Mimi and her girls

Mimi and her girls
Mimi and her girls

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Make My Own Website??

I don't think I can express in words the feeling of joy and pride that I have felt the last two days for just finishing and launching my new website  http://www.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/.  I have for so long wanted to be able to print my own shop name on my business cards when I mail out a piece of jewelry, now I can!!!
I have always been happy with Etsy and with my shop and friends I have made, that said, I made the mistake of being a buyer first, then opening a shop so I was stuck with my buyer name. Having a shop  http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee really doesn't draw anyone to looking for jewelry to my way of thinking, my real shop name All Wired Up Jewelry Designs is a sub-header under my name. I wanted a real jewelry shop!!

Other reasons to want my own website and shopping venue:
Etsy gets a percentage of every sale I make and a small amount for me to list a new item. If I want my items to stay on the first few pages of a search, I pay to re-list the item which costs me again. The Paypal takes a percentage when a customer purchases something. I told myself over the last few years that this was ok and to think of it as part of my meager advertising budget. But now that silver s approaching $40 and ounce, I feel that having my own website will save me all those fees and I'll be able to hold off from raising my prices to buy more silver to continue filling orders and making new things. If I concentrate on Etsy, I would have to raise my prices or just stop making new things. That just wasn't in the plan!

Reason number 2: It's all mine!  I can set my own shipping policies, return policies and refund policies without the hassle of having to ask Etsy to refund any fees and charges I lost. Privacy- big one for me- I am starting to get concerned that Etsy is trying to become the Facebook of jewelry sales. They want me to join teams and circles and unless my customers are savvy and set up their privacy filters, their purchases could be public knowledge. It's no one's business if you want to order a set of custom stack rings for your Mom for Mother's Day now is it??

Third reason: You don't have to "join" my website! You can just come shop and be done with it. I don't want to join a Nordstrom's Club or even Target- why do I need my customers to sign up with Etsy to shop with me?? Their rules, not mine! Sure, you can register on my website if you like, you can bookmark me, make me a favorite or none of the above, but you don't have to!!! I like that.

Number 4- I think websites make customizing so much easier!!!! In the world of Etsy, if I have a necklace with an 18 inch chain and a garnet faceted briolette trimming it, a potential customer has to "convo" me mutiple times to ask about additional chain length if wanted, other gemstone choices and possible additional costs. All easy peasy on my website- it's all about the little drop down box! The choices are all there and you just check the box for what you want to add, put it together just the way you want and head to check out.
This should give you an idea of how it looks- go ahead and play- you never have to really check out unless you want to! http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Lotus-Sterling-Tag-Gemstone-Necklace-Customize-It-47.htm.

This stack ring is another example! In my shop, you can choose any stone you want in this 5mm size! A separate listing for 4mm and 6mm with every stone I own listed- so much easier than getting skipped over because I don't have the particular stone listed you are looking for. And yes, I still order a stone you want and I don't have!

http://shop.allwiredupjewelrydesigns.com/Artisan-Sterling-Stack-Rings-5mm-Gemstone-Made-to-Order-15.htm  this is my website listing for all the different possibilities for you to create a special ring in the 5mm size.

Setting up the website was so hard for me to do. I am not a big computer geek. I bugged lots of friends and called the poor help desk at the website daily. But that's a whole different blog to write.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Playing with Color

I had a lot of fun yesterday playing with oxidizing some new pieces I did so I thought I'd share in pictures what I did and talk about what I learned.
First let me say, liver of sulfur stinks! So does ammonia. Unfortunately, in the world of metal and oxidizing, to get pretty color, you have to use one or both in some sort of combination. For many years, dry LOS was the only thing available and it was sold in big containers and came in chunks that you had to break up and add to hot water to dissolve- Phew- the smell- think rotten eggs! And if any moisture got into your supply it turned green and wouldn't work to darken your metal. Luckily someone came up with LOS gel a few years ago and at least the problem of throwing away your ruined supply regularly was solved- it still stinks, but it's very stable and is easy to mix, no punding chunks so it will dissolve.
I don't do huge amounts of jewelry when I play with live of sulfur, mainly because I'm never sure if I'm going to like the results. In hot water LOS will turn sterling or fine silver dark black in about 20-30 seconds. After you get your silver out, you have to dry it and go over it with very fine steel wool to bring up the shine on  the raised areas leaving a very dark background. As you can see from this pendant- it can look very attractive, but it's not for every piece of jewelry.
I've been more and more interested in precious metal clay (PMC) and all the options it allows me to explore. I love anything botanical, flowers, trees, leaves! So I wanted to press some leaves from my garden into my clay and make some earrings and pendants for my shop on Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/PPennee. I already had a few pieces I had oxidized with LOS, but they were the dark variety like the pendant below.
I picked some leaves from one of my favorite ground covers, Cranesbill geranium which I love because it gets pretty pink flowers in the spring and summer, but at least where I live in MD, it never really dies back totally. It gets pretty reds and oranges on the leaves in fall and I can still at least see the leaves in winter if the snow isn't too deep. Right now- little green and reddish leaves are popping out all over my plant! I chose to do a round pendant and earrings to match. This is what they looked like after I pressed the leaves, dried and fired and then put them in the tumbler to work harden and shine up a bit.
It always amazes me how much detail you see from a leaf- all the texture, veining, even a little piece of the stem where is picked the leaf from the plant. What I hoped to accomplish was to get some of the color I actually see in the garden and not lose the detail of the leaf.
I knew from previous experiments that hot was not what I wanted, nor was cold. Cold LOS gives you what almost looks like gold- nice, but not what I was aiming for. So I tried luke warm, slightly hotter ( praise for the microwave)- I got a lot of yellow and brown, some red, still not what I wanted. I have lots of team mates on my Aspiring Metals Team on Etsy that work in copper. Many have mentioned using ammonia to get that great green verdigris color that looks so great. So I added a little ammonia, starting with about a teaspoon at a time.
Each time I dipped in my silver it got a little more interesting. Keep in mind, if you don't get what you want, you have to keep cleaning off the piece and taking it back to almost shiny silver to start again! After about 3 tries, medium warm temperature and 3 tsp of ammonia, this is what I got!
I have to say, my leaves aren't blue in the garden, but I was really pleased with the effects I got- and I did get some reds and lavender which i thought looked pretty cool!
  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoyed reading a little about playing with color.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rings and Things - 86 and Counting

It's been too long again since I updated my post early this year on 104 things I wanted to make. So right now I have 86 items to go in the two flickr groups I joined, RAW - ring a week and THAW- thing a week. So here are just a few items I have completed to give you an idea of just how much torching and hammering I've been doing!
This was my first hand made hinge- I got double duty out of this ocean jasper pendant. It was part of THAW and also my entry in the monthy design challenge with the aspiring metals team, this months being Movement. Well, it does move, but I got no where close to winning against architectural structures that spouted water, spinnin g rings and such, but I did learn how to make a hinge and I loved these stones. Ocean jasper always reminds me of colored bubbles kids play with in the tub.

Another THAW entry- again, I got double credit- for myself, because I did a rough prong setting (we all have to start somewhere) and another THAW entry.

Take your breath away? This was sold as fast as I listed it in my Etsy shop. A gorgeous piece of aquamarine rough, again a first for me to set something other than a calibrated cabochon, and this one was a RAW entry.
The last RAW entry I'll show off is what started to be a riveted ring. Rivets are just so versatile  and it's not messy at all to rivet 2 pieces together, unlike soldering with all the flux and pickle and yukky quench water. But, it was not meant to be. No matter what size wire I hammered, I couldn't get the top rivet to be large enough to show that amount of copper I wanted for a pretty contrast. So, I made a copper ball and soldered it onto the sterling wrap ring. Seemed to me that shiny copper just set off the texture perfectly. I did the texture by hammering the silver on the sidewalk before forming. I have this listed in my shop as a made to order item since I think it will be a great casual piece to wear this season.
My last THAW entry- tryng to get more interesting pendants and earrings, I decided on precious metal clay as my medium. I love playing play dough with my granddaughter and this isn't much different- just way more expensive. I made an impression of a pretty dahlia, then used a pmc syringe to create a setting, fired to burn off the clay, which leave almost pure silver (.999 instead of sterling that is .925) and then set a pink CZ in the center.
I just have so many things I want to learn to do with metal and there really is so little time. Hope you enjoyed my little picture update. Wish me luck, I only have 86 more things to make!