Sunday, 20 May 2018

Saturday Morning Market Production...

I made these adjustable chokers yesterday morning at the Woodstock Farmers Market. Then it got reeeeeeeeeeeeeally busy. Love long weekend Saturdays at the market. All the people who do NOT go away are in a party/barbeque mood.

I'm always amazed at how a simple bead and jump ring combination can look so spectacular. In this case I used gunmetal beads in a two-three combination with stainless steel coloured jump rings. I was able to use three jump rings to form the bail on these pendants. Using more than one makes it more stable, and enhances the design. And if one or three pendants look good, five repeated in sequence is even better.

Here is an experiment using glass pony beads, copper and gunmetal. Not quite as effective as above.

When designing anything, making mistakes is invaluable because that's the only way to see what works and what doesn't -- and also to come up with happy surprises. I think here the combination of beads distracts from my using different pendants.

These cords are 1.5mm, and I scour bead stores and online for big hole beads precisely because this is an inexpensive, fast and easy-to-change-out way to bump a simple pendant up to stunning.

These are made with silver-plated wyverns, dragons and bird skulls, glass, copper and variously plated beads, all on adjustable leather cords. Prices range from $25 to $45.

Hope to see you next week IRL with hundreds of semi-precious, pewter, metal and silver jewellery and crystals at the Woodstock Farmers Market, at the Fairgrounds on Nellis Street, Woodstock, 7:00 a.m. until noon all year round. For you early birds, I'm almost always there by 5:00 a.m.

Thanks for stopping by!

Heads up -- The July Gem Expo & MetaExpo are on their way...

...soon, soon, soon. Both shows will be held the last weekend in July in Toronto at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel on King Street. TWO BALLROOMS full of gems, minerals, crystals, jewellery, findings, holistic and metaphysical practitioners... plus plenty of courses by experts in their fields to learn about crystals and jewellery-making.

If you're an absolute beginner to jewellery-making you've come to the right place. I will be teaching the two most basic jewellery-making techniques -- how to open and close a jump ring, and how make two kinds of loops -- on Friday evening, time TBA. Learn to make a rosary chain loop, aka simple loop, and a wrapped loop. Everything flows from this.

You will have a pile of pendants, glass, semi-precious, metal and lava (aromatherapy/diffuser) beads and findings to choose from. Take home a mixed metals and beads necklace and earrings. Materials and class notes are supplied and included in the course cost.

Since I only have a few tools, if you have them, please bring the following four tools. If you need to buy them, the easiest way is to use Michael's 40% and 50% off regular priced item coupons. Generally speaking, pliers and jewellery-making tools are items that rarely if ever go on sale. Hardware store tools and pliers are not suitable, nor are the travel-size sets of small pliers.

Basic jewellery-making tools L to R: Bent nose, chain nose, round nose, and angled flush cutters (with the really pointy ends). Note the pliers with blue handles, those have cushioned, hand-friendly ergonomic handles. The ones in the centre are Michael's "sparkle" pliers. They're fine to use, but upgrading those is on my shopping list.

Go to The Gem Expo website or The MetaExpo website, subscribe and get immediate notification when the classes are posted. One admission gets you into both shows.

Got questions about this and my other classes? Email me here.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Trip to Toronto...

I was supposed to leave Woodstock by 7:00 a.m. on Sunday to the Toronto Gem & Mineral Show at the Don Mills Arena, but ended up tossing, tossing, tossing and packing and moving until 2:00 p.m. downsizing from a 2-bedroom house to a tiny room in a shared house. Okay, and a storage locker for all my show and market bins -- all of which are on large wire baker's rack type shelves. System works great.

People laugh at my 30-inch wide bed but it's super comfortable and I can store lots underneath. I gave away tons and tons of stuff, but still have too much. 

I stayed downtown at Hi-Toronto on Church just north of King, and my current fave place to stay in Toronto. The common kitchen/dining area has been renovated -- took out a dividing wall, and despite losing counter space, it's made a huge difference. The room is now filled with light. I've always loved the mismatched wooden tables and chairs look. Took this picture at about 6:00 a.m. but in the afternoon/early evening, it's really beautiful. Plenty of fridge/freezer/food prep space. I bring my own coffee for early in the morning.

All I did was eat, and walk and eat some more. We had lunch on Monday at crazy-good KoJa Sushi in the Liberty Village neighbourhood with Ruth. The plates are works of freakin' fresh and goooood art.

We headed to an artisan co-op stores on Queen in Parkdale, but found Curiosa in its place, full of Harry Potter paraphernalia. Magical place. One of these days I'll binge read/watch the Harry Potter books and movies. Then we went to the Lakeview Restaurant on Dundas at Ossington for dinner, my second time there. Walking up Ossington and taking the streetcar along Dundas, there are so many little restos and so little time -- and money. More money and more time would be good. The key of course to all this good food is a whole lot of sauntering. Five-plus kilometres each day. The next day we went to the Bus Terminal Diner on the Danforth at Coxwell, another great time warp, diners being a current theme.

Very sorry I missed Karma's Kitchen on Gerrard, but I got to Toronto too late Sunday evening to consider it. Dim Sum Plus on Spadina is new, tried it on my last visit, and I would've liked to have gone back there. Three more weeks to wait...

Meanwhile back here IRL, Mother's Day is May 13th. Two more market shopping days: don't forget to come and see me and all the other great vendors at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. We have great gifts, and great food for your BBQ or party. I'm there by 5:00 a.m. for anyone who wants to stop by on their way to work.

See you there!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Mother's Day earrings...

New for the cool moms on Sunday, May 13th! 

Silver-plated bouquet of flowers and bird skull dangle, sterling silver earwires, just $25. $30 if you want sterling silver leverback wires. Out of town? Shipping & handling is extra. 

I'm at the Woodstock Farmers Market every Saturday 7:00 a.m. to noon; for you early birds, I'm there by 5:00 a.m. setting up and making items.

Want a Chakraluscious healing bracelet? I have over 150 different 6mm beads, and a large selection of bracelets ready to go, or contact me to make a custom bracelet just for you. They are truly beautiful and you'll fall in love with their stunning colours. Please email me directly to order or for more information.

Thanks for stopping by, and see you at the market on Saturday!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Adjustable choker production from the Saturday market...

I made all these pendants in between customers at the market yesterday -- and one customer bought them all before they even hit the table. These were mostly made from new beads that I bought in Toronto last week from a hole-in-the-wall store I've walked by countless times. Now I need more... more... MORE!!! The eternal question: why oh why didn't I buy several packs while I was there???



Learn to make this lava diffuser pendant at my Friday night class at the GEM EXPO in Toronto on March 16. Sign up HERE. Checkitout: there are lots of great classes all three days of the show.


Don't forget, you get FREE 3-day admission to TWO SHOWS with any class: 
The Gem Expo, 
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 16, 17 & 18
the brand new two-day 
The Toronto Holistic & Metaphysical Show 
at the Hyatt Regency, King Street, Toronto 
in the second ballroom on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 & 18.

Thanks for stopping by -- and see you at THE GEM EXPO and METAEXPO!! Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter and get $2 off your admission.

Friday, 16 February 2018

March 2018 GEM EXPO Classes have been posted!!!

Sign up early as many of the classes are now filling up within a week or two of being posted. Don't be disappointed by waiting until you get to the show. Class sizes are limited to allow the instructor one-on-one time with each student.

When you're asked to bring tools to class if you have them, these for me are the four essential tools.

L to R: Bent-nose pliers; flat nose (or chain nose -- next on my list to buy); round nose, flush cutters (with the pointed ends).


1. Unless you will be doing a lot of travelling, do not buy the small travel or kid-size tools and pliers. They aren't meant for constant use, and they don't work as well as full size pliers because they'll make good results more difficult to achieve.

2. Hardware store tools are NOT suitable.

3. Buy the best pliers you can afford and if you have a choice of padded/ergonomic handles like the blue ones on the left and right, those are preferable to the red-handled pliers in the centre of the photo.

4. Beadalon and Eurotool are both good starter brands.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Learn to Make Diffuser Bead Jewellery at the March Gem Expo, Toronto...

These are just a few of the endless pieces of jewellery you can learn to make using four basic tools, some wire, findings and beads and a few simple techniques.

The four basic tools I used...

L to R: bent nose pliers, flat nose (or chain nose) pliers, round nose pliers, pointed-end flush cutters.

Proper tools make everything easier, and jewellery-making is no exception. Buy the best quality tools you can afford, pliers with padded grips being the better choice. Even though they're usually sold in a plastic package, try to close the tool and see that the tool closes evenly all the way along the working surface. Do not buy the smaller, child-size pliers that come in sets, they're fine for travel but not to learn with as you won't get the gripping power and stability you need. make these... 

...using the following techniques...

1. Understanding and choosing the correct wire gauge, temper and materials (copper, brass, silver, plated metals);
2. Practise making a rosary loop and a wrapped loop, what the difference is and when to use them;
3. Opening and closing jump rings;
4. Learn about head pins, eye pins and ball pins. If there's time, I'll show you how to make your own head pins and eye pins;
5. See how simple findings such as accent beads and bead caps elevate your work.

Bring your own beads, pendants and findings to the class. I'll have many different sizes and colours of diffuser/lava beads available to choose from. I use leather cord to make adjustable chokers and necklaces. Many show vendors have sterling and plated chains for sale.

Please subscribe to get the latest information plus $2 off ticket prices. Classes will be posted soon. By booking any class lasting over one hour, you'll get free three-day admission to the show. Reserve your place early as class size is limited and often fill up well before the show begins.

Thanks for stopping by! I'm looking forward to seeing you at the show, just over a month away now.

Monday, 5 February 2018

March 2018 Gem Expo Classes will be posted soon!!!

The March 2018 Gem Expo is being held the last weekend of March Break, March 16th, 17th and 18th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, King Street in downtown Toronto: great timing for those looking for something fun for everyone from kids to grands to wrap up their vacation time away from school and work. Crystals, fossils, beads, finished jewellery, wire-work...

...we gotcha covered! PLUS there is the new Metaphysical Expo happening in the second ballroom. One admission gets you into both shows. Subscribe and get $2 off your admission. 

Here's a sneak peek at my three classes:

Friday Evening (Time TBA):

Aromatherapy Diffuser Bead Pendant and Earrings for Beginners

Just two possibilities to make in class. There will be a wide selection of lava bead sizes and colours, large and small pendants and dangles and bead caps to choose from as part of your kit fee. 

In this class you'll learn how to wrap beads to make your own aromatherapy diffuser pendant and earrings:
- make consistent wire loops and wraps, the proper way to open and close jump rings;
- accent your bead with bead caps to enrich the overall design
- how to attach your beads to earwires or necklace with jump rings

Saturday morning class (Time TBA):

Nifty Tips & Tricks for Wire Working for Experienced Beginners-Intermediate
Please note: this is NOT a suitable class for absolute beginners

In this class you'll learn to make your own wire findings easier, faster and more efficiently
- overview of wire types, temper, gauges, etc.;
- how to make consistent wire loops and wraps and troubleshoot difficulties;
- make your own earwires, plain and decorative headpins, connectors & dangles;
- bring questions!!!

Sunday morning class (Time TBA):

Totally Addicting Stretch Bracelets for Beginners+

Whatever you want to call them -- stretch, stacker, diffuser, healing, chakra or mala bracelets -- this is a great introduction to jewellery-making. Dress 'em up, dress 'em down, once you learn a few little tips and tricks you'll find the design possibilities are endless. Stretch bracelets make up quickly and just about anyone can make and wear them: they're easy to roll on and off with no pesky clasps to fiddle with. The only tools required are (sharp, pointy) scissors and occasionally pliers. 

You'll learn:
- tying and hiding a knot without using glue (& why you don't want to be using glue!);
- adjusting tension & sizing your bracelet to fit;
- easy and inexpensive ways to jazz up a plain bracelet by adding charms and/or spacers

NOTES ON TOOLS for most classes:
You'll notice you're asked to bring your own tools if you have them as instructors only have limited numbers of tools for participants to use. In general, these are the four basic tools anyone making jewellery will need at a bare minimum. Note that hardware store pliers and cutters do not work.  

L to R, bent nose pliers, flat nose pliers, round nose pliers, wire cutters. 

It's always advisable to buy the best quality tools you can afford to save your hands from carpal tunnel and/or aggravating arthritis as well as make it way easier to manipulate wire. Those cute sets of tiny pliers you'll see in stores are meant for limited use when travelling or for kids' tiny hands. 

Hint to beginners: Subscribe to Michael's newsletter and whenever you're near a store pop in and use their daily 40% or 50% off coupon to buy something expensive -- tools!!! -- that rarely if ever go on sale. 

Sign up for classes early!!!
By subscribing to either The Gem Expo website or the MetaExpo website, you will receive notifcation when all of the classes are posted. Don't be disappointed! Sign up early as many in-demand classes have limited places and are fully booked a month before the show.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you at the March 2018 GEM EXPO and METAEXPO!!!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Good Advice for 2018 -- and beyond...

Agnes, 02.01.18

I originally read this advice when I was 18. No idea where I first came across it, probably some magazine article. I was living on my own for the first time in a new city, working my first job at a university of all places -- stratospheric intimidation factor right there -- didn't know anyone, and for sure didn't have clue one how the world worked, let alone my place in it. Basically, I was one terrified, gibbering kid from the sticks. But I read it, kept my mouth firmly shut, eyes and ears wiiiiide open. Trust me, it worked. Almost too well. But I learned all kinds of interesting stuff.  

Listening well has served me equally well making jewellery; my customers have in many cases become my good friends. It amazes me how many people don't -- or won't -- listen. More than ever, people are starving to be heard. Jewellery is therapy for more than just us as the makers; it's also a therapy vehicle for our customers.

I've been at the market for ten years and this was my first great Christmas season ever. Even the New Year's market was good! But that was then, this is now: these last couple of days I've been proactively contacting people and filling up my new and pristine daytimer with events at which to sell my jewellery: dates and locations TBA.

I'll be offering a third class at The Gem Expo in Toronto in March on the Friday evening after work, plus the usual Saturday and Sunday mornings, course content TBA. If there's a technique you'd like to learn or refine, please tell me! Best and fastest way to get hold of me is email.

And you can always find me at the Woodstock Farmers Market, every Saturday morning from 7:00 a.m. until noon, although I'm usually there by 5:00.

Now to hunker down and back to workworkwork! Welllll... first more coffee.

Happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Shaming the consumer, what a helluva way to do business...

In today's Toronto Star newspaper article, Missing the silver boat, Michael Lewis begins with:

"Consumer brands are missing the boat on millions of dollars in potential revenue thanks to ad buyers’ misperceptions about the 55-plus demographic, says the president of a consulting firm that aims to help companies do a better job of reaching affluent boomers." 

Read the article. He's right and it's about time someone said all this, but I don't think he goes far enough.

Remember the movie Network, from 1976? Watch this clip to bring it all back. Netflix, are you listening? Just watching that clip -- wow, absolutely NOTHING has changed in 41 -- yeah, FORTY-ONE! -- years! Might be time to bring it back, yes?

I was an extra in the TV studio audience in the movie, yelling out, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking it anymore!" (FYI, you can just barely see me and my BF at 0:09 in the lower left: the lights are shining off Michael's bald head, I'm just to his right.)

Well, I AM mad as hell, and have been for a long, long time. Here's my New Year's resolution a week early: no more being nicey-nice and mealy-mouthed -- and if I offend anyone, well, just maybe you need to be offended. Here's me yelling out loud and clear:

Hi, Michael, 

Man, these people are so missing the boat, and I'm surrounded by them everywhere I go. Arrogance and ignorance out the yin-yang. I'll tell you, though, if you really want to effect change and wake these people up, you need to stop being so polite about it. 

I'm almost 66, get a pension, still alive and kicking, work full time self-employed plus run my own jewellery business and look after my mother, and I and everyone I know have (at least some) money to burn. But you know what? NOBODY seems to want it. 

Along with doing transcription, I make jewellery these days, and I do a good trade in custom jewellery and alterations for kids and grownups into their 90s. Yeah, kids. Kids and teenagers LOVE my stuff (and their parents are so freakin' grateful). I'm a vendor and instructor at The Gem Expo in Toronto three times a year, and 20 and 30-somethings tell me all the time that not only do I have the coolest booth design at the show, I have the best stuff anywhere in Toronto. Yep, I do weird. People love weird. 

Why do they buy from me? Because my jewellery FITS whether they're a size 0 or size 100 (novel concept, I know), it's flattering and the right proportion to aging, sagging necks and changing body types. How do I manage that? All my jewellery is alterable. 

But mostly, I listen to what they want and need. What these marketers don't seem to get is listening to what people have to say is what will encourage them to buy. Don't give them a questionnaire asking impossible-to-answer questions confirming the company's own biases. I used to work for Angus Reid. I know stupid questionnaires when I see them. 

I was in Toronto this summer. Went to the Bay/Sak's to see what they had. Zip, zero, nada, unless you planned to spend 24/7 in the Entertainment District and wear over-priced size 2 frilly nothings the entire time. The whole store was filled with this crap -- what? Six floors, seven floors? -- sitting UNSOLD -- and, even better, not a customer in sight. 

Seriously? Disregard demographics -- and reality! -- at your peril, people. 

Another thing these 20 and 30-something marketers (and newspapers, ahem) need to do is STOP designing websites that have teensy faint flyspecks for type. When I see that, I'm gone -- and I'm not alone. I buy a ton of stuff for my jewellery business online; as soon as I see those flyspecks, I'm gone. I started out life as a typographer and typesetter. My ads sell; "design" today repels. 

When you have a salesperson visibly in-your-face rejecting you when you want to buy something just because you have grey hair, holy moley... it is mortifying and infuriating all balled up into one big hunk of rage, sorrow and shame -- yes, shame -- and you will Never. Ever. Shop. There. Again. 

THIS is what marketing is all about today. 

Get Jeff Weiss to contact me. I have 50 years of design, print/media, travel, language/culture experience across all sectors. While he definitely won't like what I have to say, I do speak very articulately for a whole lot of people. 

Dunno if this Jeff Weiss guy will call -- I'll let you know -- but geez, Louise... I've been pissed off for 20 years. The grey hair story up above happened to me, and I was so freakin' furious and mortified because this little bitch -- YES -- little bitch said what she said in the tone of voice that she said in front of other customers. 

Well, you better believe that everyone I know heard about it. I don't know if anyone I told stopped shopping there, but I will never EVER support a store or business that allows their staff to treat customers that way. EVER. 

The arrogance that business owners/employees (and advertisers) exhibit to their customers in so many ways, shapes and forms is unconscionable. Where does alienating the customer (and their money, hello???) come from? Eaton's, Sears, the Bay, Target, Zellers... has no one learned anything??? Alienating and ignoring -- and shaming -- your customers does not work. Why do you think it will??? 

Thank you for reading, and I'd love to know if you've experienced the same things I have. 

Meanwhile, if you're in southern Ontario, yes, the Woodstock Farmers Market is open this Saturday, December 30th, early*** until noon. Shopping for your New Year's party? We gotcha covered. Didn't get what you reeeeally wanted for Christmas? We've definitely gotcha covered. See you there!

***How early is early? I'm there around 5:00 a.m. and most vendors are up and running between 6:00 and 6:30.