Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Far We Have All Come ... and ... How Fast, But Slow.

I took this photo over the weekend at the Island County Fair on Whidbey Island, WA.  This was in the antiques building.  I was shocked and cracked up at the content of my shot.  I was going for the old wagon and it took me a minute to feel the irony of the phone booth lurking in the background.  I'm sure I just liked the vertical and red or something for my composition.  Think of the actual time period between these two items.  Really not that long!!!  But yet, a really long time!  I am the queen of fragmented sentences in case you haven't noticed, but I type as I think.  I guess I must be a fragmented thinker as well.  Anyway, it makes me think how far we have come as Americans and how much has been accomplished in an actually short period of time.  My son gets a kick of asking me "Did you have this or that as a kid?"  What a lifechanger the internet has been, when I didn't even have computers growing up and now I am able to market our goods around the world because of it!  I am in awe when I think of the future and the rest of my lifetime.  What has yet to be invented or cured?  What will I witness in history?  It seems to all unfold slowly, but boy does it go fast!

Here is some eye candy that Scott has been working on.  Right now we sell all of these individually in our retail studio/gallery, but I'll set some aside soon and list them up so you can get your hands on them if you want to.  Ciao for now!  Monica

Monday, August 22, 2011

Our Studio and The Weird Radar Thing.

In an effort for you to learn more about us, I have posted a recent photo of our retail studio/gallery in downtown La Conner, WA.  We are right on First Street, so if you're ever in the area, be sure to stop in.  We sell Scott's lampwork beads, my jewelry, other beads, and some gorgeous batiks.  I learned to batik in high school and I love it.  I'm about to try another project.  I'll post a photo when complete.  Here is a link to learn more about our hours, location, etc.

We spent some time on Whidbey Island, WA this weekend with family and we had the odd pleasure of seeing the strange radar thing go by on it's way from Seattle to I'm not sure where.  It actually went by pretty fast!  Just strange.  I like how my photos turned out though.  Here is a link to an article so I can learn what it is and you can too if you are interested.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Two E's. Etsy and eBay. I'm going for it!

A while back I tried giving it a shot at using these two services instead of selling beads and jewelry from our website.  Back in the year 2000, acutally on New Year's Eve 1999-2000, we listed our first eBay auction.  After learning the ropes and building a good customer base, we actually sold Scott's beads on eBay full time and did ok at it!  Not a huge income, but definitely decent.  We rode that for a while and later we focused on doing more shows and ultimately opening a retail gallery/studio.  eBay started to taper off as more and more artists flooded the pages and China also began flooding the market with pretty decent basic beads.  Then eBay ditched the feature of being able to Feature something.  It would cost about $20-$25 or so and then you'd have a featured listing that would stay among the front pages until it ended.  I loved it.  I would list a heap of auctions and then feature something to let my buyers know that we were there.  Once eBay stopped doing that and did not offer a comparable alternative, our sales on eBay went down and our focus was going elsewhere. 
  Since then I gave it a shot here and there on eBay and wasn't too thrilled with the results.   Our buyers were either not there anymore or we were just too lost in the sea of pages and not being seen.  After a couple times of paying hefty eBay fees and not seeing anything come from it, obviously I put my efforts into other avenues.  HOWEVER, now eBay has stopped having a listing fee (I think for the first 50 items per month).  That has suddenly made it more attractive to me, and I'm sure many others, to go for it again since most of the cost will come now only if the item sells.  They take a cut on shipping now though, so keep that in mind. 
  I had a lightbulb moment the other day that I need to go for Etsy (mostly for my jewelry) and eBay (mostly for the beads), but to once again put a full time effort into it.  I had tried Etsy a while back and I'm sure I gave up too easily and quickly.  I weighed selling from my site to selling our work on these two sites. 
Pros:  eBay and Etsy - I don't have to resize and rename my photos or create thumbnails.  (huge time saver) AND I can easily show multiple angles (many photos) which I can't do on my site without tremendous effort and chaos on the screen.  I can have way better SEO with reaching my customers.  Cool Apps to help keep customers informed and good Analytics to see how things are going.   Each site has online forums which help to learn more and "get out there".  The fees are now more easy to swallow if things don't sell. 
Cons:  I'll miss my website shopping cart which enables people to use Visa/MC/Discover/Amex OR Paypal.  Maybe most people in the world have a Paypal account by now, but I wonder if I will lose or annoy customers by now ONLY taking Paypal.  I think I saw on eBay that you can take cards separately of Paypal, but I need to look more into that. 
Basically, I want our work to be found "out there" and I think using these two sites will now perform better than my website has been.  There are such good options to tag and use keywords and reach people that I would not have been able to otherwise.  It's time to try to find more customers since we haven't done shows in forever!  The kids are old enough now that I think we can get back on the ciruit hopefully next year.  Even if you practically break even at a show, the chance to pass out that many business cards often has translated to "being found" and the chance to run into editors of magazines was also a great benefit. 
  Ok, so you're in my brain now.  You know my thinking.  I will be vistiting tips, hints, videos, forums and getting back up to date as to how to make these sites work for me.  Yes, things have changed.  I also need to regain my Power Seller status on eBay which will likely take a year.  Oh well, better get started now then.  After reading extensively in the forums on each site and on Lampwork Etc., I have found that it can easily take 5-6 months of not much selling to finally getting a good customer base going and getting found.  I think it was two months at each site when I had tried on other occasions and got fed up.  I will keep it steady this time and not give up no matter what.  It just takes that and I'm going to do that!  Oh and I also learned that one should try to have over 100 items up on Etsy.  I don't think I was near that before.  I have enough inventory to do that and will list it all over time so I can have new items show daily in the Newly Listed pages. 
Here's to going for it!!  May my efforts to build our customer base and keep our work "out there" perform well and catch on.  I can see it.
By the way I only have one item up on each at the moment as I spent all day creating templates, adding preferences, etc.  I will add daily as I plan to schedule a weeks worth at at time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Heap of New Work Added to our Website. New Newsletter too!

Today I have added this lot of beads plus a bunch of jewelry as well to our website.  There is also a new tool on there which you can find featured on our homepage below the graphics and some of the videos.  It is a new switch system for our electric mandrel spinners.  I have also just sent out our monthly e-newsletter.  There is a coupon on the bottom of it that expires tomorrow night!  Have a great Saturday night!  Ciao, Monica

Friday, July 29, 2011

No Comment(s) - Change That and Win

Ok, so in an effort to see a 1 instead of a 0 next to my comments section below each post, I am offering a one time prize to the first person to leave a comment. Let me know you're out there. I also want to see how I am notified when someone does leave a comment. The prize is a coupon for 30% off of your entire order from anything on our website. It will have a one month expiration date.

Since I posted this blog post, someone has notified me that there is a problem with leaving comments. I urge you to still try since I tried to leave one and it worked for me, but then I deleted my comment so the comments number would be true.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Jewelry Portfolio Revisited for Inspiration

I am gearing up to make some more elaborate pieces as one of my last in the store just sold! With the kiddos it's hard for me to take a lot of time on one piece, but they are surely my favorite pieces to make. I looked to my portfolio page on our site and that helped me remember some ideas I have been wanting to try. Most of our new work recently has been put out for sale at our studio and I wanted to see how that went before taking all of the extra time to photograph them and get them up online. I'm due for a photoshoot though, so I'll post new work soon. In the meantime, perhaps you'd like to see some of my more elaborate pieces in my online portfolio.

Or look below to view my fancy slideshow.

Thanks for looking! The last couple of weeks has been camping, swim lessons, and day camp. That seemed to all come at once. It was fun though, but I'm glad things are getting more settled down around here.

Ciao! Monica

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Making Jewelry, Bead Centering Trick, Fair-Going Firemen

So the boys and I spent the last weekend with my sister out at the beach on Whidbey Island. I even managed to make some jewelry out there. The internet connection was a bit spotty, so I didn't bother with the blog. I need to get myself down to the studio soon and get some photos done of some of my new work. I'll just keep making it and photograph it as soon as I can. The boys have started swim lessons this week and it is every day, so I'm a bit thrown from my schedule. The photo below shows some of my take-over of the picnic table.

I wanted to share this tip as I find it an important step in paying attention to detail with your work. Scott makes his beads mostly on 1/16" mandrels. The sterling silver wire that I use most is 20 gauge. I find if I don't nestle round beads up against his beads to keep them in place, they can stick out to either side and look off-center. So, for those times I don't want to use a round ball bead up close, I instead fill the hole with small seed beads that are the right size to slip in and fill the void. I don't know what ones to get, I just tried some from my stash and got lucky. At least when you fine a kind that works, you likely have a lot of them. This makes a huge difference for me. Blurry picture, oops, but you can get my point. I made this necklace tonight. I'll show you the results in my next photo shoot.

While on Whidbey Island we checked out an art festival we used to do, Choochokam (Langley Art Festival). I think we'll try to do that next year if we can. A bag of kettle korn, two firemen hats, and two happy kids. Ahhh, the balance seems to be working out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Day 20% Off Bead Sale, New Work, and What It's All About

I have updated our website with four new bead sets (shown here) along with 2 new pendants. We are having a one day sale (20% off) for our Lampwork Bead Sets and Focals. The sale will end at 2pm Pacific Time on Friday July 8th. No codes necessary, sale prices shown on website. We take Visa/MC/Discover/Amex and Paypal.

So far I'm doing ok on balancing summer fun for the kids and working. The holiday and our recent statewide 18 hour broadband outage kicked me back, but I'll find a way to make up for it. I have found that some of my favorite things to do with the kids are also the simplest. Parades, kiddie carnivals, hay-rides. It is so fun to see the kids having such a great time over simple efforts made by us adults. I love that they let my son get this close just to make sure he won a prize. And the humble potato sack. Good times. These are moments when I find myself saying "This is what it's all about." For me anyway, I'm sure we all have that feeling at different times, but I'm glad to have them.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Had a Good 4th! Finale Video Clip.

We just returned from a fabulous 4th with family and friends on Whidbey Island, Washington. I took the photos below with one of two children asleep in my lap. What a day. It was nice to take a break, but I am amped to get back to making jewelry and you should see some new glass experiments that Scott is teasing me with. Looks quite promising. I'll of course post here when I have something to show you. We'll see what the kiln opening brings in the morning. Hope you enjoy the video clip of the fireworks grand finale put on by my step-dad and cousins. At the end you can see that I pan over to the right. You'll see that we are on a waterfront cove and other shows are still going on. The far away echo of blasts is one of my favorite things, however, in many ways eerie and sad to think that for many long ago that sound didn't bring joy. Lets be grateful.

p.s. We just hit 500 Likes on our Facebook Page! Woo Hoo!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Six Colorful Lampwork Bracelets and The Tape Trick Photo Tip

I went for a short hike with the boys yesterday on one of our favorite trails straight into some long grass and bees. We thought it would clear up soon, but didn't, so we promptly turned around. That short time was long enough to spin me into a hayfever attack that took me down. Hence, I had an icepack on my forehead last night instead of getting my daily blog post in. Well, I'm back in action now! I've listed the 6 colorful lampwork bracelets (shown below) to our website and they are now available for viewing and for sale. I want to explain how I do the length measurements. I list a Total Length and an Interior Circumference. The Total Length is me having the bracelet stretched out on a ruler. The Interior Circumference is the measurement I get when I slide the closed bracelet onto my measurement cone. The width of the larger beads makes the bracelet "shorter" when you actually put it on. Am I making sense? To see what size would work best for you, I suggest getting a thin string and placing it around your wrist with enough slack to match how loose you would like a bracelet to feel. That measurement would most closely match the Interior Circumference. I include the ruler length because I think that is more industry standard. I do free sizing adjustments upon request, however for necklaces, sometimes I need to add a small charge if I am adding a lot more beads. So it didn't take me long to realize that I should just do a group shot instead of a Flickr Slideshow to show you new work. Duh. :o) The slideshows are still cool, but I don't think I'll use them each time. Remember in Blogger you can click the photo to enlarge it and then click it again to Zoom in.

Link to our website to view/purchase the bracelets.

And now, to my photo tip. The Tape Trick. A while back I was having a heck of a time photographing lentil beads without getting major glare from the lights and the flash. I knew I needed to prop it up somehow and was looking around for something. Scott quickly suggested I use a small crumpled piece of tape. I have since learned that double sided tape works even better. You just crumple it up and lay it on your table and lean the bead up against it. You can even then smash it down a bit or lift up and it seems to stay how you want it. Also, make sure to polish off finger prints. Lentils are famous for showing finger prints. Cotton gloves for this would be best, but like I'll ever remember to pick up some cotton gloves when I'm out and about with the kids. I have both full time this summer, no daycare. It is working out and we're loving being together, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't more chaos. :o) Below is a picture of our photo station. Two 5500k photo flood lights coming from the right and left, along with a light box with a piece of white computer paper on it. I also use the flash on my camera. The light box helps to illuminate transparent beads and get some "under-lighting". The white foam core board in the back helps to bounce light back onto the bead. We then adjust the lighting setting on our camera to to the 5500k setting. I'm not saying my last photo below is perfect. I just wanted to point out that when I was trying to photograph this bead laying flat I got so much glare that the photo was unusable and has long since been deleted or I would have shown you an example. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tribal Canoe Journey Coming To La Conner, Washington!

I finished up six colorful lampwork bracelets and two pendants and will likely post them tonight. I'll also have four more Galaxy Bead sets from Scott as well. I tried to do a blog post last night and I couldn't access Blogger. Seems to be ok now. Must have been the universe's way of telling me to be done for the day.
Today I wanted to share something that is coming up in our special little town of La Conner, Washington. The Tribal Canoe Journey is landing in La Conner this year and it is quite a big deal. One side of the channel in La Conner is the downtown and schools, many homes, etc. and the other side is the Swinomish Indian Reservation - which is where we live. This is a wonderful community and I am proud and happy to live here. The Rainbow Bridge makes it easy to get from side to side.

Anyway, right across the channel from our studio is where the landing will take place. We have been watching the construction of the landing site and you'll see from the photos below that they are going all out. They have created three shelters in the form of the cedar hats that were commonly worn by the native tribes of this area. You can see these hats if you watch one of the videos I have linked to below. Thousands and thousands of people will come from all over to attend this event. I can't imagine how traffic is going to be and how the town will do handling the crowds. I'm sure it will be great, but what an event!! The photos below show it from each side of the channel. In the first photo, you can see a light green building on the far right. We are on the street side of that building. This event is at the end of July. I keep thinking they are going to put grass in, but who knows at this point. I'm sure it will all come together. You should come to La Conner. We have so many great galleries, museums, and restaurants. Here is a link to the Chamber of Commerce. Hope to see you!
Paddle To Swinomish Website
Tribal Canoe Journey Video Clip from past event
The Canoe Way - video clip

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eye Candy and Inspiration

I returned home late-ish tonight, so I am just sharing this photo of some past work that is meant to inspire Scott and I, but to also give your eyes something lovely to look at. You can click on the photo to enlarge it, but then click it again to see even more detail. These pieces were all sold long ago. I forgot my camera at the studio tonight, so I'll have to share tomorrow what I had intended to share tonight. Night all! -Monica

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Grouping of New Work - Flickr slideshow test....and my little garden.

This post is my first attempt at sharing our new artwork with you via Flickr slideshow. If you have any trouble with it let me know. If it doesn't work for you, here is a link that will take you to the photo page. In the future I will most likely wait until I actually have the work uploaded to our website, but I'm too excited to wait this time. If this works, it sure makes my life easier and you will just get to sit back and watch a relaxing slideshow and hardly have to click a thing. Much easier that clicking a lot of links or flooding each post with photos. It may take a bit to load. I hope not too long. goes! If you want to see a couple of photos from my humble little garden planted in pots, you'll find them below the slideshow that hopefully shows up for you below. Thanks for looking! If you leave a comment you'll forever be in my heart as the first person who left a comment on my new blog escapade. :o) Ciao! Monica Ok, I just tested it and am now editing my post to say "It Worked" did just show a black rectangle for a while while it loaded. It took a little longer than I wanted, but it should still be ok.

From left to right...lettuce, strawberries, sweet peas (flower kind), snap peas (my youngest helped me plant these from seed), sunflowers (my eldest child's school project replanted). Oh and more lettuce in the front. The slugs can't get my lettuce or strawberries being up on those pots!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Goal and Online Marketing System

The trick is for me to make this easy for the both of us. Those who want to view new work and me who needs to get it up and online so it can be available to you. I have tried various ways over the years and this new system will likely need some tweaking as well, but so far it's looking good and I'm pretty darn excited about it. First however, this is a photo of the new jewelry I made today for restocking the shop. These will not go up online, but I wanted to show you what I've been up to anyway. I will show you the PrintScreen images below that I was referring to in my post from a couple of days ago.

These images below show what the home pages of my new "system" look like. Links for these are also available on the top of the page of each page on our website. The first step of my plan which is maybe one I will revise, is to upload my new item photos to Flickr and create almost daily "sets" of photos. That way I can have a copy and pasteable link to a set of photos. Great for sharing on Facebook and Twitter, but my as of yet untested hope is to post them as a slideshow on my blog so I don't have to add each photo separately. From there my blog autoposts to Facebook that I updated my blog and then from there my Facebook autoposts to our Twitter page. I especially like that in Flickr and in this blog, I can add Labels/Keywords/Tags to each set of photos or posts. Always good for getting "found" "out there". I will also post each of Scott's new videos that he posts to Our YouTube on the blog which will start the Facebook to Twitter post sharing. So, it will be up to you where you want to sign up to receive notification of our new work, new tools, and new videos. I will also still send out my monthly email newsletter, but with 910 subscibers and only averaging 300ish "opens", I feel there is room for improvement in getting my info out to those who are intersted. My intention in sharing all of this is to also show other artists out there how I market online and perhaps that can help you decide how you'll go about maketing your own work on the internet. I will be testing this system tomorrow. The only really untested part is the Flickr slideshow to Blogger. This was kind of a "techy" post too. Bear with me if this is of no interest to you. I'm sure you'll find other things interesting that I will post in future. Well, I hope you do anyway. :o) Ciao, Monica

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just a Quick One.

I thought I'd post a quick photo of some of the many wonderful large holed beads that Scott has been making for our studio. These fit on the many popular bracelets that need those large holes. We sell them for $4-$16. Currently these are not available on our website. That will change in the future however.

I'm out of energy after a busy Saturday with the boys. Half of the day was purge the home of too much outgrown kid stuff followed by errands and the park. Here is a photo of The Reptile Man at our local library. He was quite the hit along with his entourage. The images I spoke of in yesterday's post, will not be in tomorrow's post.

Friday, June 24, 2011

PrintScreen Is My New Best Friend

So, this post turned a little more techy that I had planned, so bear with me. I will have the occasional techy day, oh yes, I will, but this blog will not be techy land where I go on and on. I think it will vary quite a bit each day and share all kinds of different things and new inventory of course. I plan to make some colorful lampwork bracelets over the weekend, but for now I just wanted to introduce you to my new best friend. It's one of those things that perhaps the majority of you already use and love, but for me, well, I just found out how great it is. And if you haven't been using it, I thought I'd share how it has been helping me. What is it you ask? Well, it's PrintScreen. That magic little button found on the top right hand side of my keyboard that says PrtSc. I used it in my last newsletter and on my newly re-designed website. My first picture is an image made directly from PrtSc. In fact the rest of the photos in this post are captured that way. The first image shows how I pushed the PrtSc button and then went to my photo editing program (PaintShop Pro) and then pressed Ctrl V (for Paste) and a new image came up of that looks exactly like the screen I just captured and in fact the image is of decent size too. (1280x800). I then rename it and save it as a .jpeg.

The second image shows the next step if you want to zoom in. I am using Internet Explorer so I'm not the one to know how it works on other browsers. Anyway, go the top right hand corner and find the word Page. Click on that and from the dropdown, choose Zoom and at what percent. 100% is normal. The second image shows you the drop down menu.

The third image shows me zoomed in at 400%.

Then again at 200%.

The final picture is 50%.

I just thought this was cool and helpful to use in blogs, facebook entries, creating graphics, and other things like that. These technical posts will be likely few and far between for me, but I wanted to share this as a part one of tomorrow's post which I will be showing more examples and explaining more about my new online marketing system.

Today I conquered Mt. St. Laundry and ran a million errands. Scott making a platform hideout for the boys in our huge hedge was the highlight of the night. I'll post a pic when complete and then again when we "Shangri La" it with white Christmas lights. See you tomorrow. Monica, otherwise known as Mo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scott's Disc Making Video and NW Nature

I'm glad we went for that swim yesterday as the weather is not quite so beautiful today. Today I wanted to post Scott's video clip of Making Lampwork Discs. Scott has made a series of very informative video clips and will be posting them to YouTube periodically to help show his tools in action, to give you helpful tips and techniques, and to plant the seed of his desire to become a travelling teacher. Yes, I know I'm his wife, but I really have to say that I truly beleive that he is a natural born teacher. He is interesting, scientific, fun, warm, and very smart. I have seen him teaching/demo-ing and I really think he does a great job. I also hear the comments from people after and they are sure to point out to him that they enjoyed it and learned a lot. So, if you could be so kind as to help by mentioning his name to your local glass studio if you'd like to have him visit as a teacher. What he can teach does not always have to relate to using his tools. Well, here is the clip and below I've posted some fun Starfish photos that the boys and I took while exploring Larrabee State Park in Bellingham, WA. This first photo shows a larger starfish (about 10x10 inches) and the other one is a mini or baby one. I've never seen one this small!! Until next time....ciao!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Call A Do-Over!

So, as with all things it seems, you set a goal and do your best and then if it does not work out, you rethink it and try again. I am talking about my quest to find the best way to keep our work and business updated online. For now I am only going to concentrate on this blog and our Bearfoot Art facebook page. I have had separate ones for my jewelry, but that was too much and I just didn't update. So, I'm going to simplify. The kids are out of school now, my taxes are done, our website had a recent makeover, and I'm about to send out a newsletter to let you know of the wonderful new inventory I have added to our site. So, what that means to me is....I can now go forth with fewer distractions and concentrate on my goal of making and listing new inventory at least four days a week. I will still send out newsletters monthly, but if you want to keep informed and be the first to see new work, new tools, new videos, etc., this blog is the place to be. You can sign up to receive updates by email in the top right corner of this page. I will also post to our facebook page everytime that I do a new blog entry. I think this may work for me! This is Monica by the way. Scott will likely start his own blog page with his own personality, but the business stuff and me will be on this blog. Please comment whenever you feel that you can so I can be encouraged that I'm not just talking to myself. Thanks!
The photo above is a screen grab of our new website look. I plan to crisp it up, but for now, I'm going to take the kids for a swim.