Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year, New Start

After much deliberation, I have finally decided to move my (fairly) new Etsy Supply Shop over to Zibbet.

For all the bells, whistles, and traffic that Etsy has, I just can't get past a few issues, like the utter disregard for sellers' requests and needs, the lack of customer service (whether seller or buyer), the refusal to deal with obvious resellers, and the cavalier abandonment of the site's founding dedication to handmade. Don't be fooled by their "redefinition" of handmade; Etsy now allows manufactured goods under the guise of handmade.

Zibbet, on the other hand, listens to its sellers. Really! They are ALL about customer service, they swiftly boot resellers, and they remain steadfastly devoted to those whose work is truly handmade.
And as far as the bells and whistles available on Etsy? Well, Zibbet will be rolling out a total rebuild in 2014: New Year, New Start!

One small example of how they listen to sellers? They created a brand new category (handmade supplies) within 5 minutes of my mentioning, in an e-mail to one of the site's founders, that there was a need for such. 5 minutes!

So, with all the negatives on Etsy, plus the fact that views dropped drastically (for almost everyone) in September (don't even get me started on this - theories abound as to the reason, but Etsy is mum on the topic), I have set up my supply shop on Zibbet, under the name "Sweet Supplies" - to reflect it being a division of Sweet Freedom Designs. Starting last night, I began moving my existing listings over from Etsy. The migration process is a slow, tedious one; while Zibbet has a fantastic tool for automatically importing the listings, I have decided that this is a great opportunity to redo photos where needed, and just in general tweak each listing: New Year, New Start. So I'm keeping all the listings deactivated until every one of them is migrated, and then I'll have the grand opening, so to speak; I'm aiming for January 1.

And if I have time during this Holiday break from the bead shop, I'll also be migrating over the last 45 or so listings in my Etsy jewelry shop - my jewelry will all be available on Zibbet.

I brought home 3 separate beading projects that I really wanted to work on during this down time, but I realized yesterday, while working on a new bracelet, that there would never be a better concentrated stretch of time for all the drudgery involved in re-doing the photos and re-working all the listings. And once I return to the bead shop, I have a lot of enameled beads to make (and photograph, and list). It never ends, right?

I hope you have a Happy New Year! Do you have any changes planned?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

New Kumihimo Necklace with Picasso Finish Seed Beads

We recently received these new Miyuki Picasso finish seed beads at the shop, in 2 different sizes and colors. As soon as I saw them, I wanted to make something with them immediately!

Blue Picasso 11/0 seed beads from Miyuki

These are the blue ones; we also received a gorgeous greenish brown color. These are 8/0s, and they are stunning. But as pretty as these are, you should see how the colors show off in the 6/0s!

The blue ones were calling my name, so I walked around the store trying to decide what to make with them, but couldn't find anything. So I headed for my bead stash, and there was the perfect lampwork bead! Of course - I know which beads to hoard!

I didn't want to dilute the impact of the Picasso finish, so I decided to make a kumihimo rope with the seed beads. I used copper findings to finish the 2 pieces of braided rope, and here's the result:

And here's a detail shot of the beautiful lampwork bead (sorry for the reflections - glass is so hard to photograph!)

richly colored and detailed lampwork bead

So now I want to go order the Picasso seed beads in ALL the colors and ALL the sizes!

And on a completely unrelated note, 2 weeks ago I managed to contaminate my brand new, large capacity Lortone tumbler AND all 6 pounds of stainless steel shot. But I didn't know at the time it was contaminated, so I let it sit, with the contamination and shot inside, until yesterday, when I decided to tumble a few chainmaille pieces to shine them up for wearing. They came out absolutely black and sticky, which is making me cry. Just hoping that if I ever get the tumbler and shot clean, I can clean up the sterling chainmaille again. I cannot believe how black it is! But I dunked one of the bracelets in vinegar briefly yesterday, and the tiniest bit of black came off, so I'm hopeful I can fix all of these. But what a mess! I have been trying to clean it for a day and a half now, using either vinegar or pickle, and tumbling away in 30 to 40 minute cycles (or longer, when I get distracted), and every time, black water goes down the drain, and there's just no end in sight! The barrel comes clean after just 2 cycles, but then when I try to clean the shot, it seems like I make no progress at all. Argggghhhhhhhhhhhh!

So, in between tumbling cycles today, I'll be weighing out and tubing 15/0 seed beads for the shop - I ordered every single iris blend available in 15/0s after being frustrated when trying to find exactly the right shade of 15/0 for a project I was doing 2 weeks ago. 

Oh yeah, my new Picasso Lampwork Kumihimo Necklace is available in my Etsy shop!

Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Worktable

Yes, it's time for that old chestnut, Worktable Wednesday? Why? Well, why not? It's Wednesday, and I'm sitting at my bench, working on something! Several years ago, I made this chainmaille tennis bracelet for myself:

Chainmaille tennis bracelet

The picture doesn't do it justice; it's sterling silver with Jet AB2x Swarovski crystals, and it sparkles for days!

Now, I'm making another one for a friend, this time with Turquoise AB Swarovskis:

I'd forgotten how long it takes to weave the rings for this bracelet! I've got one half of the spine about 2/3 done so far!

I'll be back with pics of the completed tennis bracelet once it's finished!

Happy Wednesday, and Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Antique Jeweler's Vise

OK you guys - this is THE coolest.

antique jeweler's vise with attachments and magnifier

But you can't even begin to understand how cool it is without knowing the whole story!

Back when I was as young as 3, we would visit my Grandparents in Birmingham, AL, and I remember being fascinating with this doorstop my grandfather used to prop open the door to his study:

antique doorstop?

This shiny silver "doorstop" sat in a black rubber ring, was far too heavy to lift, but was irresistible! It spins in the rubber base, and we were not allowed to touch it, so, naturally, I would spin it and push it and fiddle with it until I got caught and yelled at. And then I would find a way to sneak back to it - forbidden fruit, you know. And of course, I would often stub my toes on it as I ran barefoot through the house!

I know I asked what it was, and got all sorts of non-sensical (to me, anyway) answers.

So imagine my surprise and delight when my Dad came to visit this week for Thanksgiving, telling me he had a jeweler's vise for me, and I opened the box to find my old nemesis, the doorstop, now with all it's attachments!

Elson antique jeweler's vise

This is the base, in it's rubber stand, with the chuck key attached, and the bases for the attachment in place on top. The brand is Elson, and a previous owner has engraved each piece with "L.M." It weighs 25-30 lbs. Very heavy!

The 2 attachments shown here also swivel 360 degrees, and hold all the smaller attachments. What with the base swiveling AND the attachments swiveling, and all the possible locations to place each attachment, you have an infinite variety of ways to position this vise for any project!

These are the attachments - after all this time, only one is missing:

 Elson jeweler's vise attachments

And this is the little magnifier:
swiveling magnifier

Here's a pic with a couple of the bracelet-holding attachments in place:

Elson vise with attachments

My Dad remember that HIS father got this at an estate sale when my Dad was maybe 5 years old, and it was all rusty when his father brought it home. They cleaned it up, put in to use as a doorstop, and obviously stored all the parts pretty carefully. We figure it is easily 100 years old!

At dinner tonight, I asked my Dad why I was not allowed to play with it, and why I kept getting yelled at for spinning it and fiddling with it - were they afraid I was going to break it, or what? Dad says, "No, you knucklehead, we were afraid you'd roll it off onto your hand or your foot." LOL.

I am thrilled with my new vise, but have completely failed at trying to find out anything about it. I found an antique Elson Watchmaker's Lathe on Ebay, but it looks nothing like this vise. And it is priced at $2500.00!

If anyone has ANY information about my "new" antique Elson jeweler's vise, please share! Thanks!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Enameled Headpins now Available - Choose from 20 colors!

I'm now offering colorful enameled headpins (in 2 lengths, and 2 different styles) in my Etsy Supply shop.
They're available in 2-inch and 3-inch lengths, and also as a 4 inch double headed variety.

These colored headpins are perfect for taking your designs to the next level! Add a dash of color and whimsy to your earrings and dangles, and use the double-headed style to wrap, coil, and twist into your wire and metalwork. Fun!

This is a pair of earrings I made using my enameled headpins:

And the Zentangle-inspired copper connectors I used in these earrings are ALSO available in my Etsy shop, in several styles; here's the link to one of them.

The headpins are listed on Etsy in lots of 10, with a drop down list from which you can choose your colors:

 The double headed ones look like this:
They have the same color on each end, and are 4 inches long, but if you want me to mix up the colors or make them shorter, just convo me through Etsy and we'll get you set up. These are SO much fun to design with!

The 2-inch headpins are listed here.
The 3-inch headpins are listed here.
The 4-inch double-headed headpins are listed here.

These headpins are all made to order, so there is a 3-5 day turnaround time to allow for cutting the wire, balling and enameling the pins, pickling them, work-hardening them, and buffing them to a high shine.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Custom Prayer Beads

Here're the prayer beads I designed for the customer that requested them this morning:

Prayer Beads

There are 25 faceted agate rounds, connecting to a beautiful dyed agate cylinder, from which a sterling silver "Om" symbol dangles. I think she'll be pleased.

The Cart Got Before the Horse Yesterday

I listed a new bracelet on Zibbet Thursday evening:

Faceted Citrine, Wire-wrapped with Vintaj Natural Brass Wire

Large faceted citrine, ranging from light golden to deeply gold, wrapped in Vintaj Natural Brass wire. The bronzy brown of the wire looks so good with the golden yellow citrine!

Now when I say "new", I mean new to my online shops; I actually MADE this bracelet about 5-6 months ago, and it' been available in my bead shop for sale, but I never got around to photographing it and listing it online, or even to blogging about it. I don't know why. But Thursday, it caught my eye, and I found myself with the time and inclination to go through the photo and listing process, so the listing went live sometime Thursday night. And I think I tweeted it.

Friday morning (yesterday), I decided to blog about the bracelet, and opened up Blogger to the "new post" page. Then I opened Facebook, and was going to post the bracelet on FB before I blogged, and as I was composing the FB status, a customer came into the shop.

And bought the bracelet. (And a bunch of beads.)

Now I find myself wondering if this trick will work for anything else I have lying around the shop, waiting to be sold? Especially since as I was writing THIS post, a lady came in looking for custom-made Buddhist prayer beads, so we picked out gorgeous beads, and now I have a custom order to make! I'll post the pics when I'm done.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Swirls of Color!

This necklace is my newest listing on Zibbet:

Swirls of Color - a handmade beaded necklace

Bold, colorful lampwork pendant

Colorful handmade lampwork discs and faceted Picasso Czech glass rounds finish the design

Swirling colors - in the handmade lampwork pendant and in the faceted Picasso Czech glass rounds. I added some Swarovski crystals, pewter-colored seed beads, and colorful handmade lampwork discs. The sterling silver S-hook and chain closure allows for an adjustable length.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sunny Yellow Enamel Bangle and Matching Pendant

Following up on my first batch of enameled bangles, I spent some time yesterday wrapping more steel bangles for enameling. After all the wrapping, I only had time to enamel one; it takes me about 45 minutes in the torch to get all the layers applied and fused!

I did wrap a few smaller circles, and had enameled them the same day I did the first set of bangles - here is the matching yellow one:

I know it's hard to tell from the pic - it looks the same as the bangle! But it is much smaller; try this:

Can't you just see this, tied to some leather, or some sari ribbon, with a simple lark's head knot? Or something more complicated - a beadwoven rope, a beaded necklace - ooh! A multistrand necklace, with this as a connector on one side, bringing all the strands together!

I made 4 of these, in different colors, and slightly different sizes. They are all available in my Etsy Supply Shop.

And the bangles are over in my Zibbet shop!

More sizes and colors of bangles to come!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Enameled Bangles - I love these!

I was playing around with steel wire, and decided to see if I could make some enameled bangles, and by golly, I did! And I love them!

Enameled bangles, available (separately) on Etsy

I started out with a trial run of four - I didn't want to invest too much time, wire, and enamel in this venture if it wasn't going to work!

They don't photograph as well as I'd like - they are very shiny! Bits of the steel wire show through, which gives a wonderful rustic look.

These are all medium bangles - their inner diameter is 2.75 inches, and their inner circumference is 8.25 inches. Since a bangle has to fit over your hand, it is the size of your HAND, not the size of your wrist, which determines your bangle size.

To more accurately determine your bangle size, you can measure your hand: put your thumb and 5th finger together. Wrap a soft tape measure around the widest part of your hand, and record the measurement. This will give you the inner circumference measurement for your bangle.

I've been walking around wearing them stacked - probably not the greatest idea, since they are GLASS, after all, but they are holding up fine. And they make a lovely clanking sound! But I don't really recommend stacking them, or banging them around on hard surfaces. They have been properly annealed, but they ARE glass.

They are all available in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Holiday Chainmaille Kits - these Christmas Trees are fast and fun gifts!

I have listed some chainmaille kits in my supply shop. Each kit can be assembled into 1 Christmas Tree pendant, with either multicolored "ornaments" or red ones:

An example of one of the multicolored kits is on the left, and the assembled pendant on the right. These pendants are almost 2 inches tall (1-7/8").

In addition to the enameled copper jumprings (which I cut and polished), each kit contains pictorial instructions for assembly - anyone familiar with Japanese maille will have no problem creating this pendant. (The instructions aren't intended to teach chainmaille techniques - just the pattern for this particular J-maille tree).

These can be assembled quickly, and make terrific teacher gifts, hostess gifts; just hang them from some ribbon, chain, leather - whatever! Anyone who appreciates festive holiday jewelry will love these!

The kits are available here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Picasso Glass Items Listed

I've been busily listing items over in my Etsy Supply Shop, including these pieces of Picasso-style dichroic glass:

I used a cabochon from this same glass slab to create this copper bracelet:

and this pendant:

This one has a very generous bail attached, so it's ready to hang from ribbon, leather, chain, etc. - these pieces are so vibrant and colorful that they easily stand alone!

I'll be posting more glass cabs and pendants soon; in the meantime, anyone have any tips on how to take better pics of dichroic glass? It's so pretty, but hard to photograph because the colors shift as the light changes and moves - I can never capture its true beauty! Open to suggestions, here - thanks in advance!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New Enamel Components

Yesterday I finished a set of 10 matching pink and purple square enamel components, with copper embellishments:

These components/connectors are 3/4 inch square, with holes in each corner. They have been fired multiple times, and for the last firing, I embedded little scraps of copper wire from my workbench in the last layer of enamel. Since these are all handmade, my embellishing and color patterns differ a little from piece to piece, but they all look like a set, right? They remind me of confetti and party favors!

even the backs are pretty!

A few years ago, I made a set of these in blue and green, and then assembled them into a bracelet (and matching earrings:

These purple and pink connectors/components are available individually on Etsy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm having a sad day

After the big storm last night, I was worried about my emerging butterflies.

I rushed out this morning to check on them, still in my pajamas.

This one was the closest to the back door; he's the one that was not quite as far along in the emergence:

He looks a little damp and weather-beaten, but intact.

Unfortunately, the other one didn't fare as well:

His attachment to the siding was all that remained intact - so I started to hunt for the rest of his chrysalis.

I found this after a little searching, a few feet away from the attachment.

Then I found a piece of wing and some more chrysalis

A few more feet away, I found the rest of the butterfly.

I flipped it over to take another photo.

So, I'm already sad, but then I arrive at the bead shop, and as I'm taking Bailey for his first walk of the day, I find this, a few doors down from my shop:

Someone stepped on my grasshopper nymph.

Now I'm going to be sad all day.