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. ( )
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...

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...


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