Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Success!

Right now, it's raining and snowing in New York City, and it's freezing, so I'm playing hooky from my enameling class. Much as I love the class, I don't enjoy commuting in crappy weather, so I'm staying in for today.

I've been busy with my jewelry, anyway, as November has turned out to be a surprisingly busy month. During the first half of the month, it was extremely quiet. I wasn't making sales on either of my jewellery sites and that craft fair I did was kind of a bust. Fortunately, my book sales were picking up so I didn't feel entirely defeated. But a couple of people in my jewelry class then explained that there is usually a lull in sales in early November because people are waiting until the Christmas season kicks off to actually buy stuff. They assured me that sales would increase around Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- and so far, they've been right!

As I've said before, I seem to sell items in groups and this month's trend is my infinity birthstone ring. I've already sold several this month; I'm guessing that they will be Christmas or Hannukah gifts.

What's really cool is that my kids' shop is also getting a lot of sales! Honestly, I haven't promoted it as much as I've promoted my adult store, but a few customers have bought in bulk. Seeing that this is happening, I probably should spend more time on it...

The holiday season is just starting so I hope that this momentum keeps up! Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy making jewelry in the comfort of my nice, warm home today.

To purchase my handmade wire wrapped 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.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Handmade enamel skull keychain

Thanksgiving was a double treat for my family this year. Not only did we get to celebrate with our family; it was also my dad's birthday! In honor of the occasion, I made him a special gift: a handmade enamel and cloisonne skull keychain:

I chose the skull design because my dad collects them (not real ones! I get asked that all the time, LOL). He's also not a big jewelry wearer other than watches. I couldn't picture him wearing a skull necklace, but I realy wanted to make him something so a keychain seemed like my best bet. Happily, he really liked the gift, especially because it is handmade. He used to make stained glas pieces so he understands how much work went into it.

As for how I actually made the enamel piece, it was all about layers. I first put on two coats of opague black enamel powder on the back on the copper square. After I fired them to smooth glass, I put on a coat of white enamel on the opposite side. Meanwhile, I shaped the fine silver cloisonne wire into a skull, and I have to say that cutting out the tiny eyes, nose and jawline was the most difficult part. The cloisonne fired up nicely, but the nose moved slightly so it looks as if he has a broken one. Oh, well.

Once the cloisonne set, I wet packed the rest of the colors. Wet packing is a little like water coloring and is a great way to do tight, intricate work with a brush. I added white to the skull, filled in his eyes and teeth and painted the flames beneath him. I fired the piece then added another coat of these colors to smooth them out and really make them pop.

This enamel piece was a lot of work, but worth it because I wanted to give my dad something special. Now he can carry his keys -- and think of me!

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.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Weird Tales From The Craft Fair

Whenever you sign up for a craft fair, it's a gamble. You almost always have to pay a registration fee and you never know who will be there and if they'll purchase your items. At most of the craft fairs that I've sold at, I've turned a profit. Then there are ones like the fair I participated in today -- which was a bust.

The day got off to a spectacularly awful start when my commute from Queens, NY to Riverdale, NY (in The Bronx) went awry. My plan was to take the E or F train one stop to switch to the 7, and then take the 7 to Grand Central Station so that I could get on the Metro North train to Riverdale. On most days, this trip would take less than an hour. Not today.

This fair started particularly early at 9 a.m., which meant that I wanted to get there at at least 8 a.m. Originally, I intended to take the 7:20 train to Riverdale, which would've gotten me in a bit before 8. I figured I'd catch a cab at the train station and would be there in plety of time.

Unfortunately, public transport is sllllooooww on weekends, especially really early weekend mornings. I had to wait forever to get the bus to the subway, and the forever for the subway to arrive. Moreover, the subway PACKED. This was at 6 a.m. I couldn't believe it. I thought that I was the only person stupid enough to be up this early on a Sunday. Who ARE these people and why were they all traveling at this time? It was seriously worse than rush hour.

When I finally made it to the 7 train, I had about a half hour to get to GC. Luckily (or so I thought) the 7 came right away. From there, it should've taken about 20 minutes to get to GC and then I'd have more than enough time to get my train to Riverdale.

I then learned mid-trip that they're doing construction and the 7 trains are not going into the city. Once we reached the last stop, I raced to find a shuttle cab and asked him to take me to GC. I then asked out of curiosity how much it would cost to go all the way to Riverdale and he answered, "25." Great! I thought, that's a bargain -- a bit more than it would cost on the train, but it'll make my trip easier.

"Okay, take me to Riverdale," I told him and gave him the address of The Riverdale Temple. I sat back as I prepared to relax. 10 minutes later we arrived at ... Grand Central. He clearly hadn't understood me. Even worse, he wanted $25 for the very short trip that probably would've cost $10 in a yellow cab. I knew that I was getting completely ripped off, but I gave it to him because I didn't want to argue. I wanted to see if I could make my train.

I ran into GC ... and missed my train by a minute. A MINUTE. Now I had to wait an HOUR for the next one. The silver lining here is that it gave me time to eat a leisurely breakfast. The trip itself was no big deal, but once I arrived at Riverdale -- at about 9 a.m., the start of the fair -- I saw that there were no cabs at the station. Plus, it was freezing cold since the station is on a cliff, right by the water. I was very surprised to not see cabs, because there are always cabs by the LIRR stations -- and by the other Metro North stations in Westchester.

I clled the event organizer in a panic and she was clearly annoyed with me. "Well, no one can pick you up now," she told me. I asked for the number of a cab and she gave me the name of a service that thankfully arrived in the next minute. I made it to the fair a bit after 9 a.m. The organizer was relieved to see me, but still upset.

The fair itself was well, weird. There were many vendors and we were kind of crammed into the rec room. I felt as if we were all on top of one another and there was little room to walk the aisles. On one side of me was a young man who kept chatting on his cell phone. On the other side was a vendor who kept whistling. I wanted to kill them both.

The event seemed to be bustling because there were so many vendors and volunteers, but the true shopping traffic was kind of slow. At the last fair, there were many families and people of all ages. This fair seemed to mainly attract elderly women. Not that I have problems with elderly women in any way, but they tend to not be my usual customer, and that was definitely the case today. If anything, I think that my jewelry was too simple and subdued for a lot of these women, most who wore crazy chunky necklaces and long, complicated earrings. One lady wore about 10 strands of pearls and had a second necklace on beneath that. Another wore a chunky turquoise number that was adorned with a pin that literally looked like a breast plate. At the last fair, many customers and onlookers had questions for me, but these shoppers just weren't interested.

I did make a few sales and a couple of people took my card, but it was a quiet, disappointing day. I also got some weird comments. One woman picked up one of my gold necklaces and complained that it wasn't green enough. What??? Another told me, "Your stuff is great. You should be selling more," but didn't buy anything herself. One woman tried on and loved a ring, and was shocked when I told her the low price... and didn't purchase it. I think you can understand why I find craft fairs fun and frustrating.

The day didn't turn out to be a total bust, because we later met up with friends who live in the area and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. I don't think I'll do this fair again, though. The trip was too far and inconvenient and it wasn't worth my trouble. That's not to say I won't do more fairs; the holiday season is just starting and I want to take full advantage.

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.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cool, Colorful Enamel And Cloisonne Necklaces

Thanks to my trip to California and Superstorm Sandy wreaking havoc on New York City, I missed my enamel class for two weeks. But I returned this Tuesday and managed to get a lot of work done. I ended up completing three new pieces, all of which I'll be selling at this weekend's craft fair:

The first is pretty, but was a real pain the butt to make. This was one of those pieces where I had a clear idea in my head for what I wanted -- a pendant that looks like ocean waves and uses different shades of blue -- but things kept going wrong. My first try at this pendant went awry when I overheated it and the cloisonne wire melted. I started a new pendant from scratch and this time, the cloisonne stuck and didn't melt, but the wire moved during the process. This is why the spirals aren't next to one another; they were supposed to be adjacent so they had that wave effect.

Still, I went ahead and completed the pendant, and thought that it came out looking pretty good. Only after I fired it in the kiln, I realized that I'd sealed in the jumpring hole up top. My teacher drilled it for me using a special diamond drill, but the enamel on the back cracked. I refired it to close up the crack and the pendant stuck to the trivet, causing little black gashes to appear on each edge. I tried to cover them with more blue enamel, but it didn't work ... which is why you see that black speck in the corner. Overall, though, I'm happy with this necklace. My husband liked it when I showed it to him. He thought that the spirals were supposed to be flowers, but he loved the color scheme.

The next two enamel pendants were easier to make. I used a brown color scheme for the first out of sheer laziness; we happened to have brown enamel on the table in front of me and I just used what was there. I think it's pretty, though, especially with the drop of yellow. More thought was put into the bottom necklace, which was designed to resemble Native American jewelry. I used colors typical of the Southwest, like turquoise and red, and am really pleased with how it turned out.

My enamel pendants usually sell pretty well at fairs. Here's hoping that I have another successful Sunday!

To purchase my wire wrapped and enamel 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.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bad News, Good News

First, some bad news: I did not win any prizes in Firemountain Gems' jewelry making contest. Two of my wire wrapped jewelry pieces were finalists, but I didn't win any of the big prizes.

Of course I'm disappointed in the outcome, but I'm not disappointed in myself. I put a lot into both necklaces and came up with some creative wire wrapped designs that I hadn't yet tried. And the pieces that did win are gorgeous. Firemountain Gems seems to favor large, chunky pieces and they also seem to really like work that was done with precious metal clay. I'd consider doing a PMC piece except it's a really EXPENSIVE material and I'd hate to use that much for a necklace that may or may not win. So if I decide to enter again next year, I'll probably do some more wire wrapped jewellery. Even if I don't have a chance at winning, I do like the idea of being creative and testing my limits.

One thing that is really cool is that they photographed a judge wearing my necklaces. I hadn't seem them on anyone other than myself, so I enjoyed seeing it displayed

Meanwhile, I do have some good news: On November 18, I'll be selling my jewelry at the Riverdale Temple in Riverdale, NY. I have to get up really early for this show and it'll be a bit of trip getting to the Bronx from Queens, but I'm looking forward to it. I had such a great time selling at Temple Beth-El in Patchogue, NY, so why not participate at another temple fair? I like the intimacy of the set-up; plus, we're getting into the holiday season so people will be eager to buy gifts.

I think that from now on, I'm going to stick with doing smaller fairs and events. I've done some larger ones and those just haven't been as successful for me. I was discussing this with one of my jewelry classmates and she reasoned that vendors can get diluted at larger fairs. Sure, you may have 30,000 people attending, but if there are 300 vendors present, your stand can get lost in the crowd. Also, many people go to big fairs or flea markets just to look and wander, and not to buy. At the smaller events, people are more likely to come up to you and ask questions, and give you a chance to actually make that sale. Besides, the large fairs always ask for an expensive registration fee -- and the sales just haven't been worth it.

This will be my fourth craft fair this fall. My goal is to do three more. We're coming up close on Christmas so this will be a stretch, but if I work hard, I think I can do it.

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, November 8, 2012

Hand carved copper metal and silver wire wrapped pedants

I'm pleased to share that I've now sold all three of my hand carved mixed metal copper and silver abstract wire wrapped pendants!

This is such a big deal to me because I began to work on these three pieces last March on the day that I was let go from my job. It was a Thursday, so I had my metalsmithing class that night, and I didn't want to go home only to have to turn around and go back to the city. Instead, I went uptown to my husband's office and to keep myself occupied, worked on my jewelry in the conference room. I had a big sheet of copper and my jewelry saw with me, so this was the perfect project with which to keep busy. Though I'll never forget the look on his colleagues' faces when they spied me sawing away!

Doing something rather mindless and time-consuming like sawing copper was a great way for me to deal with my stress and to sort out my confusion from that day. As I carved out the various copper and silver shapes, I became more and more determined and defiant and vowed to make it as a jewelry artist. No, this was not what I studied in college, but this no longer mattered; I wanted to succeed at something that I love to do.

This is why I'm happy about selling those three mixed metal pieces. Those necklaces make me think back to that day and these sales are symbollic of my success. I still love what I do and hope to continue for the long haul.

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.

Funky abstract silver wire wrapped pendant necklaces

Sorry for the long delay between postings. I've been busy with my Virtual Blog Tour and the promotion of my book. I then went to California for a week -- and returned home to face the craziness of Superstorm Sandy in New York City. Fortunately, we were very, very lucky and didn't lose power, heat or water.

This past week, I've been getting back into my jewelry making. Marketing my novel is important, but I want to maintain a balance between everything. So I signed up for a craft fair that's next weekend and got back into the studio.

I had a few feet of 14 gauge silver wire so I decided to work on one of my favorite types of pieces: the minimalist, but really cool, abstract silver necklace. These are so much fun to make because I never know exactly what design I'll come up with -- and when I hammer them to add texture, it's a great way to relieve stress! Plus, these sell well, both online and at fairs. Jewellery trends may come and go, but a simple silver or gold pendant will always stay in style -- and goes with any kind of out from casual to fancy.

Here are the four necklaces that I came up with:

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