≡ Menu

May Giveaway, Multiple Items and Sponsors

GiverawayBannerMay2015It’s monthly giveaway time again and we’ve got some great prizes. The giveaway runs for one month from April 27 through May 26. Here’s more about these fabulous prizes and our sponsors. The contest is open to U. S. citizens residing int he continental U. S.






1Sponsor 1.  James Clancy is giving away a gift certificate worth $35 in merchandise. The winner will can choose from photos such as these and more.


James Clancy is an Irish fine art photographer and an illustrator living in Berlin. His work features black and white photography of nature and romantic noir and literary art prints inspired by quotes from famous writers and philosophers collected over the years from travels abroad to city and nature landscapes throughout the world. Here’s a link to his Etsy shop 

n006aSponsor 2. Serendipitini Jewelry is giving away a white recycled glass necklace. The eco friendly necklace is adjustable with antiqued copper charms. $25 value.

Serendipitini Jewelry features handmade jewelry which incorporates wire wrapping, recycled glass, ceramics and semi precious stones. Here’s a link to the Etsy shop. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway





20150423_101325 Suncatcher2Since we celebrated Earth Day this week I thought I would share trash to treasure eco friendly project I just completed made from recycled glass. While helping clean out a storage shed at my church last week I rescued a large sheet of glass that was headed for the dumpster.  It looks like the thick glass they put on top of offices desks. One corner section was broken off.

I make all kinds of sun catchers and some of my favorites have been from glass dessert plates. Here a photo of one. But these square glass plates are hard to come by unless you want to invest big bucks for a complete set of dinner plates as well. I thought maybe I could make some similar ones by using float glass which is like the window glass and picture frame glass and I had already invested in a glass slumping mold for a dessert size plates. All I needed was to find a sizable sheet of glass. So it was a serendipity moment when I stumbled upon that large broken sheet of glass.

Here a photo of the prepped dessert plate slumping mold. The purple tint is from Primo Primer used to coat the mold so the glass won’t stick.


20150423_10133220150423_101437The picture on top left is what the plate came out looking like. It has a faint aqua tint. I like it so much I want to make a set for our house.

This one though will be made into a sun catcher. I glue on copper wire for the leaf stems and then use tumbled glass which I shape to make the leaf design which I glue on.




20150420_113918I finished up  some Bohemian Jewelry yesterday. These handmade wire wrapped earrings come in an assortment of colors.

Here’s how I make them.

I use a white clay which I roll out to about 1/4″ thick then cut with small round cutters similar to cookie cutters.

Once I am done cutting all my clay shapes, I then use metal buttons that have a variety of designs on them to impress imprint into these buttons. Usually I will put a hole in the clay with a shish kebab skewer but I wanted these to be inside a silver plated jewelry hoop and they didn’t need the holes.

Next, I let them dry for about a week. Then I clean them up and sand them, clearing off the dust.

Next come kiln firing to harden them into bisque.

I then paint them with 2-3 coats of low fire glaze according to the glaze directions.

Back into the kiln they go for the fast glaze firing.

E030ObThey come out looking like candy. Delicious.

I insert each finished button inside a silver plated wire jewelry hoop.

18 gauge wire is used to wrap around the hoop and then around the ceramic button at random intervals.

The final step is attaching the earring backs.

You’ll find these and several other colors in my Orange Earrings

Yellow Earrings



Having just returned from the local UKC dog show in Hickory, I have just added three new dog necklace designs. I mentioned a few of these in my last post but didn’t include all the links. In case you wonder, I do pet coasters, pet necklaces, and pet ornaments and these include dog, cat and horse silhouette designs. Any new designs I add  are limited to breeds (not individual owners pet profiles) .  I can’t add these new pet breed design to ornaments because they involve a more expensive printing method of bulk silhouettes.

Here are the new pet necklace designs and links to them in my SerendipitiniPet Etsy shop.

BergerPicardneckCU2Berger Picard Dog Necklace










americanhairlessneckcuAmerican Hairless Dog Necklace










BasenjineckcuBasenji Dog Necklace


20150412_111534OldEnglishSheepDog225This past weekend I was at the Hickory Metro Center with my gifts for pet lover for the United Kennel Club (UKC) dog show. It was my first dog show and what an educational experience. If you are not familiar with UKC, they  have many rare breeds although they also welcome American Kennel Club (AKC) breeds. They describe themselves as “the largest all-breed performance dog registry in the world.” And where other kennel clubs place emphasis on just the dog’s looks, UKC also stresses performance.

Many of those showing dogs are pioneers, working on perfecting breeding of lesser known breeds and they hope that once breeds are standardized and have grown to a level of acceptance, to have them recognized and accepted by the AKC. Other differences include the fact that the owners show the dogs themselves in the ring rather than paid showers and the UKC seems more family oriented.

Events include conformation (judging of the dog based on breed standards including,  look, stride and more; weight pulling (dogs pull a weighted cart); drag racing (where dogs chase after an object) and more.
Pictured is an award winning Old English Sheepdog who took several first place ribbons. She’s one huge fluff ball and looks like a 20150412_091630stuffed animal. Wouldn’t you love to snuggle with her? Groomers spend hours grooming their dogs. Her owner bought a dog ornament from me.Here’s a link to the ornaments in my Serendipitini Pet shop on Etsy.

My booth was next to a vendor who had a pretty cool operation. He and his wife make custom handbags including those embroidered with dog images and they even had the embroidery machine there (you can see it to the right) so he could do custom orders on site. Their business is called dixebags.com and they travel to many different craft and dog shows selling their wares.

I just finished a custom order dog necklace for a lady who was at the dog show. She breeds Berger Picards, a French shepherd breed. These dogs look a lot like Tramp from Lady and the Tramp.  I have now added Berger Picards to my dog necklace selection and can also take orders for coasters.

Here’s a photo of the finished necklace beside a photo of a Berger Picard. In addition to this breed I just added American Hairless coasters and necklaces to my etsy shop. So I’ve included photos of those below.



americanhairlessneckcuAmerican Hairless Terrier Necklace

. AmericanHairlessCUAmerican Hairless Terrier Coasters.


PICBLOG003Milica from from Starseed Jewelry is guest blogging today. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia so I am delighted to be able to do this cultural exchange of sorts. I’ve invited her to share more about her work. Here’s more about Milica in her own words.

( Note: To view more of a description of the items pictured and how they were made, click on the photos.)

My academic artistic background includes a college degree in textile design and a MA in costume and fashion design.Most of the time I have worked as a designer in mass fashion industry, both in my country and in the USA.

I have always been impressed with yarns and what kind of wonders could be made from just a single piece of yarn, so my specialization was, ultimately, a knitwear design, using yarns of various gauges. Although I was trained to design garments produced on industrial machines, I have bought a “Brother” single bed knitting machine and started learning a technique that is very unique because it includes both knitting and weaving.

Tiara - wire wrapping, wire crochet, wire bead embroidery

That had to be put on hold because I’ve got an opportunity to live and work in USA. I have spent 3 years in NYC’s garment district, working in a very fast paced knitwear industry. One of the most unusual things for me to see there ( and that was during years 2000-2003)  were young, hot, fancy girls who would sit in subway metro, crocheting and knitting wonderful, colorful garments and amugurumi figurines! You are unfamiliar with amugurumi it is a crocheted or knitted stuffed toys especially popular with the Japanese people. Here’s a sample and you can read a little more about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amigurumi

In my own country, such activities were reserved for old grannies, nannies and some very old-fashioned mommies – not young girls. Items produced this way, – most of them being table cover sets or retro TV top covers—aren’t valued and are considered  worthless kitsch! That was also my opinion until once I walked into an “Anthropologie” store. At first I wasn’t sure if it is a store or a museum\exhibition.  That helped me understand how amazing the world of knitting and crocheting could be. I immediately fell in love with and started learning how to crochet.

Upon arriving back in my country, I decided to leave the fashion industry and to pursue making unique, handmade items. At first I worked with yarns, making various garments like tank-tops, bags, hats, scarves, hair accessories, mobile phone cases, and various appliques (like butterflies, floral motifs, etc.) .

Necklace - various wire and fiber techniques 2

I would embellish them additionally with beads, sequins and ribbons. Sometimes I would decorate the surface of the tightly crocheted garments with freehand embroideries, with or without beads and sequins. It all led me to making jewelry pieces, from crocheted yarns and beads until I discovered a fine gauge wire in a flower supply shop. At the time, (2008) I needed it for a different purpose, but somewhere, in the back of my mind, I had a vague vision it could be nice to try to knit and crochet with wire.

One day I ran out of yard, and my hands, now addicted to meditatively repetitive work, needed something to crochet with. I noticed the wire on the table and thought “Why not?!” and started crocheting with it. What came out seemed like pure magic. I loved that wire jewelry elements can be additionally shaped by hands or other objects and tools. At first I made a few trials, but immediately progressed to complete jewelry projects, from bracelets and necklaces, to rings and earrings. Being lightweight and with a lacy structure, they were unusually modern and romantic at the same time. I decided to make a brand and to publish my works on Blogger. In 2009 I think I was among those first on the Internet to come out with wire crochet jewelry. The beauty of it is that you only need a crochet needle, a wire, and very little jewelry supplies like clasps, ear wires, etc.

By 2011, it became widely spread and I felt I needed to progress into something else. I wanted to keep  working with wire crochet, but needed some kind of wire frame around it. That’s how I found out about wire wrapping and wire weaving techniques. I enrolled in a basic level copper wire workshop, where I learned how to bend and manipulate the wire, and how to use basic tools like round nose pliers, cutters, chasing hammer, etc., how to add texture to wire with different kinds of hammers, andhow to polish and  dd patina to finished pieces, etc.

Now that I am skilled with wire wrapping and wire weaving, I have started making jewelry by combining many fiber art techniques in a single piece of great complexity. My goal is to make a piece that not even I can easily reproduce. So, I combine everything: from different wires (copper, brass and silver plated) of various gauges in techniques like wire wrapping, wire weaving, wire crochet and wire twisting. Sometimes, I even make wire embroidery over finished piece, with, or without beads, for a final touch. And sometimes, even I have no idea how did I make it, at the first place.

What I love about all of these techniques combined is that I can create designs not previously planned or determined. Sometimes I do make drawings and follow the design. But I prefer to let the wire and beads show me their own way, during the design process. I never know how it will look at the end. Lately, I have started to mix wire and cotton threads and fabrics/textiles, adding new techniques like macramé, knotting, cotton thread weaving around the wire frame, etc. This way I can make a wide palette of unique items, from bridal jewelry and hair accessories, over both contemporary crochet and vintage wire wrapping pieces, to boho and tribal, eclectic style jewelry.

Instead of drawings, I like to make research, look for inspiration and make mood boards based on search results. Then I carefully plan colors, bead mix, type of wires. Usually, the bead mix alone tells me how to arrange them and what to make: a single piece like a necklace or a headband, or entire line of jewelry pieces. For a little while more, I’ll be experimenting with this kind of complexity that includes many tiny and mostly glass beads. After that I plan to work with fewer beads and to move more toward simplicity, with a bolder wire, embellished with few semi-precious stones, here and there.

You can find more on Milica’s work on her blog http://mystarseed.blogspot.com/  and on her Facebook Page


{ 1 comment }

Five Tips for Preventing Fear of Failure Freeze Up

BuzzI just made myself a promise to share not only my triumphs but my struggles in my journey to become a self-supporting artisan entrepreneur. I feel pressured to be an amazing success since I quit my full time job in January to pursue my art full time. I know a lot of people thought I was crazy but I can’t also help feel that they secretly envy me as well. After all, how many people really enjoy their jobs?

They are watching. Will I fall or rise. I feel a kinship to Buzz Lightyear. Leaving steady work for the unknown is best compared to jumping off a tall building and hoping my toy wings open and allow me to soar as the ground draws nearer and nearer. You might say I’m falling with style.

What I hadn’t counted on was how long it takes to build a business, even one that that’s been running on the side for a couple of years. You have to work at it every day like a farmer, tilling the soil, planting, watering and weeding. If you are persistent, you will eventually get a crop, but it can take a while.

And that’s where I am at. I’ve been watching my savings dwindle as I work on my handmade gifts and look for viable markets. Am I making headway? Yes, I think so. I have landed my work in multiple gift shops and am waiting anxiously for consignment checks to come in as some of these shops, especially the coastal ones are just preparing to open for the season. I hadn’t considered when targeting coastal gift shops which I felt would be a good fit for some of my stuff, exactly when those sales would start coming in. I’ve also learned areas where I shouldn’t sell my work. Wrong clientele. Wrong income level. You name it. It’s a learning process.

Time will tell if I have chosen the right places and listed my items at the right prices. The waiting is killing me and the pressure to succeed is freezing up my creativity. The lie I have told myself is that everything I make, especially now that I have no alternative income to rely on, has to be a hit out of the park. These unrealistic expectations create such anxiety that it’s effecting my creative juices. I am afraid to keep creating. Writers call this writer’s block.

Can you identify with any of these challenges? Here are some tips I plan on implementing to prevent fear of failure freeze up.

1) Stop telling yourself each thing you make must be perfect. Every successful entrepreneur has had great successes and great failures. If everyone did what was safe, then there would be no successes. Consider Thomas Edison. It took him 99 or so tries to get a working light bulb. Tell yourself you are in “college” learning processes that will help you succeed.

2)  When fatigued by all the marketing and production, give yourself permission to work on something you don’t have to make and sell. Switching venues or taking a lengthy break and doing something else can revamp creative juices.

3)  Celebrate each success no matter how small: a new market landed, a small sale, a new person connected with through networking

4)  Find a mentor. Who do you admire. Who seems to be successful? Draw inspiration from them. They don’t need to know you see them as a mentor…Find what works for you and adapt it.

5) Don’t let social media pressures overwhelm you. There are too many options out there. Limit how many you are involved in and choose one or two with which you are most comfortable.



How to Make Frit from Recycled Glass

TSC005Bahere are many ways to work with recycled glass,  from creating wine bottle candles, to using recycled glass bottles in jewelry like beach glass. If you have a kiln, you can also fuse glass to create suncatchers, plates and more. By crushing class you can also fuse into molds to create some remarkable handmade gifts.

Pictured are a few things I have made from crushed recycled glass. This crushed glass is called frit.  Here’s a tutorial I made that shows the simplest method for making frit.  I have also used a large metal pot and sledge hammer to make frit which is faster but is pretty hard on the pot. Presently I use an electric frit shooter which was purchased from Devardi Glass to make larger quantities of frit. Here’s a link to their page which includes video tutorial on how to use an electric frit shooter and no, I don’t get any commission for referring you to them. For for beginners, the mortar and pestal mentioned in this vidoe tutorial is a great way to start.



What Price Do I Ask for My Handmade Items?

2014-11-04 09.35.47Those who don’t make handmade may not understand how artisans and artists  arrive at the price for their finished prices. Those who do make handmade don’t always ask what they should. Sometimes artisans are so thrilled to sell their work, they are just excited that someone bought what they made.  The price is secondary. Sadly, they are cheating themselves.

It’s one thing to sell handmade gifts as a hobby and another to consider yourself a professional. If you want to make a living at your art, you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask a fair price. If you work with consignment stores and galleries whose fees range from 30 – 50%, then you need to make sure you have marked up your price so you make a profit. What about those craft show and art show americaneskimocoastersdecalfees? Are you calculating that into your overhead?

At a recent artists’ gathering, pricing one’s work was discussed. One seasoned, successful visual artist cautioned folks against having variable fees. “Galleries frown on finding the work you offer them cheaper elsewhere.” Stick with the same price for your work wherever you go. This same artist went on the say that she priced her artwork by the inch and that the more sales you have under your belt the more you should feel comfortable raising your fees.

WA1001aThe general public doesn’t really understand this, so when they make a comment about your pricing, don’t take it to heart. You are not a manufacturer but are an artisan. Each item you craft is handmade not produced on an assembly line nor is it imported. Many non-artistic people have no idea of the expense and effort that goes into artwork.

If you find your work is not selling at the price you are asking, consider the following: Is it desirable?  Is it displayed well?  Is it being sold where your target market hangs out? These are just a few things to consider before changing your price.

Pricing Formula

There are various pricing formulas available to help you calculate your retail price.  The one I use was posted on Etsy’s wholesale team forums. I also developed a pricing work sheet for calculating costs. I’ve included that as a download at the end of this blog post article. You are welcome to use it and share it with others. Here’s the pricing formula I use.

1) Cost of Labor: labor price per hour x how long it take to produce

Ex. Labor cost is $15 per hour x 2 hours to produce = $30

2) Cost of Materials: Sum of the unit price of each material x how much is needed for the finished product

Ex. $30 Shantung lining at $16/yd x 1.5 yds used = $24

3) Subotal: Cost of Labor + Cost of Materials

Ex. $30 + $24 = $54

4) Overhead: 20% of Subtotal

Overhead includes things like shipping, electricity, rent on studio space, other incidentals

Ex. $54 x .20=10.80

5) Base Cost:  Subtotal + Overhead

Ex. $54 + $10.80=$64.80

6) Proft: 20% (varies, your choice; I’d recommend calculating higher) of Base Cost

Ex. $64.80 x .20 = $12.96

Ex.$64.80 x .50 = $32.40

7) Wholesale Price:  Base Cost + Profit

Ex.64.80 + $12.80 = $77.76

Ex. $64.80 + $32.40 = $97.20

8) Retail Price: Wholesale price x 2

Some retailers go as high as 3 x wholesale

Retail markup covers the costs incurred in selling – retail space,rent, customer service time, shipping expenses, etc.

Ex. $77.76 x 2 = $155.52

Ex. $97.20 x 2 = $194.40

The two areas where you have most room to adjust the price are in profit, and in the wholesale to retail markup. You don’t want to skimp on items, 1, 2, or 4 or you will not be covering your costs.

Here’s the link to my Pricing Worksheet






March/ April Giveaway, Multiple Items and Sponsors

GiverawayBannerAprilIt’s monthly giveaway time again and we’ve got several items to giveaway. The contest is open to U. S. citizens and we have now extended our contest running to last a month. This contest will run March 27 through April 26, 2015. Now, on to our fabulous giveaway items.



March-Giveaway1.  From Ellen of the Chilly Dog Blog. You can choose any in-stock knitting needle case, crochet hook case or project bag in the “For Your Hooks and Needles” collection of her shop, thechillydog.storenvy.com




2.  From Home Staging by Patricia.


Yours free, a virtual color consultation of a room of your choice by an experienced Interior Color Professional.  Patricia Justice will help you with finding the perfect color choice for that one room you really want to make a special place!  This package is valued at $150. For more info contact 434-944-9686 or email  wvandnc@hotmail.com


turqhoopearr3.  From Serendipitini Jewelry. Genuine turquoise hoop pierced earrings. Silver plated hoops with silver plated lever back ear wires. Turquoise tube beads and silver plated ball beads. Hoops measure 1″.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial