Monday, November 17, 2014

Five things you might not know about my online shop

I've been thinking a lot about my customers lately.  I'm trying to better understand our relationship, and see things from their point of view.  In doing this it has occurred to me that there are probably things that the customers I interact with at shows aren't aware of concerning my online shop.  Things that seem obvious to me, but maybe aren't obvious to them. 

Anyway, a little prelude.  I sell on a website called Etsy It's a massive marketplace of what used to be mostly handmade things, but now includes vintage and supplies.  I have my own "mini-site" there with beads and jewelry, and Etsy provides some online tools for me to manage my shop, in exchange for some fees associated with the privilege of listing and selling things.  You can also message me there and I always respond within the day.  It's open 24/7, and yes, if you find yourself (ahem) unable to sleep some night, you can peruse to your hearts' content.  Trust me, you won't get back to sleep very soon.  If you've never shopped on Etsy, all you need to do to buy there is to create your account following these simple instructions.  All they want is an email address, a user name, and a password. 

So let's clear up some mysteries, shall we?

Five Things You Might Not Know About My Online Shop
1.  I offer gift certificates.  If you think your special person would probably like my jewelry, but can't decide what to get them, you can let them do the choosing, in a very civilized way.  All you have to do is purchase the gift certificate, then give me their email address and I'll send them a special code to use during checkout to use their certificate.  Or I'll send them a paper gift certificate if you prefer.  By law gift certificates don't expire in California, so they have plenty of time to browse my offerings and choose something pretty.   Easy.

2.  I ship all of the items in my shop anywhere in the United States for FREE.  Pretty nice, huh?   I do ship internationally, but charge for it as it's gotten quite expensive.  So it costs you the same to purchase my things whether you do it in person at a show or online. 

3.  I custom fit most of my items according to your desires, at no extra charge.  You don't have to worry if the item you order fits.  I try to provide all of the information you need to decide (height, width, size, color, etc.), but you can also send me some key information and I'll help you make a good choice.

4.  I package my items so that they are ready to gift.  To yourself, or to someone you love.  I do my best to recycle and reduce landfill waste in the process. 

5.  I happily refund your money if the item you buy doesn't meet your expectations, for any reason, if you return it within 2 weeks.  You pay the return shipping.  It's only fair since I paid to send it to you, right?

I also offer some special deals through my newsletter, but that's a topic for another day.  Have I left out anything?  Please let me know and I'd be happy to answer. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sacramento Arts Festival!

It's show time again!  Many rooms of our house are presently invaded by my multifaceted preparatory work for the Sacramento Arts Festival coming right up on 7-9 November.  Yes, I have a nice, still new-ish studio, but I can't help but spread things out everywhere.  Working on that.

But this year I'll have a brand new booth design and I'm so excited!  I'm trying to efficiently use my smaller booth space (I'm in a center booth this year, not a corner), and at the same time convey a better sense of my "brand".  Yes, I'm going down that path, trying to communicate better with my potential customers about what I do.  As you may have seen I have a little bit of a logo now (thanks to Sonya Paz Design), and I'm carrying that consistent theme through my booth design and signage, my packaging, my Etsy shopmy website and my blog. 

My new booth design will display jewelry on vertical surfaces as well as a few smaller tables, and it will be easier to set up and tear down.  I'm also incorporating some small tweaks I learned when Judy Mountain gave a booth design workshop in my studio to the Silicon Valley Fireflies.  Work in each color and design theme is displayed on fabric covered boards, and it's helping me to think more about "collections" of work and how design themes consistently carry over a number of pieces.  It's helping my brain game too, and I'm hoping it will enable more calm moments as the show comes together.

With that, here's a few peeks at some of the new work I'll be bringing to the show.  I'll be sharing some images of the booth setup in a few days.

Pine Creek earrings, with memories from a recent hike in the Warner Mountains.

Dewdrop Honeycomb interchangeable ring.  This ring top unscrews, and you can fit my other ring top designs onto the same base.
Leather snap bracelets with my lampwork cabachons.  The charms unsnap and you can collect all the colors you like, to create your own unique look.

Lampwork and antiqued brass necklace in earthy greens, golds, and taupe.
With all of the changes I've made to my booth since the last time I posted about it, I think it's time to do a new blog post focusing on booth design. I swear, I've been just as busy with the sewing machine, glue gun, and paper cutter as anything else this fall!

For those of you who can't make it to the show (or can't wait!), I'm stocking my Etsy shop with many of my new pieces before the show.  The shop will be closed during the show, but you can shop up until it starts and not miss out on anything.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

New Work

Greetings!  Are you as excited about fall as I am?  I'm so yearning for rain, and cool weather, and fires in the fireplace, and home made soup.  After a busy, warm weekend away in a wonderful class with Kristina Logan, I'm back home and in the home stretch preparing for the Sacramento Arts Festival.  This year I have a completely new booth, so if you're coming to the show, look for me in space 628.  It's a center booth (not a corner), and I'm looking forward to a more intimate arrangement, with more work on the walls, and a stepped up branding experience.  More on that later.

I'm trying to be better about posting new work to Etsy on a regular basis, so here are a few things I've listed in recent weeks.  We've had to have quite a few dead trees removed lately, which we always hate, but the upside of that is more light for photography outdoors.  I now have a great spot in the front where I can take soft box shots with natural light, and I'm loving the results.
"Ancient Fruit" necklace.  I love how the etched Reptilian spacer beads harmonize with the copper focal, don't you?

Vibrant Fuschia Acorn Necklace.  Sometimes you just have to tweak nature a bit.

Speckled Tan Acorn Necklace.

Earthy Browns and Greens Lampwork Bead Necklace.  This is more lampwork and less metal, and I love how it turned out. Inspired by a fabric bunting-style banner made for me by local artist Eileen Brewer of ThrowintheTowel.

Heart Shaped Felt, Glass, and Metal Brooch.
If any of these pieces are softly calling to you, my advice is to grab them while you can, because they're heading to Sacramento with me in a few weeks and may not be back.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The 2014 ISGB Gathering! Thanks for the memories.

I'm just back from an incredible week in Houston attending the 2014 International Society of Glass Beadmakers' annual conference in Houston, and will probably be basking in the glow for weeks to come.  In case you can't imagine what such a meeting might be like, picture a few hundred people from all corners of the world who are addicted to melting glass all converging in one place to take classes, catch up on each others' lives, play on the torch together at night, honor their members, hear amazing technical and inspirational talks, sell their work to the general public, buy tools and supplies, and generally have fun.  All of this while freezing in the hotel and hardly ever venturing out - ha!

This happens every year, and despite the sad sound of "Houston in July", I decided to submit a presentation proposal and also take a class.  I put together a presentation highlighting a number of years of collaborative work with metalsmiths, seed bead artists, and other glass artists, which also included a filmed demonstration of some of my techniques.  It was so much fun to recall the inspiration and creative processes, and share photos of the work in progress, and I really enjoyed my first time as a presenter.  The class I took was from UK bead artist Amanda Muddimer, and it was incredible.  More and more I find myself pushing myself to master precision work in glass (it's hard!), and her sundial and harlequin cabachon designs are both challenging and stunning.  I can't wait to translate these skills into my own designs.

The Meanies were front and center in my presentation as they were part of my first collaboration with Cyndie Smith.  At the show in Houston I showed them in a new way, as a botanical specimen collection.  What do you think?

Meanie cultivars.
My most recent collaboration, while not covered in the presentation, was to work with the amazing Joy Munshower (glass sculptor extraordinaire) on an aquatic-themed donation piece for the live auction the night of the banquet.  It included one of Joy's incredible octopus focals, plus some of my own hollows, electroformed shark vertebrae, and gemstones brought back from Israel a few years ago.  

The slideshow below includes many of my wonderful memories from the conference, and also a shot of Penny Dickinson (ISGB Southwest Regional Director) modeling our collaborative piece that she won in the auction.

Are you making lampwork beads and intrigued about the benefits of being an ISGB member?  Visit: to learn about the various levels of membership and their associated benefits.  I am deeply grateful for all of the opportunities to learn and grow that have come my way through this organization.  And if you're a Silicon Valley area bead maker please visit our local Silicon Valley Fireflies chapter's website to learn how you can attend one of our monthly meetings and become part of this wonderful group.

P.S.  I won a Paragon kiln in the raffle.

Straw Bale Garden Update: Week 15

I've been out of town for a week and the garden has skyrocketed!  I'll show you what's happening there, and then my next post will be about my trip to Houston for the ISGB Gathering conference.  It was FABulous!

How does my garden grow?  FABULOUSLY, thank you very much.
Yep, we've barely begun to start the harvest and I'm a convert.  This is already the best producing, healthiest, lowest effort vegetable garden we've ever grown here, and I'm still loving it.  The bales are getting drip irrigation once per day for about 10-15 minutes, and they seem pretty happy with that schedule.

Spanish Musica (a lovely flat Italian bean) and Kentucky Blue Lake beans are starting to ripen.
Persian cucumbers - love 'em!  This one is almost a little too big now.
The German Orange Strawberry tomatoes are nearly ready too, and they're the biggest we've ever grown.  Oddly, this determinate plant is one of the smallest of the lot.  The sprawling Sungold (indeterminate) has loads of tiny little tomatoes.  I'm starting to think I may actually need that tall trellis after all, at least for some of our tomatoes.
We've got a number of clusters of plum tomatoes, and some seem to have blossom end rot.  I ground up some egg shells and watered them into the bales.  I'm hoping this will work, since calcium is supposed to address that in soil, at least.
The onions are getting big too.  I may have to harvest some as green onions to allow the rest to bulb out.
OK, so technically these leeks are not in a bale, but they're looking great!  I planted them deep and slowly added soil around them as they grow, to make more of the tasty white part.  Like the onions they will need thinning.
Squash, eggplant, basil and broccoli.
We've gotten at least one yellow pattypan squash to date, and I need to harvest some basil to make pesto.  There is one eggplant in process, and the tiny plant has several more stunning blooms.  I can't imagine that tiny plant growing even one of those enormous vegetables.

We have had a problem with broccoli caterpillars.  I tried hand picking them every day for almost a week, but the moths just keep laying eggs under the leaves (ick).  I made a concoction of soap, water, and cayenne (it clogged the sprayer until I ran it through a coffee filter) and sprayed the top and undersides of all the leaves, and miraculously the worms have abated, but I see new eggs to next I'm going to try some Bt powder from Safer.  Broccoli is a lot of work!  I remember my dad growing it when I was a kid (organically?  who knows) and he would just soak it in a sink full of salty water to eliminate all the worms before we ate it.  <>  I guess another alternative is the floating row cover, to prevent the moths from laying the eggs.

I'm feeding worm casting tea, sometimes aerated, sometimes not, and I imagine that's largely responsible for everything being so vigorous.  And I feel warm and squishy all over every morning when I go out to walk among the bales and soak it all in.  This is truly food for my soul.


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