November 30, 2010

Nests & Twigs

I want a twig ring for Christmas, which had me looking around on Etsy and sparked the idea for nest rings created from wire.  Here I created them in copper and antiqued them.  It took a few attempts before I came up with a design that I liked.  My girls were smitten and that's always a good sign.  This was my first attempt at rings, I finally had a chance to use my ring mandrel!

I love them too and will have to make one for myself after the show.  I'm also thinking of some folks on my gift list who would like these.  I'm so glad I have more girls in my family than guys!

A few in sterling silver.

Yep, my booth is going to be full of nests this weekend.

My twiggy wish list:
1. Spring Twig Ring  2. Tiny Twig Hairpins  3. It All Stacks Up (Yes, I'm dreaming!) 

November 29, 2010

Earring Invasion

I have been like a little Christmas elf over here burning the midnight oil.  I'm doing a show this weekend - Hecho a Mano here in San Antonio.  I think this is my 5th year.  A portion of the sales benefit the Guadalupe Cultural Center.  I've made 85 pairs of earrings over the last week.  As you can see, I take one design and do it up in 3-6 different colors.  I work in assembly line fashion to get them done quickly.

Here are 3 new styles for this year using 20 gauge sterling silver wire, I used the entire spool that I snagged from Rings & Things!

Spirals - these are my favorites, they look like little pieces of candy.

For these ones I made a ball at the end of the wires and hammered them.

And ones that have hammered paddles on the bottom.

Tagged and bagged.  (Okay did I mention Jess watched a 1/2 a season of Warehouse 13 while I worked on these.  What a goofy show, it's like X-files meets Eureka.)

Hecho a Mano (means 'made by hand' in Spanish) is Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I will list the earrings left over in my Etsy shop next week.  I'm looking forward to meeting people, seeing the art work and doing a little Christmas shopping myself!

Today is the last day to shop for jewelry in my shop, everything will be taken down until next Monday.

November 27, 2010

Nest Ornament Project

I made this nest ornament for my tree.  We do a woodland theme and I'm going heavy on the birds and nests this year.  I thought I'd share the directions. 

I've been having fun making a few art bead ornaments, getting ready for the Art Bead Scene ornament blog hop - you can still sign up to play along!

Snow dove - Humblebeads
Disk bead - Earthenwood Studios (or Jangles.)
Filigree brass leaf
Brass blank leaf
3 red 4mm crystals
1 brass 3" headpin
1 brass 7mm jump ring
3" green wire lace
34" brass color 18 gauge wire
3" brass color 24 gauge wire

(Wire, wire lace, crystals and leaves from Bello Modo)

1. Cut 4" of the 18 gauge wire, create a large spiral on both ends and hammer with a ball peen hammer.

2. Form a 2" circle with the remaining wire, wrap the wire around into a circle two more times to form the wreath/nest.  Continue wrapping the wire around the nest to form the texture on the nest. Leave a 4" tail of wire.  Form a loop at the top of the nest and wrap the remaining wire around the loop.

3. String the 3 crystals on the 24 gauge wire, center and twist the wire to hold the crystals in place.  Wrap the wire under the top loop.

4. String the wire through the two leaves and wrap around the top loop and through the wire of the nest to attach securely. 

5. On the headpin string the disk and the dove, wire-wrap a loop and attach to the nest with the jump ring.  Attach the wire hanging to the nest.  Tie on the lace ribbon.  Pinch the ends of the lace and pull the middle of both sections to create the leaf.

This would make a cute teacher's gift, hostess gift, office gift-exchange or Secret Santa present.  You could use different color birds and disks to personalize each one.

November 26, 2010

Holiday Freebies

'Tis the season!
Now through Tuesday you can get the following deals in my Etsy shop:

All orders: free shipping

Orders over $25: free Willow Charm (shown above)

First 10 orders over $50 - free snowman bead. 
These are limited editions that I'm no longer making!

Free gift wrapping for all jewelry purchases.

Free Gift Idea!

Use one of my tiny charms like the mushroom, willow or starfish charms to create a sweet little pendant for preteens or teens on your gift list.  Attach the charm to the 18" gunmetal chain with a 6mm jump ring.  (You can find them at Rings and Things or your local Hobby Lobby.)

Adorable!  Aren't my nieces going to be lucky this year!!!

Add a little bead on a sterling silver wire-wrapped bail and a sterling silver chain for a more sophisticated look.  Stocking stuffers anyone?

And the last freebie of the day - win this Modern Forest toggle clasp! This design was featured in Handcrafted Jewelry Magazine. Tweet or facebook about my Etsy specials (with a link to this blog post) and leave a comment letting me know you did - I will enter you in a drawing for Tuesday and will pick one random winner. 

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day.

And a really big thanks to those who purchased during the Plumber sale!

November 19, 2010

My Pain - Your Gain Sale!

It's more like the DAMN I have to pay for the plumber - time to have a quick and huge sale.

Okay this is the scoop:
Today and tomorrow only

50% off your entire order from

Yes, you read it right - any size order you get the wholesale price.

Doesn't not apply to my Etsy shop or any previous purchases.

You must use discount code: PLUMBERSALE
when you check out.

Please allow 7-10 business days before these orders will ship out.  Beads from my website are made to order.

This sale includes the jewelry section - great for holiday shopping.

Please share this sale with your friends, social network, etc.  Thank you in advance!

I will also draw one random customer from this sale to receive a free set of Purple Disk Beads!!!!

Sand sculpture photo from Tesla314

November 18, 2010

Glad Tidings

I picked up some of Diane Hawkey's word beads and Earthenwood's porcelain disks at Bead & Button this year and decided to order more for a series of pendants. Here they are, I created 3 of each design. I wanted something that was "holiday" but could be worn all year. Diane's beads remind me of worry stones. I could see someone wearing the pendant and touching the bead to remember the message they carry.

That reminds me of my Great Grandmother. She would play with her necklaces while she waited her turn at cards or while visiting with family over a cup of coffee. Beads rubbed between fidgeting fingers mindlessly while she recounted the details of stories from her past or news of friend of the family. I catch myself doing the same thing every now and then.

Nest Earrings to match the other pieces in my collection. I really love these. They are made with tiny eggs, makes me wish I could still wear earrings!

After the holidays and the book deadline I'm going to work on offering a line of jewelry to shops. The nest pieces will be part of that. I miss making and selling jewelry as part of my business so I'm easing back into it. 

November 17, 2010

Etsy Opps!

Squirrel 1: "What do you mean it's not in there?  It was here a minute ago."
Squirrel 2: "I don't know, I just found it that way...burp."

For those of you who are trying to check out from Etsy per my instructions for the discount - ignore it.  I didn't realize Etsy changed their shopping cart and you can no longer check out without paying.

So to take advantage of my 20% off discount: add 'winter20' to the note section, complete your purchase, pay and I will refund the discount back to your Paypal account.  This seems to be working the best for everyone.  Thanks!

Birds of a Feather

I'm doing a holiday market in a few weeks and a big part of my inventory are nest, egg and bird related items.  I have been making multiples of the same design - like the nests above with some eggs in a smaller size. They are so much fun to create, I feel like mother nature over here weaving together such lovelies. 

Nests symbolize the home, security, safety.  I like nesting, doing those little things to make a house a home.  I'm very thankful for my nest!  This bracelet features a Green Girl Studio nest, pewter branches, a branch disk bead and labradorite.

Eggs whisper to us of renewal, birth and hope.  An egg is a promise of good things to come - and who doesn't want a reminder of that!

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" - Matthew 6:26

I think that verse is why I like these symbols most of all - they are a gentle reminder to me that my needs are always met, I can let go of my worries and trust in things bigger than myself.

November 16, 2010

Winter Forest and a Gift

One Christmas my Dad took my cousins and I for a walk in the woods. There had been an ice storm the night before and the forest was covered in ice and frost. We came upon a brush that was covered in hundreds of tiny icicles. It was amazing, I could have stared at it for hours. My cousins, being boys, grabbed some sticks and started smashing the icicles to pieces. I was 8 and I was so mad at them for what they were doing. I remember that was the first time I realized I saw the world different from others. Where they saw sticks and ice, I saw magic.

It didn't matter whether I was 8 or 28 I always felt a little tinge of that winter magic whenever the first snow of the season would descend upon our sleepy little Michigan town. Three words - lake effect snow - oh the joy! These little pendants conjure up those cozy holiday feelings for me.

I whipped up this bracelet using one of my new toggle clasps. I used icy sterling silver wire and pewter branches. I could see this design used with copper branches and one of my Willow and Wildflower toggles too.
And here it is in action.

I added the toggle clasps to my shop and you can find them with the rest of my winter collection.

And because I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy I'm going to offer a 20% off coupon for my blog readers.

Check out as usual and wait for an updated invoice.

Use the discount code: Winter20 in the notes section when you checkout.

This is for my Etsy shop only.

November 15, 2010

Photo Redux

Morning all, thanks for popping by.  I've been recovering - from a computer crash and some health issues, not a good combo. But I'm back.  Working again like a little mad elf before the holiday rush.  Since most of what's been going on has been catching up and production work, I thought I'd share some before and after photos with you and some photo tips. 

The before shot - too dark.  The composition needed work - too much metal in the foreground took the focus away from the earrings.

The updated photo - better lighting and cropped closer to the subject.  I like the little addition of the sprig from a bush out of my front yard.  This pair of earrings sold the day after I changed the photo. 

Wowzers - way too dark and did nothing to flatter the earrings.  Bleah, bleah, bleah.

Now there is the stuff - love the lighting - nice diffused sunlight.  You can see the sparkle of those crystals and the flowers (from MissFickleMedia) much better.  Hmm, same composition as the photo of the other pair of earrings - that must have been working for me that day.  With the new Etsy photo dimensions of 500 pixels wide, horizontal pictures seem to work better for the first photo.

I photograph with diffused daylight next to a window. I have white sheer curtains to filter out harsh shadows. Another trick I have been doing to improve the lighting is holding a piece of vellum above the jewelry while I'm photographing it, the light reflects off the paper and seems to help the camera adjust better to the lighting.  (I'm not a techie camera person, I'm sure there is a reason for that little bit of magic.)

I use the window seat in my studio and stack up some books so that my photography area isn't at a back-breaking angle.  A trusty tripod is a must for good photos.  Simple backgrounds and props add some interest, they relate to my nature-inspired brand and hopefully they don't distract from my items.  And where would I be without photoshop to crop my images, sharpen them and adjust the brightness if needed. 

My favorite background for my photos is an old piece of slightly rusted metal that Jess found.  Other things I've used for backgrounds include scrapbook paper, old books opened and closed - love old linen covered books - embossed ones are even better.  A painted canvas with white crackle paint has been fun but works best as a background for small objects/beads. 

If you want to improve your photos - this is a must see!

What is your favorite background for your product photographs?