July 27, 2012


Upcoming Show: In a few weeks I will be selling my jewelry at the Blueberry Festival in South Haven.  The show is expected to bring in 50,000 attendees - who knew there were that many blueberry fans!  South Haven is a scenic  destination that brings in tourists who rent vacation homes sprinkled throughout the tiny town.  There are tourists that return every year, some having grown up in the area and live in Chicago or other nearby cities.  There are city women who live there during the week with their children and are joined by their husbands on the weekends.  Others have been lured in from further afield by the white sand beaches and the laid back idyllic small town feel. 

Show Prep Tips: My prep work has included filling out my inventory with a wide range of prices.  This week I worked on a collection of simple pendants with my tiny charms.  My girls both swiped their favorite ones, so that is a good sign.  And they look so cute, perfect for teens or a more delicate, earthy girl. 

Another thing I do when getting ready for a show is to pick a few designs and work it up in several colors/variations like the pendants on the right.  Those feature feather pendants that I created, paired with ceramic beads from Earthenwood Studios (another Michigan girl!) and then the eggs are these awesome metal beads that I found that are shaped like eggs - score! 

My goal for getting ready is to make twice the amount I actually want to sell.  Next up will be earrings.  Tons and tons of earrings - always favorites!

Another essential pre-show prep - new tags and earrings cards.  I have to give a shout out to my amazing designer Rose Noble.  She created the perfect logo for me!

Shop Update: In my Etsy shop I have new cabochons.  These are made for bead embroidery or you can wrap them in filigree.  You could also glue findings on the back to create earrings and a brooch.  Be sure to check out the sale section in my shop for some sweet deals. 

I'm off tomorrow for a day with my family and meeting up with a few friends in my beloved hometown.  I'm also checking out a few possible places for my fall retreat.  I'm looking at mid-October for an Into the Woods inspired retreat.  Details will be coming soon. 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend with loved ones doing things that make you absolutely giddy!

July 26, 2012

Finding Your True North

True North

True North by humblebeads 

True North points to knowing what your guiding philosophies are and having a clear direction in life. It's your gut instinct, your guiding light. It keeps you on the path as you journey toward what is true in your life.

Are you navigating unfamiliar territory in your life? I created this pendant to remind me that I do know which direction I need to travel.

The feather pendant was inspired by colorful vintage arrows and is a reminder to shoot straight and keep on target. 

What do you want?  What makes you happy?  Take some time to think about it, start a journal.  Walk around and just let things filter in and out while you do some soul searching. Just because you've been traveling down one path doesn't mean you can't correct course or totally change directions.  Trust yourself - you really do know what you want and what is the best way to go about it.  You may just have to digger a little deeper to face how to make those dreams come true.  

And maps are good for journeys, some maps come in the form of research, some in a good book, some maps are drawn by friends who are leading the way.  Some maps are pieced together from clues you've been collecting your whole life. It's time to take a few of those first steps toward what your heart desires.
Tangerine Dream

Tangerine Dream by humblebeads

Click on the links or photos to read more about the items featured in these two style boards. 

July 25, 2012

Thoughts on My Target Market


Meadowlark by humblebeads 

I'm in the middle of a transistion in my business from all beads to creating a line of jewelry.  A million years ago, okay maybe more like 10 years, I used to sell jewelry all the time.  As you can imagine it's easier to sell beads than jewelry for me, after all I've made it my business to know how to sell beads like a pro. Does that mean it's harder to sell jewelry?  No, it's actually easier to sell jewelry but in a different way - believe it or not more people wear jewelry than make it!  But I do need to find my target market and put my creations in front of the right people.  Which is not an easy task.  And honestly selling jewelry online is harder than in person.  So I'm finding a balance, signing up for shows and making a plan to launch a wholesale line of jewelry to offer to stores while discovering the best way to market online.

Wildflower Fields

Wildflower Fields by humblebeads 

I've been reading a lot of business books lately.  My Kindle Buy Now button is a dangerous weapon in my hands! A few good reads:

Grow Your Handmade Business
The Savvy Crafter's Guide to Success
Sell Your Jewelry

Sandy Shores

Sandy Shores by humblebeads 

So while I'm working on sketches, designs and plans, I'm also figuring out the marketing side of selling my line of jewelry.  And before I can market, I need to know who am I marketing to and how do I reach her.  Take a minute to read this great article on Targeting Customers from Halstead Beads.  

So who is my target customer?

She is who'd like to be in about 5 years.  I've met her at artist's fairs, art events, artist's guild meetings, I even went to college with her - she was the one who returned to school after her kids were out of the house.  I see her in my best friend.  My target customer is someone I'd love to have lunch with or share a glass of wine while we talked about our creative pursuits.  She is thoughtful and wise, she loves nature and poetry. 

She's 45-60.  Married or with a long-term partner.  She has children who are almost done with high school or have left home already.  She has a career, disposable income and is savvy with money.   She owns a home and has nested it like the pages out of Better Homes & Gardens.  She is a few shades of Martha Stewart, she's creative and likes to entertain her family and friends. She travels several times a year.  Some travels are to visit family and friends.  Some trips are to enjoy nature and time to recharge. 

J. Jill, Anthropologie and West Elm catalogs are a few of her favorites to shop through.  She likes to mix comfort and classic style with a creative edge in her wardrobe.  She likes surprising details.  She shops for organic produce from the Farmer's Market.  She likes to garden.  She also appreciates a little decadence like artisan soaps, handmade journals, drinking a cup of tea from a handcrafted ceramic cup and a little  homemade sweet, which she probably picks up at the Farmer's Market, along with her fresh flowers for the week

She is community minded and volunteers with a local organization. She has a wide social circle and a close knit family.  She shops at artist's markets for handmade gifts for the holidays.  She spends as much time wrapping those gifts as she did picking them out.  
She attends gallery openings, collects art and she has memberships to several cultural institutions in town.  She may or may not consider herself an artist, but she has an artful eye and appreciates art history and contemporary crafts.  
A night out might include a concert at a local venue or a fundraising event for an art center.  She would wear an amazing piece of jewelry, a show-stopper, to this event as it expresses that she is creative and enjoys the arts in all their forms.  To work she wears something from her collection of favorites from artists that she has shopped with through the years.  She returns to the same shows and artists every year to see what's new and adds to her collection.  She shops online with these artists when she needs a gift or when she wants to treat herself.    

Wow, that tells me a lot about her and how I can help her.  She shops for herself and for gifts.  She likes creative packaging.  She likes knowing the story and inspiration behind a piece of jewelry.  

Now it's obvious she shops at shows, art markets and boutiques - but where does she go online - that's my big mystery at the moment and what I need to work on next!

Oh and in case you are wondering, these are all outfits I envision her wearing with my jewelry.  And me too - why not? I did say I was aspiring to be her in just a few short years!

Beach Comber

July 17, 2012

Jewelry Designs from Nature Inspiration: Poems and Photos

Today over on the Art Bead Scene I'm hosting a design challenge inspired by the poetry article in my book, Jewelry Designs from Nature.  I sent everyone a packet with a bead, poem and a photo for inspiration.  My book is now available in Hobby Lobby and Michael's.  I never tire of seeing it on the shelf when I walk in the door!  And even more exciting and worth celebrating is that my book is now in it's second printing! 

You can see the results and read more about it here.  

Below are the poems and photo inspirations that I sent along with jewelry that I created for the challenge. The designer tips are some ways to think about how to interpret a poem with beads.

The Sea

Designer Tips
  • Use real beach stone beads mixed with silver or pewter metals to capture the feeling of water hitting the pebbles on a beach.
  • Smaller stone dangles hanging on larger metals loops could symbolize the continuous cycle of waves hitting the shore.
  • Pair rough textured or bumpy beads with frosted matte glass.
 Designer Tips:
  • A complimentary color combination of gold, copper and purple, taking its cue from the colors of a sunset would be a good place to start.
  • Add a little boat charm bobbing on a sea of lampwork beads.
  • Play with the line of sight on a necklace, adding in dangles on a chain to symbolize the bobbing of boats on the water.
  • If you could find an opal pendant with flashes of gold, orange and purple that would be the perfect focal for this poem.
Designer Tips:
  • Sprinkle red enamel bead caps with gunmetal ball headpins on a bracelet filled with teal blue and the bleached out golden hues of sea grass.
  • On a metal ring with a white patina, add charms of tiny red beads, sea shell charms and blue glass drops.
  • Pair a large poppy pendant with matte faux sea glass, pebbles and wood beads for a necklace that takes it cue from treasures found along the sandy shore.

 The Woodlands

Designer Tips:
  • Mix gold with brass metals to symbolize the change of the seasons.
  • Add in charms and pendants with leaves and trees.
  • Combine monochromatic tones of gold and light green in stones, glass and ceramic beads.  
  • Wrap wire to create entwined textures. 

Designer Tips:
  • Picked beads in hues of purple or navy blue in ombre hues to reflect the twilight night sky.
  • Pair a tiny bird bead with tree pendant.
  • A charm bracelet with birds, hearts, trees, tiny houses and wings uses all the symbols reflected in the poem. 
Designer Tips
  • Silver is the easy choice for this poem.
  • Use glass headpins in clear and light blue to mimic raindrops.
  • Pick stones in rock crystals or quartz to symbolize rain.
  • Pick birds, crowns, hearts and music notes charms or pendants.
  • Use Twig connectors and clasps mixed with white and green beads.
Designer Tips:
  • A grape leaf toggle with clusters of tiny amethyst and leaf charms are an easy choice.
  • Add a crow bird bead to a leaf pendant along with a lush collection of beads in autumnal colors.
  • Create a lariat with two leaf pendants on a beaded chain to symbolize the falling leaves of fall.

The Garden

 Designer Tips:
  • Pick the blushes and pinks of rose petals in stones and glass.
  • Find bee and rose charms.
  • Use wire and branch connectors wrapped in a bramble of wire to represent the thorns.
  • Layer leaf pendants in metal and ceramic for a dynamic focal.
  • Create ribbon roses in sari silk to add texture.

Designer Tips:
  • Cluster faceted citrine beads to sparkle and shine like a row of daffodils.
  • Soft silk ribbon in golden hues ties on a chain can mimic the delicate petals of the flowers.
  • A long chain interspersed with tiny yellow dangles and a floral focal would reflect the never-ending line of flowers.

Designer Tips
  • Gather a cluster of Czech glass leaves to symbolize a forest floor.
  • Thread silk cord in a chocolate brown through a chain and attach tiny white flower beads. 
  • Pair s single flower pendant among a lush dangle of leaf charms.

Visit the Art Bead Scene to view the blog hop results.

Which poem speaks the most to you?  Do you find inspiration in literature - using phrases and quotes as the basis for your jewelry?

July 16, 2012

Swellegant Tips and Color Formulas

My aunt and I finally had a chance a to sit down and try out the new Swellegant patina system that I picked up at Bead & Button.  The system includes a metal paint that actually turns the surface of a piece into metal!  You can use it on metal, polymer clay and a whole slew of other surfaces.  Once you have the metal coat, there are patinas you apply to give that lovely aged and matte finish of weathered metal.  The final part of the system is to use dye oxides - super intense pigments that stain the metal. You can discover all the ins and outs of Swellegant from B'Sue Boutiques.

Okay, in case you aren't picturing it - this is the magic of Swellegant!  The piece on the left is an inexpensive pewter piece.  The right is a copper patina treatment using the metal paints, patina and dyes. 

This is what the pieces look like with the metal coat in bronze.  I did 3-4 coats before the final coat when you do the patina.  You need to do the patina while the last coat of metal is still wet.  We found that just dabbing the patina on in a juicy coat without brushing it on works best.  It's more of a flooding it with dabs of the patina. Then you need to just hold your horses and wait at least an hour for the chemical reaction of the patina to take place.  At first it doesn't look like it's working, but give it some time.  And even then it doesn't look like much until you do the final two steps.

And this is where we ran into a problem.  Rosanne and I were expecting magical results, that we'd brush on the metal and patina and bam - it would be this awesome transformation in these vivid, bright colors.  But here is the issue, Swellegant is fussy stuff.  You need to do a little artsy-fartsy mojo to get the best results.  And I'll share some of those tips below.  Now if you aren't the artsy type, don't worry - with a little trial and error you can get it. 

And this is where things get really exciting - the colorful dyes.  My favorite technique with the dyes is to add in a bit of the white dye on top of the color.  I would paint on the dye, let it dry, add another color, dab a little here, a little there.  After the dyes are dry you take a little bit of the metal paint on your finger (gloved, of course) and run it over the raised edges of the metal to add in some highlights. I really feel like this is the key to getting a good piece, it just makes everything sing.

If you like instant gratification - this is not the coloring system for you.  It takes a lot of back and forth to get good results, there is some serious wait time between coats and then after it's ALL said and done you need to wait 48-72 hours and apply a matte sealer.  Is it worth it?  During the process I was ready to say no, but after giving it some time and working at a little more - I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out.  And now no piece of metal is safe in my house! Rosanne on the other hand felt it was too time intensive and didn't get consistent enough results.  I will try to win her over again, probably at my retreat this fall because I am so using these in one of my classes!

Oh and another tip - you can't mess it up, use light coats of paint each time to avoid losing details.  But if you get to the end and hate your results, just hit it with another coat of metal and patina again to start over.

Here are my results on various metals (mostly pewter) and polymer clay. Scroll down to the bottom for some of my formulas.

 Brass Patina

 Bronze Patina

Ancient Bronze Patina

Copper Patina

 Golden Patina

 Acid Green (These are Rosanne's pieces)

Copper Acid Bath

 Rusted Iron

Midsummer Night's Dream

Patina Formulas

The forumlas I used are listed in the order of application, be sure to read all directions and follow the steps correctly for best results.

MC = Metal Coat, P = Patina, D=Dye-Oxide

1. Brass Patina - Brass (MC), Tiffany Blue (P), Aqua Green (D), White (D), Brass (MC)

2. Bronze Patina - Bronze (MC), Tiffany Blue (P), Aqua Green (D), White (D), Bronze (MC)

3. Ancient Bronze - Bronze (MC), Tiffany Blue (P), Aqua Green (D) repeat dye 2 x,  Bronze (MC)

4. Copper Patina - Copper (MC), Tiffany Blue (P), Aqua Green (D) White (D), Copper (MC)

5. Golden Patina - Brass (MC) Green-Gold Verdigris (P), Aqua Green (D), White (D), Sun Yellow (D), Brass (MC)

6. Acid Green - Bronze (MC), Green-Gold Verdigris (P)

7. Copper Acid Bath - Copper (MC), Green-Gold Verdigris (P), Tangerine Orange (D), Chartreuse (D), White (D), Chartreuse (D), Copper (MC)

8. Rusted Iron - Iron (MC), Tiffany Blue (P), Blood Red (D), Silver (MC), Iron (MC)

9. Midsummer Night's Dream - Bronze (MC), Purple (D), Indigo (D), Purple (D), White (D) Bronze (MC), Brass (MC)

July 11, 2012

Working with Linen Cord and Humblebeads

This summer I have been making jewelry in between my crazy beadmaking sessions.  This is a pendant I whipped up the other day.  I can't get enough of tiger lilies.  I'm also loving waxed linen and just ordered some more from White Clover Kiln. (Check them out!)  I'm gearing up to do a few craft shows/markets to sell my work.  I miss doing shows, chatting with folks, meeting new artists, seeing my jewelry go off to good homes.  Yep, all sweet stuff.

So something I've discovered is that the holes on my pendants just aren't quite large enough for waxed linen, but I have super easy fix to share with you.  This works whether you need to enlarge a whole for a bigger jump ring or a cord.

Required tool: Round Nose Pliers

Stick the tip of the pliers in the hole and give it a little push, slow and gentle until you make the hole big enough for your cord.  This only works if you need a slightly bigger hole.  I wouldn't suggest doing this to enlarge the hole more than a 1 or 2 mm bigger.

I'm thinking this is super cute for quick and simple pendants with my tiny charms.  I'm making these to sell at the Farmers Market - if I can get a booth.  It's a little tough getting in around here, but I'll try my luck in a few weeks.

Blog special: buy 4 tiny charms and get one free.  When you check out include in the note section which charm you'd like as your bonus one!   This special is good until Friday.  

July 7, 2012

Sale Extended

Sale Extended:

Use coupon code "BLAST" to save 20% off in my Etsy shop today and tomorrow only.  (7/7-7/8)  

I have over 200 beads listed and that's only a fraction of what I have in stock!!!

July 6, 2012

New Colors

One the fun things about using molds when making beads is the chance I get to play with colors with the same design.  With my paintbrush in hand, the possiblities are endless.  This muted color palette looks lovely with stones in monochromatic hues, wood and brass - easy breezy summer style.

And this fimilar bird has gone through transformations as a sparrow, a cardinal and a wild bird - among others.  Now he has shown up as a robin.  I love robins. First, because they are the first birds you see when spring arrives here in Michigan.  (They happen to be our state bird.)  But this little robin was inspired by the apple orchard down the road from me called Robinettes.  I gave the pendant a spring-ish sky blue background that I saw through those apple trees as we traveled back and forth to home.

And here are three more examples of some of my popular styles in new colors.  These were all part of my new beads at Bead & Button.  I have so many more new beads.  I will try to post a few each day. 

Tomorrow I am setting aside a day to play.  Rosanne and I are going for round two with torch-fire enameling and we are testing out the new Swellegant paints & patinas. 

And then I am going to work on a line of jewelry for my Etsy shop.  Not that I need too, I have so much jewelry made that is just sitting in a suitcase.  But new creations bring new energy and I like feeling energized and excited about something new!

 I really need to sign up for some farmer's markets or something.  But then I look at the temp outside today and think - yeah Etsy shop, that's the ticket. 

Do you have creative plans for the weekend or are your summer weekends packed with outdoor adventures, family and friends?