Sunday, July 31, 2011

Saturday Link List...moved to Sunday this week

Things got thrown off at the end of this month because of the design team post, but I didn't want to skip this.  Welcome to this week's edition of my link list!  Enjoy!

For those of you who enjoy Carol's (SandFibers) work and are also beadweavers, take advantage of this free pattern of hers.  If you don't beadweave, Carol's work is so gorgeous that it will inspire you to start.

If you've been a part of the Etsy community and have been proactive about learning how to improve your shop, hopefully you've already read (and are doing) at least a few of the tips here.  It is fairly lengthy and covers a lot of topics so there may be something new for you.  It's FREE so take a peak.

I have mentioned foodgawker before.  I'm sure that I'll mention it again.  Craftgawker is one of their sister sites (yes, there are more, too, that I've never even dared to peak at).  In case you needed another crafty site to frequent, right?  There is an application process for this site so all of the tutorials and photos are pretty high quality.  I get inspired just looking at what's on the front page.

Now that I post the vast majority of my Tweets directly from Facebook (unless I'm replying directly to someone else's message), I don't use these tool much.  However, if you post URLs to Twitter or other sites where you don't want extra characters, this is a great way to shorten the links.

Hopefully someone else reading this enjoys chocolate covered pretzels as much as I do.  This recipe is very straight forward.  I love the idea of using mini chocolate chips to add detail.

Did you use one of the resources, tutorials, or recipes from my link list?  Leave me a link in the comments or send me an e-mail ( with your photos and stories.  I would love to post them here!

Friday, July 29, 2011

July design team reveal: the amazing purple donut transformed

It's the last Friday of the month, which means that it's time for Kristie's design team reveal!  I'm pushing back my Friday Feature and Saturday Link Lists posts this week so those will resume tomorrow.

I am honored that Kristie accepted me as a guest member of her design team.  This is the first time that I've participated.  For those who don't remember, this is the selection of ceramic donuts and buttons that we got to choose from.

I chose the middle purple donut.  I knew that I wanted to create a beaded bail for it with a beaded rope.  I chose two purple delicas for the bail and a champagne mix of delicas for the rope.
I started with the rope.  I still think that this would look awesome in a gray, but I couldn't pair my purples with something that I liked with the pictures online so I went with champagne.  I made this with tubular herringbone, which was something new for me.  In the future, I would make a rope with 6 beads around, not 8, but the thicker one works for this because I wanted more of a statement piece.

The herringbone was pretty fun.  It's a little tedious, but I think it may give me a new venue for some of the delica combinations I've been planning but simply cannot get excited about working in peyote right now.  Part of the tediousness of the rope came from the length.  A bracelet will work up much more quickly.
I made a really big bail because I was worried about the rope not fitting.  When I made a bail for one of Kristie's donuts a couple years ago, I made it way too tight and only a thin ribbon will fit through.  This has inspired me to redo that at some point.  Anyway, the big bail works with this statement piece.  I like how the purples coordinate with the donut.  I wanted the magenta shade so the piece would have a brighter pop of color.

The donut is so reflective!  I had a hard time taking a picture without glare that didn't turn the purple into black.  I am pleased with how the purple did turn out in a lot of these shots.  Kristie's donuts are so much fun to work with because her craftsman ship is so great.  If you're interested in your own, they're available here.

I added an extender chain for this necklace.  The rope is 17".  The extender will lengthen it up to 22".  I can add a longer chain if necessary.  The delicas are so light that the rope didn't weigh the piece down as much as I thought it would.

I'll have this item up for sale in my Etsy shop sometime next week.  You're welcome to reserve it now if you're interested.  I am still clueless on a name for it so if you have any inspiration, please let me know.

One of the best parts of this team is that you get to see what all of the other members created this month as well.  Click on the picture links to see what they made.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

a look at how I got where I am today

Earlier this month, Patrice at The Soap Seduction wrote a post about how far she's come with her products and her business in general including her shop name, labeling, and photography.  I decided that it was such a good idea that I would write a similar post about my own progress.

I'll start with some of my earliest photos.  I'm pretty proud of a lot of my earliest pieces, but my photos don't do them justice.  My earliest listings left a lot to be desired, too.

I went through a period with my old digital camera where I shot in the direct sunlight.  At least these pictures have better clarity that my earliest ones, and I was cropping and editing by then.

Fast forward to fall 2009 when I got my current digital camera.  I had no idea how to use it when I got it.

Through the spring of 2010 the best of my photos looked like this.  I did learn how to use filtered natural light at least.

After the Iowa Arts Festival, I got serious about overhauling my entire Etsy shop, including rephotographing the vast majority of my inventory and updating all of my listings so that they were pretty close to their present form.  I shot most of it outside with a homemade natural light filter.

I still have a number of the better pictures from that set in my shop.  Eventually I'd like to have more listings with gray backgrounds, but most of these pictures are good.

I made my light box in July 2010, which was another learning curve.

I really haven't looked back since I made my light box.  I would still like to experiment with using it in natural light more, but otherwise I've been really happy with it and how I've continued to improve with my photography.

I'm honestly more impressed with how much I've learned about photography and the process of running an online business than I am with my jewelry skills.  I've always been pretty fearless when it comes to attempting new crafty endeavors.  In general, if I want to learn something, I do everything that I can to get there.  I don't wait around for someone else to help me or sit around thinking, "What if?" I've applied that philosophy to everything involved in the process of running an Etsy shop.

With that being said, I'm still very proud that, among other things, I've 1) developed several of my own jewelry designs like my button embellished right angle weave bracelets, 2) written patterns for these designs, and 3) made a number of entries that I felt were worthy of the EBW Challenges.

Where am I going from here? I'm still tweaking my photos and my listings, which I'm sure will always be true.  I don't have any specific plans for new patterns right now, but I hope to continue to develop new designs and write patterns for them.  Patterns have sold steadily in my shop so I'd like to release new ones as I can.  I'm also planning to further develop my own style so that what's in my shop more truly reflects who I am and what my jewelry is about.  I've enjoyed learning a lot of different techniques over the last few years.  It's been a good learning process, but not all of these endeavors are reflective of my shop.  I've discontinued a couple lines this year and may discontinue additional lines as already marked down items sell out so I can narrow my shop's focus.

I really appreciate all of you who have been with me from the start or at least through the last year or two and have provided so much feedback for me.  I would not still be with Etsy if it did not have a lot of great members who have made it a good community.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

in the works this week and other updates

I've spent most of this past week working on my design piece for Kristie's team reveal, which is on Friday.  Here are a couple sneak peaks of my champagne herringbone rope for it.

The September EBW Challenge theme is Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My.  You can read more about it here.   You can take any element of lions, tigers, and bears and pair it with any element from The Wizard of Oz.  I am still obsessed with my right angle weave base that I've used for my last two challenge pieces.  I was planning on using Swarovskis as embellishment with a similar base for this challenge.  I had to go to Michael's last week to get something for my design piece and I picked up these beads instead.
I have used Swarovskis a few times, mostly because of the Art Beads blogging program.  They are neat, but they honestly aren't my favorite.  These beads won't have the same bling that the Swarovskis, too, but they will definitely be more colorful and fun, which also fits with this theme.  I am also very proud of the fact that I got out of Michael's only spending $16.  I had a 25% off everything coupon which helped.  Always go to Michael's with a coupon!

I finished my design piece on Sunday and have started working on my Wizard of Oz piece.
I asked Sharla if she had any good resources for paw print charms.  She very generously offered to send me one from her own collection.  Thanks Sharla!  It's on its way right now.  It will be my animal component for this piece.

Also, catching up, I finally found the picture of myself wearing one of Yvonne's pendants.  This picture is from November 2008.

And Patrice from The Soap Seduction gave me this award last week.  Thanks Patrice!  That's very sweet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

another house update

This post won't be quite as detailed as my house update from last week, but I've gotten a few more things accomplished that I thought I'd share.

This first thing actually isn't something I did, but I thought many of you would appreciate it.  I don't know who put this in and if they made them or bought them, but it's a cute idea and would be very easy to make yourself.  These are the door jam for the purple bedroom.

I've washed and put away almost all of our china.  My mom's mom had a huge collection.  When she moved into a retirement community a few years ago, she split it and gave half to me and half to her other granddaughter.  Several members of her family had bought the same china pattern so all of our stuff matches.  This is just a look at most of the cups/glasses and some of the bigger pieces.  Some of them are more modern pieces that we got for our wedding.  I'll have to photograph the plates and bowls some other time.  You may have noticed in the last update with the dining room table that we have a built in china hutch, which is where all of these pieces are stored now.

I have my computer desk area mostly arranged now.  I know that between this area and all of my purple bedroom storage, I have a slightly ridiculous number of desks/tables.  Hopefully this will help me stay organized and reduce the amount of clutter that I create, though.  And yep, that cord hanging down is a cable dropped through the ceiling.  I use wireless Internet in the basement and we don't have cable TV so it isn't doing much.  I'll brag again about the amount of light in our house.  I took this picture during the day with all natural light.  In the basement.

Finally, Angel would sleep on our coach sometimes in the condo.  Now that it's in the basement in this house, she sleeps on it almost every day.

I do my best to post my newest craft hub links on my group forums, but if anyone has missed them or hasn't checked the sidebar list lately, here are my newest crafty hubs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Strawberry Fields Forever

The August EBW Challenge theme is Summer's Juicy Fruit.  You can read more about it here.  When I heard that this was the theme, I immediately thought of strawberries.  Honestly they are not my favorite food, but they make me think of summer and can be very delicious in season.  When I thought of strawberries, I also thought of Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles.  I've been a big Beatles fan ever since I was little.
So I decided to create piece depicting strawberry fields with Strawberry Fields Forever as the title.

I enjoyed creating a wide right angle weave base for my June challenge entry so much that I decided to start with the same type of base for this piece.  The second layer is also the same, but then I did a different type of embellishment for the third layer.  It's more or less freeform again although not as involved as the beach freeform.  I love how the new color palette gives this piece a completely different look.

The less involved freeform made it easier to pose this piece for my pictures.  It was tough to keep the red from popping too much, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with the results.

I mentioned this in my preview post about this piece, but I have to mention again that I got more than half of the beads in this piece from Shannon (beadsandbabble).  All of the beads that I've bought from her thus far have been great.
I chose to use a metal clasp for this piece, which isn't what I usually use for my beadweaving.  There is a little story behind this, which I'll get into some other time.  For now, suffice it to say that I was looking for something different.  I think that it works well with this piece.

This cuff is available here.  Voting for the challenge will be the second week of August.  I'll have more information about that when the voting process starts.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

treasury round up

Please check out the shop of the curator who was so kind to include my work in her treasury this past week!  There's only one but it's a good one.

Karen (mysticwynd) included my Button Charm Bracelet - Christmas Trees in her I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day! treasury.