Death of a Printer

9 05 2011

(… and it wasn’t pretty!)

It started with a simple “5200 ERROR” – nothing I couldn’t handle. Just unplug the printer, wait a few minutes, plug it back in and power up while holding the reset button. But when new errors started showing up once or twice a week, I feared the worst…

Eventually, the message “WASTE INK ABSORBER FULL” showed up, and I knew it was time to get professional help, so I perused the “FIXYOUROWNPRINTER” website. If you own an older printer (or one that is worth less than a service call!), you need to check out this site. Non-techie types of people post questions about their printer problems, and wonderful technical folks respond, providing help and advice on how to fix their issue.

So… I learned how to clean out the waste ink absorbers. And I learned how to set the ABS-M and ABS-P LEVELS to zero (I have no idea what that is, but it helped…!). I cleaned the cartridge contacts, the underside foam buffer pad, and weird little plastic combs that collected huge amounts of ink. And I got very, very, dirty…

Not My Best Look...

But it seemed to work – my printer was printing, and all was well. And then the black ink  gave out, so I changed the cartridge. Nothing new about this – done it many many times. Except now the printer says “INK CARTRIDGE JAM” – so I go thru all the steps to clear errors, and the red alarm light goes off, and the error goes away.

Until the next day. Now the error is “”PUT IN CARTRIDGE,”  so I do what all the expert advice says to do – I remove the entire cartridge, turn the printer off/on, replace the cartridge, and reset. It doesn’t help. I unplug the printer. I get into maintenance mode in the menu, and reset all the user controls. PUT IN CARTRIDGE. PUT IN CARTRIDGE. PUT IN CARTRIDGE…. the friggin cartridge is in – I swear! I disconnect everything, and unplug it, and leave it for 2 days. I try again. I get the same message, so I shut it down, open it up, and re-clean all contacts. I try again… PUT IN CARTRIDGE. PUT IN CARTRIDGE. PUT IN CARTRIDGE….

I Killed the Printer!

I confess… I went a little crazy. I pulled up the platen and ripped the ribbon cables right out of it. I tore the plastic front plate off with my hands, and I pried off plastic bits with a screwdriver. Then I dropped it on the floor. Several times.

Sometimes, the frustration is just not worth the effort. And tomorrow, I get a new printer….





Loving the Business… of the Business

2 02 2011

I love being an independent jewelery designer.

I love to design pieces and make jewelry – bending wire, hammering metal, playing with fire… it is so satisfying to indulge in chaos, and to just create. I can lose myself for hours reading my jewelry technique books, and I always keep a notebook with me so I can jot down my latest ideas when inspiration hits. I am a tool junkie of the worst (best?) kind – I covet all the latest new jewelry tools, and prowl the aisles of Harbor Freight and Home Depot, thinking of creative ways to adapt all their tools to suit my jewelry making.

And I love to teach too… I was “drafted” as a teacher many years ago, and surprisingly, I discovered I enjoyed it alot, and was pretty good at it. Luckily, I”ve been able to combine both my love for jewely making with my love of teaching – it’s great fun to develop new projects for classes, and very satisfying to see my students create and expand their skills. And I learn from them too, all the time.

I have been creating, teaching, and selling for 5 years now, and I still appreciate so much when someone is willing to part with their money, to own one of my pieces, or spend time with me to learn what I have to teach. It is always a thrill for me when I get a new customer or a student, and a real joy whenever a customer or a student returns back for more.

People always ask “why do you blog?” For me, this blog is an extension of my teaching and creating. I don’t post that often, but I try to post on topics that people will find interesting, and hopefully useful too. And just like with my customers and students, I get a little thrill every time I get a new reader, or a returning one…!





Consignment… the Good, the Bad, and the Very Ugly!

13 01 2011

Sorry… no photos this time – just an important public announcement!

Whenever someone buys one of my pieces, I get a thrill. I admit it – there is something very exciting about having a customer part with their hard earned money to own something I designed and crafted.  All of us who sell our creations feel this way – believe me, it’s waaaay too hard to be doing it just for the money!!

Most artists and craftsfolks depend on a variety of venues for selling their items. I have my StudioDax Etsy store, and I sell at a few shows during the year, but I’ve made alot of my sales in the past by selling on consignment thru other stores. Consignment can be GREAT! It offers an audience for my jewelry that I probably wouldn’t reach any other way, and it keeps my pieces visible in places where people shop.

When consignment goes well, it is a wonderful partnership between the creator, and the seller. By focusing on the creative side, I am able to design more, and improve my techniques. The store takes care of the selling, tax collection, and marketing, and always has a supply of unique items that keeps their shop fresh. Both of us benefit – and the customers do to!

But sometimes it doesn’t go so well, and unfortunately, the artist is usually the one who gets impacted for the worse. If the store owner doesn’t have good business sense , or has financial problems, they may not pay for the items that have sold, or may not return the items that don’t sell. Sometimes, they don’t have time to manage their inventory well, or they just don’t care enough, and items get broken or stolen. And in some very troubling cases, store owners are just sleezy, and take advantage of people, with no intent to do the right thing. For these people…. I only hope that Karma wrecks havoc in their life!

I have been lucky. I’ve done consignment with 4 stores, and each one has been wonderful, taking care of my pieces, paying me on time, and returning my items when they didn’t sell. But I’ve been reading some disturbing posts about stores that have been contacting Etsy sellers, signing contracts, and the sellers send off their pieces in good faith, only to find out that they’ve been robbed.

As a business, as an etsian, as an artisan, and an honest person… these actions both sadden me, and really piss me off. So  as a public service announcement,  I am posting a link to a website that highlights the financial, moral, and legal issues that some folks have been exposed to, from working with a store called Queen City Emporium in Missouri. I hope that none of my readers have been scammed by them – if you have please make sure to connect with the site author, who is compiling complaints about this store.

There are so many great shops to consign with, and the benefits are great. Unfortunately, it’s the bad ones like this that get the attention…





How to Store It

9 01 2011

or…. where the jewelry sleeps!

I recently posted about my terribly crowded workbench, and if I wasn’t too embarrassed, I’d show you the other places I’ve been encroaching on to store my supplies, materials, and tools! The dining room has my shipping and packaging area, I keep my photo set-up in my bedroom, and I have various items boxed up in the living room, the laundry room, and the garage. I even have a bench shear on a small workbench which lives in a hallway… the house is taken over!!

But once an item is completed, and ready to be sold, I like to make sure that it is safe and secure, and easy to find. At least most of the time!! So I keep my “FOR SALE” jewelry in a case specifically made for storing and transporting jewelry…

Jewelry "Salesman" Case

This is a softsided salesman case – the trays inside can vary in depth, and have interchangeable inserts. Most of mine have velvet pads, but I also have some trays with separated compartments, and one has a foam insert for rings.

2 Half Trays at the Top

Most of my trays are full sized, but I have a few half sized trays. I like to keep my rings in a smaller tray so that it doesn’t take up much room on my show table – my ring tray has a foam ring insert, and it’s the only one I pull out and leave on the table “as-is” for selling. I have a divided tray for the other smaller tray – I currently have a few pendants and bracelets residing in there.

Bracelets, Cuffs, and Bangles.... Oh My!

It’s not a mess… it just looks like it! This is a single, deep tray, and most of bracelets “live” here, although I usually store the ones with chains in ziplock bags. I like to work with alot of different things – you’ll find metal work, wirework, bead stringing, and some leatherwork in here! I also have quite a few bead crochet bracelets, but most of them are kept with my teaching materials as samples for classes.

Earrings.... Part I

Earring... Part II

I have ALOT of earrings – and I keep most of them in these 2 inch deep trays. I made the divider inserts with heavy stock, and I’m able to store up to 15 earring cards in each section, or for hoops or dangle styles that I don’t keep on cards.

Just Hanging Around!

I am always looking for ways to store my chain necklaces w/pendants so that they don’t get all tangled up – placing them all in individual ziplock bags would work, but it takes waaaay too much time to take out and put back for shows.I think my latest method works well – each chain had a tag, and each tag is strung on a hook (see it at the top right side). I use twist ties to bundle and keep the chains together, and then store the pendants of each group in a large ziplock (I removed the bags for the photo). To set them out, I just grab the hook, untwist the bundles, and hang them up by the tags. I have 5 trays like this for different styles, but I figure one is sufficient to show you!

Everything in it's Own Compartment!

Some trays have specialized compartments that fit inside, and are used to keep items separated  – I show here one with a necklace/bracelet insert, and one with small squares that fit standard pre-fab earring cards. I use it instead to hold my extra pendants that are not on chains, or to keep the pendants on very thin chains from getting tangled up.

So – this is my method of storing my finished items once they are priced and tagged, which works for transporting items for shows. This is pretty much an industry standard for jewelry, but it took me years of using plastic shoeboxes and ziplock bags before I finally gave-in and purchased this set-up, and I wish I had done it earlier!





First Show of the Season

13 11 2010

Please excuse this blog interruption for a brief advertising announcement!

I love meeting people and talking about my work and my teaching – the best place to do that is at shows, because part of the reason people come to shows is to meet the artist/artisan. On the other hand…. I absolutely HATE setting up and tearing down the booth, so I only do a few shows every year. Tomorrow, I’m doing a new show that is only a few miles from my house – I hope to introduce my classes to some potential new students, and make a few sales too!

Holiday Boutique - Sunday 11/14/10

If you’re local, I’d love for you to stop by and say hi!! Since I have now pulled all my consignment from shops, I’ll have quite a full stock of items out!





Yoda Style Business

28 09 2010

Do or do not… there is no try.” Yoda

Sage Business Advice....

I got a great laugh today from reading a thread in one of the Etsy forums, which pretty much sums up all the great advice given to folks who ask how to improve the sales in their online stores. A huge thanks to StitchNTyme who started the thread, and all the fabulous Etsy folks who contributed. So here is my compilation of the list – I hope you find it useful…. or at least amusing!

  • Take better photos – yours are too blurry, too dark, too light, too far away, the background is too busy, the background is too boring, there are too many shadows, there are too many reflections, you should use a live model, don’t use a live model, show the back, show different angles, etc, etc, etc…
  • Write better descriptions – be more descriptive, don’t be so flowery, be concise, expand, give measurements, add metric measurements, what does it feel like, how much does it weigh, can it be altered, does it come in different colors, how did you make it, etc, etc, etc.
  • Open up an account on Flickr, Kaboodle, Stumbleupon, Tumblr, Squidoo, StyleHive, Digg, Delicious, etc, etc, etc….
  • Install and learn how to use Google Analytics
  • Learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Submit your own shop to the search engine
  • Change your shop announcement
  • Change your items titles/names/tags/keywords
  • Change the font in your banner (especially if it’s Papyrus or Comic Sans
  • Create a blog and post the link everywhere
  • Create Facebook and or Facebook Fan page
  • Twitter (or is it tweet???)
  • Take out paid ads
  • Promote a give-away
  • Submit articles to other peoples blogs
  • Join list sites
  • Give free items to bloggers to write reviews for you
  • Post a YouTube video
  • Raise your prices
  • Lower your prices
  • Leave comments on blogs, and leave a link back
  • Include Moo cards with your order
  • Give free gifts with purchases
  • Offer free gift wrapping
  • Join “pyramid” buy list
  • Find your niche market
  • Broaden your customer base
  • Create a PIF (Pay it Forward) listing for good karma
  • Join teams with other sellers
  • Trade with other “low sales” shops to boost your sale
  • Take a break
  • Work more on your craft
  • Work more on your business
  • Create something (anything!) tied to Twilight or True Blood
  • Give it time
  • Make a change
  • Give a % of your profits to charity
  • Learn to read tarot/tea leaves/crystal ball

Yeah…. the list goes on. Basically though, it boils down to 2 major things:

  1. Create something people want to buy
  2. Promote it to people who want it

Not that this is so easy – but everything else, really, is just a means to an end!





Looking Good

1 07 2010

First impressions count. No matter what you sell, the way you package it up is an extension of how your customers see you. Many folks who sell handmade items tend to a little overboard, but that’s not needed –  the wrapping doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should compliment your items and reflect your style.

"Old" Earring Cards

When I first started selling jewelry a few years ago, I liked how my pieces looked on parchment – a classic look, that showed sophistication (I used to put them in coordinated beige organza bags). When I look at the parchment now, it seems very dated, and doesn’t reflect the uniqueness of my jewelry.

Current Packaging

What a difference a little change makes! My jewelry now looks so much more current using vivid colors, and it really pops! At shows it is very visible – people are attracted to the brightness, and come over to take a look. I still use the same style cards and tags, and I still print them myself  (NOTE: my business changed to “StudioDax”), but making this simple change in color totally transforms how they are seen by customers.

Don’t be afraid to change it up every once in a while! Even if you have a strong brand, you can add a small change or a new accent to shake things up and keep your look current.