Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Projects

Now that the holidays are mostly passed, it's safe to share some of the fun holiday projects I've been working on! Sadly, it seems I only took photos of one of them! :P Some I loved so much, though, that I'll be making them again for sure! :)

Gold Statement Hoops ~ Solid brass with non-tarnish coating and wire-wrapped 
faceted rondelle metallic gold crystals. 1.5" inside diameter of each hoop.

I love this design, allowing a hoop that still has my comfort-fit earwires!

I couldn't quite get them hanging on the model right though. she is life-size, but the inflexible ear makes it hard to get things in right without damaging them sometimes! 

Up next: A photo recipe for a Gluten-, Soy-, and Milk-less baking treat for my husband...

GF Lemon Bars! 

hopefully those will be made today, allowing photos and recipe to be posted in a few days. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nerd Alert - My First Ring Watch!

This came out so silly, I just had to share!

I hate wearing watches, and thus am always late, and my husband has been encouraging me to think about getting a watch again. In the Billings cold winter though with the coat always coming on and off... not a pleasant thing, having a big lump of a watch on one's wrist to get in the way. I thought of this looking at Pink80sGirl's cocktail rings on Etsy, so I did a bit of searching, and apparently I'm not the first one to have such an idea. And so my first "Ring Watch" was born!

As it turns out, it's really hard to find a watch face without those pesky little loops built into the case where you attach the band, so I decided if I was stuck with them, I might as well make them useful! I tried to kind of hide the little loops themselves under the top and bottom spirals, and used them to string a beaded wire frame around the watch face, ending in some little spirals on either side of the crown (knob thingy).

To make matters worse, I was in a silly mood and tried to make this as gaudy as possible. I think it was a success, what about you?

I showed it to my stepdaughter, and she was fascinated and horrified at the same time. I was told I look "ridiculous with that thing on," yet when it came off, she could not stop examining it closely. I am right handed, so set the face such that I could wear it on my left hand as shown and just glance down to see what time it is.

The wire is enamel-coated copper 20 gauge, the crystals are fire polished Czech red AB and Swarovski crystal clear AB, and the watch case is stainless steel, since I have a nickel allergy. It might not have mattered though, as the case doesn't really touch your skin. It's just simply glued onto a flat pad ring base on the back. I am hoping that the pad is small enough that it will still be easy enough to get the back off when the battery needs to be changed someday.

The very best part is that since the wire is very inexpensive, I can cut and remove the beaded part in just a snap and re-do the beads to suit each season! I think the next version will not have the crown exposed; that just made it a little too off balance. So the embellishing ring will have to go sort of over it, which will be easy enough.

Now I can't wait to change it up again! I think the next version will be sapphire blue and white crystals on silver wire... :)

With love from Montana,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Collections, Treasuries on Artfire vs. Etsy

Well, I've learned that creating a collection on Artfire is not quite as easy as on Etsy, but it's still a good system. Each venue's unique curating process and features has its pros and cons. Here's a little of what I've learned, and a comparison of the two sites' systems. On Etsy they are called "Treasuries," and on Artfire they are called "Collections."

Etsy: You can add any item with the listing's url.
Artfire: You have to add an item to your "collection queue" before it can be added.

While I love how much easier the system on Etsy is, I also love that I can add an item to my queue and add it to a collection later on. Great way to avoid losing something you love and want to treasury later on! (Does this happen to anyone else?)

Etsy: You can edit your treasury collection as much as you like after it's created.
Artfire: Once a collection is finalized, it can not be edited or deleted.

While not being able to tweak after the fact might seem sad, the tweaking while you're creating the collection is much easier. For example, if you remove an item from a treasury during the editing/creating process on Etsy, it is gone, unless you go and find the url again. On Artfire, however, you can just flip through your collection queue and easily grab the same item again. I found this to be really convenient!

Etsy's malleability of the treasury system makes it very easy to use the collections "for any purpose." I can't help but wonder if Artfire designed their collections this way to prevent the phenomenon of BNR and BNS treasury sales. I knew no one did them on Artfire, but now it makes sense why!

The upside of the rigid system is that it prevents people from switching items out after the collection has grown in popularity or made the front page. Speaking of the front page...

Etsy: If not sold first, items expire 6 months after being listed, causing them to drop off the treasury. Items also drop of the treasury if inactivated or deleted.
Artfire: Since items do not expire, they will only drop off a collection if the original listing is deleted by the seller.

Good thing items don't drop off as easily (which would leave empty slots in the collection) on Artfire, because you can't go back and add something else in when this happens! I do try to "clean up" my treasuries on Etsy every so often, but it's a constant battle until every item is sold and not relisted. Then they will stay forever.

Etsy: The hotness algorithm for a treasury is kept secret, and can be artificially raised or lowered by timing of clicks and comments.
Artfire: Each member can vote once on a collection, giving it a rating out of 5 stars.

Etsy: Featured shops must notice that they have been included in a collection, unless the curator  or someone else decides to send them a convo and a link. (Which while I personally believe is good practice, others have stated that this could be considered spammish.)
Artfire: Whenever a seller's item is featured in a collection, an email with a link to the collection and a customizable personal message from the curator is automatically generated and sent.

I think you can guess which system I prefer on that one!

Etsy: The same item could wind up on the front page more than once.
Artfire: There is a built-in algorithm that disqualifies a collection from making the front page if any of the featured items has already been on the front page.

Hmm, I like this. A lot. I'm not entirely sure if some little flag would warn me if I'm trying to include a FP item while attempting to submit a new collection for FP consideration on Artfire. Will have to experiment and get back to you on that one.

I just appreciate that the idea of some secret favoritism is removed from Artfire in terms of who gets promoted by Admin. I've heard a lot of squabbling in the forums on Etsy regarding front page favoritism, though such topics are usually closed pretty quickly by Admin.

Other than the above, they are more or less the same general idea.

Here is my first attempt at a hand-picked curated collection on Artfire:

...which can be found here, in case the above doesn't show up. The "inspirational item" for this collection was the Winter Wonderland Snowflake Earrings in the upper left corner, which I wanted to help promote for a guild event. (I liked them so much I ended up buying a pair!)

Even though it is getting a bit old now, here is my first attempt at curating a Treasury on Etsy, too, affectionately titled, "Love Brass."

Thanks so much for reading and looking!

With love from Montana,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Of course, there has to be a first blog...

Hi There,

Welcome to my very first blog post! I hope you'll find something useful here, but if not, please feel welcome to send me a suggestion of a topic or tutorial you would like to see covered! First of all, though, we have the dreaded first blog. Hopefully it won't be too dreadful though... I'll just make it an introduction about my work, my life, and me! (Oh, joy...)

It is my intention for THIS blog to focus primarily on adventures in jewelrymaking, tutorials of my own design, and sharing tips and tricks I pick up along the way as I learn and grow in this particular craft. I see nickelfree hypoallergenic earrings on Etsy and Artfire, along with some other crafty things you'll have to explore. (Aromatherapy, crochet, knitting supplies, hmmm...)

 a pair of my Carnelian earrings

a pair of my Moonstone earrings

a pair of my Peridot earrings 

There are plenty of great tutorials already available on youtube and other websites for the basics of wire wrapping to make earrings and such, but I have found a distinct lack of helpful tutorials on beadweaving techniques. Unless you want to pay for them, that is. So to start out, I will probably focus more on complimentary beadweaving tutorials as I develop them, moving on to other topics as we go.

I have been a tutor for about 14 years now, focusing mostly on high school and college level math through Calculus and any subject from elementary school , so I love questions and teaching. I made it halfway through a Master's in Education program before life seemed to decide that this was not the time for me to finish that just yet, but some day I intend to finish that program and teach high school math here in Billings.

I share my life with a wonderful husband, two teenage stepchildren, two cats, and too many parrots. The parrots are three Caiques and two Parrotlets, but you'll probably hear more about them later, perhaps in their own dedicated blog.

Oh, I almost forgot - you may find tutorials and recipes here for my adventures in Vegetarian, Pescatarian, & non-Gluten baking and cooking, too. Between my husband and stepkids allergies and dietary preferences, I have learned a LOT about tweaking old favorites to meet their various needs. The funny thing is, none of them actually have Celiac, but many of our recipes are Celiac-safe. I eat meat, I admit it, and eggs, and milk, and fish.... But many of my recipes are safe for those who do not, and I'll be happy to tag the veg and vegan and GF ones appropriately so you'll know what's safe for you. There might be some parrot recipes here too, as even one of the birds has an allergy! Since we are all a family-full of total tea fanatics, there will probably be some herbal remedies and medicinal tea recipes in here somewhere too.

So again, welcome! Pull up a chair, grab yourself a cup of tea, and make yourself comfortable!

I hope you enjoy your time with me, and thank you very much for reading!

With Love from Montana,