Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

Summer isn't far off now (officially starts June 21, 2009 at 1:45 A.M. EDT) and that has me thinking of sandals and shorts, beaches and shells, bbq's and picnics. What summery ideas are out there in the Beadosphere this week?

Margot Potter's fun flip-flops project I don't have any rubber flip-flops but it still gave me an idea for sprucing up my plain black Reefs (my pair are the 'black/black' shown at the bottom right of the color choices - so very comfy and 3 summers old and still holding up, worth every penny)

Mad Designs, Marcia deKoster shared some kaleidoscope designs she captured from a sculpture at an outdoors San Diego art installation. What kind of summery beading project ideas could you get from kaleidoscopes? I immediately thought of a filigree assemblage with pearls and chain and glittering faceted beads - look at the diamond shape in the middle of the pictures she features - Swarovski gem, perhaps?.

Lima Beads lets you search through their listings and create a "Fresh Pick" montage. You can put different beads, stones, pearls and findings together and get an immediate look at how the colors and picks look together. Give it a try! (I ended up buying my picks - the feature puts them on one page together so you don't have to hunt them down again). You can also see other picks on the front page or browse pages of picks.

SmuTopia shares a Sailor's Valentine - made from shells

Heather at Art Bead Scene shares a whole assortment of sea-inspired picks

A Bead A Day would love to hear from you if you're familiar with the purple stone she featured last week. It's a great color for a deep hued design inspired by standing under the stars in the middle of a short summer's night - perhaps in the mountains near a clear lake or maybe on the beach of some tropical island?

Krista QQ posted about some bead and jewelry fashion trends on the SWCreations blog

Other blogs of note:

JustATish had an important interview and gave us some insight into how she created a 'tantrum' necklace to help her channel energy into something positive.

Artbeads products for May were sent out for review and although I got mine last week, I was too busy over the weekend to do much with the bead (or talk about it). I'll have a review up tomorrow, though. Meanwhile you can check out what Hammi Jammi Jewelry did with their Venetian glass, or what (and how) Jennifer Perkins did with the Garden Snail stoneware pendant, libeado used Swarovski rivoli's in a lush woven seed bead creation.

Sugee Andersyn published an important warning on her blog about the new Amazon Kindle Blog publishing service. I immediately went and claimed my blog. It was easy to do. Once it's up (48 to 72 hrs) I'll post more about it.

Would you like some back issues of beading magazines, or some how to books? Simply Shiny is de-stashing!

And, lastly, something that has simply nothing to do with jewelry design, beads or trends or summer - typewriter art posted on the Blankney Journal, a blog by Rodney Garlant. I found it via JustATish and became a follower (you should to, it'll bring a daily smile to your face). It's an adorable blog full of trivia and interesting tid-bits. I wish I could leave him a comment to say how much I enjoy his blog!

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Extra: Lucite Flower and Leaf Necklace

Created this today, using Czech glass faceted rondelles and flower beads, freshwater cultured pearls, non-tarnish gold artistic wire in 24 gauge and lucite flowers and leaves. I still have to add the clasp, it'll be 17 or so inches with a short extension chain.

I received these lucite flowers and leaves from The Beadin' Path and they must be sold out, can't find links to them. I believe the flowers are contemporary German lucite (here's what I think are the same style in 'celery') and that the leaves are contemporary German lucite Beech leaves (here's what I think are the same style in deep grass green).

Sorry the picture isn't the best, it's late afternoon and the light isn't good. I am really happy with how the necklace turned out, though.

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Today I Tackle the Workroom - Again

Are you one of those crafters who tidies up as you go along or do you, like me, let things accumulate around you until you can't find anything before you finally do it?

Between having my daughter here, the day job and being very achy all week, I didn't fully unpack or stash away my stuff from last weekend. It's going to be a big job to get all set up again, so not only is there no work in progress or otherwise to show, but I'm going to keep this one short so I can get to it.

I have been thinking about some new techniques to use and have purchased this from Rings & Things for one of them:

I'm betting you've known what this is and what it's called longer than I have. If you have any tips to share about it's use, please comment!

I also got some G-S Hypo cement on recommendation from Sally Norton who designs the most beautiful jewelry and accessories from vintage findings and old watch parts. I hope to greatly improve my steampunk style pieces both in appearance and ease of construction with it.

Last week was a week of really good sales online. I get email notices from my suppliers (see sidebar for links) many times those have great coupon offers. Joining your supplier's Facebook fan page, reading their blog, and following them on Twitter is another way to get in on good deals.

Some suppliers have discount clubs or other great ways to save:

  • The Beadin' Path has a monthly bead club, and gives you a bonus discount for joining their e-mailing list, which means you get a nifty newsletter, which often comes with great coupon deals
  • Lima Beads does a lunch special on Tuesdays, does a "fresh pick" special every day where one of their customer's "fresh pick" items are discounted that day and a "Big Green Bead Machine" feature where prices are updated (downward) every 5 minutes - but you have to catch the best sale price before it expires. Then they'll hold the purchase in your cart for up to 3 days at that price. I just watched how it works and saw the prices drop one or two percent each on the list of 9 items, including a Vintaj brass filigree at 19% off - ( five minutes later: now it's 24% and a couple have sold out, five more minutes and the Vintaj is sold out!).
  • Rings & Things has their 5-day sales and there's one going on now, ends tomorrow. Also don't forget to check their limited edition web-only specials.
  • Artbeads puts up their limited time coupons on the home page - right now there's a 15% off coupon for their Vault selection good through June 4th.They've also got a page for their promotions that you won't want to miss.
Tomorrow's Wandering Around the Beadosphere post is already prepared and set to auto-publish both here and on the site linked above where I archive both my weekly interviews/reviews and the Wanderings posts. I hope you'll come back and see where I've visited this week!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Artbeads Product Review - Russian Artist Masterpiece Pendants

(click for larger view)

I've left the picture above bigger than usual because the featured bead from Artbeads is so beautiful and I want you to see the detail.

This is a reproduction of a portion of an Alphonse (Alfons) Mucha painting, Emerald, done on black onyx. The colors are beautiful and the reproduction is hand painted flawlessly. On the product page Artbeads says "These Russian pendants feature just a small piece of the whole paintings, but in doing so, the essence of the artistry is captured. The backings of the pendants are pieces of black onyx or mother of pearl, and the pendants are drilled from top to bottom..." That rectangle of onyx above, Emerald by Mucha is only 35.5 x 25 mm in size.

I'm extremely pleased with the look and condition of the piece. Although I have it on a temporary necklace, I have plans to re-work the findings and put it on an antiqued chain with a very few small embellishments, since I think the pendant itself is enough to wear without additional flourishes.

I've appreciated the art of Alphonse Maria Mucha since college, and although much of what we recognize of his work were posters and commercial illustrations, it is still beautiful art. To have something like this with such a beautiful image that I can wear, is a real treasure. I'd love to build a 'gallery' of necklaces around these reproductions someday.

I think the pieces are priced quite appropriately for the labor and artistry that went into creating them, but they aren't inexpensive, ranging from $22.47, for the smaller ovals, to over $70 for the larger sized pieces (volume discounts at 4 pieces or 6 pieces, are available).

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews - Review of Rings & Things Gemstone Beads Index

(image courtesy of Rings & Things)

Rings & Things was kind enough to send me a review copy of their printed Gemstone Beads Index. The price is $12 and can be ordered online from Rings & Things. It's a 8 1/2" x 11", Spiral bound book, with a plastic cover (clear in front, heavier black in back) with full color pictures of gemstone beads on pages 3 - 7. The book is 70 pages long.

The Gemstone Beads Index gives "insight into the origins and uses of 275 gemstones." They include, when possible, information about the chemical make-up of the stone, where it's commonly found, what metaphysical properties are purported to it and many other helpful and interesting facts.

Included in the "gems" indexed are Swarovski crystal pearls, man-made (lab grown, glass marketed as 'quartz', etc.) or enhanced stones (irradiated, dyed) and shells, such as Mother of Pearl. The guide is a fascinating read and very helpful resource.

What I appreciate most is the bluntly honest information presented. Rings & Things talks about the garnet they carry, for example, "Our stock of garnet beads is a lower-grade variety, which has a lesser gleam but also a more affordable price tag. These garnets may be dyed to achieve their attractive color..."

How utterly refreshing to see this, especially after buying stone beads at retailers where there is no useful information on the packaging, and the store employees don't have any knowledge of the beading stock at all. When I was very new at this I wasn't as concerned about the details but as I've gotten experience and as I attempt to sell my work, it's very important to the customer that I can give them accurate information about their purchase and how to care for it - and for that, you have to know what you're using.

A real life example happened to me at the recent Bay Con show. A customer asked about the stones in a necklace I made. They were aventurine and she wanted to know the metaphysical properties of aventurine, so I was able to check the listing and let her know. Made the sale, too!

I've bought stones in retail places because I liked how they looked and then later, when asked what they were, I had no idea because the package had given them a name like "camoflauge stone" which at the time, I couldn't find a reference to anywhere online until recently, and now I know it's Kambaba Jasper (page 34 of the Gemstone Beads Index).

The Gemstone Beads Index is well worth the $12 investment, in my opinion.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dawno's Mid-week Mutterings

So very tired and still sore from weekend hauling and lifting of display out of car, into convention center, out of boxes, onto table, then back into boxes and out to car, repeat the next morning x 4. Last night I had a very achy night with little sleep. I'm still too tired to completely unpack and re-organize my workspace and I have an early meeting today.

Last night I sorted my vintage button purchase into groups by color and type. As I sorted I thought about what I wanted to do. I have several that I think will become a fun choker style necklace, others that may be bits of adornment on something that's mostly strung beads and others for bracelets. Just have to work out how to do them. When I get my act back together I'll take some pictures of some of the best finds in the batch (it's well over 100 buttons).

Also played with some fun lucite flower parts. I have added stamens to them using fine gauge, gold plated, ball-end headpins, next they'll be affixed to some chain and other beads and bits will dangle around on chain and the whole thing will be connected to a necklace of undetermined-at-this-time materials.

Going to make this short and get to bed early (writing on Tues. night for publication Weds. morning because of early meeting). I'd like to remind you that I am archiving all the Sunday Weekly Wandering Around the Beadosphere and Thursday Reviews and Interviews posts at - hope you'll subscribe or follow over there!

Come back tomorrow - I will either have a new interview or a book review up - depends on if I get the interview questions back tomorrow. The book review is written and ready to go if not.

Thanks for dropping by!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dawno's Tuesday Tidbits - Post BayCon Wrap Up

I got quite busy today and didn't find time to take a picture of my tiny, cramped display (really, no great loss). I'll take a bunch of good ones at LosCon, and if I get into World Fantasy, there too. Those are "real" dealer's booths, so I hope they'll be very nice. I have 5 months to plan and obsess over them.

I put out an assortment of my quick and easy glass lanyards and a sign:

These lanyards turned out to be a great idea. People stopped, looked and I sold quite a few of them. But I also sold more of my higher priced ones today when people took the time to hear about the purpose and the convertible qualities and decided they wanted something that was more like "real jewelry" to wear when they weren't wearing a badge.

Overall, I did about 70% of what I made last year this time. Today's sales in the 4 hrs I was there actually selling were equal to or better than any one of the three prior 8 or 9 hr days.

So, I learned something important today - when I promote something that will get people talking about my product to me, my chances of selling something are much better. I also had a couple people bring friends by who saw their lanyards and wanted one. I'm thrilled at how many immediately put their convention badges on the lanyard and wore them over the weekend. The ribbon may have helped, too. I'm definitely ordering more!

Speaking of ribbons, here's my collection. I'm missing Archon from 2007 and Potlatch 2006 or '07 (can't remember) but these are the ones I hung from some lanyards to try and show how they look. I ran out of "I Know Dawno!" ribbons, and most of my "Do You Know Dawno?" ribbons are gone, too.

When I speak about ribbons, you can see from the current '09 BayCon badge that people at BayCon are really into them. My collection is tiny compared to some - there were people who could wrap their ribbons into a sash that wound around them like the ones that Scouts put their merit badges on, and still have a length going down from that! (sorry about the reflection - I didn't realize the flash was on).

(click to enlarge and read the ribbon messages)

Last tidbit - made some hair clip/hair charms while I was there. Didn't sell any this weekend. Daughter insists I need to make bookmarks, I agree. Will be working on those in days ahead. Took this picture outside and the sun was pretty low, so the shadows are annoying, but my worktable is a total wreck and I couldn't photograph them inside.

Thanks for visiting and patiently listening to my convention blather. See you tomorrow. (or, if you're on Twitter, see you on and off thru the day!)

Editing to add:

I got a Google Alert that there was a post up out there in the Blogosphere with the exact same title as this one. I went to the site and saw the following, which I think is a weird and keyword laden translation of my post into Quebecois French and then back to English (try doing this sometime using Babelfish - it's hysterical) of today's blog post :

I got unquestionably affected today and didn’t chance frequently to sign off a discernment of my pint-sized, incommodious evidence (really, no sterling loss). I’ll sign off a bouquet of robust ones at LosCon, and if I seep at liberty into World Fantasy, there too. Those are real dealer’s booths, so I rely on they’ll be selfsame amiable. I deceive someone at liberty an corps of my instantaneous and acquiescent specs lanyards and a exceptional:These lanyards turned at liberty to be a sterling intention. I sire 5 months to design and hold closed them. People stopped, looked and I sold unquestionably a faulty of them.

Overall, I did in all directions from 70% of what I made most late year this frequently. But I also sold more of my higher priced ones today when people took the frequently to give someone a bribe attention to in all directions from the determination and the convertible qualities and stooping they wanted something that was more like real jewelry to have on when they weren’t wearing a badge. Today’s sales in the 4 hrs I was there in Aristotelianism entelechy selling were colleague to or best than any unified of the three until 8 or 9 hr days. I also had a join people advance a respectability friends alongside who dictum their lanyards and wanted unified. So, I well-trained something emotion-charged today - when I side with something that on gets people talking in all directions from my produce to me, my chances of selling something are much best.

I’m thrilled at how tons not to be sneezed at neaten up away deceive someone their congress badges on the lanyard and wore them closed the weekend. I’m unquestionably ordering more!Speaking of ribbons, here’s my accumulation. The ribbon may sire helped, too. I’m missing Archon from 2007 and Potlatch 2006 or ‘07 (can’t remember) but these are the ones I hung from some lanyards to adjudicate and brag how they look.

When I admonish in all directions from ribbons, you can be Argus-eyed from the rip current ‘09 BayCon badge that people at BayCon are quite into them. I ran at liberty of I Know Dawno! ribbons, and most of my Do You Know Dawno? ribbons are gone, too. My accumulation is pint-sized compared to some - there were people who could wrap their ribbons into a sash that swaddle in all directions from them like the ones that Scouts deceive someone their respectability badges on, and silence sire a completely flourishing down from that! (sorry in all directions from the proof - I didn’t bring about the frown was on).

Didn’t vend any this weekend. (click to amplify and assume from the ribbon messages)Last tidbit - made some suggestion clip/hair charms while I was there. Daughter insists I paucity to impel bookmarks, I allocate. Took this discernment farthest and the bake was graceful improper, so the shadows are annoying, but my worktable is a unalloyed annihilate and I couldn’t photograph them Achates. Will be working on those in days ahead. Thanks owing visiting and patiently listening to my congress blather.

See you tomorrow.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Miscellany - Last Day of BayCon

Last day of BayCon. Will post more later today, but didn't want to miss a "regular" post - keeping good habits is important. One of the wonderful people I get to see at the convention is Gayle. She does lovely polymer clay work and shared some pieces with me today. She gave me a beautiful pendant a few years back and now I have matching pieces to make into earrings! I'll show you the whole set when I have a chance to photograph them.

She has also shared some great tips about polyclay and I plan to pick her brain for more - and maybe even ask if we might get together and try some stuff. I learn really well by doing things with people, plus it's just more fun! I have this idea for some canes I want to make and she's already given me a couple hints I'm looking forward to trying.

Also, the two pictures I tried to take of my table the day I forgot to put my memory card in the camera? They came out very blurry, so no joy there. I'll see if I can get a better picture tomorrow before I pack up.

I'll be back later - hope you will too!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Day 3 Bay Con

I'm enjoying all the wonderful conversations and getting to know new people, reacquainting myself with others who I've met before here or at other cons. My "I Know Dawno" and "Do You Know Dawno" ribbons are almost all gone now, too. There is some mild enthusiasm when people meet me and can finally say they do know they got the ribbons without meeting me is still a bit of a mystery, could be someone picked up a few and handed them around.

I stayed busy today and didn't have a chance to blog. Got a couple pictures to share now - some are stuck on my camera, which I finally very delicately fiddled with to get charging, so I can't download them until later.

Here are my table partners, Sally and Carlos.

(click pics to embiggen)

Here's the crew at the next table down, we have a shy fellow and a very happy Tribble dealer...

And here are two costume pictures I managed to take - there were so many lovely ones I missed! This couple's matching outfits were inspired by their son who was in Cirque du Soleil.

And this gentleman is the one with the antique goggles I mentioned before. His outfit is really lovely, I wish the picture was better.

I've only made about half of what I did by this time last year. Either it's the economy, my prices + the economy, or my work just isn't a good fit for the con this year. That said, some of the pieces I liked a lot when I made them and wondered if they were any good, were also liked enough to find buyers, so that makes me very happy.

My daughter is in town for the week. I may try to enlist her as a minion's a short day, too, so I'll get to spend some time with her once the con is over.

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Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

I'm at BayCon this weekend, but I prepared this in advance so you wouldn't miss this weekly feature. I may pop in a post later on about the con, so check back!

This week is all about inspiration:

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Day 2 at Bay Con!

Remembered the memory card, but camera is almost out of charge. *sigh*

My table-mate Carlos made me a nice sign "Please Take One" for my ribbons. I hope nobody thinks its for my lanyards :-)

Also, this laptop doesn't have my picture editor loaded on it, so I can't crop and save the few photos I've taken to show you. You'll have to wait for tonight.

Lots of people are very interested in the display at end of the table it's a totally steampunk collection of jewelry and it's a big hit, no surprise. It's beautiful, she has a great eye for design with the tiny gears and doo-dads.

Battery running out - can't post more. Will catch up later!

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Bay Con Day 1 Wrap-up

It got a bit busy around 5pm and I had the opportunity to visit with two wonderful ladies I originally met through mutual friends at the WorldCon in Denver last summer. One of whom was also at Potlatch and, as I finally and rather embarrassingly realized, I've been chatting with about coming to BayCon on Twitter. I didn't put the name I knew her by at the cons together with her Twitter user name right away and did one of those smack yourself on the forehead things when I realized. I don't mind laughter at my expense!

Not many sales, but I wasn't expecting much today. The weekend, hopefully will be better. That said, I did make back the cost of the table. Tomorrow I hope to make back the cost of the internet connection ($13.00 a day!) and valet parking ($9.00 a day). I have my display figured out at least! got everything tagged but earrings. I really have to figure out earring display and tagging one of these days. Right now they just hang on a wire stand. Yeah, kinda ugly but it's what I had handy.

Also got to know my other table-mate, the fun and lovely Sally Norton. She makes the most beautiful vintage-style jewelry.

My badge ribbons (just the top two, the other one is the one I wear) are moving quite well at this con - had to re-stock the pile a couple times. I got some good ones too - will snap a pic and show you tomorrow. Yes, there *will* be pictures tomorrow, I put my memory card in my purse!

Hope to find the lovely gentleman in the fabulous clothes tomorrow (and hope he's still in fabulous clothes) for a picture. He had some arctic goggles from the 19th century he showed me, too - fur around the dark green lenses, a cool carrying case. Saw many other great Victorian style costumes too.

Will post tomorrow from con, with pictures!

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It's Vewwy Vewwy Quiet

Well, I'm set up and I'd share pictures but I forgot to put my memory card in the camera. I also seem to have left several bracelets at home that I'd intended to bring. Hope I didn't lose them in transit instead.

My neighbor from last year, Carlos, is back and he's already watched my table for me while I "used the facilities". We had a great time last year - he's got a very dry sense of humor.

Well, not much to say yet - just wanted to let you know I'm here and set up and gonna get to work.

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And Off I Go to Bay Con 2009!

Here are two pieces I'm taking to BayCon today. Yes, I'll be there all weekend and I hope to live blog a bit from my table as I did last year, but I'm also taking some time to write up the weekend posts and schedule them.

This is a necklace I started ages ago (it seems) and bit by bit over time finally got to finishing up. Garnets, garnet Czech glass and a gunmetal chain with visually interesting links.

This next one is on the 18" gold plated serpentine chain and also uses the Dark Indigo Swarovski crystals from my last goodie package from Rings & Things (also got a silver plated one that I haven't used yet).

The gold plating is a bit bright for the design and I was worried that the kinks I found in it when I took it from the bag wouldn't smooth out, although with a little work they did did. Since the link to the component at the end that the clasp connects to (have no idea what it's called - it's a flat scale shaped thing with two holes, one for the jumpring to the chain and one for the clasp to go through) was attached with an open jumpring, I was able to take it off to attach the pendant. It's vintage looking without being entirely steampunk-ish, and I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

Well, I have a lot to do to get ready, so this one is short and sweet. I'm going to try to update again today from Bay Con, hope you'll check back!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Feature: Reviews & Interviews: Dave Robertson from Rings & Things

(Photo courtesy of Dave - this is him wearing a "toupee of iron chastity-belt tradebeads from Africa :)"

Today I am very happy to present Dave 'Optimator' Robertson from Rings & Things - seems like he's *everywhere* on the web, from Facebook to Twitter to our blogs (in the comments where he's always enthusiastic and supportive) to the Rings & Things forum, blog, and even behind the scenes in their online catalog (yep, some of the cool features there are courtesy of Dave and his 'leet' web-skillz).

It's always a pleasure to see his posts and Tweets (with his signature smiley face at the end). Dave has gathered a great group of Blog Partners, encourages you to post your business tips and blog comments at the Rings & Things site, tweets about crafty stuff and shares links via "re-tweets" from crafters everywhere - it's those little touches that mean a lot! I was very happy that Dave graciously accepted my offer to be interviewed! So, without further ado - here's the Q&A:

Dawno: Do you personally craft? If so, what? If not, is there any thing you would like to do, if you could?
Dave: Yes, I do some beading. (Tried knitting but I'm not so coordinated.) We keep a big vat of beads, basic findings, and stringing materials in the house. A lot of times at Rings & Things bead shows, either I or my wife will find some bead that we just have to have! Our stash comes in handy for making gifts, and it's a great activity to do with the kids. Even our two-year-old has started stringing his own necklaces, and he's got a very good eye for it.
Dawno: You've mentioned here and there that your degree is in Linguistics - would you tell us a bit about the path from that to Web Optimizer at Rings & Things?
Dave: It's more like two intertwined paths! I've studied Linguistics off and on for years, and been at Rings & Things for big chunks of the last decade. At the moment I'm lucky enough to finance my PhD program by helping sell beads. This relates to the next question, as you rightly foresaw...
Dawno: What is a Web Optimizer anyway?
Dave: A web optimizer is a person who works to make a website get noticed more. This involves all kinds of work, from getting involved in an online community to figuring out which words to use when we write about our products. That last part has a close connection with my linguistics training, because it involves researching how people talk. It's a fun, surprising way to find college studies paying off. (I'm just the kind of person to really, really enjoy questions like "Does Google care if people search for us as 'Rings and Things',or 'Rings n Things', versus 'Rings & Things'?") :)
Dawno: What do you like best about the R&T blogging experience?
Dave: Blogging is a creative outlet. Ideally it's also a challenge like Twitter: I think you should have a good, clear idea, and say it in a few powerful words. Be done before the reader is bored. It's tremendous fun to engage readers & get them to comment on a blog post. You'll notice, too, that certain kinds of ideas are characteristic of Rings & Things' blog: new uses for jewelry components, simple ways to grow your craft business, and other stuff that we think we'd like to read if we were at someone else's blog. So the job never gets old.
Dawno: What advice or suggestions can you share with independent artisans about getting their work "out there"?
Dave: I've met lots of artisans in person and online, and my conclusion is that they're just like any other small business. (1) Make your creations because they're something you'd love to own, not because they seem like a trendy item. (2) The web optimizer in me says, "just Google it". (3) Think about what "marketing" means to you. Persevere.
Dawno: Do you have a favorite story about Bead Tour?
Dave: My favorite stories are animal-related, for some reason. One of my fondest memories of being on the road for Rings & Things bead shows is of riding in the "bead truck" somewhere near the gigantic fireworks barn in Wyoming, and watching an eagle and a pronghorn antelope race each other. And once, we stopped by the road once in the middle of the Everglades and walked onto a ramp to look at some alligators lazing in the water. We got a good close look before we realized the alligators weren't lazing anymore, and were swimming toward us fast!
Dawno: Open question - share whatever you'd like to say to our readers.
I love it! If I could say just one thing, I'd ask everyone who has ever bought from Rings & Things to visit our online store...and review every product we've sold you. Your feedback goes straight to the next customer to look at that product, and helps them decide whether to order it. Other ways you can make your mark on our site are to comment at our blog, submit ideas via our craft business tips page, and ask questions or share tips in our discussion forum. (I guess I'm still answering that question about getting your name out there...!)
Don't forget, if you comment on the Rings & Things blog posts you get in on the chance to win their monthly prize. More comments, more chances!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mid-Week Mutterings - Featuring Rings & Things Product Review

What can you do with 2mm (size 1) black satin like (40% cotton, 60% polyester) rat-tail cordage (about a yard of it) and a foot long section of gunmetal hammered oval links? I was stumped. Then I saw Margot Potter's post about how she used these items, together, to create a fabulous mixed media necklace. She is the Beading Inspiration Muse-person of the Universe. First it was the choker forms, now this one. Thank you, Margot!

I'd posted back in March about some gunmetal colored metalized beads I'd found at Michael's, and these good sized, plain cobalt blue glass beads I'd gotten as a gift but couldn't figure out what to do with except that I wanted to use them together somehow. I'd gotten as far as deciding I'd string them on black Gudebrod Champion silk braided pendant cord. Well, the other day I swapped out that cord and used the rat-tail, which, by the way, made much nicer looking knots.

I kind of wish I had done some step by step photos...but I didn't, because once I got the inspiration, I just dove in and beaded to the finish. So, you'll have to imagine the steps as I describe them. I knotted the rat-tail between each of the gunmetal spheres and cobalt glass tubes and didn't use a repeating pattern (this is unusual for me, as I like symmetry) since the piece was going to be asymmetrical by virtue of having one side made from the oval link chain.

I used a gunmetal pendant for a focal that I'd found at Michael's during a different shopping trip, to facilitate the connection between the knotted beads and the gunmetal links. The back has a tubular loop, so I threaded the cord through that, used a half hitch knot to attach the links and took the free end of cord through the hole in the center of the disk and added a large gunmetal bead and a glass bead to tie off the loose end and secure the whole thing.

To finish it off, I made a coil and bent up the last loop, fixed it between two knots and put a split ring with a large gunmetal lobster-claw fastener* on it. Then, to fasten, you just clip the lobster to which ever link you want for the length of necklace you prefer.

Large lobster claw from Rings & Things - this is the size I use to finish my badge lanyards, it's where I fasten the snap loop that holds the badge.

Minor drawback to using this cord, had to enlarge holes in the beads a bit, so the reaming of same with a round file took a bit more time. Well worth the effort though.

For two more looks at how you can use the chain see JustATish and ABeadADay's creations.

Way back when I first was trying to figure out how to make this necklace I offered free earrings if I used a suggestion left in my comments for a focal piece. Although I didn't use either suggestion, I'd love to give those earrings to RockCreekCreations and Wombat1138 just for being so wonderful and making great suggestions - please email me if you want them, we'll talk about what kind you'd like.

I'm trying out a new online storefront application - ToldYa! So here's today's message from our sponsor:

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits - Tiny Sculptures Using Crayons by Diem Chou

I was minding my own business, reading blog posts and other news items on my Google Reader and in Dinosaurs and Robots, I read about an artist, Diem Chou, whose crayon carvings were being featured in a US Cellular commercial. I clicked over to her gallery - the beautiful silk work in the main gallery is simply jaw-dropping-ly lovely. Her crayon carvings are featured in her Past Work section. she has an Etsy shop, too.

I thought today would be a good day to pass along the Inspiration Award that Tish of JustATish created and honored me as its first recipient. I'd like to pass it along to Lisa at A Bead A Day.

Lisa puts up a lovely feature post on Fridays, where she gives us a chance to see other people's beautiful work and shares an interview with the featured artist. And daily she posts about beautiful beads she's found, sometimes with pictures of what she's created from them. Each post is a little nugget of inspiration. Her blog is a bright and happy place to visit every day. Thank you, Lisa for being an inspiration!

You can go to Tish's blog to get the original sized picture for passing along. You don't have to win it to use it, just make someone's day by sharing how they inspire you.

My tid-bits for the day, beaded hair clips (from Rings & Things, btw). I'm going to take the blanks and miscellaneous beads and wire and make them at the con - they're easy and fast to make and I can sell them inexpensively. They also look pretty cute when they're clipped in:

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Extra! Monday Miscellany - Special Evening Edition

I've started writing my posts a day ahead and then scheduling them for an early morning post time. But this is something I didn't get into this morning's post as I only finished it today and I wanted to share my first attempt at a steampunk style ring with you.

The ring base is from Accessories Susan, ornate oxidized silver plated brass, adjustable band, to which I've added Swarovski flat backed crystals and miscellaneous watch pieces. E6000 glue used to secure the parts. Still needs cleanup and shining up, but I think I'm done adding bits and pieces to it.

(to enlarge, click on picture)

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Monday Miscellany

Saturday wasn't a very productive jewelry making day, it was very hot, but I did manage to tidy things up and decide on some things I wanted to make - even started the necklace pictured below. Sunday I managed to make new earrings, finish the necklace and another one I'd had hanging unfinished for months, and put the findings on bracelets that had sat around for awhile.

New earrings

Couldn't get all of them in a square pic, so I cropped out a few

Victorian inspired choker with tiny glass pearls with a brass stamping and
Swarovski crystal dangles

Three new bracelets - the one on the right has freshwater cultured seed pearls, the one in the middle has really interesting ornate bead caps.

Temperatures here were in the 90s - makes it hard to focus when it's hot. I ended up watching a lot of last week's TiVo'd shows until it finally got cooler, but since tomorrow is a work day, I had to stop and finish up, get this written up for early Monday a.m. posting and get to bed. Back tomorrow with some Tuesday Tidbits!

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Dawno's Weekly Wanderings Around the Beadosphere

Just added two new blogs to my list The Artistic Blogger - Julie Hampton aka Hampton Designs @Hamptondesigns on Twitter. She created the graphic for my new Moo-mini cards. Beautiful art and design. May I be so bold as to say you should be following her, too? On Tuesday she posted about a very interesting marketing tool and asked "What do you think?" - go let her know!

The second new blog is Orion Designs. Vicki came and left a comment on yesterday's post and I visited her blog - it's full of great photos and posts. Like me, she also shops at The Beadin' Path - look at these lovely hammered brass and copper charm necklaces she made with some of their charms and gives insight into how she created the finish on them - wow! I also love the "you might like these stories" widget (?) she uses at the bottom of her posts.

Shoozles is having a Wear Your Art event today. Wishing I lived in her part of the country! Have you ever had a bead party or independent showing (outside of a crafts fair or other public venue) How did it go? Would you do it again?

However, in my neck of the woods there's Maker Fair on May 30 - 31, volunteers needed. Via SoftFlexGirl.

Melissa at Strands posted her Art Bead Scene entry - what a beautiful piece. Her koi bead is perfectly complimented by the colors and beads in this necklace. On Wednesday she featured a Kate McKinnon piece she is the proud owner of. I would love to work in metal clay some many things I want to try, so little time.

Are you going to enter the Art Bead challenge? The prizes are beautiful beads from Mary Harding Jewelry, Chinook Jewelry and Humblebeads, which you can see at the Art Bead Scene blog.

Speaking of Humblebeads, check out her two Beadstar 2009 finalist enttries. Congratulations, Heather!

As hesitant as I am to toot my own horn here (you'll see what I mean when you read her post), I do need to note that Just A Tish has created a new blog recognition icon and award idea - do pass it along to those in the Beadosphere that inspire you.

Tish also responded to the latest Rings & Things goodie package a lot like I did - straight to the cell phone lariats - the pictures show exactly what clever things you can do with them - and you don't have to be an expert beader to make fun stuff (even though Tish is) for yourself and your friends. A shell, some buttons, a bead,or some chain, a couple of headpins and simple loops, and voilà!

The Artbeads "Blogging for Beads" bloggers (see the blogroll for the list) have been posting some of their work - I mentioned the Red Magma Swarovski disks I selected way back on April 10th - and today I see that Marcia at Mad Designs has posted about the beautiful bronze Alphabet Pendant she chose.

Lisa at A Bead A Day has shared great finds all week - earthy glass beads from Sedona, "mystery lanyards", fun daisy beads made into rings - you get the drift, be sure to read her blog every day for a new look at beads and beading *every day* and especially the featured designer - usually on Fridays.

Friday, Margot Potter shared some big news, a beautiful necklace, and pride in her wonderful daughter's acheivement at school as a Student Ambassador. I know there are days when she probably doesn't feel like it, but she's quite inspirational as a mom, a crafter and a strong female role model. As she likes to say "Craft on with your bad selves!" Great advice.

Here's a design inspiring post from Design*Sponge. The colors and asymetrical composition give me lots of ideas.

Do you read the comments when you visit blogs? It's a great place to find new blogs, new friends - start a conversation by visiting a new blog and saying where you heard about them - along with something nice about the post you're visiting, of course! I discovered Bead Sisterhood in the comments on A Bead A Day - lovely site and team blog.

By the way, I'm archiving all these posts on a new blog Dawno's Beadosphere. I'm not sure what I'll do other than archive these there, but it may have a future utility I haven't thought of yet.

Today's Wanderings Brought to You By

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not Going to Be a Lazy Saturday Around Here

I didn't accomplish all that much yesterday - got my workspace tidied up a bit - there were little gears everywhere and bags and piles of beads, but they're mostly corralled now. I want to get as much done this weekend as possible for the show which is now less than a week off.

Even though I spent a lot of time doing clean up work yesterday, I did make something - this is the necklace I worked on for most of last evening. I used gold vermeil spacers, Czech glass spheres with really intricate faceting, some ornate Czech glass I found ages ago at Global beads and hadn't, until last night, figured out what I was going to use them in.

I'm not sure what the larger beads are called (if you know, please leave a comment and enlighten me!) but I'm very fond of the lilac tinting and hints of gold on the ends and the lovely way they're faceted (click on the picture for better detail), tiny lilac glass spacer beads, and gold filled wire eye and head pins for the connections in the draped center section. I'm thinking it needs a name, but I'm terrible at coming up with good ones.

I need to do new tags, set up new display stuff that optimizes the very small space (my table last year was about five feet long, I think) and organize some containers of pre-sorted stuff to work on, because in Artist's Alley, where I'll be, the requirement is that you focus on working on your art, not selling.

Well, as I may have mentioned here or there, I took the plunge and entered a couple pieces in the BeadStar 2009 contest, didn't make the cut, but I really didn't expect to either this early in my learning curve. I'm sure I have a long way to go, but if I hadn't at least tried, I wouldn't have learned anything.

The entries that did get selected are fabulous. Please visit the site and vote for your favorites. I'd be very interested in a conversation about the finalist selections and what sets the finalists apart from the crowd.

Moving on - here's a fun necklace I made just the other day to go with one of my favorite tropical flower patterned camp shirts, that I wore to the bead tour on Thursday. I used the brightly colored shell heishi's from The Beadin' Path May bead club goodies and some other bits I had in my stash.

(click to enlarge)

Here's one of the pieces I entered in the contest and put off sharing until I heard what made the finalist round. I'm almost embarrassed to post that it was an entry, after seeing the amazing and intricate pieces that were selected in the crystals category. I used my best quality supplies - all sterling silver and Swarovskis. The wire wrapped loops are made with very fine gauge headpins and wire - tedious, but ultimately rewarding work. I really love the balance plus the bit of asymmetry in the center, and simplicity of it, personally.

Please come by tomorrow - I've got a wonderful Wandering Around the Beadosphere post prepared!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

The 2009 Rings and Things Bead Tour as Seen by Dawno

Tour logo used by permission, © Rings & Things

Yesterday I went to the Rings & Things Bead Tour in San Mateo, CA. I've never been to any gem or jewelry supplier shows before, just seen pictures in articles or on blogs. I know intellectually that this, being a single supplier's venue, is very different from shows where there are multiple vendors, but I couldn't tell you how it's different. At least, not until I finally get to one somewhere. I guess Tucson is a biggie, and I'd like to go there someday.

So, all I can give you is a few pictures and some of my own impressions of the San Mateo stop of the Rings & Things Bead Tour 2009.

The event opened at 1pm and I was there around 1:15, stayed until 3:30 - shopping through 50 long tables full of trays of semi-precious gemstones, pearls and various other types of beads - I focused on the stone, pearl and metal (and a few bags of Swarovski's), so I'm not sure what the other offerings included - I would venture to say bone, ceramic, wood and glass.

Here's the view at about 1:30 from the back of the hall - not many people there yet, did get a bit busier later, but it was never very crowded. I think I saw about 4 or 5 male shoppers, the rest were women.

Here's the first item of major interest to catch my eye - Tootsie Rolls!

Actually by the time I got to that table I'd already put quite a haul in my tray. I should have taken a picture of that, too, but I forgot.

Lots of turquoise - Nevada and Mexican were the two regions I noticed. Didn't get any, was not on my list of 'must haves' this time around, but the prices were good and the quality looked pretty good as well. I just don't use many turquoise nuggets or faceted turquoise stones in my designs right now.

I'm pretty sure this was one of the tables with a nice selection of various shapes, sizes and colors of freshwater pearls. I picked up a few strands as you'll see below. I loved the little top-drilled ones and some shaped like mushroom caps, so I got some.

Big glass pearls at the near end, and I think there were double drilled, large dyed stones at the far end - but I'm not 100% sure.

At the very back were tables overflowing with findings and components in gold fill, sterling, gold and silver plate and basemetals; cords, wire, chain, tools and a pretty good selection of Swarovski colors and sizes and shapes. I picked up some 4 & 5mm Swarovski bicones packages (the one that just looks like a white bag is some opal colored ones that I've been thinking about ordering, so I was really glad to see them there), some gunmetal chain and - oh, heck, let me just show you (not shown, two 100 ft spools of Beadalon 49 strand wire):

Swarovskis, Sterling bails, Bali Sterling caps and spacers, Gunmetal chain,
Freshwater Pearls, Hessionite, Opalite, Amethyst, Dragon's Blood Jasper, Prehnite, Onyx

After reading about amethyst on the Rings & Things blog, I tried to get a good selection in sizes and shapes I knew I'd use, so that's the clump of purple in the middle. I'm very happy with what I found. I'm exceptionally happy with the prices! They also had a good selection of "lab" amethyst - a deeper purple in color and very pretty. I may get some one of these days to use in lanyards that I want the look, but not the expense to pass on, of natural amethyst, but also prettier than amethyst colored glass beads.

All in all, I had a great time - a rather solitary one since my friend, who I met for lunch couldn't come and I didn't know anyone else there - but that gave me the chance to really take my time, examine things closely and make what I think were really good selections. I probably had about half as much again in my tray when I sat down to decide what I really wanted and what I could do without, as I had given myself a budget. I'm proud to say that I stayed in it!

I want to thank Dave for coming here and leaving a comment last October, that first introduced me to a real live person at Rings & Things. I'd bought some Scrimps from them when, via a Google Search they were the only supplier who had the ones I wanted, but I hadn't gone back for other beads or supplies with them yet. Based on his taking the time to come by and comment here, I started using them more and more. I feel like they (through Dave) are a partner in getting my little business growing, not just a place where I shop. The same goes for just a couple other supplier partners, but since the focus today is on the Rings & Things tour, I'll talk about them another time.

And that's it for my Bead Show reflections. Hope to see you back here tomorrow, and especially Sunday, when I'll have a *great* tour of the Beadosphere lined up for you!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Debut of Thursday Feature: Reviews and Interviews - Presenting John A. Jacobs, CEO of Art Fire

Today I debut a weekly reviews and interviews segment and have the honor of presenting an interview with John A. Jacobs, CEO of ArtFire.

ArtFire, in its own words, is "...the premier online marketplace for handmade products designed by artisans around the globe. Our free community is designed for artisans to buy and sell their works, while celebrating unique handmade items and designs. It is always free for buyers of handmade products to search through our listed artisans, buy, or request for items to be specially made. No matter if you are looking for local handmade crafts, or handmade products from artisans around the world, is the marketplace for you."

You'll want to visit their "About" section to learn more about the people and history of ArtFire - it's a great story.

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade
images courtesy of

Dawno: The love and respect you have for your mother is very obvious - if you are comfortable about it, would you talk a bit more about what kind of jewelry she created, if she is still active in crafts and what does she think about Art Fire?

John: My mother is very active in many different handmade genres and very much enjoys making custom jewelry with semi-precious gemstones and sterling silver. She is one of our biggest fans here at ArtFire and certainly one of our earliest fans! I recall when we were just getting going with ArtFire, my mother, Kay offered to start making handmade items for EVERY category and sub category of ArtFire so we could start filling all the categories!

That still makes me chuckle a bit as we now have over 200,000 items in thousands of categories and expect many millions of items to pour in over the next year! My mother taught me balance and though I find myself in the office six days a week, I always remember that family must come first! She really is the glue that helps hold our family together and has certainly guided my course over the years.

My mother's struggle to establish herself as a successful artisan has always been very frustrating for our family. ArtFire has really become an answer for all those artisan who, like my mother, are trying to get a foothold but just can't afford the fees and cost of starting a new business or stepping up to the next level with their businesses. There are not many venues or companies that are willing to help a starving artist and we think that's a shame. ArtFire was built for my mother and all the mothers (and fathers), sisters, and brothers out there that just need a hand up and deserve a chance at being successful.

Dawno: As an Air Force brat, it was rewarding to read about your service. You mention that you "worked hard to both fulfill my service to the country and attend college full time. I graduated from Louisiana Tech University and then returned to Tucson after an honorable discharge from the Air Force." Just to clarify, you went to college full time during your time in the Air Force or was it afterward? If during, when did you find time to sleep?

We worked very hard in the Air Force in fact most typical days at Barksdale AFB were 12 hour shifts, and we worked six days a week. Of course there were TDY assignments, training, etc on top of staying proficient at my duties and volunteering for the local SWAT and Emergency Services Teams.

Just making it to class was a challenge every day. Most days I was late to class or had to pull the undesirable posts to earn the right to go to school. I often say the Bachelor's degree that I earned while serving on active duty was substantially harder than the Master's degree I earned as a civilian.

That being said, I wouldn't have it any other way. Much like what I learned in the USAF, we pride ourselves on speed of execution of projects here at ArtFire, and our team understands that to be successful and to truly serve the ArtFire community, we must work harder than we are comfortable with, and accomplish our goals each and every day.

Dawno:What would you say was the most important thing you learned during your time in the Air Force that you apply to your current role?

John: I learned the meaning of discipline in the Air Force and decided that I would carry that with me in life. Not just in work though, but in my personal relationship with my family and my wife, with physical fitness, and in with the way in which I allow myself to think. Discipline to me means pushing yourself to do the right thing even when it is not the easy thing to do.

I think that most of us can point to dozens of missed opportunities each day that if we would properly motivate ourselves to do, could change our lives. I find that to live a disciplined life, the first step is to never make an excuse when a solution or action could be substituted (even if the action does not yield the perfect result), inaction can often be the worse course.

Dawno: It's no surprise, after reading "About our Founder", that you are passionate about supporting the independent craft artisan, and the Art Fire business model certainly proves that. Were there nay-sayers in that regard? If so, what did they tell you that you've,so far, proven wrong and what challenges are still left to overcome?

John: Sure there are always challenges to success and naysayers along the way. To build any business takes an overwhelming belief that no matter what the challenge, you can and will find a solution to it and push through. With every business I have ever built, we have been undercapitalized, understaffed, under experienced or just plain not as qualified as our competitors.

Here's the good news; in most situations, none of this matters. Success has nothing to do with money or experience, success is a choice that we each make every day. Make a list of what you can and will accomplish today and don't allow yourself to fail. If you are working on a large project, then break it down to daily tasks. If you do this with your business, with your relationships, or with anything in your life that you want to complete; there is nothing you can't accomplish.

Dawno: Other than it being your home town, what are the business advantages to being headquartered in Tucson?

John: Tucson has a strong history of technology and is the home of the University of Arizona which produces world class talent that we are fortunate enough to be able to draw on. We are not too far from California either and have seen an influx of technical talent in the past several years, which has really turned Tucson into a hidden technology gem than many companies such as Intuit, AOL, Ratheon, Reliasoft, and even IBM have greatly benefited from!

We have a burgeoning arts and music scene here and a relatively low cost of living as compared nationally. By being based in Tucson we can effectively compete through substantially lower operating costs as compared to companies based on the east and west coast. This allows us to keep our overhead and ultimately our rates lower for our members.

Dawno: How important do you think social networking, web 2.0, etc., are to Art Fire's success now and in the future - any thoughts about what that future might look like?

John: The reality is that social networking is how business will be done as we move forward and technology evolves. As many as 80-90% of fortune 500 companies are increasing their investment in social networking and online channels or virtual contact points with their base. If a company wants to lower costs, become more efficient and sustain growth it is now more important than ever to use social tools to connect with their customers.

ArtFire could be compared to a traditional Gem or Craft show like CHA, G&LW, GLDA, etc. in which a 10x10 booth might cost thousands of dollars for a weekend, or a brick and mortar collectables shop that might run thousands of dollars in overhead to operate each month. ArtFire utilizes emerging technology to connect member artisans to an enormous pool of buyers, which never would have been possible for many artisans because of the cost barriers.

We take it even further than that with ArtFire though. As costs continue to fall on bandwidth, servers, storage and with an aggressive system of management and a focus on ease of use for our members, we can deliver the absolute lowest cost solution for sellers available on the Internet. Our objective is to be substantially less expensive than even building your own Web site and thus far we have easily pulled this off. On ArtFire there are no listing, final, or hidden fees. Just $12 a month for unlimited listings in your full custom Fusion Studio with integrated features and functionality that help artisans and business owners easily utilize social media sites to promote unique handmade items.

Best of all, we do all the hard work for our member, with just the click of a button, items can be posted to sites like Twitter and or members can promote themselves by writing for sister sites like

ArtFire is young and the future is bright! We have shown amazing month over month growth numbers in traffic, members' sales, and market penetration that we expect will continue and accelerate. We have plans for many more facets of the community and even more sites and our commitment is to never stop innovating and executing ideas quickly. In fact some of the most innovative US companies are now following the lead of ArtFire and attempting to match our business model and features.

Dawno: You briefly mention your mother's and your experiences with eBay - where do you think they most went in the wrong direction for the independent artisan? Are they still the web's 800lb gorilla and if so, any thoughts on why that is?

John: I remember when eBay used to go around to gem shows and almost beg sellers to sign up and sell on eBay. Yep, an actual person would shake your hand and explain what eBay could do to help support your business. Over the years eBay changed and appears to have forgotten that their site was built on the backs of its members.

There was a time that you could find many independent artisans on eBay but changes to eBay which put substantial pressure on artisans and businesses to lower prices and offer free shipping just to get seen, have since driven many great artists and businesses away from eBay.

Several years ago we saw Etsy step up as a solution for many handmade artisans and most of us hoped that this would be a new approach and a potentially a venue that could support the true needs of artisans. Unfortunately I think that where a venue goes wrong is when they bring in Venture Capital and profits become more important than service. It may seem noble to go "public" with a venue, however when this happens the fiduciary duty of management by law must shift to protect the interests of the investors or shareholders, even at the expense of the members.

Yes, eBay for all intents and purposes is still the 800lb gorilla, they were one of the first to market and they do have momentum, however there has been a drastic shift in where the internet is headed and being the gorilla is not the necessarily the best strategy for survival anymore. Micro segmentation and customer service is making a comeback as companies like ArtFire can be built and serve communities better for far less expense, overhead, and operate with a flat management hierarchy that connects management with members.

We now see a thousand, one hundred pound gorillas that are fast and flexible taking market share from sites like eBay, and we think this is an exciting change that will prove to empower the seller/user/member/buyer and we will be a part of this change!

Dawno: What are the two or three most important things you thing an Art Fire artisan needs to do to get the most out of Art Fire - and not necessarily become the biggest seller or make the most money, but the whole package - community, collegiality, and yes, sales, too.


1. I mentioned this technique already but I think it is in fact one of the most important things you can do for your business. Commit to your business and your success and make a list every day of things you can do today to improve your business; then check those items off as you accomplish them each day. We make ArtFire as easy to understand and use as possible, but there is still alot to learn. The Internet is far easier to use and grow a business on now which means that every day there is an increasing amount of competition that you have to consider. It is simply not good enough to put up a Web site and wait anymore. You have to have a plan to promote and we want to be your partner in this endeavor.

2. Put a schedule on paper that plans for one hour a day to promote your business using social medial sites, writing a blog, submitting an article to and building Karma on sites like As a business owner you have many tasks on your plate. Stay focused on what needs to get done and how you will accomplish critical tasks like customers service, shipping, making listings, creating new product and budget time for each of these tasks. A venue or a web site does not sell your items for you. Your efforts are necessary to drive your success. Planning and managing your time effectively is critical to your success.

3. Embrace change and adapt quickly. If you see that one of your items is getting more views than others, what do you do? You should figure out why this item is getting more attention. Does it have a better picture or title or is it an item that is more in demand? Change the rest of your items to follow the lead of your successful items and look around you at your competitors for suggestions. Sometimes the items that you don't enjoy making, sell the best... You might have to make more of what the market wants. This can be hard for artisans, my mother and my sister have taught me this very well, but a balance can be found if you are willing to embrace change and adapt.

Many, many thanks to John for his time and wonderful answers. If you want to thank him personally, follow him on Twitter @ArtFireJohn and let him know you read about him here.

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