• mosaic jewellery

In the words of IMAGE…..are you following me? PLUS 10% off your next purchase!

irish design - addiebeads

addiebeads

Just as the title says IMAGE gave me a very nice little mention on Thursday!  The title of the piece being ‘Five Irish jewellery designers you need to follow‘. Their Facebook post reads

‘These Irish designers have us drooling for some new neck and arm candy”.

What a lovely suprise!  Being referred to as ‘one to follow’ is like a reward after a few years of plodding along through the noise of social media.  I never thought anyone would ever notice me or my work.  I do have a following going back to my beading days (when I was also selling supplies) but when I got into designing my own collection of jewellery it was like starting all over again. For nearly 18 months now I have been working on, designing and developing a range of mosaic jewellery.  My inspiration comes mainly from anything small, colourful and made of glass.  My life long fascination with collecting trinkets, beads, tiny ornaments and anything with a glint or sparkle has led me here.  I love to work with the tiniest czech glass beads, venetian glass cane and nano ceramics to bring together a blast of colour in the form of wearable mosaic.   Even though I have a passion for colour I actually wear quite a neutral palette.  My jewellery too would be quite classic in style, always gold or antique silver.  This is the perfect canvass for my jewellery.  I have found adding a splash of colour to either gold or silver jewellery works beautifully!  The square and circle pendants hang on the end of 24 carat gold plated chains or .999 silver plated chains.  I have purposely left it as simple as this as the pendant speaks for itself.  I am presently adding leather to a shorter length and this too is proving popular and also works well when worn with a longer necklace.

As I was coming up with the idea for a jewellery collection and figuring out who would wear it and how, I managed to create my customer in my mind.  I would visualise her, imagine her wearing it as she goes about her day.  I always imagined her buying one piece, one pendant on a long chain and layering it with her own chains and necklaces.   Her job or career was irrelevant. But her style would be relaxed, almost a boho vibe.  Then I realised I was designing for myself!!  My customer is ME!!  Is that a good thing? It is very hard to design or work on something creatively if you do not like it yourself.

leathersummerheart

For me mosaic is a gathering and collecting of glass and ceramics and the challenge is to get these tinies nicely into bezels.  I am still working on how to cut glass and ceramics into tiny pieces for a whole other collection coming soon.  Like all creatives the design process never stops.  I am always thinking of the next idea and how to put it into action.  But for now the millefiori range is selling well.

circlependant

green circle pendant

 

funkyrings

floral rings

heartpendant

heart pendant

 

gold bangle

mosaic bangle with heart and sea star charms

daisybangle2

My focus for now is to continue creating handmade, quality jewellery that will last, is timeless and above all will bring colour into your life.  My website hosts mainly the millefiori range and a small selection of the ceramic pendants and rings but if you would like to see a bigger range along with glass beaded jewellery you will find me in the CHQ building in Dublin on Fridays and most Saturdays I am in Kilruddery Farm and Craft Market in Bray, Co. Wicklow.

For anyone who would fancy making a purchase please enjoy a 10% discount on all products on the website.  Simply use the code TEN at the checkout!

 

millefiori bangles

bangles with handmade charms

 

I can be contacted at addiebeads@gmail.com with any queries and if, like IMAGE has recommended, you would like to follow me,  you will find me on Facebook Instagram and Twitter

Using beads in mosaic …

czech glass

Czech glass beads

I stopped selling beads a couple of years ago and I would have thought by now my stash would be long gone.   But instead of my collection diminishing it has grown …

I have continued to indulge.

At night I shop online

click click while himself snores…

ooops! my basket is full

a few days later the beauties

drop

through the letterbox

like magic.

Sparkling and glistening in a little bundle of crisp bubble wrap.

Of late I have been indulging in lampwork beads. Lampworking is a whole new world.  A combination of glass making skills and creative design.  Some of these beads are like tiny little monuments.  Each one handmade and designed by some devotee to the glass heavens.

lampwork beads

lampwork beads

Lampwork beads are a secret passion.  Not a lot of people get it … ‘I bought some lampwork beads’  you might say to your friend , who may even be a beader,  and the response is always indifferent.  Some bead hoarders are not too bothered with the quality or the source, as long as they shine or sparkle and are the right size that will do for them.

Nothing will ‘just do’ for me.

Ever.

This is what Addiebeads has been built on. Quality, beauty and handmade.

With my bead stash growing and an ever increasing collection of small mosaic tiles I have decided to take on a project. I have this very large wooden ADDIEBEADS  ‘sign’ which I am going to mosaic using beads and tiles.  It comes in two parts, each part measuring about 4ft long and when its finished and joined together I really don’t know where I will put it!!  This sign was ordered in error.  Between myself and the company involved at the time I think we got our cms and mms mixed up!  You will see from the painted smaller sign what I was actually looking for at the time….

 

addiebeadssign

addiebeads

I am thinking a mixture of lots of colourful tiles and glistening glass beads!  All my tiles have either a pearlesque, iridescent or glitter finish so my vision for the finished piece is something that almost glows in the dark! There will be no swirls or circles or the usual mosaic shapes (which I normally love).  This will have more of an abstract tapestry feel.  No patterns within patterns …. just everything there but in an ordered way …. the beauty of mosaic is that you can use whatever materials you want and do whatever pattern or design you want.  It can be a total indulgence of everything that you love about colour and shape.

As the piece is the name of my business I guess if nothing else it has to feature colour (lots of teal and gold) and lots of earthy shiny glass.

So I will be using a selection of these ….

czech glass beads

czech glass beads

and these …

millefiori

millefiori

and lots and lots of these ….

minitiles

mosaic tiles

The only problem I can envisage for this project is finding the time!!  Please check back for regular updates!

Something new – wearable mosaic

I have just added a new category to my site called Ceramic Pendants and I thought I would just write a short post about what they are exactly.  I came across these tiny little mosaic tiles when I attended a mosaic workshop with Smidirini Mosaics a couple of years ago.   I have always loved mosaic and had dabbled with […]

Mary Nov 05, 2015 News 0 Comment Read More

Putting a price on your work….

This topic continues to plague me!!  But for once I have decided to down tools and work out cent for cent exactly what it costs to make a piece of my jewellery!  The internet is swamped with formulae and diagrams and infographics on how we should be doing this.  For the most part they are merely a guide to follow.  If any of them were to be followed exactly, I doubt if I would ever sell a piece.

howmuch

How much?

It is so hard to place a value on time and I now understand why so many of us just work out the cost of materials and triple it to come up with the RRP.  I am guilty myself of this easy way out solution. It has allowed me for years to be in denial about the reality of not making a profit.  We get caught up with the sales figures and the money coming in.  Yes it is great to be busy and to secure those orders but it is a worthless task if you are not earning a profit.

The pricing question really comes to the fore when you are considering the wholesale market.  Because now you have to sell at a lower price because the retailer needs to make a profit too.  The profit margin for the retailers varies considerably.  But at the end of the day you have to have your own pricing set up in such a way that you make a profit whether it is wholesale or retail.

But I need to make a point here about the wholesale scenario.  It is a huge opportunity for small designers and crafters. It allows you to get your name out there. It gives your product an opportunity to be seen.  It is exposure for your brand.

You will also get orders for multiple pieces so if you are clever and work out your time well you should be able to spend the one time slot putting together the entire order.   So take this into account when working out your mark up for wholesale.  If you are not selling online this will be easier.  If you are selling online your prospective wholesale customers will have to sell at the same price.

The most basic formula for working out pricing seems to be MATERIALS + LABOUR = COST or a variation thereof.  This will literally just give me the cost of a pendant.  I then have to work out a ‘mark up’. But if you are selling wholesale AND retailing via a website (like I do) you will need two prices – a RRP and a wholesale price.  According to one formula I found online, the wholesale price is twice the cost price and then the retail price is twice the wholesale price!  Ideally this is the way it should go but remember this is just a guideline.

MATERIALS + LABOUR = COST

COST x 2 + VAT = WHOLESALE

WHOLESALE x 2 + VAT = RETAIL

VAT is optional.

So what do you include under the heading MATERIALS ?

mosaic jewellery

millefiori selection from addiebeads

I include everything – every link of chain, eye pin, head pin, jump ring, resin, glue.  It is actually shocking when you list all the components needed to make a piece.  Dont forget to consider VAT, import duties and delivery charges on all those items you have bought to make up your jewellery.  Dont forget the packaging! Tot it all up and this will be your material cost. To this you must add in your time…

howmuch

how much do you charge?

You will have to work out what you want to pay yourself.  And then how much of this time was spent on making an individual piece.  What would you pay someone if you were able to employ someone?  What would you expect to get paid if you were working for someone else?  This is a very hard figure to come up with!  When you have that worked out you will have an hourly rate and this will be what you will use for the labour cost figure.  If something only takes 10 minutes to make then simply work it out and add it in.

I have concentrated mainly on labour and materials.  Dont forget you can also include electricity and other overheads you may have.  There are lots of ways of working out these costs and I have found the best way to do it is NOT to do it!!!!!  If I ever end up working away from home I will have to consider these costs but for now I am leaving them out.

The mark up is the next difficult decision!  Here you will have to work out whether you want to double your cost or go less.  Personally I think doubling the cost figure is too much!  So I always consider this 200% mark up to be the absolute limit!  Likewise with the markup for retail.  Whatever you decide to charge just make sure you are making a profit.  If you are not making a profit what is the point?  Unless of course your business is a hobby and is something you just adore doing.  If that is the case you have nothing to stress about!  But whenever you want to take that hobby to the next level PLEASE make sure to charge properly.

If you are finding that your wholesale ‘cost’ is too high for prospective wholesalers then maybe wholesale is not a viable option.  This will continue to be the biggest challenge for anyone handmaking their products.  And sometimes the figures will just not go in your favour.  The only part of the equation you can reduce is your mark up and as many of us have this so tight there is just no further reductions possible.  For me this is the ‘walk away’ moment.  Retail outlets can be difficult to deal with but do your best to negotiate the best possible deal for you and your brand.

As a result of a day well spent with the calculator all my prices will be getting a considerable hike on October 1st.  For the first time in three years I am feeling confident in both myself and the handmade pieces I make to finally stand up and say this beautiful piece of jewellery I have made is worth it!!  Hopefully I get to actually turn that corner and make that profit!

Wish me luck!

charges

Charge what you are worth

 

 

Would you like to win a pendant….?

Fancy winning one of my millefiori pendants?  If so read on!

Facebook makes it hard these days to run competitions and because I have such a loyal following on Facebook, I am always afraid of breaking the rules and running the risk of losing my page. I dare not tempt fate!   Apparently you cannot ask for likes or shares bla bla so I am going to place my giveaway here where all is safe and out of the prying eyes of Mr Facebook.  You could say we all live in fear of him!  Well certainly those of us with a business page ….

THIS IS UP FOR GRABS!

If you want to be in with a chance of winning the multi mix pendant you just have to sign up for emails.  I promise you I will not be bombarding you with daily mail.   I am so bad at regular emailing that there will be no fear of you being harrassed by Addiebeads!  I am however coming into a very busy season.  I am planning a few new ideas and I will have various discounts from now until then so make sure to sign up to keep in touch!

The sign up form is here in the right hand margin (up a bit)  >>>>>>>

Or if you are on a mobile device please click here and you will be brought straight to the sign up form.   Dont forget to let me know on the FB post that you have entered and if you want to share the post that would be very much appreciated!   Lucky winner will be announced on Wednesday 26th August which will give everyone a chance to see this post and the one on Facebook.  I will have it pinned to the top of the page.

The square pendant measures 23mmx23mm and is made using the tiny millefiori glass.  I place each tiny piece into the bezel creating a mosaic of tiny flowers.  The pendant itself is cast in pewter and has a .999 pure silver plating.  This particular pendant also has an antiqued finish.  Each pendant I make is unique.  No two are ever the same.

Best of luck!

Please note all names already on my mailing list will be included.

Winner will be selected using a random selector app.

Patience! Handmade takes time …

I get asked a lot why do orders take so long! I guess a lot of people visit a website, make a purchase and expect it to be delivered the next day.  Well I am sure some products can be bought in this way but here at Addiebeads HQ things can take a little longer […]

Mary Aug 14, 2015 News 2 Comments Read More

The heart pendant is back in stock!

My top selling piece has consistently been the heart pendant!  Along with the heart being the most popular shape so too is the multi mix of millefiori glass. So it constantly runs low on stock.  I am now delighted to say that the multi heart pendant is now back in stock!  I love making these pendants […]

Mary Aug 04, 2015 News 0 Comment Read More

What is millefiori …..

This is a ‘testing the waters’ post … a brief dip back into my blog.

Frequently asked questions ….

Where did I go?  What has been happening? And where are all the beads gone?  And what is millefiori?

Ah yes the beads.

The ‘all sorts’ of jewellery making.

The candy of creation …. those sparkling, glistening little trinkets.

Addiebeads is in transition.  Moving from one space to another.

No more bead selling and lots more jewellery making.

For now millefiori is on my mind and a shift from selling beads to creating and designing an Addiebeads rage of jewellery is underway.

mosaic jewellery

millefiori jewellery

So what is Millefiori?

Millefiori is an italian glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers). The manufacture of these glass beads can be traced back to Roman times and interestingly traces of millefiori have been found in archaeological sites in Ireland as far back as the 8th century.  The glass these days is made in Murano which is a tiny little island near Venice.  It can be known as either murano glass or venetian glass. The glass is made in cane form (like straws) and then sliced to reveal the intricate patterns inside.  They are more like discs than beads and dont have centre holes for threading.  Here is an example of what the canes look like before they are ‘sliced’.

glass canes

millefiori canes

glass canes

millefiori glass canes

I have been busy sourcing these tiny little glass flowers and working out the best way to sit them into pendants.  There are many different ways of doing this but in order to have the best possible finish this has taken me many months to work out!  I am still not sure if I am getting it right!  But onwards goes the research!

millefiori jewellery

Millefiori pendants

So where have I been?

I’ve been researching, designing and refocussing. I am working on a new brand.  New packaging, new labels and a brand new Addiebeads is coming soon!

mosaic jewellery

addiebeads.com

More on the ‘making’ process in my next post!

mosaic jewellery

millefiori selection from addiebeads

 

 

Thanks to  theglassinitiative.blogspot.com and www.alvaandpassion.com for the glass cane photographs.

Beading workshop!

Hi everyone! Its that time of year again – the May craft fair run by Craft Festival in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire is taking place on May 10th.  This year I will be running beading workshops throughout the day!  If you fancy learning how to make your own jewellery this will be a perfect introduction to a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding new hobby!

jewellery tutorial

make your own jewellery

 Once you learn the basics of beading you will be well on your way to making all your own bling!  I will be demonstrating how to make a bracelet, a pair of earrings and if there is time I will also make some bag charms. The class will be an hour long which will give you plenty of time to make your own bracelet and earrings!  The classes are going to be relaxed but very informative.  All items made throughout the class will be taken home by participants.

earring workshop

make your own earrings!

If you think you would like to drop in throughout the day and make your own bracelet and earrings please contact me at addiebeads@gmail.com OR you can secure your place now by booking straight away here in my shop.  The class will cost €20 per person which includes all materials.

bracelet kit

 

Book now and make sure you have your place for this fun workshop!

Beading workshop – BOOK NOW

Children are more than welcome.  However this is not a workshop for children.  As beads raise obvious health and safety issues with small children, if attending,  they will have to be accompanied by an adult and supervised by that adult.

How to finish a multi strand bracelet …

I love to make 2 or 3 strand bracelets.  I love to layer my own bracelets and at times can wear up to 5 or 6 at a time,  but sometimes lots of clasps can be annoying and not so pretty on your arm. So I make multi strand bracelets which means one clasp and then you can add one or two more single bracelets if you wish and it all looks and sits well on the wrist.

This is a picture of the first 3 layer bracelet I sold ….

I used the method of bringing all three strands through one bead but if you are using strong wire I wouldnt really recommend this method.  When the three layers are brought through one bead and then through a few more beads upto the clasp, they then have to be brought back through a couple of the beads AGAIN for security.  So you have to bring three layers through the beads TWICE !!  If the wire is strong it will be thick and therefore too hard to get through the bead hole. Even if you are lucky enough to get them through it can put too much stress on the wire resulting in wire rubbing and the inevitable break.

The method I use now is the perfect solution to making sure your layers are securely finished.  I love this method and now use it all the time.   I have two strands here for the purpose of this guide.  The same method is good for up to 5 strands.  Once the strands are ready you will need the following items at hand … two eyepins (2″ or 3″), two beads (from your bracelet selection), two 4mm jump rings, two cones and a clasp.

Firstly, open the eye pin ….

Place the two strands into the opened eye pin ….

Place the cone over the closed eye pin.

Slide on a bead, in this case a 6mm gunmetal round which I have used in the bracelet.  This bead is very important as it will keep the cone in place and allow you to create a link from the cone to the clasp.

You can make a simple loop but I would recommend wrapping the bead as I always feel this is more secure and it gives the piece that ‘handmade’ look and feel.

Add a 4mm jump ring and then your clasp.  Thats it !  And do exactly the same for the other end.

Make sure when making a multi strand bracelet to always use very tiny beads at the beginning and end of each strand.  This allows the strands to sit easily within the cone.  I would recommend size 8/0 seeds or any 2mm or 3mm beads.  If you are thinking of doing a 5 layer bracelet I would recommend an even smaller seed bead and a slightly larger cone.  This cone measures 12mm long and 10mm wide and is perfect for upto 3 layers.  Anything more than 3 layers will need a longer and wider cone.

This bracelet is made with a selection of firepolished glass beads, lava rounds, jet and clear crystals and pearl finished glass rounds and is finished with a beautiful ‘bali clasp’.

If you have another way of making a layered bracelet and feel like sharing please comment below !  I love to hear everyone’s ideas and tips !

Making friends online ….

Each day as I log in to my online life of beading and jewellery making, I find myself engaging with a huge variety of people ‘out there’. A comment on a Facebook post here and there can lead to full on conversations and even debates, resulting very often in further connections with the same people over and over again.

As my online community has slowly grown and a following developed for Addiebeads so too has a small inner circle of ‘friends’.  I call them my onliners!  I can count them on one hand but they are always there and they are now firmly placed in my everyday online interaction.  They are supportive, they are the sharers and they follow and show an interest in what I do. They are always on hand for a bit of advice, the odd clap on the back and are genuinely supportive.

I am talking about the real sense of community that exists online. Alongside online friendships there is also online networking.  Networking in cyberspace is powerful when you have an online business.   Just like a bricks and mortar business where you befriend the shop up the road or you use local businesses and services around you, I too here on my laptop do exactly the same.  I have found everything I need online.  From printers to website designers, to social media experts, blogging experts, online learning.  Anything my business needs I have found it through networking online.

But its the friendships that I have made online that keep me here.  Their unending support, the laughs via Facebook chat, the banter on twitter, the odd moan via email and lets not forget the skype sessions! I have had many a skype call supposedly to demonstrate a beading tecnhique where the conversation completely missed its original purpose!  I have been on the receiving end of many an online crisis and have helped out in any way I could and from these experiences friendships are born.

There is always then the question of meeting your online friends in the real world!  At first or in the early days I would have hesitated slightly.  Its almost like the ‘big reveal’!  But I have learnt that you cannot hide forever!  When I started out I loved the idea of being sort of anonymous – I will be honest it was just what I needed at the time.  I had finished a very ‘full on’ and demanding job and I felt I just wanted to disappear for a while.  I wanted to go under the radar.  And I did.  But the friendships that developed along the way brought me back to the real world and as I began to meet each one of these wonderful people I began to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Online or offline – friendship is key.

Friendship keeps you motivated, grounded and challenged.  Friendship is support.

Have you made friends online?

Bracelet kits – how many for the National Ploughing Championships?

How many should I make?   How many should I bring?  How many will I sell?

This question has me tormented.

Awake at night.

How much stock?  Is there a formula based on the footfall?

There will be hundreds of thousands at it.  What percentage will come visit my stand and then what percentage of those will make a purchase?  Any?  What if they cant find our stand?  What if our Marquee is at the end of the arena – away from the main thoroughfare?

Tormented

Tossing and turning

Its a big investment of money AND time.

This week I am concentrating on my beading kits.  I thought this would be so straightforward.  Just a matter of popping a few beads into a bag.  Bobs your uncle!

Oh no.

Not that easy.

I realised I have to have proper packaging.  I need one of those little fold over card thingies on the plastic bags.  Which sounds doable but that just leads me into designing that little piece of card.

That big ‘perfection’ monster is firmly planted on my shoulder.

Why oh why can I not just stick a bit of card at the top of the bag?  I could do it myself for heavens sake.

No no no no …. the paper must be brown, the font … the colours …. and on it goes.

I am now totally distracted with labelling, branding and making sure I have the right ‘look’.

Here are two pics – the first is how my bracelet kits look like at the moment and the second is what they might look like when I decide what to place onto the blank card!  All suggestions welcome and remember there is a blank canvass on the reverse of the bag card too!

Bracelet kit
Bracelet kit

Apart from such distractions I did manage to assemble over 100 bracelet kits in various styles and colours.  So that’s good.

Isn’t it?

Will it be enough??  Welcome to my world of indecision, uncertainty and pure fear …

Learning to mosaic …

Making a Mosaic Table

I have just spent a beautiful few days in sunny County Wexford at a mosaic workshop and thought I would share a little glimpse of what I got up to ….

I arrived at Smidirini Mosaics to be greeted by the lovely Maedhbh Brosnan who welcomes you into her home with open arms, coffee and scones!   There were four of us – Sharon and Linda were making mirrors and Kathleen was doing a wall hanging and after a lovely introduction to each other we all started into our projects.  Maedhbh’s enthusiasm and passion for mosaic is infectious.  You could not but want to mosaic everything in sight when she is in your company.  She is so animated when talking about her passion.  She loves nothing more than to share everything she knows and her mission as she says is to spread the word!!  The positive energy oozes from this woman!

I had decided I was going to mosaic a small table.  I had been looking for a small table to use at fairs but could never find what I wanted.  I wanted to use my logo as my design and I settled on this plan because I thought as I am only learning that it would be an easy ‘pattern’ to do. Well how wrong and clueless was I !!

Mosaic table

I had to make apologies for being ever so slightly ‘dislexic’ (my excuse) or ‘confused’ as I found working with angles or even ‘right’ angles quite challenging.  Even the cutting of angles was not easy. The precision involved in the cutting of each piece can make mosaic a slow process.  It is something you can completely lose yourself in.  Looking at the vacant shape waiting to be filled and knowing what you need to pop in there is the easy bit – its the cutting of that little piece which could end your love of mosaic!  I found this intricacy completely absorbing and would have quite happily mosaiced a mountain!

Smidirini mosaic workshop –

In between the snipping of tiles and the laying out of designs we chatted amongst ourselves.  We were all of the same generation and had lots in common.  We had the giddy moments and some serious moments but the laughs were the best.  We talked about our children, our grandchildren, our husbands, our parents that are no longer with us…..all women coming together to share this creative space.  And then moments of silence when we were all in our own little world…

Nothing has to be perfect but unfortunately this is where I struggled.  I found every little shard of glass tile needed had to be as near as perfect as I could get it. This is where my obsession with mosaic has started.  I realised I am at my happiest when faced with ANY sort of challenge.  To the end of the line, to the end of the world I would go to find the ‘right’ piece for my star!  But being a perfectionist and looking for the exact piece makes for a slow pace.

At the end of day 1 – yes a FULL day I had only gotten this far ….

Star mosaic

This is crazy paving style mosaic where random pieces are fitted together into a shape or space.  Tiles are broken and placed almost like a jigsaw puzzle.  But at some stage the pieces you have are not going to work or fit into particular little gaps so you also have to cut tiles to fit.  Once the star was completed everything else would be fairly straight forward!  The only thing I was disappointed with at this stage, as the day drew to a close was that I hadn’t completed the whole star.

When I returned the following morning for the next session I took a little wander around Maedhbh’s home where she lived all her life with her parents and three sisters.  She kept us entertained over the weekend with many a story of her late parents and the history of the house from the ever changing garden which once unbelievably had a tennis court back in the ’70s to all the quirkiness indoors.

Vintage lampshades, old clocks, dressers and old tables all now sitting side by side with an incredible collection and stash of tiles!  Time has stood still here and I love it.  It was just so peaceful.
DAY 2

I completed the star and now had to think about the background.  I wanted to keep it as close as I could to the logo so a gold bronze tile was picked and after a long period of dithering and procrastination I was off.  Once the colours are chosen and the plan is laid out it really is straight forward after that.  Or so I thought!  It was the merging of the gold into the teal star that got myself and Maedhbh working closely together.   I was bossing her (poor Maedhbh) and she was doing her best to facilitate my obsession with perfection!  She was now on hand to help with all the tiny little pieces I had to cut.   We got the giggles and once the giddiness sets in so does the inevitable odd curse but we hurtled onwards and Maedhbh never once wavered in her patience in helping me strive for perfection! She did gently tell me that ‘nothing is perfect Mary’  and then she changed that to ‘nothing has to be perfect’ … oh we did laugh!  There was also the odd bit of slagging about how I ‘hogged’ the teacher for the best part of day 2!

Star mosaic
Towards the end of the day as we all got nearer and nearer to completion the excitement was mounting. I couldn’t wait to see everyone’s work.  It is lovely to watch 4 blank canvasses transform into something unique and so personal to each individual.  We all had completely different styles, tastes and ideas.
Sharon from the Bead and Button Emporium brought an old pine mirror and transformed it with her love of flowers and hearts ….
Linda who worked so quietly and methodically produced a true mosaic piece. Beautifully put together using matt ceramic tiles …. (yep that’s me taking the pic!).
Kathleen took inspiration from her love of the sea and created this beautiful wall hanging ….
And I finally get to take a pic of my finished little table with my Addiebeads logo!
Mosaic table
This little table will be brought to every fair to add to my display.  Its a good idea to add different heights when displaying jewellery or beads and this is small enough to place on top of a larger table and not take up too much of that table space.  All that is left to do now is grout the tiles. You have to wait at least 24 hours before grouting.
This is just the start of mosaicing for me.  I have plans to do lots more. This was a learning weekend.  I am now going to think about blending mosaic and beading and see what I can come up with.  As is always the way with learning something new …. it starts a new chapter.
A huge thank you to Maedhbh at Smidirni Mosaics for a truly inspiring weekend.  There is nothing like spending time with like minded individuals and sharing a creative space.  Meeting new people, making new connections and sharing interests and ideas is what really gets the creative juices flowing.

How to crimp – beading tutorial for beginners

CRIMPING

A crimp is a small ‘soft’ metal bead that can be ‘clamped’ or squished with a flat nose pliers.  They come in either round or tube shape and in all metals.  My preference is the tube crimp.  Crimping is creating a ‘stopper’ at either end of your bracelet so your beads don’t fall off!  Yes sounds sort of basic but it can be tricky. This is how I crimp.

You will need a crimp (more than one if you are going to practice), a length of tigertail and a lobster clasp.  You will need enough wire to practice crimping – about 20cm.  You will also need a wire cutter (not in photograph).

How to crimp

1. Thread the wire through the crimp and then add on the clasp.

2. Bring the wire back over the clasp and through the crimp to create a loop.
3. Pull the wire to make the loop smaller. (3mm approx).  (I have exaggerated the size of the loop)

As you make the loop smaller by pulling on the loose end make sure to keep the wires side by side so they are ‘flat’ as in the pic below.

4. Using the flat nose pliers, clamp down on the crimp, making sure both wires are ‘flat’ (lying side by side and not crossed over).

SUMMARY – place crimp on wire, add clasp, take wire over clasp and back through crimp. Tighten wire to create small loop. Keep wires flat. Clamp.
How to crimp

While you are learning to crimp and practising I would suggest using a long length of tigertail.  When you have finished your crimping you can simply use the wire cutters to clip the wire and start again! Keep at it until you are happy with the size of your loop and that the two wires are sitting side by side. Practice makes perfect!  When you are happy with your crimping technique you can then start to add your beads.  Crimping at the the end of your bracelet is exactly the same except this time you will be adding a jump ring instead of a lobster clasp.  You can then close the lobster clasp into the jump ring.  If the jump ring is an open jump ring it can be added AFTER crimping.

Beading in the sunshine ….

Oh I am loving this weather!  I don’t want to go to the beach, I don’t want to go on any trips – I just want to sit in my little garden!  Today I am working in the garden – not gardening but I am attempting to get some beading done and hopefully edit a blog I am working on.  But sitting here in the shade I am easily distracted with all the things I need to do in the garden, the beauty of the blue skies, the heat on my bones and the selection of colours all round me.

I have the simplest of gardens.  I have filled it with easy to care for plants and shrubs.  My favourites are my bamboos which gently rustle in the light breeze.  They are green all year round and come into full glory in the summer months.
I’m trying hard to keep my eyes on the beading board but before I know it I am up with the camera and taking photos!  The blog I am supposed to be working on with a guest blogger has soon taken a back seat and I am thinking I will squeeze in an unrelated post before I publish the ‘real’ one!  Nothing like going with the flow ….
Little thrushes and sparrows are flying low in and out of the trees but never visit this little house. The garden is a hive of activity – midgets, flies, wasps and bees all flurrying about … when you just sit still you see and hear it all.  Nope I’m not getting much work done!
This is a cute little table I got recently in Ikea for €10!  I love it and plan to go back and get a few more.  I was going to paint it but I think I shall leave it as it is and let it age and blend in with the rest of my rustic garden.  I say rustic some may say ‘neglected’ ….
Neat green lawns, sharp lines and tidy flower beds are not for me.  I have left this little patch to form its own shape and style.  I have allowed it to be as natural as my organised mind will allow it to be.   I have intervened with painting my shed and chairs ‘trendy’ colours but the rest of my garden is lovingly neglected!
For now its back to beading in the sunshine!
I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful sunny spell !  

Learning to blog

Yesterday I did a course ‘blogging for business’ which was presented by Aine Bermingham of Utter Digital.  I have enjoyed blogging about beads and jewellery for the last year or so but have also found it a challenge.  We are constantly told ‘google loves blogs’ or ‘blogging is good for SEO’ but I needed to understand this better so I could blog the best I could.

The course took place in DIT, Aungier Street and kicked off with the usual introduction around the table. One thing it seemed we all had in common was that all of us were finding the demands of social media to be the most time consuming aspect of our businesses.  And here we all were about to add blogging, another activity, to the already long list!!

Aine brought us through an outline of blogging which explained what blogging is and how and why it is essential to our business.  The one word that I took away from the workshop was CONTENT.  Its all about content!  Google will reward us if we have good content.  What does that mean?  Well if our content is relevant, real, informative and unique google will take note!The correct content can see your ranking move in the right direction in the search engines.  This is afterall what all businesses want. Everyone wants to be on page 1 !!

Aine Berminghan – Utter Digital

Aine made it clear about using keywords, the right amount of keywords, not ‘stuffing’ the page with too many keywords! She spoke about using clear and concise text and fonts and keeping your branding consistent throughout your posts.  I learnt that blogging is to entertain, inform and develop trust with your readers.

There were a wonderful mix of ladies on the course including a candle and soap maker, a calligrapher, a florist, an allergy specialist, and a graphic designer.  We were all there for different reasons but we all wanted to learn how to blog properly to enhance our business.

Liz from LizzieB.ie who makes beautifully scented soap and candles wanted to do a bit more social media in general.

Soap from LizzieB.ie

Josephine Hardiman who is a calligrapher and artist wants to take her full body of work online and through blogging could inform and educate her following.

Josephine Hardieman – Artist

Deirdre from Kays Flower School and Brooch Bouquet Training is finding online tutorials are working well for her business and wanted to learn more about blogging which ties in perfectly with online tutorials.

Flower arrangements from Kays School of Floristry

I am now going to try and put all my new blogging knowledge into my future blogs which will hopefully come a bit more frequently!  Why not check out some of the above businesses and check out their top quality work and lets all try to shop local, buy handmade and buy Irish! Lets all make a difference!

shop local – make a difference

Branding – whats in a name?

Lets talk branding and packaging.  You cannot have one without the other. This topic comes up all the time for crafters. Where to get packaging, what to get, box or bag, design your own or get a designer, how much will it be. All these questions are constantly on the minds of crafters whether you bead, knit, crochet, make candles or make pottery.  The worry will always be how to keep the price down as it is another ‘add on’ when it comes to pricing your product.

Since I started the Addiebeads journey I have been slowly getting closer and closer to finalising my packaging.  But when it came to what to put on the packaging as in the name the whole question of branding started.  Do I put the website address on the box or do I just use the name without the .com? And if I am only using the name am I happy to not have a picture to go with it.  Should I have a symbol or a motif that represents ‘the brand‘ … it is endless!  At times too much to think about. Over thinking can happen and I found myself going round and round in circles.  But I soon realised that in order to develop a brand you have to know what your product is and how to relate that out to the masses in one small pic.  I am selling handmade beaded jewellery but so are thousands of others.  So I am trying to get across with my logo what sort of handmade beaded jewellery it is.  I design and make an earthy style of bling.  I use glass and crystals but not in a glitzy way.  My designs are more earthy, tactile and personal. So my logo and packaging have to reflect this style.  This pic or logo will after all be everywhere my product is.  So I had the name but then I began to realise that I also needed a pic or a symbol, something that would represent me and Addiebeads.   Beads were the obvious choice.  A picture of beads maybe.  And if I did choose beads which bead? what colour? what shape ?  This was hard. So I began to think about the name and what it actually meant.  Lots of people ask me where the name ‘Addie’ came from.  In fact lots of people think it is my name!  Addie was my mother’s name so it seemed perfect. The star came from my lifetime fascination with the heavens.  Addie had passed away when I was very young and as a young child I was consistently told she was in heaven.  So for me using a combination of her name and where I imagined her to be was how it all came about.  I was looking for a name AND a symbol. Once I concentrated on the name the idea for the star soon followed.  I am also in love with the moon but a moon symbol just didn’t appeal to me.

So now I have the name and the star!  The coming together of a ‘brand‘ idea had well and truly begun.

www.addiebeads.com

Putting this notion of Addie and the heavens into a brand was a challenge. I didn’t want it to be one of those heavenly mystical or ethereal images. I want something more straight forward and concrete. More lines and shapes than pictures. At the end of the day it has to be something that will be recognised.  So I have settled for a very clear shape as opposed to an image.  My next challenge will be moving this idea into one single digital image/logo.  For this I am going to need an expert.   But I feel I have done most of the work which hopefully will cut down on costs.  I still am unsure whether to go with “www.addiebeads.com” or “addiebeads” on the packaging. So I think it will have to be both.  So for now I am working out how and where to place both titles.

Addiebeads

Once you have decided on your name/brand the packaging is the next thing. Unless you have somewhere to start from this can be a nightmare.  I knew it had to be recycled packaging.  I knew it had to look and feel ‘organic’. But I also wanted it to be pretty.  The colour had to right.  My favourite colour is turquoise and any shade on its spectrum.  So naturally the text, star and ribbon would be teal or turquoise!  But even knowing what I wanted did not make it any easier to source.  I could have continued to ship out my jewellery in voile bags but I wanted to present it in a unique way.  I definitely wanted to brand Addiebeads.  It was through the packaging journey and trying to source it that I realised, for me, creating my brand is hugely important.  I need my product and what I do to stand out.   I want Addiebeads to be recognised as Addiebeads.

I have not spent a fortune on my packaging.  Until I am absolutely sure about the design and my logo I am happy to use products that are readily available.  I have customised the bags and boxes with stamping.   I used a wonderful packaging company called Self Packaging who are based in Spain and carry a vast range of shapes and designs.  They come flat packed so there is a bit of assembly involved. I bought some lovely custom designed stamps from Clarise Crafts where I found the service and quality of stamps top notch.

www.addiebeads.com

I would recommend, having been through it all, concentrating on getting your logo first.  Get some sort of a vision for your brand.  Having a tiny business does not mean we should not be concerned with branding and logos. There are so many beaders and jewellery designers out there I felt it vital to have my own ‘image’.  Otherwise I was disappearing into the beading millions!

The shipping out of my jewellery now involves the assembly of the jewellery box, the careful stamping of the star and name and then the final addition of the narrow teal ribbon which brings the whole look together.  I look at my packaging now and feel it is ‘real’,  it means something to me. The time and effort gone into it has been well worth it.  I am very happy with it!

Are you concerned with branding? Do you have a story behind your name?  Are you happy enough to go with nice packaging with only your name?  What do you think works?  Please share your packaging ideas and whether you think branding is important for the small craft business.

What is your favourite colour? Do you wear it ?

I have many favourite colours but I would definitely know I lean more towards the warmer earthier tones. Colour choices do tend to go that way – warm or cool.  And people generally have a preference for one or the other. However loving green or blue or whatever is your favourite colour doesn’t necessarily mean this will suit you.  Does this bother you?  Or have you ever thought about it? Do you just wear whatever colours you love even if they do not suit you?

In a previous lifetime I trained as a colour consultant and I was totally committed to the philosophy that we all fit into different seasonal categories.  So the warm colours were autumn and spring and cooler colours were winter and summer.  Autumn being deeper and earthier while spring is still warm but sharper and clearer.  Winter holds all the drama of extreme colours (black and white) and Summer is all about the softer pastels or watery shades but still cool.  At the time I loved this concept but now many years later I feel it is not such a great idea to be putting people ‘into their colours’ for life!  There is no doubt that some people can wear black incredibly well and others can not look so well in it.  So there is some truth in the fact that different colours or shades of colour suit different skin tones.

Take Audrey Hepburn for instance … an icon of style and glamour.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

I can hardly imagine her wearing any other colour but black.  She would be a typical winter in terms of ‘colour coding’.  And yes if you have beautiful blonde hair with blue eyes and fair skin black is probably not going to have as strong an impact on your colouring as it does on Audrey Hepburn but this doesn’t mean you can never wear black.  I was told NEVER to wear it!  So be creative with your colours and compromise but don’t give up on a colour you like because you have been told not to wear it.  I wear a lot of black but always wear it with a ‘V’ neck or scooped neckline.  I wouldn’t wear black straight against my face as in a high necked dress or top.  Even if I wear black with a lower neckline I would always accessorise with bronze or gold. Believe it or not I love to wear black in the summer and do the unmentionable and even wear silver with it!  As I was coded with spring I must never wear black or silver.  Sounds ridiculous but if, as they say, you want to look your best you must obey the colour coding rules.  Well I have given up on all of that a long time ago.  And thankfully I think the image industry has too.

To be ‘locked in’ to a season in terms of colours that you wear now seems to me to be rather limiting.  If you are creative with your colours and are able to work out how far you can go with particular tones you will use the season method well but if not you will be missing out on lots of colour ‘shades’.  I understand that some people find choosing clothes and in particular the colours to suit them, difficult and time consuming.  As I have said I love to wear black but because I was colour coded as a Spring/Autumn combination I was told NEVER to put black near me! NEVER ! I missed out on black for years.  I started wearing it again about 3 years ago and haven’t stopped!  I got totally sucked into this whole notion of colour coding and then continued to colour code everyone and anyone who would come my way!

And the same went for jewellery.  If say for instance you were a warmer season then its gold and bronze for you!  But I love silver ?????  So that’s a bit limiting.   Or what if you were a cooler season but loved to wear gold?

Be clever!  If you have cool tones to your skin well gold probably wont look as good as silver.  But if you love bronze and gold then wear it as a necklace or dangling earrings.  And the same goes for wearing silver if you are warmer.  I wear silver all the time.  I go from silver to bronze every other day. I do tend to wear antique silver and in the summer I do like to wear bright silver.  For me no matter what your skin tone is silver is beautiful in the summer especially if you tan easily.  I even mix gold and silver!!  Slap on the wrists for me for intruding on the colour coding ethos of silver for you and bronze for me.   What would the colour coding institution think of me now!!  I think I would be barred for life!

However all joking aside, there is no harm in knowing whether you are cool or warm.  It does add a sense of knowledge and can assist when shopping for a particular outfit.  Wearing ‘your colours’ can also enhance your overall look.  You can actually look better and ‘glow’ if you wear colours that suit you.  So like everything in life it is all about balance – working a particular idea to your advantage and taking from it something that will work for you.  There is no need to take it to the extreme.

colour chart

cool and warm colour chart

Warm and cool colours
www.imageinstitute.com
One very positive aspect of doing this training is my deeper knowledge and understanding of colour. The very first part of the course was learning the colour wheel.  I would highly recommend knowing your colour wheel. Understanding the tiered system to explain colours from the primary colours down to all their derivative shades will be the first port of call in understanding colour.  I think if you are designing and making jewellery the knowledge of colour is essential.
colour wheel

colour chart

My next blog will be more about colour and I shall impart the season coding ethos to you!  It can really help when grouping colours and also if you are designing jewellery for someone it can be such an aid when choosing colours with your customer.   I will give you examples of the palette for each season.

If you want to go to a colour consultant by all means please do. It can be a very enjoyable experience. If the consultant is good she will guide you well in terms of not sticking exactly to your designated season.

Pliers and some chain please – jewellery DIY!

On Saturday night, last minute, I decided I needed a certain type of necklace … as you do!  I didn’t have what I wanted and it was too late to rustle something up.  So I decided I would take one of my many long beaded chains I had and try to double it up so I would have a more bulky and shorter piece. Well it wasn’t very successful.  It kept shifting and moving all night.   One minute I had one very long strand, the next minute I was nearly strangled with one strand getting very tight around my neck!  I literally spent the whole night fighting with it and trying to fix and adjust the length of the two strands of beads. I just could not manage to keep them balanced. It actually was very annoying and in the end I just wore it as a long necklace which didn’t really suit the dress I was wearing.

The following day I decided to right this problem!  And this is how I changed a long strand of beads into a shorter 2 strand piece.

This was the necklace.

chain tutorial

chain tutorial

40″ beaded chain necklace

This necklace was made using a mix of Czech glass beads in different shapes and sizes.  The beads are looped with eye pins. Each bead is then connected with a chain loop.  I make and sell this long beaded style necklace a lot and this was one I made for myself a couple of weeks ago.

This is all you will need to turn this long strand into a 2 strand necklace. A flat nose pliers to open and close the chain links,  9mm antique gold chain – approximately 2 x 2″ lengths. One S hook and figure 8 connector. You can of course use any chain that would suit the style of your own necklace. This is just what I am using for mine.

chain necklace

chain tutorial

9mm chain and S hook

Gather up the necklace in both hands and decide on how long or short you want the inner strand to be. You will need to stand in front of a mirror to see exactly how it will sit and how long it will be.  I wanted mine to be quite short.  When you have decided on your measurement slide the flat nose pliers through the chain loop at the point you have decided to add in the chain.  You will need two pliers to open the loop.   Once the loop is open add on the required length of chain.  In this example I have added two inches of chain.

chain necklace

making a chain necklace

You then simply add on a length of chain to the other side.  You need to make sure that you are adding in the extra chain at the same point on both sides of the necklace.

chain necklace with czech glass

chain necklace tutorial

Before you add the ‘S’ hook check that the necklace is the correct length. If you are happy with the length then simply add on an ‘S’ hook to one side and the figure ‘8’ connector to the other side and that is it!  You could use any type of clasp you fancy yourself.  You do not even need to use the figure 8 connector.  The S hook will hook straight into any link of chain. They are ideal in this way.  Make sure to slightly close the S hook (with the pliers) to make sure it remains secure.  I use them all the time and they never open.

using S hooks

S hooks

This was a 40″ necklace and now it is a lovely  24″ 2 strand shorter version.  It sits high up near the neck creating a more dramatic effect. This is an example of what you can do with a strand of looped beads. If there is no connecting chain loop between each bead you can still add on chain by simply adding in a jump ring between two beads at the point where you want to add in the chain.  And the chain can then be attached to this jump ring.

chain necklace

czech glass chain necklace

It is very on trend now to wear shorter necklaces over your dress.  They can also be worn over a shirt with the top button closed.  I still love to wear long necklaces but on this occasion I think this style worked very well with this simple black dress.

chain necklace

czech glass chain necklace tutorial

And don’t forget the necklace can be returned to a long piece just as easily should you wish to have it long again!

Spring is here – time to wake up …

What a wonderful time of the year spring is. The light is coming back now and with it a sense of moving forward.

To summer.

All too often I spend the winter in hiding.  But I love winter.  What does that say about me?!

I slow down.  A lot.

But I am peeping out now.  Coat is on and even on some days I need sun glasses.  Spring is calling me outdoors.

My senses have been stirred.

Still a long way to go before the sun sets in the late evening and rises before you wake.

But its on the way.

I walk most days on my local beach and I can see the light changing.  It is reaching out further and I love to watch it glisten and dance on the water. This winter we had rough seas and stormy skies, dramatic and wonderful to watch and photograph.  But I am ready now to move on and see some sunshine.

This is Killiney beach where I love to stroll.  The sun shone like a summers day last week but rain was pelting down 2 hours later !  Typical spring weather –  teasing us with snippets of glorious sunshine!

Killiney Ireland

Killiney beach, Dublin, Ireland

Killiney Beach, Dublin, Ireland

 

Other days I walk along the very stoney and rocky Corbawn beach (Shankill) or cycle along the cliff paths on this stretch.  When the tide is out you can walk back to Killiney beach.  And on a clear day you can almost see people on Bray Head….

Corbawn beach

Corbawn beach, Shankill, Dublin, Ireland

Corbawn Beach, Dublin, Ireland

I hope you are all enjoying a spring in your step ….

I’m loving January !

January continues at a peaceful and quiet pace.  I love this time of year. You dont have to have an excuse to be quiet.  Its a time for hibernation. A daily brisk walk in the chilly weather is perfect to keep you awake.  I love to wrap up, take my camera and head to the coast and see how the day is looking. The sunsets and sunrises are nothing short of dramatic this winter. I took this picture from my front garden as the sun began to set.  It was so bright it lit up the whole inside of the front of my house.  As the glow indoors got more intense I grabbed my camera and dashed outside.  I would have taken many more pics but my hands were frozen and I realised I was standing in my driveway in my socks!  I returned indoors with freezing hands and wet feet!  
All worth it though ….

Sunset in Dublin
January is also a time for a clearout, for selling off stock and making room for lots of new pretties. I have been browsing many websites for many hours.
searching
taking note
bookmarking
into the basket out of the basket
ten baskets on the go
I arrived at a site that blasts out images of hearts and all sorts of items in heart shapes. 
I ponder them.  
All pink and fluffy.
I think ile buy some and proceed to checkout.  It then spews out that message that I am getting all too familiar with …. the one that all of us tiny little businesses DREAD ….
“minimum purchase 1,500 hearts”  !!!!!
Saved by the bell.  They wont sell anyway.  I always tend to get caught up in the hype.  But I am listening to my instincts ….
I have decided to steer clear of what are essentially ‘temporary’  or ‘novelty’ items.  Just like Halloween and Christmas these novelty beading supplies just do not sell.  I am really interested to know does jewellery sell with santas or witches or fancy hearts ?  Do you make/buy these items?  
Of course I love to buy the odd few bits!  
Enamel pendant
Like these gorgeous copper enamel pendants. I picked up one of these last year on my travels around cyber space.  I like this particular heart pendant because it is handmade and has a lovely rustic feel to it.  This week I shall make something using this pendant.  There will only be one necklace or bracelet (depending on which I decide to make) and I shall post a few pics of the project when it is done.
Talking about hearts I do have some nice love themed items over on the website. Like this cute little love charm from TierraCast.
Love charm
I also have these very unusual pewter frame pendants which would make lovely vintage style jewellery pieces.  They are perfect for necklaces.  These charms are priced at €5 each and can be purchased by contacting me via my Facebook page or using the contact tab here in the right hand margin.

Pewter picture frames
I love these heart lock charms.  They come in antique silver, anique bronze or a lovely gothic black finish.  These charms from TierraCast are 100% pewter, are double sided, nickel free and will not tarnish.  They are excellent quality.  All charms are now less 25% on the site.
The sale continues with lots of beads and findings still less 25% discount with code SALE25.

Feck that oul recession …

I am slowly returning to normal after a busy December and starting to take a look at this new year stretching out before me.  I had a hectic December between holidays, Christmas and running Addiebeads. Even if I wasnt running Addiebeads I would have been hectic!   Having said that I continued to do my fairs, make jewellery and ship out some beads.  But business was disappointingly slow and way back in my mind I was beginning to worry ….

Although business was quiet towards the end of the year, I was comforted by the fact that others were quiet too.  However, I do know that many were busy and it was heartening to see it. It put me in good humour to see that some people thankfully were buzzing away!  I am the type of person who is rooted in reality.  I try constantly to be optimistic but believe that we are still stuck in recession and no matter what ‘they’ say about being in recovery I know it will be years before that recovery filters down to me. At the end of the day (reality speaking) we are NOT consuming.  I didnt ‘consume’ over Christmas myself so I found it hard to expect others to do so. I am so looking forward to 2014 and to seeing how it all unfolds. My new mantra is ‘feck that oul recession’ !

The beginning of any year is an opportunity to check in with how its all going… is it going? did it go? will it go?????  Is it always the same this time of year?  On the one hand it is a time for reflection, a time to take stock and like everyone says a time to plan for the year ahead but on the other hand there is the dreaded panic setting into my bones about all that ‘stuff’ I should be reflecting on, thinking about and planning for.  Its the dithering syndrome I have written about before …..

This time last year was all about getting my name ‘out there’.  That was my goal for 2013.  It is incredible what can be done on social networking sites. Along with getting my name out there I also succeeded in gaining lots of new customers.  I am now selling beads to the UK and various countries in Europe.  I am delighted to be getting a reputation now in the UK for quality supplies and this will be a market I will continue to develop and place myself in for 2014.  So as I look back on 2013 I realise that I actually achieved most of what I had planned.   They say it takes 3 years to establish a business and as I head into year 2 I realise I have to continue to progress.  On with the plan! Feck that oul recession!!

One mistake I probably made last year was relying too much on Facebook to drive potential customers to my site.  With all the changes there recently I saw sales drop and general interaction on my page plummet towards the end of the year.  Usually when there is a dip you can increase activity but when organic reach isnt on your side it is pointless. It is a serious issue for anyone who has relied on Facebook to drive sales and interact with customers.  So for 2014 I will be taking Addiebeads to other places to maintain my online presence.  Blogging will become my main activity and I will be taking it a lot more seriously.  I love to share information so this will be a huge part of my blog going forward.  I also want to meet lots of my customers and showcase their work.   I will run competitions and have giveaways. But most importantly I will continue to stock and sell top quality products.  Beads that are beautiful and ethically produced and sourced.  Findings that are nickel and tarnish free, good quality and competitively priced. Products that you, my customer can rely on.  I am constantly tempted to buy stock in massive quantities and at a very low cost from far away lands but my instinct is always to resist.  So for 2014 I will continue to follow my instinct to stock quality beads bought from companies that are run by people I can talk to and develop relationships with.

I recently read an interesting blog by Purity Belle where Cliona, who is a very creative and passionate candlemaker, talks about self belief and following her instincts.  Well it was music to my ears!  For this is what I will be doing for 2014.  Listening to me and remembering why I wanted to do this in the first place.

In the meantime just like every other business out there the business has to be done!  I have to mention my sale on the website which is offering 25% discount with code SALE25 at the checkout.  But dont forget to check out my Facebook page which has even more and better deals!  I have albums for discounted jewellery and half price beads so make sure to check FB out first!

Bead selection from Addiebeads
Semi precious stones

If you are not a beader and would like to give it a go you will definitely need these items!  A beading board and a set of jewellery pliers.  These items are available via my FB page.  The pliers are priced at €12 for the set and the beading tray is €5 or buy both for €15!   I can also put together a starter pack for you which would include a beautiful selection of beads and all the other bits and bobs that you would need.  Feck that oul recession and start a new hobby !!

Beading pliers and tray available on FB

I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have taken the time to come to my blog, spend time reading my ramblings and also for spending your hard earned cash on my website.  Every time a sale goes through my site I am grateful.  It is also reassuring that on some level I am doing something that lots of you like … in spite of that oul recession !

Happy 2014 to you all.  Mary xx

Behind the scenes …

I have been distracted of late.

Had a wee holiday.

London.  New York.

I wonder is it a good thing to visit such awe inspiring places!  On my flight home from NYC I was happy to be coming home but I knew I was coming back to a sad little Country, struggling to emerge from a heavy cloud.  I was NOT looking forward to re-engaging with this struggle.  I wanted to stay away from that.  I wanted to stay and follow the Empire State building … or was it following me?  I became quite obsessed with it as it appeared and disappeared from sight throughout my day.  Like every other visitor to this glowing City it became my firm landmark. How could it not.  In all its glory it is unavoidable.  I didnt go to the top this time as I have been many times before.  So instead of ‘going up’ I simply enjoyed keeping it in my sight as much as possible!   It is recognized as an international symbol of shared hopes, dreams and accomplishment.  A true beacon.  Just what we could all do with here in Ireland …

Empire State Building NYC

I returned home to a warm welcome and some orders through my site.  It is not easy to ‘close’ a website while you take a break. I dont think it is a good idea to hang a ‘gone on holidays’ sign on any site. So I managed my website mainly from my phone and it worked out well. The ease of technology and this digital age never cease to amaze me.

But for now the need for beading supplies has quietened down and I find myself esconsed in a jewellery making frenzy.

Behind the scenes I am threading, looping, wire wrapping.  One layer, two layers, multi layers! Any amount of layering you wish !  Toggles or lobsters ? … long or short ? … anything your heart desires.

Semi precious or crystals …. glass or resin …. round, oval or square ….

Addiebeads has it covered.

A sparkly creation for everyone.

Pop it up on Facebook, roll it out on Twitter and possibly share it on Google+.

SELL it !

I am thankful for being busy.

In between the beading frenzy there are the fairs.

Not too many

Too much work – lugging back and forth

In the car, out of the car, up the stairs, down the stairs, on the table, off the table, back in the car

Exhausting

SELL it !

Facebook it

Tweet it

Blog it

Tis the season to be selling …

Should’nt that be ‘jolly’ ??

I hope you are all busy but at the same time managing to be a bit jolly too.

Rosary tree of life bracelet

www.addiebeads.com

Facebook continues to challenge ….

When I started out with Addiebeads over a year ago I did a lot of social networking with the notion that I might spread the word about my beads.   The visual platform that is Facebook serves us beaders and crafters well in that we can showcase our work and create a brand vision without the formality of legally creating that brand artwork.  However at some stage I guess we all progress to cementing proper brand imaging into our profile.  But for the most part Facebook works well for the small crafting entrepreneur.  I have met so many crafters over the last year seeking out a ‘space’ to present and sell their work.

However,  Facebook has changed dramatically over the last 6 months.  We have seen the all important ‘reach’ take a nose dive and I think a lot of us are struggling with this.  Facebook has been a free platform to sell your wares but for now unless you pay to promote your posts no one is seeing them.  Dont worry this is NOT a blog about Facebook ‘bashing’ !  I love Facebook for my business and believe there is nothing free in this world!  But if you want to avoid paying to promote posts what are the options ?

The two things I have learnt and continue to keep at the top of my list when it comes to managing my FB page are CONTENT and INTERACTION.  And you cannot have one without the other.  At times we just have to forget about our egos and post something that has nothing to do with our own product. Something witty or controversial, an interesting online article or some local news.  Sadly, most of the time these posts will perform better than any pics we post of our own handcrafted items!   They are performing better because they spark interaction. Comments, likes and general chit chat on any page can only be a good thing.

If ‘reach’ is the most important statistic in terms of ‘being seen’ then we must interact.   As a facebook user I find myself relying on the ‘ticker’ more and more.  The ticker which simply updates your friends activity, is on the right hand side of your newsfeed.  I am now constantly taking note of a comment someone has made or noticing who has liked what.  The ticker is telling me what you and everyone else is doing on Facebook.   And it is this type of activity that spreads the word on facebook.  We are all following other people’s activity which is their interaction which sparks our interaction.

The message seems to be the more we interact with each other’s pages the more we stay in the newsfeed.  But whose newsfeed do we stay in ?  We need our customers to interact with our page from their personal profile and we need to be showing up in the newsfeed of our targeted audience.  Their interaction with your post will show up in their friends tickers and all ‘activity’ around your post will be duly noted by lots of people YOU dont even know.   An on and on it goes.   To continually engage our customer we need to be posting content that will interest them.  So we need to keep on top of who our customers are and what they will be interested in.  It all seems so simple but finding a constant supply of ‘content’ can be tiresome and time consuming.

I am just about managing to keep my facebook page visible but it is hard work and I am wondering how long I can continue to spend so much time on it.  I would love to know how you are all dealing with this issue and what is working for you.

This is only a problem for the tiny business.   We dont have budgets, especially not for social media.   I laugh at the ‘SME‘ tag  – ‘small’ does not cover the vast majority of miniscule businesses or sole traders. We need a new tag … ‘nano‘ might be more suitable!

So all you SNE‘s (small nano enterprises) out there how do you manage your social networking?

www.facebook.com/addiebeads

Bead storage and displaying my wares for a fair ….

I am returning to the Gorey Creative Fair on Saturday and am trying to get my act together.  I love doing this fair and I am looking forward to meeting all the crafters again.  I am trying to get myself there with as little work as possible!   For the past few months I have been thinking how and what is the best way to display beads and supplies on a 6ft table ?  I dont sell my jewellery at these fairs and I find displaying and trying to showcase supplies is challenging to say the least. With a background in visual merchandising I am always coming at it from a commercial view point.  As in how can I display in a way that also encourages sales.  I can sometimes get too caught up in the visual prettiness of my table but at the end of the day I need to sell my products.  So the twofold approach i.e. commercial/visual is always a good one.

My beads and beading supplies are all tiny objects and therein lies said challenge.  I found last season I had far too many ‘containers’ on the table.  I watched as potential customers were confused and probably slightly overwhelmed with the amount of tiny objects.  For starters not everyone is into beading and I think for these people it was NOT a good table.  We should always be trying to attract new customers.  So with this in mind I decided to streamline everything.  Just have beads on one part of the table and the findings and bits and bobs on another.  Simple!  Yes simple until I thought how can I do this.

Compartments…. I kept thinking compartments, tiny spaces to fill with tiny objects… like an ice cube tray which I had been using for charms.  How could I get a bigger ice cube tray ? I was mulling this over for months until I started hunting the internet for pictures and ideas.  Pinterest came to the rescue and I created a board bead storage and started to pin as many ideas as I could find.  As I started to collect and pin images I discovered that there isnt actually a lot out there.  Eventually I settled on a beautiful bead drawer which then turned into the idea of a bead box.  It  didnt really matter what it was called but I knew now that a bead drawer or box would be the ideal storage solution for me.  I could fill it with my beads and other tiny objects and then simply transport it to the fair.  All the little jars, bowls and ceramic vessels would be no more.  Just one box and im sorted.

The next hurdle of course was WHERE would I get such a box.  Is there a shop that sells them?  Is there even an online store that sells them ?  Is there such a product ‘out there’ ? Well you’ve guessed it – the answer to these questions was ‘NO’.  Such an item does not exist.  So next challenge was to find someone who could make one for me.  And here is where it all began with the wonderful Wooden Gifts Irl.  A small family run business making bespoke wooden items.  I had come across their Facebook page over a year ago and had ear marked them as a quality operation!  They were also always so friendly and generous with their comments and sharing on Facebook.  For me they had always stood out from the crowd.  I approached them about my idea for the bead box and as they say the rest is history! This is the beautiful bead box and excellent craftmanship of Wooden Gifts Irl.

bead box

and I have to post another pic because it is so beautiful !

bead box

I have two of these beauties and will showcase beads in one and findings in the other.  These boxes will work well for a fair as the customer can just stand over and ‘peer in’.  All the beads available will be in the one box.  Customers can look, touch and feel without having to rummage through lots of different jars, boxes etc.  Also they will be so easy to get in and out of the car boot, up and down lifts, in and out of trollies etc. etc. And the icing on the cake is they look absolutely beautiful.  All in all I am hoping I have found the perfect solution to the tricky problem of displaying lots of tiny little items.

I will display semi precious stones on an antique style jewellery stand

Semi precious stones 

I must not forget the seed beads !  They will also be brought and stacked in their lovely little jars.

Toho seed beads
All sorted ! Off to the fair I go …

How do you organise yourself and your wares when the fair season starts?  If you have any tips or tricks please let us all know!

Lets talk semi precious …

There can be lots of confusion about the semi precious stone.  Firstly ‘precious’ stones are mainly diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds and generally everything else comes under the ‘semi precious’ heading.  The types of semi precious stones that are sold around the globe on beading sites, including my own, are of good quality and produced specially for jewellery making.  But we must bear in mind that the stones do go through a rigorous process of shaping, colouring and faceting before they can be sold. There is a grading system for them but lots of sites including the wholesalers dont use it.  If they do they dont explain it.  It is fascinating however the way the different semi precious stones have their own unique look and form.  For instance agate will always have either veins or stripes.  This is a genuine pattern forming characteristic.  There are also ‘manmade‘ stones out there which look exactly the same but will be lighter and half the price.  This cherry quartz for example which is often found in the semi precious category and sold as a semi precious stone is in fact glass !  This is a perfect example of how we might all be misled into thinking semi precious are just that ‘precious’.  It is important when buying your semi precious stones to read the descriptions and make sure you know what you are buying. These imitations or in this case a quartz look alike or  ‘concoction’,  are divine and in my opinion perfectly acceptable in your bead stash.

Cherry quartz

A few examples of  semi precious stones that are now in stock

Ocean blue agate
Ocean blue faceted agate – bright and fresh with glossy facets and vein detailing throughout.
Multi coloured quartz
Multi coloured quartz – bright and uplifting. These beauties set the mind wondering as to what one could do with them!  Could also be mistaken for sweeties !
Antique blue howlite
Antique blue howlite – rustic, warm and perfect for autumnal creations.  Howlite is available in every colour as it is easy to dye.  In its natural colour it is usually a creamy white.
Rose howlite

Rose howlite – adorable, pink and pretty and a perfect example of a dyed semi precious stone.

Multi striped black agate

Black agate – Another great example of the striped agate.  This is black and has been faceted and then the stripes have been dyed.  This is such a dramatic effect and makes for such a fun bead.  Reminds me of Mr Bassett’s liquorice all sorts !

Semi precious stones are a must for your jewellery creations.  They add interest and texture. They come in all shapes and sizes and will add value and a unique element to your designs.  They can be more expensive than glass beads but remember you only need two to make a stunning pair of earrings!  In fact you would get a whole set i.e. bracelet, necklace and earrings from most strands.

How many beads in a jar …

Last week I was bored staring at an overcrowded and overflowing beading tray so I chucked it’s contents out onto my desk to discover there was quite a nice selection of beads and ‘bits and bobs’.  I gathered up all the random beads and as I said, shoved them into this little jar. Each little item (excluding seed beads) and every single bead have been counted.  Now its up to you to guess what that figure is!
As you can see there are large beads, small beads, oval beads, charms, the odd finding and lots of seed beads.  A nice little selection to add to your stash !  Just have a guess at how many items are in the jar.
Bird’s eye view …. mmm I see a skull ….
And now for some rules …. Simply share the facebook post which is pinned to the top of the FB page. You can either comment here with your guess or on the FB page.   I have not included the seed beads in the count.
Winner will be announced on Facebook on October 3rd.
Best of luck !

SMALL PRINT – the contents of this jar is varied.  There are beads, charms, a clasp or two and some findings and a lot of seed beads.  The seed beads have NOT been included in the count. Please note the jar is NOT part of the prize.  One guess each !  Closest guess to the actual figure wins.

My mess, making plans and that empty beading tray …

‘What is on the beading table today?”  This question is asked on every beading blog from here to the other end of the crafting blogosphere!  It is a metaphor im sure for whats ‘goin on’ or ‘whats happening’ in your beading world.  The answers are always sharp, beautifully written, enviably photographed and above all ‘planned’ out.  That word ‘planning’ is not figuring anywhere in the foreseeable for me. With a background in retail I should know all about planning.  But that was different because ‘planning’ was someone elses job then.  I was handed the ‘plan’.   Now, along with everything else, I realise planning is something I have to consider. What needs to be planned for ?   I am really finding it very difficult to even say the word.   Im not resisting the ‘silly’ season itself … it is clearly just the planning I have the problem with.   So what is on my table, or on my mind for the next few months ?

Confusion, mess and a slight sort of panicked mayhem is what seems to be on the menu for me! Every second post in my newsfeed on Facebook is Christmas related.  And I am beginning to panic. Every post is a reminder that I have no plan, no preparations and that I havent even given it a single thought.  I should know better  (retail experience bla bla). But I have decided for now NOT to engage …. not yet anyway.

However in an effort to get my act together and start ‘planning’ I thought a bit of tidying up would help and so I emptied one of my overflowing beading trays …

So now what ?  I have a lovely empty beading tray.  Clean slate, white canvass and all that but for some reason I dont feel comfortable when its all tidy.  I love my living space to be organised, to be tidy and to have an easy flow etc. but my workspace is turning out to have a completely different set of rules. It seems the messier the space the better I work.  In fact an empty beading tray is a sad beading tray! This tray scares me … and those two little beads … well they must be missing ALL their buddies …

So as I and the ‘scary’ beading tray continue to stare at eachother I slowly become very bored and my mind starts to wander and before I know it I am organising a competition!  Out of the sheer horror of having to sort out all those random beads I have come up with a great idea … I will count them, shove them in a bottle or a jar and give them away as a prize !!!

The white elephant in the room – the ’empty’ beading tray, remains emtpy and I am relieved to have a focus elsewhere …. for an hour or two anyway.  I will return to the beading tray, sit with it and hopefully out stare it!  But for now I am enjoying a breather.

As for getting a plan together …. I think there is enough time still to plan for the busy months ahead.  I must first concentrate on ideas and then set them into my plan.

Sounds like a plan !

Stay in touch for the competition in my next post.