Thursday, October 31, 2013

Next Week's Retreat Projects Chosen!

I'm super excited about my next Wild Wire Women retreat, which begins on Thursday, November 7 and concludes Monday, November 11. We have three ladies signed up to learn a variety of different techniques as they work on their projects: etching, enameling, sawing and piercing, filing and finishing, wirework, and basic foldforming.
We'll begin our workshop series on Friday morning with an etching project, using ferric chloride on copper sheet metal to make etched cuffs like the ones pictured above, made by previous students during a WWW retreat. And we'll etch some copper tubing beads as well, similar to the ones in the necklace pictured below. This project is taken from my popular book, Arty Jewelry IV:
After lunch on Friday, we'll have a basic introduction to foldforming copper sheet metal. This process involves annealing metal with a torch, quenching, pickling, rinsing, and drying it, and then forging and texturing the small metal pieces to make charms for earrings or bracelets. There will be ample time to use hammers and other tools to add fun texture to our pieces before we turn them into jewelry; my earrings pictured below are a good example of what is possible to achieve in a half-day workshop:
On Saturday, we'll switch gears. I'm going to teach basic sawing and piercing to make metal shapes that can be enameled successfully with a map-gas torch. We'll cover design options, transferring sketched designs to metal, sawing techniques, filing and polishing, and cleaning metal to make a piece suitable for enameling.
As soon as possible, we'll dive right into enameling with the torch. Headpins, small metal components, copper charms and coins, and heavy-gauge wire cage beads are all possibilities:
Old pennies (with lots of copper content) can be used for enameling to make lovely charms for bracelets like the one pictured below:
On Sunday, we'll begin working with wire and hand-cut copper tubing beads to make a mixed-metals bracelet like the one pictured below. Texturing tubes, wrapping them with wire, double-wrapped eye-pin loops, wire charms, punching metal coins, and handmade clasps will be covered in this class.
Sunday afternoon will be devoted to finishing our jewelry pieces and possibly using liver of sulfur to give them an aged patina. Polishing techniques and jewelry photography round out the evening's activities. Everyone will go home with tons of notes, finished jewelry, and lots of inspiration to carry them through the dark winter months that are about to descend upon us! I'm really looking forward to seeing what my students come up with next week.
This will be my last Wild Wire Women retreat for 2013. The next season begins in September, 2014. If you'd like to join us next week, we do have three openings available. Please contact me via email for more information, and visit my WWW blog for lots more details about my retreats in Idyllwild.
Happy wrapping,

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

New Jewelry in My Etsy Store!

I just added some funky jewelry to my etsy store and thought I'd share a few pix. First up, my new series of "Scrappy Earrings" is a fun departure from my usual emphasis on perfect-as-possible metalsmithing technique.
These shabby, textured copper earrings (with sterling silver ear wires) came out really cute and they're super lightweight and easy to wear. You can find them in my shop... along with a few new Celtic Knot bracelets (pictured below) made with lightweight resin beads, solid copper wire, and copper bead caps that I made from textured sheet metal and dapped to fit each bead. LOTS of fun to make, and I love the results!
Remember my foldformed earrings from my last Wild Wire Women retreat? They're now available for sale. One of a kind, lightweight copper foldformed and textured earrings with charming bead dangles suspended from copper ear wires, super cute:
Here's another bracelet for sale, this one made with aqua-green resin beads:
I have lots of unique, handmade jewelry in my etsy store nowadays, and I'll be adding more as time permits. I love making jewelry and I especially enjoy hearing from customers who appreciate the artistry and hard work that goes into each lovingly made piece.
Prices range from $35 to $55 in general, with a couple of high-end pieces still priced under $200. Higher prices simply reflect the use of expensive handmade beads and solid sterling silver wire, and much more time and artistry required to make each piece.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Button Sale @ the Quilt Show a Big Success!!!

I had a blast at the Idyllwild Autumn Quilt Show this weekend, and I made $700 bucks!
I'm amazed and thrilled and so-so-so grateful for this, and really surprised as well, because I've never vended at a quilt show before, and my buttons were actually a last-minute addition to the show.
I had called up the organizers a month ago and asked about vending, but spaces for this show had sold out a long time ago. But then, last Wednesday they contacted me to ask if I could fill a space vacated by a cancellation. For $30 ... for a 10x10 foot space, tables and chairs provided, in a gorgeous, well-lit indoor facility, from 10 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. I jumped at the chance!
The only bummer about being a last-minute addition to a show like this is that you don't benefit from any advance marketing or advertising, so I kept my sales expectations pretty low for this event. No one else was selling buttons, and I kind of stuck out amongst a crowd offering fabrics, quilt kits, notions, and the like.
It was fun and so rewarding to spend a weekend with creative people, meeting new customers and old friends, and making two really important business contacts (more on that in a future post). Everyone was so happy and inspired by the beautiful handmade quilts on display, many of them award-winners. I heard that the show was a big success for other vendors, and that makes me happy. Perhaps our local economy is improving just a little bit?
I always like to analyze my results after a show or a teaching opportunity such as a retreat or workshop, to see if I can improve and learn from my success as well as any areas in which I did not measure up to my own expectations.
Some things I did right:
• offered a free DVD with any purchase—a huge bargain, because for a $15 button purchase you got a DVD valued at $29.95!
• offered free candy (good candy too, not cheapie stuff) to everyone, which the kids and the men really liked
• had two long tables full of different handmade ceramic buttons
• kept my sales-pitch short and sweet, and informational (handmade porcelain buttons made right here in my mountain studio in Idyllwild)
• had my handmade crocheted bag adorned with one of my buttons on hand for folks to admire
• was able to take VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover cards for those running low on cash, thanks to my Square card for the iPhone (about half of my sales were via credit card)
Some things I could have improved:
• my booth was somewhat shabby; I was very rushed, but nevertheless I could have purchased nicer fabric for my tables
• I could have made an announcement on my blog on Wednesday night, but again, I had lots of other commitments taking up my time; this was understandable but nevertheless a missed marketing opportunity
• I suppose I could have tweeted during the show, but nobody reads my tweets anyway so, oh well!
That's about it. I am so grateful that I made some money at the show that justified the hard work and time required to participate. It was lots of fun to see my friends and meet some new folks as well, and receive invitations from other quilt show organizers to vend at their events, too! Also ran into a yarn storeowner who wants to carry my buttons, and a mixed-media artist who wants to collaborate with me on some projects. Fun! I'll share more when I know more....