Saturday, February 24, 2007

Set 5: Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection

And here is the final set in my Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection:

Spirals in Green and Yellow

Simple but elegant Handcrafted Original design in beaded micro macrame. I used lime green Omega Brand Nylon Crochet Thread #2 giving this set flexibility as well as durability and strength. Faceted light olive Czechoslavakian Fire-Polished (8mm, 6mm, 10mm) crystal beads add sparkle to celebrate Spring. Support beads are sizes 11, 8, 6 seed beads.

The Lariat Style Necklace measures 40 inches, not including the 4 1/2 inch tassels. (No metal parts for those of you allergic to metal.)




The Bracelet measures almost 8 inches, and comes with a button closure and my signature tassel.

"Shoulder duster" Earrings hang 4 1/2 inches from ear wires. Ear wires are gold-plated over surgical steel.


Find this set later today in my Etsy shop: KnotGypsy Designs

As always, I welcome your comments, and thank you for looking. KnotGypsy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Set 4: Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection


Nouveau Set in Green, Pink, and Gold.

Original Design handcrafted in beaded micro macrame. I used white Conso brand nylon upholstery thread (heavy gauge for hand sewing). This thread is stiffer than the Omega Brand crochet thread, giving the pieces more body. I beaded the set with floral glass ovals (20mm x 10mm), and size 11, 8, & 6 seed beads in the supporting role.








Bracelet measures 7 1/2 inches long, and has a gold-plated lobster claw clasp.








And there is a necklace.


The Necklace is 20 inches long with a pendant. Necklace also has a gold-plated lobster claw clasp.













Find this set in my Etsy shop KnotGypsy Designs tomorrow. As always, comments are welcome, and thanks for looking.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Set 3: Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection

Beaded Crochet Earrings and Necklace in Pink.

This original design in beaded crochet, was made with Omega Brand Nylon Crochet Thread #2. I used transparent pink glass ovals, and tear drops. Size 11, 8, & 6 seed beads play the supporting role.

In my previous post "36 Hours to a New Design", I posted a photo of these earrings. They are now finished, and I did put the dangles on (as you can see). Here is another view. They hang just over 2 1/2 inches from the ear wires. Ear wires are silver-plated over surgical steel.




Here is the necklace the earrings have been waiting for. I think it looks rather romantic, don't you think so, too? It is 17 1/4 inches long, so hangs loosely around the neck.



Another view, slightly different angle includes the silver-plated toggle clasp. (Hint: you can click on the photos to get a larger view.)



Tomorrow will find this set listed in my Etsy Shop: KnotGypsy Designs. As always, I invite comments. Thank you for looking.




Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Set 2: Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection

Set2: Spirals in Aqua and White with Green

Hand crafted simple but elegant design in beaded micro macrame . This set was hand-knotted with white Omega Brand Nylon Crochet Thread #2 (providing flexibility as well as durability). Faceted Czechoslavakian Fire-Polished Crystal (8mm, 6mm, 10mm) aqua beads add sparkle to celebrate Spring. Support beads are sizes 11, 8, 6 seed beads.

In a previous post "Coming Soon...", I posted a photo of the Lariat Style Necklace in this set. Here is another view. Necklace measures about 38 inches not including 4 1/2 inch tassels at either end. The Lariat Style can be worn in many way, making it a very versatile piece.



The Earrings are real "shoulder dusters" and hang 4 1/2 inches from ear wire. Ear wire is silver-plated over surgical steel.



The Bracelet has a button closure and my signature tassel. Bracelet measures 7 1/2 inches long.



If interested, look for this set to be listed in my Etsy Shop tomorrow. KnotGypsy Designs

As Always, I invite comments. Thank you for viewing my blog. KnotGypsy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Show Case: Spring Fever 2007 Jewelry Collection

Set 1: "Spirals in Gold, Pink and Green"

A simple but elegant design in beaded micro macrame.

If you saw my post "Coming Soon...", you already got the sneak peak at the earrings, and the bracelet. Here is the full set including the lariat style necklace and new views of the earrings, and bracelet.

I used gold Omega Brand Nylon Crochet thread #2 (provides flexibility in addition to strength). Faceted 8mm czechoslavkian fire-polished crystal beads celebrate spring with plenty of sparkle. Also used were size 11, 8, and 6 seed beads. Tassel includes more of the faceted czechoslavkian fire-polished crystal beads (6mm, 8mm, 10mm) and of course more seed beads.

First, The Lariat Style necklace. Necklace measures just over 37 inches, not including the tassel.



And here's another view of The Earrings. These "shoulder dusters" measure 4 1/2 inches from ear wire. Ear wire is gold-plate over surgical steel.


And another view of The Bracelet. Bracelet has a rose motif button, and a tassel. Bracelet measures 7 3/4 inches long.


Look for these items to soon be listed for sale in My Etsy Shop - KnotGypsy Designs.

Tomorrow, look for the rest of the white and aqua set (seen in previous post "Coming Soon..."). Please leave comments, tell me what you think.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Coming Soon...

Thought I would give you a sneak peak at my Spring Fever 2007 Collection. I will be showcasing my collection sometime next week. I have 3 sets in the design shown below. I also have a set of beaded crochet (remember the pink earrings in my blog "36 Hours to a New Design"?). I just finished the necklace they were waiting for. Also to be included, a set in my Nouveau style (with very pretty focal beads). So please keep checking back...

I've been wanting to make some extreme earrings for some time. Well, here's a pair of real "shoulder dusters" as one of my local customers likes to call them.






I've also been wanting to make some lariat style necklaces. They are so versatile and fun to wear. Finally, I have done so.










And, we can't forget the bracelet.

















Tell your friends. I will also be offering the collection for sale at My Etsy Shop. And feel free to leave a comment. I have enabled it to allow non-members to leave comments as well.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Balancing the Scales

Pricing. So very important. So very difficult. Seems easy at first. Calculate cost of materials, and calculate how long a piece took to make, factor in an hourly rate, set your price. However, pricing is not so simple as all that.

I opened My Etsy Shop on 14 January 2007. One month ago. I began with Introductory Prices. I put up an announcement in my shop messages. From various forums, emails, etc, I have received a lot of feedback saying my prices were too low. Some came right out and said I was out of my mind for pricing so low. Some of the feedback was indirect; from comments made saying what a GREAT PRICE a certain piece of jewelry had.

Now, much of this feedback was from other artists who rightly are concerned with pricing. Pricing of their competitors as well. Hand crafted jewelry is very competitive. There are a lot of us out there. On the one hand, we compete. On the other we cooperate, trading tips and supportive attitudes.

Competing, we are usually driven to WIN. Our culture tells us to "stamp out the competition". I certainly like to win. I don't really want to stamp anyone out, though. And Enlightened Self-Interest tells me that in order to live in a better world, I should help to create that world. If I help to create a better world, I get to live in it.

The crafting community I have recently joined here on the internet seems to operate under this Enlightened attitude. I have come across forums as mentioned above. Among many other topics, pricing keeps coming up. So it appears difficult for a good many of us artists.

With all the competition, so much to choose from - How do I get the attention, and of course the buyers? By being unique. I believe my work is unique. There are few micro macrame artists out there (compared to other techniques). Networking, and advertising gets the lookers. But to get someone to buy? A common practice is lowering prices. In the short term, it may produce some sales. However, does it devalue the work? Do people get used to the lower prices and come to expect them? If the prices are low, do customers not see the value of the work? Or do they think it is easy to produce these pieces? Then, there is the psychological theory that when you raise your prices, customers value your work more and decide to buy. I have been reading, asking, and reading.

Here is what I have come up with. At first, as mentioned above, I began with Introductory Prices. Since no one knew me, yet, I felt that was the first order of business. I hope this implied to my potential customers that my work is worth more, and will be priced higher in the future. My work is worth more. I spend time developing my designs, and it can take hours to make a piece (depending on the intricacy). I must string each bead, and tie each knot. I have 10 years experience, and my skills are honed. So my execution is pretty good if I do say so myself.

So now I am raising my prices. I want to remain competitive, and not price myself out of business, though. So, I raise the price on some items only a few dollars, and others a bit more. I have begun already, editing some items, and relisting others to get attention. My introductory prices remain good on any items I have not gotten to yet. This will take a few days, so check in and see what I am doing. I am also renovating a little, reorganizing my sections, etc.

Here are my recent changes:

The earrings went from $8.00 to $15.00.
The bracelet went from $18.00 to $22.00.

This bracelet went from $18.00 to $24.00
And this one went from $28.00 to $35.00


I am sure I will continue to struggle with this issue.
I am open to feedback. Please leave a comment.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Conundrums, Opportunities & Ideas

Before I start to bore you with my conundrums, opportunities, and ideas...

These are my newest listings at my Etsy Shop. (See related links).

I call this one Deco Fans
This one, Textured Fans in Purple an Gold
And Textured Fans in Blue and Green

Wow! It has been a whirlwind these past few weeks.

As you know from Beginnings... that I have been making micro macrame jewelry for some years. My step off onto the path of trying to make a living at it happened only a few months ago. I quit my job 1 Oct 2006 to follow my dream.

What I had: One coffee shop in town that consigns my jewelry. Some inventory. Original Designs. Bunch of supplies. Some friends. (One with a seamstress shop in Maryland that consigns my work.) Supportive Soulmate. A few customers. A few pieces of display equipment. Desire.

What to do from here? I did not have enough equipment to do any shows; nor enough inventory. I thought I would have to buy a website and learn how to set one up. That is how little I knew about the internet. (I knew enough to get email, and surf some.)

So I got busy just making a bunch of jewelry, while I thought about it. I needed inventory after all. That coffee shop I mentioned? Well, it is downtown (Seguin - population 20,000 or so). And every 3rd Thursday the downtown shops stay open late, set up tables outside (weather permitting). The coffee shop has live music, and showcases local artists. I began to participate.

Okay, I was doing some stuff, but little money is coming in yet.

Pricing was and remains a conundrum for me. I want to price it to sell, but I want to get paid for my creativity and skill, too. Some pieces can take hours to make. And you don't get paid for time spent sitting at the coffee shop with your display, or any of the other little details of marketing, paperwork, etc. Only if you sell something.

I did manage a few really good sales, and some little ones. Still, I needed to find another outlet.

I thought about arts and crafts malls (brick and mortar stores). So I did a Google on them, hoping to find some in my area. I stumbled across Etsy.

I got so excited; I joined right up, and spent the next few hours setting up and listing some items.

Of Course, now I had a new problem. I had a good digital camera, but I was not yet proficient at using it. I had lighting problems. I bought a light tent, and some daylight bulbs. That helped a lot.

And I had to learn about networking - Joining and participating on forums; Finding places to list my shop and my items. I had to learn how to insert links and images. I had to learn so many things. I started this Blog, and had to learn how to do that. (still learning).

Then I needed business cards. I spent time surfing to find a site where you design your own card, pay for it, and they print them up and send them to you.
Find them at: www.overnightprints.com

Things are starting to come together. I have made a few sales, and have received some positive feedback (find it in my Etsy Shop). I've decided my introductory prices will last until February 15th. So I will be busy changing prices after that and doing a little renovation in my shop.

I recently received a special request for a bracelet, that I decided to accept. Well, I had so much fun doing it, I went on to make a couple of sets for my upcoming Spring Fever Collection...Keep checking back to see it showcased here.

Also mentioned in Beginnings..., I want to produce patterns/instructions of my designs, and to write a book...I have what I think is a great idea for this...

So until next time...

Friday, February 2, 2007

Muses, Dragons, and Cats

I wanted to talk about Bead Fever. But I am having writer's block. Probably because I am currently in a lull between Fevers. So I decided to chit chat and see what happens. Sometimes dabbling in a creative process invites the muse to visit. So here goes: (If the muse does not show up, please forgive me for boring you.)

Bead Fever could just as easily be called Creative Fever, Hearing the Muse, etc. It is a term I use because I bead so much, but it is really that state of mind of being inspired both mentally and energetically. In fact, for me, I often suffer from depression (runs in my family) and as a result, have little energy. But when my muse visits, energy is not a problem. I tend to think of my muse as a dragon, burning hot. She rides me hard. I'll call her Scarlet after the red dragon in the "Wizard's First Rule" first of the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind.

As I said, Scarlet rides me hard. When she is in residence, she does not want me to sleep (she runs design ideas nonstop through my head). I use herbal teas, yoga, and relaxation tapes to calm her down. I do need to sleep after all. But not necessarily at regular intervals. Oh well, we do the best we can.

Scarlet does not want to let me eat, too busy. Pretty good way to lose weight if one could count on it. So I make smoothies with good nutritious fruit, yogurt, etc; or other Quick Foods. (I do try to make healthy choices to keep up my strength - my unhealthy choices of chips, candy, etc come in my lulls because I get bored.)

Scarlet does not want to share attention with the other people I live with - my partner and our 8 cats. I am fortunate to have an understanding partner. The cats on the other hand are not so much. My partner tries to get by without me, gives me kisses, and scritches my back. (Hey, you don't have to be a cat to enjoy scritches!) The cats insist on being fed. Okay, I have to do this. I do love them after all. BUT they insist on Their scritches, and they want on my lap. Sometimes they want to help me bead. We have in common our love of string. This is challenging.

SIDETRACK: This is GiGi Beans, (born in 1998). My little tyrant. She yells at me when she thinks it is bedtime. In fact, she yells at me a lot. I don't understand what she keeps yelling about. Sometimes, I yell back. Mostly I try to ignore it, hoping it will go away.

BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING: I get very excited when Scarlet is here. I want to show off when something goes well and I have a new design. It's a good thing I now have this blog. My Partner is probably tired of me showing and telling him every little step I make. The cats never care unless they get to eat it. I don't bother with showing them.

SIDETRACK: On the left is Little Miss Princess Charming Bella de Trouble. AKA Ma Belle. She doesn't care, she doesn't have to, SHE'S MA BELLE. I know. It's a lot of name. She is a lot of cat. She was born in 1997 and is GiGi's mother. Bella has several gears of purr. There is nothing like lying down to sleep and having her purr in your ear. I wish I could market this. When we first moved here, she disappeared for 3 months. We looked every where. We even called our old neighbors in Austin, but they had not seen her. One day she showed back up as if nothing had ever happened. She did not look any worse for wear. Her fur was clean, she had not lost any weight. She won't tell us where she had been.

On the right is Momarella previously the cat know as Cinderella (she won't tell us her age). She was a stray in my neighborhood when we moved in. We noticed she was crippled. Then we noticed she was pregnant. We took pity and put food out for her. She would not let us touch her for a long time. When she gave birth in a box of junk on our porch, I made her up a nice clean box complete with blanket. She accepted it. (Yes, I have gotten rid of that box of junk, it was just detritus of our moving-in process.) We called her Cinderella because she was a stepcat, she lived on the steps. Finally my partner was able to pet her, we invited her in, she's been here ever since. She has become a lap leech. Her name changed to Momarella when she continued to groom her grown son, and everyone else. She keeps everyone clean. Our vet says, whatever made her crippled is too far in the past to fix. It would be more painful than beneficial. She gets around fine and holds her own with the other cats. Please don't worry.

BACK TO WHAT I WAS SAYING: Generally, right after one of Scarlet's visits, I have to just veg out. I have been vegging these past few days. Oh I have managed to cook dinner, feed and play with the cats, kiss my partner and give him the hugs he so richly deserves. I check into my Etsy shop every day. You know, the basics, not much else.


SIDETRACK: Here is Brutus McFluffy AKA Bubba (born August 2003). Mostly my partner's cat, Bubba is very sweet. He's not too bright, though. When he was a year old, he came home with a badly broken back leg. The vet had to put a pin in it. So of course we spoiled him. He got better, and when he was finally allowed back outside, he got attacked by a coyote. Luckily, no broken bones, just some shallow puncture wounds from the coyote's teeth. I had heard the commotion and looked outside to see the coyote with Bubba. I ran outside (with no thought of the pistol I keep on hand, or the bat by the front door), growling and yelling. The coyote dropped Bubba and ran. I don't know what I would have done if the coyote had challenged me. With the rage I was in, I would probably tried to rip the coyote apart.

Now, I love all animals, even the coyote. But Bubba is one of my babies. Mama Bear kicked in. He has recuperated from all this and loves my partner's feet and boots.

Magi Pi. AKA Magi the Tongue because she loves to lick. Bubba's mom. Magi is about 4 years old. I had enough cats. I told my friend I had enough cats. Her cat had had kittens. She was looking for homes for them. I TOLD her I did not need any more cats. She sent her husband to my house with this kitten. When I opened the door, I said "I don't want..." "Oh, how cute.......Do you want some food?" The kitten said yes. The next thing I knew, I was feeding her some of my homemade catfood. (based on the books: "Natural Cat Care" by Celeste Yarnall, PH.D and "Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats" by Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., PH.D. & Susan Hubble Pitcairn) She has been with us ever since.

As to the other cats, Taffemia (name from a Rudyard Kipling story meaning "Small person with bad manners who needs to get spanked, but probably won't because she's so cute") She is shy and it may take awhile to convince her to let me take her picture. I'll get pics of Puffy and Rorshack another time.

So here's hoping to lure Scarlet back into my life. I think I'm rested up.




Copyright 2007 Donna Littlewood