Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Saga with a twist - update

Necklace delivered today and approved! I related some of the "saga" and made Ingeborg laugh!

On a serendipitous note, I thought I had made the necklace slightly too long but it turns out that Ingeborg was going to ask me to do just that and forgot to phone me!

In other news, I sold this necklace and bracelet to a neighbour of ours, out here on holiday.

I made the bracelet specially to go with the necklace for her. I also made this bracelet:

to go with this necklace:

but the lady liked the silver and purple ones best. I'm not sure whether to list these in my Etsy shop or the new Bluetina website. Both places urgently need more inventory but the new website has not been fully indexed by Google yet, so I'm not getting a lot of hits there. I'll think about it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A saga with a twist......

This is the saga of the red coral necklace. I'd go and make a cup of coffee, if I were you - it goes on a bit.

About four months ago, my friend Ingeborg handed me a bag with a necklace in it. "Can you do something with this?" she said. I took a quick look and said "Maybe." It was a rather lovely four strand necklace made with red coral beads and the clasp was solid gold! One of the strands was broken but, according to Ingeborg, none of the beads were missing.

I brought it home, put it in my project box and left it there for a day or two. Upon my next inspection, I realized that I did not have suitable thread in stock. It would have to be red, to blend with the coral beads. At this point, I seriously considered informing my friend that, on this occasion, I would not be able to mend her lovely necklace. I've never let her down before and decided I wouldn't this time!  I had to put an order in for something else anyway so I sourced the best thread I could find. I went for Griffin Silk Bead Cord as I had heard this was the best quality one could buy. I had it shipped to my Mum's in the UK ready for my next visit. My suitcase always comes back heavier than it went out!

I spoke to Ingeborg about ordering the red silk and she said "No hurry!" Just as well, really.

A few weeks later and I'm home in Spain, red silk thread in hand, taking another gander at said necklace. It was at this point that I noticed that the four strands had a natural twist. When I picked it up they didn't unravel but stayed wrapped around each other. "How do they do that, then?" I mused. There must be a method, a trick, a technique. I mused some more - about a week's worth, actually.

It was at this point, again, that I considered telling my friend that I could not mend her lovely necklace. Back into the project box with it! I wimped out on both counts. Actually having a go at fixing said necklace or, alternatively, admitting defeat to Ingeborg.

A couple of weeks later, I grew a backbone of sorts and started doing some research on line. I found numerous articles and forum posts about twisted multi strand necklaces but none seemed to offer the correct solution. Just as I was about to give up, I came across a small post on a tiny beading forum that resonated with me! Eureka! The trick is to join the threads of beads together at one end, tape them down and then twist each individual strand the same number of times in the same direction. Then, join the other ends together whilst keeping the tension. Exactly how many times I was supposed to twist, I could not fathom but - I now had a technique I could use!

I cut the silk thread, nice and long, just in case and threaded the four rows of beads. I tied a big knot at one end. Now comes the easy bit, I thought. "I'll just attach the silk to one half of the clasp, tape that down and start twisting." Oh dear. Not as easy as it looked. The gold clasp was of an old fashioned style and had no rings or loops. Just a small hole with an upright bar soldered inside. I took a couple of photos. It's a bit fuzzy but you may be able to see what I mean:

The four strands of silk thread would not pass behind the bar.  "Well, perhaps two would suffice?" I thought. No dice. God knows how the poor souls who made the necklace originally managed it. Perhaps their thread was thinner than mine? In the end, I could only pass one thread behind the bar and only that with a great deal of jiggery pokery. I tied my knots and stood back. Hideous! I couldn't bear to look at it. Totally unacceptable. 

It was at this point, yet again, that I considered telling Ingeborg that I could not mend her lovely necklace. Her lovely necklace that was now in bits. Her lovely necklace that had been in my possession for weeks. I untied my hideous knots and repaired to the computer for another spot of research. They don't make clasps like that any more for a good reason. Nowhere could I find even a hint of a possible method. I asked my fellow Etsy team members to put their thinking caps on on my behalf. They came up with several suggestions, some of which could have worked but didn't - mostly because of my hamfistedness and incipient stirrings of panic!

It was at this point......No, giving up was not an option. Onwards and upwards! Do or die! From my previous fumblings, I knew I could make a little hook from wire that would go round the bar. If I could pull some fine wire through, I could wrap the knot to the clasp! Unfortunately, I only had sterling silver and copper wire - or so I thought! 

If you could see my workshop, you'd understand why I didn't know that I possessed a small amount of fine vermeil wire, eminently suitable for the task at hand. During the forensic search, I found many other things I didn't realize I owned!

Knot now wrapped securely to the clasp, I taped it all down and started twisting. I guessed at twenty revolutions - not nearly enough. Just a small hint of a twist when I held on to the ends and let the other end go. After several attempts and, as it turned out, one hundred (!!) turns, the magic happened and the lovely necklace was looking almost like it's lovely old self again! Hanging on for grim death, I hastily tied a knot as close to the beads as possible and then, taking a deep breath, I let go. It worked! I danced around the room a few times, got my breath back and then wire wrapped the other end of the clasp to the new knot. And this is the final result:

Not the most precise bit of wrapping, I know, but at least she can wear it! I haven't told her yet. When I do, she'll probably faint.

I did put the newly resurrected vermeil wire to good use immediately. I made this, soon to be listed on my new Bluetina website:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

That elusive Etsy shot....

I know, sorry, we're back on the subject of photography again. It has become somewhat of an obsession with me lately! Being found on Etsy may be problematical for SEO reasons but, once found, you want to be CHOSEN! You want to be in Treasuries so you have to take really good photos. And not just any good photo, it has to be in that certain Etsy style because all those lovely people making Treasuries want to make it to the Front Page!

I think I'm beginning to get there:

This necklace came out quite well!

This one has even been picked for a few Treasuries already:

Black Onyx & Red Jasper Necklace

I rather like this one:
Silver Cube Necklace

I've also been going back to older listings and just taking that one Etsy style shot:

Calla Lily Earrings

Silver fringe & ruby necklace

White background, lots of light, no props and then play with it in Photoshop! We'll see how it goes. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Painting the Forth Bridge....

I think I might have used that title before. How apt. This blog post is all about having to do things again and again and again. Like photography.

As you may know, I have recently launched my own website!  I have been adding pieces to it when they fall off the end of Etsy after four months. It's amazing how many photographs there are that I loved to bits four months ago and now I feel I have to pick them up wearing latex gloves, figuratively speaking.

So then, another round with the ancient digital camera and even more ancient version of Photoshop. I don't think these have turned out too bad. Who knows - I might even still like them in four months time?

Copper Hoops Silver Flowers

Sodalite & Olive Jade Necklace

Seafoam & Silver Bracelet

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SEO and me.....

I've just launched my new web site and my To Do List is now three pages long. Where on Earth do I start? I stuck a pin in it and hit "write a blog post". Then I had to decide what to write about. Well, how about the one thing that has had to become my obsession over the last few months - Search Engine Optimization. I have read and read and read until I needed new glasses. Shed loads of advice out there about how to be found by the Great God Google. How to sift through it all and find the pearls of wisdom contained therein?

There are many purported experts out there, some more expert than others, but who am I to say? I am not a nerd, or a geek or a computer guru. I made copious notes and then took what they said (when I could understand it) with a pinch of salt!

There are also many on line sellers who, having been through the whole laborious process themselves, offer up their own experiences for us to learn from. I thank them from the bottom of my heart! Sometimes, these ordinary people find ways of explaining the complexities of SEO that even a technically challenged person like myself can grasp.

Using all these resources and a lot of my own experimentation, I have come to the conclusion that SEO is both  a complete mystery and just common sense! I know that statement is contradictory but so is the internet.

In this modern age (It's the 21st Century, for God's sake! How did I get here?) everything seems to change at an alarming rate. It may be just a function of my advancing years but, I swear I can't keep up! Google, and other search engines, rearrange their "algorithms" at least once a month to make it more difficult for the likes of us to be spotted amongst the crowd. Well, actually, no. It's not the likes of us they want to keep out. They have said so. They want relevant, interesting and real content. This is where the common sense bit comes in. We can give them that if we could just stop trying to second guess them all the time!

I have decided to just use my own words to describe my jewellery. I will not use the Google Keyword Tool because it depresses and confuses me in equal measure. I will use real, descriptive phrases that real people may use when they search for stuff on the net. This, however, brings me to the next problem. We don't all use the same words for the same objects. Fair enough, "necklace", "bracelet", "pendant", "earrings" are all standard terms but, what sort of bracelet is it? What style of necklace? We all seem to have our own ideas.

I recently spotted a pretty bracelet on Etsy and added it to my favourites. It's not really the jewellery but the photography thereof that attracts me. (I'm still trying to get that right but we won't go there today - that's another blog post entirely!)  The designer called it a "cha cha bracelet" - a term I had not come across before. It was remarkably similar in style to some bracelets of my own making but I called them "charm bracelets".

I immediately renamed this one to see what would happen:

Cha Cha Bracelet, Pink Pearls, Sterling Silver, Peridot

But this one, I still consider to be a charm bracelet:

Sea Theme Charm Bracelet, Sterling Silver, Blue Onyx, Green Agate, Pearls, Crystals

So, the upshot is, finding out what other people call things is the only research I shall be doing in future!

Monday, June 4, 2012

New web site up and running...

I've done it! All this time, when you thought I was probably on the beach with a glass of wine in my hand, I've been slaving away over a hot web site.


and you can see it in all it's glory! I haven't managed to get everything on there yet. Lots more listing to do!

Please let me know what you think. If it's nice, I'll take the credit. If it's not, I'll blame those poor people at Supadupa.com.