Monday 18 May 2015

Down in Black and White

I'm having a bit of a black and white frenzy at the minute. I have a load of these simple, faux African style images (of my own design) lurking on my hard drive, that I figured would look really nice as beads. So I have transferred a batch of them onto some Cernit squares and have been experimenting, trying different sizes and thicknesses of beads to see what I like best,. And ultimately, I guess, what other people like best. The ones in the pic are mainly 15mm square with a couple or three 20mm ones lurking in there too. A few are hollow ones, using my go to method, Claire Maunsell's strata bead technique which she helpfully shared online  and which I jumped on as it suited my impatience and my 'rustic' leanings. . .
The rest are just two pasta-machine-thick-settings thick. All are painted black on the back and sides with black alcohol ink, treated with renaissance wax and buffed up. Oh yeah, and I made a couple of artily mismatched cufflinks too. 

I didn't age any of them up for a change, though the temptation is hard to resist. I'm going to make a bunch more and mess them around like the ones below. They just look so cool all antiqued and ancient relic-ified. . 
And they sold. . . ;-)

The other thing I did with some more of the longer rectangular beads like the ones above, was to wrap them round some tube bead cores, and see how that came out. I decided to put them all together in one necklace, and after a bit of trial and error came up with the idea below. I need to take some better pics but I liked how the silver tone spacers worked with them. What you reckon??

Some, if not all of these will be making their way onto my Etsy shop in due course, so look out for them. I'm still considering in what form to sell them, bead sets, earring sets, made up earrings. . . hmm. . But that's food for another post I think.
See ya next time, which, despite my good intentions is likely to be another ten days away, judging by my past efforts, and hey, don't be shy about commenting, no pressure though.
Jon x

Monday 11 May 2015

Rummaging and Rediscovering. . . And the Cut Off Point

Well, I've been rummaging through some things I made a few months ago, that I wasn't quite sure what to do with at the time. It's a quite useful thing to do, to assess your not so recent work through the prism of your current set of criteria, if that makes sense. I mean, look at it in the light of your current creative confidence and with the benefit of your subsequently gained experience and see what you make of it.

My rummaging turned up a few worthwhile things, amongst the stuff that was justifiably not worth bothering with.

Such rummaging and re-assessing is a useful exercise because it can reveal how your attitude to the medium and to your process might have changed in the intervening period, in ways you hadn't actually noticed owing to the gradual nature of said changes. For instance, I found that my work of a few months ago tended to be looser and more free than my recent work, which is something that, it having come to light, I can consider and act on. Basically I need to loosen up ;-)

The things I found were a bunch of thin, textured spikes. Only just thick enough to be drilled through without breaking. I remember a few did break when I drilled them. These ones were the thicker, more robust survivors. The current incarnation of my creative sense decided they would look good as earring beads, so I paired them up and got my trusty camera and tripod out.

Which brings me to part two of this post. Something about a cut off point.
You see, for each item you need at least four photos, an intro shot, a close up, a scale shot and another variation on the intro shot, each of which you have to set up, take, load into your computer, run through Photoshop to resize, adjust colour/levels etc, sharpen and save as a .jpg. Times that by seven for the seven sets of spikes, then add the time it takes to upload to Etsy, write a title, paying attention to likely Keyword Phrases, a description, match your tags to your title, add some more useful tags to make up the 13, preview and finally list.

The trouble is, if the item is only selling for five quid, which is probably about right for these, is it really worth all that time and effort?
I am slowly streamlining the process, but long term I might have to reconsider whether to sell pairs of beads for instance at all. Maybe sets of six is a better way. . . That or charge more for pairs of beads and run the risk of never selling them. .
Bah, economics! Who needs it? 'I just wanna make stuff'.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Quality, Quantity and my 'worrying strategy'. . .

A recent necklace idea, completely irrelevant to this post. I'm just trying to work more finished pieces and see where that takes me.

I keep intending to post more often, but life gets in the way and I realise it's been ten days since I engaged your attention with my somewhat less than fascinating current activity ;-)

Alongside keeping the house in its hard won state of minimal clutter and unreal cleanliness, for the benefit of house viewers, of which there have been three or four so far, I have been over analysing my creative and commercial goings on, like I do. .
( For instance, I worry about whether I should or shouldn't be worrying, and whether there are more important things to worry about. You have to prioritise your worrying after all. Imagine how you would feel if you found out you had spend all that precious worrying time worrying about the wrong thing ;-) a worrying thought. . .)

You see, there is the question of quantity. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? People say 'Quality not quantity' as if they were mutually exclusive, implying that you should limit your output, as being prolific is somehow cheapening your brand.
Then other people put forward the idea that giving potential customers a lot of choices is a good thing, 'If you don't put it up for sale, nobody can buy it' is their angle.

So, the two extremes are - 'Only hit them with your absolute very best stuff', versus - 'Get the stuff out there and let the market decide.' Both are perfectly logical, you just have to decide which applies to what you are doing, or making. So really, it comes down to you. Nobody can decide for you and even the most sage advice can only be a generalisation which might not apply to you at all. All of which is really annoying if, like me, you want some easy rules to follow. . . Bah!

My angle (at the moment anyway) is that you can be prolific and make good quality things, it just depends what kind of things we are talking about - rustic, hand made beads, yes, fabergé eggs, no.

My trouble is that at the stage in my bead/jewelry making adventure, I am constantly discovering new (to me) things I can make, new options I can take, and new uses for techniques and for stuff I have made. I make something I think is cool, and want to make a load more of them, so I do. I get all enthusiastic and inspired, after all, 'following the fascination' is what I am all about.
So, does the fact that I have ten different sets of textured disk beads mean I shouldn't put them all up for sale?
Does the fact that I have twenty great designs that could look equally good on tie tacks, rings and stud earrings mean that I shouldn't go right ahead and make twenty of each of those and put them in my shop? My instinct is that this would be a bad idea, but there isn't a strong argument either way. As it only costs 20 cents to list something on Etsy the 'Throw it all at the wall and see what sticks' approach is very tempting.

Being fairly cautious, (something else I could have good worry about. . .) I will keep to the middle ground and list a few new things to test the water, but that denies me what could be useful feedback about customer preferences, so might be a less than useful compromise. . .
etc etc etc etc etc

Oh well, I guess it's called 'learning'.

Jon x