Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Business Matters - Marketplaces - Not on the High Street

As I'm in England right now visiting family, I thought my marketplace for review this week should be based in England too - so I've chosen "Not on the High Street". I don't sell there - one reason being you need to live in England full time to even apply but I love it as a site. If someone reading this is a seller there, do please let us know your experience in the comment section.

It is not open to everyone to sell on and in fact, they say they accept only 5% of the people who apply. They launched in April 2006 and have received quite a few awards.

They have an application fee, an annual fee (which varies depending on how much you sell - from 49 - 249 pounds), a transaction fee of 2.9% and commission charges - which all seems to mount up!

Then they have clause that says you can't sell on any other marketplace that could be a competitor to Not on the High Street. They say it is OK to sell on your own website and ebay but no other marketplace.

Periodically I get an email with their specials or seasonal gifts, as shown below - which I like. They also produce printed catalogs for the different seasons that you can request in the mail.

(love the look of that personalized swing!)
They do seem to have some lovely items and great gift ideas. I'd love to hear how sellers are finding the site...... I guess if you are looking for an exclusive place to sell in addition to your own website, it may be good. Anyone have inside experiences?

Anyhow, I love it as a site to browse and shop - go take a look .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Who's that behind you ???????

By guest blogger Pete

If ever you're anywhere near the north east coast of Yorkshire then there are, at least, four places that it would be a crime not to visit.

The first of these - the best known of them all - is Whitby. There can't be many people who visit the North East coast who haven't been to Whitby. It's a fairly large fishing port and, generally speaking, one that has escaped the modern improvements inflicted upon some of our most attractive towns. For those who love their food, Whitby boasts the best fish and chip cafe in the U.K. - at least I think it is the best. I can't remember it's name now but it is on the north shore and I've never been there when you didn't have to queue to get in. Having had your fill of this delicacy you'll then be able to tackle the hill ( all four of my locations have hills that you'd weep for if you were a hill lover) that leads to the Abbey ruins and the non ruined boxed pewed church near bye. I've enclosed a copy of one of my paintings of Whitby.

If you've got to be fit to tackle Whitby's hill then you have to be super fit to tackle the slopes down to the sea that feature on visits to the other three. No transport for tourists here - not even a bike. These three beauties, known as Robin Hood's Bay (don't ask me why), Staithes and Runswick Bay are all within easy driving distance from Whitby and each other. You'll be relieved to know that I can't find my painting of Runswick Bay, the smallest of the four. I am an artist who is absolutely sure that recognition of my talents will come some 20 years or so after my demise. In the meantime, just occasionally, I share my future good fortune by inflicting some of my future masterpieces onto troublesome relatives of ex friends. (Only joking here, troublesome relatives and ex friends)!!!!!

These three ports earned their fame not just from fishing but also from smuggling. They are a maze of alleyways, lanes and jitties. In my dialect a jitty is a very narrow passage way down which only the slimest of bodies can pass. Obviously the customs' men were more rotund than the smugglers. There is a very narrow jitty in Staithes - I think it's Staithes - down by the church - or it could be the chapel. ( It's my age!). I once enjoyed ambitions of painting a picture of one of the customs' men stuck there and trying to get out. I guess I must be a very charitable person not to have fulfilled that ambition - or it could be that the last time I went down that jitty I only JUST avoided getting stuck myself.

Happy Smuggling."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Merry Go Round - Spring

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 11 artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's question that myself and 10 other women will answer is "Spring". Now - I know that's not a question - but the idea is that we each post about spring in our own way and what it means to us - so there could be a wide variety of interpretations - which we thought (hoped!) would be interesting.

Spring to me nowadays always seems to bring my attention to our vineyard. Since November, the vineyard has just been this area of land with, what looks like, dead sticks! But in spring - all that changes. We get bud break and the whole property around our home changes.

As I wrote on one of our wine labels "the first frog chorus of the year heralds bud break in the vineyard" - and true enough, when those frogs start a-singing, the vines at the top of vineyard start showing signs of life!

Part of the vineyard is on a slope and so the vines at the very top are always quite a bit a head of the vines on the flat. It's lovely to see those perfect tiny leaves unfurl all around us. That dark color of the vine trunks now gets broken up with such a vibrant green.

And if you know me - you know that my favourite color is lime green - so Spring is a wonderful season for me - as I'm surrounded by all things lime green! Those buds, the leaves, .......

Coinciding with the bud break is also the flowering of the first California poppies. They are such a wonderful orange ....and orange is the color of happiness and laughter - so add that to my green buds and I am one happy person!!!

Hope you like the vineyard photos. These new delicate leaves are also what I use to make my leaf pendants as shown below. I love adding a tiny bit of resin to give them that green to make me and others happy!! This one I actually ended up making into a key ring for my dad as he commented on how much he loved it.....

Please take time to look at what "spring" means to the other wonderful artists on our merry go round. Here are our links. We are from all around the world so there are big time differences so if someone's post isn't up yet - come back later!

Happy spring to you all.

Fabienne at Easterya
Jenny at Jenny Karlsson design
Nikki at Beaded Zen
Wendren at Wren
Sara at Sara's Texture Crafts
Charlotte at Fancy Picnic
Lily at Lily Pang Art
Marian at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Andreanna at Glamasaurus
Ruth at Birdland Creations

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Business Matters - Marketplaces - Art Fire

This week's artisan marketplace for review is Art Fire. Art Fire is a new marketplace and has taken off with great popularity.

There are two sellers accounts you can try - basic and verified. Basic is free - free to list and free to sell. No commission - nothing. No monthly fee. Just a place to sell your items and keep the money for yourself! Surely that is worth a try? And it can be free forever! Maximum 10 items for sale at any one time. Includes google analytics and many other features. It may be called "basic" but it actually does alot.

The second account is a verified account. Here there is a monthly fee of $12 (it was $7 and has just gone up - and will soon go up to $20 - it is their incentive price to get artists to join). Apart from the monthly fee, there is nothing else to pay - no listing charges, no commission - just your monthly. Take a look at what you spend on Etsy a month and see how it compares. For your monthly fee you can list as many items as you want.

They have lots of little extras - for example, if you look at my sidebar on the blog - just scroll down a little way - you can see that they have a Rapidcart that you can add to your blog or facebook. You choose which items you want in it - or let them be random from your store and then people can buy directly from your blog without haven't to go into ArtFire or any other store.

ArtFire automatically submits your items to google base, and has "share this" buttons so you can bookmark a store on your own computer, email it to someone else, or bookmark on Digg, Delicious, Stumble Upon, Twitter and many more.

Another feature is "markethub". This is a place on your store where you can link through to all your other stores and social networks. You can even link through to your Etsy Store. I've linked to Etsy, my own website, my blog, Facebook, Twitter.....etc etc. It's a great hub so someone can see the other places you sell and frequent! Below you can see the buttons to the links (sorry, not active in this snapshot)...

I haven't actually spent much time on Art Fire yet but have started a store there........and I think, like all these marketplaces, you need to put in the time to get noticed initially - so that is on my to do list!! It is very similar to Etsy but with a few added features and not as large (yet!).

If you look at the traffic rankings of marketplaces, ( RANKINGS ) ArtFire is pretty high up considering it only started a few months ago. It's definitely one to watch I think.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Trunk Show

The trunk show went well today. A reasonable number of people came by - maybe they were all at work!! It was the first time the group had done a day time slot!

As the theme was Mothers' Day, I showed three lariat style necklaces. The first one was the mother's lariat charms:

This reminds mothers of the times when we were young and innocent and cute and easy to please!!!

My second piece was going to be my "comfort" hand piece but it sold as I listed it yesterday! So that was good. Instead I chose "in safety's keeping" in recognition of the safe place that mothers provide us - that little bit of safe haven:

My third piece was "home is where the heart is". I've done quite a few variations on this design as they always seem popular. It needs no explanation why this would be appropriate for mothers' day.

The whole trunk show is a lot of fun. People comment all the time, some people speak, some are on camera so you can see them...and participants can "throw" hearts or cupcakes or penguins or whatever to people or items being shown. This may not make sense - but if you go to one, you'll see what I mean. If you missed this one - try another in the future. It's a fun experience!!!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Etsy Metal Clay Trunk Show - Tuesday at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific

The Etsy Metal Clay team that I am a member of is having a virtual trunk show on Etsy tomorrow - Tuesday at 11am Pacific time. The theme is Mother's Day. Hope you'll stop by. Go to and go to the Virtual Labs. You'll see different "rooms" there - and click on the Gallery and then you'll be in the trunk show room. It's an interesting process and some wonderful artists will be showing what they do with metal clay - along with me showing some of my pieces.

And as Mother's Day is May 10th in the US, I'll offer a 10% discount off any items purchased today or tomorrow from my store. Just add "trunk show discount" to the message line when you check out and I'll refund the discount.

Here's some work of the artists in the Etsy Metal Clay Team. Look forward to seeing you there.
Any questions - just let me know.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - A bargain is a bargain is a bargain (ad infinitum).....

By guest blogger Pete

For my wife and I it was back to England for Easter. Unfortunately, rather like Christmas, the religious connection with the festival is becoming lost in this country and we are making Easter into a celebration of the Blessed Chocolate. Even those who spend the greater part of the year avoiding any contact with this delectable yet fattening confectionery regard Easter as a compulsory time to indulge in the odd Easter egg or ten !..

The Monday after Easter is a bank holiday here. However, the Monday after Easter this year will not be eulogised and fondly remembered for luxurious balmy weather but with thankfulness for the fact that it was at least dry. This caused those unnumbered hordes of seaside worshippers to head for the coast; there to shiver in near freezing but dry weather conditions and congratulate each other because they are breathing in healthy, good, fresh, exhilarating and full of ozone fresh air which will keep them going until the first Monday in May, when they can experience it all again. After the congratulations and a quick walk along the sea front it's queuing for three quarters of an hour for a cup of luke warm tea in a damp overcrowded cafe. Oh, that's the life! Lincoln lies midway between the East Midlands and the Mecca of the East Midlands, Skegness. Therefore, only the hardiest or most foolish of Lincoln citizens venture beyond the local bypass on Bank holidays.

True to custom we paid the first visit of the year to a local car boot sale. This is another weekend phenomenon that has taken root in this country. Folk fill up their car boots (or "trunks", if you prefer) with all sorts of rubbish and then head for the local Car Boot Festival. Here they sell their rubbish and then promptly go out and buy another boot full of other peoples' rubbish, which they can then sell next weekend at the next Car Boot Sale.

Car Boot Sales, however, are a good source of cheap 2nd hand books, DVDs, CDs, Computer games and Videos. I got a bargain when I bought a brand new filing system, that I didn't need, for £1. Quite made my day. I'll keep it for a year and then pass it on to a charity shop, where a car booter will buy it to sell for £1 at the next Car Boot Sale he/she goes to. But, then, a bargain is a bargain is a bargain is a bargain....................

Spring has sprung and the garden begins to call. Already I've woken mine up from its winter slumbers and new life (amongst the weeds) is beginning to be seen. I've no photos of car boots or car trunks so I'll include a couple of floral photos for this blog.

Good bargain hunting where ever you are or where ever you go.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Don't you just have to love peonies. They are such pretty flowers with all those delicate petals.

This one I found blooming today in our garden! What a sight. It seemed timely as my cousin is staying with us from Vancouver with her fiance, making plans for their wedding here next year. We've been looking at bouquets and checking out florists (among other places) and always seemed to remark on the gorgeous peonies - and then at home in the garden - here is our very own pink frills. Just one day and it's suddenly fully out!

Definitely pretty in pink. Maybe I should use it as challenge and make a silver "corsage" of a peony! Now that would be a good challenge.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bird tracks silver bracelet

I refinished my bird tracks bracelet today, adding small silver balls in between each square. It doesn't really change the visual look of the bracelet but without the balls, the squares jingle together quite a lot. I like to hear the sound - but in many environments you don't want a jingle as you move your wrist - so the little spacers do the trick. It's now a quiet bracelet - so you won't scare the birds away as you are checking their tracks!

I've also photographed it again trying a couple of new props. I'd like your opinion. Obviously close ups are necessary but I sometimes like to add one "prop" photo to catch the eye.

Here I've done the bracelet on binoculars and also on a 'field guide to birds' book. Which do you prefer? Which "grabs" you most? If you have the time, please let me know in the comments. Appreciate your point of view!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Business Matters - Marketplaces - Nest

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread." John Muir

As part of my series of reviewing different places to sell your arts and crafts, this week I'm going to tell you about Nest. Nest is great! It is a non-profit organization that raises funds to support women artists in developing countries using micro-credit loans. You can read lots more about them on their website and blog and I encourage you to take a look.

I started working with them last year. They have three different programs for artists to get involved with - and I like the idea that what I do is helping another woman do her art too.

The main program is that Nest has an online marketplace where you can sell up to 15 products. You then select to donate either 25%, 30% or 35% of each sale to Nest and their micro-loan program. They deduct their percentage and send you the rest. I currently have 13 items for sale with Nest on their marketplace. The women who receive the loans also sell their products on the website too.

Their second program is called "Shop to Save the world". This is a shorter commitment where you dedicate a certain percentage of all sales from a specific event (like a trunk show or house party) or a specific time period (ie 1 month of online sales) to Nest. Nest then helps you promote the event and provides literature about their organization. I did a show at home last December and donated 20% of all sales. It generated a lot of interest in Nest from my buyers.

Their third program is called "Friends of Nest". This is a longer term commitment for a minimum of one year. During this time period you dedicate 1 - 3 products as Nest items. A percentage of the proceeds of these sales is then donated to Nest, wherever you sell them. Nest provides tags and marketing assistance so customers know what their purchase is supporting.

You can choose which program(s) you wish to be involved with and what donation level you want to give.

Nest provides alot of information on the recipients of the loans so I feel well connected with where the funds are going. The staff are all great there - and respond very promptly to any questions you may have and are very supportive of the ways you get involved.

As you can probably tell, I really like it! It feels good that my sales are helping women in developing countries start or expand their creative work too. It's small, friendly, and connecting.

"One is not born into the world to do everything but to do something." Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Listen to the birds

Some friends came round today and commented on how peaceful our home was. It reminded me of a lovely comment our window cleaner made once.

He said that when he cleans people's windows, he always puts his headphones on and listens to his MP3 player as he works - apart from when he comes to our home. When he is here he says he doesn't bring his MP3 player but instead listens to the many songs of the birds in the garden.

I just love that - and it's so true. It is quiet where we live, apart from the sweet sound of the songs of the birds. At the moment it's the house finches we hear as they look to build nests on ledges in our porch that are much too small!

And people ask why we call our home - (and my business) - "Birdland"! You just need to come here to know why.

So get outside this week, and listen to the birds.... You'll be glad you did. It's a great time of year to hear all their songs.

Here's a little snippet of the house finch's song

Monday, April 13, 2009

Entering Competitions

This past week I've just entered two jewelry competitions. Last year I entered my first two ever - one was with Fire Mountain Gems where I won a prize for the Three Little Pigs and the second one was on Etsy to create something with 10g or less of metal clay and my piece - "Anyone can bring you flowers" (shown below) - was one of the winners.

So basking in all this success (!!!) I decided this year that I'll try again. Today I sent in an entry for the Fire Mountain Gems competition again and last week, I entered the Bead and Button competition.

The first stage is just sending photos and info and then if I get through to the next stage, I send in the pieces. My biggest "problem" last year was that I had sold the pieces I entered so I had to make them again! Gosh, what a problem to have :-D Today I've actually just finished remaking these two pieces "remember the little things" and "special delivery" as I've sold them so maybe I'm ready......

I'm surprised the competitions don't have'd think each year they would focus in on something but they seem totally open......maybe some do and I just haven't found them......

Do you enter any competitions? Any you would recommend? Any personal successes? Do tell!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday's spotlight - Happy Easter

By guest blogger Pete

Happy Easter to you all. I have always thought that Easter is the most glorious of the Christian Festivals - the one that gives true meaning to everything that went before it and comes after it.

I am writing this a few days before Easter sitting in the sun after a lovely walk through the sun dappled hills of the Glen Ellen Regional Park. Everything was so fresh and the spring wild flowers so abundant and colourful. The grasses were splattered with hazes of blues, yellows, and whites. Both coming and going we saw a Pileated woodpecker hard at work. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so I can't offer you a photograph of this hard-working fellow. The 50 minute walk was followed by a refreshing cup of coffee sitting in the shade at an outside table.

By the time you read this Pam and I will have been back in the UK for a few days. With the onslaught of the dreaded jet lag I somehow don't anticipate being so relaxed and rested as I am sitting here and writing this. Perhaps the day will come when someone will come across a cure that will stop the "body clock" from going haywire. I usually feel that mine has a broken main spring.

Yesterday saw the four of us go into San Francsico to visit the new "California Academy of Sciences". This building is situated in one of my favourite parts of SF: namely the Golden Gate Park. One year we went there on my birthday and. hard though it may be for the 49ers to accept this, the temperature rose above 100 degrees.

We walked through the park sweltering in the heat with feet making the sort of protest that only feet are capable are making. Eventually we came across what could have been fountain but was probably a paddling pool and the 4 of us took off our shoes and socks and for quite sometime luxuriated in the coolness of the water on our feet. I digress though - what I wanted to do was to recommend a visit to the California Academy of Sciences to anyone visiting San Francisco or living in that area. It's well worth the time and effort trying to find your way both into and also out of the park (let alone parking your car). That's where I took the attached photos.

Bye for now.

Enjoy your Easter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flower earthread earrings

After doing the wedding flower set, I thought it was time to do some flower ear threads. You know my love of ear-threads - and I know how many people don't like even the thought of them - but as pretty little flowers dangling from your ears...I just think they are sweet.

But I have to tell you, hand sculpting a pair of earrings is not easy. To try and get them the same size, never mind the same shape is a real challenge. These worked out pretty similar actually...obviously a little luck was on my side.

The other challenge I have is how to photograph ear thread earrings. As with most of my earrings, because they are three dimensional, they don't show well lying flat on a solid surface and look much better hanging. I sort of get around that with ear wires and posts by hanging them on silver wire - but that doesn't work with ear threads.

The tricky part is: 1. I want to show how ear threads "work" as not everyone is familiar with them; 2. I want to show the optional rubber stopper to keep it in the ear; and 3. I hate the idea of showing earrings on live models as then people will think they will have been in someone else's ears!

So if anyone reading this has successfully photographed ear threads, I'd love to hear how. I've tried looking at other people's photos but .......

Anyhow - hope you like the pretty flowers. Happy weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Church window earrings

Following on from my recent rose window earrings......and as I've been singing a lot at Grace cathedral this week for Holy Week, I've been looking at all those windows and decided to do a pair of arched windows.

Initially I was thinking of using resin in them again, similar to the rose window - then I thought I'd try it without and see if I could still get a "glass" effect.

I think the patina and sparkle gives the earrings that look of depth...through a window.... What do you think?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Artisan Wedding Jewelry

I've just finished a commission to make a necklace and earrings for someone in Germany for her wedding next month. She had seen some of my flower pieces and so selected a type of flower and this is what I made her:

How nice to have a spring wedding and wear flowers for jewelry!

Many congratulations Beatrice. Have a wonderful special day on May 15th - and enjoy your life together.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Business Matters - Marketplaces - Dawanda

I said last week I was going to post about the Australian marketplace Mintd - but I've changed my mind. It was all too depressing and I can't even get on the site now. Maybe they no longer exist??? So telling doom and gloom doesn't seem like a good way to go! Basically - avoid Mintd - there is no support, no admin, no ...

So instead - how about Dawanda.

I have to say that Dawanda is my favourite of the marketplaces. It is a European site and, with the help of two friends that I "met" on the site, I list my items in English, French and German. The multiple language listings really is the trick to the website. The English part has the least number of buyers/visitors, and the German the most - as it started as a German site. The majority of my customers are German - although my best customer is French. I rarely sell to the UK/US through them.

It's quite a bit smaller than Etsy so you can be found! You don't have to relist all the time - it's just a nice place to sell - and buy.

On the English site there is currently no charge for listing - but that will change sometime this year. The commission is 5%. There has recently been a little bit of controversy with fees being backdated as until this year, we never got any bills at all. I think that has settled down a little - although some sellers left.

The admin is OK and gets back reasonably promptly. The forum isn't as active as Etsy - and I tend to look and respond once in a while. All the prices are in Euros.

I do a lot of mentoring on Dawanda where people setting up a new shop can contact me and I'll help them and review their store and let them know my thoughts/suggestions. I tried to set up an "official" mentor program with Dawanda admin so other "seasoned" sellers could help too - but Dawanda never really seemed to jump on board.

One aspect of Dawanda that is a little different and I do like is that they have sales every now and again - related to something happening - like the olympics or world cup or......Sellers can choose whether to opt in or not - but it seems to be a popular thing. If I recall - it is generally an 11% discount and Dawanda chooses different types of products each day to have on sale.

If there was one thing that I would change it would be that payment would come through immediately. The system of buying at Dawanda is that you make your selection, the buyer confirms it and notifies of postage charges and then the buyer has a week to pay. Sometimes people don't pay or it takes them a long time. It would just be nice if it was a simple one step buy and pay system like other marketplaces.

My overall comment is I love Dawanda.

I've made some great friends, have some wonderful customers and just like it! If you are thinking of trying another store - take a look at Dawanda. If you already sell on there - I'd love to hear your reaction.

Next week I'll tell you about Nest.