Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September Challenge Recap

Looking at this month's painting, I was struck by the varied swath of colors. The strong coppery red color of the curtain... the cool reflection of the pond.... the warm walls... the utilitarian grey ceramic pitcher... the fresh sun-kissed green yard. Sometimes when I am unsure where to let my Muse lead me, I turn the picture upside down. As I created my own interpretation of this painting for September Simple Truths Sampler Club, I flipped the image so that I could select different areas of the painting to focus on for a bead set that I made.
Do you see the inspiration I drew from the painting? The curtain....the grasses and fence posts....the handle on the pitcher....the view from above, like when flying in an airplane and seeing the shimmery reflection of ponds, the winding black roads and the rolling hills.

I loved seeing the variations in this month's challenge, both beads and jewelry designs. The color palette for this month was unexpected for the fall, but really couldn't be more perfect. There is a riot of color exploding all around us, and the textures that this, my favorite season, displays makes it hard to succumb to the inevitable. The last days of summer are waning and the warmth is fleeting (first frost advisory of the year tonight!), giving me glimpses of the cold and barren vista that is to come. But I need to fill myself up with the beauty of this season to make those wintery nights feel less stark. So let's take a last lingering look at the changing landscape of autumn to store the rich colors and textures until we meet this season again.

September Challenge Recap by Slidely Photo Gallery 

Be sure to click the image to make it full-screen and to listen to the beautiful song Autumn Walk by Brad Jacobsen.

Now it is your turn! Show us what you made so we can celebrate you!

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Selling More Jewelry Part 2: Inventory and Pricing

Last week I announced a new series with all the dirt you need to sell more jewelry.  You can click here to read that post if you missed it.

To start our series I'm going to talk about inventory and everyone's favorite topic: pricing!

I'm going to assume, since this is the Art Bead Scene, that most of you have jewelry that are one-of-a-kinds that feature handcrafted beads. Which is awesome news because you have something that distinguishes your jewelry from the masses and chances are you can share a story about what makes your jewelry unique. 

1. Gather your jewelry and divide it into several small collections that would display nicely together. Think of themes or color groups. My example is the Bird and Nest collection above. 

2. Take notes on holes in your inventory. Each grouping should have the following:

*Showstoppers - this is a piece or two that stops buyers in their tracks, it will be the most expensive piece in the group and the most labor-intensive or the materials may be of a higher quality.

*Variations of your best-selling designs. These may be a pendant or bracelet style that you sell quickly at every show. They will be in the mid-price range of your inventory.

*Impulse buys - these are your earrings or simple designs that are $35 and under. This should be the bulk of your inventory if you do shows or in-person events. 

From now on whenever you display your work and even in your online shop, group these items together. When you show your work to shops, show them in the groups. This type of merchandising will increase your sales. And at shows it makes it much easier if someone is looking at a pendant to say, "Did you see the earrings that go with that design?" and hopefully they are right next to each other! 

3. If you have jewelry in your inventory that has been around for quite some time and doesn't get picked up at shows or doesn't has many views online, if the design is dated or just doesn't fit in with the style of the rest of your jewelry - it's time to upcycle it. Take it apart and use those beads in a new design that work in one of your groupings. 

*If you have seasonal jewelry or designs you like but just didn't sell - consider having a Flash Sale or Trunk Show to quickly move this inventory. 

Designing in collections will help increase your sales at shows and online and it will help in the creative process. 

You don't always have to re-invent the wheel. Revisit your best-selling designs and use similar beads to create it in several different variations. 

One thing I have learned over the years of doing shows (20+ years) is that too many choices overwhelms buyers and they end up walking away. You are not JCPenny - you will not be able to appeal to everyone. So stick with a few designs you know sell well and focus most of your inventory on those designs and variations of those designs. 

You still have room to play and experiment but know your best sellers and have plenty of them! If you are new to shows or selling or haven't sold much yet, what designs get the most likes on social media? It may be a matter of trial and error before you know your best-sellers. 

Pricing - that's such a loaded topic. I want you to answer a quick question for me - could you sell your jewelry at a 50% discount right now and cover your materials, pay yourself a living wage and use a portion of it to cover your business expenses? If you can't do this, you won't be able to sell to stores, galleries or shows that want a percentage of yours sales instead of a booth fee. 

If not, you are probably charging wholesale prices instead of retail. It's a common mistake. And the first argument is "I can't sell it for what I would need to charge!" A common cry and one that has an easy fix. 

A. Design jewelry that fits in the price point you can sell at - it might mean simplifying a design or mixing more affordable beads with the pricier art beads. Or it may mean buying materials at wholesale to reduce your costs. 

B. Find venues that have customers willing to pay the higher prices for more artistic and creative jewelry. We'll talk more about this in the next few weeks. 

It would be nice if we could just create whatever tickles our muse, but at some point you have to ask yourself if you are in the business of selling jewelry - can I sell this design at a price that covers my expenses and pays me. 

A hobby costs you money - a business makes you money. Which one does your jewelry business fall under, is it a hobby or a business? You want to sell more but you also need to pay yourself! 


1. Gather your collections and take grouped photos to share on social media this week with a link to your online shop. Share them on Instagram and Facebook throughout the week. Don't share the same photos in both places, mix it up! 

Share your best photos on your blog and pin the images. 

Take lots of great photos of these grouped collections - you can use them in your marketing in upcoming assignments! 

2. Make a plan to fill the holes in your collections. 

3.Your required reading on pricing:

Report your successes, questions and share your photos in the Art Bead Scene Lounge on Facebook! 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Amuse the Muse - Autumnal beads - with Rebecca of Songbead

Hello all! It's Monday again, time for our last week of Autumnal beads. Although I've enjoyed this theme so very much, I'm tempted to continue on through October too - maybe some kind of variation on the theme. What do you think? Any ideas? 

I'm also thinking of adding to my weekly posts by featuring a piece of jewellery on the theme too - art-bead laden. This might be one of mine, one of the ABS team's - or it might be one of yours! Just like the art beads, you can leave links in the comments if you want the chance to be featured :-) Maybe I'll even start a Pinterest board, who knows....(although this is unlikely - I'm the only person in the world who hasn't really managed to get on board with Pinterest. Maybe it's just my brain knowing that I do not need another time drain...!)

But onwards with our last Muse post of September. The piece I've chosen isn't described by the creator as an Autumnal piece, but the colours, the textures...the crustic, rustic nature of it seems just perfect to me. Yes, it's sea-themed, but it's also of the earth, and Autumn is all about the earth for me. 

The Rituals Enacted - Precious Violet

Art Beads - Ragged Robyn, Scorched Earth, Bo Hulley, Earth Butter BeadsBlueberri Beads

Now onto the beads.....

And now for the BeadBlogger Links. Enjoy the last few days of September everyone!

Rebecca is a Scottish jewellery designer; currently living in the capital city of Edinburgh. You can read more about her and her work at her blog, and see more of her jewellery at She also has a supplies shop at

Saturday, September 26, 2015

the lovely Sasha Crow - an interview with Julie of Uglibeads!

Hello everyone! I had the very good fortune this week to interview Sasha Crow, a talented art jewelry designer and component maker. Sasha is a versatile and curious artist who has worked with many, many different techniques and materials over the course of her jewelry-making career.

If you’re familiar with Sasha’s work, you’ve probably admired the way she uses decorative tin work to make beautifully imaginative, fantastical, one-of-a-kind jewelry:

Sasha also creates components for other designers, applying her embellishments to artisan headpins. This summer she held her first local workshop in her home state of Oregon, and shared her favorite techniques with some very enthusiastic (and talented!) students. Here are some of the things they made in their two day workshop with Sasha:

That is really impressive!! Clearly, she’s not only a talented artist, but a gifted and generous teacher. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her better. So let’s get to it!

Hi Sasha! Thanks so much for taking the time to give us a glimpse into your process. I’ve been following along for a while now, and one of the things I love most about your work it is that it conveys such a wonderful sense of freedom and experimentation. You’ve fearlessly explored so many different techniques, and always share the things you're learning with your followers on social media. How do you make time for exploration, and learning new things to incorporate into your work?

I don't make time for exploration - exploration is what I do. And I am lucky in that this is not only what I love to do but what I do to make a living  This gives me the justification to immerse myself into it completely.

I bore easily so I must constantly be trying new things or I will implode. But a lot of the 'freedom' and 'experimentation' you see is really a trait of the medium.  As I explain to people who see my work at shows, 50% of the end result is what I intend for the metal to do - and the other 50% is what the molten metal does in response to what I am doing.  I think this creates a good tension of balance between control and surrender - between chaos and order. I like walking on that line. 

Wow. “Exploration is what I do.” I LOVE that! It can be hard to remember that inspiration and play are at the very heart of it when creativity pays the bills too. 

On the subject of exploration, let's talk about your tinned headpins. You’ve created them out of everything imaginable - beach rocks, semiprecious stones, artisan beads, Czech glass beads, polymer clay, broken china pieces...  And now you're branching out, creating your own ceramic components to embellish. I must say, these headpins really caught my eye!

The rustic shapes and textures are so beautiful and the combination of clay and metal is lovely. But ceramics is a totally new medium for you. That’s a big challenge! What inspired you to start working with it?

It is a very new medium for me and one I had not anticipated getting involved in. But, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to buy a digital kiln, 125 jars of glazes, as well as bead racks at a miracle of a price and I couldn't pass it up.

Oh goodness. What an incredible find! It was meant to be! What do you like most about the process of working with clay?

It requires an entirely different way of thinking than I am accustomed to. But I’m finding it a contemplative craft. It slows down my million-miles-a-minute brain. It takes me back to childhood and making mud pies - that sort of timeless play. I think I need that.  

Play is crucial - I totally agree. So, after making jewelry for over 20 years, about a year ago, Crow's Cache Artisan Jewelry Components was born, and you began making components for other jewelry designers as well. How did that evolution take place?

I was already making components for my own jewelry and I thought that others might appreciate them for their own designs. There is such a strong trend for rustic jewelry now and most of my components have a definite rustic edge. I already had a shop on Etsy where I sell jewelry components and beads from my "overflow" so I just began adding the components I design to my shop.

I’m curious to know whether your creative process differs depending on whether you are making jewelry or making components. Are those two skills satisfying or meaningful to you in different ways? 

When I am creating a jewelry piece, I create components that work well within a design I already have in mind - the components are created as part of the entire vision for the piece - not chosen from a collection. But when I create components for others, I don’t think beyond the component itself. I think of what I - as a jewelry designer - would like, and try to make a good selection of color and designs to choose from. 

Creating components is definitely more of a "job". Once I create the initial component, there is no surprise or challenge left in it for me. But there is an unexpected benefit in seeing what others do with the components! They use them in ways I would never have thought of. And it's quite a nice feeling to know that I am a small background part of their creative process too. 

People really are making amazing things with your components. I especially love these earrings by Belgian artist Anne-Marie Tollet with a pair of your tinned Czech glass headpins (and enameled copper charms by 4ophelia):

Do you ever encounter fear or doubt in your creative process, Sasha? How do you work through that?

I think it's quite normal, as artists, to feel both fear and doubt at times in our creative pursuits, just like in the other areas of our lives. It comes and goes. 

But my real demon is the "IS IT MARKETABLE?" imp who, when it is successful, stifles any real creativity by insisting I keep my designs "safe" and appealing to the "majority". This imp steals the joy of creating and dulls my work. I spent most of last year under its spell and my work and sales struggled. I finally decided this past winter that I was just going to have fun, to enjoy creating.

You shared with me the first pair of earrings you made when you decided to let go of being led by the ‘marketability’ of your work. They just scream spontaneity and freedom - and they look like they must be such a true expression of who you are as an artist. Wow! How did that mental shift change things for you?

I began to create solely for the pure joy of it - with no concern about what anyone else might think about it or how much they might pay for it. And when I had successfully shucked off that nasty little marketing imp, that’s when I noticed a tremendous improvement in my jewelry. As this is my sole living, it is important that my designs are marketable - but I just cannot allow that concern to go with me into the studio or I might as well not bother. And when I can't shake him off, I do something else instead now.

That makes total sense - often when the creative winds aren’t blowing in the right direction, it helps to adjust your sails. Sasha - I so appreciate you sharing your insight, and I am looking forward to seeing where your muse takes you in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you Julie! I am so humbled and pleased to be interviewed for Art Bead Scene.

If you’d like to follow along too, Sasha offers a glimpse into her creative component-making world (and offers pre-sales of her components before they’re listed on Etsy) on her Crows Cache Supplies Facebook pageYou can also find a selection of her artisan headpins in her Etsy supply shop. Finally, keep up with the latest on her new designs and listings, and future class offerings by signing up for her email newsletter.

If you enjoyed hearing from Sasha, leave her a comment below! I'm sure she'll pop by later to check them out :)

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you next time.



Julie is a glass beadmaker with a passion for building community and inspiring conversation around her writing. Her best work comes from that magical place where nature meets creative flow. You will find her hanging out most days in her Uglibeads Facebook group or on Instagram, and you're invited to join the adventure by signing up for her weekly email newsletter.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Inside the Studio with Mary Harding Jewelry

Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive, we offer a prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard and tell us what you think. The following week a winner is chosen at random from all eligible entries.

Congratulations to Deb Stewart!  Yeah!! You've won a $25.00 gift certificate from  Please send Heather your address and she will get your prize right out to you. 

Welcome to the studio of Mary Harding Jewelry.  I am so happy to have you visit today.  I have begun with a photo of some new pieces in my Etsy shop since that has been one of my projects for the last two weeks.  We have had such wonderful warm summery weather lately that I have been very distracted by the pull of the river for swimming and the deck and chaise for reading, that my inventory has sunk quite low.  Gradually I am building it up.  Above are a few of the new pieces in my shop.  
I have been working on making more of my hollow two sided beads like the one of the Maple Seed Wings in the lower left  hand corner in the collage above.  I love making these although they are very time consuming.  I am indebted to Claire Maunsell for teaching me the technique in polymer clay, which I have adapted to ceramic clay.  If you are not familiar with Claire's work I suggest you visit her Flickr stream!!  The beauty of these beads is that they have images on both sides.  I try to make the images related.  One of these beads is published in the current issue of Jewelry Stringng Magazine-in their Ultimate Shopping Guide.

Two sided hollow bead by MaryHardingJewelry  side 1

Two sided hollow bead by MaryHardingJewelry   side2

To move on, the bead in the upper right hand corner is a new plant for me.  I love its puffy succulent leaves and how gracefully they fall.  It is a common weed which you may know of, called Purslane.
Purslane Pendant MaryHardingJewelry
It is everywhere in every one's gardens and surprisingly it is very nutritious and good in salads in the early Spring.  I will be working on more pieces with it in the future.

The buttons and the clover are old standbys that I have added due to requests.  I am happy to have a good image of the clover since for some time I had difficulty painting that one.  Not quite sure why, but this one came out well, I think.

Cobalt wash on some disk beads before glazing and firing in the kiln

In addition to stocking my shop, I have also been having a wonderful time experimenting with cobalt wash. I have used it in the past but am finding new ways of working with it that are exciting.  The picture above shows some pieces with the wash on them.  It is a kind of sick pink color out out the jar which needs to be diluted with distilled water.  Like many things in ceramics, what you see is not what you get!!!  Depending on how much you apply to the clay and what colors are already on the clay, you get different shades of Cobalt Blue.  Some shades are very dark, some are like denim and some are like  Delft pottery from Holland.   All are beautiful!!  Reportedly VanGogh told his brother Theo that
‘Cobalt [blue] is a divine colour and there is nothing so beautiful for putting atmosphere around things…"

Collage of several pieces I have made using Cobalt Wash  by MaryHardingJewelry

I began by telling you how distracted I have been by the unusually sunny and warm weather here in the
 Northeast.  But I have also put my distraction to good use.  I have been storing up the warmth and color to nourish me for the long winter ahead.  It seems that the end of summer, early fall is a great time for keeping ones eyes peeled to the plants and leaves as they make seed pods and turn amazing colors.  This year has been especially beautiful and has been a color inspiration everywhere I look.
                                                                Rosa Rugosa Rose Hips 

Which brings me to my question:  How have you and your art been spending these dog days of summer and early autumn?  I would love to hear.  Please leave a comment below and you will be automatically entered to win a $20.00 gift certificate to my Etsy shop. 

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Happy Thursday ya'll!

I hope everyone is having a stellar week and enjoying all things pumpkin spice.
I have been busy packing up our home as we are moving this weekend! YAY!! It's been a splendid combination of stress & joy and I am SO very ready for a well deserved libation after we unload our boxes. Luckily, living with 5 guys has kept me a minimalist. Our 4 boys do not require purses and shoes to match each OOTD. Oh, and their bathroom necessities are simply toothpaste, soap, and shampoo. Oh, how I love having sons!  (we do, however, run out of food at a rapid rate)

With that said, packing has been a breeze. It was exciting to pack up my studio, touching tools and beads that I had long forgotten. My creative mind was reeling with new ideas and I quivered with anticipation of my studio space in our new home. For the past 4 years I have been sharing space with a washer and dryer (yes, my studio was in the laundry room) Granted, it smelled downy fresh but the natural light was very nil. My new space will be a sunroom, the classic Florida style with windows galore. I am SO stoked! I will finally be able to see! I will also have ample space to set up a soldering station so I can finally get back to metalsmithing.
I can't wait to share photos with you once we are all settled in. Future Inside the Studio!

More exciting news on the horizon! 
I am unable to spill the beans just yet but you can get a teaser....

If you are not on my email list, I would LOVE to have you join! 
Please send me a message via my email

Within the next few months, I will be having drawings for free goodies and such so you won't want to miss out. 

*Heather Wynn Millican an artist who strives to offer hope to those who may need encouragement. 
She is a lover of words and has a grand heart for the ones who feel too deeply, the brave, and those that find beauty in the mundane. She is an art college graduate and currently lives in Florida with her handsome husband, 4 young boys, and boston terrier.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Perfect Pairings :: Sarah Raines + Bo Hulley

This necklace brings together a soft color palette that is a bit unexpected for the vibrancy of autumn. I love the special touches of fiber and the varied metal beads that keep my eyes roving and discovering something new each time I look at it.

Featured Designer :: Sarah Raines
Featured Bead Artist :: Bo Hulley

We are now using Pinterest! 
You can find more details in this post about the exciting new changes
including a board devoted to art beads inspired by the monthly challenge!
(Ooh! Look! More pretty beads to lust after!)

Pretty please make sure that you post a link in your Pinterest description so that I have someplace to attribute the picture! 
And don't forget to tell us about those art beads - providing links to bead makers is appreciated!

Deadline to get your pictures posted to the Pinterest boards for the creation of the
Monthly Challenge Recap post is September 29th

TIP: If you upload your photo to pin it rather than pin it from your blog or shop, edit the pin (the little pencil button) and add your link as the source. Save your edits. This will allow us to click directly on your photo and go to your blog or shop to read more about your entry. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Selling More Jewelry Series

One thing I hear from my bead customers over again is the need to sell more jewelry. They want to buy more beads and they want to move inventory to make room for new creations. Who doesn't want to sell more, right? And even more importantly, I think it feels wonderful to have someone fall in love with one of creations and want to take it home!

So starting next week through October join me here on Tuesdays for a little biz advice and a challenge or two to help you keep motivated. Now is the perfect time to start gearing up for holiday sales, getting into shops and it's an easy time of year to sell jewelry - everyone is looking for gifts during the holidays and they need jewelry to dress up for events and parties.

The tips, lessons and challenges will include advice for selling more jewelry in person and online.

Until then, I invite you to read one of my favorite ABS posts from a few years ago, 20 Sales in 20 Days. Click here for a day by day challenge from the smart women at the Flourish & Thrive Academy. I do this challenge every year in October and always see a quick bump in sales. Print it out and try a few or all 20!