Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Starry Night, Moonless Sky

On our recent cruise to the Bahamas, like the cruise we had taken a few years ago, one of our stops was Key West. I had remembered this one particular store from the previous trip, called Earthbound Trading Company. They sell a variety of things including incense and candles with African and Southeast Asian motif.

What I had forgotten about this place is that they have a bin of gemstones that you can pick through. You grab a little velvet pouch and cram as many as you can in there. Its a flat charge for the pouch, regardless of how many you get to fit - you just have to be able to close the bag. Very exciting!

One of the several stones that I took home with me was a somewhat rectangular shaped piece of hematite. It took a while to wrap it in wire, mostly because the magnetic stone took quite the liking to my meta toolsl, and now a couple of my tools are even slightly magnetized! I decided the magnetic pendant would be best fit at a choker length as opposed to a longer necklace where it would get in the way picking up paper clips and have the freedom to stick to metal objects close by.

I strung some hematite beads, black beads, and black diamond Czech E beads on a choker sized memory wire with the pendant. The silver lined blue/gray "black diamond" E beads give a glittery appearance with the black and silver metallic colors of the hematite, hence the name "Starry Night Choker."

On the subject of starry nights, did you happen to catch the total lunar eclipse 2/20/08? I tried to capture it on camera, but my photography skills, or lack there of, did not do the event justice. It was absolutely gorgeous! There are more poor quality pictures of the eclipse on my Flickr page as well, if you want to check them out!

Monday, February 25, 2008

♣ ♥ Super Sale ♥ ♣

I hit an Etsy benchmark this week! Over 200 buyers and sellers have "♥hearted♥" my shop.

In celebration, I am having a 200 hearts sale. Free shipping on all orders in the U.S. with no minimal purchase. For those who live anywhere else, all you have to do is spend $30.00 for free shipping.

Not only is there free shipping available, but if you visit my ♣ St. Patrick's Day Sale ♣ section, you will see all items there have been marked down 10%.

And yes, you can combine the two offers.

The St. Patrick's Day Sale items are already reduced, however, the shipping prices do not reflect my sale. It's too much of a pain to change the shipping on all my items for the sale, and again when the sale is over. You can either contact me to change the shipping for you ahead of time, or I can PayPal the money back to you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

What Is Etsy?

Chapter I. What is Etsy?

I have plans of creating a clickable tutorial for those who are unfamiliar with Etsy, so that new users and complete strangers can become more familiar with the site to buy and sell handmade items. While my motives are somewhat selfish ("Buy from me! Buy from me!"), I realize that as a new buyer or seller there are many concerns and it can be somewhat intimidating.

This is my first chapter of my tutorial, called "What is Etsy?".

Despite the many theories behind the name "Etsy," it's origin is still a secret to everyone except those who named it. While I'm pretty sure my theory is false, I'd like to think of it as:

You can register on Etsy as a buyer and/or seller. The most important thing for buyers to remember is prompt payment. It is not fair to the shop owner if their item becomes unavailable for selling and it takes an excessive period of time to receive their payment, if they receive it at all.

The rules of selling are pretty basic. The items must be either handmade, vintage items, or items for commercial use, such as jewelry findings, yarn, zippers, and so on. If they are for commercial use, they must be tagged as such. The purchased item must also be shipped in a reasonable period of time. It helps if you list in your profile your shipping policies, such as what days of the week you can ship items so that they buyer can know when to expect your package.

Why register to buy items on Etsy?

Because the Etsy administrators make you, that's why! It has to do with feedback and to protect everyone's best interests, mostly. For the buyer, when you make a purchase from an Etsy shop, you and the seller both must follow Etsy's guidelines, as well as any policies that the seller has in their profile and/or shop announcement. Both the buyer and the seller can rate the transaction through feedback. Did the buyer pay promptly? Was the seller's description of the item accurate? Of course, it is always appreciated from both sides of the transaction to discuss any problems that may arise before leaving negative feedback. If you are unhappy with an item, first contact the seller to see if a return is possible. Maybe the buyer was slow to complete the transaction because they just put funds into their PayPal account but PayPal had taken longer than three days to clear it. If you purchase an item and it is never shipped, you can contact Etsy for intervention. Leaving negative feedback for poor/unethical service helps warn other buyers/sellers, while positive feedback is encouraging to future customers.

Etsy administrators also get cranky when Etsians sell items listed on Etsy but not through Etsy. It is only fair that they make some money off of the seller's profits because they host a website and help direct traffic to your shop.

Is Etsy safe and secure?

Etsy explains their privacy and security policies here. As a seller, when someone makes a purchase from me I do not see any personal credit card or PayPal information other than the buyer's name, shipping address and email address which is only available upon them purchasing an item. We need to see this information, obviously, so we know where to send it.

Both Etsy and PayPal are secure. I have not yet heard of anyone, buyers nor sellers, have a security issue and personal information compromised while using either of these two services.

In today's world, if you think about it, everything is stored on computers. Whether you are a computer programmer or someone who does not even have an email address, your bank, credit card companies, utility companies, and so on all store your personal information on computers. Even if you are not affiliated with them online, there is always a chance that someone can access your electronically stored information.

In my life, I have had two instances (that I know of) where my personal information was compromised. Ten years ago when I was looking at colleges to apply to, I requested information from several. There was one college I didn't even remember contacting for information that sent me a letter in the mail a couple years after I graduated from Marist. In the letter they explained that their computer system had been hacked into and that the person that had broken into the system may have accessed my social security number. Keep in mind, when I was looking at colleges, internet was just beginning to become huge but we did not even have dial-up in my house. I did not use the internet at all in my college search/application process, yet it was used to access my personal information that I had provided to a school I didn't apply to.

The second security breach I had was a few Christmases ago. I had done some Christmas shopping at a Marshall's store and made my purchase with a credit card. That very next day someone broke into the Marshall's/TJ Maxx computer system and got access to all the credit card numbers within a certain time frame. I was promptly issued a new card from my credit card company, and there were no suspicious charges made on my account. Like my first situation, I had done nothing online to allow this to happen.

My point is that these are secure sites, and there's always a chance your personal information can be accessed anywhere.

Stay tuned for the next chapter specifically on how to become a buyer and make purchases. In the mean time, if you have any questions you can contact me or check out some of these useful links:

General FAQ's about Etsy
DO's and DON'Ts of Etsy
Etsywiki (The Wikipedia of Etsy)
Etsy's Help Guides

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Modified Project of the Month: February

Neither amethyst nor silver, discuss!

My BeadStyle Beading 2008 a project a month Calendar uses a pattern for two amethyst and silver necklaces and matching earrings set for February's project. Since amethyst is the birthstone for February, it made sense.

In my search for amethyst beads, I could only find amethyst chip beads, which I'm not particularly fond of. My search for a pretty silver pendant came up empty as well. I had, however, been holding onto this amazing copper pendant since my trip to Manhattan to visit some college friends for over a month now, and it's been burning a hole in my bead box. Instead of the sterling silver blossom pendant thats recommended by the calendar, I decided to incorporate my copper one instead. I was off on a search for beads to go well with copper. I love the colors teal/blue-green/aqua with copper, so turquoise beads would be most ideal. I had already used up my turquoise stone beads on my Turquoise Head Turner necklace. In my search for turquoise, I could only find ginormous turquoise stones, turquoise chips, and turquoise howlite chips, bringing me back to another stone chip predicament. I then remembered that I had aqua and copper E beads from my Toola Roola's Mane necklace, and some other random beads (some even copper in color) in my bead stash already.

The circular copper pendant was purchased with pre-drilled holes along the bottom. I strung seven copper head pin wires with E beads and Czech glass copper metallic beads and attached them through the holes along the bottom so that they could dangle. I then created a necklace with the same beads, as well as some burnt red/copper colored glass crow beads.

The earrings are basically the same design as the ones in the calendar, except without amethyst. They were made with all the same beads that are in the necklace. I also extended them in length by having the two head pin wires hang from a 3rd wire with the same large glass crow beads that are in the necklace.

Apparently all of my creativity was used up in creating the matching set because naming them was unusually difficult for me. I turned to fellow Etsians for help. There were many spectacular suggestions, however, CreationsByRobin's suggestion was my favorite: Lake Havasu Falls.

Lake Havasu is in the Grand Canyon. She said the copper color reminded her of the Grand Canyon, and the aqua and blue colors dangling from the pendant reminded her of waterfalls. I agree.

If its not really at all like the one in the project a month calendar, why is it my project of the month? Because it took me a month to find everything to make the set come together of course! I am offering a discount for if these two items are purchased as a set, see my shop for details.

*** This inspired me to make a Grand Canyon themed treasury*** Check it out before it expires on Monday 2/25/08 at 09:42!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Evolution of a Knitter

I hope someday to read back on this post as an expert knitter and laugh at myself...

My mom taught be how to crochet when I was pretty young. I made potholders, mostly. Simple square hourglass shaped things. I don't remember how long the phase lasted, but it had probably been 15 years or so from the time I had last touched a crochet hook until last year when I started crocheting wire jewelry.

I'm the youngest member of craft circle at work where some of my coworkers have taught me how to knit. Let me tell you, it is not funny when they can't figure out something on the computer, but when they watch me try to knit it is hilarious. I have been told I need to control my tension better and that seeing me use the size 15 needles that my "mentor" gave me is comical as well.

Anyway, my first piece was a shades of purple scarf. I just knit (knitted?) each row, no pearling. Pardon me if my lingo is not correct, I'm new and I've never touched a knitting book. I started off with 31 rows, as I was told I need an odd number. At the end of the scarf I had 37, not counting the ones I had dropped along the way. Quite hideous, actually. If I ever finish the fringe on it, I will wear it anyway, at least until all my dropped stitches unravel. I worked hard on that.

~Size 15 needle above a dropped stitch~

As you may have read about, I went on a cruise last week and was worried that I would be bored in the airport and on the beach. I knew I couldn't bring my jewelry supplies because the airport security, first of all. Can you just imagine me trying to explain needle nose pliers, scissors, wire cutters, and everything? Second of all, even if I were to pack my supplies in my checked luggage to bring to the beach, the amount of materials that I require for making necklaces is ridiculous; if any of my bead boxes were to break open in my luggage, it would be tragic. Besides, I was on vacation.

On my vacation I had brought some pastel purple, blue, pale yellow, and green yarn that I used to make another scarf. The good news is that I started and ended with 23 stitches. I only dropped a stitch once and I think i fixed it w/ a crochet hook. I also knit a row and pearled a row, and it looks rather normal aside from the fact that a size 15 needle was used. (Yes, you can get those in your carry on through airport security). I tried casting off as my teachers had shown me but I don't think I did it right. I did it, it's off, it's together, but I think I invented a new way. Worst part is that sitting next to my husband was a woman using tiny needles knitting a shawl with beaded yarn and it was gorgeous. I can only imagine what was going through her mind watching me...

I have no new jewelry to post, so I must get busy again.

Anyway, if you care to check out my vacation pictures, here are a few of them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Love Boat

How We're celebrating Valentine's Day This Year:

Last year we could not go out to dinner on Valentine's Day as we were under house arrest during what our region will forever remember as "The Valentine's Day Storm," where the snow accumulated over two feet in some areas.

This year we're going to avoid the snow all together. We are going on a four day cruise aboard the Majesty of the Seas, a recently remodeled cruise ship belonging to Royal Caribbean.

Our four day itinerary through the Bahamas begins in Miami on Monday. From Miami we go to Nassau, Coco/Little Stirrup Cay, Key West, then back to Miami on Friday. We have yet to plan our excursions at our stops, but we look forward to sight seeing and relaxing in a warmer climate, guaranteed blizzard free.

Our decision to go on Valentine's Day week actually had nothing to do with the occasion, it just happened to be the week that worked best with our work schedules, but is there any better way to spend the romantic holiday?!

It's too difficult to travel with my beading and jewelry making supplies, so intend to practice my knitting to keep my fingers busy while traveling and sitting in the sun.

Be sure to check out other EtsyBloggers Valentine's Days of the past, present, and future at Tulips Treasure Box Blog on February 11th!

Friday, February 1, 2008

All Of My Loves

In the spirit of Valentine's Day this month, I'm writing this post about just some of my loves.

My husband and I met in middle school, when he was still commonly known as Scott. We started dating after our Junior Prom, went to Marist College together, and eventually got married in 2005. He's great, certainly what I love most in my life. He's always been there for me! Below are some pictures of us from prom, the wedding, and most recently, at his sister's wedding.

We have two cats, "the boys," as we call them; they provide most of our entertainment. Rocky, a.k.a. Rock or Rockstar, on the left, enjoys sleeping and eating, as you probably can tell but does not come out for company. Pepper, or Pepe as we call him, is the social one. In the picture on the right, Pepe is intently watching the television in the basement - like father, like son. They are great companions and love us in return.

I also love crafting and making jewelry. I had never really thought of myself as a creative person until I got into making jewelry. Making jewelry and other beaded designs has allowed me to tap into my creative side, and has opened many doors for me. I've stepped into a great community on Etsy and Blogger. Other recent endeavors include knitting (not my forte) and my blog. I just love finding new clickable things to put in my blog! I've managed to turn my love for a hobby into a business. Luckily, I don't love it for the money, or my husband and I would be sharing the boy's cat food! Maybe someday I'll hit the jackpot...

Read the rest of this weeks Blog Carnival posts here!