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Archive for February, 2008

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I was so excited about the great shots I was getting of this ring yesterday – the light was perfect, I got a good angle that really showcased the faceted texture…  How I could have missed that enormous piece of lint is a mystery. 

Whenever I oxidize a piece of jewelry with liver of sulphur, I polish it with a really soft piece of cotton cloth.  It brings out a lustrous shine without abrading the surface.  Apparently, I need a new, lint-free cloth.  Or new glasses. 

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A Hint of Color

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Yesterday as I was out and about, I saw a huge flock of robins pecking through the snow to find food.  I also saw some crocuses peaking up through the slushy, muddy ground, and earlier in the week I noticed some plum trees starting to bloom.  Today, the sun is shining.  Finally, the weight of winter is starting to lift.  

I worked on a few pieces this weekend that sort of hint at the start of spring.  I discovered a new gemstone (new to me, probably not everyone else, though) called Prehnite that has a beautiful, sort of cloudy green color.  I also just purchased some lovely apricot-colored candy jade.  I think they work very nicely with the more seasonal pieces I’m creating.

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Pull Up! Pull Up!

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So my stash of supplies is getting daaaannngerously low! 

The above photo is just a sampling – I’m really not as desparate as that, but it makes the point nicely!  I have a bunch of ideas for new projects, but I’m afraid to start anything for fear of running out of something essential halfway through.  I’m also itching to re-list some of my favorite items, like the Isamu Necklace, that have sold from my shop recently, but no, I have to wait until I can remake them.  I literally have only a few inches left of some of the basics, like 20 gauge sterling wire, which I primarily use for ear wires but have recently started incorporating into new designs.  With the price of silver rising the way it has lately, it hurts a bit to place a big order with Rio Grande, but what am I going to do?  If the weather had been a little nicer yesterday, I would have just gone to Metalliferous on my day off.  But then, I only had the day off because the weather was so bad!  Oh, the irony…

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Elemental

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I should probably focus on brightly-colored or floral-themed items for the onset of spring, but I am not one to follow trends or worry about what is in for which season. It’s not that I automatically reject trends because they’re trendy (at least not in all cases), but I usually miss the boat completely and decide I like a particular style way too late to actually do anything about it. As a result, I’m learning to just sort of go with my instincts and see what happens. Lately, I feel compelled to pare down my style and color schemes with the jewelry I’ve been making.  The Forgotten Lariat is part of my Elemental series, a group of pieces with cleaner lines, cooler colors and earthy, organic shapes.  I’m really having a lot of fun playing with new ideas and new material (square wire can be challenging!), so watch for lots of fun designs to show up in my shop as I develop them!

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Six weeks after disputed elections led to waves of unspeakable violence in Kenya, the clashes seem to be easing and relative calm is returning.   This is a welcome respite that is allowing businesses to re-open and people to return to their daily lives, but a lot of damage has been done and the economic effects will not be fully felt immediately.  

In addition to AntiGenre, I own a fair trade clothing and jewelry business called Fair Industry.   Yesterday, I received an update from the Bombolulu workshops, an organization that employees people with physical disabilities and one of Fair Industry’s trading partners, in Mombasa, Kenya.  Here is an excerpt from that email:

“The hotels in Mombasa are however extremely quite and many have closed down as charter planes that were flying to Kenya suspended their flights. The tourist arrivals have actually reduced by 92% and bookings for August have not yet been received.

Bombolulu Workshops annual budget of about $ 760,000 constitutes 50% exports sales (wholesale prices) and 50% local sales which are mostly in retail prices with a 100% to 200% mark up on wholesale prices. The local sales emanate largely from tourists and in January our retail sales declined by 90% compared to the same period last year. This revenue gap is severely felt and has resulted in a considerable loss which we might not sustain for long without endangering jobs of workers and staff.

After consecutive losses between 2004 and 2006, the year 2007 had given the organization some ray of hope after we achieved a marginal surplus to plough back into Bombolulu for expansion/growth. Unless the situation changes very soon the prospects currently are bleak.

Due to the gap from local sales we project losses of $ 83,300 or Euro 50,000.00 within the first half year of 2008.  This may not only force a reduction of the workforce so as to sustain the organization but the effects will trickle down to many other small scale suppliers e.g. bone suppliers, sisal bags suppliers, which earn their living from selling to our outlet.”

From now until the end of the month, I will be putting all jewelry made by Bombolulu for Fair Industry on sale at 10% off the regular price.   Revenue from sales will be returned to Bombolulu in the form of future purchases, which in turn will help to ensure that the more than 150 men and women working there will continue to be able to earn a fair wage.

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A Photo, At Last!

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Phew, finally got some good shots of this necklace!   I had good light this afternoon and found a suitable background.  I  had a good selection to use for a listing in my Etsy store, and I’m pretty happy with how they all came out.  Now, on to my next project…

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My Jewelry Is Mocking Me

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I’ve just finished a necklace that I’m absolutely in love with, and I want to get it listed in my store as soon as possible. Apparently, it is camera-shy. I tried last night, all afternoon today and again in the evening to get some good pictures of it. Nothing is working! All the backgrounds I have available look yucky, the light box is too small to get the whole thing from a good angle… I just can’t seem to get it right.

I took some pictures of it in stages, and they give you an idea of what it might look like, but I’m giving up on a shot of the finished product tonight. Maybe tomorrow, it won’t be such a tease and let me get a good shot of it!

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Well, within about a day and a half of posting my last post about customer service, I got a surprise in my inbox: a receipt and shipping notice from the people who sold me my first torch.  They sent me a free replacement!  Very nice of them.  It took me by surprise because they never responded to my last email about the problems I was having, and I never requested a replacement, but at least now I know they got my email and took me seriously.  It arrived this afternoon, and I’m looking forward to trying it out.  A thank-you email is on its way to them.

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I’m not usually a rabble-rouser or a trouble maker; I fire off the occassional angry letter to the editor, and my bank heard from me recently regarding new fees at the ATM, but I usually don’t like to draw a lot of attention to myself.  So how, then, have several fairly well know companies managed to make me feel as if I’m a burr in their collective butt? 

When I got my first microtorch, I had a few problems using it, so I wrote to the company who sold it to me.  They promptly wrote back; it turns out it was just me being a spaz, and I got the thing to work.  A few days later, the torch died completely.  I wrote back to the company, explained the situation, and never heard from them again.   This was not just me being needy or whiny – I really wanted to use the product on which I had just spent a lot of money. 

Another supplier of jewelry tools and beading wire whose products I occassionaly use has also given me the cold shoulder.  All I did was ask about the material composition of one of their products.  I’ve written three times so far.  At this point, the answer is not even important to me; I’m not planning to use their stuff again.  I’m just sort of curious to see if they’ll ever respond. 

A few weeks ago, my beloved, incredibly hip black spectacles broke.  I wrote directly to the manufacturer and found at that that model of frame had been discontinued years ago.  They did, however, have exactly one frame left and would sell it to me at a discount.  OK, I said, sign me up!  Tell me how I can pay for them, and how they’ll get here!   Nothing.  No response.  I’m trying to GIVE THEM MY MONEY, but they apparently don’t need or want it.

With both Fair Industry and AntiGenre, I get a lot of inquiries about my products.  Usually, people want information about sizes or fabrics, care of their jewelry or washing instructions.  Some people want to see photos of items from different angles, or they want to know if I’ll be including other types of items in my collections in the future.  I try to answer each and every email as soon as I possibly can.  I’ll send along informational links that I think might be useful.  I even agreed to meet with a woman who lived close by so she could try on some skirts and blouses.  (She didn’t show up, but oh well.)

The indepent designers, artists and supply sellers from whom I have purchased have all been absolutely wonderful to work and communicate with.  I have yet to have a negative experience.  Good customer service is absolutely essential, and it is a huge mistake for larger companies to forget that.

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This pair of earrings is one of the first in my Elemental series, which I’ll be rolling out in my shop over the next little while.  I’m having fun playing with silver and brass combinations, and I really like the little bit of pink that remains just under the surface of the brass discs on this pair. These are made with fairly substantial pieces of metal, but they are much more lightweight than they look.

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