Studio Musings

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: How to Make Money Using Etsy

I ran across How to Make Money Using Etsy: A Guide to the Online Marketplace for Crafts and Handmade Products by Timothy Adam a while back and decided to check it out.  I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting, and when it arrived, I flipped through it and set it aside as a 'someday' read.  The interior's black & white and reminded  me of a little too much of a programing textbook.  Glancing at the table of contents and first few pages, the contents seemed pretty simplistic, too.

Earlier this week, I took it with me to read on my commute.  I quickly became absorbed to the point that I kept stopping to jot down notes on action items to improve both my website and my Etsy shop and almost missed my stop. 

Listing title becomes page URL
First line of text grabbed by search engines
Need to rework to include my key words 'freeform peyote'

Timothy's book goes far beyond the simple mechanics of working with Etsy, focusing heavily on SEO (search engine optimization), both inside and outside of Etsy, and leveraging your social networking using blogging, Facebook and Twitter to build name awareness and bolster sales potential.

Here are two simple tips I picked up regarding SEO from the section on listing your first item with Etsy.

1) Timothy recommends including your most important keywords in your listing title - and most specifically in the first 40 characters of your title - because this becomes the title of your listing page, which can improve your Google search rankings.  Checking my Etsy shop, I was pleased to see that I'd done that, mostly. 

2) Include your key words again in the first sentence of your description text.  That first line of text becomes the meta-description for your page and is the line of text that shows up in Google searches below the URL.  I'm not so good there, I discovered as you can see at right.  I tend to include my key works in the second paragraph, rather than the first.  Something I will need to work on in future postings.

Using Etsy includes a comprehensive section on blogging - from setting up your first blog (using Blogger) to topics, strategies and ideas for keeping your established blog fresh.  Following some of his own suggestions, he also includes several interviews with established bloggers from some of the top Etsy stores.  Again, while I was familiar with much of the material, I found a number of real gems within each of these sections.

Timothy also pays considerable attention to tracking the performance and reach of your various efforts using everything from the various sites' in-house statistics to Feedburner and Google Analytics.  I hadn't realized I could set up Google Analytics for my Etsy store; turns out it's under "Options".  And it reminded me to go look at my Feedburner stats for the first time since I set it up. 

All in all, I found the book easy to read, with gems of information for anyone considering setting up their first Etsy store.  But even if you don't have an Etsy store, or if you're simply looking to improve the reach of your blog or Facebook page I think you'll find considerable information of worth.  I know I did.  My burgeoning to-do list attests to that!






Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Bevy of Beaded Baskets

Huichol Baskets by Debby Zook
Back in March, Debby Zook shared her beaded Huichol Baskets with the Seed Beaders.  I missed that meeting, but got to admire a number of the finished baskets last Sunday at the April meeting. 

Debby brought a total of twenty baskets, because as she put it, 'it's hard to stop at just one'. 

She made most of her baskets using size 11 seed beads, but she had several miniature beauties, made from sizes 15, 16 and 18 seed beads.  And in case you're wondering - size 15 seed beads are the smallest beads currently manufactured today, the 16s and 18s are vintage.  And they are teensy tiny! 

 Debby's miniatures, made with sizes 15, 16 & 18 seed beads
This one says "Easter" to me, basket by Debbie Zook
 
One more basket by Debby Zook
These two lovelies were made by Jennifer Brown
An asymmetrical basket by Bonnie Kroon

Low-sided basket by Bonnie Kroon

One last basket, also by Bonnie Kroon
Aren't they lovely?   For perspective, the largest of these baskets easily fits in the palm of my hand.  Most are about the size of a hummingbird's nest. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thanks for your help - here's what we came up with...

My "Meet the Teachers" ad
Thank you all again for your help in making the final decisions on ad copy for my first ever magazine ad.  I got the proof earlier this week, and since you'd all played such a big role in the final design, I asked if I could share it here.  Marilyn Koponen, the wonderful woman I've been working with at Beadwork magazine said yes.  So here it is!  What do you think?



A special thanks to Bobbie over at BeadSong Jewelry for your suggestion with the ad copy! 

It will be in the "Meet the Teachers" section of the August Beadworks magazine.  I think most of the focus will be on the Philadelphia Beadfest show, but little 'ol heading to Texas me will be there too. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adrenalin and Creative Cross-Training

I think it was in Julia Cameron's fantastic book, The Artist Way, that I first ran across the concept of  creative cross training.  Where a personal success in one area - most especially in overcoming the belief that you "can't"- makes it easier to undertake a challenge in an entirely disparate arena.  Back in March, I wondered if I'd gone a little insane as I recounted my first Trapeze Class.  Heading to the class, I had no intention of ever taking another ever again; my goal was simply to survive that one.  Fast forward to today; I've now taken three trapeze classes, and have signed up for a fourth towards the end of June. 

Why you may ask?  It's surprisingly fun (and I've never considered myself an adrenaline junkie) and it pushes me outside my comfort zone in a way that makes me smile every time I think of it.  It makes me feel surprisingly capable, even though I have to be one of the most ungainly trapeze students ever.  With all three classes, the first time I climb the ladder a little voice inside my head shouts "You can't!  You can't!"  And then, after the first run, however awkward it might have been, I swear I hear the surprise in that little voice as it changes to "Huh, that wasn't so bad".  Once I've caught my breath and the initial rush of adrenalin subsides, that same voice whispers "Maybe we should try again - I bet we can do better."

By the end of the class last month, I managed to get the basic trick down well enough that I received the okay to go for the catch. I did it - swung by my knees to the point that the catcher grabbed my wrists and I swung out into the air dangling from his hands!  Yeah me!

I'd rather expected to continue doing the same this time. too.  Nope.  Since I'd managed the basic trick, now I got to learn a new one.  Great, right?  Uh, yeah, except when I discovered that for this next trick I'd have to let go of the bar entirely and jump out into empty space to practice for the catch. Yes, really. 

The trick is simply called "Heels Off": swing out, bring your legs up and hook your heels on the bar, swing upside down in this position, with hips tucked high and hands and heels on the bar.  Then explode off of the bar opening into a superman pose at the top of the next swing to land flat in the net.  Uh, no?!?

But I was already there, so I decided to go for it.  First time went something like this: climb the ladder.  Don't think, just grab the bar with my right hand.  Now grab it with my left, hips arched forwards over empty air (blessings for the woman acting as counterweight holding my belt).  Not as bad as I remembered.

The call comes "Hep".  A small jump, swing out.  Knees up.  Mantra in head "Heels on the bar, not knees", as my feet flail a little as they work their way through the space above my head.  That's getting easier too.  Not great, but better. Upside down now, four points of contact - hands & heels.  Swinging.

Hep!  The call registers in my brain, but my hands and feet don't move.  No superman maneuver for me; not happening.  I'm stuck to the bar like velcro.  Still swinging.  The voice from below shouts 'ready'; a little warning.  They'll keep calling until I do something besides hang there like an ungainly bat.

Almost back again, swinging higher, higher.

Hep! My hands come unstuck.  I let go!  I Let Go!  I'm in the air.  I look nothing like superman. And then I'm in the net.  As I roll out of the net I realize, I can do it - it will take work, but I now believe that at some point in the future, I will actually be able to do this trick.  Amazing.

By the end of the class, I got the green light (cowbell actually) to go for the catch.  Missed it.  But that's what next class is for - time to try again. I have no intention of running away to join the circus.  But for the foreseeable future, I think I'll be taking a trapeze class every month.  As a reminder to myself of what is possible, when I'm willing to move outside of my fears.  And a great reason to keep going to the gym.

Makes me wonder; if I can manage to let go of that bar while it's swinging two stories up in the air, what else can I manage, nice and safe on the ground?

Wonder what I looked like?  Here's a video of one of my runs, thanks to one of the other students:

video

See, superman I am not!  :)

And here's my question for you, straight from Julia Cameron's section on Risk, "What would [you] do if [you] didn't have to do it perfectly?"




Friday, May 18, 2012

Decisions, Decisions - What do you think?

Two days ago I discovered that the August issue of Beadwork magazine will include a 'Meet the Teachers' section for people teaching at either Beadfest Philadelphia or Texas.  Since I will be teaching at the later, I'm thinking of taking advantage of the offer and posting my own ad in the section, but everything's due today. 

The ad size is 2.25" x 1", and I'm trying to figure out which of the images below works best.  I'm hoping to use one of my Lacework bracelet designs as that's one of the two classes I'm teaching, and it also is more aligned with my freeform beading.  I'm a little worried that my beaded bead is less indictative of my normal style.

But before I sent everything off, I thought I'd see if I could get a few second opinions here.  What do you think?  Which image do you like best?  Second best?  Why?  Any thoughts on text?



They'll do the actual layout, but I put this sample together in Photoshop so that I could get an idea what the finished product might look like. 


One more potential point of interest - I just found this in my inbox (literally).  I wonder if it would help with consistency if my add featured the same bracelet as in their advertising. 


Thanks for your help!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Regifting Giveaway

I'd meant to tack this on to the end of my last post, but Monique, yours was the number drawn for the two catalogs from the International Society of Glass Beadmakers exhibits.  Email me with your address and I'll get them out to you! 

Thanks again to all who were interested! 

A Weekend Getaway - The Olympic Penninsula

Anyone need to phone home?
For the past few months, my husband has worked crazy, crazy hours.  He's working for a start-up (and loves it) where they've just launched their first product, hence 7-day work weeks and 12 hour days.  But, last week they gave him two days off as comp time!  Really!  So, with minimal planning, but lots of excitement, we headed off to the Olympic Peninsula.  It's one of our absolute favorite places on earth, and close enough to pop over for a weekend, especially for a long weekend.  Definitely one of those things I love about living in Seattle. And a must see for anyone visiting the area.


Rather than lots of text, I thought I'd mostly share some pics of our trip and try to show you why this is one of my favorite places on earth.

Driving along the north side of the peninsula, you skirt along Lake Crescent
Reflections of the Sol Duc Rain Forest
Yes,  I did say rain forest!  The Olympic Peninsula has one of the few temperate rain forests in the entire world.  If you want to see moss growing six inches deep over everything, this is the place to come!  We stayed in a cabin at the Sol Duc hot springs the first night.  The hot springs were open until 8pm, so you could go out hiking, then come back for a nice soak.  The water may be a little smelly, but boy did it feel good!

Look how open the understory is!  Old growth forest here.
Breaking out of the forest to skirt along the river's edge

I love the swirls in this snag
a view of Ruby Beach from the cliffs
On Friday we drove around the peninsula heading towards Lake Quinalt.  On our way we stopped at several of the beaches, including Ruby Beach, where we ate a picnic lunch amongst the driftwood, checked out the sea stacks exposed by the low tide and skipped rocks into the surf (this beach is covered with flat, rounded rocks perfect for skipping).  I'm really hit or miss with rock skipping, but I keep trying!  :)

Lake Quinalt Lodge, from the bottom of the lawn at the edge of the lake

A perfect place to curl up wit a book or play games
See what I mean?
Lake Quinalt Lodge is sort of our go-to place for our trips to the peninsula.  The lodge itself is along the lines of the old national forest park lodges like Yosemite, but on a smaller scale.  The main lobby is filled with comfy leather couches and chairs where you can curl up with a book, and tables where you can play games, put together puzzles (or bead!).  There's even a bar that serves drinks through through out the day.  If you want to play bocce ball or croquet out on the lawn, they'll loan you the sets, you can rent a row boat to explore the lake, hike the glorious rain forest trails (Lake Quinalt is another Rain Forest valley) or simply take it easy.  We tend to do a little of everything, though we we've never actually been out on the lake.  Normally it's too cool and they're not renting boats.  This time, I think we were just being too lazy, despite the warmth of the weather. 

Some rain forest natives - Oxallis (looks like shamrocks to me!)
So, now that I've shared one of my favorite places, what are some of yours?  One of those places where you find yourself returning year after year, drawn like salmon returning to its home stream (though hopefully with better consequences). 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Inspiration from Other Artists

borrowed paper and borrowed pens thanks Jane & Leah!
My inspiration comes from many, many different places - nature, color, the man-made world, and yes, other artists.  Here, I thought I'd share the notes I took during last month's Bead Society meeting.

 Kendra's talk offered lots of food for thought - as the slides flashed by, my hands sought to capture a few of the lovely pebbles in the flowing stream of ideas.  I was especially taken by the pieces from Convergence II, (I think that's the right exhibit) where the theme was making a piece of jewelry for a literary or historic figure.  Beaded eye patch anyone?

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time deciding just exactly how I'm going to use the lovely enameled poppies that Lynn Bowland sent my way a while back, almost obsessed you could say.  In my notes, you can see poppies emerging from waves of green, adorning a vase, even used as the focal for a jaunty flapper hat like one I saw in the slide show.

Wouldn't that be fun; to make a beaded flapper hat?  I wonder how you'd stiffen it to keep its shape but still keep it light and airy?  What if I just made a hair ornament instead?  Sitting there in the darkened room, the ideas started to flow.

sketches made during David Chatt's class at Penland, 2008
And while they were sparked by the images before me, many of my sketches pulled from themes I've visited time and again.  Like the vase, which reminded me of the sketches I'd made for some beaded vessels with voids back in 2008 while at Penland.  Which were originally inspired by a burl wood, turned bowl I saw in an exhibit at the airport while traveling. I look at these sketches, and I can clearly see the burl wood in the textures, though I'd plan to reinterpret it with beads.

It all circles around.

But the true gem from my notes above was a personal epiphany.  Simply the phrase "Personal area of patience".  People will look at my work and say, "I'd never have the patience".  And maybe they're right - I look at cross stitch and think the same.  I may admire cross stitch, but I could never make myself sit down and complete a project.  Because that's not where my personal area of patience lays.  My zen-place and my challenge place is in stitching together little beads into abstract paintings, which may masquerade as jewelry or sculpture depending upon the day.

So there's a bit of a rambling post, and a glimpse into my 'creative well', as Julia Cameron might say - from whence I draw my inspirations.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Regifting Give Away

At last month's general meeting for the NW Bead Society, Kendra Bruno, Executive Director for the International Society of Glass Beadmakers gave a fun lecture combining a bit of the history of glass beadmaking, along with overviews of the past and present focuses of the ISGB itself, including a wonderful slide show of their two of their most recent traveling art exhibits. 


As part of her talk, she gave a way catalogs for both of the exhibits,  Trajectories focusing on the art of the glass bead and Convergence, which focused on contemporary jewelry design with glass beads.  These catalogs are gorgeous eye candy.  But the truth is, I already have a copy of both.  Oops! 

So I thought I'd pass them along so that someone else might enjoy them too. 

a sneak peak inside the Convergence catalog

two gorgeous pieces after my own heart from the Trajectories catalog

If you'd like a copy, let me know by leaving a comment.  I'll do a random drawing next Wednesday, May 16th. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Brown - what a boring name for an interesting color

Last month I signed up for Sally Russick's One Crayon Color challenge and blog hop.  But instead of choosing a color myself, I asked Sally to assign me a color.  I'll admit to being a bit, uh, surprised when I was assigned 'Brown'.  Hmmm.... somehow I tend to forget that it is indeed a color, in and of itself.

Truth is, I like browns, they're just not what I think of using this time of year.  Unlike the fashion industry, I tend to work in the colors of the current season, and browns are definitely Fall/Winter colors in my palette.  For inspiration, I went to - you guessed it, my crayon box.  There I found browns with luscious names like chestnut, tumbleweed, mahogany and bittersweet, but oddly enough, no chocolate. 

Then I came across an old UFO, a companion piece for my Leopard Jasper bracelet, and I knew I'd found my piece. So here it is, so newly finished it doesn't even have a name of its own yet, right now its simply the Leopard Jasper Choker.  Descriptive, eh?



And the back shall be front

This is actually a picture of the back of the choker.  The shank on the original button I'd selected when I began (and abandoned) this project two years ago had broken, so I went shopping for new buttons to fit the project and found this beauty.  Now, my choker has two alternate fronts.  And seems to have a decidely western feel I hadn't anticipated when worn back to front.

Here's the jasper focal:

Leopard Jasper choker, freeform peyote


I like the almost snakeskin quality to the coloration and bead work.  I think that is also adding to my feeling that this comes from the dusty southwest of my childhood.  Not the land of red rock, but of golden, drifting sand.

Truth is, I'm not entirely certain the choker is quite complete.  I may decide to add more top work - layers of bridges atop what's already there.  The bracelet definitely has more top work.  I found that simply increasing the scale from bracelet to choker created enough complexity that I'm not sure it needs anything else.  I think I'll live with a bit and see before I go too far and made it too 'busy'.  What do you think?

And in the meantime, here are the other participants, nicely grouped by color families:

Button Purchases - which one?

Hosted by:

Red

Bobbie Rafferty   http://beadsong.blogspot.com

 

 

Orange

Narrowing the selection to two
Linda Landig  http://LindasBeadBlog.com
Rebekah Payne   http://treewingsstudio.com

 Yellow

Blue

And we have a winner - now for more stitching
Cherie Reed  http://creativedesignsbycheri.blogspot.com
Rebecca Anderson  http://songbeads.blogspot.com
Alicia Marinache  http://allprettythings.ca
Charissa Sloper   http://blog.obsidiansoda.com
Sandi Volpe   http://sandivolpe.com

 

 

knee brace as needle holder & workbench

 Green

Jenny Davies Reazor   http://www.jdaviesreazor.com
Elizabeth Auld  http://beadsforbusygals.com

 

 

Adding bridge work

Purple

Jennifer Judd Velasquez http://jenjuddrocks.blogspot.com

Brown

Diana Ptaszynski   http://suburbangirlstudio.com
My original bracelet

Black

Birgitta Lejonklou  http://lejonklou.blogspot.com/