Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wholesale vs. Retail

I received the first edition of a new clay magazine, The Polymer Arts, in my e-mail inbox the other day.  When I discovered you could purchase a digital version, as opposed to a hard copy by snail mail, I decided to give it a try.


I found the Controlled Crackling technique to be quite interesting and something I might want to play around with some day.  The article "Transitioning into Wholesale" was very timely for us since that is basically the stage where we are at.

We started out last March with our first quilting store purchasing our buttons.  That has grown to several more stores selling our shawl pins and now beads as well.  Our wholesale end seems to be taking over and we are at a crossroads as how to divide our time.

We are still booked in for several shows over the next six months and by the end of that time we should be closer to making a more informed decision.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Abstract Floral and Hardly Working

I finally finished some new beads and buttons from the spliced cane I made the other day.  You can see the original cane here.


These pieces are to fill a wholesale order for a yarn and craft store.   The wholesale part of our business has been picking up and we have now expanded into beads and shawl pins.  Selling beads and buttons as wholesale is quite different from selling our jewelry on line or in shows.  It takes more discipline and organization along with working in a more production line-like process.  Consistency is another important factor so that each batch of beads or buttons come out the same size and color.  On the other hand, selling wholesale also forces us to be more creative to come up with more styles and designs.

All in all, it is maintaining a balance between having fun or working.  As long as we enjoy what we do it does not feel like work.  Whenever I go to my studio I always say that I'm off to "play" today.  It gives a whole new meaning to "working hard" or "hardly working".  lol!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Follow up on your comments

Thanks so much for your comments on the pendant I posted.  Some of you recognized Julie Picarello's technique.  I took her workshop almost 2 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It is the only workshop I've ever taken and glad I did for the experience and fun get together with other fellow clayers.  Some of you mentioned how her style and technique is now popping up all over the place since her book came out and may be a little over used for a while but that is okay.  I still love to play with stacked, layered and textured clay and experimenting with a way to create more of an abstract look.

This brings me to the bet Dave and I made with each other.  I was playing with my clay layered stack and decided to formulate some type of scene.  When I showed Dave my pendant, I asked him what he saw and at first he didn't see anything -- go figure!  I then gave him some suggestions as to what I saw (which I had some liberty as I did make the piece - ha).  I showed him the sky, the hill, the possible water at the bottom ---  He did see the sun!  yippee!  On the other hand he did decide it was a sunset over a moonscape --- he felt calling it a landscape was stretching it a bit.

We then made a bet.  I said I would post a photo of it on our blog and ask our followers what they see and compare who is right ---


To settle the bet ... any of the comments that mentioned desert, sun, etc. were a point for Dave. 

Any of the comments that referred to scenes or landscapes were a point for me.

We eliminated the faces, fish, birds and whatever -- except for the FraggleRock comment.  Dave insisted on a point for that one!  (In his opinion FraggleRock was the best TV show ever made)

As for the comments on Facebook?  Well -- let's just say they are just wierd!  Ninja turtles???  lol!

All in all we settled on a tie -- (for now...)  It was fun though to see how so many people can look at the same thing and all get a totally different impression!


So now the inspiration behind this piece....

I bought this gorgeous wrap style poncho shawl from a local artist friend, Jan Seedhouse.  Her work is fabulous and all made by her on her loom.  You can see the shawl in our blog post here.

So, I've been wanting to make some new jewelry pieces to go with my shawl.  I created some new bargello (which I will show you later) and decided to play around with some of the same colors.  Here are some photos of the pendant piece with my shawl to see how the colors coordinate.



Thanks again for all your comments!  We had a lot of fun reading them!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Need Your Input

We've been experimenting with some mokume gane techniques as well as new color combinations and pendant shapes.  Perhaps you could help settle a bet between Dave and myself.  Can you tell us what you see here?  Give us your best description and you can comment here or on our facebook page.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Double Take with our Fiesta Spiral Beads

The Fiesta Spiral in
Sapphire Blue & Peridot Green...

Necklace...

Earrings ...

 Bracelet ...


Ring...

Shawl Pin...

Beads...

Tutorial...



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Feathers in Denim Blue

These feather jewelry pieces are in a soft denim blue.


The colors came from a special order request for feather zipper pulls.  She was designing and sewing a dress and wanted something unique as an accent.  Here they are on her beautiful summer dress:


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Make a Banner Using Picasa Collage

ArtFire is the main site we sell from and they recently made some improvements to make the shops look more professional and the shopping cart more user friendly.  Due to these improvements we had to update and change our banner and avatar to fit with the new layout which left us scrambling on what to do.  I am no computer expert but manage to figure out the necessary basics and good at improvising.  I googled "how to make a banner with picasa" and came up with a few helps but there seemed to be some steps missing, etc.  I struggled through and finally came up with a quick and simple method how to create a new banner for our studio that is exactly 1000 x 200 pixels.  You can also use this same method for a blog or website banner by changing the size measurements.  You can click on the photos below to see a larger view.

Step 1 - I first chose a couple of photos in Picasa I wanted to use for the banner and then entered them into a collage.  You can use several photos or just one.  Choose the picture setting for your collage.


Step 2 - You can choose any color you wish for your background.  Instead of a solid color, I chose one of my photos as the background.


Step 3 - Now straighten and move your photo(s) around on the background.  Since the ArtFire banner needs to be 1000 x 200 which is really long and narrow, I shrunk my photo a fair bit so it will fit. (You will see why later). 


Step 4 - When your photo is in position how you like, select "Create Collage".  It is then saved and you switch to editing mode.


Step 5 - Now crop your photo so it will be long and narrow like your banner.  This is where I clicked on the "Add Custom Aspect Ratio".  I entered in the boxes 1000 x 200 and named it ArtFire Banner.


Step 6 - Now crop the banner so it will come out in the ratio of 1000 x 200.


Step 7 - Export your photo to another file and resize it to "1000" pixels.


Step 8 - Find your photo again in Picasa to edit and add any writing.  If you click on the properties (right click menu), you will see that the photo has been resized to 1000 x 200.


Step 9 - Add any writing and arrange how you like.  Keep in mind that the avatar will be covering part of it on the right hand side.


Step 10 - Now load your banner and voila!  You are finished!


I hope this helps make loading your new banner a little easier for you.

Follow Up:

Okay -- I didn't realize that there is a blank spot on my Banner for the Facebook Kiosk.  If you have a facebook Kiosk you can fill in a photo such as your avatar in that empty space.  If you already created your banner and don't want to do it all over again you can add it later like I will show you how here....

Step 11 - Go back to Picasa and find your finished banner (where we left off at step 9).  Load it and the photo you want to use to fill the empty space.  In this case I am using a different avatar.


Step 12 - Enlarge your banner so it almost fills the whole width of the workspace.


Step 13 - Shrink your other photo and place it in front of the banner in the postition you would like.


Step 14 - Now save your collage.  It will take you to the editing window.  Recrop your banner to the 1000 x 200 size again.


Step 15 - Now export your photo to a new file setting it to 1000 pixels.  When you find your photo in Picasa, it should show that it is 1000 x 200.  (Note:  one time it did not come out exact -- for instance 1000 x 201.  If this happens, delete the photo, go back to the original and export again.  It should work next time.)


Now reload your banner and the new one will look much better on facebook, etc.



Another Update:

I finally had time to go back and create another banner.  This time I loaded several photos and allowed space for writing at the bottom.  There are all sorts of possibilities.


And here is how it looks on the facebook kiosk:



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fiesta Spiral Rings

These rings match the Fiesta Spiral double-sided textured beads in some new jewel tone colors.  I used the polished pigments by Lumin Arte  in powder form here and find the colors more intense than the typical mica powders.  I'm still experimenting with ways to use this medium and discovering some fun new colors.






The bands on all of our rings are made from textured clay and available in two sizes:  Small - Medium and Medium - Large.  There is a slit at the back that expands slightly to fit the finger.


I experimented with some Premo clay and made some bands but found they were too soft and flexible to hold their shape.  The Kato clay is much stronger with just enough flex for a comfortable fit without stretching too far.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ready for the Summer Games with some New Art Jewelry Pieces

We delivered our jewelry last Thursday for the Nightly Arts Festival and sale at the Kamloops Western Canada Summer Games.  There are 29 local artists represented with several demonstrations each evening.  I demoed my millefiori and bead making last night and had a fun time.

This is a spliced cane I made during my demo in a favorite color combination of grape (#10-4) and lagoon (#8-3).    I plan to use this cane to make some sculpted floral buttons, shawl pins and rings...


Our jewelry inventory was a little depleted after selling at the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts so we made some new pieces just for this show.  These are an amalgamation of several Mokume Gane techniques in some bright summer colors.