Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wire Wrapped Jewelry Making 101 -- how do I stop my wire scraps from flying all over the place when I cut the ends of the wire?

Q: How do I avoid the scraps flying here and there when I cut the ends of the wires?
A: when you are about to cut the wire,rest the index finger of your non-dominant hand at the tip of the wire,as if you're poking your finger with the wire(but don't really poke because it will hurt!), and then cut it.The scrap will hit your index finger and fall straight down, and you can collect it. If you cut the wire right above a beading tray or a container, the scrap(wire end) will fall straight into it.
it's a good habit to collect left over wire ends because they can be dangerous if they are everywhere in the house. :)

Do you have some quick questions about wire wrapped jewelry making? Ask me by leaving a comment below and I'll try my best to answer you in a blog post.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hello Kitty

I'm not a big fan of cats, but this one is so funny I just have to share..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

live and learn

Yesterday morning, I found out that I had to start another pearl hunt real soon because I was short on some pearl colors again. A lot of thoughts went through my mind and I was overwhelmed by them.

First, it suddenly occurred to me that it has been almost a year since I quit my day job as a piano teacher to sell jewelry on Etsy full time. Owning a small business had never been something I thought I would be doing until it actually happened. It is also nothing like what I imagined it to be. I didn't think it would be so stressful.On the other hand, it has also been extremely rewarding, especially when I receive good feedback from customers and know my skills and services can actually make people happy :).

If we add the one year I sold my jewelry on Ebay(before I opened my Etsy shop), I have actually been selling jewelry for almost 3 years now.I still remember selling the first two pairs of pearl earrings on Ebay for 99 cents each and I was so thrilled to know someone actually found my jewelry out of thousands of listings and liked it enough to pay $1 for it. ("Wow!I made$1 selling my jewelry!") It took me one whole year and hundreds of sales on Ebay to raise the price of my rings to $10 a piece, and then another one year and over 1000 sales on Etsy to start feel "maybe" I was a decent crafter.I am glad to say that now(after almost one more year and 1500 more sales) I finally feel "sort of" like a jewelry artist. I need a lot of encouragement to feel confident about myself, and I'm very grateful to have so many customers telling me how much they like my jewelry(it doesn't matter how many times I hear it--I still need to hear it!)

Other than my confidence issue, i also reviewed some business decisions I made in the past year(my first year in business full time).I did not make as much money as I expected, partly because of the economy, partly because I spent too much money on supplies, and partly because I over-estimated myself! Going to my first two gem shows last year was one of the reasons I spent too much money on supplies. I had never seen so many beads in my life until then ("BEADS!!") and there was just no way I could resist them.It was a bad, bad, bad addiction. I bought most of the beads because I wanted them, not because I needed them, even though it has always worked like that for me since I started making jewelry (my design ideas are usually inspired by the stones I have, and before I create new designs you would often find me staring at my beads for a long period of time as if there is some kind of secret code inside the beads).The outcome was that I accumulated a large inventory and had little spare cash.Fortunately I can always sell the beads..It's a lot of hassle, but at least I enjoyed owning them for a period of time and it's time to get my cash back. Oh those beads -- if you don't see them, you're fine.Once you see them, and especially after you buy them, it becomes very hard to part with them.

Last year I also spent a lot of travel expenses at two gem shows, so I decided to consolidate my business trips to just one this year.My parents live in Taiwan so it seems to make more sense for me to go to the show in Hong Kong. Unlike last year, this time I know what to do, how much to spend, and can make a better plan.I suppose this is what happens with most new business owners -- the first year is always the scariest and challenging. It's probably also the most exciting, because everything is new, everything is unknown, and you see opportunities everywhere.

While my first year as a jewelry designer is about to come to an end, I'm just starting my first year as a jewelry supplier. Believe it or not, I don't feel less nervous than one year ago.I told my friend Shelly, a seasoned jewelry supplier, how I felt, and her response really comforted me --

"It is scary and sometimes you will choose wrong. But hopefully, mostly you will choose right. Even when you choose wrong, you can usually get at least part of your money back out. I wish you the best of luck! Here's to prosperity! :~) "

I know part of my nerves come from being too critical about my mistakes.Unfortunately I did make some not-so-great business decisions last year, but I suppose there was no way I could avoid every mistake, because I just had no clue about what I was doing when I was a newbie!

Well, since mysupplyshop opened last Saturday, I've made 7 sales, and I'm VERY happy about it. I haven't had much time listing new items, but I'll try to add more items over time. Meanwhile, these new sales also made me realize I need some packing supplies for my supply shop..yeah, confusing, I know. Running a business is a little too complicated for my small brain.

Name this new flower ring for me!

since Gardenia Blossom may be too big for some of my customers,I created this smaller flower ring for those who prefer more delicate jewelry. What flower do you think this ring looks like?
To me it looks like either rose of sharon or anemone , but since I don't know many flowers, I thought perhaps my smart blog readers would have better ideas than me :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Grand Opening of MY Supply Shop

Dear fellow jewelry makers, my jewelry supply shop on Etsy is finally open today! The shop name is...MY Supply Shop! Alright, I know this sounds lame, but my original intention was, well, sort of, to use my initial (Mu-Yin) as the name to the shop, which turned out to be a little funny...
I had some fun loading the first few items to my shop, but I know there are many more to go.So far I am pretty happy with the look of my new shop.I'm especially happy to know that I made one sale just one hour after I started listing!
I have finally decided to open this shop when I realized how many of my customers also make jewelry.I hope this will provide you with some basic jewelry making supplies and quality pearls and gemstones.Most of the supplies in this shop are listed in small quantities because I have beginning jewelry makers in mind when listing, but I'm always open to suggestions about what items to carry.
Another great news for you is that I will list some of my delicious pearls and gemstones. I just love my pearls and don't want to sell them, but I have purchased way many pearls that I know I'll have to unload some so I more pearls!

To celebrate the grand opening of MY Supply Shop, I will be offering FREE SHIPPING from now through 4/25 when you make a combined purchase of $30 or more from my jewelry shop and supply shop.

To be eligible for this offer, mention "supply0409" at checkout and wait for me to send you a revised paypal invoice.Alternatively,you can also contact me for a custom listing reflecting the discount.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

my artistic mother

I finally listed Gardenia Blossom in my Etsy shop a few days ago.In the listing there is a poem in Chinese with English translation.I'll copy it here in my blog again so you can all read it...

生命如花  Life is like a gardenia
盛開在溫暖的日光下  Blooming in the warm sunlight
純潔芬芳 晶瑩可愛 Pure, fragrant and simply sweet
唯此一朵  Wholeness is presented
卻已包含所有 In one gardenia blossom

I did not explain in the listing where this poem came from, but I assume some of you would be interested in knowing...The original poem(in Chinese) was written by my mother just for the Gardenia Blossom listing. :) Since most of my customers don't read Chinese, I have to translate it into English..My mother's original poem was beautiful,and I just hope I did an ok job translating it(I altered a few words--changing the word "flower" to "gardenia" and "gardenia blossom" so it would suit the listing better.maybe I'll change it back to "flower" later..still thinking about it..)

You may understand me more if you know my mother.She is a creative and passionate soul.I am very much like her in this sense, except that I am more shy and keep my passion all bottled up. My mother is lively, bubbly, generous, caring,completely natural and beautiful(no makeup, no jewelry, no fancy clothes, just all natural beauty). You can get a better idea of her by looking at her paintings--the one above, titled "Self Portrait", and the one below, titled "Sunflower".

My mother is a VERY talented artist.She never received any official art training until very recently. These paintings were done after she took some weekly watercolor classes. I think she did an amazing job.

I inherited my mother's creative talents, which I am forever grateful for. I still remember her teaching me play the piano, teaching me how to write (oh yes, I received pretty decent training in writing because both of my parents used to teach Chinese literature), and I also remember digging out these little pretty bookmarks with drawings of flowers on them when I was a child.I was fascinated by these simplistic yet well balanced little drawings -- my mother had great control with colored pencils even before she received any training. She was my first artistic inspiration and I probably got my "flower obsession" from her too.

Interestingly,with all the talents she possessed, my mother never became a full time artist. She stayed as a Chinese Literature teacher at my high school until just a few years ago, when she finally retired. And that was when she picked up her art again.She started taking art lessons, calligraphy lessons (she does amazing Chinese calligraphy), she took on a project to be the chief editor of a bi-monthly buddhist journal, and also sang in a choir(and she is an amazing soprano too. No kidding! I can never sing tho). I'm sure my father and my brothers would all agree with me that my mother is much happier now that her children have all grown up and nothing can stop her from being an artist.

Can you feel from her paintings and poem the overflowing energy of joy?Mom doesn't know how to get her works seen by the world and I think this is the least I can do for her.

If you like her poem and paintings, please let her know by leaving a comment below.I'm sure mom would love to hear from her fans..
如果你們喜歡她的詩與畫,請在下面留言讓她知道。我相信媽媽會想知道你們的看法 :)

xo mollie/慕音

Monday, April 13, 2009

Etsy front page screenshots

I received two "congrats" convos at 1.20 pm telling me to check the Etsy front page, so I took a quick screenshot--

Here's the screenshot at 1.28 pm--

notice anything different?
Sold again!

This beautiful treasury was created by SarahJohnAfana.Check out her wonderful shop!I love her acrylic paintings --

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Farmer's Market and Carrotmob

I got up early today (8 am, which is unusually early for me) to attend the first Marion Square farmer's market of the year.Even though I have been living in Charleston for almost a year by now, I did not learn about this Saturday farmer's market until Rachel, a local customer of mine, told me about it, "you should sell your jewelry there," she said.
Last week, Rachel's colleague Jessica bought some jewelry from me for Rachel.When Jessica picked up the jewelry at the local cafe(as of now,Etsy is still my only sales venue,so I always meet with local customers at a cafe for jewelry pick up), I started chatting with her, and ended up deciding to come to the farmer's market together.Sometimes life is strange like that, I suppose.
I love downtown Charleston, but it is always scary for me to drive there because I always get lost.Roads in Indiana are much, much easier and the traffic is better too. Not only am I a poor driver, parker, and I am also very bad at directions. Despite all these "difficulties", every once a while I still like to go to downtown Charleston for a little arts and crafts adventure.
The farmer's market was bigger than I expected, and there was a very nice crowd already when I arrived. Jessica and her roommate brought three dogs with them, and they were not the only one walking the dogs.The weather was just beautiful, and so were the booths! I was too busy looking at everything that I forgot to take pictures.There are a lot of jewelry booths, and I was excited to see the overall quality of the jewelry. Half of the jewelry sellers price their jewelry higher than mine, making me rethink about my pricing formula...but, don't worry,I'll make sure my Etsy customers get enough notice if there should be a dramatic increase in prices.

After the farmer's market, I had to attend an interesting event called "Carrotmob".I learned about Carrotmob from a Facebook friend, and thought it was a cool and fun concept.Today was Charleston's inaugural Carrotmob so I really wanted to go there to support them.
The location of today's Carrotmob is Queen Street Grocery. They will donate 30% of their total sales today to to energy-saving upgrades to their building and business, so all we earth lovers need to do is to go there and shop as a way to raise money for the good cause.I parked too far from QSG and thought I got lost.I also had the wrong address with me(thanks to my carelessness) and almost gave up looking for this small store. But I decided to walk just a few more blocks, and there it was! It was a small grocery store with a juice bar, and many people, including some reporters, were already there before me. I bought $30 worth of grocery today, but I think I will have to go back there sometime for their made to order crepes!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Gardenia Blossom photo shoot : )

I would like to say thank you to everyone who commented on or emailed me about my last post, and to those who voted for the name you like. You girls have made me SO happy-- much happier than when I was contacted by Elle. It feels great to be recognized by an editor, but for me it just means much more to be loved by my customers and blog readers. I would rather make jewelry that people love and want to wear than jewelry that gets appreciated only by fashion critics. It feels great to know people love my jewelry, but it feels even better to know people love the pieces I love.

Since Gardenia Blossom received outstanding votes, I suppose that will be the name for my beloved ring.Thank you to Eleen, Meghann and Laure, who gave me suggestions for the name!

It was a very beautiful day today.It's the kind of spring sunny day when the breeze smells like the sun and plants and one has to try extremely hard not to think about going out. (So I did. Ha!) I was in such a good mood that I finally picked up my camera and set up some background for Gardenia Blossom.I hope you find these new pictures prettier than those from my last post. I have always known this is what I need to do for certain pieces of my jewelry, but, boy, it is time consuming just to arrange the layout and think about the proportion of the colors. Besides, it seriously is not my style of photography. My visual concepts are very simple and I am not very imaginative (tell me why I am making jewelry--I really don't know why) the only thing I can say is I do feel I have decent taste about colors.Here are three sets of photos that I have done, each set featuring a different theme.

The first set is green, pink and black for a casual and refreshing setting.The paper came from a local Hobby store.It's just some stock paper with pretty patterns on it.I made sure the pattern was not too overwhelming because of the complexity of the ring.--

Here's your size reference picture, with me(US size 6-7) modeling the ring

Front shot gives you an idea what the whole ring looks like.This is the most boring angle, but I always like to do a front shot to make sure the customer knows what the ring "really" looks like.

Bridgette a.k.a. Earmark reminded me this is a perfect bridal ring, so I decided to do a romantic bridal set with lace.Here is a close-up of the ring with the edge slightly covered by the lace. Doesn't it sort of look like a shy bride under the veil?

A spacial and hopeful shot with the ring facing the pink space.Lots of pink.
Just lace(another size reference shot) --
The last set I did was much easier.This is just my hand, the ring, and the wall.It is meant to look like a very simple and modern studio shot.Notice how these three pictures show you what the ring looks like in different angles when being worn. I also like this setting because it's realistic and customers can easily imagine what the ring may look like on their finger.

I would like to add a few words before finishing this post. A few readers contacted me, wanting to know if Gardenia Blossom will be listed in my Etsy shop. The answer is yes. I don't just make jewelry -- I sell it. I have been holding onto it because I want to make sure it's *perfect* when listed, so it will be another few days before you see it in my Etsy shop. The price for this ring is $88 plus shipping($3 to continental US).

If you are interested , you can purchase it by clicking the buy-now button below--

A few details about Gardenia Blossom:
the ring is made with slid sterling silver wire and high quality designer keishi freshwater pearls.The pearls are wire wrapped onto the band and no glue is used. It has an adjustable band that will fit up to US size 8 comfortably. A larger size can be made upon request. Please let me know your approximate ring size so I can shape the band for you.

This is a copyrighted design and is available only at Mu-Yin Jewelry.

I hope you enjoy this post and have have a beautiful weekend :)

xo mollie

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Something I made last weekend...

Here's something I made last weekend -- a very big flower ring made with white keishi pearls of graduated sizes.
I really love this ring and feel my pictures just don't do it justice. I guess I could try to do a romantic background, but I was a little too lazy for that (you heard that--it was my honest voice. I'm very "practical" with my jewelry photos and often just treat taking pictures as a duty)
I'm having a little trouble naming this ring.. please help me give it a name so I can list it. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Circle Of Love birthstone necklace

custom family mother's grandmother's birthstone necklace
custom family mother's grandmother's birthstone necklaceI've been feeling really tired and lazy these past few days.It was actually some very comfortable physical tiredness--I slept a lot and slept very well (other than still having strange dreams like getting caught red-handed in the class for playing with my makeup..). Most of the time my working schedule is pretty much fixed during the weekdays--I wake up, check my Etsy shop, answer some emails, print out shipping labels, start to fill orders, and then ship orders around 4pm -- but I do give myself some freedom to adjust this schedule when I'm in a different mood.
Today I didn't wake up until 11.30 (and I'm not embarrassed to tell you that) and it felt sooo good to have lunch straight after waking up.It rained all day, which reminded me of the monsoon season in Taipei. I kept working until I finished all orders placed by yesterday, so there will be no shipment until next Monday, and I can have the whole weekend to myself.This doesn't mean I won't be working--I will be working on some new designs and ordring supplies.

The pictures shown here are my new "Circle of Love" birthstone necklace. It was a variation of the Garnet in a Circle necklace, which only has one birthstone inside the circle frame. This new birthstone necklace has been well received since it was first listed, and I am hoping the sales will pick up as it gets closer to Mother's Day.

I'm also excited to announce that I have decided to start carrying 14k solid gold jewelry in my shop. It's a big investment for me but I think this is the right direction to go. The first thing I'm going to do when I receive my solid gold wire is to make myself a pair of mini hoop earrings in 14K white gold. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bead Trends magazine

I don't know what happened with Venus Zine, or what will happen with Elle; the only thing I am certain about is my tutorials are published in the current Bead Trends magazine (April 2009 issue) and I just received my copies today.I have two tutorials--Pussy Willow Branch earrings(top right corner of the inner cover and page 40) and geometry fun earrings(p.82-83).You can find Bead Trends magazines at your local Barne's & Noble.You can also click the photos to enlarge and read my tutorials on these earrings--

Along with three copies of the magazine, I was compensated a small amount of gift certificate to a jewelry supplier. I wish Bead Trends could do a little better on compensating artists(BeadStyle Magazine gives $20 cash for a 50 word beading tip), but over all I am still very happy to have my first tutorials published in Bead Trends.I like the layout of the magazine and how they stuff so many tutorials in one book, but must warn you it's not a magazine for jewelry beginners because it does not include step-by-step pictorial instructions like other beading magazines.I think it's meant for a more experienced jewelry artisan like me (even though I can figure out how most pieces are made without reading the instructions).
They were supposed to send my samples back along with my copies of magazine and the gift certificate, but guess what?The lady who did the shipping called me last week and asked if I would sell her the samples because she love both pairs! So there came a pretty random surprise sale for me, which is always a good news :)

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