Sunday, 15 April 2018

Mother's Day earrings...

New for the cool moms on Sunday, May 13th! 

Silver-plated bouquet of flowers and bird skull dangle, sterling silver earwires, just $25. $30 if you want sterling silver leverback wires. Out of town? Shipping & handling is extra. 

I'm at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday 7:00 a.m. to noon; for you early birds, I'm there by 5:00 a.m. setting up and making items.

Want a Chakraluscious healing bracelet? I have over 150 different 6mm beads, and a large selection of bracelets ready to go, or contact me to make a custom bracelet just for you. They are truly beautiful and you'll fall in love with their stunning colours. Please email me directly to order or for more information.

Thanks for stopping by, and see you at the market on Saturday!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Adjustable choker production from the Saturday market...

I made all these pendants in between customers at the market yesterday -- and one customer bought them all before they even hit the table. These were mostly made from new beads that I bought in Toronto last week from a hole-in-the-wall store I've walked by countless times. Now I need more... more... MORE!!! The eternal question: why oh why didn't I buy several packs while I was there???



Learn to make this lava diffuser pendant at my Friday night class at the GEM EXPO in Toronto on March 16. Sign up HERE. Checkitout: there are lots of great classes all three days of the show.


Don't forget, you get FREE 3-day admission to TWO SHOWS with any class: 
The Gem Expo, 
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 16, 17 & 18
the brand new two-day 
The Toronto Holistic & Metaphysical Show 
at the Hyatt Regency, King Street, Toronto 
in the second ballroom on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 & 18.

Thanks for stopping by -- and see you at THE GEM EXPO and METAEXPO!! Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter and get $2 off your admission.

Friday, 16 February 2018

March 2018 GEM EXPO Classes have been posted!!!

Sign up early as many of the classes are now filling up within a week or two of being posted. Don't be disappointed by waiting until you get to the show. Class sizes are limited to allow the instructor one-on-one time with each student.

When you're asked to bring tools to class if you have them, these for me are the four essential tools.

L to R: Bent-nose pliers; flat nose (or chain nose -- next on my list to buy); round nose, flush cutters (with the pointed ends).


1. Unless you will be doing a lot of travelling, do not buy the small travel or kid-size tools and pliers. They aren't meant for constant use, and they don't work as well as full size pliers because they'll make good results more difficult to achieve.

2. Hardware store tools are NOT suitable.

3. Buy the best pliers you can afford and if you have a choice of padded/ergonomic handles like the blue ones on the left and right, those are preferable to the red-handled pliers in the centre of the photo.

4. Beadalon and Eurotool are both good starter brands.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Learn to Make Diffuser Bead Jewellery at the March Gem Expo, Toronto...

These are just a few of the endless pieces of jewellery you can learn to make using four basic tools, some wire, findings and beads and a few simple techniques.

The four basic tools I used...

L to R: bent nose pliers, flat nose (or chain nose) pliers, round nose pliers, pointed-end flush cutters.

Proper tools make everything easier, and jewellery-making is no exception. Buy the best quality tools you can afford, pliers with padded grips being the better choice. Even though they're usually sold in a plastic package, try to close the tool and see that the tool closes evenly all the way along the working surface. Do not buy the smaller, child-size pliers that come in sets, they're fine for travel but not to learn with as you won't get the gripping power and stability you need. make these... 

...using the following techniques...

1. Understanding and choosing the correct wire gauge, temper and materials (copper, brass, silver, plated metals);
2. Practise making a rosary loop and a wrapped loop, what the difference is and when to use them;
3. Opening and closing jump rings;
4. Learn about head pins, eye pins and ball pins. If there's time, I'll show you how to make your own head pins and eye pins;
5. See how simple findings such as accent beads and bead caps elevate your work.

Bring your own beads, pendants and findings to the class. I'll have many different sizes and colours of diffuser/lava beads available to choose from. I use leather cord to make adjustable chokers and necklaces. Many show vendors have sterling and plated chains for sale.

Please subscribe to get the latest information plus $2 off ticket prices. Classes will be posted soon. By booking any class lasting over one hour, you'll get free three-day admission to the show. Reserve your place early as class size is limited and often fill up well before the show begins.

Thanks for stopping by! I'm looking forward to seeing you at the show, just over a month away now.

Monday, 5 February 2018

March 2018 Gem Expo Classes will be posted soon!!!

The March 2018 Gem Expo is being held the last weekend of March Break, March 16th, 17th and 18th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, King Street in downtown Toronto: great timing for those looking for something fun for everyone from kids to grands to wrap up their vacation time away from school and work. Crystals, fossils, beads, finished jewellery, wire-work...

...we gotcha covered! PLUS there is the new Metaphysical Expo happening in the second ballroom. One admission gets you into both shows. Subscribe and get $2 off your admission. 

Here's a sneak peek at my three classes:

Friday Evening (Time TBA):

Aromatherapy Diffuser Bead Pendant and Earrings for Beginners

Just two possibilities to make in class. There will be a wide selection of lava bead sizes and colours, large and small pendants and dangles and bead caps to choose from as part of your kit fee. 

In this class you'll learn how to wrap beads to make your own aromatherapy diffuser pendant and earrings:
- make consistent wire loops and wraps, the proper way to open and close jump rings;
- accent your bead with bead caps to enrich the overall design
- how to attach your beads to earwires or necklace with jump rings

Saturday morning class (Time TBA):

Nifty Tips & Tricks for Wire Working for Experienced Beginners-Intermediate
Please note: this is NOT a suitable class for absolute beginners

In this class you'll learn to make your own wire findings easier, faster and more efficiently
- overview of wire types, temper, gauges, etc.;
- how to make consistent wire loops and wraps and troubleshoot difficulties;
- make your own earwires, plain and decorative headpins, connectors & dangles;
- bring questions!!!

Sunday morning class (Time TBA):

Totally Addicting Stretch Bracelets for Beginners+

Whatever you want to call them -- stretch, stacker, diffuser, healing, chakra or mala bracelets -- this is a great introduction to jewellery-making. Dress 'em up, dress 'em down, once you learn a few little tips and tricks you'll find the design possibilities are endless. Stretch bracelets make up quickly and just about anyone can make and wear them: they're easy to roll on and off with no pesky clasps to fiddle with. The only tools required are (sharp, pointy) scissors and occasionally pliers. 

You'll learn:
- tying and hiding a knot without using glue (& why you don't want to be using glue!);
- adjusting tension & sizing your bracelet to fit;
- easy and inexpensive ways to jazz up a plain bracelet by adding charms and/or spacers

NOTES ON TOOLS for most classes:
You'll notice you're asked to bring your own tools if you have them as instructors only have limited numbers of tools for participants to use. In general, these are the four basic tools anyone making jewellery will need at a bare minimum. Note that hardware store pliers and cutters do not work.  

L to R, bent nose pliers, flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, wire cutters. 

It's always advisable to buy the best quality tools you can afford to save your hands from carpal tunnel and/or aggravating arthritis as well as make it way easier to manipulate wire. Those cute sets of tiny pliers you'll see in stores are meant for limited use when travelling or for kids' tiny hands. 

Hint to beginners: Subscribe to Michael's newsletter and whenever you're near a store pop in and use their daily 40% or 50% off coupon to buy something expensive -- tools!!! -- that rarely if ever go on sale. 

Sign up for classes early!!!
By subscribing to either The Gem Expo website or the MetaExpo website, you will receive notifcation when all of the classes are posted. Don't be disappointed! Sign up early as many in-demand classes have limited places and are fully booked a month before the show.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you at the March 2018 GEM EXPO and METAEXPO!!!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Good Advice for 2018 -- and beyond...

Agnes, 02.01.18

I originally read this advice when I was 18. No idea where I first came across it, probably some magazine article. I was living on my own for the first time in a new city, working my first job at a university of all places -- stratospheric intimidation factor right there -- didn't know anyone, and for sure didn't have clue one how the world worked, let alone my place in it. Basically, I was one terrified, gibbering kid from the sticks. But I read it, kept my mouth firmly shut, eyes and ears wiiiiide open. Trust me, it worked. Almost too well. But I learned all kinds of interesting stuff.  

Listening well has served me equally well making jewellery; my customers have in many cases become my good friends. It amazes me how many people don't -- or won't -- listen. More than ever, people are starving to be heard. Jewellery is therapy for more than just us as the makers; it's also a therapy vehicle for our customers.

I've been at the market for ten years and this was my first great Christmas season ever. Even the New Year's market was good! But that was then, this is now: these last couple of days I've been proactively contacting people and filling up my new and pristine daytimer with events at which to sell my jewellery: dates and locations TBA.

I'll be offering a third class at The Gem Expo in Toronto in March on the Friday evening after work, plus the usual Saturday and Sunday mornings, course content TBA. If there's a technique you'd like to learn or refine, please tell me! Best and fastest way to get hold of me is email.

And you can always find me at the Woodstock Farmers Market, every Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. until noon, although I'm usually there by 5:00.

Now to hunker down and back to workworkwork! Welllll... first more coffee.

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Shaming the consumer, what a helluva way to do business...

In today's Toronto Star newspaper article, Missing the silver boat, Michael Lewis begins with:

"Consumer brands are missing the boat on millions of dollars in potential revenue thanks to ad buyers’ misperceptions about the 55-plus demographic, says the president of a consulting firm that aims to help companies do a better job of reaching affluent boomers." 

Read the article. He's right and it's about time someone said all this, but I don't think he goes far enough.

Remember the movie Network, from 1976? Watch this clip to bring it all back. Netflix, are you listening? Just watching that clip -- wow, absolutely NOTHING has changed in 41 -- yeah, FORTY-ONE! -- years! Might be time to bring it back, yes?

I was an extra in the TV studio audience in the movie, yelling out, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore!" (FYI, you can just barely see me and my BF at 0:09 in the lower left: the lights are shining off Michael's bald head, I'm just to his right.)

Well, I AM mad as hell, and have been for a long, long time. Here's my New Year's resolution a week early: no more being nicey-nice and mealy-mouthed -- and if I offend anyone, well, just maybe you need to be offended. Here's me yelling out loud and clear:

Hi, Michael, 

Man, these people are so missing the boat, and I'm surrounded by them everywhere I go. Arrogance and ignorance out the yin-yang. I'll tell you, though, if you really want to effect change and wake these people up, you need to stop being so polite about it. 

I'm almost 66, get a pension, still alive and kicking, work full time self-employed plus run my own jewellery business and look after my mother, and I and everyone I know have (at least some) money to burn. But you know what? NOBODY seems to want it. 

Along with doing transcription, I make jewellery these days, and I do a good trade in custom jewellery and alterations for kids and grownups into their 90s. Yeah, kids. Kids and teenagers LOVE my stuff (and their parents are so freakin' grateful). I'm a vendor and instructor at The Gem Expo in Toronto three times a year, and 20 and 30-somethings tell me all the time that not only do I have the coolest booth design at the show, I have the best stuff anywhere in Toronto. Yep, I do weird. People love weird. 

Why do they buy from me? Because my jewellery FITS whether they're a size 0 or size 100 (novel concept, I know), it's flattering and the right proportion to aging, sagging necks and changing body types. How do I manage that? All my jewellery is alterable. 

But mostly, I listen to what they want and need. What these marketers don't seem to get is listening to what people have to say is what will encourage them to buy. Don't give them a questionnaire asking impossible-to-answer questions confirming the company's own biases. I used to work for Angus Reid. I know stupid questionnaires when I see them. 

I was in Toronto this summer. Went to the Bay/Sak's to see what they had. Zip, zero, nada, unless you planned to spend 24/7 in the Entertainment District and wear over-priced size 2 frilly nothings the entire time. The whole store was filled with this crap -- what? Six floors, seven floors? -- sitting UNSOLD -- and, even better, not a customer in sight. 

Seriously? Disregard demographics -- and reality! -- at your peril, people. 

Another thing these 20 and 30-something marketers (and newspapers, ahem) need to do is STOP designing websites that have teensy faint flyspecks for type. When I see that, I'm gone -- and I'm not alone. I buy a ton of stuff for my jewellery business online; as soon as I see those flyspecks, I'm gone. I started out life as a typographer and typesetter. My ads sell; "design" today repels. 

When you have a salesperson visibly in-your-face rejecting you when you want to buy something just because you have grey hair, holy moley... it is mortifying and infuriating all balled up into one big hunk of rage, sorrow and shame -- yes, shame -- and you will Never. Ever. Shop. There. Again. 

THIS is what marketing is all about today. 

Get Jeff Weiss to contact me. I have 50 years of design, print/media, travel, language/culture experience across all sectors. While he definitely won't like what I have to say, I do speak very articulately for a whole lot of people. 

Dunno if this Jeff Weiss guy will call -- I'll let you know -- but geez, Louise... I've been pissed off for 20 years. The grey hair story up above happened to me, and I was so freakin' furious and mortified because this little bitch -- YES -- little bitch said what she said in the tone of voice that she said in front of other customers. 

Well, you better believe that everyone I know heard about it. I don't know if anyone I told stopped shopping there, but I will never EVER support a store or business that allows their staff to treat customers that way. EVER. 

The arrogance that business owners/employees (and advertisers) exhibit to their customers in so many ways, shapes and forms is unconscionable. Where does alienating the customer (and their money, hello???) come from? Eaton's, Sears, the Bay, Target, Zellers... has no one learned anything??? Alienating and ignoring -- and shaming -- your customers does not work. Why do you think it will??? 

Thank you for reading, and I'd love to know if you've experienced the same things I have. 

Meanwhile, if you're in southern Ontario, yes, the Woodstock Farmers Market is open this Saturday, December 30th, early*** until noon. Shopping for your New Year's party? We gotcha covered. Didn't get what you reeeeally wanted for Christmas? We've definitely gotcha covered. See you there!

***How early is early? I'm there around 5:00 a.m. and most vendors are up and running between 6:00 and 6:30. 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Christmas Shows & Markets...

Most people who know me know that I do NOT do Christmas craft shows.

Yeah, well... that is, until I do.

This past Sunday I took part in a Christmas artisan show and coffee open house at the newly opened Burnt Brick Cafe in downtown Woodstock. It was a hoot and a half, and everyone had a good time. Next year it'll be held it a few weeks earlier -- too many people couldn't come because of family obligations. (But don't despair -- there'll be one coming up in time for Valentine's Day!!)

My table by the window. The light was good at noon -- but by 2:00 it was getting overcast and pretty dim.

Showing crystal pendulums, gradated blues, purples and cream Peruvian opal necklace, semi-precious wand pendants, semi-precious chip & wire trees, carved skulls, pewter bookmarks, quartz crystal pendants... 

Showing Tibetan silver Hamsa hands, rose quartz stone & wire tree, Chakraluscious healing bracelets, resin raven skull pendants, Taxco sterling silver pendants, semi-precious carved skull and heart pendants...

Shots of the show in the main dining area and the other room with the bar/serving area and kitchen with Rene Hoelscher, the owner, behind the bar.

They make great lattes, of which I drank far too many during the show, and the food there is beyond fantastic. Do not let the word "healthy" scare you away. I had a maple bacon scone: just wow. If you ever get a chance to sample their cheddar/jalapeno/bacon soup, it is truly heaven in a bowl. 

This coming Saturday, 23 December, is your last chance to come to the Woodstock Farmers Market before Christmas. Officially open from 7:00 until noon, I'll be there from about 5:00 a.m. for all you early birds. 

Can't figure out what to get the jewellery-lover on your list? I have crystal cage pendants ready to insert their favourite stone or crystal, jewellery cleaning cloths, carved semi-precious skulls and skull pendants, crystal trees (seen in the above pictures), candles in the shape of crystals, dragon incense burners, plus new artisan-made sterling silver pendants from Taxco, Mexico, and Bali. 

With over 120 different beads to choose from, I can make almost any healing bracelet combo you can imagine. See my Chakraluscious stacking bracelets and aromatherapy/diffuser pendants and bracelets. 

Prices range from $1 to $300, gifts for kids to great-grands -- oh, and FYI, I take Visa as well as any pesky cash. STILL can't decide? I'll have gift certificates available.

I already have my custom-cut half a turkey breast from Miedema's at the market. :-))) Made the cranberry sauce this morning. Just need veg and bread. Maybe some more of Peter's orange brandy Christmas cake. YUM!!! See you at the market!!!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Saturday Market Tips: Repairs & Sales...

I can't emphasise enough the benefits of offering repairs and restringing. People are truly desperate for this service, but having grown up in a throw-away culture they have to be educated that, yes, it's possible to inexpensively repair their favourite jewellery, that this service is not restricted to expensive gold and silver items. A couple of dollars (or even less) and they have a new clasp/jump ring or new earwires or a wearable necklace. This has become a lucrative business sideline for me: around $75 on Saturday just on repairs.

 A customer brought in a baggie full of broken 4mm blue stretch bracelet beads on Saturday. We'd talked a week or two ago about possibly adding some other beads when I did the restringing. She sat down and started playing with beads -- she was amazed to see how some colours worked and some just were NOT going to look good, no matter where she put them.

This is what she came up with, still keeping with the fine and delicate 4mm blue beads, but with the addition of 6mm aquamarine, and tanzanite flanking some beautiful moonstone with blue flare.

The lighting is a little off in the photo (taken in a hurry under my OttLite at the market) but her 4mm beads (possibly blue chalcedony or more likely dyed quartz???) and the 6mm aquamarine were almost identical.

Customers can save my design time charge by picking out the beads themselves and making the final design decision to their taste. When they're happy with their choice, they finish their shopping while I string the bracelet (or necklace). She paid for the extra beads and my standard $5 restringing charge.

Later on in the morning... an easy leather bail:

My jewellery-making pal Lynn Dutton in Toronto scored a string of these skulls for me on a recent trip to a New York City bead store. The entire string was scooped by one of my regular customers who loves skulls. Here are the final two chokers I made with the beads.

This is a great style for men's jewellery in particular: about three to four inches of large hole (2mm) mixed metal beads with jump ring spacers on either side of any number of possible pendants, strung on an adjustable leather choker. It's fast, and simple, and looks solid and good on anyone. Changing the proportions of copper to gunmetal beads as I did here transforms the look completely.

When the leather gets gungy, they come back and I restring the beads on new leather.

These pendants had a large hole, so I made a really fast and easy bail out of 1.5mm leather, pushing the two ends of the leather down through the skull and tying it in a knot inside in the back. It's a very secure way of making a bail, and this way I didn't have to fiddle around with wire which would have taken a lot more time.

Thanks for stopping by!