Stitches: A Fiber Show

22 02 2011

I think of my jewelry as falling into the “metal arts” category – silver, copper, hammers, and torches – yep, that’s metal arts! I sometimes use beads and gemstones, but most of the time, they are the accents, not the focus.

I have 2 major exceptions to this, which I call my “soft” side – my bead crochet, which uses seed beads, and my kumihimo, which uses colored cords and fibers. And this past weekend, I indulged a bit in my soft side, and I attended Stitches.

Stitches is a convention of all things fiber: spinning, knitting, weaving, crocheting – it is a huge meeting of the soft and fluffy yarns, the new wool blends, the natural fibers, and the hand-dyed… it is the opposite of a bead show, where all the materials are stone and glass and gems.

Aisles at Stitches (click photo for close-up)

Look at all the vivid colors – what you can’t see is the textures and the different yarns – the silks, the wools, the cashmeres, the soys, the cottons – absolutely wonderful to take in. I really love the weaving – it looks like something I could get into in the future, although I don’t know what I’d do with the fabric once woven! There were also gorgeous sweaters, jackets, socks, and blankets – available in patterns and kits… if only I was fiber-friendly!

Marion Jewels in Fiber Booth (click photo for close-up)

I spent one day roaming the floor, and checking out the goods… I bought some great ribbon style yarn, which I’m using for some kumihimo projects (I’ll do that in a later post), and I spent a day doing demo’s at a friends booth – Marion Jewels in Fiber. Marion has a great online store, where she carries an extraodinary selection of silk threads, as well as the full line of C-Lon cording. Also, she sells kumihimo kits, micro-macrame materials, tools, and my StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig.

My StudioDax Bead Crochet Jig - Demo Kit

After doing demos for a year or so now, I’ve pretty much got it down – my demo kit includes a couple of projects in different stages: the multi-purple bracelet is almost done (see the cords threaded thru the endcaps and focal bead), the solid green size 8 beads, and the 3 color spiral size 6 beads (peach, white, and bronze) are bracelets in progress, and the solid black teardrop beads that are still on the jig. The other pieces show how to remove the jig from the crochet rope (the multi-color stripes on the jig), as well as some examples of using the jig to make ropes with smaller delicas and size 11 beads. And I always have a sample of what it looks like to start a bead rope without the jig – you can see it on the right in the photo, below the awl – it looks a little like a knot of beads!

I appreciate all my customers that buy from my StudioDax shop , and I love when they leave me feedback letting me know how much they enjoy using the jig, but it’s great fun doing demos to show how easy it is to use, and having people buy the jig on the spot… instant gratification!!

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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!





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.





It’s Showtime!

12 05 2010

The days are getting longer, the temperature is rising, and the flowers are starting to bloom. We all know what that means – it’s showtime! Noooooo – not the circus, and not the theater, but the summer craft show circuit. I love being outside, and interacting with customers, and I thought it was time for a quick review of what we call “THE CHECKLIST” – the what you absolutely positively, must bring with you when you do craft shows… (NOTE: click on the list to enlarge, then print):

These are the things that anyone doing a craft show should remember, regardless of what they craft. And… if you are a jewelry kinda person like me, than you’ll want to remember a couple of extra items, just to make sure that you’ve got everything covered:


I hope that you find these useful as you start planning your summer craft show schedule. There are plenty of lists all over online, so if these don’t work for you, just do a quick google and I’m sure you’ll find something else.And if I missed something critical – please let me know!