Sunday, January 31, 2010

Going back to NYC

My trips to New York City have now become an annual thing. I take one of my daughters for a long weekend and we shop for clothes, see a show, and explore if we have time. But this year I'll be taking both girls. Over the years we have all found some places we always want to go back to.

We've had some success at sample sales. We never see the same designer twice. But each year we take our chances with whoever is running a sale on our weekend and hope for the best. When we find some great deals in sizes we can actually wear, it's like winning the lottery.

I personally need to stop at the Garage Antique Mall on West 25th. I've been 2 or 3 times and have found some great vintage clothing and things that I can use in my steampunk jewelry. But I've never had time to explore the 2nd floor. So this year that's where I'm starting.

We never fail to find a bead store or two, even when we're not looking for them. Last year we bumped into Beads World on Broadway, spent about 2 hours in there, and found some great findings. I never thought I'd ever be buying anything but precious metals but since steampunk I'm always using copper and brass chains.
So while I wait for a discount rate at the Affinia Manhattan, right across the street from Penn Station, I'll be looking at Broadway show reviews and getting excited about going to the city again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My split personality

Jansjems started out as gemstone and precious metal jewelry. It's what I love to make and wear.

So I started 2010 creating a few things using some ideas that have been bouncing around inside my head. Last fall I bought some gold filled curved tubes with this particular design in mind.

And as I don't make a lot of gold pieces, I designed this citrine and bronzite bracelet. And after looking around in my stash, I also put together a few other pieces.

But steampunk is just so popular that we ended last year with only about 6 items. So as I ran out of conventional ideas, it was really nice to have a box of watch parts and some keys from auctions I'd won. Creating from found objects is a bit more of a challenge as the pieces are all odd sizes, you rarely find 2 the same and attaching them together takes a little creativity as I don't do welding. But I really like these new pendants and I think the customers will too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Acquisitions Budgets Here and There

So we had a guest speaker at the Library All Staff Meeting today. The Provost arrived with a power point presentation about the state of the university budget. It’s not a pretty picture. But the plan is to try to increase income by doing things to attract out of state students who pay more in tuition. Last year they offered merit scholarships to 250 students and 20 matriculated. This year they plan to offer scholarships to 1700 students in the hopes of attracting 200-300. And the plan is to add another 300 students each year. But as he explained, if these students stay for 4 years we hope to come out ahead even after the cost of the scholarships, additional housing, creating more classrooms, etc.

So although my little jewelry business has been running in the red for 3 years now, I continue to invest in it. I've tried the $30 tables at church bazaars. I've used draped sheets over an inexpensive folding table. I've tried selling online on Etsy and now 1000 Markets. But after being accepted into a couple of higher end shows, I learned that my customers are at the juried art shows.

I barely took in $1000 in my first year. But the following January I used that money to buy a tent, fabric for swag curtains, and large framed photos of my jewelry. I bought matching hanging mirrors and 4 height adjustable tables, and I sewed custom fitted table covers. And on the first warm day in March we set up the tent complete with jewelry displays on our back deck (the backyard was still too wet) and took pictures. You see, the high end juried shows not only want pictures of your designs, they want to see how you display them.Since that first year I've used only Jansjems' income to pay expenses. I hope someday to recoup my initial investment, but not paying anything out of pocket anymore is huge.

So what am I buying with my acquisitions budget this year? I'll be taking some classes to learn more advanced techniques with silver clay. And, of course, I'll have to buy a kiln.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jansjems January Jobs

It's cold, business is slow, and there are no craft shows. So I...

--Finalize my spreadsheets and compile my receipts for the accountant

--Apply to craft shows with early application deadlines

--Clean and organize my inventory; replace damaged tags.

--And make Valentine's Day jewelry!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Silver Clay & the Search for a Kiln

Yesterday I got a big shipment of silver clay from Val Lewis--157 grams--and I can't wait to start creating. I think about design ideas all day long. I'm hoping to take a class in the next couple of months. But in the meantime, Val has sent me a link to the Metal Clay Academy with instructions and video tutorials that may allow me to do more advanced work on my own.

I really love silver clay. I made a few pieces last year when I had access to my instructor's kiln. I put a few of them up on Etsy and 1000 Markets but most of them sold at craft shows. So I'm encouraged to make more. Here are a few on my Flickr page.

So now I'm shopping for a kiln. I've bid on a couple of used ones on Ebay, but was outbid by $100 or more each time. I guess I'm not being realistic about what I'll have to pay.

The Paragon kilns look great and are the ones recommended by others who work with metal clays. Then there's Skut which is really pricey and a couple of glass people have recommended Evenheat. It's a big, expensive decision so I want to get a good one. But I don't want to break the bank.

So the search continues.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's 2010

Happy 2010!!!

Well, it's been a long time since I posted. The holidays have come and gone. My last show of the year was a very successful trunk show at Elizabeth Alison's Salon in Greenfield. I just opened up my cases, spread the trays around and displayed a few pieces. Betty brought wine ( a great idea), crackers and cheese and people just snacked and shopped. It was very relaxed and a good way to end the year.

Despite my husband thinking I spend too much time on Jansjems, making jewelry, and posting online, I really haven't been doing much since Thanksgiving. But I have plans for the new year to increase the amount of steampunk, learn some advanced techniques with silver clay, and to buy a kiln. I've already applied to 6 craft shows and am waiting for applications to be available for another 8 or 10.

I'm attempting to make room for my new pieces by having a sale on remaining pieces from last year. Jan's Jemuary Sale is up and running and my Etsy shop has become a BOGO site.

In my other life...phase 2 of the library's main floor renovation is pretty much complete. The spot my Beatles poster & I have had for the last 10-12 years is now empty and sad.

The construction guys have moved in even more "stuff". And as we all cleaned out our files and desks of items no longer necessary, the recycle bins filled daily and the pile of useless accessories grew in the middle of the room.

I downsized a lot having found procedures and paperwork going back to 1982 and 2 ordering systems ago.
My new space is a much smaller "box" but has plenty of room for what I have left. I have a view to the courtyard and for the first time in 37 years I know what the weather is without asking Bill, the mailman, or checking