Sunday, December 28, 2008

Building Up Store Inventory, Sea Glass, Shop Views


The end of the holiday shopping season has given me the chance to get back to my craft table, organize my supplies and begin building up my sea glass inventory and begin creating/listing some Valentine's Day jewelry.


This holiday weekend I was able to add a new item to my 1000Markets shop and 6 new items to my Etsy shop. My Etsy shop is no where near where I'd like it to be in terms of items listed, but I'm happy about getting a half-dozen items listed this weekend. I'm not exactly sure where I want to go with my 1000Markets shop, since views/sales have been slow there.


I've also signed up to give ArtFire a shot and I'm going to start off that site with a couple of sea glass and Valentine's Day items and see how things progress there.


Speaking of sea glass... Last night was the final full moon of the 4th quarter and we went to the beach in search of sea glass. We made our trek to the beach during low tide, but found nothing near the water and only a handful of pieces along the high tide line. We did find a couple cool pieces of driftwood and a very cool bone of some sort, maybe a whale bone.


Listed above is the lavender necklace I'll be listing on Etsy either tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on tomorrow's weather...I'd like to try a couple of outdoor images, hoping to bring out the lavender color some more)


As I mentioned earlier, shop views have been fairly tough to come by on 1000Markets. I listed a new item and it went 24 hours without a view and last I checked, still hadn't been viewed!


On Etsy, the views more difficult to figure. Many of them are from sellers viewing links in the promo forums. I have received a few hearts for both my shop (all from sellers-which could mean future treasuries) and I did received several item hearts. They were a mixed bag...from those with and without shops.


The one feature I find very interesting on ArtFire is their stats feature. It will be interesting to see where my views are coming from and I wish that Etsy would provide this for their site also.

Maybe one day soon...


'til next time...

R

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Holidays are Almost Over...New Creations, Sea Glass


Now that the gift-giving holidays are almost over, it's time to build up my shop inventories. Today I added a new pair of sea glass earrings, along with a Czech glass copper earring set that is perfect for Valentine's day... copper filigree hearts and pink flowers... and oh, so pretty!


I also have a really pretty sea glass necklace ready to list in my Etsy shop tomorrow. The piece falls into the color category of soft green, but it was very tough to photograph. Depending on the lighting source and backgrounds, it looked anywhere from soft green, to light aqua to baby blue.

A very intriguing piece indeed!


I also have a few more pairs of Valentine-ish earrings to add to my shop over the next week, along with the pieces I created in the photo above. I know the photo quality isn't very good, as I shot this late at night, with little lighting, but... these are some of the nicest pieces of sea glass I've ever worked with and I would seriously like to keep 3 or 4 for myself.


The lavender piece is just exquisite, the citron gem is stunning and the turquoise or dark aqua is a piece to die for (and that one may find it's way into my jewelry box) Even the the frosty white/clear pieces are the nicest examples I've ever worked with to this point. They are absolutely flawless, perfectly smoothed by the surf, egg-shaped, with beautiful personality... showing the coveted "C" markings inside the glass (which indicates an older piece of glass that the ocean has kept to itself - until it was a perfect specimen) & even pieces with inner bubbles.


They are my finest sea glass necklaces to date and most will find their way into my Etsy shop, with 1 or 2 going into my ArtFire shop and another to 1000 Markets. I've been excited by individual pieces before....even to the point where I held a piece back for several days rather than list immediately because I wanted to look at it a little longer... but this collection of 12+ necklaces has me very excited... to the point that I'll be sending out my first ever email to my sea glass customers to alert them to the pieces that are about to debut in my shop.


Of course, I'll have to make a decision about which one (2?) I'll keep for myself : )


I'll add images as each piece is finished...


'til next time...

R

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Keeping My Eggs In One Basket, Sea Glass, Holiday Sales & Shows

With only 3 more delivery days until Christmas, it's safe to say my holidays sales have come to a close. I have a few packages in transit and I hope they get there on time... even with Priority shipping, it seems the mail is moving pretty slowly.

With the end of the holiday sales (except for a last minute multiple scarf order later today) I've been contemplating how to approach 2009. With the current economy, I wonder if keeping all my eggs in the Etsy basket is a wise move, or should I broaden my horizons and expand my limited amount of OOAK jewelry to other ventures?

Back in mid November, I opened up a shop at 1000 Markets. I liked that the site is juried and found the site to be visually appealing. At the same time, it has been tough to promote the site much and there seems to be very little traffic outside of those registered on the site. To this point, I haven't made a sale... but at the same time I have only listed 6 items and currently have only 4 listings in the shop (2 of the items sold at craft shows) Right now I don't know exactly how I'll use 1000 Markets in the coming year.

The reason of my future use of 1000 Markets is because I also signed up for ArtFire. ArtFire seems to have quite a bit more outside traffic than 1000 Markets and they have been advertising in the trade magazines. The site does offer a few ways to promote outside of the site when compared to 1K Markets. I signed up for the $7 a month plan (which is scheduled to go up to $20 sometime in 09) I like the idea of ArtFire offering decent stat info and I'm intrested in seeing how that info can be utilized to improve my promoting.

Most of my "eggs" will be kept in the Etsy basket. To think that in 2007, almost no one had ever heard of the site and now just 12 months later, a great deal of my craft show customers not only knew about Etsy, but several claimed to have visited the site. Many others had heard of Etsy, and had questions about what the site was about. I did notice a couple of "follow-up" sales the week or two after a show.

All of this leads me to believe that the branding of the etsy name, in the publics eye, is underway. People are more secure in ordering handmade items from the site and in my opinion, Etsy may have a huge year in 2009. Since I feel I've done very well with Etsy, my main focus will remain on my shop there.

I don't see the popularity of any of the online sites coming close to rivaling the Etsy name in the coming year. I have been building a nice little following on the site, especially in the Sea Glass category. So while i may spread my "eggs" out a bit more this coming year, the bulk of my work will remain where the public seems to be looking...Etsy.com

I just received a new batch of necklaces, so I will probably be adding a few more wire-wrapped sea glass creations over the next few days (as long as I can get one semi-sunny day to photograph the finished product) I'm also experimenting with sterling silver bracelets and I have several pieces of sea glass drilled and ready to go.

Yesterday was a bust for sea glass hunting. My hubby hit the beach at low tide and found the combo of wind and cold to be too much. Beach reconstruction during the week buried whatever was lying on the beach and blowing sand covered up whatever the tides left behind yesterday. I wish we had the money to spend for a trip to Puerto Rico...it would be nice to do a little sea glass hunting on a warm sunny beach (not to mention lying in the sun, soaking up some warm rays) but I think I'll have to wait for spring and summer to hit any warm sunny beaches this coming year.

Holiday sales were very good compared to last year on Etsy. I seemed to have follow-up sales right after shows and a couple repeat customers and word-of-mouth sales. New listings sold quickly compared to last season. All in all , a big improvement compared to 2007.

To all of my followers... if i don't get back to my blog this week... have a Happy Holiday and a happy and healthy New Year!

'til next time...

R

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Featured Seller- WillowBranchJewelry


As the followers of my blog are well aware, I make handmade jewelry and almost always, I support the handmade artists of EtsyNJ. I don't look at very much handmade jewelry (and don't even consider looking at the mass-produced "stuff") but every once in awhile, I'll buy something that has really caught my eye. This particular time, I stepped outside the Garden State for my purchase.

I love pendants. I guess you can say I'm a sucker for a pretty pendant. I love the creativity that many of the handmade artists display in their creations and when it comes to jewelry, the pendant has no creative boundaries.

My featured artist of the day is Brandi, from WillowBranchJewelry. Like many Etsians, Brandi dabbled in creating pendants several years before trying her hand as an Etsy seller. Brandi made pendants for family and friends and like many of us, was told "you should sell them."

Although the thought intrigued Brandi, she had no idea how she could possibly juggle a full time job and find the time to create... until one of her friends who loves her pendants, turned her onto Etsy. She loved the idea of a site dedicated to buying and selling handmade items and Brandi was quickly hooked. In August of 2008, Brandi opened her WillowBranchJewelry store. Four months & 20+ sales later she's building a name for herself and has already branched out into 2 brick and mortar stores in the California area.

At Willow Branch you will find an array of unique and exciting individual pendant necklaces. Each piece, which is handmade, encapsulates a contemporary design in the permanence of resin.
Brandi enjoys finding and creating new design images that are fun and different. Brandi's dragonfly creations are new. They had been requested by her Aunt, who like myself, loves dragonflies. Brandi has noticed a trend with dragonfly creations on Etsy and believes they may be the next "hot" item, much like the owl has been for the last year or two.

While chatting with Brandi, it was refreshing to hear that being a perfectionist. She's ruined nearly as many pendants as she's created. Brandi went on to say, "it's normal for resin to have minuscule bubbles and rare to have it clear as glass. Most people don't notice or care about the imperfections they may have. It comes with the territory of being homemade, I guess! I try to make something as perfect as I can."

Brandi's off to a pretty good start and is about to open a new shop. Her pendants are wonderful... bold colors of beautiful images... I'm certainly looking forward to receiving the pendant I purchased.

To find Brandi's shop, go to- www.Willowbranchjewelry.etsy.com
You won't be sorry... but leave a couple of the dragonfly pendants for me : )


'til next time...
R

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sea Glass Weekend, Craft Shows, Rebuilding the Shop

Whew, it was a very busy weekend. After my Friday night with my hubby (dinner and Xmas gifts shopping) I spent my Saturday making new bracelets and adding some inexpensive earrings to my show inventory. I had been leery of doing this, as my Sunday show was my last of the holiday season and I was unsure if the investing the time and components was worth it.

My craft show theory remains that I should have some inexpensive items on my tables. These are great when a potential customer walks up with a young girl in tow. There's nothing like when a little girl gets to choose whatever earrings she wants from my $5 displays... Mom/Aunt/Grandma/Dad is usually very happy, because the little one is thrilled to be able to shop and it doesn't hurt the customer's wallet. From my point of view, everyone is happy and 5-10 of these type of sales and I've basically covered most of my show fees, plus the customer still has money to buy some "big-girl toys" such as sea glass jewelry.

With the impending law of compliance for items intended for children 12 and younger, my $5 earrings will probably be a thing of the past next year when I do craft shows...this will indeed impact my bottom-line because more than 60% of the $5 earrings I sell, are purchased by women for their own personal use.

However, my time was certainly not wasted creating items for the show. The day turned out to be beautiful and the crowds were quite literally overwhelming! The show was held in Smithville Park in Eastampton, NJ (Mt Holly) and I don't think they expected such a turnout for their first ever Holiday show.

The crowds in Crafters Village (which was a heated tent that held approx 14 crafters) were 2 and 3 deep at my table and I know many people tried to get to the tent but didn't want to wait in the lines. The people that did get to me, were very receptive of my sea glass jewelry and I sold several of my nicest pieces, along with almost every Czech glass bracelet I brought to the show. My hair-ties and zipper pulls were almost totally wiped out and I sold several of my $5 earrings throughout the day.

When I was finally able to catch my breath, nearly 3 hours had passed. My hubby and I were basically trapped behind the table by the amount of visitors at the show. I laid out 75-100 business cards, when they were gone, I replenished the holders and they too were gone by shows end. I easily handed out or placed with purchases, 250 cards at this show!

Nearly 50% of my Etsy shop sold at the show. My hubby activated the remaining items...all 13 of them... relisted one, did a little promoting for me. When I woke up this morning, I found a note saying that 3 more Etsy items sold during the night... to a friend of a recent customer who had passed on my shop link : )

I'm now down to a lowly 10 items...yikes, I've never been this low & just before the holidays... and I spent my lunch hour taking pictures of a few new items in the park. Hopefully they came out okay and I'll be able to add a few new items during the week, starting tonight.

My big opportunity for sea glass hunting was basically a bust this weekend... well my hubby's opportunity for hunting, I wasn't going out on that freezing beach. The tides listed on the internet (a site that my hubby has had great success using in the past) was way wrong. Low tide was at approx 2am, and the 2nd low tide moved through at about 2pm...hubby's info said closer to 3:15 and by the time he arrived the opportunity was lost. He did find a very large piece of cobalt blue sea glass, not jewelry quality, but it'll look great in my sun-catcher by the window. He also found several pieces of brown, most of which he left behind for either the tide to reclaim or another lucky hunter. He said he was the only soul on the beach both in the morning and afternoon and it was very cold and windy. He's claiming to try again at the end of the week when the morning low tide gets closer to 7 -8 am...and there's always the last full moon of the year to try again : )

No new items to list... I'm off to download my pictures and start doing my new item write-ups!

'til next time...

R

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sea Glass, Sea Glass, Craft Show and more Sea Glass!



I listed my first creation using Gray sea glass yesterday. Gray is considered to be one of the extremely rare colors (they turn up approx once in every 2,000 pieces found) and this piece is flawless. I used the gray gem to to create a wire-wrapped necklace. I'm very excited about the creation and I'm very interested to see the reaction by sea glass enthusiasts at this weekend's show... if it lasts that long. The piece can be found in my Etsy shop and should appear in my Etsy mini located to the right --------->




Speaking of sea glass... this coming weekend is probably one of the best sea glass hunting opportunities of the year. The tides will be extremely severe with tomorrow night's New Moon and this new moon finds both the sun and moon closer to the earth than normal (the sun is normally closer to our planet during December and January) The new moon is called the Perigean Spring Tides and both high and low tides will be severe over the next few days. Despite the weather, my hubby will be out on the beach, on the hunt for some more pieces to add to my collection.




The last spring tides new moon, delivered a couple of jewelry quality pieces and several beauties that are now in bottles and jars that we use for sun-catchers. Maybe that elusive piece of yellow or orange will present itself this weekend!!




My final holiday show of the season is this Sunday...


From noon -6 pm , I'll be at the Holiday Village at Smithville Park in Easthampton, NJ


This is a great family event with so many activities, there's just too much to list. My hubby and the boys are coming with me and I'll be in the Crafters Village (area #4 inside tent #1) I'll have a few brand new sea glass creations for the show.




Just a brief disclaimer for anyone going out this weekend searching for sea glass. Even though it's a prime hunting opportunity, I do worry about my hubby going on the hunt solo. Despite having a great respect for the sea, I know he'll probably be alone on the beach (as the weather will be cold, windy and rainy)


The ocean and winter weather on the beach are unforgiving. The beach is often deserted, as the lifeguards have abandoned their chairs and headed home for the winter. Be aware of the conditions, dress warm... with many layers and when you are near the surf... never, ever turn your back on the sea.


The ocean likes to reclaim some of the treasures that it has previously left behind, don't let it add you to her collection. Good hunting!


The picture above is a sea glass creation that will be listed on Etsy later tonight.




'til next time...




R


Sunday, December 7, 2008

CPSIA = National Bankruptcy Day for the Handmade Industry

It started over a decade ago... major corporations looking to make more money on their product, without having to raise prices. These companies believed it was best to send manufacture their products overseas. For awhile, it didn't seem like a bad idea.

Yes, there was a large amount of Americans that were downsized or lost their jobs altogether. But the economy seemed to be prosperous, and if people are making money with their financial investments, then the job losses are considered a necessary evil, or collateral damage.

Then, our children's toys were found to contain alarming percentages of dangerous, toxic chemicals, like lead. It wasn't just one or two products and the incident's were not isolated. A couple of years ago this seemed like an epidemic and just last year, toy companies were reeling from poor sales because of the the scandal.

Of course the government felt they needed to do something to prevent this from happening again, so they composed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. An act that forces all companies, from manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers to all comply with a rigorous testing procedure.

The one problem, and a rather common occurrence when the government decides to attempt to correct a problem, is the how stringent the law is for everyone in not only the toy industry, but for every industry that creates children's products. Of course, this trickles down to the home-based handmade industry.

Makers of children's toys, clothing, furniture...everything for children under the age of 12 years old will be affected.

Starting on February 10th, 2009, anyone selling items that can be used by children 12 years old or younger must be compliant with this law or face stiff fines of $100,000 per offense. The way the law is currently written doesn't allow for a blanket compliance for each individual component.
If you manufacture parts for toy cars, use must have every single component in compliance. The part distributors that sell them to the manufacturers, must also send all the parts out for compliance, and then the manufacturer must take the finished product for testing...even though all the components have already been tested and compliance papers issued! Once the manufacturer has their compliance papers intact, they can then begin to send the toys into the stores. From my interpretation of this crazed law, it appears that the store must now take the toy for testing, as they too will need to be compliant... yes, it's bordering on insane.

As the government is always apt to do, they left themselves quite a bit of leeway with this act. They are allowing themselves to decide that a product could possibly be used by a 12 yo child (or younger) so products that a handmade crafter feels is safe, may not be (and the same goes for small and mid-sized business owners) So even though a handmade jeweler may make expensive necklaces or bracelets, the Consumer Product Safety Commission could decide that the $100 necklace they sell, could be bought for a 12yo (or younger) and without compliance papers, stating that the components that have probably been tested at least once, if not many more times already, your finished item will not be in compliance...because they say so.

To this blogger, this act favors the big corporations. They are having a pretty successful holiday season and are flush with funds to pay for these expensive tests (oh yea, tests will run approx $1,500 or more per item) and they'll probably have the ability to write off these expenses or at the very least, pass the expenses on to the consumer.

For the small home-based handmade crafter/artist, the small businesses and even many of the mid-sized businesses, it will likely mean a "mass-going-out-of-business" for all of them. In this blogger's opinion, it means that the big corporations that are mainly responsible for this mess, will be the only companies left standing when the smoke clears.... their competition essentially eliminated.

The more I consider all of the options several members of the handmade community have, the more this Act begins to smell bad. Handmade crafters out of business, small business closed, almost every mid-size business will probably be forced to shut their doors... all for good.
Of course the big corporations already have lobbyists hard at work, throwing millions of dollars around so that they aren't quite as affected...but that's for a future blog.

With barely 2 months to become compliant (and that probably isn't possible before 2/10/09) we as a community need to act as a whole. Write your Congressmen and women, contact the media and let them know about this Act. Don't be surprised that many of them will know little about it, this has been planned to keep it a secret until after the holidays.

After all, if the word gets out, how can these toy companies make all the money they'll need to pay for testing. Don't stand idly by, do something now...make your voice heard...let your government officials know you appreciate the fact that they seem to care about our children, (though I don't know why they think a 13 yo is immune to the toxins) but the Act, in it's current form, will have a huge trickle down effect on small business owners and cause what the handmade community is now call -2/10/09... National Bankruptcy Day!

Don't let that happen!

For more info on the the CPSIA, go to http://www.etsynj.com/ and read the National Bankruptcy Day article and links.

'til next time...
R

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Sales, Cyber Monday, Crafts Shows & Sea Glass


So the big shopping weekend has come and gone. Once again Etsy's promotions forums were quite busy during the holiday weekend. Lots of shops promoting sales, free shipping, etc and many, many new items were listed.


I listed a couple new items and really struggled for views. Even after hitting the promotions forum a couple of times, I could only manage to garner 6 views on one of the items and 10 views on the 2nd item.


Working the forums didn't prove to be a waste of time, as I had better holiday sales in 2008 than I did last year, but it really is tough for potential buyers to find your work. My Cyber Monday sale was included in a EtsyNJ member's private Gift Guide that was posted on the EtsyNJ site. (and our team site was heavily promoted by several team members and received a few hundred views on Cyber Monday)


My Holiday Craft Show schedule is winding down to the last 2 shows over the next 2 weekends.

Tomorrow night, I'll be at the LEH Winter Festival show. It's held at the George J Mitchell School on Rt 539 in Little Egg Harbor, NJ. The show hours are from 4pm - 9pm. Santa will be there posing for photos (photo packages available) It's a fun show and it gives some of the town's students a chance to do a little Christmas shopping for teachers, family members and school aides.


Next weekend, on Dec 14th, I'll be at the Holiday Village at Smithville Park event. Smithville Park is located in Easthampton, NJ. There will be many wonderful activities planned for families and I'll be at the Crafters Village with many new sea glass creations.

This should be a fun show and I'm looking forward to bringing my whole family and having my sons take part in the holiday activities.


Speaking of sea glass, there's a big beachcombing opportunity coming next week during the New Moon. This past week a couple of planets lined up with the moon and next week, the moon and sun will be closer to the earth than normal. The tides should be rather severe and that may lend itself to the sea leaving behind a few more pieces of sea glass than usual. My hubby will be there early, in his favorite spots, looking for a few choice pieces that we can work on through the winter.


Hope to see you at one of the shows!


'til next time...

R


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Day, Holiday Weekend Sales, Cyber Monday


A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I hope every one's Turkey-Day was happy. As we do every year, we went to my hubby's Aunt's house for Thanksgiving, watched football, gorged ourselves on lots of turkey and all the fixings & played board games (actually Apples to Apples was the choice) It was a lot of fun, but since I work in retail, I had to get up early the next morning and go to work.


There's nothing quite like Black Friday. It's great to see everyone in the Christmas frame of mind... trampling over the person in front of them, so they can get the last hot item and save a few dollars.


It wasn't as bad as the WalMart that made the news with an employee getting trampled or shoot-out at ToysRUs, but it really is insane to think these people were standing in line for several hours, waiting for the store to open, all while I was tucked under the warm covers of my bed... dreading the thought of having to go out so early.


Black Friday online was was also insane. My hubby did a little promoting and I left him with a few items to list and promote for me. The first item had zero views after 45 minutes and another batch of promoting in the forums lifted the total number of views to 3. The next listing was done later in the afternoon... a whopping 7 views in the first half hour, followed by another 2 after I promoted before calling it a night.


It wasn't much better today, but at least the promoting insanity seemed to slow down a bit and I did pick up a few views early this morning, along with a few more with each short promoting session I had during the day.


For the whole weekend, I have but one sale (made on Black Friday) to go along with a sale the day before Thanksgiving, so it hasn't been a total waste of time... but I hope that your sales have been a bit better than those in my shops.


On Monday, several members of the EtsyNJ street team will be offering a multitude of promotions. Everything from sales, to free shipping, to gifts with purchases, etc. Check out the banner at the top of this blog for more info on the shops taking part and what each shop is offering (shameless plug.... I already have a Cyber Monday Sale category with a few items listed...all at 20%+ off... and I'm offering free shipping and a gift w/ ea purchase on any item in my shop... more items will be listed for the Cyber Monday sale tomorrow and Monday)

Come check us out...it's going to be an awesome sale!


My holiday craft show schedule is grinding towards it's end ...


Dec 5th, I'll be in Little Egg Harbor, at the George Mitchell School for their Holiday Craft Fair. The show is from 4pm- 9pm and the school is on Rt 539 and easily accessible from the GS Parkway & Rt 9.


I have a pending show in Easthampton on 12/13, and I hope to have further info during the week.


Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I hope to see you on Cyber Monday!


'til next time...


R


The image above is one of my Cyber Monday sale items!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Shopping, Sales, Cyber Monday and New Items


Well another holiday season is upon us and it's once again time for the insane holiday shopping season. Unfortunately, I'll be at the store on Black Friday (because I work in retail) but I don't plan on doing much shopping, if any at all, this weekend.


Of course, selling handmade items online is part of the shopping craziness and promoting on Etsy.com at this time of the year might just be more insane than waking up early Friday morning to stand on line for a shot at a great buy at the stores.


However, it is so convenient to shop online. I can stay in my warm house, sit with a hot cup of coffee and browse Etsy looking for some of the great bargains that the handmade community is offering this holiday season. As a seller, I'll have my own sales going over this holiday shopping weekend.


Starting with Black Friday, I'll be placing items into yet to be created category... Black thru Cyber Sale. I'll also be offering free shipping on any item in my shop, along with a gift with purchase (mention my thread in this blog and you can receive free shipping on any item right now!) My Black thru Cyber Sale category will have sales on some current items and I'll listing new items, right into the category at a sale price. There will be something new going into the sale category everyday and I think some people will be surprised at some of the sale prices.


The EtsyNJ Street Team has planned a big sale on Cyber Monday (click on the banner at the top right of this page for more info!) and I'm very excited about clicking on all of their shop's and buying handmade gifts for the people on my list this year. Come check out our sale... there will something for everyone on your shopping list this year!


The picture above is a new listing to my Etsy shop. It's one of the nicest necklaces I've made to this point and it was my most talked about item at this past weekend's craft show. Hopefully, by the weekend, I'll have a couple pairs of cobalt blue sea glass earrings ready to add to the shop, along with a holiday necklace made with sea glass.


Hope I see you at the sales!


'til next time...

R

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Best Ideas Are In Boxes and Jars....

They start with a thought or an image, captured in my mind's eye... and then the process begins... how am I going to create this?

The process is always so much easier when I create with glass beads, semi-precious stones or polymer clay. The brief idea is quickly turned into a finished product as the pieces of the puzzle are more readily at hand and the perfection of the piece quickly reached.

It's not nearly the same with sea glass. The pieces of the puzzle to my best ideas have yet to reveal themselves and so my best ideas remain unfinished in boxes and jars.

There are many days when I'm on the beach, wandering about while I see what the tide has left behind and I'll sometimes find myself staring at the ocean wondering when it will deliver the next piece of the puzzle.

I know what I'm looking for is out there... somewhere... lying on a deserted beach... waiting for me to pick it up .... or waiting for the tide to come back and reclaim it.

My best ideas remain in boxes and jars...unfinished pieces of work.... just waiting for the final pieces of the puzzle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New sites, New Opportunities & Hope that the Show Season Finishes Strong

First off, a Happy B-Day wish to my 12 yo son Eric!!

So things have become hectic over the last 5 or 6 days. It started with a phone call asking if I'd be interested in a space at a craft show last weekend. I had been a bit hesitant, because recent shows have been a bit disappointing (and I was all set for this weekend's show) and almost turned it down.
I accepted and I'm very happy I did. The show went well, I met a few sea glass enthusiasts-which turned into at least one wire-wrapping job (and possibly a couple more to follow) and perhaps a few of show's customers will find their way to my Etsy shop.

I spent Sunday taking pictures and trying to replenish my now depleted Etsy shop and scrambling to build up inventory levels. I had forgotten that this weekend's show is a 10x5 space and not a 6 foot table, which means more displays and of course, more inventory than I planned for. I may have to break out my scarf display and load up whatever scarves I have (which may not be a bad idea as the temperature has turned cold very quickly in New Jersey)

I was not only taking pictures for my Etsy shop, but also for a new site that has been running for a short while... 1000 markets. ( http://www.1000markets.com/users/creationsbyrobin )
Of course with a new site comes all the fun of adding an avatar and banner and getting used to navigating a different site.
I like the site at 1000Markets, it's a fun site and looks nice. It doesn't have the ability (as of yet) to promote items on the site, so it's going to take a lot of promoting and word of mouth to drive new traffic there. Since items can quickly get lost on Etsy, especially this time of the year, this site is much smaller and it may offer a viable option to Etsy or at least another avenue to sell my creations. Of course, Etsy is still my main site and will remain so, but it's nice to have a second option, even if it is a little more work.

Speaking of other avenues, today I received an email on the 1000Markets site about another possible opportunity. It seems this new site is geared more towards fashion, but it does have a jewelry category and it didn't seem to overloaded. I'll take a better look at the site later this week and see if anyone I know is familiar with the site... hopefully in my next couple of blog installments, I'll have some good news about this site.
I've also been invited to display some of my jewelry at an upscale boutique this spring and summer at the NJ shore. I'm really going to need to build-up my inventory to do this because I'm pretty sure they are mostly interested in my sea glass creations. (hopefully, the next "spring tides" wash up many jewelry-quality gems!) The boutique is located in one of the more ritzy areas on the Jersey shore and from what I can tell, the boutique looks very nice.

I spoke with a few non-Etsy crafters and they all have been mildly surprised with their recent craft shows. It seems that as Thanksgiving edges closer, the people are looking to buy handmade items, even if they are buying at the middle to lower end of the price scale... they are buying and that is an improvement over what I experienced and had heard during the month of October.
Maybe it has to do with having a new president. Maybe it's because people feel better that our President-elect is being open with the country, or people are feeling a bit better about the economy. Perhaps people are just looking to make this a nice holiday, while cutting back on their spending.
Whatever it is, I hope everyone doing craft shows the rest of this holiday season have terrific shows. Would having more than expected sales online be too much to ask for too? : )

'til next time...
R

Monday, November 17, 2008

Craft Fairs and the Economy, Beachcombing for Sea Glass


Last week, I received a call from a show organizer about an opening for a jewelry vendor in her show this past weekend. I was a bit hesitant to take the space, as my last few shows had been disappointments and I was concerned that the economy had really taken it's toll on the public's disposable income (it has on mine) and bad weather has hurt many of the shows I've done recently.


I was assured I would be 1 of only 2 jewelry crafters and since the price was right ($25 for a 10x3 space) I took the plunge. I really wanted to do this show, as I had been happy with the shows in this area. I was recruited for a possible opening, but when I called, the spot was taken.


Luckily for me, someone backed out of the show. The show was held in a large firehouse and the organizer's did a great job of limiting the number of vendors and keeping the aisles wide open for traffic to move about freely. They also did a wonderful job of limiting medias and offering the public a wide variety of handmade goods. The community was very supportive of the show, as were surrounding communities.


The traffic was constant throughout the show and it was great to see many vendors with nice crowds around their displays during the day. For myself, I did better than expected and hope to have found a future customer or two for my Etsy shop in the future, along with a few wire-wrapping jobs for a couple of sea glass enthusiasts. One of the women entrusted me with a gorgeous piece of aqua sea glass to create a necklace for her and I"ll try to post an image of the necklace when it's completed.


It was nice to see many people buying gifts for the holidays at this show and the crowd was very receptive of all the vendors. I saw very few people leaving the firehouse empty-handed. I guess the economy may have slowed down some people's spending habits, but people have to buy holiday gifts, so why not buy handmade? At this show, the economy may have cost me a couple sales on high-ticket items, but I did make sales to people that were definitely buying my handmade "wearable-art" creations as gifts for family and friends.


Since I did the show on Saturday, I was unable to get to the beach on a key day to search for sea glass. The hubby did get to go yesterday afternoon, just before low tide. Low tide was pretty late in the day (around 4:15pm) and it left little time to search, as the sun was struggling to shine thru the clouds. He went to his secret favorite spot, turned to the north and walked, finding several large shell beds that contained very little. The bed may have been picked clean of sea glass, but he said he hadn't noticed any footprints in the area of the shell beds.


He turned back to the south and went back to the block where he finds many rarer colors. The shell bed was wider than it had been on Friday, but not as dense. He was able to spend about 20 minutes there in decent light and found about 35-40 more keepers, including one small piece of cobalt blue. There were only 1 or 2 pieces that I consider to be jewelry quality (for bracelets), but with another cobalt and a couple of pretty olive greens, it turned out to be a worthwhile search.


Hubby spent another 15 minutes or so searching in diminished light, before being forced to give up the search. The wind was fierce, the temp was in the mid 40s and with poor lighting, it didn't make much sense to continue on.


The New Moon which had resulted in what is called " the spring tides" wasn't as plentiful as last year. High tide left very few shell beds high up on the beach. Instead, the beds were down near the surf and the only time to find sea glass was during low tide... which meant being near the water... and that's not always a fun thing when the wind is a constant 25-30 mph and gusting at about 35mph, in mid-40 degree weather.


But as DH always says" Everyday is a good day at the beach, some are just better than others." Hopefully the next spring tides will be more fruitful!



'til next time...

R


PS- the photo above is my newest addition to my Etsy shop!


Friday, November 14, 2008

The Hunt For Sea Glass, Craft Show Schedule


Tomorrow's craft show is at the Vincentown Fire House in Southhampton, NJ. The fire house is located on Race St in the Village of Vincentown. The show runs from 9am to 3pm.


For those that follow my sea glass hunting exploits, today should have been one of the biggest days to find sea glass. To recap...

Last night was the new moon and an important new moon. The moon is closer to the earth this month than usual and the tides were much more severe than usual. Last weekend, I found several decent pieces of beach glass and saw many shell beds in the surf...something that has been missing from the beach since late July/early August. So I had high hopes for this New Moon, which is also referred to as the Spring Tides.


I've been working overnight on my JOB, so my hubby made the trip to the beach, a few hours before low tide. He said he was disappointed by what he saw...a clean beach, with very little debris, such as driftwood, shells, etc. The one positive thing he noticed... with the exception of a few people surf-fishing, there were no footprints in the sand ( so no one was searching for glass)


Within minutes, he located a cobalt blue piece of glass. Not quite jewelry quality, but since cobalt is considered rare (about 1 in 5,000 pieces) he thought it was a good sign. 30 minutes later, he wasn't sure he would find much more than the cobalt piece and after 2 hours on the beach, he only had 5 pieces of beach glass... none being jewelry quality (but one was a nice shade of olive green)


So he turned around and began walking back, this time near the surf... and found nothing, not even shells in the surf and the peak of low tide was rapidly approaching.


He walked back to within a couple of blocks to where he had started his search and noticed something funny in the sandbar. The water was only a few inches deep and the waves were being wiped out well before they hit the surf, turning the ocean into a lake near the shoreline.


One half block from where his search began, he saw IT... a huge bed of shells lay exposed on the sand. The tide had pulled out so far, it had exposed the shell beds and without waves, there was not enough "pull" in the tide to bring the shells with them. Hubby walked back and forth as the current moved across this shell bed, moving the shells around for him (he said it was like mining for gold) and he was there to pluck the pieces of sea glass before the next gentle rush of water re-arranged everything for him again... and again.


In all, he spent a half hour walking back and forth over a 20-30 foot area, just plucking out the pieces. When things became slow, he decided to move on and walked another couple of blocks before realizing that the spot he found was the only giving up sea glass. He saw several spots with lots of shells in the surf, but the sand bar was deeper and not able to keep the waves back.

So back to his spot he went, hoping the conditions hadn't changed.


They did, but only slightly. Some of the waves were coming across the sandbar, but the stronger current brought up some bigger pieces that were probably sitting in the water earlier...pieces that the much weaker current couldn't move. He found a beautiful chunky green piece of sea glass, much too big for a piece of jewelry, but it's going to look great in one of my vases. It obviously been in the ocean for a long, long time. It's well weathered and probably the thickest piece of sea glass in my collection. They haven't made bottles this thick in decades and the color almost looks like a teal. There seems to be a lot of blue highlights in the green.


Overall, my hubby came home with about 50-60 pieces of sea glass, several great shells that I'll use as props in some of my pictures and a couple nice pieces of driftwood. Almost all of his findings for the day came from this one 30 foot section on the beach.


If I didn't have a show tomorrow, I'd be going back with my hubby to the spot, just to see what the stronger than usual high tides brought in... maybe I'll be out there with the family on Sunday, waiting on low tide.



Besides my show tomorrow, this is the remainder of my Holiday craft show season...


Nov 22- Bricktown High School- PTSA Holiday Craft Show 9am-4pm

Dec 5th- Little Egg Harbor- Holiday Craft Faire- 5pm-9pm


I'm looking into the possibility of one more show in December or doing a home show, but I suppose it will depend on how tomorrow's show and the Bricktown show does. Most of the shows seem to be well received by the public, but many of those people aren't spending much money (if any at all)

The results of a couple of the shows were less than expected (though one wasn't bad, but I'm still disappointed because the potential for a great show wasn't realized) due to the weather. A third was just an awful show. Not run well, very little variety and even though the turnout was stronger than last year, I believe both customers & vendors were disappointed with the show.


Here's hoping for a strong finish and great results for everyone doing shows this holiday season!


'til next time...

R

Friday, November 7, 2008

Craft Shows and Beachcombing for Sea Glass

I fully intended to do a blog about the wear and tear of the Autumn/Holiday craft show circuit and promote the show I'm doing tomorrow with my fellow members of the EtsyNJ street team.

Tomorrow's show is-

OM Baby Studio
726 Arnold Ave
Pt Pleasant Beach, NJ
12pm-5pm
Free EtsyNJ Swag Bags will be handed out to the first 70 to attend!

The wear and tear commentary will have to wait for another day because I got to the beach today and for the first time since late July... I found beach glass!!

I have found a piece or two on previous trips to the beach, but nothing worth talking about...just the same old Kelly Greens or Budweiser Browns (lol) and certainly no jewelry quality pieces.

Today's trip didn't offer any pieces that fit the quality I'm looking to make jewelry with, but besides the usual greens, browns and whites, I found a cobalt blue and a cornflower blue. And I haven't found a cornflower blue in several years!

Plus the shell beds that can usually be found on the beach where the high tide crested and along the edge of the surf line were finally back...especially in the surf, where I saw several pieces of glass just waiting for someone brave (or crazy) enough to pluck them from the chilly waters.

If you've been following my blog, you know this coming week is a big week for beachcombers. During this new moon, the moon will be very close to our planet and as a result the tides will be a bit more severe. Factor in a hurricane that is heading towards Puerto Rico this weekend, before shooting off into the Atlantic (not a problem for the US mainland, thankfully)

But rougher waters and perhaps an easterly wind, coupled with the strong tides caused by the New Moon, could wash up all of the gems that taunted me today. And maybe a few more of those cobalt and cornflowers will be of jewelry quality and find their way into my shop (and hopefully around my neck or wrist !!!!) I definitely psyched-up for my trip to the beach this weekend!

To my local readers... if your anywhere near Pt Pleasant, stop in at OM Baby. It's free and there will be 20 EtsyNJ members there to greet you...oh yea, please stop by and say Hi!

'til next time...
R

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Handamde@OM Baby, beachcombing for sea glass


So another month has passed, and the holiday season is just around the corner. Today is a very important day for the US, as we elect a new commander-in-chief. Please everyone, get out and exercise your democratic right to vote!! (this has been a public service announcement from CreationsByRobin...lol)


This weekend, the EtsyNJ team will be holding their first team show at OM Baby in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ. We're going up against a large juried show, but we've selected afternoon hours for the show (12pm-5pm) and should see some spill-over from the other show. In all, it looks like we have 20 members present, with a great variety of handmade items.

Stop by if you're in the area, I'm sure you'll be able to pick up a few items for the loved ones on your holiday gift list....and maybe a thing or two for yourself . (Don't worry, I won't tell...lol)


Besides the excitement about the OM Baby show, I'm very excited about one of the key days of the year for beach combing. Next Thursday will provide us with a New Moon and this one is of great importance for beachcombers.

The Perigean spring tides occur only a few times a year and during these tides, the sea often gives up several wonderful treasures. The perigean tides occur when the moon is at it's closest point to the earth in a position called the "perigee". The tides are often much stronger and it is a key day of the year to find sea glass.

Last year, the spring tides offered up many beautiful pieces of sea glass and my hubby came home from an early morning outing with more that 80 pieces of sea glass, including a few cobalt and some of the nicest lime green pieces we've come across on the Jersey shore. He spend over 3 hours searching a small section of beach and later in the day, the whole family went back and located another 25 or so pieces. (Along with a couple really nice pieces of driftwood and some shells that we don't come across very often.

If you get the chance, next week is the week to be out on the beach... the pickings should be good through the weekend!

Don't worry if you can't make it, my hubby will out there every day in the search mode, looking for his first piece of yellow and/or orange.



The picture above is one of my finds this past summer. A beautiful piece of UV green sea glass that I made into a necklace... sadly, it has been sold. But I'm also very happy because it's going to a home that definitely appreciates the beauty of sea glass!


Rock the VOTE!!!!!!!!!


'til next time...

R




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New items, New Shows and more economic thoughts...


So of course after the rough weather at last weekend's outdoor craft show, I came down with a cold. The good thing is that since I had sick time to use & I've able to take some photos of many of the new items I didn't sell this past weekend, while getting them ready for my Etsy shop.


I used a piece of cobalt, milk glass and a weathered piece of frosty clear/white glass to make the piece. The sea glass sit on a 18" sterling silver chain.


My next show is next weekend, on Nov 8th in Point Pleasant, NJ at a yoga studio. The owners of OM Baby was very kind to allow us use of her facility and almost every vendor is a part of the EtsyNJ street team. It's an indoor show and we are promoting it as a group, and in the media. It's an indoor show. No tents, no winds and hopefully I can sit there sipping coffee and selling everything on my table... : )


A few vendors in other states have noticed that there are re-sellers at some of the shop recently. I think this has a lot to do with the weak economy. People may be finding it tough to find a holiday job and what better way than to be your own boss. No boss to yell at, you get to set your hours and if you pick the right event, you stand to make a lot of money!
With all the work involved with prepping for a show, I'd still rather be doing a craft show than working at my JOB.... any day of the week!
May all your shows exceed expectations.
til next time...
R

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recap of the weekend shows, new listings, new items


This past weekend, I had high hopes for the two shows on my events schedule. For very different reasons, I came away from both events very disappointed.


The Saturday show was the Handmade Faire in Medford, NJ. The show was probably promoted better than any show I've ever attended. There were many members of the fast-growing EtsyNJ street team at the show and I had very high expectations for this event. Unfortunately, during the week of the event, it seemed like Mother Nature was going to play a part. As the event creeped closer, it became very apparent that she would play a large role, much larger than anyone wanted her to play.


The show was held at a small airport and with half the vendors inside a large tent and the other half outside in 10x10 spots. Nearly all of the outside vendors had tents, which were needed as rain began to fall prior to the show's start.


As the show began, it showed a lot of promise. The first 100 customers received "Goodie Bags" and those 100 bags were gone very quickly. As more and more people came, Mother Nature decided to deal her hand... a soaking rain with a moderate wind.


The people continued to come out and support this new show. I heard comments about the unique items and vendors. Actually, the customers I spoke with were raving about the show. Customers were there to buy gifts for friends and for themselves and the outside vendors seemed to be doing well.


My tent often had several people looking at items and as I had a brief minute to look, several other tents looked to be quite busy as well. And Mother Nature continued to increase her onslaught with brief moments of drenching rains and constant wind that had vendors making tent adjustments.


I watched my hubby shifting weights in the tent trying to combat the steady wind and strong gusts. Eventually he had to start taking down the walls in hopes of keeping the tent upright. One whole side wall had to be removed, as did 3/4 of the other side wall and more than half the back of the tent walls. My hubby spent most of the show hanging onto the tent leg that was getting the full brunt of a wind that just seemed to get stronger as the minutes went by.


The large outdoor crowds were moving into the "big top-type" tent that housed nearly 50 vendors and those that did venture into my tent were beginning to show fear that the tent wouldn't hold together and quite frankly, I was concerned also.

Outside vendors began packing up when displays tore, tent brackets snapped and merchandise began getting wet.


I stuck it out for 3.5 hours and began to pack it in, when the reports indicated the winds would soon increase and the flood of customers turned into a trickle and mostly walked right by my shop. By the time I had finished packing everything into the truck, the remainder of the outside crew was also packing up.


In all, it wasn't a horrible day. But expectations were extremely high and the early part of the show indicated the sales would have been very good with a nice weather forecast.. With a Sunday show pending, it only made sense to pack up and protect my items from possible damages.... only this show also didn't pan out, but for many reasons different than the Handmade Faire.

A couple new items went into my shop today (see picture to my Etsy shop) and the above picture is an item that might be found in my shop at some point.


In my next entry, I'll discuss show #2.

til next time...


R

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Handmade Faire, Craft Shows and Home Shows


My fall craft show schedule begins in earnest starting this weekend. On Saturday the 25th I have the Handmade Faire in Medford, NJ at the Flying W Airport (see the banner to the right for more info)

This show will be heavily supported by regional handmade artist/crafters, including a large number of the rapidly growing EtsyNJ street team. The show is juried and only handmade vendors have been selected.

If you have holiday shopping to do and are looking for something different than the same old "stuff" , come down and take a look at what this talented group of handmade artists have to offer. It will be a lot of fun and you won't be disappointed.


On Sunday, I'll take my creations to the Lacey Fall Annual show in Forked River, NJ. The show will be in it's usual Lacey High School location. Over 150 tables filled with handmade vendors and vendors with personalized gifts will be in attendance. The show runs from 9am-3pm and is often well attended.

I will have several new sea glass creations on my tables during this weekend and I'm hoping all of them find new homes.


My next scheduled show will be on November 8th at OM Baby in Point Pleasant, NJ. This show will be an all EtsyNJ street team show and I'll be talking more about the show in future blogs.


Earlier tonight I had a private showing for one person, with a slight chance that a 2nd might show up. I brought my Etsy shop items along with a handful of new items.


When I arrived there were 5 women there and they were looking at my Flickr site, along with my blog searching for a few new items. After about 30 minutes of going through the 40 or so items I brought (remember I was planning on there being 1, possibly 2 people) I ended up walking out of the showing with 1/3 of my shop sold and several pieces that were about ready to be listed, including a couple new sea glass pieces.


I'm a bit concerned I may be a bit short on bracelets, so it looks like I'll be back at my crafting table tomorrow night to build up my bracelet supply.


Maybe the talk of "buying handmade" at my 1st show of the season, is the sentiment of many shoppers this year. Perhaps in the down economy, people are looking to spend money on unique or one-of-a-kind items this year. And that's great news for all of us handmade artists!
'til next time...
R
Above image is a lime green sea glass copper bracelet soon to go into my shop on Etsy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cobalt Blue Sea Glass... a sneak preview, Plus Etsy promos


With 2 very big shows coming up this weekend, I spent the better part of last weekend at my crafting table trying to build up my inventory. I have been building up my jewelry quality sea glass for awhile and this weekend, I finally put several new pieces together.

The above piece is probably my favorite, as I'm a sucker for cobalt blue sea glass. I like this one so much, I haven't even considered placing it in my Etsy shop... but yes, it will eventually get in there, if it makes it through the weekend.


This past weekend I offered Free Shipping on all of my sea glass pieces and that was picked up on the weekend Deals article in the Storque. My shop was the 3rd feature in the article. The sea glass piece they featured in the article received several views and a handful of hearts and I had countless other shop and items hearts this past weekend.


Also this weekend, the EtsyNJ team website had an article (http://www.etsynj.com/) featured another piece of my sea glass in the lead weekend article! In all it was a fairly good weekend on Etsy for me and I doubled my sales for the month in less than 60 hours.


I'll be adding a few more of the sea glass pieces tomorrow, along with the info on this weekend's shows (the 1st show has a banner listed in my blog at the top of the right hand column).


'til next time...


R

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sea Glass vs Craft Glass- A comparision between the "real thing and the imitation.


I've been asked many questions at craft shows and on the Internet about the sea glass. Questions such as, "What makes this a piece of authentic sea glass", "How can you tell that this is craft glass" are my favorite... "Where do you find your nicest pieces"?


I don't consider myself to be an expert in the field of sea glass. Collecting sea glass is a hobby that is shared by my hubby and I , along with our 2 sons. We love the beach and often spend hours on it's shore's, walking in search of what the previous tides may heave left. Our sea glass findings are displayed in the many decorative jars in our home and on the very lucky occasions that one of us find a jewelry quality piece, I'll make it into a handmade CreationsByRobin piece of wearable art.


In recent weeks, I've been asked to "authenticate" a piece of jewelry that someone was wearing and on another occasion, to look over a fellow vendor to authenticate if a piece was sea glass. (In both instances they were not authentic ... though the women who had spent a good deal of $$ on a piece of jewelry was told, we weren't sure)


My hubby has now reached a point that he'll question vendors when he feels that they are selling "craft glass" but selling it as authentic sea glass and he's come to realize that many vendors claim to know very little about sea glass and they know even less about the differences between the two.


Which brings me to the reason behind this blog entry...


How can you tell the difference between beach glass and craft glass?


I'll defer to one of the top sea glass experts to help me explain the subtle, yet often obvious differences. Richard LaMotte, in my opinion, is one of the foremost experts on sea glass. He took a great deal of time to learn from glass makers, chemical experts, etc and wrote a book about his experiences called, "Pure Sea Glass". "Pure Sea Glass" is my sea glass bible and accompanies me to each and every craft show.


I'll be borrowing often from his book in my explanation of the differences.... The biggest difference in sea glass and the one that craft glass makers can not duplicate is the weathering process that occurs to glass in the ocean. The process is called "hydration".


To put Mr. LaMotte's detailed explanation into the shortest terms, while in the water, hydrogen ions replace sodium ions in the glass. This creates a sodium hydroxide which begins to corrode the glass. The corrosion process is assisted by the higher pH levels found in the ocean. This procedure allows the glass surface to become altered and upon removal from the water, the dried surface can often display powdery crystal formations (from the corrosion process)


This process can often take decades to be obvious to the naked eye, but it is possible to feel the "pitting and scaring" of the glass with your fingertips. Mr. LaMotte goes into much greater detail and touches on how glass was made from specific periods of time and the differences to look for in identifying how old glass is.


Mr. LaMotte goes on to state the following about imitation glass (craft glass)..."Most of the imitation sea glass made today has a noticeable silky texture with very little surface pitting other than a uniform haze. Suppliers will often provide warnings regarding handling and use of this glass if it was etched with a strong (hydrofluoric) acid."


He goes on to say that the imitation sea glass is created for use in flower displays or decorative uses, but aren't well-suited for use in aquarium. The hard edges and fracture marks of imitation sea glass can be easily spotted, and the glass lacks the more obvious characteristics of pure, authentic sea glass.


I know that craft glass makers and some jewelers are trying to make headway into the market with less abrasive glass. These attempts are quite obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of sea glass. Because these imitation glass makers are attempting to make jewelry quality pieces, they are unable to use the acids to create an authentic look. Many of the the pieces that I've seen recently look beautiful, but clearly aren't authentic sea glass. They are big pieces, with harder edges and almost no sign of the pitting and scaring that authentic sea glass displays.


These makers sell the fact that the focal point in their jewelry is clean and bright. The piece doesn't show any differently in the light or sun, while an authentic piece of sea glass will brighten when put in direct light (especially sunlight) and often the colors will change dramatically!


Craft glass is what it is and if you want a piece of jewelry that has dazzling color all the time, then a piece of jewelry with imitation sea glass may be for you...just don't pay sea glass jewelry prices (and yes, I know my pieces of authentic sea glass creations are extremely inexpensive...but please don't pay sea glass prices for the imitation : ) )

Authentic sea glass is becoming harder to find. Glass productions nearly came to a halt 40-50 years ago and with the exception of beer and wine bottles, there really isn't much glass production these days... not the kind of production that makes it into the ocean anyway.


Richard LaMotte's book puts it best... "Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems". If you want authentic sea glass, look for a respected member of the North American Sea Glass Association and for sea glass jewelry, look to the many handmade jewelers, like myself, that specialize in using authentic sea glass and capturing a period of time that will vanish one day very soon!


I hope this answers some questions I've been receiving. Feel free to ask if you have more, I truly love my hobby and just reading up on the weathering process taught me more about how the glass comes to be. Hopefully it will be around for several more years...


I'd hate to think I'll be doing a sea plastic blog in the future : )


'til next time....


R
PS- obvious pitting, scaring and bubbles (or small Cs) can be seen on and inside the sea glass pictured above. It's this process that imitation sea glass is unable to reproduce.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Featured On the EtsyNJ Team Page, WeirdNJ ad, Sea Glass Festival...

Another busy weekend ... a Saturday trip to Delaware for the North American Sea Glass Association's annual Sea Glass Festival.. and Sunday, a marathon session at my crafting table as I tried to finish a few projects and build up my Etsy shop inventory and try to get my craft show inventories back up. 2 weekends from today, I have 2 shows (at different locations) and following a one week break, I have shows on back-to-back weekends.

After my all day creating spree, I took a short break to check out a few blogs and went over to the EtsyNJ team's page and what a surprise I received when the page loaded! My Blissful Autumn bracelet staring me back at me. It seems my bracelet was nominated and selected for a weekly promotion.

It's a nice little promotion because our street team's advertisement in the October edition of WeirdNJ just hit the news stands. The ad links interested customers to both all of the team's Etsy shops and the EtsyNJ website ( http://etsynj.com/ ), where my bracelet is (proudly) displayed.

So back to the Sea Glass festival. If you're new to my blog, I'm into sea glass. I love getting out on the beach, walking block after block to see what the ocean left behind. I love using sea glass in some of my jewelry creations and I also have jars filled with sea glass displayed around my house.

So finally, the Sea Glass Festival was on the east coast and only an hour away. My hubby and I originally planned on attending both days, but because of my upcoming show schedule, I knew it'd be best to limit the festival to one day.

The festival was held in a small-ish facility that was part of the University of Delaware and the turnout was HUGE. If I were a vendor at the show, I would've been very excited by the volume of people pouring into the rooms and then a bit angry as the crowds kept coming. Each room was just a huge log-jam of people.

There were many times I was trying to see specific exhibits and was just stuck in the same spot for what felt like 10 minutes or more. During these times, I couldn't move more than 6 inches in any direction, much less get near the table I was trying to see. The few tables I did get to, I was trapped once I was there because the people also trying to get to the table were 3 and 4 people deep and there was just nowhere to go!

Had the fire department arrived, I wouldn't have been surprised to see them close down the whole building. I don't know what the building's occupancy was, but I would venture that it was exceeded by 3x or 4x the amount and that doesn't include the folks outside hoping to get back in!

For myself, the highlights of the show included meeting a few exhibitors that I have purchased sea glass from on the Internet and I was able to meet Richard LaMotte, author of a book on sea glass that I consider my "bible on the subject". He signed my book and evaluated 3 pieces of sea glass for me... telling me my black piece dates back to probably the mid to late 1800s and the latest exciting find from this summer, a beautiful, frosty teal piece that I found on Long Beach Island, looks to be at least 100 years old and is rare in it's coloring. When held in the light, the piece exhibits more blue tones than found in most teals. He called it a rare find and one he hasn't come across but once or twice. (this one has already been made into a necklace...wire-wrapped and will remain in my personal collection)

Overall, it was an okay day. I had a chance to see a few colors of sea glass I've never seen before...lots of beautiful reds, blues and lavenders and even several pieces of the the ever-elusive orange color. I like many other people who went to the festival were disappointed by the small rooms. Unlike many of the people, I stayed for a few hours trying to get to see all the exhibits.

Unfortunately, many people left after a few futile attempts to see the exhibits and many of those vendors would probably be disappointed to see that many potential customers take their money home with them.

I know, as a vendor, I would have been more than just a bit upset. Oh well, maybe next year.


'til next time...

R

Friday, October 10, 2008

Can The Economy Get Any Scarier? The Affect on Handmade Sales and Shows Sea Glass Festival


In my last entry, I blogged about the affect the economy has on craft shows and sales overall. I mentioned a surprisingly slow September after a very good spring and a busier than expected summer. Chalking the lull in sales to busy back-to-school Moms, I considered September to be one of those months where summer is over (and I do rely on Sea Glass jewelry sales for much of my sales) and yet, Autumn hasn't quite yet arrived... so my Sea Glass is yesterday's news, while my Fall colors are not quite the in thing just yet.


And then the stock market went haywire. Banks were failing causing people to start panicking, while they watched their investments plummet. So what would this all mean to our Handmade world?


Looking back on last week's show, I had an increase in a show where, even in a good economy, I think I would've been happy. So considering what's transpired outside my Handmade world with the economy, I should be thrilled with last weekend's outcome.


But the biggest positive I took from the show is the amount of people walking around the show saying that they were looking to buy handmade items,...unique items this year as holiday gifts and they are looking to get their holiday shopping underway now!


Of course, when I hear talk like that, I take it as wishful thinking. You know, wouldn't it be great if.... But this week, one of the customers that purchased something from me at the show signed up at Etsy and made a purchase. A second visitor to my craft table emailed asking about custom orders and both inquired about my future show schedule.


One thing seems for sure, the customers are buying and it seems they will be buying early in the season. So I'll be adding several new items over the weekend and hitting the promo forums in hopes of making a few October holiday sales.


Maybe when the economy doesn't appear to be sound, people look to simplify and the unique handmade creations we make appease their needs. Maybe.



This weekend, in Lewes, Delaware, the North American Sea Glass Association will be holding their annual sea glass festival. Normally held on the west coast, the NASGA decided on the right coast this year and luckily for me, it's about an hour away. Since I'm an enthusiast first and a sea glass jewelry creator second, I'm thrilled to have the chance to attend.


My hubby and I had hoped to attend the entire weekend's events, but with that darn economy and our decision to try to save to take our sons to Disney this fall, the whole sea glass-hunting family will take the ferry from Cape May and attend Saturday's planned events.


Hopefully, I'll run into some of the west coast collectors that I've been buying some of my beautiful sea glass gems from. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they'll have a few frosty beauties in their exhibits for sale this weekend.


I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the incredible gems that are found on beaches all over the world and hoping I can find a little piece of orange to add to my personal collection.

And of course I'll be looking to pick up a few pretties to make some new jewelry creations with!


Good luck to everyone with a show this weekend and please let me know how it turned out!


'til next time...


R

Monday, October 6, 2008

Does the Sluggish Economy Carry-Over to Crafts and Craft Shows?


Going into my first craft show (this past weekend in Eagleswood- Country Fair) I have to admit, I was a bit concerned about how the economy would affect the early Autumn shows. After having a decent summer on Etsy and an okay late summer craft show, I was prepared to see my little business "kick it" into high gear for the fall.


When September proved to be very slow, I chalked it up to back to school and thought perhaps that a late September rush would occur. A couple of late September sales bouyed my hopes. However October sales on Etsy have remained sluggish and I had fears going into last Saturday's shows.


Like many other crafters/artists, I have prepaid into many shows for the fall and I'll average 2 or 3 shows a month until Christmas. Clearly the economy has had much to do with the sluggish sales on Etsy (I know I'm no the only seller that has felt the crunch in the economy).


The show I did this past weekend isn't a craft show, but actually a Country Fair. Cheer gyms were performing, there were antique cars, pony rides & games for the children, pie-eating contests, etc.


So I went into the show expecting a poor showing and hoped that I could promote my Etsy shop and maybe make a few show sales and future online sales from the show. As it turned out, I handed out quite a few business cards, spoke with a bride-to-be about possibly creating sea glass jewelry for her wedding and ended up with a custom order for another customer, along with promoting a few of my future shows to people who live in those areas.


Overall, the show did better than last year's figures and wasn't a waste of time. Not that it would've been... my family came to the show with me and my sons were able to partake in all of the activities and really enjoyed themselves. This was the one show that they are able to come to without being bored after 30 minutes.


I had hoped to match last year's figures and I ended up exceeding those numbers (if only slightly) but I think I'll have a few repeat customers at a few of my future shows and hopefully this show will lead to a few online sales also.


The jury is still out on how the economy is going to affect my craft show schedule. This show will give me a reason to have a bit more of a positive outlook as I head into a few of my big shows later this month.


But I'm still hoping the economy regulates a little more, so people feel a bit easier about spending money in the very near future.



til next time...

R


PS- my first attempt at wire-wrapping...this beautiful frosty white piece of beach glass was found this summer on LBI, in NJ and will go into my Etsy shop shortly. Watch for a Sea Glass blog later this week!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn's Here... To knit or not to knit? Autumn creations and craft shows

While it still hasn't felt much like Autumn, with the exception of a few days, Autumn is here. The start of my Autumn craft show schedule is less than a week away and I still haven't found any incentive to sit down and knit now that summer is a memory.
Normally at this time of year, I'm knitting when I'm not at my craft table. But this year, I just don't feel up to it. I know I have a supple of scarves to start off with from last winter, but I should be at least planning which yarns I'm using to create with, but there is little urge to even open up the trunk filled with skeins of yarn.
Luckily, it doesn't look like the weather will change much this coming week and it's probably pointless to bring my scarves to my show next Saturday. But come the end of October, the warm weather will have disappeared and handmade scarves/hats will begin to sell... and I'll have a limited inventory.

I spent a few hours promoting on Etsy today and even snagged a treasury featuring a small portion of the EtsyNJ team ( http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=11421 )
I think I spent more time promoting on Etsy this past month, than I spent in the 2 previous months and yet, sales remained very sluggish. Even the views for my items seemed fairly low and I suppose the buyers are just not shopping much or not shopping while I'm promoting (though I did sell a couple of items in the last couple of days) Hopefully things pick up a bit as we get closer to the holidays!

My craft show schedule for October is finalized and my first show will be this weekend. The Eagleswood Country fair is usually fairly well attended and while it isn't only a craft show (cars, many activities for the children, food, etc) there seemed to many potential customers stopping by my table last year. Hopefully the turnout is the same and maybe it'll be a bit cooler than last year.
Eagleswood is found by taking the GSP to exit 58 (Little Egg Harbor/Tuckerton) and follow the signs shortly after exiting the Parkway. Same goes for Rt 9. Go south past Manahawkin and then follow the signs. There is always a l;ot of signage and all you'll need to do is follow the cars to find the show.

My latest creation should go on Etsy tomorrow or Monday and it's a Copper Butterfly necklace. The necklace compliments the bracelet by the same name very well. I've also put together a couple of new items, that will probably not go into my Etsy craft listings.

I'll try to post between the craft show and the following week, when I go away to Delaware for the North American Sea Glass Confer.

'til next time...
R

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sea Glass, Autumn Items and Looking Ahead to the Holidays




A stiff northeastern wind triggered tidal flood warnings late last week and considering these winds followed a full moon, it should have been a prime opportunity for beach glass. That really wasn't the case, at least in LBI NJ, because the combo of clean-up crews protecting the dunes and the early morning and early evening low tides made it difficult to get to the beach during what should have been prime-time.


The end of the summer last year produced a few nice finds. A couple of rare cobalt blues were found and even a rare red piece was found. This year however, it seemed like the even the shells disappeared at the end of the summer.


Shell beds that are washed up during high tide and left behind as the tide returns, are often great locations to find a few pieces of sea glass. For close to a month, the washed up shell beds were practically non-existent and so was the beach glass. Even the first full moon of September didn't improve the situation and I'm beginning to fear that many of the gems that were about to reveal themselves in the tides were buried by the clean-up crews attempt to shore-up the dunes and the beaches.


Even my secret little spot on LBI, one that consistently turned-up many well-worn and beautifully frosted keepers seems to be void of even the most common colors.


A trip to the beach tomorrow will hopefully turn up a few pieces...hopefully something to give me some hope that future treks to the beach will be worth my time.




So, autumn is in full-swing, especially on Etsy. Despite days in the high 70s to mid 80s, it seems like summer has been packed away for the season and the folks around here are waiting for the cooler days and nights to arrive.


Autumn promoting on Etsy has already given way to Halloween promotions and even several Christmas promotions on a daily basis.


Locally my sea glass creations do okay, but sea glass on Etsy seem to be out-of-season items. It also seems like some of the sea glass buyers are starting to slow down or have totally stopped buying also.


Good for me, as I'll continue to buy often and take advantage of the lull in the market. I'd rather buy a large quantity now and sit on them over the winter, then pay the crazy prices some pieces sold for this past summer.


The pictures above show 2 of my most recent Etsy listings. One is an autumn item, while the other a beautiful sea glass creation.




Looking ahead to the holidays, I really don't have a lot of new items in store. Etsy is so very hard tough to make sales around the holidays and while I plan on keeping my shop stocked to about 35-45 items through the holiday season, I'll be concentrating heavily on my craft shows.


I'm pretty much set on my opening supply of scarves and I'm hoping to limit my knitting this yr to custom orders and knitting when I've made a couple of sales. ROI is very hard with knitted items and I feel the need to focus more on my jewelry where the ROI is much greater. So for my local customers that follow me through this blog, get your custom requests in soon.




My first show, hopefully, will be on October 4th. I have an app in for the Eagleswood Fall Show. It's not a very large crowd, but it is fun and I can have my boys at the show because there is so much for them to do there (plus it isn't an expensive show).


I have a show I may do the following week and then I'll take off a week before doing the Medford show on 10/25, followed by the Lacey show on 10/26. After a one week break, I'll have a show each of the next 2 weekends (11/8 in Pt. Pleasant and 11/15 Manahawkin) and a possible 3rd the following week. My December schedule looks to have 3 shows by the middle of the month and that will be the end of my holiday schedule. My scheduled is tentatively 10 shows, but I will probably cut one of the shows out, making it a 9 show Fall/Holiday schedule.


Hopefully I'll need the extra week to build up inventory and plan out my post-holiday Etsy ideas.




til next time...


R

Sunday, September 14, 2008

EtsyNJ Team...What's coming up?


The full page ad the EtsyNJ team ran in the upcoming issue of WeirdNJ should be hitting the news stands shortly. Etsy.com helped our team with a grant for the ad and it should benefit all the particpating members of the team.


30-40 of the NJ team is taking part in the Fall Handmade Faire toward the end of next month in Medford, NJ (check out the banner to the right!) and there will probably be at least 60 crafters total for this outdoor show.

The show is being held at an airfield and along with a huge tent which will house about half of the crafters, the other crafters will have 10x10 tents set-up outside.


A few weeks later, about a dozen members of the EtsyNJ team are planning a show in Pt. Pleasant, NJ. We're hoping to have 18-20 vendors total and we have a store-front in downtown Pt. Pleasant for the shows location.



Unfortunately, I missed getting a treasury this afternoon. I had all the items selected and I was sitting there watching the treasury, when my youngest son asked for lunch... next thing I know, I see 600+ treasuries listed...LOL Oh well, I have a nice list for next time!


The image above is a bracelet in my shop and I'm currently working on something similar as a custom order...maybe I'll post the image in my blog entry later this week!
'til next time...
R

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend, Autumn, Craft Shows

The unofficial end of summer is upon us. I didn't get to the beach as much as would have liked, but I'm not really too upset that Labor Day weekend is here. The Jersey shore is soooo much nicer in September. The dog days of summer are gone, the ocean breeze is refreshing and the water is probably the warmest it has been all summer.
All of that makes for some glorious beach days! The vacationers have returned home and most won't be back until next June, leaving us locals with clean, wide-open beaches. And that means less competition for BEACH GLASS!!!

Never before have I ever witnessed so many people looking for these ocean gems. Last summer, there were a couple of obvious people in search of beach glass, but this summer it was crazy. It was like people searching for gold or something. Of course if you match up the prices that sea glass sold for a year ago to the current prices, especially on FEEBAY, you might also be out on the beach looking for the new "gold". What used to sell for $5 a year ago, will often sell for $15 or more today. I bought a brilliant red piece of sea glass last spring, paying about $15 for the piece (for those not familiar with sea glass, red pieces a considered to be very rare and I believe this piece to be about right at the time) I wanted to put it away and create a piece for Valentine's Day later next yr. The piece had a curve to it that I couldn't see in the photos and I just wasn't happy about the way it was going to sit if I wire-wrapped it. It was such a beautiful piece, I didn't want to drill a hole into it, so I decided to list it on Feebay, just to see if there were any takers. What I bought less than 7 months ago for 15, sold for almost 35...crazy!

Sorry for a little rant about beach glass, I'm a bit excited because tonight will be the last full moon of the month, and the ocean often yields some beautiful pieces after a full moon (plus I'm off from my JOB for the next week and sooo looking forward to spending a lot of time on the beach)

I'm busy making several new pieces, most of which are Autumn themed and many will head into my shop on Etsy in the next few days. I'll add a few images of the new creations in another blog entry later tonight or early tomorrow.

I still haven't decided on a September craft show, though I know I'll be doing at least one, probably middle to end of the month.
I have an early October show that I did last year and know I can just as easily do again, unless I find something else that with a larger turnout. The end of October is filled.

October 25- The Handmade Faire (see banner at the top of my blog for more info, they are still accepting applications) in Medford, NJ. The show's curators do an outstanding job of promoting their shows and I'm very excited about this show. The EtsyNJ team will be represented by at least 25 members (and probably closer to 40 team members) for this show.

October 26- The Lacey High School Fall Festival- I've done a few shows here and they are always well run and heavily promoted. This year they are eliminating the "tupperware/avon" type vendors and concentrating on Handmade vendors.

November is still wide-open. I'm doing a show on the 15th and have a possible show on the 8th. The EtsyNJ team is talking about doing a show in November, renting a store with about 15 members selling their items.
My December shows will most likely be local shows and I'll be announcing the dates as they become available.


Check back, if you'd like to see my latest creations. Images will be up very soon!

til next time...
R