Sunday, 16 October 2016

Playing with Leather Wrap Bracelet Designs...

These are four bracelets I made yesterday morning at the market. I've been working on asymmetry lately. For the bottom two bracelets I used randomly selected beads from my bead soup bin. Well, okay, sometimes I specifically choose the beads but they're so wonky it's virtually impossible to find two beads that look the same so I'm forced by necessity into asymmetry. I think these beads might be from India. There are a zillion shapes and such rich colours -- and I love the wonkiness of them. They also for the most part have large holes which makes them perfect to string on leather.

I'm also trying not to think too long and hard about the end result -- just tying knots, playing with buttons versus clasps and seeing what happens, except what often happens is I've cut the leather too short for some great idea that's evolving and I have to start over. Back of mind is always wearability, do-up-ability and adjustability. These all are adjustable to about an inch either way, so in that regard they'd make great gifts (Christmas, birthday, grad...) without being too-too worried about fit. The recipient could loosen the knots, move them a bit, or remove beads (as in the case of the top bracelet), retie the knots and/or cut off a too-long tail.

These and other bracelets are available for sale, please email me for prices or to order a custom design -- or try them on in person at the Woodstock Farmer's Market any Saturday morning, 7:00 a.m. until noon.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fab news...

The Gem Expo in July was a total hoot, met lots of new and returning customers and friends -- and the class I taught went really well, so much so I plan to offer two or three different classes at the November Gem Expo. Stay tuned for advance announcements on that front, and I'll give you a heads up once the classes are posted. This time, though, the classes will be capped at 5 to maybe 8 students, so don't delay in registering. If we know far enough in advance that there is sufficient demand additional classes can be scheduled.

In fact, think about giving the gift of learning to a friend as an early Christmas present. There are jewellery-making classes at the show for every skill level and interest. You'll definitely make new friends and jewellery buddies in the classes, as well.

My fab news is this summer I sold the smaller copper swirl citrine pendant and the wire-woven Sleeping Beauty turquoise nugget ring. Then yesterday I sold the larger swirl citrine pendant.

Aaaand... three weeks ago I sold the double-sided dragon-skin/crackle agate Backside of the Moon pendant.

People who know me know that I am a big fan of more is more, which means my market tables are usually crammed with stuff. Well... the past few weeks I've been experimenting with putting on the table just one or a few items in a style instead of the five, ten, dozen or more that I have... and it seems to be working. There is breathing space now between each item and sales seem to have picked up. There might be a little of the "uh, oh -- there's only one left, I'd better buy it now" scarcity strategy going on, too... maybe.

We also got new lighting in the market building a few weeks ago thanks to a grant. Makes a HUGE difference, so much so that I don't have to put up spotlights all over my table. Instead of walking from sunlight into a dim and depressing building, it's like walking from sunlight into sunlight. It's quite spectacular, actually, and all the jewellery across the table looks ten times better instead of the spotlit puddles I had before.

This summer I acquired some really great crystals and unusually-shaped tumbled and raw semi-precious stones. I'll be posting pictures when I get them made up into pendants. Meanwhile, you can always contact me here or by email for special orders, and you can find me at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

July 1st 2016 Canada Day in Southside Park, Woodstock... & More Gem Expo News...

Lianne Johnson (the Vintage Lady at the Woodstock Farmers Market) and I had a great day in Southside Park where we shared a booth. Lianne's grandson Darien helped out. Thanks, Darien, for standing in line for us at the chip wagon. All the food there was so great (and the Latin American guys from London -- oh, wow, fabulous, fantastic barbeque -- if anyone knows who they are please tell me their business name). Good food, good music, lots of entertainment and rides and games for kids. It was a low-key and fun day, even if I was freezing in that infernal wind. Guess it was better than rain, eh? Great fireworks to end it all courtesy of Toyota. I just found out that fireworks displays like that cost $1,000 per minute. Yikes.

From a vendor standpoint, it was very well organised with dedicated vendor parking, electricity -- and as you can hear on the video, all the tents between us and the stage meant we could hear ourselves think. Both of our sales were very good.

For those jewellery-makers and crafters who are considering doing or are yet to do their first outdoor shows this summer, I'll be writing a more detailed blog post of do's and don'ts.

Reminder to everyone: I will be at The Gem Expo in Toronto at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King St. West next weekend (15, 16, 17 July). Please go to the Gem Expo website, sign up for the newsletter and get $2 off your admission.

As of this writing I have ELEVEN people already signed up to take my Totally Addicting Stretch/Mala Bracelet Course. Bonus with any of the courses offered is free admission all three days of the show. It's perhaps a small show compared to some, but it's packed with gorgeous beads, rocks, crystals, jewellery... and just today I got lots and lots of semi-precious skull beads! I'm also busy sorting and pricing some beautiful vintage hand-carved fetish animal beads, as well. Come and see us next weekend!

Meanwhile, back here in Woodstock, I'll be at the Farmers Market this Saturday, July 9th, back again on July 23rd. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Matte Pink Quartz & Aquamarine Stretch Bracelets...

In between all the jewellery repairs I did yesterday (see the previous blog post) I was able to put together a few stretch bracelets, including these two. I really, really like that matte pink quartz. and the luscious blue aquamarine... not to mention, I have some particularly toothsome matte black and gold amazonite on deck for next Saturday's market if anyone is interested...

See you at the next market, or email me here for prices, shipping & handling if you're interested in these or my other bracelets, earrings and necklaces.

Or... you can learn to make these yourself! I'll be teaching how to make Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker & Mala Bracelets at The Gem Expo, Toronto, on Saturday morning, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. July 16th.

Thanks for stopping by, and hope to see you at the show!

Doing Jewellery Repairs on the Spot: Is It Worth Doing?

I'm forever reading in online forums people questioning how to sell more jewellery. Well, guess what? You know where the money really can be? Providing a service: i.e. in doing repairs. You already have the skills, right? Not to mention the tools and materials. In my experience, this can often lead to new and/or (my preference) custom jewellery sales, rather than vice versa.

This isn't necessarily intended as advice for a one-off one-day or weekend show, but rather if you do a regular weekly farmers market (like I do) or sell through a local venue (meaning you live close by). No point in having to drive 20 or 30 minutes to pick up a repair, drive home, do the repair, drive back with it and then home again. At a market or show, people come to you.

Having said all that, because even one, two and three-day shows have their slow times, you'll probably find me working away on something or other between customers. Bead vendors at the big shows are now sending customers to my booth to have their new string of beads made up into a necklace while they wait.

Typical setup behind my show tables. Once the show starts, that little table will be cleared off and my chair set where the Winners bag is. The stacked bins on either side add more space for supplies.

Print out a small tent card sign for your table or print up some small business cards to hand out:

Your Name
Phone number or email address
I do small repairs (often while you wait): 
restringing, restyling, resizing. 

If someone is new to my table or booth, as part of a general conversation I'll tell them I can do small, simple repairs while they wait. I am very clear about what I do NOT do (for example, soldering or silversmithing type repairs, resizing rings or replacing gemstones in prong settings) but specify what I can do.

Many years ago I got into the habit of always bringing my tools, wire and materials with me. I mean, just ask yourself: as a customer wandering around a craft fair or market, would you really want to investigate a booth or stop to buy while a vendor is busy concentrating on their phone or a newspaper instead of you? Me, I just walk on by. But I am always intrigued when I see someone working on something, whatever their craft.

What kinds of things do I offer my customers? 

1. Everyone loses or breaks one earring, and it's inevitably their favourite go-to pair. Suggest turning the remaining earring into a necklace pendant in a way that it remains intact (because just maybe that missing earring will eventually show up) and make a similar coordinating pair of earrings.

2. Change out cheap or broken earwires for better quality/sterling.

3. Shorten the too-dangly/long-for-that-particular-customer's earrings. Sometimes this can be done by simply substituting a pair of leverback earwires for fishhooks. That 1/4 inch saved can make all the difference.

4. Lots of people today are inheriting a favourite necklace from a relative or finding something yummy at a yard sale, but no way will it ever fit them. Offer to restyle the piece. I take double or triple-strand 1950s style necklaces and turn them into one longer necklace, or turn it into a set: a single longer necklace, bracelet and pair of earrings.

5. If my customer is older I offer to use a larger clasp and jump ring, and show her a selection.

6. Team up with related businesses. At the farmers market and antique shows, I sell next to a pal who sells vintage jewellery. I restring her vintage bracelets where the elastic is old and rotten. Lianne also sends me her customers to do all kinds of repairs. I often swap my work for good quality chains and bits and bobs that Lianne has.

You'll laugh at this, but one time I gave one of the produce vendors some half hard copper wire so he could reattach the muffler on his rusty old farm truck.

7. General restringing using either stringing wire, elastic or leather. People will often buy an inexpensive necklace or choker on a beach somewhere exotic, the string has gotten pretty gungy, but they don't want to toss the necklace because of all the memories. That's a super-easy fix -- especially for men. They're surprisingly sentimental about chokers like that, but have zero idea where to get it fixed -- or that it CAN be fixed.

8. Carve a little space out of your table while you're doing other events, even garage/lawn sales. At the antique shows I do these days I bring small wire-weaving projects to work on while I'm sitting there as it often gets pretty slow in the afternoons. I show people who stop by what I'm doing and have cards ready to hand out.

What's in my toolbox and supplies bin? 

These are the things you'll already have in your home studio. Mine live in boxes, bins and divided trays that perfectly fit into those Winners Tyvek shopping bags that I can grab and go. Okay, yeah, I know... I always bring waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much with me.

1. Basic tools: round nose, flat nose, bent nose, wire cutters, crimping pliers, hammer, anvil, bead mat, ruler, diamond files, bead reamer, tiny hand drill w different bits, scissors, pens, notebook.

2. Basic stringing materials: a couple of diameters of stringing wire (don't forget the crimps and crimp covers) and Stretch Magic, memory wire, fishing line, 1.5mm and 2.0mm black Greek leather, 1.5mm and 2.0mm black waxed cotton/synthetic cord/rattail.

3. A (very disorganised) selection of jump rings and clasps in various sizes and finishes (silver-plate, sterling, copper, vintage copper, brass, vintage brass, gunmetal). Don't forget there are plenty of guys out there who need repairs done, so invest in a few sizes and finishes of masculine-style clasps (swivel-style works well for this).

4. Wire in various diameters and materials: tinned copper is my go-to for most things base metal silver-coloured; bare copper wire; sterling wire. I almost always make my own head pins and eye pins when I do repairs, mostly because I might have to match the gauge of other wire in the piece.

5. Assortment of beads and metal spacers: tricky, as this can really explode on you. People laugh at how much crap I bring with me every week to the market.

NOTE: Even if it's just a quick repair they'll be waiting for or coming back for after they've done their shopping, always, always, always write down your customer's name, phone/email, and make detailed notes about what needs doing. Don't forget to settle on a price BEFORE starting the work, and write that down as well. Give them your card, too. I found out the hard way to get people's phone numbers especially if they're going to go shopping while their stuff is repaired as a lot of times they zone out and forget, and drive home without coming back to my table.

Sample Prices:

My pricing method has developed over the years and can only be a guide as it's so dependent on the demographics and relative economic health of your catchment area and the types of shows or markets you do and stores you're in. I have a friend who charges more than double what I do for repairs -- and gets her price. But she lives in a large urban area with a much wealthier clientele that I can only dream of.

As anyone gains experience, the making part gets easier and faster. This is what I've come up with as a component part of pricing my original jewellery, and now repairing jewellery (because, obviously, repairing takes virtually no design time, and any replacement beads are either charged for or absorbed into the cost):

$15 Single strand average length necklace, stringing/re-stringing, includes stringing wire, crimps, crimp covers, basic plated lobster clasp and jump rings.
$18+ Longer single strand necklace (see above)
$5-$7 Single bracelet (see above)
$2+ Individually priced larger plated base metal clasp, sterling clasp
$5 Single Stretch Magic restringing
$8 Double Stretch Magic restringing
$3.50 Short to regular length adjustable choker/necklace using black Greek leather
$4.00+ Longer length adjustable necklace using black Greek leather
$2.50+ Sterling fishhooks (pr) -- choice of several different styles and weights.
$6.50+ Sterling leverbacks (pr) -- choice of several different styles and weights

Is it worth doing?

Oh, yes. Definitely. Depending on the repair jobs, as some are maybe a little more finicky than others, I probably make $45 to $60 per hour. It's cash in hand and, really, it's mostly time. It's not tied up in expensive beads sitting a table waiting months for someone to come along and buy.

The other interesting thing is people see this as a service. Which means you can get tips, and a lot of people tip very, very well.


If you have any doubts at all about the integrity of the piece (is the metal cracked or weak?) or your ability to do a particular repair, DON'T DO IT! I've told plenty of people that their piece can't be repaired, particularly because of the metal. We might discuss the feasibility of maybe incorporating it into a different piece, some type of assemblage type of thing, and they may go for that or not. Sometimes I've been able to drill a hole and do some wiring to get various bits put back together, but again, anything structural like that must be cleared with the customer beforehand.

The Gem Expo, July 15th to 17th, 2016

If you're in the Toronto area this summer and have repairs that need doing, or just want to buy some incredibly cool beads, pendants and fetishes, jewellery and crystals from me and, I dunno, about 25 other great bead, jewellery vendors, we will be at The Gem Expo in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency on King West, July 15th to 17th. Sign up on the Gem Expo website and get $2 off admission.

Register for a class and get free admission to the show all three days. I'll be teaching a class Saturday morning, too -- Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker/Mala Bracelets.

Really hope to see you in Toronto!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Finally completed: Backside of the Moon Wire-Woven Pendant...

Took a bit longer than I'd expected, but Saturday morning at the market I finished the pendant. I mentioned in the last post about moving that little bit of wire at the top of the pendant to wrap around the single wire coming out of the bead. I think it really cleaned up the piece.

What it looked like before, with too many waves and curls. Even with pendants, I still adhere to the old magical "3" used in design:

What it looks like now:

Note also that I tucked that single hammered curl on the right in much tighter: it's there, but not.

And the "front" side before, where you can see that weak (to my eye) wave effect pretty much emphasising the single bare wire coming up from the bead:

And after:

I'd considered making a woven bail looping into the top of the pendant, but it looked too busy, so I did end up using jump rings after all. I thought using three would spread any wear along those fine weaving wires. Also, using three jump rings echoes the three woven base wires of the pendant top, as well as the three curved and hammered wire ends.

I also discovered the hard way that you don't want to be hammering curls like that if there's any weaving in the way. About 1/4" of the weaving ended up breaking into tiny pieces and falling away.

I decided also that a plain black adjustable leather cord would work best, rather than a wider leather lace or even a copper chain. I for one get so caught up in the fine details while working that I lose sight of how the pendant will read at any distance.

This is naturally oxidising, by the way. If you are interested in buying this piece and want it patinaed, let me know. This pendant is for sale: $50 plus shipping & handling. Please contact me by email if you're interested.

You can see it in person at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning from about 5:00 a.m. (when I get there) until noon -- the market officially opens at 7:00 if you're not an early bird. I'll (maybe) have this and many similar pendants for sale at The Gem Expo in Toronto at the Hyatt Regency on King Street Friday July 15th to Sunday July 17th.

Thanks for stopping by -- and see you at The Gem Expo!!! It's a great show with lots of classes, beads, finished jewellery and an immense amount of knowledge on offer.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Backside of the Moon Copper Wire-Woven Pendant...

...finally got back to it on Sunday while sitting at the Nostalgia Show & Sale and then finished it today. This is the pendant I started well before Christmas -- you can see above on the masthead how far I got. Then the proverbial shite hit the fan and life became a monstrous blur for several months. One foot in front of the other, and don't look down. Then six or eight weeks ago or so I got absolutely deluged with typing which only let up on Friday.

Last week I'd set up a table outside to sort items for the Nostalgia Show and decided to leave it up all summer. Truth is, I'm too lazy to take it down and heave it back into the house. Today I cleared off accrued tree spit and whatnot and finished that pendant... almost. It looks okay in my hand, but as soon as I edited the photos I saw it wasn't reading, and figured out what needs to be fixed. I'll do that tomorrow. Let it percolate overnight in case I see something else needs tweaking. Of course I'd completely forgotten what I'd planned for the bail... and now there isn't one. That's something else I have to sort out. I think jump rings might wear away at the fine weaving wires, but I like the simplicity of the pendant as it is now. I may just string it on soft leather lace as is.

My outdoor studio, complete with deer flies, the big black ones with festively coloured eyes that you don't feel landing, only when they bite. For some reason they were biting me through my clothes, not my skin, which I found very strange.

Last December's photo, and Sunday's progress:

On Sunday, I'd remembered that I wanted to do something like that double curl at the bottom of the pendant, but the rest? Boh. So I started weaving and entwining... What I was definitely mindful of was producing a fully reversible pendant (this being the nominal front).

The back...

NO POINTLESS TWIDDLES this time, please and thank you! I did get quite ruthless in the end and hacked away.

Now to work:

Worked on hammering those lovely and elegant curvy curves that I admire so much online. This is when an anvil comes in handy, versus a plain bench block.

These are the two sides finished. This was supposed to be the back; yet again it looks better than the front. Not sure about that single curl in the lower right area... might disappear that tomorrow, too, or at least curve it into that woven bit more tightly. It's a structural piece that locks the two sets of weaving together. .

A little overexposed, but this photo of the front shows off the bead quite nicely. See that kind of "wave" dipping across the top of the bead? That's going to be gone tomorrow. It will wrap around and hide the wire coming out of the bead and I hope make the overall design stronger.

I'll post the finished pendant tomorrow. Might even sort out a bail. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Hammered Copper Swirl Connectors with Mexican Turquoise Button Beads...

Yikes, almost a month has gone by without making anything new and I've totally abandoned wire weaving for now. Along with a crazy amount of typing, Nancy Mac and I are packing up and closing our antique mall booth as of this Friday and have begun supplying an online auction and antique & collectibles store in the next town. More on that next week!

Meanwhile, every week at the market I've been doing more and more jewellery repairs and restringing for my customers, as well as fixing broken jewellery for Lianne the Vintage Lady in the next booth. I taught her how to make stretch bracelets out of repurposed/recycled broken jewellery, and I think she's made close to 50 in the past two weeks.

Here is my latest redesign dilemma: remaking a really, ummm... "nice" necklace bought on a Caribbean holiday, but my customer is not into purple: each of these beads and the sterling hummingbird component were dangling from multiple ends of a long and very purple leather lariat. Beautiful hot beachy colours had somehow lost their hot beachiness up here in the cold light of... a cold and grey and dreary winter.

What to do???

My customer had certain requests. We discussed using brown leather lacing and basically replicating the original lariat, but she liked the idea of a firmer, adjustable black leather cord, if for no other reason that she thought she'd get more wear out of something black versus bright purple (or even a brown) and she really liked that it's adjustable. She also liked the idea of a clasp in front from which she could add or subtract items.

My immediate problem was -- and still is -- dealing with the hole orientation of the turquoise beads. Much as I love the shape, wheel and button beads are a bit tricky to utilise flat.

I came up with these hammered copper swirl connectors, but now that I've put it all together, I'm thinking the swirly bits might be a bit too competitive, although the bright copper will eventually tarnish, so it might not be too bad. The clasp might have to be swapped out for a larger one, as well.

In silhouette, how the dangles would look together:

Another option would be to suspend the turquoise bits from chain that would hang behind the hummingbird -- and all of them would be attached to the clasp. Now if only I could remember where I put a very nice vintage-style blackened copper chain that would be perfect.

The other thing I have to keep in mind is overall body proportion. My customer is of average height and quite slight. Another option would be to split all the components up into two necklaces, hummingbird on one, and which would be worn shorter, and the dangles on the second cord.

Closeup of the copper swirls. This is the first time I've tried doing this, and they're surprisingly secure. This would be a great way to make a necklace or even bracelet, and the free movement between the links is really nice. I used 20 gauge dead soft copper wire, keeping hammering to a minimum where wires crossed. I first tried it with tinned copper, in order to pick up the silver colour of the hummingbird, but the turquoise needs the copper.

Definitely a work in progress. I'm currently waiting to hear back from my customer, but in the meantime please let me know what you think.

Remember, I'm at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. until noon, but if you're an early bird, I'm usually there setting up by 5:00 a.m. I restring and can redesign just about any bracelet or necklace, swap out dodgy old earwires for new sterling fishhook or leverback earwires (usually while you wait/do your shopping) and of course I have all kinds of neat and interesting semi-precious, crystal, sterling and pewter pendants, necklaces, earrings for all ages and tastes, and all make great Mother's Day, Father's Day, grad, birthday gifts. Or even just because. It's finally spring, we're safe from killer hydro and heating bills, and it's so nice to treat yourself for a change. If you can't make it to the market, please email me for any requests.

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

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The March 2016 Gem Expo: Packing Up & Good Bye 'Til Next Time...

I blinked and the show was over, and sitting here now writing these posts, a whole week has gone -- but already I'm buying new goodies and planning my table for the next Gem Expo in July.

The show ended at 5:00 and by 7:00 we were packed up and waiting for a big dolly so we could load everything in one go and take it all down on the freight elevator. After I moved my van to the loading dock and got back upstairs, we had to wait... and wait... and wait.

An hour later I finally figured forget it. No way with my back the way it was could I manipulate a heavy dolly around anyway, so I moved my van back underneath the hotel, got my own small dolly and we started loading up and hiking stuff down to my van.

Our biggest thrill was getting stuck in a broken elevator for 20 minutes.

Finally at 9:00 we were almost ready to go. Last load.

Off to the Elephant & Castle for reeeally good French onion soup made with beer instead of wine. Except... they'd only just closed the kitchen due to how quiet it was that night. Nooooo... I told the waiter how much we'd been looking forward to their soup. He asked if that was all we wanted, that maybe he could convince the cook to do those up for us (I assume they just needed nuking). Came back a minute later to seat us, we got our soup and were able to sit in relative peace and quiet for a good hour playing with beads.

Then it was time to frap la rue. A clear night and quiet and fast drive home, but since it was below freezing, I had to unload the van. Took me another half an hour. I could barely move on Monday and was so sore for a couple more days.

Some of the goodies that I got from the Gem Expo:

Purple Chalcedony from Brazil, which I'd never heard of before. So pretty.

Carved Jade bead, either a koi fish or a dragon... Depends which side of the bead you're looking at, I guess.



Still haven't sorted or priced all the beads I got, but off the top of my head, I got matte pink quartz, lots of black tourmaline and other beads in three sizes, 6mm, 8mm and 10mm; raw citrine, some 10mm carved white flowers, some carved Indian jasper flowers, matte labradorite rounds which are quite amazing, no blue flash but pretty watercoloury greys; and many, many other neat colours.

Final Thoughts in No Particular Order:
I primarily do bead shows, but I also do a weekly farmers market, I share an antique mall booth, buy and sell collectibles and estate jewellery and occasionally sell beads out of my house. I also have a real job.

Here are a few more notes and tips for people contemplating their first show:

1. Wear layers and comfortable shoes. Outdoors, the weather will always do something you don't expect, and indoor venues become hotter and stuffier than you can imagine with all the people and the lights blazing at all the booths.

2. Outdoors under a tent, TRY to get a site where your tent opening is facing east. You do not want the afternoon sun hitting your booth. You will cook and metal jewellery in particular will get really hot. If there's nothing you can do about the direction you face, bring some gauzy curtains that you can hang and lower easily to follow the sun and attach to the tent flap with bull dog clips. I used a white cotton shower curtain one year which was perfect because it already had holes along the top and I used S-hooks to hang it up from the tent frame.

3. Bring lots of water with you. Have lemon or lime in little squirt bottles to put into the water; makes it very refreshing.

4. Bring food that is easy and clean to eat and handle and doesn't stink; wet wipes are a really good idea. Guaranteed, someone will come up to your table just as you've taken a bite of something.

5. Bring extra light bulbs, power cords and power bars.

6. Be aware that there is a rhythm to a show. I primarily do two or three-day bead shows, and the first day it's usually mostly jewellery-makers who show up to buy beads, and the people who sell finished jewellery do very little business. It's the reverse on Sunday.

7. I sell zero at craft shows, so I stopped doing them years ago.

8. Always, always, always push to get an answer out of "artisan craft show" promoters as to whether they're allowing party people in as vendors. Since when is Tupperware an "artisan craft"? I've had show organisers bald-face lie about party people to my face when I've asked who will be there and I know other people have, too. It's a different crowd that comes to those shows and they are NOT artisanal hand-crafted jewellery buyers.

9. Demand to know how many jewellery vendors will be in a craft show versus other crafts. I've done craft shows in the distant past where a full half to two-thirds of all the vendors were selling jewellery (see #7). People will look at the first four or five jewellery vendors' tables inside the main door, and after that they will walk on by, no matter how good, inexpensive or wonderful your stuff is.

10. Make time to get around to at least a few of the other vendors in the show near you, introduce yourself, see what they sell, let them know what you're selling. If you're in this for the long haul, these people will become your friends. You'll bail each other out when someone needs another extension cord, or a light bulb blows, or take part in a coffee run. If I don't have something, I can send a customer to someone who does, and vice versa.

11a. Always say hi to the customer, give them a few seconds to look, then ask if they're looking for anything in particular. If they have a little bit of that deer-in-the-headlights look (fearing a hard sell) explain to them them that if you don't have something, maybe you know someone at the show who does and you can save them some time. That usually gets them chatting about what it is they do and what they're after.

11b. Someone who's carrying a lot of things, ask if they want to take their coat off or put their stuff down for a minute, and if you're having a great conversation and there aren't other people there, ask if they'd like to sit down. Offer them a bottle of water.

12. Never ever ever get caught up in gossip.

13a. Be positive even when you and everyone else are facing financial disaster and there are no customers at all. It happens: could be atrociously bad weather, could be other events going on. There's no predicting it (just like there's no rhyme or reason for a crazy successful show). That kind of negative atmosphere can be felt like a physical punch in the face when people come through the door. Been there, done that.

13b. For the times when there's a lull, bring something to do so your hands are busy (and the show isn't a total write-off). Don't sit there with your face buried in your idiotPhone or a book. Show people who do stop at your booth what you're working on. Most of them have never seen anything actually in the process of being made and they'll be fascinated. I've sold half-finished things many times (or sparked someone to ask if I could make something else for them), so it's definitely not a dumb thing to do.

14. Buy the sturdiest dolly you can afford with bigger rubber tires, but also make sure you can lift it by yourself in and out of your vehicle. Don't get a cheap spindly one with tiny wheels. It'll shake itself apart and the wheels will collapse on cobblestones or brick lanes or humping over door sills, not to mention they're impossible to manoeuvre across gravel roads or lawns.

15. Always bring your tools and put together a little kit of jump rings, clasps and maybe some extender chain. It's amazing how many jewellery-makers don't bring their tools to shows. There are always adjustments that need to be made that could literally help you make a sale.

16. Oh, yeah. My first two bead shows? I sold zero. Not. One. Single. Bead. ZERO.  I still have shows and markets where I don't even make my table, let alone the hotel or gas. It happens.

See you next show!

The March 2016 Gem Expo: Teaching For the First Time...

...The Totally Addicting Stretch Stacker Bracelet Class.

Oh, boy. I have to confess I was utterly terrified at the prospect of teaching this class. Yes, I've been making jewellery for coming up to 9 or 10 years, I've taught a couple of life drawing classes over the years, plus graphics programs on Macs and ESL in Italy so I'm used to standing up in front of people. But teaching a small group of people (if anyone even signed up) how to tie a knot, knowing that they each paid 50 bucks??? Now that's pressure to deliver. What on earth was I thinking?

L to R: Leslie, Moyra, Deborah, Lawrence & Sue

At 10 a.m. Saturday morning FIVE people sat down and we began. I deliberately started everyone out on small 6/0 seed beads because they're the most difficult to get the tension and the knot right. I'd encouraged participants to bring their own beads, plus I had a variety of different beads for sale. I also offered a 10% discount at my booth if they wanted to buy anything later.

Long story short, two hours went whizzing by and, after some initial oopsies, beads flying and a lot of restringing, all five had turned into bracelet-making machines, and they all told me that finally learning the secret to tying that pesky, stupid knot was worth the $50 course fee alone. Every one of them had been so incredibly frustrated watching YouTube video after YouTube video, reading tutorials, trying different types of stretch cord, even going so far as gluing the knot to make it hold -- and nothing worked.

Silly bobo me forgot to get everyone to put on their bracelets so we could do an arm candy portrait.

Stay tuned, I'll be offering another class at the July Gem Expo. No idea what, exactly, but I'm interested in comments and suggestions of what you'd most like to learn, the only caveat being that the project have a low barrier to entry (i.e. few to no tools, minimal fiddly bits and moving parts) and be able to be taught and several items successfully made in under two hours. Leave your suggestions here or email me.

Oh, yeah, if anyone in southern Ontario wants to set up a class and have me come to teach your group how to tie that knot and make beautiful bracelets, please email me. I would love to do that.

Many, many thanks to Chantal for baby-sitting my booth while I taught the class and to Blue Sapphire Beads (aka Salim and Zukekha of The Gem Expo) for loaning her to me!