Monday 30 June 2014

Moving Day at the One of a Kind Antique Mall...

... plus news of sales and new arrivals...

Today was moving day at the One of a Kind Antique Mall. I moved all of the collectibles and antiques over to our new booth located two booths from the cash desk in the first aisle. More prosaically, we are right across from the women's bathroom. On the one hand, ewww, right? But... guess whose booth everyone is going to be heading directly for afterwards? Hah. We also are distinctive because our two dark blue walls; and with the yellow wallpaper on the back wall, it's instant interior day-cor without lifting a finger.

Last look at the old half-booth:

Getting there... I do lovelovelove my dolly. Even the bookcases were a snap to move. I moved the small dishes in the buggy.

Nancy's display table was the last item to move, thanks to Jack's diligent delegation and John's and a pal's strong arms -- and you get a sense of how cavernously cavernous this place is: at least half again as long behind us, three aisles with booths on each side of the aisles on the first floor for a total of three floors of booths and displays and old offices with tons of nooks and crannies:

The goodies in Nancy's display table:

Now to shuffle things around a bit...

And done:

20% OFF Moving Sale 
Vendors 800 & 847 
(excluding jewellery) 
is still on, but it won't be for very much longer. Come and visit us! There are lots of great sales throughout the Antique Mall, so it's worth a visit. Closed July 1st, alas.

New Beads & Items Sold:
Literally winging its way from Afghanistan as I write is a big shipment of individually hand-cut and leather-polished matte lapis and turquoise beads. My dealer told me he has two new traditional tribal designs hundreds of years old, an arrow and a "spoon" shape. I will post pictures as soon as they arrive.

Meanwhile, this month, I've sold several strings of interesting beads from the showcase: gone some time this weekend were the three strings of chunky green Roman glass hanging in the back, as well as the string of raw lapis chunks fourth from the bottom. I still have the white with stripe tube beads hanging on the left, and maybe one remaining of the deep blue with occasional blobby dots of colour tube beads you can see there on the right.

Fave Use of My idiotPhone
That's what the "i" in iPhone stands for, as far as I'm concerned. Meanwhile, I take lots of pictures. I'll tell you, though, when my current contract is up, I will go for whatever model of phone has the best camera -- are you listening, idiotPhone designers? Your public is speaking to you -- yet still processes credit cards. Go, Square! I love you to bits.

I got this order on Saturday at the market and, rather than drive myself nuts trying to write and later decipher a detailed description, I took a picture against a ruler of the exact length my customer wanted using the anklet I made last year and put beside it the bracelet colours she wants matched.

Happy Dominion Day to all you who remember that we are at least still nominally part of the British Empire, and Happy Canada Day to everyone else. Since my typing is done and gone, I will hanging out here in my wonderfully breezy little piece of paradise chasing birds away from my strawberry plants, making jewellery and sorting beads for The Gem Expo in Toronto, which is coming up faster than fast.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday 28 June 2014

New Summer Necklaces...

I've been busy working on restringing a simple but pretty green crystal bead necklace (which I forgot to photograph), as well as coming up with a way to enable my customer to move different pendants she already owns on and off several chains and necklaces with different diameter beads. She also mentioned she wanted the option of hanging several items off this element.

Originally I'd thought of using one of those bails that that has the little lever and hinge which would easily go on and off her necklaces, but the problem is they tend to be too wide to accommodate many of the bails on existing pendants, and they're normally only good to hold one pendant at a time.

Then I remembered I had a sterling silver heart with a little spring lever in it (dunno what else to call it). Because she'd already asked for heart beads in the necklace, I thought it could work (although, personally, in this case I think I'd forgo the crystal hearts):

My customer is tiny -- this necklace (excluding drop, but accounting for the half-inch or so across the top of the heart) is only 14 inches long. After trying it on, we decided that the two crystal hearts were sitting too high up, so I cut off the bottom two links and added them at the top. I also added an extra 7mm jump ring at each end to further adjust the length since this is chunkier than a simple chain, which is what I measured off of originally. She'll be wearing this for a week to see how it fits and decide if it requires any further tweaking.

Further to my post the other day about selling in person versus online, this is the beauty of doing a weekly market. I can make little adjustments of this type while the customer shops. Another regular customer stopped by asking about tweaking a necklace she'd just bought elsewhere -- I think I detected a hint of embarrassment....

This week Nancy went on a burrowing mission through my bins of beads, dug out some forgotten goodies and between us we came up with these necklaces:

I love this blue and I don't care that it's dyed. Aquaterra Jasper with seed beads and a copper-wrapped bone dragonfly pendant:

This is such a happy necklace combo; the colours are like candy: dyed MOP button chakra necklace with bone skull beads:

We're having a 20% off HELP US MOVE Sale at the One of a Kind Antique Mall. I ran into a pal there yesterday who didn't know where our booth was located, so I walked her back. Told her about the sale and when she was admiring the brass kindling box with the leather seat I mentioned that I'd found a newspaper from 1957 in the bottom under the tin liner box, she said that was the year she was born -- and bought the box!

Note that we will be in our new 10x10 booth in the first aisle just past the cash desk either June 30 or July 2nd (the Antique Mall is closed on Tuesday for the holiday).

Playing with my IdiotPhone: amazing, innit, how in the right light (low, in other words -- very low) you can make all the wrinkles, multiple chins and other indignities of age disappear with a little artful hair tucking!

Hmm... but I do need to get my glasses levelled -- or moosh my face around some more.

Yikes -- four weeks minus 2 days until The Gem Expo in Toronto! Hope to see you there.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday 21 June 2014

2-Part Silicon Mould & Paper Clay Class...

Last Monday, I attended the Grand River Bead Society class taught by Cindy Goldrick to learn how to make 2-part silicon moulds and use paper clay to make an object. I talked at length with Pearl Blay. Pearl's instructions are great so I won't repeat them here, but check them out on her blog, The Beading Gem's Journal. I highly recommend you sign up to receive her newsletter.

Here is what I made, with a vintage copper bird medallion (the same one that was used as an example in Pearl's pictures).

It's not until after you mess up... I mean MAKE your first one that you realise that it's good to listen to the directions, tips and tricks. Pearl was right -- waaay too much talking and bead trading, buying and selling and eating was going on. While this looks okaaaaaay... it's very fat and lumpy and doesn't lie flat at all. One of the beauties of the paper clay is that it can be filed and sanded. 

But what a cool technique. I can't believe I haven't played with moulds before. 

Thanks for looking!

Monday 16 June 2014

Selling in person versus online...

It seems like every few weeks I see variations on that question raised in some forum or another. Which is better: online, craft shows, bricks and mortar stores? Where are the best sites? Etsy used to be so good for me; where did all my customers go? Why are craft show sales so dismal?

Here are some of my musings on this. I don't know that one is better over another. From looking around and being a customer myself, I think that being more focused and targeted online seems to result in better sales (and that can mean selling a limited range of items and/or spending all your time and effort servicing that one outlet), whereas being a little more of a generalist, at least in the beginning, seems to work better when selling in person -- but a targeted generalist nonetheless.

Then you get into the question of where the best places to sell are and the best price points for a given venue. Over the years I've learned what it is I prefer to do and where my particular strengths lie.

All in all, I still prefer selling in person. Particularly at the Antique Mall, sales seem to happen when vendors are at their showcases or booths, especially on the weekends. Part of it is because, if we're not there, then the potential customer has to go all the way back to the front of the building to the cash desk, ask for someone to come with a key, then walk all the way back (this place is HUGE) and when it's busy, you could wait a long time to be able to take a closer look at a specific item. Quite frankly, most people won't bother.

It just happened that yesterday I was at the Antique Mall rearranging my showcase with Nancy (who I share a booth with, as well) and while at my showcase we ended up having great conversations with all kinds of people coming by -- and sales!

Sold on Sunday, amethyst, turquoise and Bali silver necklace:

The other half of selling in person anywhere is the potential for additional sales. Because I happened to be there, my customer was able to ask if, A, I had any earrings to go with the necklace; and, B, would it be possible to make some, and, C, I could determine exactly what style she specifically would prefer: short, long, dangly. Now, I normally do make several pairs of earrings loosely designed around certain necklaces, but amethyst earrings in particular tend to sell quite quickly. My mistake has been never to seriously track the styles that sell well and then stay on top of making more.

Another consideration about selling at markets and an Antique Mall type of situation versus a one or two-day craft show is having the luxury of time. Weekly venues typically have a limit on the number of any type of vendor (jewellery, soap, pottery, knitting), whereas at craft shows you could be competing with any number of jewellery vendors, as many as 50% or more these days. Weekly markets are not a one-shot deal where you're only there for a few short hours once a year and the customer has a lot of booths to look at and mere seconds as they walk by to decide if he or she spots something compelling enough to stop -- not to mention limited funds. How many times have you heard (or said to yourself), "I'll come back. I want to look at everything first before I buy anything," and they/you never ever do. With steady venues, it's easy to build up a rapport with potential customers. There's no pressure on them and they get to know and trust you. Having said that, the huge downside to weekly markets is exactly that familiarity. It tends to be the same people coming back week after week and no matter how much people love your jewellery and buy from you, and no matter how you evolve and come up with new and creative pieces, eventually they just... stop... buying.

One exception to "craft" shows that I make is The Gem Expo. Because it's held three times a year over three days, vendors can expect to build up a repeat customer base. This I was told is the only way to succeed in this business; some vendors get emailed orders ready before the show, and within minutes of the doors opening on the first day the orders have been picked up and paid for and for the vendors the rest of their show sales are gravy. Slowly, slowly I am building up repeat customers. I'm getting to know what people are looking for and I'm better targetting my own buying. I've evolved from being a jewellery-maker into being a bead seller. But because I offer a few pieces of jewellery made with the beads I sell, I am now building up a secondary clientele at this show for finished jewellery.

I also have the luxury of my friend Ruth helping me out with sales at this show so that I can spend longer chatting with people when it's required. My first time at the show last July, when I was by myself for the first two days, it was crazy busy for me. I felt like I was short-changing so many people by simply not having an extra minute to talk to them or answer their questions more fully. Ruth was a customer I'd given an impromptu wire-wrapping demo to during a lull on the Friday afternoon, ended up coming back on Sunday (with food, no less! in thanks for the demo), stayed to help me out, and in the interim has become a great friend. Ruth has been helping me at each Gem Expo since.

What works for you?

Thanks for looking!

Friday 13 June 2014

Two Works in Progress...

Didn't get much done this week, except breaking up and pricing strings and strings of beads for The Gem Expo. I always underestimate how long this will take and this year I am determined to start sooner working on items than two days before the show. Must getting old here: my days of pulling all-nighters are long gone. Sigh...

In the meantime, Nancy came over this morning and we played with beads. Here are just two of the things we came up with.

Still needs tweaking, but for now, Chinese turquoise (of which I have lots for the show), raw lapis from Afghanistan via Nelson Gemstones via the Tucson Bead Show and sponge coral separated by handmade African brass and copper beads. This is a fairly heavy necklace, but if it's custom-fitted, it's very wearable.

This got restrung a couple of times, but I think it's a keeper: hand-carved rectangular/angular soapstone and some fairly decent labradorite rounds with a few pewter spacers. It's so hard to get labradorite beads all firing at the same time when photographing them.

Got some earrings to make for the market, as well, this evening. My favourite basket of flowers...

Thanks for looking!

Friday 6 June 2014

Big Things Afoot at the AntMall... & A Pewter Skull & Seed Bead "Sketch"

At the AntMall, aka the One of a Kind Antique Mall, Nancy and Kate have joined me and started putting things into my small space (Booth 800/801 and... I forget the third number). Our big news is on July 2 we will be in a new 10x10 location just a few feet down from the cash desk. For now, we're in my original 5x10 booth, and we're loading it up with cool stuff. Oh -- and before anyone gets too excited, that crazy painting of the tower with the clock in the spectacular gold frame SOLD just minutes after we all left the AntMall Wednesday afternoon.

Yeah, this painting of a tower with a real clock set into the painting... buh-bye.

Tomorrow, Nancy and I will be adding items to the walls. We scored a pile of pegboard hooks and frame hangers on Thursday at Flim Flam in Brantford (my all-time favourite art and bead findings supply store that's sadly, heartbreakingly going out of business, and they're selling everything to the walls). Over the summer and fall, we'll be scouring estate sales and garage sales to find new goodies. 

Meanwhile, on other fronts, here's a little seed bead "sketch" of a pewter skull bracelet or choker design -- most likely both -- that I think is a keeper. It'd make a great anklet if anyone is interested.

Here are the finished the antique glass necklaces (I believe the beads are from Afghanistan) -- blue tube beads with coloured spots -- that I put together for Brenda, my fellow vendor, who has Showcase 861. She's got great sterling silver pendants and spectacular semi-precious silver rings all at incredible prices. You gotta check her out. 

 Thanks for looking!

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Happy Student, Happy Customer & Happy Me...

Here is some of the work (mostly perfecting her wrapping technique) that my student Nancy Mac has been been working on over the winter:

I was a very happy camper yesterday: I'd sold these earrings on Saturday at the market and then Monday I sold the necklace to Brenda, a fellow vendor at the Antique Mall. I'd only ever made the one pair of half-hoopish earrings but, while I like the shape, had no idea of their wearability. Brenda told me they're very comfortable and she's been wearing them non-stop. 

Those iridescent blue/purple seed beads are impossible to photograph, but for some reason when I photographed the necklace a few days ago through the glass in my showcase and under the ambient/artificial lighting, the colour -- and outrageous contrast -- came out a little better. 

Nancy Mac and I went halfsies on an unusual Baltic amber collar necklace with double-drilled slightly isosceles trapazoids that Brenda had at her booth. It's the double-drilling that keeps the individual pieces from flipping up out of position when wearing it, and an interesting sign of quality and workmanship that I've never run across before. 

My bits, divided up and mixed in with turquoise rondelles, will be wending their way to the Saturday market and/or showcase soon. I also have to finish off two strings of Roman glass, wire-wrap two pendants and string a heishi necklace -- all commissions. I'll be busy this week. I'll post pictures when they're done. 

Thanks for looking!

PS: As of this morning, my robin is back sitting on her nest. 

Sunday 1 June 2014

Miscellaneous Meanderings...

On Friday, roaming around with a pal thrift-shopping, I found this stunning... um... thing. I have a terrible feeling it was an unappreciated wedding gift that surreptitiously found its way to a local thrift store. It's now in my OOAK Antique Mall showcase. Dying to know who made it, if anyone knows or recognises the style. It's really gorgeous and the photo does not do it justice. It's opaque glass, except for the centre horizonal circle of glass, the top bowl is a light lavender colour and the bottom pedestal is a light, periwinkle blue. The pinstripe edging is hot pink.

If it doesn't sell, then I'll keep it.

On Saturday, after a really slow start, the market ended up pretty good re sales for me. I had several returning customers and lots more new people stopped by. In a moment of weakness I bought incredibly fresh Spud's Finest Kettle Chips from Barries Asparagus, North Dumfries, near Cambridge. Okay. I confess. I bought TWO bags. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, I've eaten both already. They are sooooo good. They also manufacture tortilla chips which include asparagus flour.

I don't normally do this, but I couldn't resist: fresh hamburgers from The Butcher's Blend at the market, most particularly the cheddar, bacon and jalapeno burger. Oh, my... As an experiment, I added nothing during or after cooking, no oil, no salt, no pepper, no condiments, no bun, simply pan-fried it dry. Holy moley it was so good... if a little more underdone than I normally like it. I'll cook the next one longer, plus I have a chicken burger and a turkey burger to taste-test this week.

Unlike myself, the robin is still hard at work:

9:00 a.m., Friday 30 May 2014, solid foundation now in place:

2:50 p.m., Friday 30 May 2014, taking shape, from the side:

2:50 p.m., Friday 30 May 2014, taking shape, from the front:

12:34 p.m., Sunday 01 June 2014, structurally sound:

2:50 p.m., Sunday 01 June 2014, wall of the nest is getting higher:

Rearranging pots, adding more baskets to the lilac tree. The tendrils of the purple and white bacopa are getting longer in all the pots. My hope is that together they will make a wall of flowers to shelter a sitting area from the driveway:

Jewellery? Phhht. I'll get to it... eventually.

Thanks for looking!