Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Etsy Treasuries

I’ve had a shop on Etsy since January, when I have to admit I was so demoralised by the number of things no longer working on Folksy since the changes in November, some of which are still not put right, and I’ve done ok on there. Lots more views of items, many many more favourites, therefore a better interest and two good sales of my bead embroidered cuffs, something for which there was very little interest on Folksy.

Promotion tools are far better too, with many options by which you can put yourself ‘out there’, within the site, and use to promote outside the site too. Take treasuries for instance.

I love making treasuries. These are basically a selection of up to 16 items usually within a theme, which could be colour, material, styles or whatever you want.  This treasury then appears in the activity feed of all in your circle, they in turn favourite it and it appears then in the feed of all in their circles, and so on.

Combine this with any teams you may be in and you’ve got a wonderful cross-promoting system going. I’m in the Etsy Craftyfolk team, and each week they have a little treasury competition, where the treasuries made in a given week have to feature the winner of the previous week.  There could be 20-25 treasuries at least in this competition, some of which may feature one of your items if they fit a theme, along with an item from the featured shop. Everybody favourites each other’s treasuries, and it effectively goes viral pretty quickly, alongside Facebook and Twitter promotions to bring in more views.

It’s even better when someone else has made a treasury and featured one of my items. My stats will tell me that one particular item has had a lot of views that day, and on checking further I find it’s in a new treasury. It brings visitors to the shop, creates interest, and on a good day…SALES!!

I don’t know if my sales on Etsy are directly as a result of appearances in treasuries or not, but as a promotion tool they really do work. Of course, you need a big circle to get the full benefit, and I have only 172 in my circle to date, but some of those have many more, so it spreads anyway.

Here’s my latest, featuring another member of the Craftyfolk team, MoreStashPlease, the winner of last weeks treasury competition, and this time every item in it is from a member of the team, and not just items across Etsy.

Friday, 20 July 2012

A New Project.

A few weeks ago, my partner gave me this gorgeous Amazonite pedant along with some amazonite beads. I made a necklace out of the beads, but this pendant, in spite of having a hole in it, is flat-backed, perfect as a cabochon on a bead embroidered necklace.

Now, I’ve only done one whole collar before, but a basic design was aready singing to me, and it kept me awake until the early hours when I gave up, fetched my notebook from the kitchen and sat up as the birds began to sing, drawing my design ideas. (Creative people will tell you this happens from time to time, and it’s always a good idea to have a notebook on hand in every room just in case).

Six pages of drawings later and I had a choice of possibilities, so I put the notepad away and slept like a baby.

The following day, with matches holding my eyes open, I sat at the table with my now drawn out ideas, but none felt quite right, so I drew the basic shape again, placed the pendant in the middle and drew round it, and created this… 

Now I’m in the process of transforming that design into a fully beaded collar. I’ve so far glued and beaded around the pendant and a few oval amazonite cabochons, and I’m in the process of attaching some Swarovsky rivolis. The overall colour scheme is white with some mint greens, sea-foam blues and pale greys, with a gorgeous outline of jonquil-lined gold seed beads.

I still have to cover the hole in the pendant. There is a choice of different ways to do this, and for now I'll keep it to myself, but I am sure it'll work well with the whole necklace.

When I find a beautiful slab of gemstone like this amazonite, I get excited as the whole piece starts to come together, transforming a vaque picture in my head of what I want it to be, into a real piece. It'll take a while to finish yet, especially as at the moment I'm not working on it every day due to working with polymer clay, which takes time and my table space, but it'll be worth waiting for.

Monday, 16 July 2012

More Adventures with Polymer Clay

Well it’s been more than a week since I last blogged, mainly because the weather here was so bad (and still is) with constant rain, it has affected my internet badly. Whenever I tried to call BT to get it fixed, I got a repeated message that due to adverse weather conditions there have been severe problems with broadband in my area. Finally it came back to stay yesterday.

So, while I’ve been lacking internet, bar the times I was constantly reconfiguring my broadband to get about 15 minutes of slow internet until it all went off again, therefore lacking in communication with the outside world unless I sat on the bus and waited for the obligatory nutter to sit next to me and start chatting, I’ve been playing with my polymer clay.

Not much is ready to sell yet, I don’t feel it’s good enough, but I have to say the prototypes do look pretty darn good.

One thing has arrived in my Etsy shop though, this gorgeous leafy necklace in Autumn colours, with a cluster of purple and gold firepolish crystals to look like grapes. Needless to say, anyone that knows me would know the first name that sprung to mind was ‘Merlot’ after my favourite wine! Can’t think why…

My canes are coming along well too, and with my nearly successful leaf cane, which I still managed to distort a bit in the process of reducing, I made some earrings which are also in my Etsy shop, and a pod pendant which will be available in August in the Folksy shop.

I then spotted some tile bracelets while looking around so I decided to give those a go. I got the technique a bit wrong, so they tiles came out a bit…errr….rustic, but the right idea was there, and I’m very pleased with the result. However it looked better in real life than in the photos which showed up every single wobble and fault and seemed to exaggerate it, so that’s another piece that won’t be going on sale. Lots of research later, and I’ve found the right method, so that’s what I’ll be working on today hopefully.

Lots of buttons have appeared too, some with leftover clay, and some deliberately made using methods I’ve picked up from various places across the internet. I especially like the ones I made from a rose cane, which I really enjoyed making. I haven’t got any photos of those yet, as yet again the clouds rushed over and everything just got to dark.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Featured Crafter, Diane Ward.

Along with blogging about me me me, I want to feature some of the other crafters who are on Folksy or Etsy from time to time, hopefully to get the point across that ‘handmade’ doesn’t mean cheap and cheerful, but quality and finesse.

So to begin with, I’d like to add a short feature about a fellow beader and crafter and include some of her work.

Didy Ward describes herself as a bit of a magpie. Well we all do to a certain extent, that’s half the attraction of crafting, the excuse to stock up on pretty things… and make more pretty things from them!. Didy lives in Suffolk, and has always crafted in one way or another, crochet, embroidery etc since she was a little girl, but her move to Suffolk prompted her to look at gemstones and jewellery-making.

This was largely because she couldn’t find a necklace to go with a particular outfit so decided to make one herself, after all, how hard can it be? At that moment she immersed herself in a strange new world of ‘findings’, ‘crimps’ and ‘jumprings’. Like most jewellery-makers, she soon had a boxful, and another, then another, slowly taking over the house.

It was when someone suggested she try selling them, that she took it all much more seriously and upped her game. Taking up semi-precious gemstones, and beadwork with tiny seed beads, she grew and grew. Now she has her own website, didihandmadejewllery and a shop to feature her beadwork on Folksy.

Didy has a particular fascination for gemstones. She says, ‘My first love is semiprecious gemstones.  I adore those little beauties!  I particularly like them at their most natural, in rough cut and only lightly polished states.  I really like mixing rough things with smooth and a few of my designs incorporate rough cut stones, or little chip stones, with smoother rounds or ovals.’

‘But I have crazes for other things.  I used to sew a lot when I was younger and have always liked fabrics.  There is a wonderful fabric shop, a mecca for quiltmakers, near where I live and, having invested in a badge making machine recently, I now have the perfect excuse to browse all those delicious fat quarters and am churning out fabric covered handbag mirrors at a rate of knots.’

Didy also attends a lot of craft fairs, mainly in Southwold. Here are some examples of Didy’s work.

Blue Lace Agate Necklace 'Bohemia'.
Aventurine and Hemimorphite necklace.
Topaz Russian Spiral Necklace

Fabric Covered Handbag Mirror

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Polymer Clay

While I have been waiting for more supplies for the bead embroidery, especially the thread (I use Fireline and refuse to buy the Beadsmith branded version, which only gives me 50 yards, when I can get 125 yards from a fishing supplier for only a little more. Checks were made with Berkeley the makers by beaders on another forum and were assured it is exactly the same stuff).

I digress, I've been messing about with polymer clay this week. I've been wanting to give it a go since I started jewellery-making, but the collection of equipment needed made it rather expensive, especially the pasta roller. However, a bit of canny shopping and a great starter kit from the Jewellery Maker channel on satellite TV, which my partner bought me, and I was away!

I do find it funny though, that if you go into a kitchen shop and buy a set of leaf cutters for icing, they are cheaper than the exact same thing with 'polymer clay' instead of 'icing' on the pack. Am I being cynical here? The only thing that is cheaper because it is specifically for polymer clay, is the pasta roller, simply because it doesn't have the attachments for spaghetti etc. (hmmm clay spaghetti beads...that would be interesting...NO! stop right there Teresa!)

Anyway, I'm the sort of person who likes to go right in at the deep end, so I made a flower cane. Not bad for a first attempt, though reduction distorted it a bit,and from that I made a cuff on the last of my 1 inch blanks.      

I think I had a little too much white, and while smoothing the surface I distored the flowers a bit more, but it showed me that it works, so this is something I will be working on in the future. It had a good reception on Facebook anyway.

Next I made another cane and messed that up completely. So it was made into swirly beads, while some leftover bits of clay were rolled and blended to make a new colour, a kind of dusty pink/purple which I love, so two bracelets were born.

I also have a lot of swirly beads made from leftover bits and mistakes, all rather interesting and unique.

Things did go wrong while I'm learning, but I know why they went wrong now, and a little practise has got me doing it right. Now if I could slice a cane without squashing it, that would be nice.

None of these will go on sale in my shops, though if anyone wants to make an offer they can have them.  They do have a certain amount of rustic charm though don't they?