Monday, 4 December 2017

Saturday Market Tips: Repairs & Sales...

I can't emphasise enough the benefits of offering repairs and restringing. People are truly desperate for this service, but having grown up in a throw-away culture they have to be educated that, yes, it's possible to inexpensively repair their favourite jewellery, that this service is not restricted to expensive gold and silver items. A couple of dollars (or even less) and they have a new clasp/jump ring or new earwires or a wearable necklace. This has become a lucrative business sideline for me: around $75 on Saturday just on repairs.

 A customer brought in a baggie full of broken 4mm blue stretch bracelet beads on Saturday. We'd talked a week or two ago about possibly adding some other beads when I did the restringing. She sat down and started playing with beads -- she was amazed to see how some colours worked and some just were NOT going to look good, no matter where she put them.

This is what she came up with, still keeping with the fine and delicate 4mm blue beads, but with the addition of 6mm aquamarine, and tanzanite flanking some beautiful moonstone with blue flare.

The lighting is a little off in the photo (taken in a hurry under my OttLite at the market) but her 4mm beads (possibly blue chalcedony or more likely dyed quartz???) and the 6mm aquamarine were almost identical.

Customers can save my design time charge by picking out the beads themselves and making the final design decision to their taste. When they're happy with their choice, they finish their shopping while I string the bracelet (or necklace). She paid for the extra beads and my standard $5 restringing charge.

Later on in the morning... an easy leather bail:

My jewellery-making pal Lynn Dutton in Toronto scored a string of these skulls for me on a recent trip to a New York City bead store. The entire string was scooped by one of my regular customers who loves skulls. Here are the final two chokers I made with the beads.

This is a great style for men's jewellery in particular: about three to four inches of large hole (2mm) mixed metal beads with jump ring spacers on either side of any number of possible pendants, strung on an adjustable leather choker. It's fast, and simple, and looks solid and good on anyone. Changing the proportions of copper to gunmetal beads as I did here transforms the look completely.

When the leather gets gungy, they come back and I restring the beads on new leather.

These pendants had a large hole, so I made a really fast and easy bail out of 1.5mm leather, pushing the two ends of the leather down through the skull and tying it in a knot inside in the back. It's a very secure way of making a bail, and this way I didn't have to fiddle around with wire which would have taken a lot more time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Wrapping a Corroded Old Iron Arrowhead for a Choker...

I bought this solid iron arrowhead from a guy who knew a guy...

Nah, actually, I was wandering around the local antique show a few weeks ago looking for my pal to give her the coffee I'd brought for her and eventually found her. I ended up buying a small box of interesting things, probably paid too much, but "oh, well," right? You want what you want when you want it.

I was told the arrowhead in particular came from Europe and was "old" and "real". That's all the vendor knew. I did some research when I got home and found some information here. Looks to be a longbow arrowhead, vintage the 1600s, used for hunting game like wild boar. Surprising what a heavy sucker it is, too, for its size. It would do some damage, whatever the target.

My next decision was how to wrap it. I didn't want to damage the arrowhead at all and avoid glue unless there's no other way. I figured with all the pitting and corrosion that the wire would have enough to grab onto. The copper wire will eventually tarnish and become a little more blendy. I used a vintage-finish copper jump ring, squashed it down it down to make a D-ring shape to give me two corners to wrap to the arrowhead using 28 gauge bare copper wire. Zig-zagged the wire in back to tighten up any slack. Added three jump rings to jump ring to distribute the weight of the arrowhead on the leather cord.

If you have any old and/or meaningful items that you'd like to have turned into a pendant bring them to me at the Woodstock Farmers Market any Saturday, or contact me here or via email. Maybe I can do something for you.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Fiddly repair of a broken artisan-made glass pendant...

This is a signed, artisan-made glass pendant (not the cheap flower-burst kind), and it means a great deal to my customer. Somehow the curved glass at the back that formed the bail broke off, and she asked if I could rescue her pendant. She agreed that in this case I would have to glue on whatever bail I could come up with, and she also wanted me to use silver wire.

The pendant is barely 1-1/8 inches high.

The break was fairly clean, but I filed the edges first before I did anything else.

First I made a wire yin-yang symbol with 18 gauge dead soft .999 silver and hammered it flat so I'd have the maximum glueable surface on the back. I started wire-weaving with 28-gauge wire to form the bail and, after using a ball point pen barrel to get the curve, wired in a simple hammered S-swirl (no photo) on what became the top front for interest, and immediately below the S-swirl hammered two swirls at the wire ends to glue on the front.

I used Super New Glue, as it dries crystal clear and it appears to bond very well to smooth surfaces.

I did warn my customer to not let her pendant get too cold (we're heading into winter here) as thermal shock might possibly cause the glass to shatter as it and the silver metal expand and/or contract when going from super-warm houses into cold air.

I left it overnight to dry thoroughly. Because I wasn't sure what I was doing, this took me about an hour and a half to do, but now that I'm more familiar with the wire, I suspect this would take 30 minutes tops to do again.

View of the back yin-yang -- and I sure hope the shapes are facing in the correct direction! I still don't have the heart to look it up and find out I've made a grave error. :-)))

I used .999 silver wire for this, and this is the first time I've used it. I'm very pleased with the malleability, but not so pleased with the work produced by my stumpy fingers! I found out the hard way earlier this year that so-called dead soft .925 sterling wire isn't as dead soft as it needs to be, and that I should've bought .999 fine silver wire instead. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 24 November 2017

November 2017 GEM EXPO...

I haven't posted pix from the shows all year, but here are my setup photos this time, largely unedited. So happy the show was two weeks earlier than usual, we had a much better turnout even with parts of different subway lines shut down on Saturday and Sunday.

Have to start the trip with sufficient fuel: crispy hot french fries from my favourite chip stand at the top of the hill on the western edge of Paris -- Ontario.

My usual show strategy is to get the tables in place and everything out of the bins and onto the tables on Thursday night, then arrive at 7:00 a.m. on Friday and begin arranging everything.

9:03 a.m. everything is roughly in place; behind the scene, it's a mess and didn't improve at all during the show... front of the scene, everything is roughly in place but I was not in a mindset to make decisions about where things should go. I had new bins of beads that were really throwing me off and some I didn't bring.

At 11:45, the doors have been open for 15 minutes, and this is as good and pristine as my booth will get.

I found stretch velcro bands at Dollarama to keep my plastic drawers and bins closed. I'll be cutting the lids off the translucent bins and using the velcro bands to keep the lids on for transportation. Without the lids it will make for a much cleaner display. That does not look good up above!

LOVELOVELOVE these clear stacking containers with partitioned trays as they are the perfect size for my collection of 6mm beads. I now have at least 100 different beads for my Chakraluscious line of healing bracelets and I'm sourcing more.

For now, I'm using a wooden spool holder that I found at the Goodwill for $3 and spray-painted black to hold my Chakraluscious bracelets. I finally had the absolutely delightful experience of selling an anti-negativity bracelet right off my wrist at the show. Very cool when that happens!

Since arriving back home, I scored two more small type trays to put goodies in, pre-loading being the way to go and these trays fit perfectly into plastic bins for storage and transport.

Some great meals:

Dinner crepe, Crepe T.O. is located a few doors south of the HI-Toronto hostel on Church, just above King. I read a great review in the Toronto Star several months before and have wanted to try it. Yum. I think they were planning on closing early, but they stayed open a bit later for me and several other people who'd wandered in after me.

Sunday night, Ruth and I hit the ever-reliable Jason George for a late night shared meal after packing up the van:

Pusateri's on Bay in Yorkville, Ruth launching an attack on an unsuspecting chocolate almond croissant, sitting there minding its own business. We spent a good hour going through beads and assorted loot.

The show was a lot of fun all three days and Sunday was fantastic. Packed with people all day and I had such great conversations. The classes I taught went well, and it looks like I'll be offering a third, different class in March, so stay tuned.

The next Gem Expo will be held the final weekend of March Break when everyone will be back from their holidays! Whoo hoo! See you then. In the meantime, you can find me every Saturday morning 7:00 a.m. until noon at the Woodstock Farmers Market on Nellis Street. I'm also taking part in the Quarter Auction on December 7th next door in the Auditorium, and on Sunday, December 17th I'll be at the Burnt Brick Cafe on Dundas Street in downtown Woodstock.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Woodstock Agricultural Society Quarter Auction FUNdraiser TONIGHT!!!!!

Woodstock Agricultural Society Quarter Auction FUNdraiser

Woodstock Auditorium at the Fairgrounds
7:00-9:30 p.m.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. 
This is a fundraiser to support the FREE ADMISSION to the Fair in August in Celebration of Canada's 150th!

Doors open 6:30 pm, Auction 7 - 9:30. 
$5 admission includes your first paddle
Paddles are $5.00 each 
Two paddles for $8.00 or Three for $10.00 

Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available.

BONUS!!! Refreshments available: Todd's Dogs will be there and a cash bar with wine, beer and possibly coolers. Come for dinner and bid on really great items.  

This is your chance to get great items for a 25-cent bid, also do some relaxed shopping from the farmers market vendors themselves -- and no getting up early on Saturday morning! (But you can still come in your jammies if tonight's event is past your bedtime).
I will be one of the vendors and have lots of exclusive new items to bid on or buy. Grad is fast approaching and there are birthdays and Christmas to shop for.
See you TONIGHT!  
at the Woodstock Auditorium on Nellis Street.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

If you fear change...

The Cavern bar/resto at the HI-Toronto youth hostel where I stayed this past weekend. I really, really like it there!

See you all at the Woodstock Farmers Market this Saturday with all my Toronto Gem Show goodies. I got lots of new beads to make chakra bracelets, as well as earrings and pendants!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

4-Daycation coming up!

Leaving Friday morning for four days in Toronto to go to the gem show at the Don Mills Arena. Staying at HI-Toronto again. Other than the show on Saturday with pals, I'm planning nothing more than a slow meander.

Here are some pix from the past few trips to Tronna.

A typical dorm room at HI-Toronto:

A traditional straw broom from Iqbal's, Toronto:

Salami d'amour from Pusateri's Avenue Road:

Totally forgot to document my table setup at the Gem Expo this time. This shows the point at which I gave up on Thursday night. The classes were held behind this table in the bay window of the ballroom. A curtain was put up between my table and the classrooms.

I've moved almost entirely over to clear plastic stacking display boxes and I was able to pretty much get two tables' worth of beads on the one table, yet all were clearly visible. Because so many of my beads now live permanently in these boxes, setup was waaaaay faster than all the other shows. And I think people rather liked the treasure hunt, poking in and around items on the table. I was told several times it was my nicest display yet.

Once again, we ended up at the Jason George for dinner. Ruth's sandwich was fabulous. The Kaiser bun wasn't one of those flabby soft things that passes for Kaisers these days. Crunchy crust!

The show was so busy I barely got a chance to leave my table, but I did buy lots of blue Afghan turquoise heishi...

...which looks gorgeous with my new raven skull pendant.

Thanks for stopping by -- and maybe see you in Toronto!

Pee Ess... Lianne the Vintage Lady will be putting out some of my jewellery at the Woodstock Farmers Market on Saturday while I'm away.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Peacock Pearl Chain & Raku Scarab Flask Pendant...

A few words on selling and marketing -- Techniques? Strategies? -- and developing customer loyalty and trust. I think of it as the customer being the brains and I'm the hands, and to me this is a true collaborative partnership.

This is the fourth chain I've made in this style for Winter. One was for herself, and three were gifts to pals. This one in particular was made with tinned copper wire, peacock potato pearls and silver-plated skull beads. Winter roams the Internet acquiring goodies, and she really likes these raku-fired flask pendants.

Two raku flask necklaces that I forgot to photograph in November/December were made with copper wire and copper-coloured pearls, which also looked great. Those particular flasks had a lot of copper in the blue glaze.

Winter is always bringing me odd pendants and broken necklaces or too-short necklaces and we discuss options. I re-string, use leather, make or re-use chains and combine all kinds of different items to make her visions come true. Because she's doing all the designing and decision-making, I can give her a much better price than I might otherwise charge on something I'd spend my time designing. To me, this type of customer is a joy to work with.

Nuts and bolts: accounting for interruptions -- you know, vital things like drinking coffee, grazing for free samples, visiting -- at the farmers market on Saturday, I think this 24" necklace took me about 1.5 to 2 hours to put together, I used about 2/3 of a string of inexpensive pearls, some skull beads, jump rings and an oversize clasp. In case it needs adjusting, I make these chains in segments, joining them with various combos of jump rings.

Now back to the real world of deadlines and day job.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, 15 April 2017


Working flat out these days -- crazy hours. Managed 20 minutes on my minuscule deck yesterday in the hot sun and too cold wind to -- gasp! -- read a book and eat lunch. Then it was back to typing. I'm surrounded here by carpets of snowdrops, bluebells and purple violets.

On other fronts, I became a great-aunt a week ago... here is Etta, age 1 week. She's a cutie.

Off to Toronto again in a few days on another buying trip. Hope to see you at the market in a few hours. Check out my new skulls, chakra pendants, turquoise, lapis, peridot and citrine rings from Montreal, lapis earrings and bracelets, plus rudraksha and sandalwood beads to wear as they are or have custom made into a necklace.

The Woodstock Farmers Market, at the fairgrounds on Nellis Street, 7:00 a.m. to noon every Saturday.

Monday, 20 February 2017

2,300 Pinterest Saves To Date -- Crystal Suncatchers

Crystal & copper suncatchers on Pinterest and here on my blog.

I can't believe how popular these little suncatchers have been. I still have lots more for sale at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning. They're so easy and inexpensive to make: use up scraps of wire and stray beads.

I'll be teaching you how to make these and all kinds of dangles, ear wires, chain wraps, my class:

on Saturday, March 18th

at the

Hyatt Regency Ballroom
King Street West, 

Class size is limited, so sign up early. Bonus: you get free admission for all three days of the show when you sign up for any class. Subscribe and get up-to-the-minute info by email on everything Gem Expo: vendors, classes.

I hope to see you there!