Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's a Dog's Life

Beau, my 11 year old Basset Hound.

Man's best friend has never had it so good. Dogs are a great source of companionship. They are always there to greet you when you come home. And they are always happy and looking for ways to please the Master. And in return we accept them into our hearts and make them a part of the family. And there are plenty of ways that we can pamper our pooches. I am as guilty as the next guy. Now that my kids are grown my Basset Hound is my baby. And I was very happy to find lots of cute things for my little buddy, little being a relative term, on ArtFire. So I want to share some of my favorites with you.

Spoiled Bratzwear

Hatz 4 Bratz

Blueberry & Lime Bullseye Jammeez

Diva Snuggle Sack

Jackie O Collar

Pup Tart Squeaky Toy

So as you can see there are so many cool things for your special pet on ArtFire. And believe me this is just the tip of the ice berg. Spoiled Bratzwear even has a doggie wedding gown on her site in case your pooch has that special day coming up. I don't know about you but when Beau needs something I am going to shop on ArtFire. I hope you will too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I Won

On an earlier post I blogged about the contest that Risky Beads was having called Love Potion. The challenge was to visit Risky Beads Etsy Studio. I highly recommend doing this. There are so many lovely pieces there. And they all have interesting names. I thought of doing that for my jewelry but I am not that talented and quickly began to run out of ideas. So Risky Beads has many talents in her arsenal. But back to the challenge. After viewing her pieces you needed to write a love story using just the names of her jewelry design. I had so much fun doing it and I won.

OK.... so now I have to tell the rest of the story. Only one other person besides myself entered teh challenge. So Risky Beads declared a tie and awarded both of us the pendant of our choice from the Risky Beads Studio on Etsty. Risky Beads also has a studio on ArtFire with many great designs there as well.

So here are the items we won.

I chose this piece titled Tree Hugger 2

The other winner chose this piece titled Chemistry

Great contest and great prizes. Thanks Risky Beads for making me a very happy winner. And I will be stylin for sure when my prize arrives in the mail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sports and Jewelry

About 2 years ago I saw a bracelet made with Swarovski bicones in alternating colors. When I saw it the first thing that went through my mind was wouldn't that bracelet look made in Dolphin colors? So of course I had to try it and it was awesome. But my mind didn't stop there. Then I thought wow, I could put a little silver dolphin charm on it and it would really be a Miami Dolphin Bracelet then. But I didn't stop there. Next I thought, I wonder what a heart would look like in Dolphin colors. That turned out to be my favorite one of all.

Shortly thereafter the University of Florida won the National Championship and I needed an idea for a birthday present for my daughter in law, who is an avid Gator fan and alum. So out came the beads. And I was able to find not only a Gator charm but also a National Champs charm.

And from there the idea just blossomed. I have made Buckeye jewelry for my other daughter in law who is an Ohio State alum and enthusiast and many, many more.

I really enjoy making custom items. It is really fun to make something that you know is going to have special meaning to someone. And who isn't a sports fan of one kind or another. There are so many options open to be creative and make something for that special sports nut in your family. And more ladies are becoming sports fans so this is a match made in heaven. And when a team is on top there is no better time to get those items out there.

So I think I will go make a Steeler bracelet and see what happens. I know there are a lot of Steeler fans out there.
You can order your favorite team bracelet at my ArtFire Studio. Choose team spirit category and tell me what you would like to have made. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Listing Help From Red Panda

In the ArtFire Forums section, Red Panda was kind enough to offer all of us some friendly advice on how to post a good listing. I thought it had several good ideas in it and some I really had not thought of but made good sense to me when I read them. So I thought it would be a good idea to post them here and spread the good advice around. I believe that when we help each other out then we all can succeed. And you will also get to see some of Red Panda's lovely chainmaille designs throughout the article.

Alright! First off and foremost, your title! I usually name my items descriptive words, Hence all four words in my title describe my item. The title is important for search, so I like to use at least one or two words that a person may be searching for to get my item (like "rainbow bracelet"). However, do not over do it by using a ton of keywords in your title. This looks a bit ebayish, and hey, that's what your tags are for! More on this later.

If you accept offers, check "Yes". This is a feature that AF offers that I haven't seen much elsewhere. I don't personally accept offers BUT I think it is a great feature for those that do. :)

Next, add as many pictures as you have! Verified members such as myself have 10 whole picture slots. That's twice as many as on etsy. Fill them up! I always only use nine because then there's not an extra blank space for the last picture. AF replaces pictures in the picture slots instead of giving each one their own, so there will be a blank space if you use all ten. Hence, nine pics!

Try to take pictures of your items from all angles. One that shows the whole piece, a close up, a close up on the clasp, a picture of the item in use, the back of the item, etc. Your buyer's can't pick up your item and inspect it, so try to give them that feeling through your pictures.

Describe your product to the best of your ability! Write whatever comes to mind, then re read it and edit it. One of my favorite things about AF is that you have an "inspiration" section. In mine, I wrote all about how I re-designed the bracelet as I was making it.

Select the category that you think your item fits in best. The most relevant category.
List all your materials, and then, fun time! Tags! I LOVE that artfire has unlimited tags. Here's what you should ask yourself. "what would someone search for to find my item?" Those are your tags. I use all the spellings of chainmail, as well as all the colors I used in my bracelet (along with both "rainbow" and "colorful"), among lots of other things that people would search for to find my bracelet (like bracelet, for example! lol).

I don't mark down my prices using the manager, although I do have sales from time to time. If you would like to use the manager, which I think is another great feature that AF uses, make sure to do that at the end!

Hit ADD PRODUCT and head over to the front page to watch your item appear. That's what I do anyway. lol!

If you have a system that works for you then by all means go with it. But if you are like me and just starting out and can use all the help you can get, then I think you will find some real useful ideas in Red Panda's article.

Can You Brew A Little Love Potion?

That was the question posed this morning on Risky Beads blog page. They are having a fun contest and I just could not resist. So do as I did and let your creative juices flow. You never know what might happen. Here is the scoop........

Valentine's Day is almost here! Think you're ready? Well, prove that you're up to the task by brewing a little semantic Love Potion and win this pendant:

Here's how to enter:Go to my Etsy shop and write a little love note using only the names of my pieces. You can add words like 'the' and 'a' if you like, but the winner will be the person who forms the most coherent and romantic love note using the highest number of my pieces with the fewest extraneous words. You can enter up to three times, must only use items that are currently for sale and only their titles, and cannot use the piece in the giveaway--Love Potion. Comment below with your entries.The winner will be chosen on Valentine's Day, Saturday, February 14, 2008.Good luck, Lori

So buzz on over to Lori's blog at Risky Beads and see what you can come up with.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Real Soap Opera

As I am fairly new to the crafty online selling community, I was somewhat surprised to find several people selling soap. I guess I always knew that some people do make their own soap but I had never really given it much thought. But there is a significant market there so I decided to explore it some. Here is some of what I found out in the process.

Here is what some of those crafty Soap Maker had to say..........

Chocolate Cupcake with a Strawberry on Top Soap

I love making soaps again! I used to love it and then it took over as a business but I'm going back to it as a hobbyist again, yay!

I've made M&P (melt & pour), lye soap (cold, hot, and microwave processes), and just about any variation of those possible. When I was very young I watched my grandmother make soap in the basement and to this day I can still hear her, "You just stay back there cuz I don't want you to get burned!" and see her dressed up in her attire.

Why did I start making soap? Because I have 2 red-headed kids that have VERY sensitive skin. Now I make it because it relaxes me.

Soap Smith

Stardust Handmade Cold Process Soap

I made my first soaps in the mid 1970's. I was drawn to the craft because of the long history of soap making and the handing down of techniques through the generations. I am an avid gardener and enjoy incorporating my herbs into my soaps. I am a member of the Handmade Soap maker's Guild as well as the Pa. Guild of Craftsmen.

Now with the advent of the Internet, the soap making community has grown by leaps and bounds. I believe we have the responsibility to advance the craft and pass along our new found modern soap making methods. In that light, I teach and do demos for newbies as well as seasoned soap makers at conferences and symposiums. I also offer tutorials for the soap making community through forums and mentor many new soap makers.

I make cold process hand made soap as well as glycerin soaps such as my hand carved gemstone soap rocks. I also make a full line of bath and body products. I enjoy the challenges of formulating my products and take great pleasure in creating and recreating the products that have become customer favorites. My customers are my motivation & inspiration, they continue to support my efforts with their purchase and gratitude. For that I am most grateful.

Peppermint Soap

My soap making evolved out of my love for making all sorts of things myself. I like to grow my own fruits and vegetables, make my own jams, jellies, and pickles, and cook and bake all sorts of things from scratch. When I found out I could make soap in my own kitchen, I had to try that too!

I make hot process soap using only essential oils for fragrance, and try to incorporate herbs and botanicals into my products in other ways, like using herbal teas for the water, and adding ground dried herbs. I'm interested in the different ways scents and herbs can enhance a soap and enhance the mood of the person using the soap.

I'm also in the process of going organic. I try to buy organic food as much as I can, and I use organic techniques in my gardening, so it just makes sense to use organic ingredients in my soap as well.

Lastly, I like making soap because I'm a science nerd! I have a biology degree, and I like reading about the different fatty acids and what properties they add to the soap. It's fun to experiment with different recipes. I actually like reading about saponification and fatty acid profiles and so on.

Cucumber Glycerin Loofah Bar

I first started making soap back in 2000. Seems like a life time ago. I love the different ways it can be made. It's an addiction that's for sure! I make soap because I have sensitive skin. I did lots of trial and error recipes and found one cold process one that I love.

Did you know that if you select the Bath and Beauty category of ArtFire it comes up with 4128 listings. And if out of those you just click on soap you will still get 2125 listings. That's a lot of soap.
There are many more so be sure to hop on over to ArtFire and check them out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

More Pearls

I found two more artisans on ArtFire with really cool pearl offerings so I had to post them too. I know you will like them as much as I did.

Created by BELLA SWEET

A waterfall of Genuine Freshwater pearls cascade from a sleek silver snake chain. Pearls of cream, gold and grey dance together.

Created by Mzz Thang

Lustrous chocolate and creamy white pearls along with "drizzled" coco jasper make up this triple-strand bracelet. Bali silver beads and a silver plated lobster claw claps complete it.

It is just amazing all the ways that pearls are used today. I am sure if you browse on ArtFire you will find many more too.

Not Your Grandmother's Pearls

Pearls have been used in jewelry and to decorate clothing for centuries. Long ago pearls were a symbol of wealth and could only be afforded by Royalty and the extremely wealthy.

A pearl is an accident of nature. Mollusks defend themselves from irritants, such as sand, that get into their shells. They form a protective substance called nacre around the irritant to keep it from harming it's delicate inner tissues. This is what forms the pearl.

Pearls were expensive because a natural occurring pearl was difficult to find. You could literally open hundreds of mussels or oysters and only find one or two pearls. Also, as the mollusk adds layer upon layer of nacre to the irritant, the pearl usually forms in different shapes. So finding a pearl that was round and symmetrical increased its value tremendously.

In the early 1900's the Japanese began to look for ways to entice oysters to produce round pearls on demand. They began with saltwater oysters and then began experimenting with freshwater mussels. Initial commercial freshwater pearl crops appeared in the 1930's. While the Japan were the pioneers in the cultured pearl arena, today the best cultured pearls come from China.

Today there are also artificially manufactured pearls or imitation pearls. Some imitation pearls are made from mother of pearl or conch shell, while others are made of glass and coated with a solution containing fish scales. Although imitation pearls look good they do not have the same luster as real pearls.

Pearls come in eight basic shapes: round, semi-round, button, drop, pear, oval, baroque, and circled. Perfectly round pearls are the rarest and most valuable shape.

There is also a special vocabulary to describe the length of pearl necklaces. A collar is 10 to 13 inches and should sit directly against the throat. Chokers are 14 to 16 inches and sit at the base of the neck. Princess length is 17 to 19 inches and comes to just below the collarbone. Matinee length is 20 to 24 inches and falls just above the breasts. Opera length is 28 to 35 inches and should be long enough to reach the breast bone or sternum. The longest is the pearl rope which is more than 45 inches.

White and black are the most popular colors of saltwater pearls. Other color tints can be found on saltwater pearls such as pink, champagne and green. But these are rare and hard to find. Freshwater and artificial pearls can be dyes and are available in a range of colors.

The pearl is the official birthstone for the month of June. They are also considered to offer the power of love, money, protection and luck. Some believe that pearls also give the wearer wisdom and cement engagements and love relationships.

Today many artisans use pearls to design gorgeous pieces. The size, shape and color vary so much that the possibilities are endless. While grandma was happy to wear a nice single strand or maybe even a double strand of all white or cream color pearls, that is no longer the case today. The pearl has come out of it's shell so to speak. And we are so much the luckier for it.

Below I have featured some interesting pearl designs from ArtFire artisans.


This bracelet is comprised of many lovely iridescent fresh water peacock pearls and really lovely aqua multi colored lampwork beads for a stunning look.

Dozens of iridescent purple and black cultured fresh water peacock pearls form a nice cluster pendant on this necklace. What a creative use of pearls.

Sweet and petite pink freshwater pearls and one white fresh water pearl compose these floral dangle earrings. All other components are sterling silver.

This stunning freshwater pearl necklace was created using gold and copper peacock top drilled freshwater pearls. The focal point of the necklace is a copper heart that was designed and created by artisan Patricia Healey.

Light blue freshwater pearl top drilled at an angle were used to make this necklace.The focal point of the necklace are the beautiful boro lampwork beads in shades of blue. These beads were hand made by expert glass artisan Chet Corneliuson of BC Lampworks.

This double strand freshwater pearl and crystal bracelet is stunning. The light blue oval pearl strand is accented by 2mm round silver beads. The 2nd strand of white rice pearls is accented by 5mm aqua AB Swarovski crystals.


Freshwater coin pearls accent the pendant portion of this fabulous necklace.

The neck strap is made up of a random mix of, Swarovski crystals, fresh water pearls in two colors and sizes, Czech glass beads and antique seed beads. The pearls and crystals compliment each other wonderfully in this piece.

The tassels on the bottom of her feet and her necklace strap are an eclectic mix of fresh water pearls, vintage seed and bugle beads and vintage Czech crystals. Very nice use of pearls.

Two of my favorite pearl creations are this triple strand of pearls in varying sizes and colors. There is a mixture of freshwater and Swarovski pearls in this piece.

You no longer have to just wear a pearl stud if you want to wear pearl earrings. I made these from Swarovski pearls. It's all about the dangle baby.

Grandma may have loved her single strand of white pearls in maybe a choker or princess length but now we are taking the pearl to new heights and having fun doing it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A New Home for Handmade
Adam, also known on etsy and artfire as infivision, decided he wanted a better social community to promote handmade. While ning offers this to some extent, he felt it was too generic and has a poor user interface. In a quest for something better he developed Designed and created in under a week and for under $100 - ok so he had to purchase the domain and a security certificate - ByHand serves as a free social network for those who make handmade and those who buy handmade. Here's a run down of what you can expect from the site:

Artisan Directory
Member Blogs
Social Networking
Private Messaging
RSS Feeds
And more.

The Artisan Directory is for artists and crafters with a business. Artisans can add their business along with where they sell online, social network profiles, and more. Members can rate and review these shops which helps shops further build their reputation online.

The Forums are where users can chat about handmade, ask for advice, promote shops, or just kick it! Have a question about a new technique you heard about? Are you a buyer looking for a handmade craft? This is the place!All members also receive their own blog. Member Blog entries are placed in the Community Blog for crafters and buyers alike to read and enjoy. Buyers can review products or make recommendations on their blogs or share artist interviews, while artists can promote their craft, selling tips, tutorials, run contests, and more. Members can also choose to have their blog entries posted to the front page of ByHand.

Everyone can help promote handmade by taking part in this vital section of the community. The social networking features of this site allow you to connect with other members of ByHand through all the various sections of the site. Any time you see a profile that you would like to connect with, just click on them. Members choose the type of connection they want to make, whether they be a customer, a favorite artisan, or a favorite supplier. Members can even make notes on connections to help remind them that they want to shop with artisan A for a gift for dad or reconnect with artisan B later for future, joint promotion!

Chat allows members to communicate in real time with other members of the ByHand community.The private messaging function allows members to send messages back and forth to other community members. Safer than giving out an email address for making those first time connections. This is great for buyers and sellers to connect on custom projects and more.

Additionally, RSS feeds can be added to all member profiles. Add up to five feeds. Include the feed for personal or favorite blogs or an online shop! For example, sellers can add their Etsy shop feed to the RSS feeds in their profiles and other users will see their latest product photos and content just by mousing over the feed!

All members also receive their very own memorable URL. This URL can be viewed from the profile page. Sellers can utilize this URL to promote their businesses! A URL is much more professional than a simple or address, giving users who aren't technically savy a great way to direct folks to ALL their online selling venues without having to buy their own domain.

Monday, February 2, 2009

February Giveaway at Risky Beads

This month Risky Beads Blog is running a contest that consists of the following prizes: Pink Sugar Natural Soy Wax Candles by Soy Scentual, a jar of Pamper Your Hiney Satin and Silk Lotion in Love Spell from Shine Your Hiney Soap, a Have a Heart beaded bookmark from bijouxdesignsforyou, a 7.5" hematite and Swarvoski crystal valentine bracelet with a toggle clasp from Jewelry to Keep by Suzanne Baxter, matchbook notepads (6) and floral envelopes by Recupe Fashion, a bar of Pomegranate soap from soapdeli, handmade valentine notecards from timelesspaperarts, Hearts Aflame earrings by GemKitty, and the Access ceramic pendant from Risky Beads. The 2 items that aren't pictured are: a 5"x7" Red Berries on Blue photographic print from MNH Photography and a beautiful Irish Wool and Linen bracelet from Painted Bull. These products retail for $110.00!!! Enter through February 8th at noon. Visit Risky Beads Blog now to enter!