Monday, October 22, 2012

Very Weird Tales From The Craft Fair

Great news! The craft fair at Beth El Synagogue in Patchogue, NY went very well yesterday. It was a beautiful fall day and there was a decent amount of traffic. Not a huge number of people -- I'm guessing about 200 -- but with that crowd, I did pretty well with sales. I came away making a profit and my handmade wire jewelry received many compliments, which is always appreciated!

What's cool is that there were several kids who were genuinely interested in my jewelry. They didn't just admire it and say, "Oh, it's so pretty," but asked me all sorts of questions about what tools I use, how long it takes to make a piece and if making jewellery is hard. They seemed to really respect the fact that my pieces are handmade and that a lot of labor goes into them. One little girl loves gems and really knew her stuff. She was able to identify various stones and had many questions about which crystals I like to use. I suggested that she get her parents to take her to the gem exhibit at New York City's Museum Of Natural History. I know that I'm swimming in projects right now, but it might be fun to teach a kids' class on jewelry making in the future.

Meanwhile, I had a couple of unexpected reunions! I've mentioned before that I got this job through a high school friend whom I reconnected with on Facebook. Well, at the fair, I ran into an old college pal whom I haven't seen in person in about 16 years! He and I are FB friends, but have only spoken online. Turns out, he's part of this temple's congregation. I got to meet his lovely wife and adorable daughters, and they purchased one of my enamel necklaces. But even without the purchase, it was great to see him and it made my day.

I also ran into a woman who'd purchased one of my infinity rings on Etsy. I guess this was bound to happen eventually, but it was still surreal. We really live in a small world.

There were some people who didn't buy from me, but were still very complimentary about my work. The mother/daughter team who ran the booth next to mine became my buddies for the day and the mom kept admiring my bracelets. When I said good-bye to her at the end of the event, she said, "You're really talented and a nice person, too." That was so sweet. One of the other jewelry vendors also came over and complimented my stuff. That meant a lot to me since she understood the techniques that go into my pieces.

There was one lady who came to my table three times! The first two times she spent a long while going through my pieces and finally settled on a necklace that she really liked. But then she decided to walk around the fair before buying. When she returned, she again admired this necklace, but wanted to wait for her husband's approval. She finally actually bought the piece when she saw me packing up and I told her, "Last chance to buy it." Perhaps this should be my new sales technique, LOL?

I was pleasantly surprised by this fair, which felt warm and friendly and was extremely well organized. It was worth getting up at the crack of dawn and traveling all the way out onto Long Island. I'll definitely do it again next year.

On a very odd, random note, on the way to the train, I passed by two people who were playing the bongos and singing "Roxanne." Interesting...

Here are some of the pieces I sold:

To purchase my handmade wire wrapped jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Handmade Wire Wrapped Jewelry: Bundle Of Nerves

Tomorrow is a really big, nerve-wracking day for me. For starters, I have my craft fair at the synagogue out on Long Island. I'm getting up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday to be at this event, so I hope it goes well.

I debated making new items specifically for this show, but just went with the inventory that I have. I do have a few new things, such as those stud earrings that I previewed on here a couple of weeks ago:

I also have many pairs of MayaGirl Creations earrings. Seriously I couldn't believe how many earrings I had -- they filled up all three of my earring racks and there wasn't one inch of space left over!

In addition to doing the craft fair, tomorrow is a big day for my book, REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD. I'm doing my first huge promotion and for 24 hours -- On Sunday, October 21 only -- I will be giving away my book for FREE on Amazon Kindle! So if you enjoy reading my writing on this blog, please head over to Amazon check it out. I mean, I'm literally giving it away -- you're not going to get a much better price than that! Plus, you'll be helping me out because my sales rank will go up and more people will (hopefully) view my page.

So I've got a lot going on this weekend. I'm always realistic, but am being optimistic about it being a Super Seller Sunday for me, both on the jewelry and book fronts. Wish me luck!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. To purchase my novel, check out REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Making Handmade Jewelry: Split Personality

When my job ended earlier this year, I feared that I'd have nothing to do. I thrive on being a busy person and having multiple projects to work on and worried that I'd go crazy not being in an office.

Know what? I'm busier than ever. Sure, I can sleep in and work in my jammies, but I have so much going on that it's sometimes overwhelming. I often work well into the evening and have to force myself to just stop and watch TV or read a book.

Right now my big projects are my jewelry lines and my book so I feel as if I have two different personalities. For the first half of the day, I'm Writer Naomi. She posts entries on her author blog, does some work for HubPages and spends time e-mailing other bloggers in the hopes of getting her book reviewed. That's a lot to handle in of itself.

The later half of the day I'm Jewelry Naomi. She writes blog posts about her jewellery lines, contacts stores in the hopes of some picking up her jewelry creations and plans for upcoming craft fairs. Again, that's a lot of work!

I don't mind, though. I do have so many goals and ideas that I sometimes feel as if my head is going to explode, but I'd rather be swamped by creative ventures than be bored. Right now, my book is getting more of my time, but I'm sure that my jewelry will become my priority in the future. Either way, it doesn't matter. I'm my own boss. I can work on whatever I want to work on, which is really cool.

In working for myself, I've found that the problem isn't finding things to do. It's me wanting to take on too much at once. I know that I need to stay balanced so that I can put enough time into each of my pursuits. For now, I'm very pleased with where I'm at!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations. To purchase my book, check out REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Handmade Jewelry: Enameling Gone Wrong

The good news is, my mother-in-law loved the enameled necklace that I made for her. She put it on and it looked really nice, and it matched the dark-colored clothes that she tends to wear.

The bad news is, yesterday's enameling class was a big disappointment.

I had a very clear idea for a pendant in mind. I wanted to make a circular pendant with a few cloisonne swirls laid out on one side. I then wanted to paint the swirls with dark shades of blues and the other side of the pendant with a lighter shade of blue so that it looked like waves on the ocean. In my head, it was beautiful.

Things got off to a good start. I shaped the silver cloisonne wire and applied a base coat of glass to the circle. But when it came time to fire the cloisonne, I left it in for about five seconds too long and the wire melted.

I attempted to paint over it and cover the melted spots with more glass, but it just didn't work. While the colors were pretty, the design just looked like a big, swirly mess.

Oh, well, I guess I'll just try again next week, but I was hoping to have the pendant ready for this weekend's craft fair.

I love the class, but still think that the teacher is too hover-y. She's sweet and means well, but I think the solution is for me to buy some studio bench time. This way, I can get work done without her being there to stand and watch my every move.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to taking another shot at my ocean piece next week!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewellery, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Upcoming Craft Fair On Sunday

It's been a few weeks since I've sold my jewelry at a craft fair, but I have one this Sunday at Temple Beth-El in Patchogue, NY. This is another fair that was an invite; a friend got me the job through Facebook, which is really cool.

I really hope that this event is an actual fair with a nice amount of traffic. The last two fairs I sold at were really nice, especially since they were for charity, but hardly any people showed up! One was at a friend's house (I actually made a nice profit that day); the other was in a church basement (I didn't do as well at this one). This fair is being held at the temple so I'm hoping that it's well-advertised and that many folks from the congregation will be there to support the synagogue. I also hope that many are ready to start some holiday shopping.

I've been busy with my other enterprise this week, my book, which is why I haven't been blogging as much, but I have plenty to sell at this event. I still have a lot of MayaGirl Creations pieces and a bunch of enameled pendants. I have over 300 pieces so I'm definitely not hurting for inventory.

So if you're in the New York or Long Island area, come check this out. There should be some cool vendors and it will be a fun way to spend a fall day!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Enamel Pendant With Pink Flower Design

As expected, my enameling class is turning out to be a lot of fun. I like that I'm now considered to be an "advanced" student and am pretty much lft alone to do my own thing. Even better, everyone is really nice and we have a lot of laughs.

My teacher keeps a lot of old jewelry magazines around the studio -- partially so we can look at the designs and partially so we can use the pages. When sifting the enamel, you want to save as much of the leftover as possible (it's expensive!) so we sift over a torn-out magazine page. Once we're finished, we dump the excess enamel powder back into its jar. This way, we're not wasting any of the glass.

Anyway, this last week, my teacher had a German jewelry magazine that was simply called "Schmuck." Now schmuck means "jewelry" in German so that was the magazine's title: "Jewelry." But, well, it means something a bit more saucy in Yiddish (think a part of the male anatomy) and the naughty term has been picked up as such in English. So, of course, we all turned into 12-year-olds and laughed and laughed at this title. Silly, I know, but it was fun!

We then had a very spirited discussion about Dancing With The Stars and for whom we are all rooting this season. Most of us are impressed with Kelly Monaco. NO ONE in the class wants to see Bristol Palin win!

With all the joking around, I did get a lot of work done. I played around with some brown shades of enamel because I'm looking to make some warm, earthy pieces of jewelry. I also think I'd like to use those shades for my parents' tray. Meanwhile, I made this flower pendant for my mother-in-law, who's birthday is this weekend:

I was going for a natural look so I didn't use any cloisonne wire in this piece, but now I'm wishing I did. When the enamel is in its powdered glass form, the color doesn't look quite like it does when it's fired. So the light brown and pink looked very similar and I found it difficult to paint within the lines. I kept painting over the pink petals of the flowers or I'd be too cautious and leave too much white space between the flowers and the brown background.

Still, I think it's pretty and hope that my mother-in-law likes it. If anything, I think that she'll appreciate the fact that I made it for her. Next week, definitely back to using cloisonne!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Exciting News In Naomi Land!!!

Sorry for the string of off-topic posts, but I have some great non-jewelry news: my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD is now available worldwide in Amazon's Kindle store!

I began writing this book way back in 2002. I was feeling very depressed after 9/11 and my 2002 New Year's Resolution was "Do stuff." At the time, I wasn't exactly sure what that "stuff" would entail, but I was determined to get out, live my life and achieve some goals. So in 2002, I battled my fear of flying and took a trip to London with my husband (this was the first international trip I'd taken since I was 18), played flute several times with a small jazz combo in a local restaurant and decided to write a book.

Writing has been my second love (music is my first) since I learned how to read and spell. When I was a kid, I wrote little books which I also illustrated. I even wrote a novel about band when I was 12. My mom, who was a teacher, graded it an A++++++, LOL. But I never did anything with it. I mean, it was a novel that I wrote when I was 12. There were some good parts in there, but the story wasn't really cohesive.

When I got to college, I put my fiction writing aside and focused on entertainment journalism instead. Then, as an adult, I wrote for the TV magazine Soap Opera Digest for 14 years. It was a great job, but I was writing about OTHER people's fictional creations. I wanted to write something where I had complete control of the characters.

That's when I got the idea for BAND GEEK, or at least the inspiration to write a book. The actual idea for the story came about when my husband and I were wondering if we'd have been friends in high school. I was a shy, quiet good girl and he was a naughty boy who did things like lock teachers out of classrooms. I took that idea, combined it with my original novel which focused on music and came up with the story for BAND GEEK. After I came up with the main characters, Melinda and Josh, the tale kind of took on a life of its own. It ended up being a dark comedy that's a bit like Heathers-meets-Glee.

After a lot of work and rejections, I managed to secure representation with a top-tier literary agent. She had me do some major edits and suggested that I change my title. I was certain that she'd get my work published and that I'd be rich and famous! WRONG! She shopped it around to about a dozen publishing houses and no one bought it. Two houses came close, but rejected me in the end. My agent then dumped me.

I put the book away and decided to focus on other things instead, like my music and non-fiction writing. A few years later, my husband and I came up with a fab idea for a fun travel guide (I'd rather not divulge the details because we're not finished with it). We pitched the idea to agents and again landed one who's well-respected. She shopped it to several publishing houses and the editors LOVED it! They were all set to buy our work and we were so excited. We were going to be published! We were going to be rich and famous! WRONG AGAIN! This time, it was the damned marketing people who rejected us. They couldn't figure out where to place our books in stores and so they didn't want us.

By now, I was getting very frustrated with the publishing industry and took a break from writing (other than at my job) for several years. I put out a flute album and found a new love when I began making jewelry. Then last year, I started to think about my book again when a couple of friends asked me to edit their manuscripts. I wondered if I should finally take my novel out of the drawer and do something with it.

After much thought, I decided to turn it into an e-book. Back in 2002, you wouldn't have caught me dead doing this. I thought that if you couldn't get published the old fashioned away, well, then you had no business writing. I don't think that this was very fair of me, but at at the time, the industry itself looked down at alternative publishing methods. These days, however, the industry has changed so much that e-books are becoming the standard. Most people have a Kindle or Nook, or some other ireader device -- and it's made it easy for authors to get their work out there.

Now that I've had success in selling my jewelry on Etsy, I love the idea of being an independent author. I love the fact that authors are taking back control and that we're no longer writing to fit some publishing house's standard. There are some terrible indie books out there, but I've also come upon some gems -- some great stories that probably would've been deemed to "out there" for a publishing house to pick up.

So check out REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD on Amazon! And, of course, also check out my jewelry sites: Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stud earrings wire wrapped with crystals and pearls

My latest jewelry experiment involves making something pretty simple: stud earrings. I've gotten many requests for stud earrings, but haven't yet tried to make them. This weekend, I decided to try my hand at it and am happy with the results.

Most people who've had their ears pierced have started out with simple stud earrings before moving on to hoop or dangle earrings. I personally like studs because they don't weight your ears down as chandelier-type earrings sometimes can. Plus, they just look very chic and elegant.

I figured that these would be pretty easy to make; after all, I'd just be wire wrapping a stone, right? Well, not really. The challenge comes in making the post part of the earring, the portion that you actually stick into your ear. For one thing, you can't make the post too short or long; if it's too short, the earring will fall out and if it's too long, the post will poke into the side of your head. So I had to keep trying post sizes until I came up with a good length, about a half inch of wire.

I also had to angle the post correctly so that the earrings hung nicely. You don't want the earrings to droop or to stick up too far. Plus, you need the post to remain stable as you put on and remove the earring. So I had to arrange the post in the right way to do all of this -- and it took a few tries.

That said, a simple stone or pearl works best for this design. I tried to make stud heart earrings, but the design was too flimsy to work; the wire kept bending as I manipulated the post into my ear. I think the stud design would work, though, if I kept the stud portion simple and then attached something *below* the stone. It would be an interesting alternative to my typical chandelier earrings which I attach to a French hook, so I'm planning to try it sometime soon.

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Importance Of Networking: A Special Announcement

Once upon a time, I HATED the Internet. I first heard of e-mail while I was in college in the early-mid '90s and the idea of communicating with someone via computer seemed ridiculous to me. It was so impersonal! I refused to use e-mail until I was forced to at my job in 1998. Then I instantly fell in love with it and now use it as my primary means of communication (other than when I see friends in person, which is always the best way to stay in touch, IMO).

These days, all of my work depends on the Internet. My writing and music are online and it's where I, of course, sell my jewelry. I also do much of my networking on the computer and have come to love Facebook for both personal and professional reasons.

In some cases, my personal life affects my professional life. I use FB to advertise my wire wrapped jewelry, so many of my friends have purchased from me. I've also had some friends get me craft fair jobs via FB. One such person is my friend Adele.

Adele and I know each other from high school. We hung around with the same crowd and she was just a really nice girl -- even at an age where many of us could be catty toward one another. She never had a mean thing to say about anyone and she always had a smile ready for her friends.

Fast forward 20 years and she's still the same Adele. She and I reconnected on FB and have met for lunch. She's been very supportive of my jewelry venture. She's always reposting my links and even managed to get me an upcoming craft fair gig. She knows how important networking is and has used her contacts to help me out.

So now I'm returning the favor and am using this blog to promote, well, Adele herself. She and her wonderful husband, Andy, are trying to adopt. They're a warm, wonderful couple and would make great parents. Adele teaches very young kids and is patient and kind; meanwhile, Andy volunteers for the Coast Guard and is helping out those who serve our country. They're very family-oriented, so any child of theirs would be surrounded by a tight-knit clan of relatives and friends who are like family.

I appreciate the fact that so many of you read this blog. Please take a look at ANDY AND ADELE'S ADOPTION PAGE and forward it to anyone you know who could help with their adoption. You just never know what kind of connection you can help make.

Patterns With Handmade Wire Jewelry Patterns

It's interesting how certain items of mine seem to be popular at different times. By no means do I consider myself to be a trendsetter -- not yet, anyway -- but still, various items are becoming best sellers for me at different points.

Last spring, I was selling a lot of my chandelier heart earrings. Every other purchase made was for those earrings and I even had a couple of co-workers buy pairs.

This summer was all about the infinity ring. I sold dozens of infinity rings, both online and at fairs. People just couldn't get enough of this item!

Lately, I've been selling many gold and silver abstract pendants. I've sold several of these in the past, but the sales are now coming in waves. I'm also selling more chandelier earrings, too. Meanwhile, September was a successful business month overall, but I didn't sell one infinity ring!

I like to study my sales patterns because it's important for me to know what my customers like and what's attracting buyers. But to be honest, I can't really figure anything out! Both the chandelier earrings and infinity rings get a lot of views on Etsy. So you figure that more views equals more potential buyers. I'm wondering if perhaps I sold so many infinity rings over the summer is because they're an item that's popular with teens ... and it's over the summer that teens would buy them. Many teens have summer jobs, so there's some extra money or they're looking for back to school items ... and a sale is made.

However, the sales of my abstract necklaces baffle me a bit because those don't get many views. I sold two necklaces this week, a silver and a gold, which had 12 and 7 views, respectively. That's it. My silver infinity ring has thousands of views.

The most logical theory that I can come up with is that the people who buy my abstract necklaces are lookintg for something very specific. Perhaps it's attracting buyers who aren't coming online to browse; they're there to buy a certain type of necklace and when they see mine, they just buy it. The infinity ring, though, is catching people's eyes when they browse. They'll stop and say, "Oh, cute!" but won't necessarily purchase it.

I don't know if I'll ever really figure out these sales patterns. As long as business is good, I'll accept whatever comes my way!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewellery, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Return To Enameling Class

My enameling class at the 92nd Street Y started back up and it felt good to be back! This time, it's 14-weeks long instead of just six, so I'll have time to make some more intricate pieces. I actually have a piece in mind which is not jewelry: I plan to make an enameled tray for my parents for their 45th anniversary. That's in December so I have a few months to get the job done.

In terms of students' ability in this class, I'm right in the middle. There are several very advanced enamel artists there, a couple who were in my class last summer. One woman was wearing a gorgeous necklace that she'd made that was designed to look like a Buddha. It was amazing. Another makes these crazy enameled clocks. Meanwhile, there were a few students who'd never done enameling before. They had to learn the very basics.

And then there was me, right in between. I know the basics of enameling but wouldn't yet call myself skilled. I think I might be able to go from intermediate to advanced over the course of the semester.

I noticed right away that my teacher treated me differently, which is a good thing. Last summer, she was always looking over my shoulder, correcting me. This time, she let me do my own thing without worrying about how I was working the kiln, etc. I brought in metal to make a test strip because I figured that this would be the first project that we'd be doing. I didn't want to be like, "Oh, I've done this already, who cares?" I figured I'd just join in with the rest of the class. But when it came time to make a test strip, my teacher didn't expect me to do it. I ended up doing one, anyway, but she was cool to let me make whatever I wanted.

I just received my package of metal stamping blanks (pre-made copper shapes) so I'm excited to start some projects next week. And then it'll be time for my big project, the tray! Should be an interesting and fun semester ahead.

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs. To purchase my children's jewelry, head to MayaGirl Creations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sad News

Some sad news in my family this week. My Grandma Esther died on Sunday. She was 96 and had been ill for a while. Her death wasn't a shock, but it hurts all the same.

My grandmother and I didn't have a lot in common -- she loved to gamble, play bingo and watch talk and game shows. She didn't really understand why my parents and I were so into traveling and had no interest in classical music or books as we did. But one thing that she and I did share was that she was an artist. She was a very talented knitter and made me dozens of gorgeous sweaters, hats, scarves and bedspreads over the years. She rarely sold her pieces and called her kntting a "hobby," but her work was above and beyond. Even skilled knitters marveled at the beauty and intricacy of her pieces.

While she always encouraged me in anything I did, she was particularly interested in my jewelry making. In addition to being a talented knitter, she was pretty crafty and often made art projects at the senior center. So me making jewelry was something that she could relate to and understand. Most people just like to look at my stuff, but she like to hear the details of how I made each piece.

The last two times I visited her at the hospital she was pretty out of it, but she still wanted to hear about my jewelry. She even told the nurses about it and encouraged them to buy my pieces for the holidays! My Grandma Esther was definitely a feisty woman and spoke her mind all the way until the end.

I've never had an interest in knitting, but I still have most of the pieces that she made for me and will of course, treasure them. This isn't the greatest shot (it's a photo of a photo), but here are the yarmulkes that she made for our wedding in 2000. She made about 150 of them completely by hand, without any assistance! My dad then made that sign with her photo so she could get proper credit.