Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Day to Help the Arts

Since today is the last day of January, it's the last day to take advantage of FREE SHIPPING in either of my shops as well as know that your money is going directly to benefit the Art Center of Battle Creek. I just added two new necklaces for your shopping pleasure.

Since I last brought up our Sustainable Growth campaign at the Art Center, some new challenges have occurred. We found out the city is going to be doing some utility work on the street we are located on, tearing the road down to just sand with absolutely no traffic to be driven on it from April to September. And as we all know with construction, there are many factors that can delay or make the completed time later than originally planned. Therefore, we are looking into a temporary location to move the gift shop, perhaps some small exhibits, and maybe some artist demonstrations. The staff and board is positive and excited about turning this challenge into an opportunity. I will give updates as the project moves forward.

Yesterday, I was pulled to take my Swarovski crystals & pearls out to complete these necklaces. This first one is elegant shades of pewter and greys, perfect for this winter lull we are in. It features a lotus theme, with 2 lotus caps holding a double stranded focal. There are 2 lotus charms (one being from Hint) amongst Swarovski rounds, pearls, and faux smokey quartz.
This next one will make you look forward to Spring for sure! When I purchased these vintage window beads with the yellow and green splatters on them, I knew they would pair up perfectly with the yellow and green wood butterflies I had. I have been accenting the butterflies with some wood burning details. The dotted border on the wings ties in with the dotted bronze cones I used, along with wood rounds, Swarovski rounds and bicones. I had a floral ceramic connector from Earthenwood that I used as part of the clasp.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Untraditional Valentine

Who says Valentine's Day jewelry has to be pink, red, or even hearts and diamonds? These vintage inspired necklaces are very romantic, thanks to the sentiment on the handmade polymer clay pendants by the talented Heather Wynn.

old love does not rust
I paired these with antique skeleton keys I found in my very own basement - they have a wonderful time worn patina on them. The necklace on the left has been strung on glass rounds that have a nice rusty color and texture to match the key, and some aqua terra jasper to bring out the teal color of the polymer clay. Peruvian opals were the perfect choice for the necklace on the right, which is now listed on Etsy.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wood Pendant in Action

Check out this awesome piece, designed by Lorelei, using one of my wood burned pendants! Did you know Lorelei was Loose Feather's very first customer? These looped beaded links are so unique, and I love buttons! Check out Lorelei's Etsy shop here.

Lorelei and I have been online buddies for quite some time now, partaking in trades or alerting one another to cool peacock or owl items! I own several of Lorelei's pieces, and I just love them. She just achieved 1,000 sales in her Etsy shop! Whoot, whoot!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

From the depths of the metal studio...

... emerges a floral owl.

He was cut out of copper, etched & patined.
Some cool floral bead caps act as his eyes.
Bead caps from the same collection have been wired together to create "beads" within the chain.
Now for sale on Etsy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Just in time for Valentine's Day...

I had the idea for these hearts back in October when I took my metals class, and just now have finally created them. Seems like an appropriate time, with Valentine's Day coming up.

Both pieces have the following commonalities:
each heart has been engraved in some way....
has been hand stamped....
has been framed & riveted....
has mixed metals of copper, brass and brushed silver...
is featured on a 24 inch chain.....
a nice length if I do say so myself
They are now both listed in my Etsy shop....
And still qualify for free shipping...
With all sales going to the Art Center of Battle Creek.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Customer Service, Department of 1

There are many days when I am frustrated that I cannot dedicate more time to making jewelry. Since time is so precious, when something goes wrong it can be even more discouraging than normal. But, I am committed to making my customers 100% happy and will go above and beyond to make that happen. During the last week or so, not one but two things have gone wrong and I just wanted to vent about them since I know that others will understand and probably go through similar things. But, there is some good at the end of the story so bear with me....

I recently had 2 orders to mail out from my wood shop, one of which was a repeat customer. Since most of my wood pieces are flat and light, I enclosed both orders in nice cards (to help save on packaging and mailing). You ever have that feeling that as you are doing something, you think to yourself that you shouldn't do it? That was certainly the case here. Of course, one of the orders arrived to the customer broken. I promptly refunded her money and sent her replacement pieces. Lesson learned - totally my fault.

The second thing that happened had to do with a bracelet I sold. It was made with some beads I got at Bead & Button - bone beads with a design on them that I thought was permanent. Unfortunately, the design started to come off once up against the wrist for a few wears. Luckily, I still had some of the beads and was able to treat them with a clear coat and remake the bracelet for this customer. Whew - I guess I will stay away from buying any more of those beads!

Thank goodness that there is usually good to offset the bad. Yesterday, I was at one of the local stores I sell at to take care of some business. The owner of the store is the wife of a local congressman. She proceeded to tell me that she wore one of my necklaces to a dinner at the White House!!!!! I am still in shock I think! Unfortunately, I don't have a photograph of the necklace but I want to get started on making some more that are similar.

Thanks for listening to me.... I'd love to hear any stories you have to share - whether they be about a challenging customer experience, or your jewelry's brush with fame.... do tell!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Forget.....

The auctions I have on eBay to benefit the Art Center of Battle Creek are ending tonight. There are a lot of watchers on each item, so I am interested to see how it all turns out. Good luck if you are coveting a piece - I hope you are able to take advantage of some collectible jewelry/beads, free shipping, and helping a good cause! You can get to the auctions by following this link.

Also, don't forget free shipping in both of my Etsy shops the entire month of January, again with all sales going to the Art Center.

I have the day off today, and as much as I would love to just veg out in front of the TV or make jewelry all day, I know that I should really go get my oil changed, run a few errands, and then I am getting my hair done at 5:00. I am in the mood for something new - bangs? new color? we'll see. I was able to work in my metal studio a good portion of the weekend, so I should have some new pieces to show soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Latest Obsession

It seems as though my latest phase is funky boots! From left to right they are: purchased from Bath & Body Works after Christmas sale, peacock feather rain boots from my parents for Christmas, peacock feather Emu's purchased on eBay (I thought these babies were lost in Detroit, but I was pleasantly surprised by the post office there - I actually talked to a human!), and lastly purchased from Old Navy.

Alas, these pretty boots wait patiently lined up for me all week as they would not fit in at my conservative day job. But on the weekends, we party! Added bonus: they are comfy and warm!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let the bidding begin!

As promised, I have just listed 7 items on eBay for the Art Center's Sustainable Growth campaign. Five necklaces, a bracelet, and a ring. Each piece features some kind of artisan bead - an Andrew Thornton original, some Pam Wynn polymer beads... but mostly I purged by collection of Anne Choi beads. I will probably be kicking myself years from now, but I am glad to be helping the Art Center.

The auctions will end next Monday (the 18th) around this same time. So bid early, bid often, and know that you are helping a good cause! Just like in my Etsy shop, I am offering FREE SHIPPING on all of these pieces. And the starting bids are very low - like the cost of an Anne Choi bead alone!


Just showing 5 new necklaces I listed on Etsy last night. FREE SHIPPING the entire month of January with all Sales going to The Art Center of Battle Creek!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January ABS Challenge

La Pie [The Magpie] :: Claude Monet (1840-1926) :: Between 1868 & 1869
Oil on Canvas :: H. 89; W. 130 cm :: © photo RMN, Hervé Lewandowski
I just entered this month's Art Bead Scene Blog challenge, based on the Monet painting above. For my art bead, I used an Anne Choi sugar skull mandrake. If you are familiar with Anne's silver beads, they can be quite substantial in size even though they are hollow inside. This leaves her room on the sides to carve quotations, like the one here:
"Le temps et la monde et la personne ne se recontrent qu'une seule fois." , "Time and the world and the person only meet a single time. "- Hélène Cixous
The chunky faceted jasper beads that I used for the rest of the necklace were perfect for the scale of this bead and the white, grey and brown palette matched the painting well. I felt the mandrake, with his organic feel and tree limb arms, was a good interpretation of the trees and wintery scene.
This necklace is one of the special pieces that I will soon be auctioning off on eBay to raise money for the Art Center of Battle Creek. I hope to have the listings up tomorrow, so stay tuned....

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year, New Stationary

When it comes to business cards, sometimes I make them myself and other times I order them. My last "batch" was ordered from Colorful Images. I liked the fact that these were double-sided, and had matching stickers which I ordered too for use on the tops of jewelry boxes or to seal gift bags. These have served me well, however I am running low AND they were printed before I had my Etsy site. So, I've been having to neatly write my website on them.

Well, ever since I ordered from Colorful Images I get a catalog from them about once a month. Even though the merchandise changes very little from catalog to catalog, I am lucky I am one of those anal people who always look through each and every piece of mail. Imagine, to my surprise after flipping through a few pages yesterday, a new line of peacock products! Oh I am so excited! It's as if the universe knew I was in need of new business stationary! I am planning on ordering the business cards below - I like how they are an unusual 2.5 x 2.5 inch square shape! I am also planning on ordering the matching packaging/mailing labels, matching stickers (like before), and then probably some matching personalized note cards. An investment well worth making to build my "brand".

*please note that both images used in this post are samples from the Colorful Images website

Monday, January 4, 2010

Help the Arts!

The first month of this new year, I am dedicating myself to raising money for my local Art Center. As I start my second year as Treasurer there, I see first hand the struggles we face as a non-profit organization. Especially during these tough economic times.

I have added several new pieces to my Etsy shop, and am offering FREE SHIPPING the entire month. All sales will go directly to the Art Center, towards our Sustainable Growth campaign. You can read the letter we sent out below. It details our successes, as well as our upcoming challenges.

And stay tuned for an eBay auction I will soon launch to raise money as well. I am making some extra special pieces with some extra special beads!
The Art Center of Battle Creek is launching our Sustainable Growth Campaign 2009-2010. We will create real sustainability with donors offering a $1 match for every $1 raised. In this board initiated program, each member of the Board of Directors has been challenged to raise $1,000 themselves!

Our membership has grown to over 325 for the first time in over five years. We are continually being asked to expand our programs, which we do with no additional staff. Art Reach has expanded from its origins at Marian Burch Adult Day Care to include Northpointe Woods and the VA Hospital. The Federal Center is the next addition to this program. And if you have not seen the newly revamped studios—air duct cleaning was completed in August as well as a total refinishing of the studio floors and a new look for the walls!

The Art of Aviation brought together ten internationally known artists who were so impressed they hope to have their International Aviation Artist Forum here in 2012! Annual exhibitions include the Michigan Artist Competition that allows artists from across the state to showcase their work. The only venue in Calhoun County for children’s art is our Class Act. We showcase our tremendous local and regional talent throughout the year and offer the opportunity to learn about other cultures through our cultural exhibits.

This year we are part of a collaboration to gain storage space for archival materials and artwork outside the Art Center. We hope that this project will lead to the expansion of our exhibition area to increase our exhibit programming!

We continually looked for ways to increase revenue without relying on grant dollars. The Art Fair continues to grow and flourish. Our Michigan’s Palette Gift/Gallery Shop has been expanded and sales have gone over budgeted goals. Through the shop and Holly Mart we now provide services to between 50 and 80 Michigan artists. The sale of their work benefits the artists and also the Art Center. Our dedicated volunteers put in over 1,900 hours of time this past year, valued at over $39,000!

The Art Center is a valuable asset to this community. We know you understand this value. We are asking you to help us reach our Sustainable Growth Campaign goals with your contribution.

What do your donations help to fund at the Art Center of Battle Creek? Here are but a few areas where donations are of critical importance:

· $ 500 pays for one instructor to teach 6- four week classes at one of our Art Reach locations during a 6 months’ time frame.
· $ 100 pays for one Scholarship student to take one of our classes for one semester.
· $ 600 pays for an exhibition which includes gallery installation, reception and the printing and postage of the announcements.
· $ 50 is the average cost of setting up our activity area on Kidspace which changes each month to accompany our exhibitions.
· Traveling exhibitions that could be accommodated within our gallery cost on the average $4,000 to rent plus shipping expenses.
· $ 250 pays the insurance for a one month exhibition.
· $ 200 provides a child’s activity at our annual Art Fair or at one of our other outreach sites during the year.
· $350 pays for live entertainment at the event.
· $35,000 is the cost of a new roof—which the Art Center will have to begin saving for within the next 5 years