Sunday, December 28, 2008

James Island Festival of Lights

My good friend from high school cam to visit me this X'mas.She has never been to Charlston, so we are planning on short trips in and around Charleston.We went to the historical downtown Charleston two days ago, but I must show you something first before the pictures from downtown--the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island county park.

We drove in the park at around 9 on Saturday night.We had to wait in the traffic from a mile away from the park, but it was definitely worth it for me because I have an obesession about lights :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family Birthstone Ring

A small gallery of some family birthstone rings I made over the weekend.This design, along with the family birthstone necklace, are two top sellers in my shop this holiday season.It's very time consuming to arrange details with customers, but also very rewarding.Every time when I receive an order on these family birthstone jewelry, I feel so honored to be making something cherished by a mother or a grandmother.

The birthstone ring is not as popular as the birthstone necklace, perhaps partly because of its design(only up to 7 stones will fit the top of the ring, and it will also look prettier with at least 5 stones, while the necklace can accommodate as many stones as you want), partly because gift shoppers don't know the recipients' ring size, and also as a known fact more women wear necklaces than rings.

Recently two customers ordered the birthstone ring requesting only 4 birthstones.This is really an awkward number for this design. (If 3 different stones are requested, I can double them.If only 2 different stones are requested, I can triple them. But 4 stones?) To make the top of the ring look fuller, I suggested adding two silver beads on the sides, and here comes the result.I'm very happy about it --

My customers continuously inspire me :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wire Gauge/Thickness Guide for jewelry shoppers-- Part I (earrings)

sterling silver white pearl earrings

Every once a while, I would have a customer asking me the thickness of my ear wires.One customer said she bought from another artisan a pair of handcrafted earrings using wire that was too thick for her piercing and she eneded up being unable to wear them.I thought I would write a simple post here explaining how we jewelry artisans decide the thickness of the wire we use for our jewelry.

The wire gauge numbers tell you how thick the wire is.The smaller the number, the thicker the wire is. Commercial earrings usually use 20 gauge(0.032", or 0.81mm) or 22gauge(0.0254", or 0.65mm). Occasionally 24 gauge ear wires(0.02", or 0.51mm) are also used for girls' jewelry or more delicate(and expensive) solid gold jewelry.

The standard(most common) earring wires are 22 gauge.

If you wear a lot of thicker gauge earrings or heavy earrings, your piercings may have been streched and can allow thicker gauge wires to go through(18 gauge, or even thicker than that).Otherwise, you probably can only wear 20 or 22 gauge ear wires like me. Any wire thicker than 20 gauge simply won't go in my ear. Sometimes, if I have not worn earrings for some time, even 20 gauge can feel a little tight for me.

All pearl hook earrings(see the picture above) on my website use the standard 22 gauge wire, because the drilled holes in the pearls will only allow 22 gauge wire to go through.

I do use 20 gauge wires for forged wire earrings such as the geometry fun earrings and all hoop earrings . The reason to use thicker wire is so it can create an illusion of volume when the wire is hammered flat.

sterling silver wire swirl earrings

handmade forged sterling silver hoop earrings mu-yin jewelry
Some artisans use 18 gauge wire as ear wire, either because they have larger piercings, or because thicker wire gives more volume when being forged (hammered flat).Even though I love the look of these 18 and 16 gauge ear wires, I have decided to dedicate my works to average piercings like mine.

My solution is to combine wires of different gauges for my earrings.In the following picture, you can see me holding a pair of the pussy willow branch earrings. The thicker "branch" dangles use 18 gauge wires, which are suspended from 22 gauge commercial ear wires.

pussy willow branch sterling silver wire wrapped earrings

Next time, ask the artisans what gauge they use for their ear wires before you make a purchase! (If they use commercial ear wires, it is most likely 20 or 22 gauge)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tip on Photography--Choosing Pictures From Thumnail View

I re-photograph my jewelry and update the pictures as often as possible.If you are a frequent visitor to my shop then you know I'm not kidding.I update pictures when at least one of the following reasons apply--

1.a design is apparently great(or at least I believe is great...) but is not selling
2.the color of the current pictures does not match the true color of the actual jewelry on my monitor (this is important--I cannot guarantee customers see what I see, but at least I want to see it right on my own monitor.I have two computers so I compare colors on two computers as well)
3.the design is slightly altered and does not match the pictures of the prototype
4.I'm just not happy with the existing pictures.

The pictures above are an example of a ring in my shop.There is nothing wrong with this adjustable triple band ring; I just felt the color looked dull in my old pictures, so I decided to update the pictures.I use solid background for my pictures, and decided to do a little experiment to see which color makes the ring pop.

While there is not a "correct" answer which picture is the best, I would like to invite you to see how I select pictures for my Etsy shop.
I always take a bunch of pictures, view all of them in small thumnail view, making the picture views as small as the thumnail pictures we see in the Etsy search.Then I ask myself which picture catches my eye and makes me want to click first.

If you have checked out this listing in my shop, then you know I eventually picked the green background.I actually couldn't decide whether to use green or pale blue background when I just looked at the full sized pictures, but after I viewed the pictures in the compressed size, I decided to go with green. (p.s.I'm also a green fan so I may be biased as well..and I know I'm biased, but I just can't help it..)
Your pictures may be excellent, but it is important to remember customers won't know it until they click that thumnail picture and enter your listing.When you try to select the gallery picture(the first picture in your listings) using this "thumnail view" technique I use, then you can understand better what your listings looks like in the Etsy search.

Monday, December 15, 2008

a chaotic day

I just shipped today's order and know I have to take a dinner break before doing some more shipping labels tonight.I really wanted to process more orders but I know quality is more important than processing time, so I don't make jewelry after dark anymore. I remember once I tried to process more orders at night and the next morning I found some flaws on the pearl ring I made the night before -- apparently selecting pearls under artificial light wasn't such a great idea.
Anyway, today was a chaotic day. I was happy and busy, but the shipping part was pretty confusing.I shipped 27 packages today, including all these pea pod pendants and necklaces --

and also my beloved cherry red eparl rings in different sizes--
Oh yeah, did you notice that too? Green and red, the X'mas colors! These two were hot colors in my shop before X'mas last year, and still are this year, and probably always will be.

My bunnies will also be going to their new homes tomorrow : )

.....yes, I know exactly how to make them stand on their own, but I haven't got time to fix that part, so I had to lay them flat when I took the pics...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

X'mas card from Debbie

Yesterday, I received a surprise X'mas card from Debbie.Inside the card was a beautiful letter she wrote to her family and friends that talked about her life in the past year.I couldn't express how much I was moved by it.
Debbie was a customer of mine, and she was not just "a customer".Over a year ago, she bought the first piece of high end jewelry I've ever listed on Etsy as a birthday present to herself.Imagine how thrilled and shocked I was when it was sold.I was just a new seller on Etsy.Even though I had sold on Ebay for a year, Etsy was something totally new to me--it was the venue where I was encouraged by other sellers and customers, where I felt my work was appreciated,and where I wanted to grow my business as a jewelry designer. Two months after my Etsy shop was opened, and one month after my "English Garden" bracelet was listed, it was sold.I think I almost passed out when I saw it on my sold list.
But English Garden was not the only thing Debbie bought from me. After that, I would receive an order from her every once a while.When I doubted myself, thinking about her gave me strength.
And then, we started writing emails to each other, and talked to each other about our life. That was when a silent customer became a real friend. She was as gracious as I imagined her to be.
I haven't written to her for a few months, but have been thinking about sending her(and some other "customer friends") a X'mas card. However, I've been so busy and unorganized that her card came to me first! In the letter she talked about her family, her job, and her illness.It talked about many things I never knew about her.

In my life there has been many moments when I connected with people who could have simply passed by my life silently but then ended up becoming friends who stay in my daily thoughts and prayers.They touched my soul and reminded me to be kind to people and spread the world the same love I have received.I am forever grateful for these unexpected encounters.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ordering Supplies

My shop has been very busy recently.I am glad my hard work during the slow months(Aug~Oct) finally paid off.Today I spend the morning and afternoon filling orders, and the whole night ordering supplies.I hate ordering supplies because I'm the kind of shoppers who always wander around picking up unnecessary stuff just because it's cheap, and end up spending too much money.

The mess in my studio gets worse and worse as my business grows and a lot of the time I find myself spending hours searching for certain supplies.Two months ago I had to order some extra wire at the last minute just because I couldn't remember where I stored the rest of my wire inventory--I KNEW I had the wire, and I KNEW it was less than 10 feet away from me, BUT I JUST COULDN"T FIND IT!!!! Therefor, today, before ordering suppliers, I finally sat down and figured out how much wire I had and what I needed to order.

Ordering supplies is really a huge pain, but it's always exciting to open the package when my supplies arrive at the door.I would quickly bring the box into my studio, open the big boxwith excitement like a kid opening X'mas gifts, examine everything in the box, and leave most of the supplies on the floor (right at where I opened the box) for at least a week before I put them up where they belong.

No wonder I couldn't find my wire...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happy 2000 Sales to Me!

Wow!Another big hall mark for me.This is so exciting!I can't cay enough thank you to my sweet customers.Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this happen :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Etsy Gift Guides

I found my hoop earrings in the Etsy Gift Guides just now under "gift for her" category.I love the style of Etsy's Gift Guides and every once a while would browse it to see if any of my jewelry is selected.I have not been picked very often, as far as I know, and so far I have only seen my jewelry in "stocking stuffer" and "under $20" categories.Well, you would think that having established a successful jewelry shop on Etsy I should be confident enough to not care about how Etsy administration views my jewelry(" 'stocking stuffer' and 'under$20'?Why not under 'jewelry addict'?Oh well, at least today I'm getting a little closer since I'm under 'Gift for Her'."), but the truth is I am not--I can pretend as if I don't care, but I know I do care.I guess to some extent everyone of us needs some kind of external recognition to see our own value, and when something is called "Gift Guides" we unconsciously feel like we are "judged" even when we know well enough the style of the people who make the Gift Guides don't represent the general Etsy shoppers' likings.
We hate being judged, but whenever there are judges we always hope we are preferred.Oh well.
For those who are curious about Gift Guide exposures, I don't think being selected in the Gift Guides helps my sales much, if it helps any -- Etsy admin never picks a popular design in my shop to be in the Gift Guides when they do pick me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Celebrate my 2000th sales with me--enjoy FREE SHIPPING!

As of now, (2.34pm on 12/6), I'm 11 sales away from my 2000th sale on Etsy.This is a important hallmark I have been waiting for, and I know I probably will see it coming very very soon, but I just can't wait!! I'm so excited and want to share my joy with you.

From now until I reach my 2000th sale, enjoy free shipping(refunded through paypal) on any size order(including supplies!) at my Etsy shop.

Simply enter code "happy2000" at Etsy checkout, and I will refund your shipping within 24 hours of cleared payment. I will post in the comment as soon as this offer expires.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Custom Handmade Birthstone Ring and Necklace

I received a lot of orders on my custom birthstone jewelry recently.Today alone, I made three necklaces and one ring.I'd like to share the photos with you--

unique custom handmade sterling silver birthstone ring
unique custom handmade sterling silver gold filled birthstone necklace
unique custom handmade sterling silver gold filled birthstone necklace
unique custom handmade sterling silver gold filled birthstone necklace
unique custom handmade sterling silver gold filled birthstone necklace

These designs were introduced a few months ago.It took me a while to collect all 12 birthstones in the similar cut, size and quality (and also spent quite a bit money on all of them..), so I am very glad to see customers sharing the same love for them. For the necklace, I shape each wire frame to accommodate the gemstones,and then hammer to give the frame some texture and sparkle.I love working with customers to decide the number of stones and their arrangements, and my customers continue to surprise me with new ideas for their birthstone jewelry(yes, I know you can probably do it better than me!), including using metal beads and rock crystal stones as "filler beads"--I had some customers asking if I can re-string the gemstones when their family grows, and the answer is:yes, if filler beads are used, I can swap them out to add the new gemstone that represent the new member :)

These birthstone necklaces and rings are available in sterling silver and 14K gold filled. Check out the details in the listings on my website, and feel free to email me at for a quote on your custom birthstone jewelry.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, everyone! I just made a new X'mas banner for my Etsy shop not long ago using Powerpoint ...

My Etsy shop has been very busy recently and I'm thrilled to say I'll be seeing my 2000th sales very soon :) You can now purchase gift certificates for a pearl ring in my shop, the price includes a ring, worldwide shipping, and a free ring sizer too! --

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Free Critique followup..

At the beginning of October I offered free critique to Etsy shops.I have been working on it slowly in the past few weeks--almost too slowly.As of today I still have 18 shops to check out, which do not even include private requests I received in my email.With holidays right around the corner, I know many Etsy sellers need advice urgently, and I am also getting busier.I decide to compromise the way I do critiques by spending less time on each shop while checking out as many shops as possible in a shorter time.Some of you may receive the crituque as a convo, while I may post some critiques on my blog.Feel free to convo me if you have further question with your shop and crituque. :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Introducing--miss bunny!!

I bought polyester fill from the fabric store yesterday.They didn't carry those safty eyes, but I just couldn't wait to finish my first crochet bunny, so I bought some plastic button instead and used sewing threads to sew them onto the bunny's face.
I also made the bunny a pink scarf :) It looked exactly as I wasnted it to be, so I was very happy.The only problem was it didn't want to stand on its own.Took me forever to get this one shot when it finally stood for a minute or so--

Here's another shot of the bunny in which you can see the bunny tail I added at the end.The bunny wouldn't stand up again so I had to lean it against the wall..

The next thing I did, after making the bunny last night, was to search for more amigurumi patterns on Etsy
I did it!My first amigurumi! And I did it my way :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

1800 sales


Yes, "crochet" with an exclaimation mark!
With holiday approaching,I started to feel the need to "make something warm".I'm not a big fan of knitted sweaters or gloves, but I really wanted to make a blanket, and especially cute crochet animals, also called "amigurumi" .Even though I did try to crochet a little when I was young, I never finished any project(not even half a scarf), so I didn't know if I could actually learn to crochet by reading.But, when I REALLY WANT TO DO SOMETHING, no one, not even myself, can stop me.So I bought some books and yarns to learn crocheting by reading.

The whole experience was more time consuming,intense and confusing than I expected.

In the first night,I spent hours and still couldn't cound the stitches correctly.I must have tried more than 6 hours but still didn't feel like I made any progess.

The second day, I read the book again, and tried again for many hours, and finally figured out how to make my first project...

I got excited and made my second project the next day..

and the next day I thought I could started my big motif blanket.I made my first square with qhite cotton yarn.It has a heart in the center :)

Then, last night, I decided I was ready to try out a pattern by the sweetest and most generous Ana Paula.

Well, since I only learned "single crochet" a few days ago, apparently reading patterns was still something very very confusing for me.It was more confusing than any of my college text books (and I've got a Master's degree!).But I decided to try it anyway.
After 3 hours,the result was very frustrating..

I got some of the body parts done, but the only part I did correctly was the body.The head was not plump as it was supposed to be, and it took me another hour or so to realize that was because I skipped 7 rows(!).

Bummer.Since the bear was not stuffed and sewn shut yet, maybe I can just turn the ugly head up side down and imagine it as a pot or something..

However, guess what?After my first failure, I DECIDED(again) that I was ready to create my own pattern.I wanted to make a bunny.The only difference between the bunny and bead seemed to be the ear, so I learned to make the ears from Ana Paula again, and made the rest of the body parts by myself.(that's right--without the pattern!)
The result?I was more than happy :)

I'm going to the fabric store today to get the stuffer and finish my bunny :) Thank you Ana Paula!I will surely buy some patterns from you!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


You can now follow me on Twitter. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Full Time Etsy Crafter Team featured on Storque

In the past few months I have been slowly and quietly working on Full Time Etsy Crafter Team .Yesterday we were contacted by Etsy Administration about featuring our team on Storque, and today the article is on Storque already!Because of the article a few full time sellers who were insterested in joining the team convo'd me.I hope over time through group effort our team will be able to provide more help for the great Etsy community. :) If you are not a full time ETsy seller but feel you may benefit from our experiences, please let us know what we can do to help you!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Critique--Getting Exposure for Novelty Products

Tonight we'll be looking at Meekiyua's shop. Meekiyua has a very interesting shop featuring "tiny origami people"...Well, there is really no better way to describe these little creatures, so I'll show you some pictures.

Meekiyua's shop is nicely set up and she also lists regularly.The first thing that came to my mind when I looked at this shop imagining how I would market my product if I were selling these little origami dolls was -- what kind of customers am I targetting? How can they find me?What search word would they use to find me?
Here are a few things I would do--

Tag: Use all 14 tags whenever possible.If you are selling things difficult to describe or categorize(like these origami dolls), try tag occasions people will use your products in and any other possible functions(e.g.I assume these dolls can be used as X'mas ornament so that's what I would do with the holiday approaching.If they can be flattened I would also tag them as "bookmarks".You can also tag them as "decoration"). You can aso tag the characteristics (cute, interesting, novelty, exotic,japanese,oriental...etc). Be really creative here.You may have made something for one purpose but give your customers a chance to use it for other purposes.This morning I was looking for a cell phone pouch on Etsy.I ended up searching for camera pouch because I knew since they were the same size,many sellers must have failed to tag their camera pouches as cell phone pouches -- unfortunately not all buyers are as smart as me : ) Most of them will not search for origami dolls when buying X'mas ornaments, but some may end up buying an origami doll when it is tagged as a X'mas ornament and pops up in the search

Description: Just as tagging, be really creative here when selling novelty goods. People buying "cute stuff that has zero or little function" are often impulse buyers. (Of course there are also some people who "collect" and purposely search for strange stuff to buy on Etsy, but they are probably not the majority)To talk impulse buyers into buying your products, you need to show a lot of passion in your description.

Customer Survey: if you have made a few sales, ask customers how they found you.

Etsy Forum: Be active in the Etsy forum especially when you sell novelty goods.Remember to have your best product as the avatar to entice other sellers to click and check out your shop. I know Etsy forum can actually bring sales for some sellers(even though this doesn't work very well for jewelry sellers, I know I have got quite a few sales from the forum).Sometimes other sellers will buy from you just because they like you.Sometimes you will find someone you like who is willing to trade products with you.Even if you don't get any sales from the forum, you can always get a lot of resources from the forum.

good luck!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin