Friday, 26 August 2011

Bead soup!

Bead soup - sounds a bit indigestible, doesn't it?  But actually it's this Folksy challenge.

A little bit about Bead Soup… all proceeds are going to the Breast Cancer Campaign, as part of the Folksy bead soup party challenge. Shops that are taking part had the challenge of creating some jewellery with 10 beads, including two focal beads sent by another Folksy shop and adding their own beads to it to create a beautiful item or items to sell with all the proceeds going to Breast Cancer campaign.

These were the beads I was sent by the lovely Imogen’s Imagination on Folksy.

And this is what I made:

If you want to see what else has been made for this great Folksy challenge, you can visit the thread here

Have a look and why not treat yourself to something lovely - knowing that your money is going to a good cause.  If you don't want to buy, it would be great if you were able to publicise the thread with a link on your blog, or through Twitter or Facebook, so that the maximum number of people see the jewellery that's been created and are hopefully tempted to buy and we can raise more money for Breast Cancer Campaign.

Aren't they unusual?  And aren't the Folksters talented? 

Monday, 22 August 2011

Handmade Monday: Autumn colours

Quite a quiet week, but I have been thinking a bit about the approaching change of season and hoping that it won't come too soon as we are off for a late holiday shortly.  These colours seemed to go together quite well, and it was only at the end that I realised I'd forgotten to work in a bail!  So that's one that will have to be redone.  I suppose I could fit an open jump ring on, but I always worry that things like that might come loose. 

It's probably a pendant, although I kind of like the idea of working it into a bracelet too. 

Here's the link to Handmade Monday so you can see all the lovely things people have been creating this week

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The dog's blog: At last I get to speak!

So, apparently now that I am three years old, I'm allowed to use my mum's blog occasionally to report important things in my canine life and speak to all you lovely dogs out there about things we find important.  At last!  I have so much to say.

Shall I introduce myself?  Mum says only briefly, because some of you know me already.  I'm Lucca, I'm a (dark) chocolate Labrador, a boy but now seperated from some of my boy bits!  I'm frequently told I'm the best dog in the world, most handsome dog in the world, best dog swimmer in the world, cleverest dog in the world (less often!) etc, etc.  Modesty forbids me from commenting.

I was born three years and 12 days ago on a working farm in the countryside.  My real mum and dad were both chocolate Labs too, and so were my 11 brothers and sisters.  I was torn from my real family at the age of 12 weeks and brought to this small but fairly comfortable house by 'mummy' and 'daddy'.  Obviously I miss the company of other dogs, but to be honest, the sofa, central heating and not having to compete with anyone for dog food beat the rather basic stable where I spent my first three months hands down. 

My only interest in crafts is when the occasional bead rolls off mum's table and finds its way into my mouth.  They are not very tasty at all so I usually spit them out.  So my bit of the blog will be a craft-free zone.  

Enough apparently - I could go on all day. Can I just say what I've been up to recently?  Here goes.

Lots of swimming - especially with my friend Bonnie, the retriever, who has been recovering from hip operations for a long time and has only just come back to join me on walks. Here I am playing one of my favourite games - recover the stick from the water then refuse to give it up to be thrown in again.

Here I am at the International Dog Agility Show at Kelmarsh Hall at the weekend. It was so tiring watching all those collies running and jumping over things that I just had to find a stick and take some time out.  (Wish mummy wouldn't take those pictures of me with my tongue peeking out a bit, it's so demeaning!) I had a go at agility but frankly I couldn't see the point.  And to be honest, my mummy is getting a bit old to be trying to run around alongside of me looking like a middle aged women struggling to keep up with a dog.  The man said I was probably better suited to chasing game, and that is true, I love a good game!

Of course, my life isn't all fun and games, walks and naps and eating (just 99% of it), I have some serious work to do too.  On a Sunday morning, one of my jobs is to carry the Travel section of the Sunday papers home.  Daddy likes it nice and wet and slobbered on apparently.  And I am so proud to serve my pack leader.  People smile a lot and pat me as I go past as well, which is always appreciated.

So, fellow dogs, what have you been up recently?  Let's get a canine conversation going!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Handmade Monday

Decided to have a go at a Handmade Monday post, having read about it on CraftBlogUK - another great tip from the amazing Haptree, thank you!  It will be lovely to see and talk about what other folk are making.

This week I haven't had much time to focus on my current obsession with wire work and antique bronze pieces, but I have been thinking about the end of summer and how to make sure there's plenty of late summer items available in my shops. 

In spring I bought a strand of brightly coloured shells but haven't known what to do with them.  Then I thought they might contrast nicely with the dark wire and I could do some very simple wrapping.  Sitting down one evening, I was going to really make myself go completely random with the pattern but alas, my controlling self got in the way, and as you'll see there are rigid patterns of seven colours in each section!  So wish I could do something random or asymmetrical - perhaps this could be my crafter's challenge?  Anyone else want to join me on that one?!

The finished necklace - bright and dark together
Here's the link back to Handmade Monday:

Friday, 5 August 2011

Folksy Friday: Anniversaries

All these lovely handmade shops are coming up for a year's trading online or more on Folksy.  I've picked my favourite item from each of these 'veteran' online traders.  Not only do they have stickability, they are also pretty skilled crafters too.

Happy anniversary everyone!  Click on any of the pictures to go directly to the shop.

fabric birds by cwtch sunflower earrings woodland ACEO

1. Sweet fabric birds by Cwtch
2. Sunny sunflower earrings by Putting on the Charms
3. One of many beautiful ACEOs available from GweddusArt/Teabreaks

polymer clay pendant butterfly earrings toddler socks

4. Striking polymer clay pendant by Averilpam Design
5. Bronze flutterbys by flonightingale
6. Slipper socks (just for toddlers!) by Over the Rainbow

card Christmas tree cozy citrine wire wrapped pendant

7. Pretty greetings by jujucards
8. Get festive early with this decorative cozy by The Crafty Bride
9. Delicate wire wrapping on this citrine pendant by Mystic's Realm

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Celebrating two years of online selling

I am three today!
OK, so if it is the dog's birthday, that means it is also an anniversary for my Etsy shop, the first one I opened online, and means that I've now been selling online for a full two years.  I don't claim to have any special insight, but I must admit that hanging out in the Etsy, Folksy and Dreamaid forums, I've seen so many people start off with great enthusiasm and then realise how hard getting noticed is and fade away, that I do feel like a bit of a veteran!

It all has been much more complicated than I thought when I started out - I had that basic "I'll put it online, people will see it and buy it, job done" sort of idea.  I had never really thought about the competition for SEO, the complexities of pricing, how much time social networking would take etc.  Then there are the off-line tasks - photos, listings, business cards, packaging.  It really is a full time job, on top of a full time job.

This week's earrings
My advice to anyone starting out would be don't start unless you are really happy to spend more time on the business of selling than you are on making things.  This works out OK for me, as most of my jewellery is quick to make, and if I spent as much time on that as promoting, this tiny little house would be bursting at the seams.

I enjoy the selling, but the making is still the best part for me. I've moved on in terms of crafting skills as well, and I hope this shows in my work.  There is so much more material available now in terms of interesting and colourful gemstone and findings - as many of you know, I'm as much addicted to buying beads as making things!

And another pair of earrings!
I have five online shops (Folksy, Etsy, Dreamaid, Zibbet and Stylistic Gallery), but my main focus is Folksy, as it gives the best value for money in terms of SEO and that's really what gets online non-crafty customers to your shop.  I've nothing against crafters of course, but I want to reach the real magpies in the population who adore gemstone jewellery but don't want the hassle of making it themselves.  I've been very lucky with around 117 online sales across the shops in the 2 years, and only about 5 of those sales have been to other crafters or handmade shop owners.  Thanks to all my customers, as well as those folks who have given great advice over the two years - I literally couldn't have done it without you.

Other sales in the 'real' world have boosted my total to around 150, thanks mainly to colleagues in the day job, and it's great that they and some online customers are now regulars.  I don't sell to friends and family so if they admire something, I tend to end up giving it away (one of the many reasons why I'll never be a millionaire!) but I have inflicted a number of items on them as birthday and Christmas presents - poor things!

Enough rambling.  In the spirit of onwards and upwards, I'm celebrating this anniversary by launching my own website  Two years ago I could never have dreamed I'd be able to do this, so allow me a proud moment, please!  It is in it's early stages, though, and I'm still on a steep learning curve, so please pop along if you have time and do please send any comments you have.
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