Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Selling Jewellery

First of all, find your own place in jewellery design, everyone loves original pieces and don't copy others original work, that's a big no no and can get you into lots of trouble and maybe very bad publicity. Word travels fast.

(2) Wear your jewellery, ask your friends to wear it too, get it out there and let everyone see it. Who knows someone might buy a piece off your neck or arm.

(3) Be careful about selling on consignment, make sure you have an agreement in writing with the shop and also make sure you know who covers any losses such as theft, fire, etc which leads to the next item Insurance.

(4) Get yourself some insurance, including personal indemnity and product liability

(5) Keep a portfolio of your work, you never know when you may need to refer back to it. eg. Customers sometimes lose an earring and may want replacements if they love the piece enough. Portfolios are also good for looking back on, to see how your style and ability had changed and improved. All good lessons.

(6) Make sure you price your jewellery accordingly and ensure the customer knows what they're buying. You might include a little swing tag that gives relative info and never never assume the shop you have goods on consignment with knows what they're selling. I once had some-one tell me they couldn't tell the difference between Amethyst and Rose Quartz. If you going down the consignment path, make sure everything is tagged and that the owner knows what she's selling, otherwise you may never get a sale. If she doesn't know what she's selling, how can she sell it? Further if you're doing markets make sure the jewellery reflects prices people are expecting at markets.
I've seen people sitting around at markets with $350 plus jewellery. I don't go to markets to spend that sort of money on jewellery and very few tourists do either.
Markets are for bargains.

(7) Get yourself known. Join beading groups and forums on the Internet. Enter as many competitions as you can afford and read, read and read all you can about materials, semi precious stones, techniques etc. Knowledge is power!
Well if you don't make a fortune you may as well get fame!

(8) Offer gift certificates, but make sure they have a use by date. These are good for people who can't decide or don't know the taste of the person for whom they're buying. Also great for males who are shopping for their mums, sisters and girlfriends.

(9) Carrying on with the taste theme. Don't be put off by something you make, that maybe you're not too sure about because someone makes a nasty remark about it. Not everyone has the same taste and most times the general public wouldn't know an "Arty" piece of Jewellery if they fell over it, let along the value of stones you may have included. If you're not sure, ask another jewellery designer or two for their opinion.

10) Look for good quality materials. The Internet has a wealth of suppliers a heck of a lot cheaper than your local bead store. Give those stores a big miss, unless you're really in a bind. They charge like wounded bulls and this eats into your profits.

11) Make sure you're using genuine materials. Lots of suppliers particularly in South east Asia pass off materials as genuine when they're not. Be particularly careful when buying Swarovski crystals or lampwork. Sometimes gemstones are incorrectly named to, so go do your homework. Invest in some good reference books.

12)OK if all else fails, maybe you could teach jewellery making or write projects for jewellery making magazines.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stay tuned - Posts for next week

Gosh have so much happening at present. Just trying to get my head around it all.
Tomorrow we're having our Australia Day picnic with friends and family at the beach. Yes I know its a day late, but it is a long weekend. We've having a sausage sizzle along with one of Australia's best known cakes/desserts - Lamingtons and lots of stone and tropical fruits.

Monday will be cleanup day, finish work on the upstairs back veranda, get the top sorted with the sideboard out there. I bought some felt and plan to sew an underlay top for it that can sit under a piece glass. Have all sorts of ideas running around in my head for that. Will post a pic when its finished..

Wednesday is carpet laying day in the bedroom that's been renovated, then hopefully Michael will put together the flat pack 8 draw chest that I bought at Ikea last week.
Our local Bunning are out of the knobs I need for the chest, so looks like ahunting we will go!

Thursday, more chores and grocery shopping and moving furniture

Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be busy with trips to the markets, beach etc.

Upcoming blog posts include:
- Tips for selling your jewellery
- Next stone in the series of Yellow Gems that I plan to feature... its a surprise!
- Some pics of my newly furnished bedroom, oh I so can't wait to move back in.
- China Painting and lots more.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Some more reno projects

Here's a couple more pics of projects I've done around the house in recent times.
The first one is our little courtyard beside the back of the house. I designed the gate/fence and my ever handy husband built it. Since then we've had people stop at the front of the house asking where we got our court yard fence from...lol. I decided to keep my herb pots as its a good sunny position. The only real addition to the area has been a resin Kookaburra to the top of the black frame nearer the fence. It looks so real and even I have have done a double take at times, its a bit of Australiarna in an otherwise Japanese inspired garden

This pic is some handpainted leadlighting I completed on the upstairs bathroom door. The door was a find at one of those old wares recycling places. Michael removed the top two timber ply panels and replaced them with clear glass. I drew the pattern, enlarged it on a photocopier and traced over it with a thick black pen. I stuck the pattern to the back of the glass and then used stick-on lead which had to be rolled on with a special tool. The colours were dropped into the lead using an eyedropper to flood the area. (Of course the door has to lay flat for this to work)
I given the window in the bathroom the same treatment. Its been a few years since this work was done, the colours do tend to fade with time, but they havn't disappeared, they're just way more subtle.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Things have been progressing nicely with the bedroom renovation. The walls and trims are painted, the ceiling, plastered and painted and a white ceiling fan and wide slated blinds have been hung. Just got my carpet quote and am happy with the price, it was the cheapest of three quotes, but also just what we were looking for. It has the look of Sisal, but isn't and is a deep putty colour.

Th pic above is of some of the wall hangings I've made in recent days.

This lamp base was once cream and gold. It's now had Bernie's seaside touch....lol. The scene was inspired by the pic of Pelicans I took on a recent holiday to Nambucca Heads in NSW. You can view the pic in one of my earlier postings. Took me about three and half hours on Sunday to paint while Izzy Liz sat perched on the chair beside me. She seemed enthralled by what I was doing or perhaps she just thought I had something she could maybe eat!
I used Atelier acrylic paints, basically what I normally use for painting scenes on stretched canvas. The main problem I had was that the paint was drying really quickly on the clay lamp base so I had to work fast. I sealed the finished work with a good satin acyclic sealer, which gives it a slight sheen. I've also been hunting for a matching shade, was thinking a cane one would complete the look, but I don't want to have to spray paint one, been there done that, don't want to go there again. Maybe I'll have a bit of search on the Net and see what else I can find that would suit.

These are a couple more hangings I made for the upstairs bathroom, which is decked out in pale blue and white with touches of lemon yellow. The one of the right is actually Cobalt Blue, (same colour as the one in the first pic) not Navy or Black as it seems to look in the pic. I used cheaper acrylic paint for these, just went and chose two colours that I thought matched. The wooden fish were actually strung together and had eye hooks in their mouths which were easily removed. I glued them using 450 stainless adhesive as a glue gun would have been useless. The glue always tends to let go after a while if you bump what ever you've glued. The shells on the first set of hangings have been glued in the same matter. This glue dries clear, is very strong and available from Spotlight here in Australia. All have been sealed with the same satin acrylic sealer as the lamp bases.

Found a few bargains by way of a lemon coloured bath towel set and a new Doona cover at the recent new year sales. The cover has a gorgeous trailing vine and leaf pattern all embroidered in satin thread in colours of Lime green, Lemon and Cobalt Blue. Reminded me of a rain forest on the edge of an ocean somewhere. I shall post a pic of the finished room when the furniture and accessories are in place.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Art of Amber....Part 2

A few days back I wrote about amber being found in the far north of Queensland, here in Australia. Since then I've been doing a bit of research and found out some very interesting things about amber generally... it truly has me fascinated now. You may recall I was amazed about some of the possible inclusions found in amber, e.g insects and flowers, lizards and even frogs. Apparently mushrooms have also been found in the past as well as hair and feathers. Its seems that these types of inclusions greatly increase the value of the specimen. However, liquid and air bubble inclusions are usually removed by boiling the amber in rapeseed oil, before it is used for jewellery making.

Colour is usually determined by the source tree. Pines are responsible for golden-yellow amber, deciduous trees produce reddish toned amber, whilst green is due to the decomposition of organic material. However after long exposure to air and elements amber changes colour to a mellow brown. So far I've been unable to ascertain what causes some Amber to be blue.

Classification of amber is based on the source. eg. Baltic amber is known as succinite (as it contains succinic acid which biochemically plays a role in producing Citric Acid).
Romanian amber is rumanite, Sicilian amber is simetite and Burmese amber is burmite.
So does that mean Australian amber will be known as austamite? Guess we'll have to wait and find out.

Amber requires a fair amount of care because on the hardness scale it rates around 2-3. Being extremely heat-sensitive, it also needs to be protected from sources that produce heat, including hot water and strong sunlight.

Keep amber away from hairspray and perfume, protect it from bumps and scratches and keep it stored separately from other jewellery. When stringing amber it's best done in the same way as expensive pearls, i.e knotted between each bead.

So how do you tell the fake from the well thing? We've all seen lots of fake amber at weekend markets, this stuff is usually made from glass or plastic. Real amber is warm to the touch and floats in salt water, so that's why its found washed up on beaches.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Citrine - certainly no Lemon

This is the second post in my series about yellow gems. Today I've decided to tackle the Citrine, the rarest gem of the Quartz family.

Citrine is named after the French Citron commonly known as a Lemon. Colours range from lemon yellow to bright orangey brown. It is said to be the most affordable of all the earth-toned gemstones and is the perfect complement to all the warmest tones in your wardrobe. Its sunny colours light up black and contrast with blues and purples.

Natural yellow Citrine is very rare and has been revered for many thousands of years, it was popular amongst the ancient Romans who used it for Intaglio work, whereby a design is etched into the surface of the stone. The stone was particularly popular in the retro jewelry of the 1940s. Its bright yellow color and spectacular size suited the style and bold gold of the era.
It was often set with Ruby, Peridot, and Aquamarine in vibrant brooches, necklaces and bracelets. Many jewelry designers today still love to set Citrine in yellow gold, alone, or with Amethyst, Blue Topaz, or Peridot.

Many Citrines begin their lives as Amethyst and it's difficult to tell a natural Citrine from a heat treated one. After gentle heating, the purple fades and a golden yellow takes its place. Citrine mainly occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks and a great source of it is the Rio Grande do Sol state in southern Brazil.

Citrine is said to enhance individuality, improve motivation and activate creativity. I wonder if that also applies to those grown in a Lab?
Now where did I put my Citrine ring and necklace. I shall wear them more often and particularly when I'm lacking motivation in future.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kids, Dogs and Movies

Ask me what I've been up to the last couple of days... Beading? Painting? Photography? Renovating? No, No, No, none of the above.

For the last couple of days I been niece sitting. My 11 year old niece, Samantha, came to stay as her mum has just started a new job. This is not the first time I've been more than happy to baby sit. When Samantha was very little, she often came to stay the night if her mum and dad had to go to a function. She has also visited lots of times during the school holidays, she loves our swimming pool for a start and then of course there's Rem who has had an absolute ball with another little person in the house. I think he really missed her when she went home last night, 'cause at 2.30am this morning I heard him crying at the back door, between chewing on his squeaky toy. Poor little Sweety, I got out of bed and let him in for a while till he was sleepy again. Usually he sleeps a fair bit during the day, but not the last couple of days, he'd be lucky if he had several 10 minute kips. He was way too busy playing hide and seek, get the toy etc etc., so I guess that's why he was crying last night. I expect though that he'll sleep well today.

I forgot how exhausting it was looking after kids. Luckily, I'm not mentally exhausted as well as physically. We're past the stage of negotiating for every little thing like, "If I eat three more spoonfuls of my dinner, can I have three chocolates?" (Jelly Beans, Jelly Snakes, Chips, whatever....) and it use to be like that for everything.

Fancy having to negotiate with a child about when she should have her bath, go to bed, brush her teeth, eat her dinner, what she should eat for dinner, Phew!!... I recall one weekend when this happened constantly, its worse then working for some high flying executive type, and they don't listen either, but that's another story!

We also went to the movies. I'm very lucky, because at the end of my street is the local picture theatre. Decided to see "The Waterhorse" (Legend of the Lock Ness Monster) I really enjoyed this flick, and even had a little cry at the end. Yep I'm a real shook when it comes to movies.

The story is set in the early 1940's and is about a young scottish boy who finds a mysterious looking piece of Flotsam amongst the rocks on the seashore. He takes it home and begins to chip away at the exterior only to expose what looked to me, the most vibrant and amazing coloured Paua shell, the size and shape of a football. That's when all the fun begins. There are some very funny scenes in the movie and along with a few sad ones. (You also knew I'd get to mention some type of jewellery making supply in this post didn't you...lol... ie the Paua shell)

I won't give the movie plot away here. My niece loved the movie, one word of caution, don't go during the school holidays for obvious reasons.
Pic by Bernie - featuring a small piece of Paua Shell

A bit of a spruce up for 2008

I guess the title of this post says it all. Had a bit of time over the last week to make a few changes and investigate the "Settings" of this site a little more closely. Something I've been wanting to do since I started writing this Blog.
Decided I needed more colour for a start, so I've tried to stick with my most fave tones, Greens, Blues, Violets - all jewels of the sea.

The title pic on my blog is one of the Froggy pendants I designed in 2007. Boy, was it interesting playing around with the pic. Not sure that I'm entirely happy with it yet, but I shall persevere. The Lampwork once again by my lovely friend Sabine E Wilkins of Sydney and of course the quote is mine and best sums up my feelings about Wire.
The frog pic featured on this post is another of Sabine's Lampwork Beads.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Art of Amber

Did you know that Amber has been found on the beaches of Far North Queensland, somewhere in the Cape York area?
Sorry I can't divulge the exact location, because it's a secret with the reason being that scientists want to study the inclusions.

According to a news report, huge chunks of it, some the size of footballs and up to Twenty million years old (not as old as Baltic Amber though) have been collected in the last few years, some 60kgs of wondrous resin and now stored in a drum. There is speculation that this Amber has come from up to 200 kms's away and is likely to be from the Kuari Pines of ancient rain forests.

This is the first real Amber to be found here, sure we have other versions like coal resin and so on, but the interesting thing is some of this Amber is actually coloured apart from pale Lemon and Yellow, as in, Blue, Red and Green. One of the most amazing pieces to be found is Red and glowing with the inclusion a Gold insect. By all reports just stunning!

Imagine finding fossils, insects, plant material or even flowers belonging to the Jurassic age. Imagine some of the bigger pieces holding a frog or lizard, apparently this is possible. There are pockets of air and water also captured by the resin, imagine reaching into the past to discover what the atmospheric conditions were of the day. Scientists will be able to ascertain the temperature, rainfall and various other conditions and with the ability to test DNA as we do today who knows what will turn up.

So what is Amber used for exactly? Most of us know that it features in jewellery, its also made into beads and is used to make cigar holders and the mouth pieces on pipes. Why? Apparently is has the inability to past on infection.

The majority of Amber comes from a region near the Baltic Sea, but it can also be found on the coast lines of Denmark and The Netherlands, some areas of England, as well as several other places in Europe. Its also been discovered on the islands of Java and Bali in Indonesia.

So with this Australian discovery about to be investigated further by paleontologists, can they discover the source of our Amber and what indeed does the future hold for the commercialisation of Amber here? I can't wait to find out more.

Picture: Alan Pryke, cropped by Bernie

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dragonfly - Highlights of 2007 continued -

This morning I sat down to read an article in the latest Bulletin Magazine about Amber, but got way laid reading, about Dragonflies and felt I needed to record something about what I'd read. You may recall last year my post about the pic I took of a Blue and Yellow Dragonfly which inspired a piece of Jewellery I made and named "Dragonfly Summer" I really do love the look of dragonflies and I guess now that means I've joined the ranks of "Odonatists" meaning lovers of the Dragonfly or Damselfly.
I was fascinated to find out also that the Odonata insect order of these flies are some of the oldest critters on Earth and that Dragonflies are viewed with affection in Japanese and certain Native American traditions where they are revered as symbols of strength, happiness or pure water.

Well yes, I can see why they would be a symbol of happiness. Looking at some of the stunning colours of these creatures would brighten anyone's day. Take for example the "Red Barron" or " Urothemis Aliena" who would have thought that dragonflies came dressed in Red. I love Red, its one of my fav colours. The article went on to say, "other cultures see them as sinister". eg. in Europe, dragonflies were called "horse stingers" and "devils darning needles" stemming from a myth that if you fell asleep by a stream in summer, they'd use their long thin bodies to sew your eyelids shut....lol..now that is indeed would be a very funny sight.

Apparently there are 88 species of the Dragonfly found in South East Queensland and they are most active on hot, sunny days. I've noticed one or two occasionally in my garden, but they are usually tiny and not very colourful. I guess that's why this big colourful creature really made me sit up and take notice that particular day on Stradbroke Island. I now want to find out what species it is and a little more about its habitat.
Specific data in this post has been provided by Ric Nattrass a wildlife ranger whilst the article was written by Katherine Fleming of Bulletin Magazine.

I've emailed Ric personally to enlist his assistance with identification.

Ed: Ric tells me my Dragonfly is a "Blue Skimmer" or "Orthetrum caledonicum"
Thanks Ric!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Highlights of 2007 continued....

Here's another wire piece I put together last year. The only tools I used to make this one were a pair of wire cutters. The Swarovski crystals caught my eye one day whilst out bead shopping, at the time had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I think they were put to good use with the making of this wire necklace.
The wire that holds the necklaces in place is just one long piece that I wire wrapped with fine wire and then hooked onto the necklace. Actually the whole thing was a bit of an experiment, but I like how it turned out and so did a customer who snapped it up at one of my jewellery shows. I also made matching earrings for her.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Fun Froggy Pendant Project

Pick yourself up a copy of the latest(Dec 07) Australian Beading Magazine and have a go at my fun Froggy Pendant project. You'll be twisting wire in no time and probably get as addicted as I am. You can adapt this technique to any type of large focal bead. This is another of Sabine E Wilkins Beads... Have fun!!

It's 2008 - Happy New Year to you all

I've just be wading thought my photo archive trying to pick some photos to frame.
I decided a few days back that we ought to renovate our bedroom seeing as we have a few days off. Of course since then its done nothing but rain. (we have a Low off the coast near Fraser Island, which was being watched closely in case it turned into a Cyclone. We've also had close to 10 metre waves out in the bay off to the east of where we live.) So the plaster that was used to mend the crack in our bedroom ceiling is taking its time to dry. This damage was done a couple of years back when we raised our Queenslander home to build in underneath. Everything moves when you raise a house, luckily ours wasn't too bad.
So I've been to the local hardware to purchase sample paint pots and think I've decided on a lovely shade of Aqua, bright white trims and white ceiling. I'm aiming for a cool beachy feel. Also went to the local furniture store yesterday and picked out some 50cm wide slatted blinds in white (I really wanted white shutters, but I think the cost is going to be a little out of my budget) so the blinds are the next best thing. We also bought a new white ceiling fan, the built in cub boards were painted white last year and the handles changed to brushed silver. I've also picked out a 8 drawer chest in white (unfortunately it has black handles, but that's easily fixed, I'll try spray painting them with silver metal paint first and if that's unsuccessful, then I guess I'll just bite the bullet and go buy some replacements in brushed silver) My other problem child is the carpet. Why oh why does carpet fade so easily. The area under the bed is bright jade green the rest has turned a colour that I can't even describe. So as soon as the room is painted I'm calling the local carpet store and asking them to bring by some samples of the best non fade carpet they have. Beats going to the store with a inch square paint swatch. That brings me back to the photos, today I sanded back the photo frames that were hanging in the bedroom and have given them a watered down white wash, in fact three coats, then sanded back edges and raised areas to expose the timber and sealed them. I love this shabby chic look and have given the same treatment to other bits of old furniture in my home. e.g a couple of old pine bedside tables look wonderful in my guestroom with the addition of some gorgeous clear glass knobs which I purchased at an antique shop. The photo below is one I'm thinking of using. It was taken on Stradbroke Island, these are my favourite sea birds. The one above was taken down on the far south east coast of Tasmania in winter at one of the most scenic places I've ever travelled to. Its in the Freycinet National Park and known as Honeymoon Bay. This picturesque area was about a 100 metre walk from the front of our forest like cabin.