Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Want to Write Better Copy for Your Online Shop? Let a Seasoned Ad Exec Help You Out

This has nothing to do with the topic - I just like these earrings!
You might have noticed that I've changed the look of my blog.  For years I clung to the white-type-on-black-background look, which I find sexy and intriguing.  But I’m reading a book that’s changing the way I present my jewelry and my blog.  According to Ca$hvertising by Drew Eric Whitman (published 2008), reversing text (white letters on a black background) is a no-no.  Apparently it’s harder to read, and he cites research supporting this.  (Reversing text slows down reading speed and frustrates the reader.)  I zeroed in on his advice and decided to test it on my blog, hence the new format. 

Ca$hvertising is a goldmine for any online retailer.  It offers suggestions on such things as fonts (choose one with serifs, such as Times New Roman or Arial) and how to format headlines (initial caps).  I found the guidelines on how to write advertising copy particularly valuable – they made me laugh and look carefully at how I was presenting my jewelry.  Prior to now I’d never thought how I described my items made that much difference.  As an experiment, I focused on one item I was selling in my shop and described it as carefully and enticingly as possible.  I was astonished when I sold it for full asking price, almost immediately. 

A lot of his advice is not obvious – you could be sabotaging your efforts in any number of ways without realizing it, and your friends and clients won’t be able to tell you what you’re doing wrong.  Let a seasoned ad exec help you out. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Here's Something Obnoxious to Make With Your Pandora Beads

Are you bored with just rearranging your Pandora (or European) beads on your bracelet?  Here's a  bizarre project, guaranteed to annoy all of your friends.

I am using aluminum wire and chain here, which is easily marred by sharp metal, so I am using nylon-tipped pliers so I don't scratch the surfaces.  The great thing about aluminum wire is that you can bend it with your hands, although loops are best made with round-nose pliers for accuracy.

What you'll need:

  • Flat-nose pliers (nylon tipped)
  • Round-nose pliers (nylon tipped)
  • Wire cutter
  • Two six-inch pieces of large aluminum chain (the chain pictured has 13mm x 9mm links, approximately)
  • 30 inches of 12 gauge aluminum wire, cut into twelve 2 ½  inch pieces
  • One big clasp (this one is an inch long, but it doesn't have to be that large)
  • Ten Pandora (or European-style) beads -- anything with a metal core is fine

You can get all of this stuff at Fire Mountain Gems.  They'll hook you up. 
What to do:
  1. Loop beads onto ten pieces of wire, using the simple loop method.  Loop the two remaining pieces of wire into loops without beads.   If you need a tutorial on looping, here's a good one:

2.   And then you'll have this:  

3.  Twist open a link  from side to side, link it up with another link (you can do this with your hands, if you want) and keep on going until everything's linked, like this:

4.  Open the link on the end and hook it onto one of the pieces of chain.  Do the same thing with the other piece of chain.  Then you'll have this:

5.  Take one of "bead-less loops," open it and attach it to the other end of the chain.  Take the other "bead-less loop," open it and attach it to the end of the other piece of chain.  Then open the other end of one of the "bead-less loops," link on the clasp and close it.  

6. That's pretty much it -- the clasp will link onto the other end of the loop, closing like this:

TA-DA !!

The total length of the necklace is about 28 inches.  (If you want it shorter, either shorten the chain or use less beads.)  

Thanks for checking out my silly post.  The best thing about this necklace is that when you show it to your friends, they'll get red in the face and scream, "NO, NO, NO !!!  THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU DO WITH PANDORA BEADS!"  And then you can fake a shocked expression and say, "WHAT?!!!  YOU'RE KIDDING!"

Have a great week, and keep on beading.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Coco Chanel is Flipping Over in Her Grave ...

Here's something inspired by Coco Chanel's legendary chain necklaces:

I wanted to give it a more "tech" look, so I used aluminum chain in two different colors (gunmetal/black).  The links feature Swarovski crystals and freshwater pearls.  And here's a photo of the back:

And the matching earrings:

That's about it for now.  Have a good weekend, okay?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Steampunk Jewelry Findings

I just found the most amazing shop on eBay with steampunk jewelry findings, many of them vintage.  The name of the shop is "Ferrera Unusual Art Supplies," and the link to the shop is  Here's some of the great stuff I found:

This is a vintage English Bobby Whistle, and isn't it lovely?  If you have to sound a shrill cry for help while walking down a dark alley, wouldn't you rather sound it in style?  This one has a dual tone and is unfinished, so it can be made into a pendant.

Here's another find:

This has to be some of the coolest chain I have ever seen.  Solid brass oval link chain, and vintage as well.  They sell this in bulk, by the way -- you'll have to add your own clasp, et cetera.

Okay, last photo:

These would look great on a necklace.  Speaking of which, this shop also has a nice collection of finished bracelets and rings.  Definitely worth checking out.

Thanks, and have a great day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Photographing Jewelry (or how to drive yourself insane)

I just launched two more items on Etsy, which necessitated my photographing them first.  I set up my tiny little studio, mounted my camera on its tripod, hooked up the shutter release, positioned the studio lights and hoped for the best.  I was doing okay until I had to shoot the earrings, which is always a chore.  I tried shooting them by laying them flat on a slight incline, with my camera pointing down, almost directly over them.  This was trying, as the earrings would often slide down the incline.  (Again and again.)

I recently checked out an article on how to shoot jewelry, which suggested hanging the earrings from a thread.  I thought this would be great for my skull earrings, which are suited to bizarre display.  This is what I ended up with:

You can see the thread, which is not great, but this is my first attempt and I decided to go with it.  This is a useful technique because it eliminates distracting detail in the background.

Another technique I read about, and would love to try, is to position jewelry on highly-reflective sheets of black lucite.  It creates a sumptuous shadow that emphasizes the lines of the piece.  This is next on my list!

Here is the matching necklace for the earrings, my latest piece of skull jewelry:

I like to be as original as possible when shooting my jewelry, but the reason everyone uses these techniques is because they're ridiculously effective.  So at least for now, I'm following suit.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My Latest Addiction: 24-Gauge Aluminum Wire with Freshwater Pearls

Here's a photo for you:

(Maybe I should call this post "screwing around with my Kodak Easyshare camera.")  Here's another one, which I kind of like even though it's horribly out of focus:

It looks very "other-worldly" -- kind of like a glowing cauldron or a magical circle.   A session with my pliers and a lot of swearing produces this (which was NOT taken with the Kodak Easyshare):

(This is copper-colored aluminum wire, by the way.)  I resisted using aluminum wire for a long time, mostly from snobbery.  I preferred gold and silver wire ...  It took me awhile to make the transition, but once I did I was hopelessly hooked.  Aluminum wire is easier to bend, so it can be worked by hand with the occasional use of pliers for the sharper angles and curves.  It's especially great with baroque pearls, such as the ones pictured above, which are irregularly shaped and sometimes challenging to wrap.  And it comes in amazing colors, which I find much more interesting than just gold and silver.   

The paint finish on aluminum wire is easy to mar with sharp metal objects, so I use plastic-coated pliers so it doesn't get too banged up.  (I have a separate set of pliers just for this purpose.)

Anyway, give aluminum wire a try.  You won't regret it. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tarot Art and Steampunk Accessories, Courtesy of Jintrinsique

My creative friends inspire and encourage me all the time.  My friend Jen (a.k.a. “Jin”) likes to make art from Tarot cards, such as plaques and magnets, embellishing them with beads, gold paint and other magical things.  Jen, who is an accomplished pastry chef, closed her pastry shop to move across the country to be with her boyfriend (now husband), and she creates food and art with him in sunny Florida.  Here is one of her Tarot-inspired plaques.

Jen and her husband were recently married at the Florida Botanical Gardens, with a steady stream of rain for good luck.  She wore steampunk jewelry she made herself.

… and a jaunty steampunk hat.  The hat led her to create her own steampunk hats, and here are two of them.  They have already been featured in a fashion show, and elicit praise and excitement wherever they appear.  What I love about Jen’s hats are the lush combinations of colors, textures and patterns:

You can check out more of Jen’s Tarot-inspired art at her Etsy shop, Jintrinsique: