Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snowed In: Jewelry Contest, Part 2

Ok, so it's the holidays and I have my assistant who is down with a terrible cold, we've had a huge snow and ice storm that has crippled the Portland-Metro Area and I'm having to work double-duty in the office plus pull orders.

So...........I didn't get back with the simple component you'll need when creating your jewelry design. Ta Da....here it is:



It's the new Scrolled Filigree Ring I've added recently. Simple, elegant, easy to work with -- versatile too. And it has this beautiful floral-scroll design in it. Lots of potential! (and cheap! $1.65 each)

Finally, the rules are: Something with purples, plums, pinks, deep reds -- anything in the Purple Family. And using at least one of these rings.

Go for it and best of luck to those who enter. Remember, I'll want to post your photos here at the blog and have readers (all 10 of you!!) decide on the winning design.

Until next time....Pay it Forward

Visit the website at http://www.brassbouquet.com/ Email your comments to: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Jewelry Contest

I think it's time we had a contest again! I'm going to pick a couple of Brass Bouquet findings that I think are easy to work with and challenge you all to a contest!

I will begin posting photographs as soon as they come available. The winner will be chosen by viewer voting. Voting should be sent to brassbouquet@comcast.net.

Rules: Create an inspiring piece using any shades of purple, along with Brass Bouquet brass findings and components -- using at least one component from the few I have selected to be part of the finished piece. Purple must be pronounce -- you know me, purple is my favorite color -- but burgundy, plum, even deep red can be used. Email your photographs in 500 dpi (jpeg format) to brassbouquet@comcast.net for submission. All photos will be posted on the blog and available to the public for voting purposes.

The winner will receive a $25.00 shopping spree at the Brass Bouquet, be featured in the Brass Bouquet Blog and a link will be available to their website or sales site.

Submissions will be due no later than midnight, by January 20, 2009. Final voting tally will be completed by January 25. The winner's name will be announced on January 26, 2009, here at my blog and in my newsletter.

Check back tomorrow for the list of item(s) which must be included in your creation! And then, let the games begin!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Passing of Time

Hello Everyone!

Today is my birthday. I cannot believe another year whooshed by so fast again.

I look at the passing of time differently each time a birthday arrives. When I turned 30, everyone laughed and told me I could no longer be trusted. -- ha ha.

When I turned 40, I went to bed and stayed there for two days. I WAS DEPRESSED!!! How could Mother Nature pull such a cheap joke on me???? I was getting gray hairs and little crows feet. Ha ha.

When 50 greeted me on my birthday, I took it as a ironic joke. Me, 50?? hahahaha!! My dear sweet mother even bought me an AARP membership just to add flavor to the big joke. What a funny thing. I actually turned 50, and I thought it was hilarious!

I won't tell you how old I am today. Suffice it to say that looking at life from these eyes, which are getting more and more far-sighted, I am so happy to be right where I am! Life is great, even if I have an occasional pain here and there. The Hubster always says, "The Best is yet to come." And I do believe he is right.

As many times as I have laughed or cried at each passing year, life continues to become more enjoyable. The small things are not so important. The bigger things I do with purpose and thoughtfulness. It's what I should have been doing all along. It took me to this age to figure it out. What I look forward to is when I turn 60, and I realize how really smart I've become!

Until next time....Pay it forward, Jill

Friday, November 21, 2008

Freaking Out on a Friday

I have signed myself up for a Holiday Bazaar at a local church. I'm suppose to sell some jewelry. Accck! What did I think I was doing. As much as I adore the process of designing and making jewelry, time for me is so cramped....I barely have time to make my treasured cup of coffee.

The sale is in two weeks...Accck! I have three necklaces and a dozen pairs of earrings and I've got an eight foot table to fill. Aaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!! I'm freaking out!!!

I cannot go empty-handed. I've paid a table fee and everything. My girlfriend, Marj, has an adjoining table. I call her "McGyver of Crafting" as she can take a piece of old chewing gum, a bent coathanger, and a twig from the backyard and make a wreath that sells for $50.00! She's a genius and a legend in the crafting world. I love her but she will not be showing me up come December 5th.


I gripped my pliers steady in my hand and I faced my studio workbench. With determination in my heart and soul I opened up all my creative juices and came up with: Ta-Da. Nothing. Jill -- this cannot be so hard. You've been making jewelry for 25 years. You can do this!

I began opening up all my findings bins and furiously began tossing everything onto the bench. What first caught my eye was a Festoon pendant/connector. Starting with such an elegant little do-dad, how hard can it be to come up with a necklace with this little guy? I need some chain, a few jumprings, some crystals and a rosebud: Hey! I've got a necklace!

This is generally how I end up making jewelry -- in a heat of hurry and desperation. I remember the old days when I'd pull out the necklace board, take time going through bead selection, measuring inches and beads and laying it out all ready to string. Ahh... Those days are gone, at least for now. I design on the fly! Hey, I even made a pair of earrings to match.

So I'm on my way. The pliers are flying, clicking that sweet sound of jumprings snapping into place. I'm up to four necklaces and 13 pair of earrings. I'll be at this all day, but I'll have a table full by the night's end.

Until next time: Pay it forward. -- Jill

Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

Email your comments: brassbouquet@comcast.net


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Taking It To the Streets!

Sometimes when work in the office just doesn’t work – we take it to the streets and that’s what Lee Weal of New Jersey has done.

Lee, who just happens to be, like me, in the “late summer of her life,” seems to have done most of it: she’s been a webmaster, an administrative assistant, a parent, a devoted partner to Abel, a doting daughter to an elderly parent, and, now like many, a member of the ranking unemployed. But this has not gotten her down. Oh No!

The Bead Bug bit while Lee was walking through a craft store. Lee has always adored earrings and decided to buy some beads and findings and tried her hand at making some. Abel said to her: “I think I can sell these to friends at work.” Abel was right. She kept making the earrings. Abel kept selling them. One thing led to another and, next thing you know, Lee had a business.

She named her business “Five To Nine Designs” because that was the only time she could make jewelry: after work hours. Then the big “BOOM” of being laid off. But that did not slow her down. She purchased a professional tent, took it to the streets and now does street sales, craft events, school sales, church bazaars, and she consigns at BOHEMA, an artisan and vintage boutique in the Philadelphia area. In addition, one of her earring designs was featured in Bead Trends March/April 2008 magazine. Lee also has a website (http://www.fivetoninedesign.com/), and blog (http://fivetoninedesign.blogspot.com/).

Lee says her goal is to make money, yes, but her biggest goal is to have fun in the process. “The money is the perk.” she told me in our recent interview. “I want to make money and have an income, but to interact with customers at my booth and enjoy the sales process is really so much fun. It’s what keeps me going.”



Be sure to visit Lee’s blog and see her website I have linked here for you. She is an incredible artist, making a line of unique, OOAK earrings from gemstones, Brass Bouquet vintage-aged brass, sterling silver and other delicious findings!

So -- Who's Next??? Let me write an article about you! I'll give you that 15 minutes of semi-fame you want and deserve! Write me at brassbouquet@comcast.net. Tell me about yourself, your jewelry, how you got started. I may just write you and want to do a story about you for my blog. There's a $20.00 gift certificate at the B.B. in it for you!
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Visit the Website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Email Your Comments to: brassbouquet@comcast.net
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and until next time: Pay it Forward. -- Jill

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Second Cup of Coffee Friday Morning

This has been one of those weeks:

1) Joan, the other Brass Flower in the Vase, has been in Hawaii this past week,

2) Two of my credit card numbers were stolen and the thieves had a grand old time on my dollars (wishing them very bad juju!),

3) I have piles and piles of patina'ed brass which needs hand-buffing and bagging. Your Orders are in the mail..... (thank you very much!)
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4) Poor Randy hasn't had a decent meal in I-don't-know-how-long,

5) My house looks like a de-militarized zone,

6) I ordered a zippy new stock rack with 420 bins and it arrived all bent and broken, arrrghhhhh!

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But..........here it is Friday morning. It's quiet. I'm blogging. And I've got a second cup of Java on my desk. Everything is right with the world for this moment.

I just don't care about any of that right now. It's Autumn. The trees are ablaze with color. The air is crispy cool and moist and you can see your breath when you talk. I'm in love with October. And that's how I'm going to get through today.

But then: As I keep looking around my office which has so many piles of papers and file folders of invoices that need filing...EERK!

And then I'll soon walk back into my studio and see those piles of brass which need attending. OMG!!!!!

And then when I get jealous at Joan for sitting on a sandy beach, drinking fancy blue drinks with those little paper umbrellas......

And, darn it all.....I need a haircut!

HEY! Jill.....take a look outside!! Remember, you are in love with October???? Whew! Almost lost my cool there. Ok.. I'm much better now.

Hey, Where's that coffee cup of mine? I'm going to take a walk outside with it and talk to my old friend, Mr. Fluffy, the resident squirrel and see what's shakin'. He's always good for a laugh or two.


Until Next Time: Pay It Forward -- Jill





Embracing the Rock with Jewelry:

I love it when Friends send me photographs of what they are making. A friend, Christy, sent in this gorgeous necklace.

Christy used my "Mermaid in the Kelp" pendant along with all kinds of goodies to create what she calls a "very new age" necklace.

When I wrote Christy, knowing that her company name is "Embrace the Rock," I said "Is the mermaid embracing the neck?" She replied "The mermaid absolutely 'embraces the neck'! I love that line, can I use that when I list this piece for sale?" Christy's work can be found at Etsy.

Have a great weekend! Keep sending in your comments, photographs and stories about yourselves. You too can become a "star".....


Visit the Website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Comments send to: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Photos: jpeg at approximately 500dpi: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Finding New Routes On Economic Rough Roads


When jewelry artist Kalli Crawford and her friends Amy Schwab and Lori Christensen decided to hold a few home parties, they had no idea where it would lead them. Kalli, Amy and Lori have fine-tuned the art of home parties and are reaping the rewards of excellent marketing skills, beautiful hand-crafted merchandise and networking. (in other words: hard work and determination)
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Kalli told me in a recent interview that the three of them hold home parties for an evening/afternoon of fun, refreshments and selling. Kalli brings in her beautifully crafted vintage-aged brass and sterling silver jewelry. Lori has a unique line of stationary, (http://www.cardeblanche.com/) and Amy dazzles the group with handmade cloth belts and headbands (http://www.amyschwabdesigns.com/). Kalli says they always send a "housewarming gift" prior to the event so the host can show friends a sample of what products are coming to the show to pique their interest and get the guests jazzed for shopping. Plus it's really a nice way to thank the host in advance for hosting the event. The host receives 10% from the sale receipts. And, usually a guest at the party will ask to host a party in the future which, of course, is the big bonus for Kalli, Amy and Lori. Kalli says this has been a very successful program and parties have been springing up from as far away as Portland and Seattle from their home base in the Bay Area of California.
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Since starting these home parties, guests have invited them to other untapped sites to hold sales, such as wineries and philanthropic fund-raisers. Networking!! Kalli says networking is the key. "Meeting people and knowing people in different environments is extremely helpful in finding new places to hold sales."
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I thank Kalli for sharing this great story with me and wish she, Amy and Lori continued success in the future. Be sure to visit their websites when you get an opportunity. Kalli's site is still a work in progress (don't we all know about that?)
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HOW DO YOU SELL YOUR HAND-MADE
JEWELRY ARTS?
I'd like to know! Email me at brassbouquet@comcast.net and tell me a little bit about yourself. If I find your story interesting, I will call and interview you.....You could be featured in my blog and become somewhat famous. Ok-- maybe sort of famous. Well, whatever! :-)
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Check out my website for my always-incredible hand-patina'ed brass at http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Send comments to Jill at brassbouquet@comcast.net
and remember, until next time: Pay it Forward

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We Had No Idea

This past Sunday, we were surfing TV channels and came upon the greatest surprise. It was the Beatle's movie, Hard Day's Night. If you have not seen this 1964 pop classic, rent it, or catch it on IFC, like we did.

I remember so well on the day when Hard Day's Night came to town, everything came to a stop! I ran into the theatre with my girlfriends, sat in the front row and -- yes, we did -- screamed and cried at the screen. Those tickets cost us a whole $1.75 each....unheard of in those days for a matinee. They hiked the prices for this magical moment in cinema. (nice guys, scalping little girls like that!)

As I was watching the movie on Sunday, 45 years later, from the comfort of my living room, I was suddenly flooded with the wonder of it all. These four young British kids (two of whom sadly are now gone from us) had no idea what was to come. All they were doing was playing music, and getting rich and famous. None of the fans had a clue what was about to happen....we were screaming and crying and bopping out to some really cool new music we'd never heard the likes of before. And those haircuts??? Wow!

Here we were in the beginning of something amazing. Something that would change us all forever. And we didn't even know it. Clothing changed, music changed, culture changed, hair styles changed, politics changed. I believe every aspect of the human experience changed because of the Beatles. Somehow, and maybe it was because we were ready for a "revolution" on some level, the numbers all lined up and the Beatles were the last number in the lock. But here we are 45 years later and we are all profoundly changed because four crazy youngsters with strange haircuts started playing music.

I need to remember that history doesn't always come from a history book. History is a living, breathing thing. It is happening all around me every single day. I just have to tune in and listen for it.

A Final Comment about this Entry: My niece, who in 1993, at the age of 15, said to me: "Auntie Jill....did you know that Paul McCartney was in another band before he was in Wings???" Gotta Love it!

That's it for now. Until next time..... Pay it Forward, Jill


Send your comments: brassbouquet@comcast.net
Visit the Website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Send Photos of your Jewelry!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

If Life Were a Fairie Tea Party!

I have met many wonderful people all over the world through my business. I've mentioned before my friend, Lorianne, who lives in Norway. She's an incredible clay artist who makes jewelry like you've never seen before. Please visit her website if you get the chance. It's listed in my Blogs along the sidebar. She calls her site Plumevine. And the site is a work of art as well. She sent me a photograph of a little tea party she made using my brass teapot charm. It's so cute! So, I'm sharing it for you all to see.


She made the little fairies, dressed them in adorable outfits, glittered them with fairie dust -- the works! Thank you so much for your gifts, Lorianne. You are amazing!


Another Photograph from A Friend to Share: This comes from Lisa Quinn. What a bracelet! Lisa loves lampwork beads and has a few torch artists from whom she buys. She found these gorgeous beads and combined them artfully with some BB Findings. I think this bracelet rocks!

I was delighted to see her use of Curleez. I had told Lisa once in a phone conversation I thought it would be fun to have a contest for best use of Curleez, Squiggles and Heart Curlz. I sell a bazillion of them and hadn't really seen them in final jewelry pieces. Here she used them as connectors for all the crystals in the bracelet....very clever and attractive! And she used one simple "Imagine" tag as almost a signature tag.....gotta love it! I can just imagine what this bracelet must feel like to wear. Thanks so much, Lisa, for sharing your art and talent with us.


Well.....gotta get to it. I have work to do!
Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
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SEND ME YOUR PHOTOS and be a star too!
and until next time..........pay it forward. -- Jill

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Blogging on the Half-Shell

Funny little title.


It's what came to mind as I sat down this morning to write. I guess it's because I've not written since July 2! And I've been trying so hard to sit down and do some writing.


Since June 6th, this Summer has been the pits! Everything that could go wrong, has:


1) My sister came and went, with mixed reviews;

2) Hubster's been in the hospital three times. Thank God, he's better!

3) Website Shopping Cart has caused me nothing but grieve....and still is!

4) Drill press broke down, still cannot get it fixed, so I'm getting a new one! Oh boy!

But.....the best thing about all of this is: "I'm still here!" That's a great line from a movie called "Postcards from the Edge." It's a song that Shirley McClain sings about all the horrible things that happen to her on Broadway and yet..."I'm Still Here!"


NEW PATINAS! I've been "Cooking in the Lab" working on some new patinas for our chains. I'm getting some good results. Hopefully in a few weeks I'll begin sending out snippets with orders for some opinions and suggestions.




Speaking of Chain! I've added a beautiful 3.5 mm Rollo Chain to the store, http://www.brassbouquet.com/. It's very elegant and easy to work with.


LOCKET LOVERS....This is for YOU!


This Beautiful Locket "set" has not been produced in over 20 years. There are only limited quantities left. It has an exquisite filigree front and solid brass back. It comes with celluloid oval covers, oval papers and brass rims for your photos on the inside (see photo above). The size is 38mm x 33mm. It can be found at the website in our Pendant section.

Well.....I guess that's it for now. I've got brass to Patina.

Take care, please write me at brassbouquet@comcast.net.
Visit the website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

And remember..........."Pay it Forward." -- Jill

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pay It Forward

I had this wonderful woman "walk into my life" today. Lisa wrote me this morning and had some things to say about my blog -- she reads it! She likes it! One of the things she asked about was my closing line. She said: "You always close with the line 'Pay it Forward' What does that mean?" I tried to explain it the best way I could. And then I found this!



Maybe I can start with giving the person in front of me at the grocery store the extra change they need to buy the groceries in their cart. Maybe I can help push that gas-less car out of the road so the poor lady won't get hit by the other cars rushing by. Maybe I can lend a hand at the homeless shelter. There are things I can do to Pay it Forward. Good deeds start small. Once I get my courage, they can lead to bigger things.

That's it for now. Until next time: Pay it Forward. -- Jill

Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Email me any time: brassbouquet@comcast.net

And THANKS A MILLION LISA!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Color Influences for 2008-2009

I've been doing some peeking around the Color-Forecasting websites and it's looking really interesting!


They always start out with the same things:
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THREE PRIMARY COLORS. That's right....those magical colors we all learned about when we were little children. They take those colors and begin mixing. Adding a smidgen of this and a tad of that and before long they've come up with "Rattan Creme" and "Zhun Gold" and "Old Bronze" -- you get the drift.


Committees come from all over the world and play with color. They use spices, paints, swatches of fabric, flowers, dishes, make-up, beads, foods -- whatever they can put their hands on that has color. They refine, mix, and come up with new, distilled colors that really are not all that different from colors of the past. They are just a new spin on blue, red and yellow. What a great job! Sign me up.


So Here's the Scoop....

1. Metallics will go warmer. Look for warmer shades -- coppery, deep brass, bronze-y tones -- to prevail. YeaH for Antique Brass!


2. Globalism continues to inspire our love for ethnic accent colors. They’re coming to us from India, China and Latin America. To Moroccan reds and glowing oranges, add rosy pinks, sunny golden yellows and ochre/tumeric colors.


3. People want things they wear and things they use now to look "green," no matter what color they are. In 2008-2009, looking stylish means looking natural. Materials will look hand-made, un-dyed and unbleached. Products will look more like what they're actually made of, with lots of texture and all the natural imperfections proudly showing through. Off-whites, sandy and linen-y colors, rock and soil colors, brownish-greens – the colors of nature are seriously fashionable now.


Once Again -- another YeaH! for vintage-aged and antique jewelry...we're on the cutting edge...who would have thunk it....we're still growing in popularity.



BEADS! What Have I Done!?????


What I have done is gone out and bought a ton of beads. They will soon show up on the website in handy little bags. I've ordered Bell-Shaped beads in oodles of colors. I've ordered Picasso's in oodles of colors. I've gone a bit bead crazy!


Oh! And I have also purchased an entire new collection of seed bead mixes from ToHo beads.....They are luscious color mixes. I hope you'll love them as much as I do. They are gorgeous!
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Well -- that's about it for now. I've got so much to do: Orders to process. Brass to patina. Folks to email. And it's going to be another scorcher in Portland, Oregon!
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Until next time: Pay it forward! -- Jill
Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Charmed Life!

My dear E-Friend, Gillian, -- from down under, Australia, sent me the most fun photograph! They have a charm swap where she lives.....what a blast. She's the most amazing person....talk about talented. I've got her blog posted in my "Fav's" and you must visit it to see all the many mediums she is skilled in.....awesome!

So she wrote and ordered 30 (I think) one-inch brass charms. I couldn't in my mind figure out what she'd want them for and she didn't tell me. Yesterday came the answer.....check this out!







I think these are so darn cute. She also embellished the inch ruler with metric markings?? Help me somebody!


What a great idea to have a group of people with whom you share a passion and have a swap of some sort: earrings, keychains, bookmarks, cookies, salad -- something not terribly expensive but lots of fun to see what others made with the same rules and goals.


Thanks so much, Gillian, for sending me the picture and sharing your life in the other part of the world! How wonderful.


In the Store:

I've added an Elongated, 6x11 mm chain. I've still got the 5.5 x 8mm fine oval (smooth & etched) coming next week, along with the 10mm round -- so hang in there!


I'm also starting adding a variety of religous/rosary pieces. I know there are some of you who make some beautiful rosaries and I hope to have pieces for you that you will find worthy of your work. I will have more coming in the next week or so.....here's a sample of one of the crosses.

Well -- not much more for today. Looks like we have a beautiful day shaping up in Oregon!

Until next time: Pay it Forward!

Jill

Visit the Website at: www.brassbouquet.com

email me about ANYTHING! brassbouquet@comcast.net and be sure to send in those photos!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cleaning Up My Life!

I took a look at my stash the other day and almost fainted. How much money is tied up in those boxes of beads, charms, findings, doo-dads, lampwork beads.....oh I could retire on the investment in those boxes! I have five of these boxes in my studio and a large cardboard box in the garage....yikes!




I really must take control....get those beads and stuff and fluff and findings and all, bag them up into "serving" sizes and open a de-stash shop and start gaining some control over my life and my studio. There's got to be people out there who would love to get there hands on turkey leg charms, huh??? Turkey leg charms? What?? Huh? Yep, I've got 'em. And those enameled leaf charms and all that memory wire.....and, and, and...... alright, calm down. It's going to be ok.




But wait....look! There are those beautiful little coral beads I used to make a necklace for my friend about five years ago. She still wears that necklace.

There are only about four or five of those beads banging around in the bottom of this box, but they bring back some fond memories of planning the necklace, choosing the beads (these beads!), working on the necklace board and then adding an expensive real sterling silver clasp....it was such a joy to create. And I was so proud of how well it turned out.

Do I really need to give these little coral beads away? I think I'll just put these beads in this box over here. And so it goes. Another stash box has been born. But I promise the other stuff has GOT TO GO! But wait...look! There's that beautiful pendant I bought to make a...........


Oh -- and the turkey leg charms? That was during my wine glass charms-making days.

That's about it for Monday.....hope you have a great day! And remember: Pay it Forward! -- Jill

Visit the website: www.brassbouquet.com
Email me about ANYTHING! brassbouquet@comcast.net
Send me your photos -- I'd love to see what you are up to.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Sale at the Brass Bouquet!

Yes -- Indeed! I've got a SALE going at the Brass Bouquet until JUNE 20TH! Get on over there for discounts findings, charms, filigree, chains and what-nots!


Full-Time Employment
Part 3: "Elegant Negotiables"

There is a term in the legal world called "Elegant Negotiables." When tapping out settlements and money is getting tight, but a settlement is not quite there, a side will put on the table an "elegant negotiable." It's not something worth a lot of money, not terribly fancy or important but it seals the deal.

In our business of dealing with shop owners and trying to get our foot in the door, or having a really successful booth at a craft fair, or an incredible Etsy store, we need to have an edge that nudges us beyond our competition. Sometimes an "elegant negotiable" might be what we need.

Example: I was in a gift shop once giving my sales pitch to the buyer and I was showing her a beautiful necklace I had made with lampwork beads, sterling silver, etc. She knew nothing about lampwork beads or how they were made. She was aghast at the wholesale price of the necklace (no doubt!) I was losing her and I needed to add this shop to my account list.

Then my brain kicked in. I said: "How would you like me to make up a nice little sign that can go in the jewelry case explaining the time and talent it takes to make lampwork beads. I can add a photograph of a lampwork artist, etc. And on my hang-tag, I'll even add a little explanation of lamp work? This will show your customers the value of a lampwork bead if they don't already know about it." She thought for a moment and said "I LIKE IT!" I was in the store as a vendor.....hoo raw!

The sign cost me literally nothing to make. My hangtags cost me nothing to change and print. Yet, she was getting some important marketing material which would help her sell an expensive necklace in her shop. And it did -- this was a very successful marketing tool. I sold lampwork necklaces, bracelets and earrings in her shop. "Elegant Negotiable!"

I'm sure if you think about it, you can come up with some yourself: Gift Boxes, complimentary sizing, special orders, changing out wires for clips, printing up information about the type of jewelry findings you use (many customers love to know what the artist is using in their jewelry creations), a freebie of some sort with every necklace or bracelet purchase (look in your stash, you must have something you'd love to get rid of.)

The point is, you can make seal a deal or make a sale and make someone feel really good about it for not too much extra expense or trouble. It's a win-win for both you and your customer or shop owner. Kinda cool, huh???


Another Quickie Jewelry Piece:

I made this for my sister, Kim, in about 10 minutes. I've taken my Large Swallow Connector, some Best Everyday Chain, some Pearl Chain, and a Swirl Clasp and made the CUTEST necklace! Then I took some of the small swallow connectors, some freshwater pearls and some of my Everyday Earwires and made matching earrings....wow! How simple and easy.


These are very easy projects to make and you can sell them either wholesale or retail and make a nice little profit. You can change them up and make them your own. I don't mind you using this design -- but hopefully you'll use this as a jump board for designs exclusive to you!


That's about it for now! Please write me -- share your ideas and experiences. I'm sure all of us would like to see how your business has grown by the ideas you've used.


Write me: brassbouquet@comcast.net
Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

And until next time......Pay It Forward!
Jill

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wanted: Full-Time Employment -- Part 2 Thought of Having a Trunk Show?

The term "Trunk Show" has been around for a hundred years or more -- probably back to the haute couteur days when new fashions were being released and sales people were travelling around the world with trunks full of the newest fashions. Here's the definition: A "trunk show" is a special sale in which vendors present merchandise directly to store personnel or select customers at a retail location or another unique venue. In many cases it allows store personnel to preview and/or purchase merchandise before it is made available to the public. It is particularly desirable to have the actual designer present at the event. Most small businesses do this to get more buys.


More defined by today's standards -- it's when an artist, craftsperson or specialty salesperson comes to a store, sets up a sales environment within the shop and sells directly to the public/patrons of the shop. Usually, the "trunk show" vendor gets 60% and the shop gets 40% of the sales receipts. (that's what I ask for when I have done trunk shows.)


It's really that simple. You must know of some nice shops in your area which carry a nice line of clothing or gifts with or without a jewelry line? Get dressed up, put on some of your best jewelry creations, take a handful of business cards, a small portfolio of your jewelry photographs and hit the streets.


Usually shop owners do not like "cold calls." What I do is drop into the shop and check it out. Look around, see what is on the racks and shelves -- what sort of jewelry is already being sold. Scope it out!


Once you feel this is a shop that might be right. Walk up to the salesperson and introduce yourself. Say that you'd like to make an appointment with the manager or buyer about hosting a trunk show in their shop. (give them your business card as you are introducing yourself and SMILE!) This way you are not putting anyone on the spot and it's not a cold call.


They are probably going to be curious about what you sell and very well might want to talk with you right then and there if someone in authority to buy is available. That's why you should always go prepared to show and tell. If they would like to see you come back, they'll tell you.


If you are lucky enough to be seen right on the spot -- you've got your foot in the Proverbial door. Congratulations! Don't say you can't do this: YOU CAN DO THIS!


Sometimes people have no clue what a "Trunk Show" is. Explain you'd like to come in, take a small corner in their shop and spend an afternoon showing and selling your jewelry. You'll schmooze with the customers, help them try on jewelry, and sell as much as you can for them: the shop. In return they get 40% of the proceeds without having to buy merchandise up front, stock it, tag it, or anything -- it's effortless for them and they make out like bandits (so do you, but don't tell them that!) Plus if it's a clothing shop, they may make a clothing sale after someone has bought a beautiful necklace or pair of earrings. Or vice-versa.

MORE TO COME......I'll continue this thread more. Please write in with tips, hints, suggestions or things you've found to help your business grow. I know everyone can use help in this area and we'd love to hear from you, including me! Write me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net


Quickie Earrings for Quickie Wholesale Merchandise: Here's another pair of earrings that are a breeze to make. I wholesale a lot of this design as well. I use 8mm Swarovski crystals in a rainbow of colors. My Jolie Beadcaps, 2" headpins, baby brass beads and my hoop earwires. I also make these with 8mm colored freshwater pearls -- they sell equally as well. They are fast to make and appeal to the full spectrum of shoppers. Keep thinking about what sorts of quick inventory/low cost wholesale items you can work into your line so you can generate income with minimum wear on your time and resources (money!)

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On the Home Front: My Fridge-Freezer broke down yesterday! Yep...I've got sister countdown in motion....she arrives today at 7:00 pm. I've got a dinner party for 8 on Sunday afternoon, a freezer full of brisket, chicken, fish, burger, you name it, and the Fridge-Freezer goes Ka-Ploooee on me! Water everywhere, drip, drip, dripping on my kitchen floor....meat defrosting in my freezer.

Last night I was cooking said raw, now-thawed-out chicken, burger, fish, etc., on the barbee while Randy was seal-a-meal'ing it as fast as he could while the Appliance Repair-God was fixing my fridge.

It could only happen to me, right??? This is just what I needed the night before company coming. Well, ok, let's look at it this way: I could have left for vacation and come home to said refridgerator-freezer having done its thing while I was gone, right?? Now, that would have been a nightmare....aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, if it had to die, I'm glad I was home to get the paddles on it and get its heart back ticking.

Now, at least everything is already cooked and all I need to do for the next three weeks is heat and serve. Yahoo!

Ya all have a great weekend. Remember......Pay it Forward. -- Jill


Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Write me: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wanted: Full-Time Employment!

How many of us dream of taking our art to the next step: Full-time employment. Making and selling jewelry (or whatever it is that we excell at) to generate enough income to live. Have I got your attention??
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It's not about running around the house in our jammies and slippers, or sleeping in until 10:00 am while others are on the freeway of life. It's not about getting away from office politics or a rotten boss. It's about making enough money to pay the bills, keep the roof over our head, food on the table, get the essentials paid for and, hopefully, stash some cash. It is not easy.
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If self-employment is your goal, if being a "sole proprietor" is your dream -- with a Tax Return to show for it, then you have to put your heart and brain into it.
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I have worked for 20 years on my journey. It had and still has lots of rocks and ruts but it's a great path. However, I'm very proud to say I am a self-employed woman. And, yes, I pay self-employment taxes. Arrgh.....

Here are some ideas I came up with that helped me move along my journey. Some of them are no-brainers, some of them you may already know....hopefully I'll give you ideas that will help you see places you can generate more money, more quickly. And you certainly have your own great ideas too, upon which to build.

Keep Records! It's hard, I know. But you need to keep records of all the raw materials you buy. You need to keep records of how much a necklace, earrings, bracelet, etc., costs you to make, right down to a jump ring. If you can keep those records on a card, computer, notebook, this will help you calculate how much to charge for the piece in the future. This was one of my hardest ones to overcome. I'd look at a finished piece and say, "Well, I'd say it cost me $.... to make." Wrong! When I really sat there and took the piece apart and did a tally of material costs, I usually was off, by a lot. So get yourself a little calculator and do the math.


Production Work: I've added a photograph of a pair of earrings to show you something I have made for eight years....yes, eight long years. And I have made literally hundreds and hundreds of these earrings. I'm sick of these earrings. I could make these earrings in my sleep. I hate these earrings! However.....these earrings make me money. I sell them wholesale to a number of gift shops around the country. They sell like popcorn and they are a staple to my income. So I make these earrings in various colors of beads, in silver and gold. (Did I say being self-employed was going to be all fun and glamorous??)

Put on your thinking cap and create something that can be made fairly easily, that would be a popular item in gift shops or boutiques, and get to doing some wholesaling. Just remember -- you need to ask for about 50% less than what the jewelry will retail for. It's a hit but if you are wize about your material costs, you will do just fine. Besides, selling a dozen of something is better than selling nothing, right? This will also generate money for you to purchase materials to make the nicer pieces you really want to make and sell. You do not have to give up your passion of creating incredible jewelry pieces. But selling smaller, quicker items will enable you to do more gallery-quality work and still keep a steady flow of income moving into your check book at the same time.
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Look at this clip of a really quick and easy pair of earrings to make. This may not be your cup of tea, but this is the sort of thing I'm talking about -- quick, easy and fairly inexpensive:




I'll keep adding to this string -- watch for more in the coming days. I'd also love to hear from anyone out there who would like to contribute to this string. Any and all ideas that you've come up with about making your business grow would be greatly appreciated! We all can use help in this area. Email me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net I'll look forward to hearing from you.


A Beautiful Bracelet to Share! Kathy Noda, from Miami, sent me this photograph of a new bracelet she made with some B.B. materials and I am just GaGa over it! She calls it "Violets in My Garden." It combines the 10mm chain (which is coming back in stock in the next couple of weeks), the Wilderness Leaf (love it!), lots of beads and those beautiful blue glass beads I have so few left of....sad to say! Vintage glass and so beautiful. Anyway, I think it's so pretty....I'm a purple fan anyway. Thanks for sending in the photo, Kathy.
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Sister Alert! I have my sister coming in from Americus, Georgia, (that's in the USA, Gillian) on Friday. She's going to be here for a week. I've told my husband he should take a room at a hotel for the week as he won't get a wink of sleep while she and are together. We've not seen each for two years and we have oodles to catch up on. We laugh like a couple of crazy youngsters and swap stories until all hours. I think it will be like a week-long slumber party. Poor, poor Hubster!
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That's about it for now. Send those photos in! I want to see what you all are doing......
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Until later: Pay it Forward! -- Jill

Friday, May 30, 2008

Long Over-Due

I cannot recall not blogging for so long -- I've missed it and I've also got apologies to go around to the wonderful winners in my May Jewelry Contest. I've been busy. Not a great excuse but it's all I've got at this point. My apologies to Kathy, Krista and Stacy for not updating my blog and showing their beautiful creations and congratulating them for entering and winning the contest.



Kathy Noda's First Place Winner!
For the Love of Turquoise"
A Turquoise-Lovers Dream! Great balance, beautiful stones....and matching earrings. Excellent job,
Kathy.








Stacy Erlenwein (shown right)
2nd Place Winner
"Open Your Heart to Love" Necklace
Sweet and Simple design with love in mind -- Thanks Stacy for remindings us of romance!







Krista Kenner
2nd Place Winner
"White Quartz & Chains"
Chain! and More Chain! Long and draping chain makes a huge fashion statement -- one large white quartz tablet bead finishes it off. Elegant and simple.
These three winners received shopping sprees at the Brass Bouquet and I can tell you -- they had fun buying all sorts of goodies at the BB!

I want to thank everyone who participated in the three-month long contest. It was so much fun watching the entries come in. Seeing all the fantastic jewelry being made by you and the imagination and creativity out there around the country and world! Thanks so much.
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I Need to Make a Little Confession.....One small reason I've been dragging my feet on this blog is because of an email I received about these contests. Believe it not, I received hate mail. How someone who sells brass and has contests and gives away shopping sprees can get hate mail is difficult to understand. Well, it did happen.
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I was hurt, actually. And it took me a while to get over it. I was accused of rigging my contests. I was accused of giving away prizes to those who used the most BB findings and not by the talent of the entry. I was accused of having high prices and cheap merchandise. It really ruined my week.
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I want to say that the contest entries were never judged by me alone. I had a number of friends who would view the photographs (with your names withheld). They never knew who the entries came from. . They judged the jewelry by the beauty, color, composition, etc., all those things that make a beautiful piece of jewelry. So did I. Never once did I judge the piece of jewelry by who made it or by how much brass was being used.
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Perhaps I don't need to say all of this but if one person wrote me maybe there are others who felt the same way and if that's the case, it would really bother me to think I have hurt someone's feelings or made someone feel badly. Ok, enough said. Thanks for letting me get that off my mind.
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In the Store.....The voting is pretty much over on the 10mm round chain. I'll be keeping it. Too many of you want it. And most of you tell me my price can't be beat anywhere. I do not have any in stock right now but as soon as I get it back in, it will show up at the website.
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I do have a great cable link in.....my camera is broken and I cannot photograph it (arrgh!) It's a 6 x 11.6 elongated chain. If you'd like to use this until the 10mm is back....please write to me. It's very beautiful and chunky like the round. I also have an etched oval chain coming in soon.
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Summer Charms......
Lots of summer charms are available: Shells, Sand Dollars, Sea Horses, Fishes, etc.
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As soon as I get a camera to work, I'll get some photographs of new merchandise on the BB website!
Thanks again.....keep sending in those photographs of your creations. I'd love to list them on the BB Website.
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and until next time: Pay it Forward
Jill

Friday, April 25, 2008

Stairway to Heaven

Randy's in the office today....He's playing around with downloads on his computer next to me and right now is playing "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zepplin. What a great way to start a Friday -- rockin' out! It's mind-boggling to think that at our age we're still just as young and radical in our thoughts and music tastes as we were in our 20's. As they say: "You're as young as you feel!" Anyway.....back to life!

I've been seeing the MOST incredible jewelry lately. I've been visiting websites and blogs. Friends have been sending me pictures of their jewelry. It's been fun to see what is being done with brass, beads, charms, ribbons and such. The amount of creativity is amazing. What I find best about working with findings and charms and chain is that most times nothing is finished.....you can keep taking it apart and putting it back together until the look is pleasing, balanced or unbalanced as you may prefer....

A good friend, Jeni, works with assymetrical creations which are totally wow! She incorporates vintage-aged, true vintage, lots of chain and works to off-balance her jewelry so the eye can actually relax and enjoy the entire artistic creation.

Yes, jewelry is a piece of art and don't let anyone ever tell you differently. I've added a couple of pictures here so you can see her work. Jeni lives and works in New York. She sells to boutiques and also has an Etsy store: See more of her work at: Jeni's Shop

An important point I want to make here is that jewelry is adornment. It's art for the costume. It's part of the costume (clothing).

If you can put a piece of jewelry together in your mind, draw it out on paper, and if it has "integrity" -- in other words, once the piece is put together, it will stay together, nothing will poke, jab or hurt the wearer, and the piece will stand up to repeated wearings -- then GO FOR IT! The only thing (after these criteria are met) that is standing in your way is a pair of pliers and your creativity.

Take care and until next time.........Pay if Forward!

Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/; email me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jewelry Contest Shows Off Talent

It's always such fun and exciting to see the entries for the BB Jewelry contest. Everyone who participates sends in photographs of pieces that have lots of creativity and thought.


The decision as to who wins is never easy for me. I take a very objective approach. I try to visualize the piece in a gallery shop. Thinking of it inside a glass case with a pricey tag on it. Does it stand up? Does it have that style, elegance, quality in craftsmanship, quality in components? Does it grab my eye? Is it unique? All of those judging rules go into how I approach my decision. This month was terribly difficult because all entries were up to those standards. But, not everyone can be winners when you give three prizes and you have 34 entries.

Here are the winning entries to the April Jewelry Contest:


First Prize Winner


"Bella Luna" Necklace by Kelly Stribling



Second Prize Runner-Up

Dragonfly & Gem Necklace by Kira Shaner



2nd Prize Runner-Up


"Madeline" Bracelet by Whitney Childs

My thanks to everyone who participated in this month's contest. May is our last contest. For those who have not yet entered -- please do so. See the website, http://www.brassbouquet.com/ for more information. Also, visit the photos page to see the past winners and see the different BB components they used to create their winning pieces.

Until next time..........Pay it Forward! Jill

Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

Email me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Friday, April 11, 2008

Time to Smell the Roses - Or Sea Air, As it May Apply


It's important to stop and smell the roses every-so-often. Time slips by and before I know it I'm back to all work and no play. It makes Jill a dull girl! But, seriously, time is so precious, life goes by so quickly. Balance is important and getting away from "life" if even for a day or two is the best medicine I can take.

Nothing can be quite so restful and inspiring for me than sitting by the ocean, smelling that sweet, briny water and watching the seagulls sailing on the breeze. I've been having a huge hankering for the ocean. Winter will do that to me. I sit through buckets of rain it seems just waiting for a good weekend in Spring to head to the beach. It's finally arrived! A good weekend -- one that holds promise of sunny days. And I'm going to take advantage of it. Sunny weekends, in April, in Oregon, are far and few between.

I've got my beading magazines packed up (some I've not even cracked the cover of). Randy's got a good book under his arm and we are heading off to to the beach to watch life go by for a couple of days.

My nephew hasn't missed a beat either -- the minute he heard we were heading out he begged to come hang-out at our place, away from his parents. I guess at 19 I can understand the attraction. I now have to worry about parties which he has promised will not occur...he said just a friend or two. (accck!) Remember, Jill, time is short...time is short... aspirin, where's the aspirin???

When I get back, I'll be rested and ready to go at it again. My tummy will be full of seafood!

I'll have visions of sanddollars, seahorses, starfish and fishes swimming in my head -- ready to boost the website with summer-themed charms. Bead mixes which speak of ocean colors and tropical breezes and summer weddings. New chain and filigree that reflect vintage days at the seaside when ladies dressed up in their finery. See -- inspiration at the beach is a good thing.

If I can just keep my thoughts away from my 19-year-old nephew and his friends, I'll be just fine..............acccck!!!!!

Until next time: Pay it forward.
Jill

Visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Email: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Admitting I'm Powerless is the 1st Step

As all 12-Step Programs state, the first step to recovery is the hardest: "Admitting you are powerless over your addiction." While I will admit I am powerless over my addiction, I am not willing to give up that addiction!

I have it bad too. It's like being in a candy store. It's like being locked inside a bakery overnight. It's like being given a scooper at Baskin-Robbins and told "have fun!" It's like being given the keys to a great winery. It's like.......

I've been at it again. I've been buying! And buying! And buying! I really should stop. I've got bins full of incredible brass that have not been patina'ed, photographed or put on the website yet. Look what I did:



And there's more where that came from. But where will I find the time to get it done? Where will I find the time to patina, photograph and Sku and add these things to the website. I'm getting a headache!! Aspirin, does anyone have an aspirin???

Ok, so I admit it, I'm powerless. I have no control. I cannot do this. I cannot stop. BUT I LOVE IT!! That is why I started making jewelry and selling jewelry and making brass and selling brass.

I admit it: I'm powerless to the bling, the shine, the dangle, the glimmer.

I admit it: I'm powerless to the process of adding jumprings, turning headpins, adding crystals.

I admit it: I'm powerless to the time-consuming process of patina'ing the brass, hand-buffing it so every little detail curves and creases just so.

But.....am I willing to stop. Am I willing to go into recovery? NOT A CHANCE! Until they make a 12-step program for jewelry artists, I'm on a high that I'll just have to deal with -- because I LOVE IT!

For any of my friends in recovery of any type, Remember: ODAT.

And..........Pay it Forward! Jill

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stepping into a Person's Life for a Moment

One of the most wonderful parts of my business is getting to meet people from literally all over the world. I have customers in all countries -- US, Australia, Japan, China, Lithuania, Spain, well....you get the picture. From time to time, we get to emailing back and forth, relationships blossom and suddenly you have a new friend. Gotta love it!

"I count myselt in nothing else so happy As in a soul
rememb'ring my good friends."- William Shakespeare"


I have a new friend -- in Norway -- her name is Lorianne. She has the most wonderful website/blog that I hope you will visit. As I was viewing it (she has a video embedded), I realized that I was actually stepping into her life for a brief time. She had invited me into her home, her workplace, her classroom, her town of Trondheim, to see who she is, what she does and how she lives. How fun it was to live in Norway for five minutes -- to step into her life for just a little bit of time.

Lorianne is an incredible jewelry artist, working with clays and sparkling dusts and jewels. Be sure to check out her "gallery" too while you're there. This is a piece of her work at the left.

I want to thank Lorianne for inviting me over for "Tea Time."



THOSE LITTLE THINGS!!

Yep-- those little things. I've been searching for little lobster claw clasps and "those little things" -- connectors, actually, and I've finally found them. The clasps are on order and will be here next week. I've got the connectors in stock and haven't had time to get them onto the website yet.....but I thought you'd like to know that they actually are available.







Well, I've just learned how to center two pictures in my blog -- I didn't do it very well -- I hate inserting photos.....HELP??? Any suggestions????

That's about it for now. Until next time: Pay it forward, Jill

Besure to visit the website: http://www.brassbouquet.com/

Email me: brassbouquet@comcast.net

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Winning Customer Loyalty

Hi Everybody! I don't have a lot to write today -- frankly I'm swamped with orders that I need to get out....yes, one of them is probably yours!
I did want to share a very interesting blog article I read this morning that I received from Nashville Wraps. If you don't know about the company, they sell an incredible line of wrapping papers, tissues, boxes, bows, the works!
The article is about customer loyalty. While it talks about department stores and gift baskets, etc., you can substitute the words "jewelry" and "brass," "gemstones," etc., where applicable. I think it's a good article -- it's short and very much to the point. It tells how important it is to know to your customer. How important it is to know your target market. How important USA-made items are to buyers, and artist-made products, in particular. AND -- going that extra mile for them. If you do -- chances are, they will be back. I've entered the link to my "Links to Visit" bar. I hope you find it a valueable little read.
Until next time.....Pay it forward,
Jill

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Miracles Come In Small Packages

There's something about random acts of kindness, small good deeds and little miracles that just make me smile. I always end my blog with the phrase, "Pay it Forward." And I think I did and I got something in return....not that I was seeking a payment.

I sent off a package of brass to a customer the other day. I included a little bag of these pink glass beads. Knowing the customer liked working with round beads, I figured she might give them a good home. I received an email from her yesterday, thanking me for the beads and asking about their origin, asking if their were glass, crystal, etc. So, I wrote her back:

"Dear Nakia,

My older sister purchased them a few years ago. She dearly loved beads, jewelry making and collected a treasure trove full of wonderful beads and findings. Sadly, she passed away a little over a year ago and I was given her stash. There are so many bags and baubles there, I will never be able to use them all in my lifetime.

So, when I find someone special in my world, I like to pass a little color into their life. I hope you enjoy them and put them to good use." -- Jill


Here was her response:

Jill,

Thank you so much for telling me the story behind these special beads...I'm so sorry for your loss and I certainly hope to put these beads to good use very soon... I actually had a customer ask me just this morning if I could put together a special gift for her niece's baptism at the end of the month...I immediately thought of making a little chaplet rosary with the pink beads you sent me. The little chaplets I make are 15 Hail Mary beads and 3 Our Father beads - 18 beads total - and that's exactly how many you sent me so the timing was just perfect for making this gift... I'll send you a photo of it when its finished :)
Thank you again and God Bless,
Nakia

How was I to know she needed pink beads? How was I to know she needed exactly 18 beads? After all, I have oodles of beads to choose from. And, I just opened up the little baggie and poured in some. But 18???

How does this happen? Do all the cards in the Universe line up just right? Or, is it a mini-miracle? I choose to pick the latter.

I found this great quote from a Quotation Website. I'll leave this link up at the border, as I'm trying to start adding links, etc. to my blog. I'm not saying a bag of 18 beads can change a person's life -- but, it can sure make several people smile!

"Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think." --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow US poet (1807 - 1882)

Until Next Time: Pay it Forward!

Jill

Be sure to visit the website at:
http://www.brassbouquet.com/
write me at brassbouquet@comcast.net
and SEND IN THOSE PICS!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Studio Blew Up!?

It's Sunday, a day of rest. Right! I haven't taken a day off in six months. So much for running your own business. See blog post from March 19th. I love what I do, really I do -- it's the greatest thing in the world. Sunday, I should get to take a day off, couch-potato it on the sofa with Randy and watch some old films on TMC. Not today. My studio -- my poor, poor studio.

I don't know how your studio/work room/dining room table/kitchen bar/little nook in the corner gets after a while, but mine gets to be the Nightmare from Elm Street! There's not even a place to put a coffee cup. There are layers upon layers of baggies. I've got beads rolling everywhere. Little cups overflowing with baubles that I continually hit with my chubby little paw and then tip over and spill out onto the mass hysteria that I call my "studio bench." Ha! Somehow, though, it's controlled chaos.....I think I know where everything is. The beading wire is over to the left under that bag of blue beads. And the jumprings are right in front of me, but where are the #6's???? I've been trying to finish up an order for one of our Mansion gift stores here in Portland.....I've almost got it finished and ready for delivery but I cannot find my lobster claw clasps....I know they are here, I just know it.

So, today instead of plopping I'll be in there cleaning up that mess. Putting everything back in it's little bin, tray, box, fishing tackle box cubbie. I'll be rolling up the miles of beading wire that's been unfurled, sorting out the colorful crystals that have co-mingled these past few weeks, and maybe even see the top of the table by the end of the day. Hey! I might even find those darn lobster claw clasps and get those necklaces finished.....

Pay it Forward.
Jill

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring in Coming, I Just Know it....

Ahhh, the sweet smell of Spring! It's around the corner. We've got cherry blossoms raining on the sidewalks, crocus and daffodils are bowing their heads in the cool sun and little squirrels are running around making homes for their new brides. Before long, we'll be outside BBQ'ing on the deck and forgetting about winter, snow and all those layers of sweaters, coats and long underwear.

Where does the time go? It just seems like yesterday I was putting away the Christmas decorations. Here we are almost announcing April. May is only a blink of the eye away.

I remember those days of getting ready for the Arts and Crafts Festival Season. I didn't really do "the circuit" but I certainly did my turn. Packing up, setting up, and breaking down. Moving on to the next. It was a great way to make much-needed income, meet some wonderful people, experiment with new techniques and broaden my own artistic abilities. I had a very talented basket-weaving friend who would join me in the different sales. We'd try to get spaces next to each other. It made sales much more fun and interesting -- being able to watch her light up when someone who really appreciated all the hard work she put into a basket buy one....thanking her for the basket. Now, that's what I call the best! If you've never tried a summer sale, you owe it to yourself to do at least one or two. It's an incredible experience and fun and a valuable lesson.


Pain is Growth! I'm still new to blogging, as you are all aware -- especially as you can see by my learning curve. I look at all the wonderful blogs out there and still don't know how it's done. I'm starting a list of "Must See Blogs" I'll keep adding to it. Send me yours and I'll add it to my list. Keep sending me photographs of your work, I'd love to add it to my blog.


Meet Gillian
Gillian Hamilton comes from the land down under
and is an extremely talented artist. As you'll see
from her blog (posted above) she is a multi-media dabbler....everything from stamping, scrapping, sewing, pasting, you name it, she does it and exquisitely so! Check out this necklace - simple and elegant. Gillian used my Festoon connector/filigree, some creamy Czech beads and chain and such a beautiful necklace emerged. Thanks for sharing this pretty, pretty piece! Visit Gillian's Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/electricmoi


Well, that's about it for now. Keep making jewelry, keep sending me photos. And don't forget


Pay it forward......Jill

Check out the Brass Bouquet website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Write me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net
And -- send your pictures for me to post on the blog!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ain't Fridays Just IT!!?

I work hard all week long and when Friday comes, it's almost like a party in my soul! I get up ready to hit the street running. Even though I still have the entire day to work, I feel like a little kid waiting for a party to start. Anyway TGIF! We made it once again.


VINTAGE BUTTON ALERT....I was emailing with someone just recently who had asked me about vintage buttons but I cannot remember who it was. Oh, I found some beauties. A "BB" friend, Gillian Hamilton from Australia, has some vintage buttons in her Etsy Store: http://www.eclecticmoi.etsy.com/ So, be sure to check them out if you are interested in picking some up for creative purposes. They are quite beautiful and very reasonably priced! Thanks, Gillian.


Like a Kid In a Candy Store! I think another reason I've been jazzed is I've been buying lots of new brass and I'm having so much fun getting it ready to show. Here's a little 3-D telephone charm -- cute, cute, cute! I've got this sweet teapot charm as well. This weekend I'll be adding "Inspirational" tags. Anyway, I hope you get a kick out of the new pieces that will be showing up this weekend.


New Jewelry Creations and Welcome Kathy!
New "BB" Friend, Kathy Noda, comes to us from Florida. She's been making jewelry for about three years. She experimented and learned many different types of art forms as a girl and young adult taught through the loving care of great-grandmother, grandmother, school teachers, aunt and mother. Her sister introduced her to beading and it all fell into place. She was hooked. Now she has an Etsy store and loves what she is doing.

Look at the earrings Kathy has made recently....Purple is one of my most favorite colors so these captured me immediately. She's used my 10mm filigree beads, my leverback earwires, miscellaneous findings and some luscious purple crystals and additional beadcaps. Beautiful! Be sure to visit Kathy's store at: http://www.bajunajewelry.etsy.com/.


And Finally.....Isn't he just the cutest! Like Paula babbled..."I wanna hang him from my rearview mirror!"
Have a great weekend everybody and remember.
Pay it Forward.
Jill.
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Check out the Brass Bouquet website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
And -- send your pictures for me to post on the blog!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Riding the Roller Coaster

Running your own business is like riding a roller coaster. It's fun, exciting, challenging, breath-taking and exhilarating! Unlike a roller coaster, it's a lot of hard work too.

I'm sure all of you who are making and selling jewelry know exactly what I'm talking about. You need to having marketing skills, photographic skills, math skills, of course, the artistic skills to create beautiful works that customers will want to buy -- and then the money savvy to put the right price tag on the merchandise. (I'll cover this topic in more depth in another entry.)

After all that comes the roller coaster ride: Watching the customers "ooh and ahh" over your creations, pay you the wonderful compliments, pay you for your time and materials by making a purchase. Ca-ching! the bank account is getting fat. Those are the high points. The sweet taste of success!

Of course, what goes up must come down: Working until all hours getting ready for arts and crafts shows, or merchandise sitting and not selling, or you paid too much for materials, or marketing costs were more than you had anticipated. Yep, it happens to all of us.

As an artisan, this is the life we choose. It comes with the pitfalls of any profession. It comes with highs and lows. But would you have it any other way? I wouldn't. It's hard work but it's so rewarding. We get to use our artistic gifts to bring pleasure to others, and to ourselves during the creative process. We also get to bang our heads against the wall when the design that is in our head won't come out on in the jewelry (don't you just hate that??)

Most people live life on a pretty level playing field -- we get to take a ride on a roller coaster everyday and, speaking for myself, I LOVE IT!

That's it for now -- don't forget to "Pay it forward."......Jill


New Necklace Designs from Lorelei

Check out these beautiful new designs from Lorelei! She's done some elegant work with my large filigree dragonfly, some fun chain from Michael's, soft sage beads, and Moon Charm. And I love the one below. The Arial chain is so perfect with the hammered ring. The color play with the glass beads against the dragonfly connector makes this piece sizzle.....love the wire wrapping too!

Visit Lorelei's blog and Etsy shop:
blog: http://lorelei1141.blogspot.com/
shop: http://www.lorelei1141.etsy.com/

Lorelei lives in Upstate NY and is a full-time art museum Assistant Registrar. She's been making jewelry for a little over a year, selling on Etsy for just a year. Lorelei is married, has no children, but does have a spoiled cat named Marley.

Thanks Lorelei for sharing your gifts with us!


Check out the Brass Bouquet website at: http://www.brassbouquet.com/
Write me at: brassbouquet@comcast.net
And -- send your pictures for me to post on the blog!