Friday, March 17, 2006

Oh yes! Coming soon! Desktop Wallpaper - Gemstones

Oh yes! I forgot to mention this!

I'm putting together some wonderful pictures of gemstones that you'll be able to download and use on your own desktop soon.

I'll be providing a link from our website once we have them ready.

Inside the Rock Tumbler - the further adventure of the stones

For those of you who have been following along this 2 month journey, here is your next selection of photographs of the Tumbling process of our gemstones.

You can click on the images to get a larger view... First off a recap.. We have been running this tumbler for about five/six weeks at this point - to the right you can see a picture of Rob taking that "infamous" ring off the lid (that's the one that we need to replace as it's leaking). You can see by this picture how much leaked out during the process (that's the white marks on the lid - the tumbler is actually midnight black).

*Blogger is giving me a hard time adding pictures today - so I am going to simply center the images and write our info below)...

This is what you see when you first open the lid (above). At this point, we are in the fourth go around with the tumbler and this is what happens when you use the Final Polish. We are not quite done with the stones - they are going to be going in for another few weeks with this polish.

Now the fun begins! We put the stones into a colander in the sink and start washing!

Now you can start to see how pretty the stones are!

The stones are not totally washed off at this point but you can see how nice they all tuned out! In this batch there are pieces of Red Jasper (from Northern Ontario - hand picked during a trip to the bush!~) Moonstone, Lake Superior Agates, Granites (not the best choice to polish with some other types of stones) Sodalite, Lapis, Moss Agate, Tree Agate, Rose Quartz and some very interesting stones that were hand picked at Old Lady Bay in Northern Ontario this past winter.

What can you find in the picture?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Carnival of the Creators

Carnival of the Creators #4.

Hi and welcome to the fourth edition of Carnival of Creators. In case you are new to this, this is a weekly event hosted by different blog writers from across the globe. It's a great way to check up on some wonderful blogs that have some really interesting, helpful or just plain amusing content.

If you have read or written a recent Blog about arts, crafts or any other form of creative inspiration - here is your chance to get it posted on the Carnival. Click here to fill out the form.

With no further adieu, lets start.

  • Our first stop along this journey is an amusing site brought to you by the Toymaker. Marilyn Scott-Waters brings you BAD PUPPY - The adventures of a very naughty puppy. It's a cute and entertaining look at the daily life of one "naughty puppy" - take a break from your hectic day and enjoy a chuckle.
  • Along the same theme of ideas why not stop by this blog Here you can giggle the hours away reading the scandalous adventures of the most beauteous Gigolokitty . This blog has wonderful photographs and entertaining writing that shares with you the "intimate Thoughts of the Most Beauteous Kitty ..........with Commentary by his Unfortunate Mistress and her evil troll roommate."
  • Next stop: Ask General Kang - What do you think of Margaret Atwood's Long Pen Invention? Here you can ponder over the writings of Mark A. Rayner’s as he pens to his irregular and explosive weblog.
  • Visit the studio of self taught artist, John T Unger. John makes his living entirely through commissions and sales of his art- It's amazing how the Blog has become such an excellent tool for artisans to expand across the globe.
  • Perhaps you are looking for simple tips for painting white clothing on Star Wars miniatures? If so, this is the place for you to check out.
  • Last stop on our adventure is:
  • Ward-o-Matic (by Ward Jenkins) is a blog about "Art, Animation and Anything Aesthetically pleasing to the eye." His thoughts on things take on a fresh point of view - take a trip with him to a time when was in a life drawing class and see things from his perspective.

Well I hope you have enjoyed this weeks edition of the Carnival of the Creators. Next week it will be hosted by and in 2 weeks time you can view the selections of Cyndi Lavin of Mazeltov Jewelry. Make sure you post it on your calendar to check into to see what sites Cyndi has found for you to visit.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Winnie The Pooh Day! Winnie Wednesday

Winnie works wisely with his PPE - Personal Protective Equipment...
Winnie decides to help out trying to fix the broken washer....See that look on his face?
He's not too impressed with the current progress of repairs..
But soon gives up and goes for the Master Fix-it Tool

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

It's really HARD to take a picture of yourself sometimes.. I was trying to get a picture of the Henna that I had done..

This particular Henna started at my hand and traveled all the way up my arm in vines to the center of my back area - to meet a dragonfly.

Well you get a peek of the Henna in this picture :-) at least.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Craft Show Ideas - The Evolution of the Display

Welcome to another posting of "Craft Show ideas"..

Hopefully you'll get something good from this for your own show, or just a good laugh at some of our follies.

Show Displays

We've been doing traveling shows now for just under six years (and we are not doing it perfect by far!).. Every time is a new learning experience.

So here are a few thoughts, observations and ideas that you might find handy.

A bit of history? We started out our first shows with just a table and a few table cloths. Try not to gasp when you see the following picture..

Our very first display

It's a bit hard to look at these pictures now. This was one of our very first shows - the sales were "ok" but as you can see it was very difficult for anyone to see any one product that we had on our table.
I had one light on the left hand side of the table that didn't do any good - unless the intent was to blind my customers. And I'm not sure why I thought that half hazardly tossing pieces of tattered black shiny material all over the table would cause people to buy anything. Hmmm..
Don't stress if your table looks like this as everyone has to start from somewhere.

As time progressed our tables started to rise a bit.

(That's my Mom in the picture showing her very pretty fish jewelry).
I started switching table cloth colours and playing with lights too. Not that the dangling Christmas lights did anything but cause people to get caught and tangled up in their clothing as they stood looking over the table. (Hey! Maybe that is what I was trying to do after all?). As you see, there are no lights on the table, so most of the items just blend.
LESS IS MORE - I used to like to have everything I can on the table - I didn't want anyone to miss out on anything!! But I've learned through the years that less really is more. Sales were a bit up but folks still had to lean WAY over to actually see anything that we were selling but it was a step forward.

Steel Grid Lock Displays
While visiting a wonderful second hand store we found these fabulous steel grid lock pieces! The idea was to prop them up and display our stone pieces so that no one had to bend over.

Um.. do you see the problem? We tried everything we could with what we had at this show to make it easier to see. Grid lock is wonderful! But you have to use it correctly. We had the corners braced and locked to the table (it weighs a lot!)

Eventually we put a Celtic Sarong on the back but it was still difficult to see anything (Plus you could not see around it!). Since then I have seen some fabulous grid lock displays where this material is OVER the table (*supported by VERY STRONG LEGS) and the gems hang from the steel squares. PLUS you can attach your lights with ease!

At this point we still had much too much clutter on the table but none of us can seem to get past this point. But you can see how this display (compared to a flat table) would catch the eye from across the room. Now the next part of our problem was the insane sarong we decided would work well for our table cloth. *WEEEOWROUERU* Again.. busy busy busy... simple colours (not mish mash colours) are key for displays. We were still to confusing to really get looked at.
Height works!!
The next evolution came with great success!
We alleviated customer back aches and got some of the gems up on a black board (self supporting) and just kept a few things on the table below it.

Ahh.. now we are getting somewhere!
These are very easy and inexpensive displays to create!
Made out of scrap wood (really) and a few door brackets on the back (then material stapled to it)...

And a business name! (We had that sign since the beginning but never put it up).. what were we thinking? I don't know..

Also in this picture is the fact out main table cloth is far to short (you can see under the table and that was quite cluttered looking).. make sure you carry BIG table cloths! We didn't have enough and I had to make due with some sarong that I brought with me. It worked, sales were great but it's still very busy looking.
We also started working with our SPANISH INQUISITION lights at this point too - finally you can see what's on the table for a change! And we went with the less is more theory.


Go to your nearest dollar store and buy some table cloth weights! That's our most important comment for this section of our blog. See the table cloth? The wind kept dragging it up and blowing things off the table.

There is not much height to this table - the reason? TOO MUCH WIND that day.. arg There is something to say about having a tent over your head at times - at least I could have blocked some of the stormy winds that came in that afternoon. But I choose to stay directly in the sunshine due to the fact that sun really helps sales when it comes to gemstones. Even though I dealt with "WHOOPS! Let me get that for you" for quite a few hours, sales were excellent. Oh but yes.. see the table cloth issue? At this point I had still not learned that lesson well enough.

Mixed Media Display
I was building displays with no budget (not meaning I had a lot to spend.. meaning I had ZERO to spend).. I found all these materials in the garage and hiding in the basement (Thanks to a good friend Wanda News).. The idea is super! BUT the mix of black material.. wood and natural vines?... does it look a bit off to you? IT works tho.. and we got a LOT of sales from the fact folks could see this and were very attracted to the stones.
We also stated getting the table cloth issue under control - still working on it though.

Time ticked on and my partner (Rob) came back from working out of town. He'd been seeing pictures of my displays for over a years away and cringing.. so he came home with a few ideas of his own!

A trip to Canadian Tire for copper pipe, propane and solder and we had the start of a new display for UNDER $15!!!
(That's our back deck by the way.)
This is the base for the newest display (2005) made out of copper pipe. Once this was done we sprayed the entire stand with a Faux Granite paint (*HINT HINT!*) Make SURE you seal this type of paint - it WILL scratch off the copper pipe if you don't! Oh that's Rob by the way..
Yes for our next show we opted to be in the sun...
You can see that we have shifted to WHITE displays instead of the black material. The pieces really POP now!! Rob's display is set up (a bit hard to see in this shot) but sales SOARED! Having pieces up at eye level really makes a huge difference. Another rule of thumb for outdoor shows is "always pack sun block!" I was burnt to a crisp after this show.
Time marched on and we evolved into a new display tent from a bargain tool store. This one was really great and it opened like an umbrella! Between Rob and I, it only took about five minutes to set up.
It brought a new level of lighting needs to mind - this one the most important:

This is an actual photograph of my feet during an outdoor show in 2005. I spent HOURS bailing under my feet (that's my bailing bucket in the picture). It rained all day! The lesson here is: Make sure that your lights are outdoor lights! And not indoor Christmas lights! We had a few of them and had to remove them from our display and rush to the hardware store to get the proper lights. Safety is a key issue!
Also, outdoor shows require a big stick! Not to thump your customers who leave your tent without buying anything (or use your tent to stay dry and then leave) but to gently lift the roof of your tent when needed to remove excess pooling water before you get drowned out by a flood.
Also if you are doing outdoor shows and have big lights? BRING A FLY SWATTER! Wasps and Bees like the lights at night! We had dozens of them scooting around our customers at night and were desperately seeking way of smacking the bugs.
Well folks, that's it for this issue of Craft Show Ideas 101. I hope you have learned something or at least enjoyed the adventures of our traveling Gems show!!

Craft Show Ideas 101

I thought I would start a new section of our Blog - Craft Show Ideas 101!

An avenue for artisans and crafters to read about things that have worked for us in the past and perhaps to pass along ideas for anyone just starting out in the business. Feel free along the way to post your own comments and ideas - sharing is what it's all about.

Thing that DON'T WORK or better known as CRAFT SHOW FLOPS

Forgetting your hat for an outdoor show (or better known as "Oh I feel sick!")

Okay so this sounds simple, but really? It all boils down to creating a list and really sticking to it.
I'm an organization freak so I like to keep things all neat and tidy in their little lines. But there are times I totally mess up and forget where things are. MAKE A LIST and keep it in a book you travel to for every show. When you forget lists? Things go terribly wrong...

I did a show last Christmas and completely forgot my push pins - TERRIBLE! I had to rush out just before the show and try and find a corner store that sold them (at $5 a box!? I was gasping!).. not only that, I was setting up alone so there was no one to continue the process WHILE I had to rush off getting push pins. This book should be your bible and you should NEVER forget it.

Look around for something that can hold your cheque book, pen, extra papers and business cards as well - often one of those daytimers that zip closed work really great for this sort of thing. That way you ALWAYS have back up business cards and information when needed.

2. "Don't worry, the tent is tied down!"

WAIT! STOP! If you are doing an outdoor craft show? And only have your tent pegs tied down? WAIT!! GO NO FURTHER? Get something heavy before your tent flies away on you. Simply pegging it down does not always do the job.

How do I know this? I've had tents lift off the ground and take off on me.. Over FENCES and across yards. Now I travel with cement blocks AND many many ropes to anchor down to anything solid I can find. Now when I do outdoor shows I ask if there is a tree near by - natural anchors work great for us.

And your last one for today:

. "Pssha! We can get change the night before at the corner store!" (better known as WHO CAN DRIVE FASTER!)

I got tied up before one show and could not make it to the bank before closing to pick up change for a weekend show.
Don't wait until the last minute to get your change! We had to drive around to about 6 stores one night before a show and break 20 dollar bills buying gum and such so that we had enough change to cover the float.

Join us once again soon for more of "Craft Show Ideas 101"

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Winnie The Pooh Day! Winnie Wednesday

Winnie plays my Mansfield
Good thing there is no sound file here..

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday

Oh the dreaded Christmas lights!
Maybe I can untangle them using just my mind.....
This is the "horror" of "horrors" we deal with just before each show as we go through all the Christmas lights we use in our display tent.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Enter our Contest for Free Products


Enter our "GO AWAY SNOW" contest by sending us an email with your name and contact information.
Click here to send us an email.

You could win some Spring inspired Gemstone goodies!! We cant wait for the snow to be gone - so we're treating YOU to a speical springtime gift! The contest closes at the end of March 2006 - so enter away!

(one entry per person please)

Dixie Chicks and the Cat (we dance in the studio)

I get so many laughs out of Miss Granger..

This morning I decided not to work in the studio and sit next to the computer to listen to the radio. Well I put in a Dixie Chicks CD (Yes I really do like them) and cranked the speakers.

I was hopping away in my chair wrapping stones for an order to be shipped out this week - and looked over to see Miss Granger with the oddest look on her face.

"What IS that noise?" is the expression you can see on her face.

I guess she does not like the high pitch vocals. :-)

Back from our Mini Vacation

Well we are back, from our "home" mini vacation.

I've not posted here for the past week as it's been quite hectic with the new washer and dryer going into the basement. My other half decided to take the week off so he could put a new floor where the machines are going and build an entire room around them.

It looks great! And I'm anxious to get the laundry going. So it's been crazy around here - that's why there have been no postings to our Blog this past week.. I apologize to all our Winnie Fans for not getting his picture out to you. This week will make up for it.

The "paddle" was taken to the Theatre Center last week (there are pictures of it earlier in this blog) and all the artists work will be posted on their site soon. I'll post the link once I know where it's located - then you'll be able to see the great artistic work of all the artists who got involved in this project.

Well that's it for me for now. After a week of craziness around here it's time to get back into the swing of things and get more products up on the site and our sister wholesale site (which is having some major updates and changes being done this week).

Stay tuned!