Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Showtime!

I'm wrapping things up today at the Denver Gift and Apparel Show. It's been a really great event. I've made some wonderful contacts and added several new stores that will be carrying my jewelry! This particular show is a "wholesale only" event. Several people have asked me to explain what a wholesale show is and how it's different from a retail show?

A wholesale show is typically only open to approved buyers from stores and businesses. These buyers purchase merchandise in quantity to resell to their customers. Most of the time they place orders which are fulfilled by the vendor later. There are very few "cash and carry" transactions - except at the very end of a show when some merchants sell their samples at a discounted price. This system can work very well for someone like me, who produces products by hand. I don't have to produce a lot of inventory for the show - only a sample of the products in my line. When I head home to start creating, the pieces that I make have already been purchased.
View down the aisle
Wholesale shows are often quite large. I believe there are over 500 booths at this event. This event is a general gift show. The merchandise sold here covers a huge range of products; pretty much anything you could imagine selling at a store or boutique, you can find here. There are food products, clothing, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, artwork and the list goes on. Other wholesale shows focus on very specific segments of a particular market.

The booth space is defined by what's called a "pipe and drape" system. Literally, they are connected pipes with drapes hanging from them! This is what mine looked like when I arrived last Thursday.
Empty Booth
The show promoter typically provides only basic set-up; in this case, a chair and a trash can. The vendor can rent tables, lights, and displays if needed. Since this show is close to home, I brought everything but overhead halogen lights. After a couple of hours of unpacking and assembly, my booth starts to take shape.
Booth In Progress

Every show is a little different and the display is never exactly the same. Putting it all together is like a big jigsaw puzzle. It's all about height, levels and balance. My booth set-up has changed a lot of the years. I'm currently using natural slate pieces with white risers and gray tables. The colors work well with the jewelry and coordinate with my new logo.
Close-up of my current display.

By sundown Thursday, I have everything in place and ready for customers to arrive in the morning!

My booth did it's job Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Now it's Monday afternoon, the last day, and the event is winding down. In a few hours everyone will pack up and go home. Back to the studio tomorrow to start creating jewelry and shipping out orders! See you next time Denver Gift Show!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

From Blank to Beautiful

"Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it." -  Alan Perlis 

One of the reasons that I love working with metal, is the amazing changes you can make with just a few simple tools. I created these earrings using what are called metal "blanks" as a base. Blanks come in a variety of types of metal. You can buy them cut many ways, from basic shapes to more intricate patterns. Here I'm using simple sterling silver circles.

Circular silver blank. Not very exciting!

I use a special hammer to add texture and put a hole in the top and bottom.

Then use a different hammer with a dapping block to
curve the blank into a domed shape.

After that, I use a polish pad to achieve a soft brushed finish and
highlight the texture.

I wirewrap a faceted smoky quartz rondelle directly onto the 
textured blank then add a earwire.

Original plain blank next to a finished earring.

Completed pair!

 Here's the same design with amethyst stones. I've used a 
larger blank to create a pendant too.

The beauty of creating with metal. No limit but your imagination!

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Muses of 2014: Nancy Botwin to Brene Brown

2014 is upon us and it's a great time to assess how to make this year better than the last. While putting together my new planner, I decided to dedicate a page to some of the ladies who inspire me; women who I think about in challenging times.

Here's my not so fancy planner page with pictures of the ladies. They are, to say the least, a diverse group!

Who they are and why they're on the list, in no particular order:

Candice Olson: interior designer. You may have seen her on HDTV. She's uber talented, classy, and elegant; yet always seems fun, down to earth and generally a great gal. I love her personal style as well as her fantastic color and design eye.

Alicia Florrick: TV's "The Good Wife". I know she's just a TV character, but she's pretty fabulous. Strong, resilient, smart, sexy. She's well spoken, tough and looks great in a business suit. I often think of her when I'm scared to speak up. WWAD?

Marie Forleo: Business coach. What can I say? Wow! Such an positive, inspirational woman. She has a hugely successful company, has been on Oprah and hosts a fabulous free business web show every week. The best part about Marie is that she's not afraid to be herself! She's funny, kooky and always entertaining. There's no one quite like her.
Nancy Botwin: Another TV character. Nancy is from the Showtime series WEEDS. She's morally and legally challenged, self-serving and not always a girl your mother would approve of. So why is she on this list? She's a bad ass. I love Nancy, flaws and all. I think we'd all like to be as bad and brave as she is - at least once in a while.

Brene Brown PHD: Author, speaker, scholar. Well known for her books Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection. She's an inspiration. Brene is the highly evolved person that the rest of us only aspire to be. Thank goodness she's in the world to show us what is possible. She reminds me of the very best qualities that people have to offer.

That's my list of ladies to inspire me this year. All very different. I think they speak to  parts of who I am and also who I'd like to be. I'll try to remember to flip to their page to remind me of what I'd like to achieve in 2014.

I'd love to hear about women that inspire you! Is there anyone that you think about when you need an extra dose of motivation?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In The Soup Again!

Seems that I can't get enough of Bead Soup Parties! Kalmbach, publisher of Lori Anderson's Bead Soup book, decided to make some soup of their own and I just had to jump in with both feet! Designers were teamed with bead stores across the country and challenged to make a necklace - or two - with the goodies they received. I was lucky enough to be paired with a CO store called "Let It Bead".

The beads that I received for the swap were lovely, but also very different from my usual design style. I knew that I'd have to stretch as a designer to make my creations. Having participated in a couple of Lori Anderson's swaps, I was prepared and excited for the challenge! 
After looking at the beads spread out on my work table for several days, I decided that there were really two distinct color palates in the collection. Some of the beads were in the cool gray, silver and purple family. The rest were warm fall bronze, red, and oranges. The answer to my design question seemed to be two necklaces rather than one.
My first necklace came together easily. Using double-ended, wrapped, wire loops I connected the bronze and orange beads. I then attached these to leather cording. I used brass colored wire to make connecting loops in the leather. The brass clasp from the bead soup worked perfectly to finish the necklace.

The second necklace I designed was a little trickier because I wanted to include the large shell doughnut focal. The focal didn't have a drilled hole and was obviously too big for a traditional bail or jump ring! 

As a solution, I created a bail myself out of sterling silver. I made a paper pattern, sawed out the metal then hammered and stamped the design and word "joy". I used a decorative rivet to attach the bail. For the necklace, I used the really pretty glass and stone purple beads that Let It Bead sent. I accented these with silver square beads and heishi nugget spacers that I already had. 
Fun project! Thanks Kalmbach Books and Let It Bead!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Soups On! Come See What I Made!

Welcome to my contribution to the 6th Bead Soup Blog Party! Just a quick refresher, the Bead Soup Blog Party (BSBP) is a huge bead exchange that pairs jewelry designers together to trade beads (the "soup") and share what they create. It culminates in a crazy, fun, blog hop party reveal and that's where YOU have landed!

My partner for this BSBP was the lovely and talented Grace Dorsey and this is what Grace sent me. GORGEOUS lampwork beads that this talented artist creates herself!

I must have been inspired by Grace's beautiful beads, because I went a little nuts and made 9 pieces of jewelry with her soup: 3 necklaces, 2 fibula (pins), 2 pairs of earrings, and bracelet and a ring!!

As BSBP alum know, every soup has a focal bead and a clasp as part of the mix. The focal that I received was truly a piece of art. I knew that I wanted to made a necklace with it that was special enough to do the bead justice, yet simple enough so that the bead remained the focus of the piece. I created a bail for the bead out of heavy gauge copper wire and silver solder to accent and create a mixed metals effect.
I strung the bail onto 2 pieces of leather and finished it with the toggle that was part of the bead soup. The metal of the toggle and the metal of the bail weren't working together, so I hammered and oxidized the toggle to give both elements the same rustic look. I really like the way that it turned out!

The following 2 necklaces were made by combining the beads with pure silver rings that I fused and hammered. Yum!

I was very pleased with the way the two fibula (a Fancy-Nancy name for brooch or scarf pin) turned out. I've never made these before and will definitely try them again. They'll look beautiful on a coat lapel or scarf.

Couldn't resist a couple of pairs of cutie earrings!

My favorite piece that came out of this BSBP was the bracelet. LOVE! These beads are so gorgeous that all they needed was some simple silver wire wrapping.

Finally...the most challenging piece - the ring. Grace had included some lovely saucer like beads that were amazing, but I wasn't sure how to use them. After a lot of experimenting, I decided on this ring. The ring is all one piece of wire that starts with a spiral through the top beads then winds and zig-zags all the way around the band.

That's my BIG bowl of soup!! I hope you'll visit my partner Grace's blog to see what she did with the "ingredients" that I sent her. Here's a peek:

If you'd like to see the rest of the bloggers in this part of the BSBP follow this link: Thanks for reading and enjoy the blog party!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How 'Bout a Big Bowl of Bead Soup?


Bead Soup Blog Party 2012! I'm so excited to be a part of this wonderful creative blog hop once again. If you're new to BSBP, let me fill you in. Bead Soup hostess and founder,  Lori Anderson, matches hundreds of jewelry makers all across the world with partners. Each artisan sends a mix of beads and components to their partner. You are then challenged to create jewelry using the materials you were sent. On a set reveal date, everyone posts pictures of their creations and "hops" from blog to blog to see what beautiful pieces were made.

This year there were 400 participants from 45 US states and 25 countries!! Here's a map that Miss Lori kindly created for us to share:
Pretty amazing, huh? This is the 6th BSBP. It has become so successful that Lori even has a book coming out about it in October.

One of the best parts of BSBP is getting matched with a partner. Your partner is a stranger to you before the Blog Party is organized. That's part of the fun and creative challenge. If you're lucky, you're matched with an artisan who has a style or color sense that's different than your own, It's an excellent opportunity to stretch your talents and try something new that's out of your comfort zone. I think that because many of us work alone, we get caught up in our own favorite techniques. The BSBP provides exposure to the talents of other jewelry makers. It may even inspire you to try a new direction that you never considered.

I was very lucky to be paired with an amazing lampwork artist this year, Grace DorseyI have to tell you that I LOVE lampwork beads! I often buy them just because I think they're so beautiful. However, I've always been challenged to figure out how to use them in my jewelry making. So I was really excited, and a little intimidated, when I found out that my partner was a lampwork bead artist.

By coincidence, Grace and I both have roots in MS and NC. Our geopraphic similarities and the fact that she is so sweet to work with, made me feel more at ease immediately. Now to show you what Grace sent me!

I'll start off with the packaging. The beads came in three lovely little envelopes and - no kidding - they smelled wonderful. Each had a little sachet inside - what a lovely touch!!

Here are some of the beads that Grace created and sent to me. SO beautiful that I literately gasped when I opened the package.

Can you believe those colors???? Love the purple, tan and gold hues. Here's another part of it. Love these "saucer" type beads.

Here are the pretty beads and clasp that she sent to compliment the lampwork:

...and one more shot of the lovely focal. I wish you could see this in person. It has a swirly milky color and depth that's hard to do justice in a photo.

I hit the partner jackpot, don't you think?! Tune in this Saturday for the big BSBH 2012 reveal.  Here's a link to the post that Grace did about the Soup that I sent her: Soup From Jane! Very nice! Thanks Grace.