The Ruined Silver Pendant…Resurrected!

For those who read my last post on how I ruined a perfectly good sterling silver and moonstone pendant I was working on…a follow-up. I removed the damaged moonstone…polished up and re-textured the sterling silver base…added a new sterling silver spiral to serve as the bail…and a gorgeous flashy-blue labradorite dangle to add some interest. Still needs to be polished, and I will probably re-wrap the labradorite briolette…but here’s what I’ve got so far.

The Aftermath - a new pendant takes shape from the old one I ruined.

The Aftermath – a new pendant takes shape from the old one I ruined.

Back from Beadfest 2012

Prong Set Sterling Silver Ring made in Kim St. Jean’s class

So it’s been a while since I’ve blogged (bad, bad blogger!) And I admit I kept deleting the monday morning reminders that said “Write blog.” But I also admit I was busy, busy, busy – working at the “real” job…and also trying to get some new stuff into my etsy shop and prepare for an upcoming Irish festival I’ll be selling at. (Anything you need to know about Celtic symbols or phrases, ask away – I’ve been studying up!)
Anyway….finally something to write about: Beadfest 2012 is over. And of course I spent oodles of time and money during the 5 days it was here.
WHAT WAS NEW:
• seemed like a lot more vendors this year. Too many, IMHO. Got to the point I was just walking up and down the aisles with no idea of where I was or what I was looking for.

more artisans this year – that was really nice. Got to meet Heather Behrendt from HeatherBehrendtGlass. Have been buying beads from her for quite a while. Nice to finally put a face to the artist! Hope she did well at the show.

more classrooms – and therefore, more classes. But for what I was interested in, too many classes were the same from before. We need new stuff Beadfest people!

What I Did That Was Good:

• I came with a list this year.

• I wrote down the names of all the different gemstones I bought so I would remember once I got home.

• I was more aware of my prices – to know what was a good buy, and what wasn’t.

What I Did That Wasn’t:

• Once again, I got way too distracted by shiny, shimmery things. Bought tons of pricey (but IMHO good value) gemstones and lots of inexpensive ones too.

• I didn’t take the time to really, carefully, look at each gemstone on the strand. Some had small imperfections that mean I won’t use them in any jewelry I sell.

• I got sucked into the hype over the beautiful-but-expensive-hammers at the beautiful-but-expensive-hammer booth. (Yup, ordered another one)

What Classes Were Really Worthwhile:

• Took 4 classes with 3 different instructors. Two of the instructors – I’d follow anywhere: Kim St. Jean and Tracy Stanley. They make learning fun…and are really good at SHOWING you how to do something so you can do it yourself. Even when you get stuck (which I always do) they TALK you through doing it yourself rather than do it for you. So you leave their classes not just with knowledge–but with self-confidence. I’ve already re-created several bangles to sell at the upcoming Irish Festival (SLAINTE!). The rings – need more practice on. And need to practice with copper, not sterling silver!! (bad Bobbi….)

Bangles with a Message – Tracy Stanley- I made two to have all 4 of my grandkid’s names on them

What Class I Will Never Take Again:

• A chain-maille type class. Ohmigod! Sitting there for 1 1/2 hours counting out jump rings and putting them together in an intricate pattern is NOT ME!!! After we did the larger practice copper jump ring pattern, we were supposed to start on the smaller, sterling silver jump ring pattern. I left the class early – knowing I would be trying to figure out a way to slit my wrists with those open jumprings if I had to sit there any longer. (Though I did get a neatsy-keen jump ring opener that you wear like a ring on your finger while you worked. That was ALMOST worth taking the class.) Chain maille is much too precise for me. I am definitely a free-form type of girl.

My Favorite Purchases:

• Mystic Topaz, Ametrine and some amazing Labradorite briolettes.

Ametrine, Mystic Topaz & Labradorite

• An awesome butane torch from Kim St. Jean that she says is sold in Costco or BJ’s down south near her.

• Some moonstones – ooooh! love the blue flash in them

• Really cool torched and patina’d copper beads and spacers (but whew! were they pricey!!!)

My Least Favorite Purchases:

• The same mystic topaz beads from above – when I examined them more closely

• The chicken salad wrap from the food court there. (note: strips of chicken with some mayo thrown on top is NOT chicken salad!)

Will I be back next year? Oh yeah……..

Torch Enameling (and Sawing) with Kim St. Jean

Bad Blogger Chronicles: 4 Frenetic Days Spent at BeadFest Philly Spring

I overindulged again at Beadfest Philly. Too  many classes. Too much money spent on impulse buys. Too  much information for my little brain to process. And yet, there’s a smile on my face…my worktable is overflowing with lovely new shiny beads and stones. Have to clean out my tool drawer to make room for newcomers. And I am already starting to think about what classes I want to take in August.

THE GOOD:

• Really, really liked all four instructors. All very talented crafts(wo)men. All wonderfully patient and freely sharing jewelry making tips and favorite places to get great tools, supplies at great prices. Had only taken a previous class from one instructor – so the others were new. Would certainly recommend them and/or take another class from them in the future.

• Vendor area was smaller than in August – and it was easier to re-trace my steps to find the same vendor again if I wanted more of something, or had questions. (note to self: when you buy any sort of gemstone, bead, etc. make sure you write down WHAT it is. Had to go back to two booths the day after I bought some stuff because I couldn’t remember what kind of stone it was. No way I’d remember months from now when I go to pick it up and actually make something with it.)

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

Gorgeous - but pricey - Quartz Briolettes

• Saw more chairs on the floor this year. And there was a package check (which I didn’t need to use, since my stuff was in a classroom most days). Both good ideas. Lots of older folks walking around. Chairs were helpful.

• Beadfest organizers actually provided some snacks/water to some of the classrooms. Very nice touch And very welcome.

• The people – whether in class, or on the floor, everyone I met was friendly and helpful.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

• Once again (actually – happened twice) – I was in such a hurry to clean up my work areas and leave at the end of class, I left things there. First time, I actually threw out the two pairs of earrings I had made. Luckily, I had the instructor’s cell number. Was able to get her to pull the trash so it wouldn’t be emptied, and I planned on going through it the next day. Lucky for me, one of her very kind assistants went through and found my earrings (YAY!).

Second time – we were making a bracelet with about 7 pieces plus jump rings. Placed all the pieces in the liver of sulfur solution. Pulled them out and started cleaning them. Tossed them in a plastic bag to finish at home, and realized later (much later) that I left two pieces there.

In both cases however, I was able to recreate what I learned in class. So even if earrings hadn’t been found…it would be okay. (Bracelet pieces – they’re gone.) So let’s chalk this experience up to lack of concentration and focus on my part. (When will I ever learn???)

• Four classes in four days is too much. Two of the classes were all day – from 8 am to 4:30 pm. I was glassy-eyed by the end. It was information overload.

• One class was a disappointment only because I already knew at least 3/4’s of what was being taught.  (Note to self: read the course description better next time). I take these courses to learn new techniques, play with new tools, learn better ways to do things.

• I am too easily distracted by shiny things. Need to get better control over my impulse buying.

WHAT I BOUGHT:

• Biggest indulgence: a Freitz hammer. It is sooooooooo sexy (yeah. if you have one, you know what I mean.) This is NOT the hammer that will be used to bang in a loose board on my IKEA bureau. I may end up looking at this hammer more than using it.

• Most expensive purchase: I bought a sterling silver handmade bracelet from my instructor – Kim St. Jean.  It is just friggin’ gorgeous!

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

Kim St. Jean Bracelet Watch

• Most questionable purchase: (after the Freitz hammer) – very high quality blue, sea foam and pink quartz briolettes. The crystal ones I found sparkle almost as much for a lot less.

• What I didn’t buy and I wish I did: gorgeous handmade, hand-dyed silk ribbons. I didn’t buy because of the cost. Could buy a sterling silver chain for what the ribbons cost. Hard to justify the cost if I planned on selling the finished project.

WHAT SURPRISED ME THE MOST:

• Lots of men walking around at the show. Most with a female companion (not all looked happy to be there). And one man in one of my classes. Not saying men can’t make jewelry. Just surprised to see them in class. (My husband says that is discriminatory.)

• Too many of the same vendors – and was really surprised by the number who didn’t have websites.

WHAT I DID THAT I VOWED I WOULDN’T:
• Buy more Swarovski crystals. I have sooooooo many. But oh! how they shimmer and shine at that Mega-Gems (Mega-Jewels?) booth.

Swarovski Crystals

Swarovski Crystals

• Start looking at the August list of classes. Can’t believe I’m about to sign up to do all over again.

Aside

FYI…these posts are called The Bad Blogger Chronicles because I am a very undisciplined writer. You never know when one my blogs will appear (because I sure don’t.) You never know what I’m going to be writing about either (I am just as surprised as you to see what comes out of my mind and onto this blog.)

Today’s Focus: Marketing your brand online

This info is for all the crafters out there. You’re on etsy, or art fire, or zibbet or bonanza or maybe you just have your own website and sell your handcrafted goodies there. Regardless, there are things you can do (and should do) to get people into your shops, to get shoppers to buy, buy, buy and to turn first time customers into repeat buyers.

Why listen to me? Two reasons: (1) I make and sell jewelry online at etsy  and (2) my “real” job is in advertising/marketing. I currently run my own little agency (bh creative – website: bobbihelms.com) and am a freelance copywriter. I was creative director of a Philadelphia ad agency for about 28 years.

Things to consider to get noticed.

Never pass up an opportunity to promote yourself/your shop.

In the past few weeks/months, there have been multiple offers from Google, Facebook and American Express among others for free advertising.

Have you taken advantage of them? I have – and have seen my visitor count increase dramatically. Have I gotten direct sales from these free ads?

No. But that doesn’t mean I won’t. Any chance you have for free advertising – take it!

There are countless lists of FREE or LOW COST sites where you can list your items for sale. This list appeared recently on

Handmadeology.com:

http://www.craftjuice.com
http://craftgawker.com
http://www.craftstylish.com/share
http://www.craftytips.com
http://www.designstolove.com
http://www.plaincraft.com
http://tryhandmade.com/promote-handmade
http://coolmompicks.com/yourpicks.php
http://thehandmadedirectory.com/directory
http://etsylush.com

If you advertise somewhere/anywhere (free or paid), make sure you keep track of the results with google analytics, or a similar program.

You need to know if something’s working or not. Look, I’m the first to admit – I am NOT a numbers person. But even I check my google analytics, site stats and craftcult.com to see what’s doing.

Do something with all that positive feedback you get.

I take the best blurbs (without using any names) and put them on the back of my business cards. I’ve even made mini-cards with the testimonials on one side, and my shop name/web address/phone number etc on the other side. These small cards get slipped inside jewelry bags with purchases of smaller items.

mini business cards using testimonials

mini business cards using testimonials

Don’t want to spend  a lot of money on business cards? If you are on etsy – you need to visit moo.com   They are offering etsy shop owners a FREE set of beautifully printed, high-quality business cards. The only catch? The print a small line on the bottom of one side promoting their own site. Even though I have my own cards, I took advantage of this offer to print up a set of “thank you” cards offering free shipping to return buyers.

free business cards from moo.com  

free business cards from moo.com

If you have a website, these positive testimonials should also have a prominent place there, as well.

When you can, spend a little money to upgrade your packaging

I use brown boxes for my bracelet and necklaces, which I order in bulk. I take advantage of discount offers at companies such as Vistaprint  to order custom made return address labels, small round logo stickers and small customized address labels. Just be aware that some such companies tend to charge you more for shipping, than for the products themselves. So buyer beware!

I use a round logo sticker on my boxes, and tie each box with ribbon I buy on sale at craft stores such as Michael’s.

The result? My little logo doggy is everywhere. People start to recognize it. And another reason I takes such care with my packaging is that I like  my customers to know that they are special. I want them to feel as if they are getting a gift when they order a package from me.

fat dog beads packaging

fat dog beads packaging

(Oh – and by the way, for the most part I include a free unexpected gift with every purchase.)

Many of you may be thinking about the cost for all of this. I try to recoup some of the cost in my shipping fees. In the US, I may charge $3.00 for shipping. Actually mailing cost is probably around $2.00.  And, for some smaller purchases – such as earrings – I usually skip the box, and mail them inside a colorful jewelry pouch in a smaller mailing envelope.

I always try to keep Tiffany’s in the back of my mind. Doesn’t matter what you buy or how much you spend – you still walk away with that signature blue box or bag. Every customer is someone to value.

Try out new things – but don’t spread yourself too thin.

I’ve tried out a fair number of online marketplaces for my jewelry. After a lot of mostly “misses” – I settled on etsy and art fire. For over a year, I “paid to play” on both sites. I tried chatting in the forums, making treasuries/collections, and more. And while I know some of you  have the time and patience to handle more than one site, I couldn’t. I dropped art fire and stayed with etsy.

For me, it’s working. I’m not a power seller. But I sell enough to encourage me to keep at it. But I also put in a lot of time there.

I play in the BNRs/BNS’s…I chat with, and have made many, online friends. I buy a lot of my supplies from other etsy sellers.

And I’ve also sold many things to those same sellers.

As far as new things, right  now I am trying/or have tried:

• Pinterest

• Tophatter

• Twitter

• Facebook

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.  And – please – let me know if you have any good marketing ideas.

Bad Blogger Chronicles: Little Ways Crafters Can Build Their Brand Online

Beat The Blahs! Private Jewelry Sale Thru end of February!

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                                                                                                February Newsletter #2

Bobbi Helms • 4031 La France Rd. • Lafayette Hill, PA 19444 • bobbihelms@yahoo.com

Blah Days mean SALE DAYS!
il_570xN.300895822Hi all! 

I”ll be the first to admit it. I am not a big February fan. It”s usually a pretty gray, drab dreary time of the year. A good time to take stock of what has been sitting in my work space – taking up space – and do something to get it moving!  I think it”s time for a SALE!  A whopping-limited-time-till end-of-February

25% OFF SALE!
(can I hear a big
“woo-hoo!”)

(example: the  bracelet shown here WAS $65.00.  NOW: $48.75)
Please note: 
this is a PRIVATE SALE! Only those who get this newsletter will know about the sale. You must use the coupon code PRIVATE if you are purchasing through etsy. Or, you can browse the etsy shop – deduct 25% from the price and just send me a check.)
Please visit my etsy shop HERE

EVERYTHING WILL BE ON SALE UNTIL FEBRUARY 29th! EVERYTHING!!!!!

Some Examples Of The Savings You”ll Find:

DSC08898 2$18.00
NOW $13.50
il_75x75.173707221$66.00
NOW $49.50
il_75x75.300895456 2$44.00
NOW $33.00
Remember: you MUST use
the coupon PRIVATE if you are ordering thru etsy.com.
Or – just send me a check and drop me an email letting me know what you want. Now – GO SHOP!

See All The Goodies HERE!

il_75x75.300896408

  $32.00
NOW $24.00
il_75x75.255475528$26.35
NOW $19.50
il_75x75.300896488$15.00
NOW $11.25
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

More Sale Examples:
• Pumpkin Orange Spice Pendant WAS $19. NOW $14.25
• Cobalt Blue Lariat Necklace WAS $44. NOW $33
• Aqua Blue Sparkle Bracelet – Sterling Silver –
WAS $61. NOW $45.75
• Hammered Sterling SIlver Hoop Earrings WAS $20.
NOW $15
No go out there and SHOP!!!!!!

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Fashion & Jewelry Trends

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February Newsletter 
 
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New Fashion Trends:
We’ve Got You Covered!
The “IT” color:

Tangerine Tango

tangerine tango SS bracelet
 
From The Pantone website:
Tangerine Tango, a spirited reddish orange, continues to provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.

“Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive, Tangerine Tango is an orange with a lot of depth to it,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, Tangerine Tango marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the
friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”

And, of course, those who know me know I LOOOOOOVVVE orange. This one is awesome. It’s the perfect accent color for all your basic wardrobe

colors – black, brown, white and more. All eyes will definitely be on you when you’re wearing this
Tangerine Tango sterling silver bracelet. Just one of several new pieces of jewelry (with more to come) soon to be appearing from
fatdogbeads.
 
 
 
Geometrics: A fresh angle
Clean. Simple. New.
il_170x135.300896390 5il_170x135.300763443 4
 
According to ELLE Magazine: It’s hip to be square this season–or rectangular, or octagonal, or trapezoidal. In fact, the more shapes the better according to design houses like Balenciaga and Celine,
which turned to YSL for geometric inspiration when it came time to
build their fall collection

For earrings – that means long lines with interesting angles.
Lightweight, in sterling silver, or silver colored copper, or in one
of several copper shades. Each is handmade (by me) and a true original. They are formed separately…so no two pairs are the same.
You can even custom-order your length! Just let me know.

• Coming soon: i’ll be testing out some colored wires for these angled
earrings. Stay tuned! Visit my etsy shop to see more. Non- sterling
silver earrings priced from $13-$15. Sterling from $22 and up.

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From NYC Fashion Week:
Spring 2012 Trend: Pastel Shades
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From GLAMOUR online: If wild, look-at-me hues aren’t your thing,
worry not: New York Fashion Week’s most esteemed designers have got
your back.(And your front. And your legs. You get the picture).
Spring’s sweet sorbet shades and pastel hues give off a low-key,
ladylike vibe.

Carolina Herrera, Narciso Rodriguez, Spring 2012
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The big question – what do you wear with these soft and romantic
pastels? My suggestion – something, anything, with shimmery, shiny
dichroic beads in it. Dichroic beads are lampwork beads that seem to
be lit from within. While they come in a rainbow of colors, I
reccomend sticking to the pale, pale pastel colors.

FYI – most of the dichroic beads I purchase are from two artisans –
Dee Howl Beads from Hawaii…and the very talented Paula Radke (whose
beads/jewelry are seen in many national chain stores).A pair of
dichroic beads are seen in the geometric earrings, shown above.
I use small (sometimes as small as tiny seed beads) dichroic beads as
accent piece in a lot of my jewelry. But I also have a few bracelets
and necklaces that feature larger beads.

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IN THE WORKS: a GNO (girls night out) cocktail party and jewelry show. Watch for news. A chance to drink wine, eat chocolate, catch up with friends (or make a few new ones). Jewelry will be on display for you to play with, try on, purchase. But I’m just happy to see everyone – so come just for fun!
Something to consider – if you have jewelry that’s broken, missing pieces, whatever – bring it with. I may be able to use the pieces to make something new and wonderful for you to wear!
Get social with us!
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fat dog beads
4031 la france rd
lafayette hill, pa 19444
US

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Gallery

Bad Blogger Chronicles: Late Again….Here’s Why

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Bad, bad Blogger Bobbi! Seems I have time for work/play with pups/cooking fabulous Valentine’s Day dinner for hubby (recipe below) /buying bridal shower gift two days before actual shower and making some new jewelry. And that, dear readers, is why … Continue reading