Sometimes it’s the little things…

…that provide a whole lot of joy. In this case it is the feeling of accomplishment. I have finally opened my Etsy shop! [insert me doing a happy dance here] Secondly, thanks to lovely family and friends (who move quickly – thanks guys!), I have made my first two sales.  At this time there is only jewellery, but needle felted items will be added soon.

Look – it’s my site!!

One of the mental barriers I’ve faced (real or imagined) while setting up shop was the issue of mailing items out. Canada Post has a great section on their website regarding sizes/weights/pricing, but it thoroughly overwhelmed me.  Based on an Etsy recommendation I went to the post office with a mock-up of what I would be sending out. The woman who assisted me was incredible. She walked me through a variety of different sending scenarios, and helped me come up with a plan. I’m still not 100% confident – I’d put myself more at 32%, but it’s better than it was.

Today I sent off my first package. The woman at Canada Post decided it was letter mail (she needs to be there every time I send something!) which equals MUCH cheaper shipping costs. During the test run it was a bit of a judgment call as to whether the package was letter mail or not, so I tried to minimize packaging as much as possible, while still keeping it attractive. I have now learned how easy it is to refund excess shipping fees to the purchaser, and I’m feeling great. [insert another happy dance here]

There’s still a lot to learn and do – I found some flaws in the packaging (items always look different when I pack them only in my mind), so I want to figure that out and then prep so packages are easy to assemble.  I’d also like to keep improving my Etsy site with more images in the “About” section and strengthening some of the descriptions.  I have to tell you though, I feel such an incredible lifting of the spirit to have finally gotten motivated enough to take the chance and press the “go live” button, ready or not. I can spend far too long inside my head trying to sort out the best way to do things, but in this case I think it was better to just do them and iron out details as needed.

Thank you to everybody who has been so encouraging and supportive and not nearly as nagging as you could have been – I appreciate you all!

Stampity Stamp

Wow, it has been a very long time since my last post.  First things first, Happy New Year!  Since last writing I’ve taught a couple of Christmas ornament workshops, but alas, I have no pictures to share.  I’ll smarten up on that front!

Now on to the subject at hand – metal stamping. There is so much that can be done with metal stamping… words, images, a combination of the two. Alas, I generally have a tough time figuring out how to make them work properly.

I have a metal stamp with my initials on it to sign my jewellery, as well as a .925 stamp. I have learned not to stamp directly onto the jewellery, as it doesn’t always come through strongly, and there is no way (that I’ve found) to have a decent do-over. Instead I stamp little scraps and attach them. I like the way it looks (very finished), and if it doesn’t work, well, that scrap will become something else.

It would have been very difficult to stamp directly on this piece due to the shape.
It would have been very difficult to stamp directly on to this piece due to the domed shape.

I’m happy to report that I may have figured out how to make the stamp work for me and not against me. I was in the studio the other day, and changed up my hold on the stamp and the hammer I was using, and I was able to (miraculously) produce a very strong image. Yay! Fingers crossed that this is the first of many, and not a once in a lifetime event.

Success!
Success!

I certainly have a new appreciation for those who make stamped jewellery with whole phrases/sentences… it’s not just the lining up of the individual letters that would be tricky (and it would be VERY tricky for someone like me!), but the actual stamping technique.

I think perhaps a course is in my future… I do have some other stamps with patterns on them, and it would be nice to actually put them to use!  Respect the stampers – they’ve got skills!

Decisions, decisions…

Photographs – the current bane of my existence.

I have finally gotten off my butt and have started taking photographs of jewellery for my shop.  I should clarify – I have started taking photographs, but none of them are attractive or pleasing, and they will not be posted.  They are in focus, though, so that’s a step in the right direction!

In focus, but looks like it was taken on a dark and stormy day
In focus, but looks like it was taken on a dark and stormy day

I have found that deciding on a consistent style for jewellery photos is difficult.  And lighting… don’t get me started on that!  I’ve been looking at various blogs on photography for tips on lighting / focus / backgrounds, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t know what to do.

Many articles that I’ve read state that the best way for jewellery to be displayed in photos is with a white background, making the object appear like it is floating.  I understand that this is useful when the photo is being posted on various sites, although I don’t fully understand why (I had generally lost interest by that point in the article – I seem to have a short attention span sometimes).  I do agree, however, that the white background is best to show off the true colour of the metal and any beads or stones that are set within the piece.  The less busy-ness around the item, the better it shows.

In many cases I find the white to be dull.  There are exceptions, though.  For example, I follow @metalurj on Instagram (website:  http://www.metalurj.com/) and I consider their style of pictures to be one of those exceptions.  Their pieces are very strong and focused against a brilliant, somewhat over-exposed white background.  They stand out, even with “just white”.  The style of the jewellery works really well with no distractions, and looks stronger and more industrial for it.

Part of my problem with the plain background is due to the fact that I’m having a heck of a time with white balance – my photos are either a depressing grey or overexposed.  When the plain background is done well – ka-pow! – fabulous image.  When it is done poorly, well, there is no ka-pow… only a sad little whimper of an image.

Warmed up, but yikes - it's sure yellow!  This is with normal lightbulbs, directed at the pendant.
Warmed up from depressing grey, but yikes – it’s sure yellow! This is with normal lightbulbs which were directed at the pendant.
Using an Ott-Lite
Using an Ott-Lite.
Changed the white balance on my camera - it definitely helped, but I'm still lacking crispness.
Changed the white balance on my camera – it definitely helped, but I’m still lacking crispness.
Went a little white balance crazy with my camera.
Went a little white balance crazy with my camera.

But I have a little secret to tell you… I like busy-ness.  I enjoy an artistic shot with pleasingly placed props.  If the jewellery is in focus and there isn’t an overabundance of filters on the photo, I’m happy.

What’s a girl to do?

I think I need to start listening to what I like, and what I think portrays the piece of jewellery in the most honest and attractive way, and if the time comes that I need to do an all-white background, well, maybe that’s the time to hire someone with the right set-up who has experience taking jewellery photos.

Any photographers or jewellery picture-looker-at-ers with thoughts on this?  What catches or upsets your eye when you look at pictures of jewellery?

Proprietor, Sole Proprietor

Okay, that heading isn’t quite as catchy as Bond, James Bond, but it is very exciting to me!

I’m happy to say that I have made progress in my goal to set up a small business. I find this sort of thing a bit tricky – all the forms and the figuring out what I need to do – but I have to say, the BC Provincial Government site OneStop BC Business Registry made life so much easier.  I was able to figure out what I needed to register for, and then register from the site.  The site gives lots of links to helpful publications, and I feel confident that I have completed everything that I need to run my own small business.  Yay!!

Now I’m dealing with the detail stuff – business cards, packaging and stamps.  The business cards are done, and I’m really happy with them. I had them printed by Moo and the quality is lovely.  Packaging has proved to be a little trickier, as I’m trying to find something fairly flat and sturdy for mailing (to keep postal costs low) but available from Canada.  The stamps are very exciting, but I have to learn how to use them.  I now have a .925 metal stamp, and somewhere in the Canada Post system is a metal stamp with my initials – should be here next week (I keep wanting to say “Yay!”).  Now I can finish off my jewellery in a more professional fashion, having identified it as sterling silver and made by me.  And the yays just keep coming!

Twisty Tree Artworks business cards
Twisty Tree Artworks business cards

Once the stamp arrives, it’ll be studio time… So looking forward to it!

I know what you’re expecting, and I don’t want to disappoint… Yay!!

Salt ‘n Pepper

I love second-hand shopping… UsedVictoria.com is one of my favourite websites, and once again, it did not fail me.

Several of the jewellers/artisans that I admire use recycled sterling silver (or mixed metals) for their jewellery – old spoons, platters, etc.  I decided to take a look on UsedVictoria.com to see if there was anything available at a reasonable price.  Most of the items listed were collectibles, and they had VERY collectible prices.  Tucked in amongst those was this dear salt and pepper set.

Salt and pepper set
Salt and pepper set

The set has very pleasing and intricate cut outs on top, and are dented enough that I don’t feel guilty chopping them up.  I was concerned that they might not be sterling, but they were very inexpensive, so I thought I’d take a chance.  The woman I purchased them from said that they were marked sterling, and sure enough, they are.

Sterling mark
Sterling mark

Now I will be going through my stone collection – I’m picturing a translucent stone, with the silver over the top of the stone, but we’ll see how it goes… plans have a habit of shifting as I work. 😀