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!

A Plethora of Pumpkins

Wow.  And once again… wow.  I just finished a workshop at the Beehive Wool Shop, and I am so impressed with the pumpkins that were made… and the owl… That’s right – in addition to some people making second pumpkins, one person made an owl.  Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of the owl (it wasn’t finished), but here is a picture of all the pumpkins. Sorry for the poor quality of the picture – two cups of coffee apparently makes for a shaky hand!  Thanks for a great class – that was a lot of fun!

Class Pumpkins

Class Pumpkins

The Great Pumpkin

Ever wanted your very own great pumpkin?  Now is your chance to make one.  I have a workshop scheduled at the Beehive Wool Shop from 10:30am – 12:30pm on Saturday, October 22, 2016.  Space is limited, so call or visit the Beehive to sign up.  Hope to see you there!

Pumpkins!

A felted pumpkin grinning at a chocolate pumpkin

A felted pumpkin grinning at a chocolate pumpkin

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?