Whistle While You Work


I have a major deliverable due for work over the next coming week, so my blog posts will be a little light. I've been having trouble with inspiration lately with what I do at work; I have to write, and occasionally I get a little case of the writer's block. What I'm working on isn't even really requiring me to write brand new material; I have to take existing content and change it up a bit. Then, I have to put it into a paper-based storyboard format so the content can be converted into e-learning. Not hard, right? Well, sometimes it is. And when it is, that's when I put in my "Get Sh-- Done" playlist on my iTunes. What is in it? It's full of a nice mix of thumpin' hard techno beats. Yum. Currently spinning is Misstress Barbara: Relentless Beats Vol. 1. My office is rockin', I need some coffee, and then I'm going to crank this sucka OUT. And then I have two more to do. Hmmmmmm...ooooh I just got rocked by some crazy-a-- beats. Gotta go...there's work to be done.


Shop Highlight: The Hermitage

Don't you just LOVE when you have been looking and looking for something--the perfect thing--and then you find it on Etsy? And to top it off, don't you love even more that it's a handmade piece of art, crafted lovingly by someone who is so passionate you can see it in every aspect of their work? I do! I do!

That brings me to the shop I want to highlight today: The Hermitage.

Not long ago, in a little corner of my living room, I wandered across an Etsy front page collection filled with unique items. One in particular, however, brought me to Rima Staines's shop, and I'm so glad that I clicked on it so I could explore all of her wonderful pieces of work. Unique and mystical, magical and spellbound, all of her products make me want to close my eyes and live in the place that she has created, a place where conversations with faerie folk and magical creatures is an every day occurrence.

The reason why The Hermitage is such a fantastical find for me is because for months now I have been searching for the perfect piece of art that will adorn my entry way. It had to be that one perfect piece that would be situated above the coat hooks on my wall; the one piece that no matter whether someone was coming or going, they would be intrigued by its look and compelled to read it. You can imagine my delight when I came across this:

Isn't it just absolutely lovely? And it's going to go so well with the theme of my entry way. It will undoubtedly garner much attention, along with a request for information on where I found it and who made it, which I'll be absolutely delighted to share with all of my friends and acquaintances.

You can be a part of The Hermitage's world, too, by visiting Rima's Etsy store, The Hermitage web site (which houses a charming collection of characters, words, and creations), or for even more wondrous pleasure, visiting The Hermitage blog.

So what are you waiting for? Take some time for yourself, settle into your comfiest slippers and your coziest chair, and prepare to be enchanted. It's OK--The Hermitage's inhabitants welcome all wayfarers; see for yourself when you visit the Porch.


In the Mist Bracelet

Finally finished! This is the piece that accompanies the In the Mist Lariat; there are also earrings that will go along with the set (to be posted in my shop in about an hour or so).

I'm applying a special to these items--you can save $5.00 USD if you buy the lariat with the earrings, save $7.00 USD if you buy the lariat with the bracelet, or save $10.00 USD if you buy the lariat with the bracelet and the earrings.

Also coming soon will be the final Bizzy Buzz necklace (recall I had to rewrap the focal bead; it's done, but I still need to photograph it), as well as some new labradorite earrings and a new Earth Coils pendant.

I've been a busy, busy girl trying to create new stuff and get it ready for sale; I'm also going to be doing some traveling in March so I want to be sure my shop is well-stocked. On top of that, although I missed the opportunity to purchase an ad for Craft magazine through Etsy's Cooperative Advertisting Program, I did purchase some space on Modish--which will be up and on display on March 15th.

More to come ya'll...but it's Monday and I'm tired and I still need to package up some orders. Nighty night.


Bizzy Buzz - In Progress

Hooray for spring! This necklace was inspired by the upcoming season. I had some adorable little cast metal bees and so I decided it was time to incorporate them into a design.

This one isn't ready yet--I have to rewrap the focal bead. Ugh. The reason is because I thought I did the frame and the outer coils in 24g and 26g wire, and here I did them in 26g and 28g wire, which makes for thin coils that just bend too much for my liking. I also need to polish it up some more, but the little critters hanging from it told me that they were camera ready. In fact, if you look closely you can probably see little bits of steel wool hanging off of the chain links and the focal piece...the Bizzy Buzzies wanted their picture taken so bad they just couldn't wait for me to brush it off! LOL.

The design is asymmetrical and the necklace is long...I haven't measured it yet, but it's probably about 28" worth of chain links, including the clasp.

I think I'm going to model this one with some long, fun skirts. Perhaps I'll try to infuse it with a charm that will make spring come quicker. Whether it does or not, the other cool thing about this necklace is the weight of it--it's perfectly heavy--meaning that you know you've got your bling on, but it's not causing a kink in your neck.


Promotional Debate

This weekend, I opened MySpace.com and clicked the little link to open a new account. And then I couldn't bring myself to do it. For some reason, that site just bugs me. Perhaps it's because we already have one for The Simple Groove, and we get tons of spam, or perhaps it's just because I don't want to do it because everyone else is doing it. Ha.

I'm curious about this site as far as selling a product goes, especially for jewelry. Does it require a lot of maintenance? Is it something that has to be updated daily? Do you have to consistently add "friends" to get exposure? It seems that actively promoting yourself on there for Etsy-esque type products is significantly different than having a music page. Because honestly, between that and relisting on Etsy, posting photos on Flickr, updating messages and adding friends on Ning (Indiepublic and Everything Skwiggle), and acknowledging and bookmarking on Talent Database, I worry that I won't be able to keep up! My main focus, which supersedes promotional activities at this point, is to make new products and learn new skills. Do I need yet another site that will take up a block of my marketing activities that are carved out on my schedule? Yes--promoting is a ton of work, and I'm prepared to deal with it. But is MySpace really all that it's cracked up to be? I mean, if folks are getting sales from it, why not?

Please let me know your thoughts. I also have a poll

<----- over there.

I'd appreciate your participation and any comments you have.


Tagged Again

Hey there doodlesprouts...sorry in the delay in this post..but I was trying to think of seven things that people would care to read about! Haha.

Well, here goes another of those lists where you are "tagged" by another blogger, and you then have to list random items about yourself, and then tag seven other bloggers. The rules are as follows:

  1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.

  2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.

  3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.

  4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

As mentioned, doodlesprouts tagged me, so here are my not-so-interesting facts:

  1. I know how to tap dance.

  2. I am in a band.

  3. I have been to Ireland, and my trip, which was in 2006, was the first time I was ever out of the country and needed a passport (I went to Canada in '98, but they only required a driver's license back then).

  4. I love big dogs...I think most readers know that...and I'm currently the proud owner of two St. Bernards who weigh in at a grand total of about 340 lbs. When people ask me, "Why St. Bernards?" I say, "Because I can't have pet bears."

  5. Sort of in relation to item #2...I am a folksinger, but my musical tastes include a wide variety of different genres. For instance, I absolutely LOVE electronica, and once in a while you can see me jammin' out to old school hip-hop.

  6. My favorite color is purple. Not the pastel purple, but the deep, dark, mysterious purple.

  7. I was married in Las Vegas.

...and here are the lucky folks that I tagged. Hopefully they're not too angry with me. :0D



In the Mist Lariat

Whew, finally finished with this one, too! Today's new addition will be a lariat titled "In the Mist." The piece includes faceted smoky quartz teardrop beads and aquamarine rounds, all delicately wrapped with 24 and 26g wire and suspended by hand-shaped chain links of 18g wire. I also oxidized it and tumbled it to shine.

The name was inspired by Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon; I imagine Morgaine wearing this for courage and protection as she fought for the preservation of the Goddess.

I was also able to include some soldered pieces into this one (yay!)--the two rings at the ends were soldered together for extra durability. The length of the chain is about 24.25" (61.6cm), so it works well with sweaters and turtlenecks as well as shirts with a round neck.

Additional views are available on my Flickr page, and will be available in my Etsy shop later today. A matching bracelet, as well as earrings, will be coming soon.


Fire Gypsy Necklace

Finally finished! I hope to get it listed in my shop today. I recently posted a writeup on this one--I had to take it apart and rewrap. Ugh. But, this time it turned out much nicer. The spiral at the bottom has to kinda situate itself a little funky in order to hold the frame correctly, but that's OK, because the frame and its coils look so much better now!

The best part about completing this piece was finding the clasp accent, which is one of my favorite things to do. I was delighted to find an amber bead that matched perfectly; once I incorporated it into the design, that's what inspired me to name this necklace Fire Gypsy.


More Giveaway Results

If you were a participant in my Valentine Giveaway, thanks once again. The rules for that particular contest included providing me with some feedback related to the items in my shop so that I have an idea of what to continue to keep in stock. Over the next year, many changes will be taking place, but I want to be sure that my customers still have their old favorites available to them if they want them.

At first glance, the results were pretty spread out--nearly all participants had a different favorite. I see this as a good sign, as I'm hoping my products reach a versatile audience. A few items stood out, however:

Many of these I planned to keep already, with the exception of the Beneath the Blood Moon and the Beneath the Blue Moon necklaces. I'll probably only do those on special order requests, because the garnets are quite pricey and I haven't been able to find any more amazonite teardrops like the ones in the necklace. I'll keep an eye out for them from sellers on Etsy, as that's where I got my first pair.

I'll probably also keep the Beneath the Moon Earrings, as well as the Santa Fe Teardrops and Santa Fe Red Teardrops Earrings, as I have a large amount of turquoise that I need to move out of my shop. Otherwise, the remaining items for sale will most likely be considered one of a kind, and once they're sold, they'll make way for some of my metal jewelry.


Interstitial Obsession

Yes readers, it is finally here--my first metalsmithing project (good grief, now I can stop whining about it!). Interstitial Obsession is a pendant comprised of copper and nickel silver, suspended from leather cord.

The general design--a simple background and a simple shape--comes from Mark Lareau's book, Getting Started Making Metal Jewelry (yes, I am a big fan of both of the Lareaus--recall in a previous post I mentioned his wife's book).

The reason I like Mr. Lareau's approach is that he really puts everything in layman's terms. He gives you the "need to know" information that's necessary to get started, and before you know it, you're on your way to your first project. Of course, his book won't be the only book I study and learn from, but I'm really glad I have it as a starter!

That being said, here's a rundown of what I did to create this piece:
  1. Cut out shapes and filed them
  2. Soldered the foreground shape to the background shape
  3. Soldered the bail to the background shape
Of course, there are some things I'll be doing differently for my next project. Some of these, as well as things I can improve upon, include:
  • Making sure I'm careful while filing my shapes...the heart you see on this pendant bent a little at the bottom tip; therefore, it was hard to get it to situate itself flat against the background.
  • Making sure I flux appropriately...my bail suffered a bit of an impact, which is fine because you can't really see it, but it's definitely discolored and it won't polish off.
  • Investing in a more powerful torch...I'm running a small butane torch right now, and it takes forever for the solder to reach its flow point. I'm not sure if this is normal or not, I have to do some reading, but I'm thinking with some more flame it wouldn't take as long.
Keep watching, dear readers. I promise I'll post new items as I get them created (and as soon as my husband lets go of some space in the basement--we're both currently working in the same room, as he is building our entertainment center and I'm trying to learn all of these metalsmithing techniques).

For those with experience, any tips for future projects? I'd love to hear them. One special Flickr contact of mine recommended that I integrate my wire working techniques with my metal work...which is exactly what I'm plannin'. I'm hoping to come up with some really unique designs by combining the two styles together.

Shop Highlight: Image Beads

Congrats once again to Mimi of Image Beads, the winner of this month's Valentine Giveaway.

Mimi creates beautiful one of a kind pieces that reflect her dedication to quality work, her carefully chosen beads and findings, and her love for creativity.

She, along with Hope and Irene of Image Beads, has a beautiful selection of brightly colored necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Image Beads is even running a St. Patrick's Day special, and a number of items also include free or discounted shipping.

If I were you, I'd get to Image Beads right away and snag one of their great items before they disappear (remember, each piece is one of a kind!). To help get you started, here's a few of my favorite picks:

So, what are you waiting for? Get on over to Image Beads now and check out their wonderful selection. Remember--it's the wearer (that means you, dahling) that makes jewelry beautiful!

Valentine Giveaway Winner Announced!

To everyone who participated, thank you!

The winner is Mimi of Image Beads. Congrats, Mimi! I sent you a conversation through Etsy, so please get back to me with your mailing address.

Later today, I'll be highlighting Mimi's store, and will provide you with a rundown of results based on all participants' input of the items in my shop.

Stay tuned for next month's giveaway, which will happen around St. Patrick's Day. I'm thinking of some nice spring colors...peridot, perhaps? We shall see...

Thanks again!


I Think I Love Mozy

Hello wonderful readers. I'm going to share with you my latest favorite web site/service--Mozy. Now, I have to say, I've known about it for quite some time, as the first time I heard of it was when I read it on Etsy for Everyone, courtesy of strumpfkunst.

What, you don't know what it is? Well, let me just tell you--it's an online backup service for your computer. If you need to back up more than 2GB of files on your computer(s) to a secure location, you can do it for the low cost of $4.95 per month (per computer). What? You don't have 2GB worth of files on your computer? Well then, guess what--Mozy is free! Yes, you heard me--free--if you're only storing up to 2GB. Unfortunately for me I have tons of music and tons of photos, so I had to opt for the pay-by-month option, but the peace of mind I'm going to get from it is well worth the investment.

So what are you waiting for? Go there now and get signed up. You will be so happy you did.

Nighty night!

p.s. Did you sign up for my Valentine Giveaway yet?


Blog Carnival: How I'll Celebrate Valentine's Day

Well, I'm not really a fan of Valentine's Day, and honestly, I don't celebrate it. However, I do find the wit and humor of "anti-Valentine's Day" greeting cards and gifts quite entertaining.

Here are a few Etsy sellers who make me giggle when it comes to Valentine gifts that are sorta--er--off the beaten path. If you enjoy the humor in them, I encourage you to get to their shops immediately, as some of these items were sold out today (luckily, they relisted)!:

Creepy is the New Sexy card
This beautiful card is subtle and hysterical, and the rest of their card collection will not disappoint, I guarantee it.
Courtesy of maybeyoushoulddie

Crappy Valentines Day Pinback Button

Ummm...seriously....is there any better way to say it? What a great button!
Courtesy of incraftwetrust

Poison Skull - Heart-Shaped Resin Necklace

I love this necklace because it's just funky cool. Feminine, yes--sappy, definitely not. That's why it rocks!
Courtesy of stoopidgerl

The Anti Valentine --- Button Trio

I think all of these are great, but my favorite anti-Valentine image is the dead cupid. Perfect!
Courtesy of loveevol

LOVE STINKS Anti-Valentines Day Inspired Lip Conditioner

What a perfect scent for your lips! Pucker up, dahling.
Courtesy of elladean

Finally, if you're into music, which I am, you might want to tune in to WYEP 91.3 FM Pittsburgh for their Anti-Valentine's Day Show on February 13th. You can even submit your favorite anti-Valentine's Day song for possible inclusion into the program!

So there you go readers. That being said, I'm out. It's a busy day today. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!


Organizational Woes

So last night I was stressing over ALL of the paperwork I need to put together by February 20th for my appointment with my accountant. I am in no mood, not at all! Sales receipts versus purchases. Profit versus expense. Aaaargh! I mean, I'm fairly organized, but for some reason now that this sole proprietorship is official, it makes me not want to be, just because of all that's involved.

I printed out everything I need (I think), and now I'm getting ready to get into uber-organizational mode. I hope my accountant is ready; luckily we have one, because if I was doing this by myself I think I'd be going mad!

I read a book this summer called Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry: The Complete Guide to Turning Your Passion into Profit. It's quite a good read, and worth it, I assure you. It gives all types of tips and pointers from getting started to maintaining your business. One piece of software it specifically mentions is Jewelry Designer Manager, created by Bejeweled Software Company. Have any of you heard of this? Have any of you used it? I'm considering its purchase, simply because it really forces you to organize your inventory, helps with pricing, generates receipts, creates a portfolio, etc. The standard version, which I think will suit my needs, is $89.95. Apparently you can also upgrade it if necessary. Regardless, even if I purchase it now, it won't help for this year's taxes. Plus, I may not be able to get it until after the whole tax season is over, as I'd like to use Simply Wired Custom Jewelry income, rather than my own, to purchase it.

So, I guess I'm looking for some thoughts and opinions on your strategy, and if you've ever used Designer Manager or any other type of software. And oh yeah...if you're not creating jewelry and you're looking for some software to help with this type of stuff, the same company also has Craft Manager, which, according to them, is "suitable for all types of arts and crafts such as knitting, fiber art, quilting, wood working, glass work and pottery."

Once I get through this tax season, I promise to post lessons learned. Hopefully it will help some of you out, and help me get into gear for next year. Peace ya'll!


In the Mist

...and here's another "work in progress" piece that I'm entering into the Flickr "Design a Day" challenge, courtesy of gemmafactrix. Titled "In the Mist," it will include a necklace (a lariat, perhaps?) and matching earrings.

In the Mist

Smoky quartz faceted teardrops and aquamarine gemstones are included in the design, along with sterling silver wire. I'll be oxidizing it, of course! The chain will also be created by hand with sterling silver wire.

This should take me about a week to finish...keep your eye out for it in my shop!

And oh yeah, did you enter my Valentine Giveaway yet? If not, what are you waiting for?


A Valentine Giveaway!

Greetings, dear readers, and a lovely evening to you.

Tonight's post brings much excitement; much excitement indeed! I'm going to be giving away a pair of Snow Berries earrings to the lucky winner of a little contest I'm having.

The rules? Simply visit my shop, and then leave a comment on this blog post (or, if you want, convo me) and let me know what your favorite item is. Now, I'm not doing this just to gather compliments from my readers...what I'm trying to do is determine what buyers are most "drawn" to in my store. Your feedback will help me determine which items I'm going to continue to offer, and which ones I'll discontinue after I start adding my line of metal jewelry.

The morning of the 14th, I'll put all of those who commented into a name drawing, and I'll post the winner in a new post that day! Not only that--if you're a seller, I'll also give a plug for your shop and post your Etsy Mini on my blog. So, you get new earrings AND you get some exposure. Yay! Finally, I'll be analyzing the results of your comments and I'll post the data here as well.

So, get going over to Simply Wired Custom Jewelry. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

The Fine Print
One comment per person. Winner will be announced before noon EST on February 14th, 2008, and will have three days to contact me with their mailing address. If no response, another name will be drawn. Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 13, 2008.

Latest Creations...

Midnight 2
Originally uploaded by Simply Wired Custom Jewelry
Here's what I'm working on for a nice little custom wedding piece...necklaces that will be called "Midnight" because of the color of those Swarovski Crystal Pearls--that blue is stunning! I was so happy with them when they arrived. I wanted to do a little piece of it so I could show the wonderful bride what her lovely bridesmaids (four of 'em) will be wearing.

The entire piece will be constructed of 20g sterling silver wire, Swarovski crystals, Swarovski Crystal Pearls, and sterling silver tube beads. Yet to be added will be some fused and hammered (maybe) rings and a custom clasp as soon as my saw blades get here (grrrrr and ugh--but they'll be here this week, definitely).

Earrings will also be created to match; I'll be posting updates on here during development. Yeehaw!


Why I Dig What I Do

Hello readers, and happy Super Bowl day (Who's playing? As a former colleague of mine used to say, "Sorry, I don't follow baseball." Hahahaha). Here's a little post tonight in response to the Etsy Bloggers Street Team's Blog Carnival, the theme of which is "What's Love Got to Do With It?"--meaning, why we love our craft (thanks once again to StormyDesigns for hosting).

To answer said Carnival's question, here's a few of my top reasons:

I love the way it challenges me.

With every new wire wrap, with every new bead, with every new color scheme, and with every new technique I learn, creating jewelry keeps me on my toes. I enjoy working at something until I perfect it, and then moving on to the next challenge. I don't think it will ever bore me, as trends and techniques tend to constantly evolve. As they continue to grow, so will I.

I love making my customers happy.

There is nothing like completing a custom order, handing it over, and having my customers tell me that my creation matched "exactly what they were thinking." As mentioned in a previous post, I get most of my inspiration from my customers, as they usually push my capabilities and force me to explore things I haven't done before.

I love jewelry.

That's the main reason why I started. I love jewelry, but where I live, there's not really many vendors or artisans that sell the particular type of jewelry that I like or that I would wear. So, why not make my own? It keeps me busy, and gives me a means to channel some of my creativity. My day job is great, and I love the career path I've chosen, but creating jewelry definitely helps to "balance out" that work vs. play dynamic.

And there you have it. Until next time, keep on creating dear readers. Whether it be jewelry, or pottery, or sewing, or drawing, or Popsicle sticks--balance yourself out.



Fellow friends and visitors of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, you know what "IIIIIIiiiiiiice!" means.

Today, it makes a nice title for my post, as the photos below are what I woke up to this morning. Yep, here in Western PA, we had a nice little doozy of rain and sleet beginning around midnight, and today we're covered with a slippery sheet of shiny, slick, ice.

My corner of the world is a Popsicle today. What does yours look like?

The view from my back porch. We have a pergola roof, and the snow and ice seeped down between each of the boards and then froze there, leaving millions of tiny icicles! The icicles decorated our birdhouses, too.

Pergola closeup--just because it looks so friggin' cool!