Saturday, December 28, 2013

Just Another Artist Pulling Out of Etsy

I have been reading a lot lately about what Etsy (a seller's marketplace that supposedly allows only handmade items) is doing to the "handmade" market. I have to say that I do still have my Etsy shop up and running, and even though I have never sold a thing there, have kept it strictly for marketing purposes. Now...I am reconsidering that decision.

For those of you that don't know about Etsy, it is a marketplace that was started to feature handmade items from all over the world. At this point in time, there are probably over 30M items for sale, with the Jewelry category being one of the largest on the site. Since its inception, Etsy has gone from "handmade" only to three sections: Handmade (or I made it), Another From My Shop (made the item), or Another Company or Person (made the item).

When you look at those three sections, the first two are pretty much self explanatory. The third, however, is ambiguous. Another company or person leaves a lot to the imagination. Etsy does ask that if you design something and have a manufacturer make it for you, that you fill out their form with specific questions as to how much this company had to do with the design itself or the making of your product.

That is a big "whatever" from me. Okay, honest people are going to go through the process in hopes that Etsy reviews their form and puts their stamp of approval on their selling their product(s) on the Etsy forum. Seriously, do you really think that everyone is going to do that? Or do you think they will stretch that request all out of shape to fit whatever they want it to mean and do it without telling Etsy?

If you think most people would go through with that "process" I have had my laugh for the day at your expense...sorry, kids. When money is more important to someone than coming clean, usually the money will win. Makes me sigh...a really big sigh. But I feel that is the truth. So sad...

To add insult to injury, Etsy's third section of "Another Company or Person (made my product), pretty much says it all, right? That leaves it wide open to market just about anything from anyone or anywhere. They do have a list of things you can't market, like porn, drugs, alcohol, and other illegal substances like ivory.  What I found amusing was that the list of prohibited items was actually longer than the area that defined "handmade."

Personally, there is a lot of discrepancy when it comes to how we define the word "handmade." What it means to me might not be what it means to you. For me, it means making everything included in the designs I make, down to the jump rings and clasps. Wait a minute! Don't get mad at me just yet!

That doesn't mean that if you string beads to make your jewelry, that isn't handmade. Sure it is. You are using your understanding of color and aesthetics to design your piece, just like I do. It's a personal thing for me, just like it is for you. Still love me???

Where I draw the line is where most of you do. When someone in the booth right next to you is selling necklaces from China for $12, while your handmade ones are marked $35, it can be pretty discouraging. Trust me, I've been there, and it ain't much fun!!!

I am a little off track here, but let me elaborate a little. My motto has always been "Live and Learn." Everything we go through in everyday has a purpose, and most of it is to teach us something we need to know. Hey, I'm included in that. I learned not to do as many craft shows (if at all) because they were usually a bust for I am the one that got stuck next to the "Made in China" jewelry booth. Customers all oooo'd and ahhhhh'd over my stuff and then went to her booth and bought. And she had the nerve to look at me and wink...ugh.

Craft shows are less expensive to do. I understand that. However, I would rather do one or two good shows a year (maybe juried shows) than ten less expensive shows, where I could be totally shut out in sales. So, I save my money until a good one pops up. Sometimes you have to plan ahead, as these shows fill up fast, but it is worth it.

Back to Etsy...I will probably get kicked out if they get wind of this anyway, so I may as well shut that puppy down now. I have to stand up for what I believe in and that is handmade should be handmade and not titled "handmade" because someone somewhere made it!

Well, I'm done ranting for now. I would like to finish with this: Don't let your anger wear you down. Anger is not only a sin, it is bad for your health, both mental and physical. Be determined to be better than those other guys. Walk with your head up and be proud of what you do. If you aren't selling enough, research and consider other selling arenas, like galleries and retail shops. YOU CAN DO IT.

Anyway, I'm pulling MY Etsy store before they catch me! Have a great day...and Stay Wired Up!!!

Friday, November 29, 2013

It's the Holidays! Why Not Have a Sale!?!

That is just what I am doing! When you weave wire like I do, or make molded silver jewelry, or bead, or cut cabochons, or do anything related to jewelry, you know that your time is money, and it takes money to fund your "time" doing what you love.

Okay...that was a mouthful, huh? But the reality is just this: We all have a certain amount of time to work, play, and shop, earn money, and spend money. Research has shown that this year is supposed to be a banner year for online shoppers.

Did you know that 45% of online shoppers have bought something they would not have bought in person? Did you also know that 96% of people are more apt to buy on a site that offers free shipping? (

Those statistics are huge if you, like myself, are doing the majority of your sales online. Of course, you may have a website and do most of your sales elsewhere. Wouldn't you like to increase your sales online to add to your bottom line?

Let's look at some reasons customers are turning to online shopping: The cost of gas. Parking at the mall. Fighting the crowds, especially with children. Finding the right gift in the time you have to shop. And that is just a few reasons people are turning to online shopping. Do you know that 73% of shoppers do at least 1/2 of their shopping online? That's huge!

Here are some more stats to digest. There is a shopping cart (at the store) abandonment rate of 65%!!! The average order for an online buy is over $118!! 79% of people would rather get free shipping than a discount. 62% rarely return items bought online!

Well, that's enough statistics. If you have a website, ramp it up and email your customers and post it all over your social media site. It's time to get serious about sales. So...I will start by having my own...


at ggChambers designs

I have lowered prices by 20% or more on most items, and I'm adding sale items every day just for your Holiday Shopping!

Free Shipping, too, that used to be contingent on a sale of $50 or more. But I am lowering that today to $0 required. That means everyone will get free shipping no matter what you order!

No restocking fees if you return an item. (Does not apply to custom orders) 

New Shopping category: Jewelry Sets

So what are you waiting for???

ggChambers designs

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Some Time Later, The Copper Test, and Life Happens

Well, I promised an edition yesterday, and like the title says..."Life Happens" and so it did. You are getting the latest and greatest today instead.

I was walking around the porch Thursday and noticed I had left the copper testing coils outside. I thought you might be interested in some results to date on our sealers. I was.

This picture really doesn't do the results justice. The top row is your unpolished and Maas results from weeks ago. In real life they all have a nice "brown" patina. To some of you, this might be totally unacceptable. To others who might like browns, this might be just fine.

The bottom row is, of course, the coils with one coat of ProtectaClear, again ranking the shiniest and most untouched by weather. Bottom row on the right is the Ren Wax, which actually fared a little better than those on the top. This was a pleasant surprise to me, as it has been warm and humid down here in lower Florida. No, that wasn't a dig to those of you that live in the snow belt. Just the facts, Ma'am, just the facts.

Undoubtedly some of you may have already purchased or used some of these products yourself. What you probably found was that the Maas really does shine up nice. The Ren Wax may have dulled a little, but with another coat, polishes up just fine. The ProtectaClear is still going strong, but has made your item a little "stiff."

The makeup of this product will make your woven wire and wire wrapped items more firm, for lack of a better word. I know it does my woven wire bracelets. Without the sealer, some thinner banded items had a certain amount of flexibility as you tried to twist it back and forth. The addition of the ProtectaClear eliminates some of that play. For me, this is a good thing and doesn't bother me.

If, however, you apply it to chain or dangle earrings, you will have to work them a little to loosen them up again. And this is only after the item has had enough time to cure. Check the Everbrite website for more information on that.

Again, I am not necessarily promoting this product or being abnormally contradictive about the other products. But I want you to have good and thorough information as you use these products for the first time. At least you might know a little about what to expect when you do your own applications.

I hope you all have a really great weekend.  I'll be writing more soon. In the meantime, remember to Stay Wired Up!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Copper Test Results Are In

If you remember from last time I wrote, we were testing different finishes on six little copper coils. Sorry for the wait, but I wanted to give each finish ample time to tell their individual stories. Here is what I found:

It has been about two weeks since I added different polishes to my raw copper coils. They sat in a wax paper coated pie pan in the shade on my porch. I live in Florida and we have had some really great humid days. With humidity and heat being a major factor to tarnish development, I thought this would provide me with the information I have been seeking. I work with a lot of copper, myself, and want to provide my customers with the best options for tarnish resistance.

Here are the final pics: First, here is the picture of the coil that was unfinished the entire time:
As you can see, there are many dark spots and it has lost its shine.

The next picture is of the coil finished with Renaissance Wax or Ren Wax, for short. I was sorely disappointed in the results here. To be honest, I finished a new Pendant and chain I recently made with the Ren Wax and wore it outside all day Saturday. While my neck did not turn green, the pendant turned color and lost the nice sheen I had given it with gun blue and lots of waxing. The results, overall, aren't as bad as the unpolished coil has, but I was still disappointed with the results. I have to say, however, that I only put on one layer of wax. I know some users put on multiple layers of this particular wax.

Next, you can see the results from the use of the Mass Commercial Paste. When I first put this on the coil I was amazed at the shine I got! I was immediately in love with the product. I had really high hopes but it, too, developed some areas of tarnish, about like the Ren Wax. Remember, however, when I finished each coil, I did only the top surface and did not try to get the finishes down into the grooves or onto the back.
The Maas Liquid finish came out like the Maas Commercial Paste. This coil also had several areas of tarnish. I was really disappointed...although I still love the product for cleaning and polishing. If you look closely, you can see the areas of tarnish I am talking about. These photos are not retouched. I want you to see the true results.
Last but not least are the Everbrite ProtectaClear products. This test was not to sing the praises of ProtectaClear. Trust me. Like a lot of other artists, I have been somewhat afraid that using this type of hard, permanent finish could flake off later. Here is the pic of the spray product, and it is still shiny. I have to tell you, I tried to peel the product off the surface of the coil, and it was as if it had become part of the coils surface.
Then there is the ProtectaClear brush on. I used the regular product that produces a shine, but they also make a satin finish product. The brush on won this contest, hands down. The coil was shiny, like the day I applied it. Notice the area where the tag is? You can see where I didn't put the product. That area tarnished. Hmmmm.

I also tried to peel this finish off with my finger nails and a serrated kitchen knife. I was able to mar the finish. After all, copper is a soft metal. But the finish did not peel. I was thinking it might peel off like bad nail polish. You know, like a plastic of some sort I would be able to get a hold of and peel off. No way! It stuck fast. I am told by the folks at Everbrite, that if the product is allowed to "cure" for a few days, it develops a really durable finish.

Here are some more interesting tidbits for your memory banks. Even though the Ren Wax Maas products still allowed the copper to tarnish, it easily cleans up when applied again. I also found that shining the coils without reapplication of Maas gave the coils a variety of colorful patinas. Unfortunately some of the tarnish remained, but the colors were fascinating!! The coils took on a kind of iridescence. I may have to play with that some more, as I love color, and fire (heating the copper to get color) isn't safe for me. I'm a little accident prone.

Another thing I found out quite by accident. I had a piece of jewelry that I used liver of sulfur on. I didn't tumble it or rub it out much and sealed it with PretectaClear. The copper turned really dark brown, even though it was sealed and in an anti-tarnish bag. I'm thinking that maybe the ProtectaClear somehow sealed in the effects of the LOS, even though I had given it a neutralizing bath in baking soda. Just food for thought. The effects have seemed to stop at dark brown, but I am keeping an eye on this particular piece for sure.

I am not trying to tell you to use or not use any of these products. They each have very different and endearing qualities. I wanted the information for myself and thought I would share my findings with you. If you have any questions or have found different results, please feel free to message me.

Until next time, keep on doing what you do...and Stay Wired Up!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

At Last, At Last...Copper Sealer Test

At long last I have begun that copper sealer test! Actually, I started it some time ago, but set the washers outside to "weather" in the Florida humidity just before we got a huge wind and rain storm. Needless to say, I didn't anchor the paper I put them on. Nor did I label them. I just labelled their position on the paper. Guess what...the paper got caught by the wind and the washers ended up on the floor. Okay, no one said I was a genius! we go.

I decided to test six pieces of 16 gauge copper wire that I coiled tightly, instead of using washers. Mainly because I work with tightly woven pieces of wire and wanted a little more accuracy of how each sealer worked when wires are closer together. Mind you, this is only a little home test, and the results are to satisfy only basic judgment of how each sealer works. So, if up on your own tests, you get different results, please do not hold me liable. I will plead the fifth!

This time I am testing Renaissance Wax, Maas Commercial Metal Polish Paste, Maas Liquid Metal Polish, Everbrite's ProtectaClear brush on coating, and Everbrite's ProtectaClear Spray. It's all I could handle at one time. Like I said, I used 16 gauge copper, dead soft, 99.9% pure, no coatings.

In the picture to the right, you can see the originals before I did anything to them. The only difference is that I removed the one on the top center. It was one that I was going to do with Maas Commercial using my Dremel. I already had one with Mass Commercial that I used a rag to apply. I figured it was too redundant, so pulled the top center from the test. I am testing only five and I left one in its original condition.

I only coated the spirals on one side and didn't coat the little hooks at the top, wore gloves like a good little girl, and did the test on wax paper. I've had real good luck with sealers not sticking to wax paper, and it protects the surface your working on quite efficiently. Trust me, I have spilled my sealers!

Here are a few things I noticed during the application process:

The Maas products, both the Liquid and the Commercial Paste, were the easiest to use and put quite the shine on the copper, brightening and polishing at the same time without much work at all. I used a non-impregnated polishing towel-like cloth you can get in any cleaning or auto department of your big-box stores.

The Renaissance Wax, see below, went on easy, as well. I did use a Dremel and cloth wheel to apply. The Ren Wax had to sit for a while before I could shine it up. You don't use much and it is dull until polished up. I used the same type towel-like cloth to polish it about 10 minutes later.

 The coil used for the ProtectaClear Spray, on the left with the blurred label, had to be taken outside to spray. I sprayed one side only and the coil seemed to have a lot of little bubbles on it for a while. When I laid the coil down, the sealer leveled out and bubbles disappeared. It takes quite some time to dry and cure. If you do decide to use this product, you can't just spray and go. You have to allow at least a couple of days to complete the drying process, unless you put your sealed item in a 180 degree oven for a while to speed it up.

 With the ProtectaClear brush on, above right, I used a small artist's flat brush and brushed on a fair amount. Again, the same principles apply as with the ProtectaClear Spray. Use wax paper, for sure.

After coating, I placed the coils on another sheet of non-stick paper in a pie tin and placed them outside. In fact, I just did that and it is raining, so the humidity will go up and we should get some cool results I can tell you about in a couple of days. And yes, this time I anchored the pan with something heavy so it won't blow away. Live and learn, right?

One other thing I would like to caution you on when using any type of sealer: wear rubber or nitrile gloves and protective eye-wear and use your sealer in a well-ventilated area. These products are caustic in some cases and may cause injury or sickness if ingested or splashed on the skin. Basically, use some common sense. That's all I ask.

Okay, we are on our way. I will check in with you in a couple of days and let you know what's kicking with these coated coils. Have a good one...and Stay Wired Up!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to Marketing that New Business of Yours

Starting a new business can be very discouraging, especially if you are counting on a website to make money for you. I've been reading some comments of Facebook in the Storevnvy Forum page, and it makes me so sad to see so many business or website owners so unhappy with the sales they are making, or rather not making. And I totally understand.

I have had my Storenvy website for what seems like forever, not quite a year, anyway. I just checked and have had no sales, but I am not going to complain and not because I don't need the money! I'm not going to because I know that it takes time to build an Internet following. It takes time to get your name out there. It takes time for people to find you.

There are millions and millions of websites out there on the Web, and many are owned by people like you and me, people that are hoping to supplement their income or to start an income.

One of the most unfortunate things going on with relation to Internet businesses are those peeps that take advantage of those of us that are just trying to get our little businesses up and running. I can speak to this first hand, as I was contacted by an Internet marketing group who convinced me to spend well over $15,000 with them to get my business up and out there.

Six months elapsed, promises that were made had failed, and my retirement was gone. I wanted answers from this group and all I got was that is was somehow my fault. That I didn't stick to the program or put enough time in. Any of you that know me, know that when I start something, I am both feet in. That wasn't what happened at all. They took my money and turned their back on me.

Long story short, don't fall for the "marketing lines" from those anonymous callers, even if they have a legitimate business. Do the marketing yourself.

I've written a few articles on this before, but want to reiterate...YOU have to get your name out there. YOU have to advertise your own business is a way you can afford, whether it's spending $5 a month to boost a post on Facebook or investing in Google Analytics. YOU have to get out there on other social sites like Twitter, Instagram, Stumbleupon, Google+, to name just a few. There are tons out there. Join clubs and other types of groups online that relate to what you do.

My point is...DON'T give up. If you are sincere about what you do, don't give up! And unfortunately, you have to be patient, patient, patient. Nothing that's good comes without hard work and patience.

Remember, just because someone visits your site once, doesn't mean they are going to buy. If they like what you do, they will come back time and time again before they buy. Why?

First of all, they want to make sure you aren't a flash in the pan. That you will be there when they need you, if they need you for another item, exchange, or repair. Most people that shop the web are very web savvy anymore and will not take a chance on being taken advantage of or buying from someone that won't be in business in another month or two. Internet shoppers want good service.

Secondly, online shoppers have a ton of stuff to look at anymore. If you aren't marketing your business in some form or another, they aren't going to find you on the Internet, not with the millions of other sites out there that are competing with you for the same dollars. You have to market and you have to be patient.

I'm not writing this to hammer any you over the head. I don't want to make you throw your hands in the air and quit. What I really want to do is make you take a realistic view of your online business and do what it takes with determination. Open your mind. You are all smart people.

There are tons of free marketing articles out there for you to read and books, as well. You will have to weed through all the sites that want your money but check out the blog arena. Most people who blog do it because they genuinely want to help others. Get started now, and don't give up.

I'm only using Storenvy as an example because some of you were talking about Storenvy starting to charge a fee. If Storenvy starts to charge a fee for sales, that can be a good thing...especially if it goes to market your stores. You can keep an eye on them. It's your business, it's your prerogative. If after six to 12 months, you don't see them doing any advertising like they said, then try some more marketing of your own. And of course, their marketing efforts should not take the place of your marketing efforts! They are a new business, too. It can take at least a year to get any business going, if not two to three. That's where your patience comes in.

I have three websites and am on a myriad of social sites and have had this business for just a little over a year. My website sales are very slow, but I keep all my sites up and running because it keeps me in front of the public. It lets them know I am in it for the long run. I post on all the sites, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more, and if I can do and still make product, so can you!

Look at it this's a great time to teach those kids and husband or wife how to help out with your chores while you are on the computer!

Enough for today...Get that business going! and Stay Wired Up!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back Online and Researching Those Illusive Copper Sealers

Hey, everyone! Thank you so much for your patience! As some you know, I recently moved and the movers just brought the rest of our boxes (all 70 of them) last Friday. So...I have been frantically unpacking, but...I am back and working hard.

Just to let you know what's on the horizon, I'm going to be writing on copper, it's makeup, and why we have such a hard time keeping that dog gone tarnish at bay. I will also be discussing more sealers and showing you example of the different types and how they work.

If you remember from past posts, I reviewed Everbrite's ProtectaClear. Since my last post on that subject, I have accumulated more data you might find interesting, especially if you work with copper. Most of it will be pertinent to those of you that work with wire. The results may be a little different for those that work with flat metals and metals other than copper. Copper is my metal of choice to blog about now because it seems to be the one we can all afford to work with, and it seems to have different problems than silver or gold.

I will be reviewing Renaissance Wax, Maas Wax products, Carnuba Wax, and other car or boat waxes. Reviews will also be done on sealers like polyurethanes and other manufactured products. As I said, some results will vary if you are making your items from copper sheeting, but hopefully, if this is the case, you will still find the information helpful.

Please be assured, I am going to be learning as I am teaching, as well. The reviews I will be providing will, in no means, provide the perfect answers you might be looking for. My intent is to provide you with enough information that you can make an informed decision for yourself in relation to the products you are making and the products you will choose to finish or seal your items with.

There will, of course, always be other factors that will relate to the results I may find, like humidity level of your workspace, for example. In the picture you see two unfinished pieces, both made of the same wire, both made in an air conditioned area, kept in that same area, but made two days apart. Hence the reason I want to do the comparisons!

The one on the left was made two days ago. The other I worked on last night. The rate copper oxidizes can truly be frustrating, just like making sure it keeps its color once we give it patina.

So...stay tuned. There's more, and real soon! Take care...and Stay Wired UP!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Build Yourself a Take-Apart Workbench

Most of you already know we are moving the wire jewelry business, ggChambers designs, out of Texas and down to Florida. It has been a busy past few weeks packing our personal belongings, selling furniture, and finding time for me to still practice my art.

I guess the key to doing all of this is organization. While that may be the key, you should see my soon to be ex-living room, because I haven't packed much of my business "stuff" yet. My husband and I are sitting on two of our patio chairs with the little patio table in between the chairs. You would think we would have tons of room to walk around, but the floor is littered with papers to be shredded, boxes of beads and findings, jewelry making tools, and photo props.

So, where does the organization come in? That's what today's blog is about, building your own Take Apart Workbench.

My husband and I designed this simple but functional workbench. It is not only sturdy enough to hammer on, it comes apart and is easy to move around or take with you...if you move, travel in an RV, or just want to rearrange your work space. Read through all the directions first before assembly, and let me know if you have any questions. I apologize that the pics don't show me putting this together, because it was already made. I promise any jewelry tutorials will NOT be written this way!

You will need:
  • 1 sheet ( 4 x8 foot) of Best Grade 3/4 inch thick plywood
  • 21 feet of Best Grade 2 x 4's
  • 28- 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inch x 1/4" wood screws or dry wall screws
  • 4 Stainless steel round Phillips head 1 1/4 inch long x 1/4" wide screws
  • A circular saw or good straight saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil or pen
  • Sand paper
Cut your plywood into three parts:
  • 2 pieces 48" x 24"
  • 1 piece 18" x 29 3/4 "
Cut your 2 x 4's into 12 pieces:
  • 4 pieces 27" long
  • 8 pieces 18" long
  1. First you want to screw all the legs together.
  2. For the first leg structure, take two 27" pieces and one 18" piece.
  3. Place the 18" piece on top of one 27" pieces and screw together with the longer screws in three places down into the center of the 27" leg. Refer to pictures.
  4. Do the same on the other side of the 18" piece.
  5. Measure from the top of the leg structure down 19" and mark on both legs. This creates a cross member for stability and to hold the shelf
  6. Center another 18" piece over the mark as seen in the picture, and screw together using the longer screws on each side with two screws each.
  7. Follow the instructions above to make the other leg structure.
For the top:
  1. Sand all the edges of the cuts made from the plywood and round the corners.
  2. We will attach the units that hold the legs in first. Measure in from each end of one 24 x 48" piece of plywood 4 inches and mark with straight lines.
  3. You might need a helper for this step or super glue (a temporary solution till you screw it together) on 18" 2 x 4 piece in the center of your marks. (So the 2 x 4 will be 4 inches from the front, back, and side.)
  4. Using your long screws, screw from the plywood top down into the 2 x 4 in at least 2 places. Screw down hard enough that the screw "sinks" into the plywood top.
  5. Do the same thing on the other end of the plywood top.
  6. Measure across the top of your legs at the width of the 18" leg top, because all 2 x 4's are not created equal and you want your legs to fit in tight to the leg holders on the plywood.
  7. Mark that out and screw the another 18" leg holder like you did above, using the longer screws, making sure your leg is going to fit snugly but not sloppily. Refer to the pictures.
  8. Place the legs into their holders and flip the table over.
  9. Place the 18" x 29 3/4" shelve between the legs across the legs cross members. This will add stability while you add the second top.
    Finish the Top:
  1. Pick out the smoothest surface side of the remaining top board for the top of your table. You want a level firm surface to work on.
  2. On the bottom of the top (lol) add some wood glue to help assure the tops will stay firmly together.
  3. Using you stainless steel Phillips head screws, screw the tops together from the top on each corner, 2 inches from each corner.

And you are done!!! The top comes off, the legs come off, and the shelf comes out. You have four pieces to move whenever you need to. You can add a felt or other table cloth to keep your beads from rolling off.

Dang, this was a long blog. I hope you didn't get bored and that you get lots of use out of it. Let me know what you think! And Stay Wired Up!!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Battle of the Jewelry Sealers - Part Three - The Bead and the Bracelet

I'm sorry it takes me so long to write these days. Packing for the move is kicking my butt, and I try to pack half the day and work the other half. Hopefully, after we get where we are going, I can do this more often. At any rate, thanks so much for your patience!

If you will remember, I started out with a water-based urethane coated polymer clay bead from Fanceethat. I re-coated it with the solvent-based coating, ProtectaClear. The only reason I did this was because ProtectaClear is one of the coatings I use to finish my wire projects, and had used it on many types of beads, just not beads that had been coated with urethane.

After chatting with Everbrite, the makers of ProtectaClear, I was told to make sure the bead had time to cure...4 or 5 days, or I could put it in a 180 degree oven for about an hour and let it rest before I put it to the real test.

I was naughty and poked the bead with my fake nails prior to letting it completely cure. It did dent the finish but did not break it. Yahoo! The bead has now cured, been a week, and I've been poking and scraping to my hearts content. Be aware, I have not taken anything metal, porcelain, or any other really damaging item to the bead. That would be totally unfair to the project.

When we sell our handmade products, we should all be telling our customers how to take care of their new pieces, especially if they are of delicate designs. For myself, my items are delicate but sturdy. They are made to be worn, but I do tell customers they require a little bit of common sense. Don't take a dental tool to my weaves and don't let your toddler use it as a teething ring. It is a piece of art, and as such should be treated as such.

Back to the bead. I used my very strong nails and pushed really hard into the surface of the bead. I did get a little dent in the finish, but not the type of dent that broke the finish. To be more accurate, the finish didn't crack. The really strange thing was that the dent seemed to fill back in after several minutes, which led me to believe that the finish had "memory." I used straight on window light in the pics to give you a clear idea of the finish.

The same thing happened when I ran my nails across the finish to scratch it. It did get a few tiny ripples in it, but again, minutes later, they seemed to disappear. Weird, huh? But boy, was I excited about that! I put a question in to Everbrite to see if they could give me a "why" but haven't heard back yet. As soon as I do, I will update you.

I did coat the bracelet and it has been four days now, and my customer is excited to get her wire jewelry bracelet. And I am thrilled for her, and for the product I love to use, ProtectaClear. I did use the regular shiny finish. FYI, Everbrite also makes a Satin finish.

A side note, after talking to Lisa of Fanceethat, if you do decide to make your own polymer clay beads, do not use this solvent based sealer as your main sealer. Over time it can or will make the polymer clay beads surface sticky. Hence, the reason she uses the water-based urethane finish to seal her beads.

I promised an article on Renaissance Wax, and that's next. The washers I was going to use have mysteriously disappeared into a moving box and I want to dig them out, so I can compare different sealers to the Wax. I promise I will find them.

Till then, Stay Wired Up!!! Gail

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Battle of the Jewelry Sealers, Part Two...The Bead

Last time I explained to you how I was going to experiment with putting a solvent based sealer over a polymer clay bead that had already been sealed with a water-based polyurethane sealer. I also posted two pictures showing how the bead looked just a few hours after I put the coating, ProtectaClear, on one side of the bead.

I am here to tell you that so far so good. Here are the new pictures of the same bead. Again, there isn't much difference, except the ProtectaClear side is just a little shinier.
The original urethane coating
The ProtectaClear side two days out
 I did get an email from Everbrite, the manufacturers of ProtectaClear, stating that I should wait four days before I started "picking" at the finish on the bead. That will give the solvent coating plenty of time to cure, which made sense to me. Putting one type of coating on a different type of coating can take time before you really know how it will react. I could get anxious and tell you," Yeah, I see no difference," and at this time, that wouldn't be a lie. But it is the long-term effects I am curious about.

I will tell you this, I was naughty and tested the surface with a fingernail, and yes, I was able to put a slight dent in the ProtectaClear finish. That was, however, before Everbrite told me I probably shouldn't. Guess I'm bad...

While this experiment continues on this one little bead, I am going to be purchasing some water-based urethane to try on another copper wire piece, a beadless piece. I have read other blogs whose experiments with this materials yields varying results. Some say that over time, a water-based urethane will still let a small amount of oxygen through to the metal, especially copper, and that could cause an aging process to begin, even though it might be a minute amount or take some time to happen to the degree that might be unacceptable. We shall see.

Next time I will provide you with more details on my little bead experiment, and I will start a discussion on using Renaissance Was on your wire projects. Until then...

Stay Wire Up! Gail

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Battle of the Jewelry Sealers

Like so many jewelry makers, I ran into a brick wall when it came to sealing my copper and silver jewelry pieces. It became a larger dilemma for me when I fell in love with the polymer clay beads from Fanceethat! You need to check them out...gorgeous!

I ordered the beads and made the bracelet you see here. It sold right away, which I was thrilled at but then I found myself in a quandary. I knew Lisa had sealed her beads and I knew what sealer I wanted to use to protect the natural patina of the copper, that beautiful and bright natural copper color, but would the two mix??

ProtectaClear by Everbrite has been my new favorite sealer for my Wire Helix Series. While I love Renaissance Wax and the protection it affords, it was really hard for me to reach all the little ins and outs of the delicate weaves and coils the Helix Series bracelets and necklaces have. That's why I've been using the ProtectaClear. I could spray or brush this tough coating on, and it provided me with the protection and finish I wanted. That little bit of shine isn't bad either.

Back to the bracelet shown above. Lisa used a water-based polyurethane to seal her polymer clay beads...and trust me, that is really great! I love the look it gives the beads, and Lisa knows what she's doing. I'm the one with the problem, remember? I am storing this bracelet in an anti-tarnish bag until I'm sure I've reached a solution that is good for the bracelet and good for the customer buying this piece of jewelry.

I decided to experiment on another bead I purchased from Fanceethat, with her permission and Everbrite's knowledge. I took this bead that had been coated with the water-based polyurethane, and put a coat of ProtectaClear on it. ProtectaClear is a resin or solvent-based sealer.

What that means to the layman is this: The water-based sealers begin to harden when the water evaporates. Of course, that is simplifying it by leaps and bounds. A solvent-based sealer begins the hardening or curing process when the solvent evaporates. The curing process of both goes through a series of chemical reactions that finish the curing of the sealer. Wikipedia offers the best full explanation of the process if you are interested.

Long story short...oil and water don't mix, usually. Even the kind folks at Everbrite, the creators of ProtectaClear, said I should proceed with caution because their finish could cause the other finish to crack or peal.

Hence, my experiment. What I did was give one side of the bead a coating of ProtectaClear to see what, if any, would be the reaction. To be honest, I thought when I first applied the ProtectaClear, the polyurethane finish would crack. However, it has been over and hour, and you can see from the pictures that it hasn' of yet.
Polyurethane coated side
ProtectaClear coated side
 I did my best to get them close to the same side...sorry bout that, but you can see only a slight difference as of now. The picture on the left shows the untouched bead side, while the picture on the right is slightly shinier but the surface of the bead, itself, has been unaffected so far.

It takes the ProtectaClear a little while to cure, so I am going to give it a while longer before I pass final judgement. I will poke it and scrape it with my fingernail, which you really "shouldn't" do to a bead like this, but I want it to be as thorough a test as I can with my limited knowledge and no real lab to work in.

So for now, it's later gator. I will let you know how this little experiment comes out. Send me your comments if you've experienced this yourself and we'll work it out together. Until next time (real soon), Stay Wired Up!! Gail

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What To Do With Those New Business Cards

 As I've said in the past, starting a small business can be overwhelming at times. Just the thought of putting all you have to do on paper can make you want to throw in the towel before you get started. It takes determination and a "You can't beat me!" attitude.

I am going to assume that if you are selling your handmade items, you already have business cards. If not, read my past posts on the subject of business card design. If your design is done and you've ordered those cards and you have those boxes in hand, you might be wondering how to get the most out of using them as marketing tools.

Business cards are more than just something you have to pack up for shows or exhibits. They need to
become your best friend. They need to go everywhere with you and be involved in every aspect of your life. Yes, even those holiday parties with friends. That may sound like overkill, but this is your business so you can choose to build it timidly or take the bulls by the horns and jump in with both feet.

I always have business cards on me and I mean "always." I may have them in a pocket or in my purse, and they are hiding in my car (I don't want them exposed when I'm not in the car. I make jewelry. That's a ticket to getting my car broken into. So use common sense.). My husband carries them and hands them to his clients, as well.

One of my favorite tricks is to leave business cards behind wherever I go. When leaving a restaurant, I leave at least one on the table. I might accidentally drop one on the floor under the table and without further thought, forget to pick it up. Am I bad? You can find my cards in ladies bathrooms, or on the floor in a clothing store. I don't make a nuisance of myself to the point they are going to call me and ask me to quit. I'm pretty discreet and work at being non-offensive. But hey, it is my business and I want the peeps to know where I am and what I do and where they can find my product.

Another trick I use, which is fairly easy because I make jewelry, is to wear a piece or two into a store and keep touching it. Some people will notice. If not, I might walk up to a sales person that isn't busy and ask what she thinks of the piece. I will tell her a little of what I do and that I just finished it and can't decide if I like it or not. I ask for her opinion. Nine times out of ten she will get excited and ask if I have a website. That leads straight into the business card handout.

After you've handed someone your card, be sure to tell the potential client that you are always adding to or changing things on your websites, so they should be sure to bookmark your site so she/he can check it regularly. Will she do it? Maybe not. But always be on the lookout for that one customer that becomes a fan and a regular shopper. They are out there. There is always someone out there that will love what you do.

When at a show, make sure you put at least one card in a shopper's bag, and leave plenty laying around your tables. Some sellers think their cards need to be in a card holder, but they don't. I have told many people to be sure to take a card, just to see them fumble around my booth looking for the card holder, while disrupting the shopping of other clients. So now I put at least six smaller stacks tactfully around my tables, where they will be within easy reach, no matter where the customer is standing. I put my two card holders on the left and right entrance into my booth.

When mailing out an order, use one business card back for a thank you message and add another card for good measure. If you are exchanging information with someone, write your info on the back of your business card and hand it to them. If they don't have anything to write on, use another one of your cards. They will turn it over, if only for a split second. That is true marketing...the more impressions a person gets of your business, the more apt they are to remember it.

If I need to use a repairman in my home, I exchange business cards with them and tell them to hand it to someone special in their family or use my website for gift-giving. Most men will throw them away, but a few don't and hand them over or use them themselves. You are looking for just one...that one that will make a purchase.

Your friends might think you're a little me...but put some cards out during a holiday party. If your friends reprimand you for doing so, and if the party is at YOUR house, they probably aren't much of a friend anyway. Ugh...I love people who support the cause! They don't have to be a top customer, but they should support your enthusiasm for wanting to be a success small business owner.

Have you ever walked into your dry cleaners or favorite restaurant and seen an area where you can leave business cards? If you've been smart and not used your home address and phone number, feel free to leave a small stack of cards there. Again, I recommend discretion. Make sure that you aren't leaving your personal information behind that might add risk to your life or business.

The main point of this post is to let you know that it's okay to use your business cards as a strong marketing tool, and don't be afraid to do so. They are not a huge expense, and they are one of the quickest ways to market your business. Here are my four B's for business card marketing...Be Brave, Be Bold, Be Consistent, and Be Smart, and you can create a great avenue for driving up your business sales.

Stay Wired Up! Gail

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And Life Goes On...

It has been awhile since I have taken time to sit and write, so please forgive my lack of diligence and what seems like my lack of concern. I was thinking yesterday how I needed to get back to the blog and business at hand, but moving my entire life, and then some, to another state some 1500 miles away kept getting in the way. ugh...

Earlier today, however, while out in the garage getting more packing boxes, I tripped over the cord to the power washer my husband was using, (Okay, I'm not great at picking up my feet!) and I took a fall squarely onto my left knee. Now, this knee and I have a history of issues. It has been kicked by horses, drained, run into by my Australian Shepherd at a dead run, drained, and fallen upon...and drained more than once. Oh, don't worry...we will both be fine!

Long story short, God works in mysterious ways, as I now sit on the sofa, knee resting comfortably on a pillow with an ice bag and towel placed directly on the now swelling and painful hematoma that is forming on my knee. My husband got me a cup of coffee and my computer and here I am. Isn't it amazing that I found time...or was given time.

The moral of this story is...sometimes we need to slow down our lives in order to accomplish the things we "need" to do that might not otherwise get done in an optimum time frame.

We, as human beings, whether we are in business or not, whether we are artists or not, sometimes forget what is important. We get busy with our everyday lives or with designing or making the things we love to make. If we work from home, we might forget to do the little things, like brush our hair or get out of our sweatsuit, just because we become so enthralled with the tasks at hand. We ignore the tiny voice in our heads that nags at us to take care of the little things, or just to take twenty minutes for ourselves to soak in a bath. Then, the practice of blocking out our inner voice soon deadens it to a whisper or kills it all together.

It shouldn't sound so bleak, and to most of you it probably sounds like I have made a mountain out of a mole hill. The reality is that I know "I" need to re-prioritize my time, especially if I am in so much of a hurry that I don't think to pick up my feet and end up injured, just to find time to do what I really be able to share with all of you.

If you are in any kind of business, whether you work from home or not, there are times when you need to stop in your tracks, no matter where you are, and just...breathe! I picture some of you in the cities stopping on the sidewalk, in the midst of all that foot traffic, closing your eyes, pointing your chin upward, and breathing deeply, which, by the way, should put a very large smile on your face.

What you've done is taken a few seconds to lighten your soul, to rejuvenate your spirit, and to reorganize your thoughts. You might have even started a trend, not only for yourself, but for those around you who witnessed your "moment." Then again, who cares what "they" think. Just do it for yourself. Do it when you feel you need to. Do it when you don't think you need to. Your work will benefit, you family will benefit...and most of all...YOU will benefit from this seemingly insignificant process. What can it hurt? I dare you to try it!

Hugs to you all...and Stay Wired Up! Gail

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We Are on the Move...Again!

I want to shout out a big "Thanks!" to all my readers that have been so patient over the last week or so. We have been on a hunting mission of sorts, and I think we actually made some progress. Yeah!

When you are first starting a business of any kind, one of the best things you can do is join some groups on social media sites. It took me a little while to find some, but I did and now belong to four, all of which do take some time to keep up with, but the time spent has proven well worthwhile. Not only have I made great friends, friends that understand what I am going through, friends I can share with, but I have found a great resource for information on the same thing that I do, wire wrapped and woven jewelry.

My new found friends have, and still do, encourage me, support me, and provide me with a wealth of information I might not otherwise be privy to. One of those friends, thanks Pam, recently encouraged me to take my wares on the road and push to get into art galleries that accepted my type of product, jewelry.

So...we, my husband and I, took a much needed vacation but with a specific goal in mind. I learned that to expand my business reach and continue to brand my name, I needed to put my product into the hands of peeps that might not see it by the methods I currently use. It made sense that you can only do so much with websites, social media, and shows, so we hit the road. Yes, we drove.

Our trip spanned over 1800 miles of road and through a myriad of cities and villages. We decided my product needed to be in towns that had a particular draw to vacationers that were going to be looking for a souvenir that would continually be a reminder of where they had been. More than that, my jewelry needed to get into the hands of buyers that would really appreciate the artistic aspect of what I make. I needed to hit art galleries.

I stopped at several, and most were in areas where people might go on an annual basis or maybe just once in a lifetime. I picked up information from the owners, buyers, or managers, if they were there or not busy at that time. If they were unavailable, I introduced myself to an assistant, gave a short bio, and traded business cards. I made sure their business card had at least a phone number on it or an email where the buyer or manager could be reached, and I explained that my business card had my website and contact info on it. If nothing else, the assistant may check out the website and report back to the person responsible for buying. Better yet, the assistant may find something for herself on the website. What can it hurt?

I managed to find one place in particular that really sparked my interest. They worked with artists from a variety of mediums, and the owner, herself, was an artist. This particular gallery, located on an island in southern Florida, really liked what I did. I left a few pieces with the owner and went over her contract for artists, then headed back. It was a two day process, which isn't over yet. My jewelry had to be juried by her board of directors, and then I will be notified and products requested, a bio done, cards made, inventory updates, etc.

It is an expensive adventure. There are the galleries "fees" or percentages, even if they buy outright. I was a little reluctant at first but decided that it fits into the realm of "marketing" and the percentage they take can be a business write-off, as long as I can prove my wares are worth the price I put on them. (That's food for another to price your product.)

Another by-product of working during vacation is that you can write off most of the expenses for your trip. Did I only go to one gallery...No! I went to many and got lots of cards for future phone calls and further branding of my business. And...I still need to hit local galleries.

At any rate, I am now back and more determined than ever to continue to brand and come up with more ideas for marketing...and more ideas for those all important new products for my wire jewelry line. Maybe you should try this, too!

Have a super great day and Stay Wired UP!!! Gail

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Using Social Media...It's Right Up There With Getting a Website

Last time I talked a little about using the Internet as a marketing tool for your business. It can be a scary adventure, especially if you are not really sure of yourself on the computer. Questions pop into your head like "How am I going to learn to do this?" and "where am I going to find the time when all I want to do is my art?"

Then there is the use of Social Media...a whole different and complex animal. Most of us use Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Twitter, and a host of others to stay in touch with our friends. Why not move over a little and start pages or incorporate attached pages that reflect what you love to do?

I think that when we consider adding Social Media to our already growing list of things to do for our hobbies or business, we just freeze. Not only are we creating more responsibility for ourselves, but when we put our "art" out there, we are showing others our soft underbelly, the innermost part of ourselves that is the most vulnerable to criticism and rejection. And we tend to be driven not to engage in this marketing expansion by fear alone.

We use the excuse of time, even though we are already on those sites. We worry that our presentation won't be good enough. We worry our product will be rejected, or worse yet, not even looked at. We worry because our art comes from deep within us. Am I right? or am I right...So...stretch those
marketing muscles!

I was right there with ya! I knew from experience that having a website and keeping that up was going to be stressful enough, but extending my outreach to more than one social media site was going to be excruciating! I searched other blogs until I found on that told me I didn't need to use Social websites to market my products, that they didn't work. For about two weeks I felt completely vindicated! Whew, was what I thought to myself.

As those two weeks passed, there was this little voice inside my head that kept nagging at me. "You dumb dummy! You had your own marketing business! You have to do what YOU think is best!" ugh...It is marketing 101. It is called networking. It is called FREE ADVERTISING!

So, I jumped in, and with both feet. My motto has always been either both feet in or none at all. I had, about six months earlier quit using Facebook all together. All I did there was play games for hours on end any way. It was tough swallowing that thought and getting back into it. I was sure I had lost most of my gaming friends by then from no more than lack of conversation and game play. To me, it was like admitting I was wrong or something! The head games we play with ourselves...

When I did go back to Facebook, I searched out groups that had support for peeps like myself and found three that I joined in my field. Basically I searched for Wire Wrapping. It was just that easy. Facebook, then Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn (a site for professionals of all kinds), Google +, and I know there are more, but my brain is a little mushy this morning.

I will be honest, at first it did take a little more of my time than I liked, like almost all day for the first few days. I had to set up the accounts, play around on them, get lost in all the information, and wade through all the needless stuff that I didn't think pertained to me. I did, however, get it done. Now it only takes a couple of hours each day to update and throw a few pics out there. Pinterest I do at night usually because I find sorting though mounds of photos relaxing. Okay, I'm a little weird...

Some guidelines to doing this? When you are setting up your account(s), try to keep the account names the same or really similar if at all possible. I will use mine as an example. My website is My Facebook fan page is GGChambers designs LLC, my Pinterest is ggChambers designs, my LinkedIn goes by my name but it listed under ggChambers designs, my Etsy and Artfire sites are ggChambers designs, and lastly I will tell you about Twitter. Twitter only allows you so many letters in your title. ggChambers designs was too one letter...ugh. So I used ggCDesigner. I figured it was close enough and since ggC is on my logo tags, in enough time, maybe others would catch on.

The cool thing is that Google caught on quite fast and if you search ggChambers designs, I fill up the first result page. If you Google just ggchambers, I still fill the first page. And guess what...Artfire and Facebook are the two top hits, along with my website.

So, be consistent. Start out with one or two Social Media sites and go from there. It does give you added exposure, and the best part is it is all free advertising. And we like free!!!  Plus, you incorporate the all important networking with your peers.

Secondly, find your comfort zone. Figure out how much you can handle and how quickly. If you only feel comfortable starting with one Social Media site and working that for a week or two, do it. Then gradually work that second site into your daily schedule. Pace yourself. It's okay! No body is going to stand over you with a bat and demand you get on 10 sites in one week, honest! Some people CAN do that, but most cannot. Don't stress yourself out about it, cause then you will really hate it and not do it at all. I don't want that for you.

Remember, in the beginning this all takes time, but if you get an additional sale or two from it, what does the loss of an hour or two a day matter. If your rely on your worldwide exposure from one location, you have just narrowed your ability to reach that ultimate customer that will buy time and
time again. Plus, you can check it anywhere you go! Love it!

So...What can it hurt? Be consistent, be patient, be persistent! All it will cost you is a little time, but the rewards can be wonderfully fulfilling!

Until next time...Stay Wired Up! Gail

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Using the Dreaded Internet...Do I Have To?

I hear from artists that work in many different mediums that they just want to work at their art and go to shows. They absolutely do not want to get involved in the time consuming job of a website. I smile at them because I used to be one of them.

I neither wanted to take the time to do a website or felt I had the need to. After all, I loved doing shows of all types and so did my husband, who goes with me a lot of the time. What more did I need? After all, I picked up some pretty loyal customers from those shows!

My really good friend, Joy from CJ Beadstore, convinced me that I really needed to get my name out there using the Web. Every time I saw her, she asked me if I started yet, and would continue to admonish me till I had to leave the store.

You see, in my not too distant past I had my own marketing business where we (I had employees) did websites of all sorts for small businesses. Not only did we do that, but we performed many other Internet marketing functions for businesses, as well. (i.e. website placement on search engines, keyword search, website hosting, etc. etc.) I was tired of poking my keyboard, while surrounding myself with books that fed me the information I needed to perform certain programming tasks when my memory failed me. I lived it, ate it, and slept with it. I had no choice. My office was in my home. I considered myself a "burnout" and fought the idea of getting back into it tooth and nail. Even though I loved what I did, thinking back on those days even now makes my blood pressure go up...

Anyway, I broke down last June and started doing research on getting a website. I had to have a domain name, my www. I went to my favorite guys at 123ehost, where I did business for years. There are many places to get your domain, like, godaddy. com, and yahoo, to name just a few. I go to 123ehost because I had used them before.

Ok, I purchased about $100 worth of domains....couldn't make up my mind at first...and called my boys, who said that Wordpress now offered websites you could sell from. Having used Wordpress in the past, that seemed logical to me, and the website, was born. That is not to say that Wordpress e-commerce is the end all of website software out there. There are a ton of others that other artists use, like Storenvy or GoDaddy. You really need to do the research and see what suits you and your level of talent the best. (There are a ton of places to start a store out there, and just cause I listed these, doesn't mean I've used them, unless I stated I did.)

As far as the cons go, having a website is tedious at times, until you get a system down. If you've been making your product for a while, you are already used to taking photos of your stuff. (We will reserve that lesson for another time.) You need photos ( I recommend at least two of each product), a title for each, detailed descriptions of each product, pricing info, and shipping info. That is the minimum. There are other things you can add, like variations, your store policy for returns, etc. We can touch on that later, as well.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and in the beginning it is. But let me tell you, it will be well worth it. You can list your website on your business cards, on your Facebook page, and people will go to it. It doesn't have to be fancy. And actually, you don't have to sell from your site if you don't want to, although I highly recommend you do.

Some website programs allow you to download your store from one site to another. I am on Etsy, too, and started and Artfire store. Artfire allowed me to download all my info from Etsy with just a few keystrokes. It saved me a ton of time!!

More pro's to all of this chaos??? I have gotten great customers off of every site I am on. I have been in the jewelry design business for one short year, but have managed to develop a relationship with people from all over the world via my websites. I spend about two hours a day checking or tweaking my websites and checking all my social media sites. I do it over my morning coffee. If I need to take photos and work on descriptions, I reserve one day a week for that. I have developed spreadsheets to house my titles, descriptions, and prices and I just copy and paste. I work on all three sites at one time that way, and it's done.

And as soon as I can figure out how to get the spreadsheets downloadable, I will have them available for you. They won't be protected, so you can tweak them to satisfy your business, or you can message me and I can help you with that.

The moral of this story...the Internet is a tool, just like your favorite pair of pliers. The use of it can cost very little in relationship to the return. You can market to just a few via shows, or you can market to the world. It is definitely your choice.

Any questions or comments are welcome, and I hope you Stay Wired Up!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taking a Vacation Can Be...

Since I've been gone for a while, I think it only fair to tell you that not only have I been on vacation, so has my computer. The day before I left for vacation, my computer decided to take a trip of its own. Much to my dismay, Gamer (her nickname) went by way of Tennessee to the technical hospital, while I headed to South Padre Island. Parting was such sweet sorrow...but I managed to get a new tablet out of the deal.

When you manage at least three websites, a slew of email accounts, and various and sundry social media sites, you cannot afford to be without Internet for long. One day amounts to withdrawal, two days brings misery, but three days or longer can mean a possible disaster for a small business woman like myself. Mostly I just had withdrawal, until I figured out how to use the tablet. Even then, it wasn't the same. Darned learning curve!!

Having the need to connect to the outside world is an evil we business people must deal with. And really, it isn't an evil because it allows us to be in places and touch people we would not ordinarily be able to. We can provide the products we love to make to the entire world via the Internet. We can teach what we do to others without even meeting them personally. We can expand on our own knowledge with a click of a mouse or a tapping of a keyboard. When you think about it, technology is quite amazing and quite helpful, if used appropriately and within the boundaries we set for ourselves.

My point is twofold. Don't be afraid to grab technology by the tail. It can be time consuming but most often it's well worth the pain and the time. Technology can bring you sales. It can help you teach others. It can help you learn. It can help you make friends among others that feel like you do or do what you do. Ok, maybe that's more than two points...not sure cause it's late.

I do know this. I missed my computer, but I missed my connection to the world more. Did it kill me? No, but I made sales while my computer and I were both on vacation. Enough said.

Stay Wire Up! Gail

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What About Craft Wire

I've seen lots of articles and tutorials calling for the use of "craft wire." If you are new to the wire world, you may ask yourself, "What is craft wire and what makes it different from other types of wire?" That's a good question...really!

When I first started working with wire, I was right there with you. I didn't know a craft wire, from a Parawire, from a pair of wires. I thought wire was wire, other than I knew there was Sterling, copper, and gold. Boy, did I ever need an education. To be honest, I am still getting one. Whenever I think I just about have all the wire knowledge I need, someone invents a new wire, or at least a new metal that wire is made out of.

First of, craft wire to many of us wire geeks, has many definitions, but here is one I found. Craft Wire: A permanently color-coated copper-based wire, which is soft and very malleable. It retains its shape moderately well, particularly in the larger gauges. I found this particular definition at Ross Metals website.

Most, but not all, craft wires have a copper metal core. Copper, by nature is a relatively soft metal that is easily maneuvered, bent, molded, or stretched. It is harder than zinc, but softer than iron. While copper may be the most widely used core for craft wires, that isn't always the case. There are less expensive metals that can be found at the core of craft wires, such as nickel. This raises some issues that need to be confronted if you are new to the use of wire.

There are several reasons to know what is at the core of your craft wire. Have you ever had anyone ask you if your wire items were made with nickel? I usually have at least one person at every exhibition ask me that very question. There are a lot of jewelry lovers out there that have allergies or sensitivities to certain metals. Nickel is one of the most common metals to cause people misery when it is put close to their skin. I can attest to that personally.

I got braces on my teeth in my forties. I didn't think to ask my dentist if the braces had any amount of nickel in them and I have metal allergies. Within minutes of them being placed on my teeth, the inside of my mouth began to itch, burn, and swell. Poor man, he had to immediately take them off and replace them with titanium. I was then fine, as titanium is a hypo-allergenic material. Ugh...but this could happen to your customers, as well. It pays to know what your craft wire is cored with. A simple email or call to the supplier or manufacturer is all it takes if that information isn't on the label. Most of them are happy to supply you with the necessary information.

Another reason to be informed is that you can offer up that information on your own to your customers. That lets your customers know you are informed about what you are using to make your product, and also tells them that you are willing to share that information with them. It is in your favor to be up front and honest. It helps to build the relationship. Trust me, if if they don't buy at that time, when they are ready, they will feel more apt to buy from you because you have already built a bridge of trust with them.

Back to the wire, itself. Most craft wire is color coated, either by enameling or color bonding of another sort. Some craft wires are then coated with a "clear coat" to help protect the finish from wearing off. Again, be informed. There are some very good craft wires on the market and there are those of lesser quality. Some do not use a clear coat and some do not care how quick the color comes off. Like everything else, you usually get what you pay for. The color, however, can wear off over time, leaving your wire's core exposed.

There are "permanently colored" craft wires. They do not, however, have color all the way through the wire. I really thought they did when I first started. Woohoo! I thought I had hit the mother load but I was dismayed the first time I seriously nicked the wire with my pliers. Just remember to do your research or do some testing on your own. Permanently colored craft wire still has a core that is most likely copper or another metal, and over time this core can or will be exposed.

Plated wire is different from colored wire. Silver craft wire is not the same thing as "silver-plated" craft wire. Silver-plated craft wire is supposed to have a very thin layer of actual silver ore bonded to the outside of the core wire. Like I said, it is thin, very thin. You should know that somewhere during the lifespan of an item made with silver-plated wire, it, too, will eventually wear down and expose the color to the core. Silver craft wire is silver-colored wire. The color can come from metals such as nickel or even tin, another very soft metal, or be enameled with a silver color.

You may say that you have a piece you've worn for years made out of silver craft wire and it still has its silver color! Great! But the color you might now be seeing may be tin or zinc. Sorry...Or it might be that you did a bang-up job of selecting a superior craft wire for the project. You decide.

Please understand, I am not slamming craft wire, at all. I have just noticed a lot of questions out there about the subject, so I wanted to help put some of the mystery of this wonderful, very usable product to rest. On the other side, craft wire comes in array of colors that can add depth and imagery to your jewelry and provide you with the uniqueness you may be seeking. All I ask is that you do just a wee bit of research so you know exactly what you are placing in your products and then have fun!

If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. I would be happy to answer them all.

Till next time...Stay Wired Up!! Gail

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Business Cards, Part Deux

Okay, so it has taken me a while to get back with the program. Sorry about that. I am actually in my hotel at a show in the middle of Texas, so bear with me, or is that bare with me? I'm not really sure...

We left off with picking a font and deciding name placement on the business card. Let's work on the information to include and background imagery. Most of you already know this, but over time, even we old business pro's forget the basics of good design, cause we get so caught up doing what we do. But for the new business person or those that are considering jumping off the bridge, let's review.

Where should your business name go? Wellllll....that depends on the style of card you are choosing and what kind of business you have. Say you are setting up a more formal style of business like a computer software design business. You might want to use a vertical style card that is split in the middle by a simple line divider and a two-color background. Or you might like a traditional horizontal card style that features a small pic of your logo in the upper left hand corner on a white background. It's firm and precise.

For most art or craft type businesses,regardless of where you put your name, it needs to stand out.  I have found that most of us like it straight and center in the card. Start there and make sure it is centered. If it looks nice in the regular font, try bolding it and seeing how it looks. You can also try italics, but remember to make it easily readable. Once that little fit is done, you will feel like you've accomplished something. And so you will have.

Now, what else do we want on the card. Most everyone wants their address and phone number on their cards so customers have a way to reach them. Here is where it gets a little fuzzy for me. I wanted a mailing address, but I wasn't sure I wanted people driving by and wandering what lovely jewelry pieces might be lurking inside. Yes, Priscilla, there are dishonest folks out there, so it's better to be safe than sorry. Get a PO Box. Added expense, yes, but it can be used for "returns" (heaven forbid!) and still not give anyone an idea of how to bother you on off hours or when you are on vacation.

Same with a phone number. Get a MagicJack or another service like it. They work and are inexpensive. Oh, and like the PO Box, can be written off at the end of the expense!

We have our name, our address, and our phone. If you want a fax, there are some really cool and inexpensive online fax options, as well. You can send and receive faxes like the pro's. we add the fax number, too. Let's see. besides the name, we now have three additional lines of information.

Got a website? Are you on Etsy? How about Artfire, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Add your website or blog address for sure, but don't muck up the card with all the social media addresses. Put links to those on your website, Etsy, or Facebook page. We will talk about that more later. Personally, I only add my webpage, even though you can find me about seven other sites. I tell the peeps to check social media site for my bus. name, ggchambers. If they find me, I'm there!

You don't necessarily need your email address on your card either. Wait! There is method to my madness! I tell clients to email me through the website Contact page, or contact me through my Etsy site, etc. I do this because, God love 'em, sometimes the fans emails will have viruses you DON'T need or want, and driving them to one of your other locations gives them another chance to view your work and gives you more "hits" on your sites. If this is all Greek to you, you will just have to trust me...this is better for you!

Wow! You are just about there. Find a location for your business name, and locate the rest (hopefully no more than four more lines) below it in a smaller font. Not too small, like 5pt! No one can read that! Use a 7, 8, or 9 pt. depending on the font you have chosen. Make sure the normal human being can read it without squinting. Trust me, if they have to work hard to read it, it will end up in the trash, no matter how much they like your product. If your name is fancy, it's okay to use a plain readable font for the location info like Arial or Times New Roman font. Now...background....

For us craftier artsier types, we like color and pictures. We like the descriptives of what we do to be seen rather than read. Go for it! For those of you that like photography, take some pictures of your products and work up a collage of sorts. Or take your favorite product and do a pic of that. Just remember, we want our cards to be memorable, but not overwhelming, so you may have to run your pics through a program like Photoshop or have a computer savvy friend help you here. Fade it, crop it, do what you need to do, but don't overwhelm and distort the all important contact information.

If you are an artist of any sort, please don't use a white background...oh, and don't use hot pink just cause I said not to use white! Put some thought into it and make it your own. Make it talk about who you are and what you do. If you are a gardener, use plants and flowers. If you make jewelry, have your card reflect your style. If you build dog houses...use Fido's pic. You get the idea.

Now I'm babbling. I hope this helps a little. I know this is just a very teeny weenie part of starting a business or even maintaining one, but it's your business' and your first impression to the potential client. It reflects back to you. Just do your best and it will happen. Take! Print it!

Let me know if I should have proof read this more...I'm really tired!

Till next time...Stay Wired Up!!! Gail

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Got A Biz Name? Now Get Your Cards, Part 1

Does it seem like we are taking baby steps where starting a successful home-based art or craft business is concerned? We are. It's better to take it a little slow and make sure you have what you want, rather than having to change things a gazillion times later.

I've been a name and a design, only to find that it didn't fit my business a year or so down the road. If you started off with a great name that defines you and one that you can brand, changing the design around it is less critical to your overall branding success.

The business card is or can be part of your signature to your art. Most of us don't "mark" our handmade pieces, so what do collectors go for? Your business card. It's the way they feel they can connect to you when the show or sale is over. Have you ever noticed how someone taking your card looks at it? If you haven't paid attention up to now, make note of it the next time you give someone your card.

 Your card can define you as much as your business name. What is your product, your art, your talent? You want your business card to create an initial image of "you" in the potential customer's mind. Marketing 101...the first impression you give the prospective client is the most important one.

The first thing to select in your business card design is the font or letter style. Pick a font that is easy to read but reflects your personal style. There are plenty of Font sites on the web to provide you with just what you are looking for. Some of my favorite sites are:,, and Some fonts are free...yeah! and some are not. Just remember to keep your choice simple and readable...but reflective of who you are and what your business is. Just a thought...A beautiful fancy script font isn't always the best choice, because for some, they can be hard to focus on or read. You get the idea. Oh, and before downloading a font, make sure your have a really good anti-virus software program already installed on your computer!

Now for the background. You can have your background cover the entire business card, be just a picture in the corner, two corners, three, and so on. You don't have to complete this part of the card yourself, either. Most people use a service like Vistaprint or contact a graphic artist they know. Graphic art students are always a valuable resource, and some are willing to do the work just for their portfolio or the practice. If you know how to use Photoshop, Pagemaker, Corel, or any of the other graphic design software, good for you, but it isn't a necessity, so don't panic at this step.

Even though I did the initial design of my cards myself, a valuable resource for me is Plumrose Lane. Sharon designed my blog background, and kiddies, it was free. There was a small fee to add my name to the title, but it was truly minimal. My point being, do some research. If you aren't talented in this area, or you just don't want to take the time away from your work, find someone to help you. The card is yours and should look the way you want it to look.

For your homework:
1.  Pick a font
2.  Decide photo or background content
3.  Begin to think about the information to be included on the card. We will cover that next time.

Thanks so much for reading, and until next time...Stay Wired Up! (oh and yes, we will be talking about working with wire on this blog, too. :-) Gail