Starting something new

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Yesterday I realised, somewhat reluctantly, that my Facebook page was just well and truly dead. I have over 450 likers on it but interaction was near zero, and I had pretty much had enough of the struggle. Even the promise of giveaways wasn’t working to bring people in. So after sitting through a three hour webinar hosted by the amazing James Tuckerman and understanding that my page was definitely in the Facebook Valley Of Death, I decided to start all over.

Gulp.

Now, this isn’t easy. I’ve done it once before when I went from my old business name to Seven Oaks, and I never really recovered and the numbers were never as good again. Doing it again was scary as hell. But, I remembered what James said, “people relate to people, not businesses” so I took the leap and started my new page. It’s not 24 hours old yet and I have over 50 likers so far. Not bad, right?!? I’m actually really happy with that progress!

I’m actually a little bit in love with it. It’s pretty. It has good content so far (considering it’s still a baby), and I’m hoping that it will go far.

Change is scary.

Embrace the hell out of it.

 

xoxoJacquiV2

 

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Jewellery, Viruses and TV…

It has been a crazy week here in the SOHJ household!

First, we’ve been battling a nasty case of laryngitis that has cycled around the family at least twice already, meaning lots of missed school, Dr’s appointments, and laments of “Ohhhhh I’m dying!” in croaky voices between hacking-up-a lung coughing fits.

Awesome.

On the work front, I’ve completely rehashed my social media plan and am bullet pointing and listing my little heart out. I made some new pretties, this week too! Go me!

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Wire woven bracelet with artsisan glass bead from the incredibly talented Australian artist genschi and Swarovski crystals. This one sold on my VIP GROUP yesterday.
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This stunning tigereye cabochon is the star of this pendant which is topped with a lovely Sarovski pearl. It’s currently available on the website

So, there’s been a lot of sitting this week. I’ve either been on my backside blogging, social media planning, or creating while binge wathching stupid amounts of TV. I recently learned that they’re making a sequel to Prison Break. Yep, I think it’s awesome news, too! So naturally I’ve had to catch up on Seasons 1 – 4. I never actually watched most of season 3 or 4 when it was on TV here. Netflix is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?!?

This weekend there’ll be more blogging and planning and listing (I’m a sucker for a lovely list) and creating, in between my daughter’s gymnastics lesson tomorrow (IF she isn’t still sick, that is) and hanging out with the family sometime on Sunday.

My life may be hectic, but it’s pertty awesome.

See you next week!

Boxes and bags and tags…oh my!

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I went shopping recently (and no, not on Ebay!). No, I went shopping for packaging supplies. Anyone who has been a customer of mine for a while will know that I’ve been through a few versions of my packaging, including spending stupid amounts of money on white shiny giftboxes simply didn’t suit who I am, but I’ve never really been happy with any of it until now.

When I rebranded to Seven Oaks back in January of this year, I wanted my packaging to be more organic, more natural in it’s appearance.  I love trees (part of the reason for my name!) and all things wooden, so it made sense for me to go with brown Kraft boxes and bags as much as possible. However, buying them individually from Spotlight got expensive fast, and I didn’t want to have to up prices of my items to cover it.

On a recent trip to the local shopping centre, I popped into one of those bargain type stores (it’s called Dollars and Sense here but you probably have something different where you’re from), and lo and behold they had increased their packaging and scrapbooking aisle! Score!

Here’s a little look at my loot:

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I love these little square Kraft boxes, and bonus…they come in packs of three! They will suit my pendants and smaller pieces really well, I think!

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Because I’m really fussy and also wasn’t overly sure on the sizes, I grabbed a three pack of these lovely round boxes too! These are bigger, as you can see, and I reckon they’ll be fantastic for woven bracelets and larger pendants.

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The last time I bought a Kraft box, my piece sort of jiggled around in it, and I got really panicky over the security and safety of the piece. I assume it was fine because I didn’t get an email from the customer saying otherwise, but I was still pretty paranoid. Now that I’m predominantly working in wire woven pieces, I don’t want them being knocked around. I literally tripped over this bag of cotton fill and grabbed it immediately. Pieces will be nice and snuggled in their boxes now, and I won’t be so stressed!

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Looking great so far, but a tad on the plain side. Hubby spotted these adorable little owl stickers (no, they’re not really stickers, they have two sides and are sort of back to back with an adhesive on the very back to make them pop out….scrapbooking folks will know what they’re called) and also some super cute little blue birds. I ended up going with the owls, but now that I’m thinking of it, maybe some blue birds would be good too (Note to self: Put blue bird sticker things on shopping list for next time). 

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I always like to include a handwritten note to my customers to say thank you. I just think it adds to the shopping handmade experience and lets my customers know I’m grateful and am thinking of them. I use the plain back side to write my note. These were too perfect not to be grabbed!

Finally, I just couldn’t resist these little gift bags. They don’t go out with every order, only small, flat ones like rings (which are lovingly wrapped in gift wrap and have a thank you card, etc). I think I’ll stock up on these for when I start doing markets again, too!

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The final look (this is actually going out to a customer today):

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I’m pretty happy with it and yes, it might need a few tweaks here and there, but all in all it’s so much more like me now, too. I think it’s super important that while your packaging should be pristine and professional looking, it needs to reflect you as an artist and should have some of your personality injected into it too. After all, people buy handmade from a person, not a machine or huge corporation. Make it special.

 

For those in peril on Ebay…

**Thanks to my friend, customer and reader Dea who gave me the idea for this blog**

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Photo by VisualHunt

I love to shop.

No, that’s not quite accurate. I love to shop online. As someone with quite a moderate case of social anxiety, being around lots of people while I’m trying to get my head straight enough to actually buy the item I walked into the store for can be too much. I hate grocery shopping with a passion so hubby usually gets that horrible chore to do, but what I absolutely cannot resist shopping for is jewellery making stuff.

Unfortunately, I live in an area that pretty much sucks when it comes to shopping for these items.We have two aisles in Spotlight and while that’s an improvement on what we used to have and will do in an absolute pinch, I can usually be found scouring the internet for all my bits and bobs. I have my favourite stores – Rio Grande for my wire, a few Etsy sellers for other bits and bobs…..and Ebay for my stones.

Oh dear.

Having money in my Paypal account is dangerous. Have you ever watched a dog when they’re watching you eat? You know how they start drooling and they get that glazed over look in their eyes when you finally give in and give them a pork chop? Yeah, that’s me.

Up until recently though I’ve been pretty good, only buying two or three stones at a time, and always using the “Buy It Now” feature and giving the seller what they’re asking for. In fact, just a few weeks ago I bought eight new beautiful stones (I’m still waiting for them to arrive but they’re scrumptious and I can’t wait to show them off to you!).

Then, a few days ago, I decided to bid on a fabulously gorgeous pinkish red stone that I’ve never seen before. The shape and colour are magnificent and I knew it had to be mine. Decidedly out of character for me, I hit the place bid button and it was like I was taken over by some strange, bidding monster. My God, who knew I could get stones like THAT for THAT price?!?

Why didn’t I think of this earlier?!?

The next thing I knew, there were another 7 stones begging to be bought by me, and yes, I’d bid on all of them. It’s such a weird feeling, especially for someone who doesn’t bid on anything and never gambles or does anything “uncertain” with money. I got over it pretty quick though and thought, “Oh what the hell? If I can get some yummy stones like this without breaking the bank, then that’s awesome!”

Then I was outbidded.

What the hell? 

Now, I’m not an idiot and know full well that this was a possibility, but I wasn’t expecting that strange, sinking feeling which was then instantly replaced by “Oh no you didn’t!” complete with head bob….

Up went the bid.

It’s okay, I’m still in control, it’s all good. I can stop whenever I want….

I didn’t sleep. I ended up sitting up half the night, terrified that I’d lose my precious my stones. It’s so weird. There’s this really odd feeling of ownership over the items you’re bidding on, and they’re not even yours yet! Who invented this craziness?

The next morning, it happened. I got into a slight bidding war (well it was more of a tussle, really), and I emerged victorious and won that gorgeous red/pink stone.

The feeling of accomplishment was incredible, and completely addictive. I have a background in psychology and I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about addiction, and this sure feels like it!!  After a few more upped bids (they make that so easy, don’t they? “Just click this button and we’ll spend your money for you!” ), I won another six auctions in the following few hours. Go me! The actual physical feeling of clicking the button, waiting for confirmation that yes, you are indeed the highest bidder on this item, or getting the infuriating “You’ve been outbidded!” message, then clicking again is stupidly soothing. Too soothing!

It sounds like I’ve spent an absolute fortune. I haven’t; not even close. I think that’s part of the appeal. I can get 6 stones for the price of two or three. I’ve been buying on Ebay for years but there’s always that feeling of “what if it’s crap?” and yet this time around, I don’t feel so anxious. I did all the right things…checked out the feedback, read some reviews, shopped around…but honestly because of the small amount that I spent on the 7 stones that I won, it’s not making me feel quite as sick as it did before. If they’re crap, I’ll be heartbroken because they are truly beautiful in the pictures, but it’s not going to break the bank.

Anyway, between the auctions and items I’ve bought recently on a “buy it now” basis (like the ten GORGEOUS gemstone cabochons that I SWEAR jumped into my Ebay cart and checked themselves out this morning!) I have 25 beautiful stones winging their way to me so I can spoil you guys with gemmy gorgeousness…..

plus the one I’m hoping to win tomorrow…I’m still the highest bidder….

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The red stone that started it all….

What am I?

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Yesterday I read a blog by the superbly talented, and lovely, Laura Bracken  (you will have seen her work, especially if you’re a Vampire Diaries fan!). Anyway, she was talking about our identity and what we call ourselves as “people who make jewellery” and it got me really thinking, what do I say when people ask me what I do?

I’m lots of things:

  • Jewellery maker
  • Jewellery designer
  • Jeweler
  • Artist
  • Jewellery artist
  • Crafts-person/craftsman

Let’s have a little look at these names. If I refer to myself as a “jewellery maker” then it sounds unprofessional. I want to be taken seriously as a designer….

But if I say “designer,” does that mean I’m aiming to be the next Cartier or Tiffany? No. Not at all. “Designer” sounds like money, and while I’m certainly not opposed to making money from what I do, it still doesn’t really fit.

“Artist” sounds great but then do people get confused? Do they automatically think I’m trying to be the next Van Gogh or Da Vinci? I hope not. Problem is, the first thing that some people think when you say “Oh, I’m an artist” is either that you’re pretentious, broke and starving, or a painter….or all three. I’m none of those things.  Yet for some reason, replying to their doubt with, “I make gorgeous wire woven jewellery…and it is art and beautiful!” just sounds like I’m throwing a tantrum.

So how about adding the word “jewellery” into the title and saying “I’m a jewellery artist.” I’m still envisioning looks of confusion on people’s faces before I just mumble something about “go have a look at my site” and shove a business card in their face, because by now my social anxiety is kicking in and I’m looking for an exit. Ugh.

“Jeweler” makes me think of high-end gold and diamond pieces….a LONG way from copper wire and gemstone cabochons. So no. That doesn’t fit, either. Yet the definition of the word is in fact a person or company that makes or sells jewels or jewellery. So, am I a jeweler?

The word “crafts-person” is one that Laura brought up on her blog and to be honest I’ve never really thought about it in terms of what I do. My brain just automatically goes to “I make wire bend to my will” rather than “I’m a crafts-person.” I mean, it fits. The definition of the word is, in fact, a person who is skilled at making things by hand. I certainly do make things by hand and I’m getting there with the “skilled” part, but again I just can’t seem to get it to roll off the tongue like it should. There’d still be lots of explanation that would have to go with it, right? I mean “I’m a crafts-person” could mean anything. I could be a boat builder, for all the person knows.

I’m no clearer on this than when I sat down to write this blog, but one thing is clear. I need to start practicing what I’m going to say the next time someone says “What do you do?”

 

 

 

 

There’s first love, then there’s wire woven love….

 

I fell in love recently.

Not with a boy. I’ve been there, done that and I’m sure my husband would object rather strongly.

No. I fell in love with wire. I was bored with what I was doing with my jewellery and honestly, I think if I had to battle one more crimp bead I’d have strangled someone. I’d played with wire before, never successfully, and didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I ordered more.

My little package arrived, and I started….pottering. Cleaning up my work space. Tidying the bookshelves. Dusting. Anything to avoid the evil wire stuff that was staring at me as if to say, “Well, you ordered me. Now what?” I did this when I got my first boyfriend, too. I was young and the idea of even so much as holding hands gave me heart palpitations, so all of a sudden, I had too many books to carry, or had just painted my nails…or something. Always an excuse.

I knew I was just putting off the inevitable. Still, I pottered some more, until there was just nothing left to potter with.  With mounting anxiety, I picked it up and started to play with it. Suddenly it was like a lightning bolt had gone off under my ass and I was hooked. I loved the feel of the wire, how it moved, it’s shine, and the way it was slightly stubborn and I had to use my brain (and a little brute force) to get it to comply.

I started small: WireCoilRings_2

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Consider it a first kiss.

Then, I went on to watching tutorials on YouTube to learn different weaves. When my little simple, craft wire rings started selling, I ordered raw copper wire and experimented with that. It felt even better between my fingers and needed even less cajoling…and I fell even harder in love with it. From there, I started purchasing tutorials from amazing artists like Nicole Hanna and Julie Hulick (I still say I want to be them when I grow up!). I took a bracelet course by the amazing Sarah Thompson and a cabochon wrapping course from Dawn Horner. I became obsessed. All I could think about was wire, and what it could do, and how I could work with it next.

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By the time I  clumsily treated my first pieces with liver of sulfur, this had gone way past infatuation. It wasn’t even just lust. It was a full-blown love affair that now I cannot live without.

Change. It all came down to change and taking a little step backwards to realise that to make something work, you have to be completely, totally, irreparably  in love with it.

Welcome to my world of wire. I hope you fall in love with it, too.