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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pendant City

It's dreary and rainy in Richmond today, so that means a good studio day for me!  I got some more discs cut out yesterday among research, errands, dog-walking, and house-hunting, so today I was ready to go with the kiln!  And despite slicing my finger open on an unruly little earring (tsk tsk), I feel pretty good about today's work.  I enameled 12 reversible pendants.  The ones with 2 discs are a new design and will be debuted on etsy after I get some good photos taken.  Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow.   Hmmmm... I feel a song coming on.... (yes, yes, go ahead, my name is Annie... you know the rest.)

Anyway, here's a quick studio shot of today's enameling work.  The colors aren't the greatest because of the flash and angle, but like I said, a quick studio shot. 
One the right side of the photo you will see one side of the pendants, and on the left are the reverses of the same pendants.  Hence, reversible.  Fun!

These are also in the same color schemes as last week's earrings, so hopefully that will lead to sets being purchased.  Woo-hoo!  I'm also thinking some rings would be fun.  I'll have to work out the specifics, but I have a few sketches and a couple ideas in mind.  I will need to purchase some sterling silver though - so I'll need some buyers.  (Tell your friends!)

Until next time.... thanks for reading!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Slow Week

I will confess, this hasn't been the best week business-wise.  Those distractions of life again.  Buster the pupster has been a little bit of a challenge, among other things.  I know, I know... it's no excuse!  Shame on me.  I have been working a little each day, editing the photos I took last weekend and putting the new work up on etsy.  You can see them all here:  CopperTide on Etsy

I've posted 19 pairs of enameled disc earrings, 13 of which have 3 photos each, so I've spent A LOT of time in Photoshop.  I've had several views for each pair, but no buyers yet.  From what I understand, getting your first buyer is the toughest because people like to buy from someone who has sold to others and gotten positive feedback.  So we'll just hope someone is brave enough to try it out!  I've also been promoting on my facebook page and the CopperTide facebook page, but I don't want to bore people, so I think I will post a little less frequently there than I have been.

I'm going to get back in the studio and make some pendants to go with the earrings this week.  And I'll have Gabardine to regulate to keep me in line...

So I'll be back in a few days with some updates... Until then, happy weekend and thanks for reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Brand Spankin' New Enameled Disc Trio Earrings on Etsy

Here it is:  CopperTide on Etsy

Woot woot!

It's kind of amazing how much work goes into this.  I spent the morning finishing up some photoshop edits for the new Enameled Disc Trio Earrings.  There are only six pairs of these, mind you, but the computer was running slow - need to do some housekeeping there.  Also, I'm a little anal about my photos, so I probably do a little more editing than is actually completely necessary, but what can I say?  I like them to look good! 

I also spent some time this weekend writing my etsy shop policies and getting all that business cleaned up.  Then the last 2 1/2 hours have been spent uploading photos, writing item descriptions, tagging, etc.  Just for six items.  But hopefully since I've put in more time and effort this time around, I will get some results.  (Tell your friends!) 

I don't know that etsy is really the way to go for all of this, things tend to get lost within an hour of posting.  There's just so much on there.  So I've decided to spread out my postings over a few days (Also because they haven't all been edited yet - that pesky business with life getting in the way over the weekend again.)  But I will post here each time I upload new work, and you can see what I've been up to.  I'm also going to look into setting up my website for better buyer's access.  Which may include finding a new host.  We'll see... I only have about 2 weeks to decide before I have to renew my subscription with my current host, Other People's Pixels, which is great for displaying your artist portfolio in any medium, but maybe not the best for selling.  Oh boy, more research!  A friend suggested Big Cartel, so I'll be looking into that one for sure.  I'll post updates on what I find out.

In the meantime, here's a sampling of Trio Disc Earrings.  Let me know what you think!

Bird of Paradise Disc Trios 

 Crocus Disc Trios

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Photos and Marketing, Woot Woot!

Finally!  The sun is back out, and I can go outside and set up for photographing the new earrings!  I want all of my product photos to be consistent for etsy and other online venues, so I've been waiting for a pretty day for shooting.  I had high hopes about yesterday afternoon.  It was nice out, but lots of clouds passing by, and just not consistent light.  I know, I know, I could set up a photo booth and use artificial light that would always be consistent, but the glow of natural light is just so much more pleasing to me.
So I occupied myself otherwise.  On these past couple of dreary days, I set up and took a few shots by the window, just for business cards and promo materials.  (It took a good deal of photoshopping to get brightness I wanted, but I think it will work just fine for this purpose.)

Here's what I came up with for a new business card

I thought it was kinda cool to use the photo of the actual earrings as a graphic element.  It's important to show off your style and your actual work if possible, and I think this was a good way to do both.  And I had a bit of help on text sizes and placement from my marketing whiz sister.  Thanks, Cat! 

And I thought my web banner should coincide, something to carry the theme through all my marketing.  And I will extend it to other things in the future.  So here's the banner for my etsy site (which will have new pieces up this weekend!  I'll post the link as soon as I get them up!)

So I'm pretty pleased with all that. And here's an interesting marketing tip I got from an etsy blogger:  She said that one thing that really impresses your buyers and makes them want to be a repeat customer is just to add a little something extra, a little piece of SWAG or something that comes in their order. And to make it even more useful to you as a seller, make it something that they might actually want to use so your name gets out there even more.  Something like a pin or sticker or a magnet, just something small but interesting-looking, so that when their friends see it, they'll ask about it, and your marketing is working!  Well, I wanted to include a link to that post, but I can't find it now.  Sorry.  But that's the general idea. 
I like the idea of magnets.  I mean, if i ordered something and got a cool magnet for free, I would totally stick it on my fridge.  Right?  Sure, postcards are great, but they don't stick by themselves... So I'm thinking I might order a few magnets in the style of the business card when I order the cards from Vista Print.  They do a great job for a great price.  If you want to use your own design like I am, you just upload it right to their site and they'll print it up. You can even get free business cards if you like one of their 45 templates and are willing to let them print their logo on the back.  Doesn't work if you want to use your own design like I do, but nonetheless, a viable option.  Just puttin' that out there.

So there's a little bit from the marketing end, and I'll be posting photos of finished earrings later on!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Disc Earrings Du Jour

Alrighty, I just finished a 5-hour enameling session, and I feel pretty good about the work I got done today.  Friday after my posting, I ended up cutting out more discs for more earrings, so I didn't get as many enameled that afternoon as I had planned.  So I finished those up today.  The weekend didn't really lend itself to much work in the studio.  Mark and I got involved Saturday cleaning out the rest of the boxes from our move - they were driving us nuts!  It's only been 6 weeks, so we didn't think that was tooooo bad, but it was definitely time.  That and general domestic duties took up most of the day.  The house looks sooo much better!   

So this is my enameling set-up.  Pretty sweet.

And here is a photo of this round of enamels. 

They still have to be filed and then fitted with earwires and findings, but the hard part is done.  Actually, it's really not that hard, it's pretty fun, just time-consuming.  You just have to know how each enamel reacts in the kiln and with the pickle (the chemical bath that is used to clean dirt and firescale off the metal) and how to treat it.  All that just comes with experience. 

Then comes photography.  That will probably happen tomorrow, so I can use the nice morning light.  I usually prefer natural light for photographing enamels because the colors come out the truest that way.   This actually isn't bad color-wise, but the reflections from the flash are no good.  Another thing I like about natural light: no flash.  One of these days I'll make a nice photo booth.  Until then...

I'm off to file disc edges now... Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Studio Time!

Yesterday I got a little computer work and some research done.  I have an idea for my new logo, business card, etc, for production pieces including an image of actual enameled earrings.  But whoops!  I left most of my inventory of enamel disc earrings and such at Urban Artware, a fabulously fun and funky gallery in Winston-Salem, when I was in NC last week.  Well, I needed to make more anyway, so that's what I started working on yesterday afternoon.  I cut out lots of discs for round one, which I hope to enamel today.  At least most of them.

Here's a photo of my studio set-up.  It's in what would be the dining room at the front of the house.  Who needs a dining room when you can have a rockin' metals studio??  The lighting during the day is not bad, windows all along the front wall, but at night the dim chandelier lighting is not so good.  Lamps help, but we're going to have to do something about that soon.

That orange tool cabinet is the best!  My mom found it at a consignment shop and painted it for me as a studio warming gift when I was moving into my last apartment, which was the first time I had an actual room devoted just to the studio.  (It had been in my living room previously.)  But yeah, she rocks!  And it gives me a place to revel in my OCD.

I love hammers!!!

But I digress...

I like to start by planning what color combinations to use by getting out all my little enamel samples and arranging them in sets of 2 and 3.  I am definitely ready for spring, and this week's color combinations are inspired by springiness, flowers - I have crocus blooming in my yard, and just brightness in general!

So here are some of the copper discs I will enamel today.

I'll be back with some finished earrings later! 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Beginnings - First Things First

Well, I started a blog.  Among other things. 

I plan for this blog to be a documentation of the start and growth of my jewelry business, CopperTide.  I guess it's fair to say that CopperTide actually started about 3 years ago, but it has remained very small.  And by very small, I mean that I have shown work in a few juried exhibitions recently, I sell work (usually on a consignment basis) in various local galleries, I have a website,,  that has sold a few pieces and generated a little interest, and I started an etsy page that did not sell anything.  So I took a little break from that while a few other things were going on in my life...
Here's a little background info so you know where I'm coming from:
I studied jewelry and metal design at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.  After I graduated in 2003, I moved to Winston-Salem, and began showing some work in local galleries.  But my official employment at the time was for Jon Kuhn, a world-renowned glass artist.  I'm sure as this blog progresses, many stories from that time period will surface, but we'll just leave it at that for now... As a few years went by working for another artist, I wanted more and more to start growing my own business. 
Well, I lost my job in 2009 with the downturn of the economy.  Apparently people were not as interested in buying $10K-$100K glass sculptures.  Go figure.  So I started working for NC Black Co, a growing tool company based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC which is owned and run by some of my very good friends, also metalsmiths.  The company makes hammers and micro-forming tools, and they teach workshops in micro-forming, engraving, and, starting this year, I will be teaching micro-raising for them.  More to come on that later.  But anyway, I had the whole job transition thing going on, and was very inspired by the work with NC Black (because you know I had to try out the tools!), and I decided it was finally time to persue graduate school.  So I began working on my portfolio for grad school submissions.  Also, I was busy planning and doing all sorts of creative fun things, as well as not-so-fun business things, for my wedding.  I got married in August 2010 to my wonderful husband Mark.  He just finished up his masters in occupational therapy in December of 2010, then it was time for me to submit my portfolio for grad school admissions in January.  Still waiting to hear about that... but I hope to be starting grad school at VCU in the fall.  And as that is the plan, Mark needed a job, and we figured if we needed to be in Richmond, VA by August, he might as well look for a job there.  So we moved to Richmond by the end of January.  And as if that wasn't enough change in our lives, we adopted a stray german shepherd mix puppy about 3 weeks ago.  And by puppy, I mean 86 pounds of pure puppy energy.  His name is Buster, and trust me, he's living up to that name.  There's a lot going on.

So my number one enemy : distractions.  But now that things are settling down just a leeeeetle, I'm in Richmond and not working for anyone else right now (other than the up-coming workshops I'll be teaching), it's time to focus on my business.  I'm a huge list-maker, so I'm making a schedule of how to go about all of this - not just making the jewelry, that's just a small part of it - the promotion and marketing and all the other fun business stuff that no artist really wants to do.   My first two projects are :

1. New logo, business cards, promo material, etc

2. Revamp my etsy page.  Including new photos, better descriptions, joining forums, and promotion, promotion, promotion.

Plus make more jewelry to get out there.  So, ok.  I will post updates on how those things are all going plus tips and tricks that I learn along the way to help get this started!  It takes a lot of time and hard work, but I'm up for the challenge.  Please follow my progress, and leave me comments along the way.

So here we are... and here we go.........