate their beauty.  In a continuing effort to expand the H and L Creations line I joined those trying to capture the look of the dragonfly.  Crystals wrapped in cooper form the body and wings.

Curiosity caused me to do a little research on the dragonfly.  Here are a few interesting facts:
  • They are among the fastest flying insects in the world.
    • Who records such facts?
  • They don't walk well.
    • Why would you bother walking if you could fly?
  •  Their wings are very strong.
    • So delicate looking, proof looks can be deceiving.
What do you think?  Did we capture the look?





Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Latest Wire Wrap

I got to spend over 2 weeks in Michigan recently.  Had good intentions to do some marketing and a show or two.  However, since I'm use to spending the entire summer in Michigan those 2 weeks went by very fast.  No shows, very little marketing, and no time to play with wire or beads.  That said, it was still a great vacation.  Spent time with family, played with the new colt; and celebrated my nephew's engagement to his girlfriend (we love her, very happy she said yes).

A couple days before heading back to VA my sister wore a necklace I made, a friend of ours liked the style and size; just needed different colors.  After matching some stones to the dress it will be worn with, the turquoise set emerged.  While I was on a roll I decided to make the black and red set.  I was a little hesitant about the large black stones on this one but I think the scale worked well once it was assembled.  This is a style that I wasn't sure about at first but not only does it get great reviews; I'm having fun with it.

If you have any interest in a unique necklace/earring set send me a note with colors and, if applicable, a theme.  I'll make something up and provide you pictures and pricing.  I anticipate sets to cost between $30 and $40 plus shipping.

Feedback always appreciated.