Thursday, October 29, 2009

HBP - Final Product #1

It's finished! As promised:


Satin rattail cord, sterling silver chainmaille tassle.
It turned out pretty darn close to what I had envisioned. I had thought to add some Swarovski crystals to accentuate the color in the glass, but once I got to this point, it seemed like they would have just seemed like an afterthought. Besides, considering the bead is the focal point, the color and sparkle of the crystals would have pulled attention away from it.

I'm rather happy with it! Now... to decide what to do with it...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Homeless Bead Project

So I mentioned in an earlier post about a wonderful artist, Nomad Crafts, who sends out monthly newsletters as well as a free lampworked bead to anyone on their mailing list. Considering my latent passion for lampworking, I quickly added my name to said mailing list.

Well, a week ago, my first bead arrived!
Nomad Crafts' bead

Ain't she a beaut? I was pleasantly surprised when this little gem arrived in my mailbox for free. Most places that have free giveaways like that only giveaway items that are substandard or unsellable. Maybe this artist has very high standards, which is fine, but this bead is not what I would consider freebie fodder.
It is obviously thought out and planned to look the way it does. Sure, if I HAD to I could try to pick out a few things about it that might not be considered perfect. But then again, who am I to judge with only 10 hours of any sort of lampworking experience under my belt?

So anyway, I am assuming (hoping) that Nomad Crafts will continue to send me specimens like this and my intention (hope/plan/pipedream?) is to make something using each of the monthly tokens and send pictures of the finished item back to Nomad Crafts.

There is a tiny dilemma amidst this project...
Is it ethical for me to sell some of the items I make with thsee free beads? I have every intention of providing as many links as I can to Nomad's etsy shop in the descriptions of these items. I also plan to blog about each month's project (like I'm doing now) which is helping promote Nomad's business. But since I obtained the bead for free, is it then unethical to turn it around and sell it for money?
I suppose I could always ask Nomad how they felt about it. Perhaps they would prefer I didn't use their giveaways to make into items to sell. Perhaps they would prefer if I didn't blog about them at all!

Well, we'll see how the finished project turns out this month. I wouldn't dare try to sell an item that didn't turn out well for fear of linking Nomad's shop with an inferior product.
I'm not even sure what I want to do with it.
One idea was to string it on some satin rattail cord and add a small chainmail embellishment underneath, probably with some Swarovski crystals to compliment the colors used in the bead. But would it be a pendant on a long corded necklace or should I attach a clip to make it a zipper pull or other such adornment?

If I had more folks that regularly read this blog, I could turn it into a contest... Readers could suggest ideas and whomever submitted the winning idea would receive the finished item as a prize. Would that I had that many readers, else we would all benefit from such an idea.

I could also have a contest for people to suggest a name for this idea of turning the monthly beads into an accessory or jewelry item. For now I'm calling it the Homeless Bead Project. Even though, the bead has a home now. It had a home before. But the previous home decided that perhaps the bead could have a better life if they sent it out into the world.
I just want to fulfill that beads destiny.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too Old for Facebook

So I just created a Facebook Fan Page for Iron Dog Metalsmiths. Man, I think I'm too old to figure out how that site works. It took me forever just to figure out how to edit my page once I created it. I still don't have it done/ready.
I've got it linked to Twitter, so hopefully, I won't have to worry about updating BOTH place, just the one.

My wonderful friend, Nora, has already become a fan. Perhaps I should get a few lessons from her... How to Navigate Facebook 101.

I'd put a link to the Page, but I'm not sure I'd even know how to do that correctly. So, until I figure it out, just go to Facebook and search for Iron Dog Metalsmiths. And if you can.... HELP ME!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Barktoberfest and a Product Review

Well, the show was a reasonable success. I made back my booth fee and then some, so that counts as a success in my books. Lots of people took business cards and seemed genuinely interested in visiting my websites. Most people ask for a card just to be polite and use it as an out without buying anything. But lots of people who took cards really seemed intent on visiting my site.

Also had a few people take the cards that I had made up to advertise my next show. Lots of them said something like, "Oh, I'll be in that area at that time!" or "My sister lives there and she would love this stuff."

Maybe I'm deluding myself, but whatever.

I got a picture of my booth.
My booth at Barktoberfest '09

Oh, and here's a product review for you:
I recently bought a Verizon USB Mobile Broadband modem with the intention of bringing my laptop to shows to process credit cards on the spot. Verizon has a deal called a DayPass where you pay $15 for 24 hours of access. This would be used instead of having a 1 or 2 year contract and paying $20-40 per month for it. The DayPass is perfect since I only need it every so often for shows.
Well, unless you plan on signing up for a contract, you have to buy the modem at full retail price. For this model, that price was $170.
Then, once you're ready to use it, you call an 800 to sign up for a DayPass. Well, if it's the first time doing so, you also have to activate the thing, which costs another $25. (For you number people, we're already up to $210 for the first use.)

So, the night before the show, I call to activate the thing and sign up for the DayPass. She takes my information and my credit card number and tells me to wait 30 minutes so it all can be entered into the system and then the modem should work. She gave me an order number and an application number (whatever that is). She said if it didn't work, to call back and they'd find out why.
I waited 45 minutes and it didn't work. So I called back. Long story short, I spent over 2 hours on the phone with tech support. They had nothing in their system about me or my modem. The phone number that the original lady had assigned to my modem kept coming back as a number for a deactivated cell phone account. Basically, they were as dumbfounded and frustrated as I was. So I asked if maybe we couldn't just start over and reactivate the thing all over again. The guy thought that might work, so he said he'd transfer me to someone who could do that.
Well, she couldn't. She told me I had to call Sales during their business hours to do that.
So, I hung up without any sort of solution.
The next morning was the show. The show opened its doors at noon and I was finished setting up my booth at 11am. But, I was still frustrated from the night before and just decided to give up on the modem for that show and worry about it later. But my boyfriend loves a computer challenge so he pulls out my laptop and plugs in the modem. Go figure, it worked instantly. We're guessing that since it was late in the day when I initially called, the techs decided to wait until the morning to set me up.
It worked perfectly. I was able to process all my credit card transactions right there and then, get confirmation right there and then and have peace of mind that I'd be paid and not have to deal with rejected cards hours after the sale.

Do I recommend this product? Absolutely.
Do I have faith in Verizon's customer service and technical support? Eh... the jury is still out.
Was/Is it worth the cost? More than likely. At my larger shows, I get lots of credit card sales. So far, I've only had one card be rejected when I went to process it from home after the show. But now, I won't have to worry about that at all. It doesn't take any more time than the way I used to do it.
I know that it really won't have paid for itself until I get $200 worth of sales that would have otherwise been rejected due to a bad card. I don't forsee that happening in the near future, but until it does, I do think it is worth the peace of mind.

Also, I'd like to give props to my MacBook for lasting through the whole 6-hour show. In fact, the charge on the battery only dropped to 78% by the time the show was over. I just put it to sleep after a transaction. Sure, I did have to reconnect the modem after doing so, but that wasn't that much of a problem. Only takes 10-15 seconds to do that.
Perhaps I will rethink replacing my MacBook with a netbook since the Mac did much better than I thought it would.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Barktoberfest tomorrow and a Look Ahead

Well it rained. It IS raining. So Barktoberfest will be held tomorrow. It is supposed to be sunny all day. Hopefully no wind. Mid 60's. Not too bad.

Check back tomorrow evening. Hopefully I'll have time and energy to give a quick blurb about the show. If not, then definitely on Monday.

Also, I received my Bead of the Month from Nomad Crafts. I am pleasantly surprised! I figured it'd be a small bead or maybe a reject. A bead that didn't turn out well. And maybe it is a bead that didn't turn out well. Perhaps the artist had a specific image in mind for this bead and this one didn't quite match it.
Either way, to me, it's a rather nice bead! Quite large at about an inch in diameter. I already have ideas for what to do with it.

So check back after Tuesday night and hopefully I'll have some pictures of the bead itself, and maybe pictures of what I did with it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain Date

It hasn't actually started raining yet, but it's supposed to. This evening through the night with 90% of thunderstorms all day tomorrow. Looks like that rain date for the Barktoberfest show will be necessary.

It makes me wonder what I should do tomorrow. I'm all ready for the show (or will be once I get home tonight) so there's nothing left to do. Maybe I will take my boyfriend out as a pre-show thank you for coming with me.
I'd take pictures of some items to list, but cloudy and rainy days do not make for good lighting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

T-minus two days

Man, I always get giddy for shows. It's fun to interact with people. It's fun to be creating something right there in my booth and have people ask questions or ooh and ahh over it. This time especially it'll be fun to see how my boyfriend handles it all since this'll be the first time he's come to a show with me.

Don't get me wrong, the money is nice, too. But there have been shows where I barely broke even with my booth fees, and I keep coming back, so it isn't just the Benjamins. Besides, I have been doing this for six years and I have yet to give myself a paycheck because all the money just goes right back into my business.
It is starting to level out, though... I suppose I've just had an extended start-up period and now finally I'm able to enjoy the return on my efforts, rather than just investing it back into something else I need.

This show will be fun, too. It benefits a local animal adoption organization, so it is for a good cause. The hospital I work at will have a booth there, so my coworkers will get to see me in action.

Oh, I suppose I should plug the show itself!

Barktoberfest will be this Saturday (Oct. 24th) so long as it doesn't rain. If it does, and it looks like it might, the festival will be the next day, Sunday the 25th. Admission is free. Friendly dogs are welcome. There'll be live bands, doggie games, silent auction, and many other vendors besides myself. Noon to 6pm.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So little time...

Well, the Twitter thing is working out, I suppose. No sales since I joined and I totally expected that. My problem is I don't have enough time in the day. I'd like to be able to get pictures of more items so I can list more, rather than just relist the stuff I already have pictures of.
Sure, I have two hours of lunch break where I can sit here and follow Twitter and forums and this blog, but because I'm not able to create new listings, or take new pictures, I have nothing new to report in these places. I have yet to post a Tweet about a new listing because I haven't made any new listings. And that's one of the big reasons I joined Twitter.
Really, the only thing I am able to do here on my lunch break (especially with the internet connection being as slow as it is) is create more items. Which is fantastic, don't get me wrong. I'm sure many people don't even have that luxury.

I suppose that I'm just going to have to wait until these next two shows are over. Then I will have time to take pictures and the like. As it is now, any spare time I have at home is spent getting my inventory ready and creating signage and checking my supplies/displays, etc.

And since I don't have anything new to report, all I can post about is depressing stuff like this! Sheesh.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hearts Do Not Equal Sales

I just hit the 100 hearts mark for My Etsy Shop!

I know, I know, a heart isn't a sale. You don't even need hearts to get a sale. But whatever. I've been on Etsy for nigh on two years now. I've been pretty passive about promoting myself, so I'm certainly not complaining.

And, following up from my last blog post, I have Twitter to thank for it. The last three hearts came today after I was more active on my Twitter page.

We shall see if these hearts amount to anything.


I did it. I can't believe I did it.
I created a Twitter account.

Now my minimal spare time can and likely will be spent tweeting. Actually, I'll probably only do it during my lunch break at work. I dare not do it too much at home or I'll never hear the end of it from my boyfriend. He is not a supporter of the online social networking sites.
I didn't use to be, but I've heard how it can really drive traffic to your site. So I dove in.

I'm such a twit.
My Twitter Page

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I like people.

Okay, not really. I mean, that would go against everything I am. I suppose it'd be more accurate to say that I'm happy with some people at the moment.

My Etsy shop has been conversation central. None have resulted in sales, but one is about a recent sale, so there's that.

One conversation was initiated by myself. I discovered a shop that has a really cool promotion. The shop is NomadCraftsEtc. and they make lampworked beads and pendants. Lampworking is near and dear to my heart and once I get a place that can accommodate such a craft, I will get back behind the torch and try my hand at it again.
So I was pretty happy to find out that if you join their mailing list, the kind folks at Nomad Crafts will send you a fee lampworked bead every month. Now, I'm sure these beads aren't huge masterpieces. Probably not anything that could serve as a focal bead or pendant... but still. These are beads that take a little bit of effort to make. The glass is expensive. It takes up resources to have the torch burning. I might only take a minute or two to make the bead, but I seriously doubt these beads are just single color wraps. Well, I HOPE they're more than that anyway.
So I had a few convos back and forth with them and they seem very nice and I look forward to my newsletter and bead.

Another conversation was from a recent buyer. She got her bracelet today and is very happy with it. And thusly I'm very happy about that! To give myself props as a reward for another happy customer, I shall now link you to the bracelet in question. Sneaky me. Of course, as fast as those things are selling, we'll see how long that link lasts.

Thirdly, I got a convo from a fellow jewelry seller asking about the dog in my logo. I've had this question at least once before, if not twice. She asked if it was a Shiba Inu. No, I responded, it is an Akita. Now I won't lie and say that I like Shibas. I really don't. But that's just personal preference. Am I mad when people think it's a shiba? No. It's probably my own fault that people think that. The anvil and the dog are proportioned so that it makes the dog look like a smaller breed... like a shiba or a spitz. But alas, it is my akita. Will I change it? Hell no. This person said she liked the logo in general and thought the dog on the anvil was appropriate for my shop name. And so, I shall now give HER some props and link you to her shop called Moonlight Beadworks.

It'll be interesting to see how long my goodwill towards others will last.

....not long apparently.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


So, I think I have a new bestseller.
My current bestseller is a sterling silver byzantine necklace done in 20g 1/8" rings. Gotta say I like it too.
But, move over sterling, 'cause there's a new fave in town.
My small byzantine bracelet done in all titanium. I'd show you a picture of an example, but I'm not at the computer with the pictures so I can't upload one at the moment. And I can't link you to a listing of one on Etsy because I can't keep them in stock long enough.
Last year I had listed one with nice deep blue connector rings. Gorgeous. Someone bought it for her boyfriend. Then I listed one with pink connector rings. That sold as well. Then the lady who bought the first one came back and wanted another for her father. That was awesome, I love doing custom stuff! Then I decided that I should remake some of the items that have previously sold on Etsy and relist them. So I started with the pink titanium bracelet. I had intended on doing the blue one next when the pink one sold. Not three days later.
So, here I am on my lunch break, trying to crank out another pink bracelet to list and I have every intention on making a blue one when I get home. Assuming those stay for a little bit, I'll take a chance and try green. Then maybe brown or purple. Perhaps I should just stick with a few colors? I know pink and blue do well, but I'd hate to limit myself to just those.

Anyway, it's nice when you have something that you like and really enjoy making and everyone else seems to like it, too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Life has a funny way of...

...making it impossible to update your blog.

Okay, so I can't blame it all on life. A small bit of it was my laziness on my part as well. But I have gone through some big crap in my life recently, but now that I'm back in the game, I can make a feeble attempt to keep this blog somewhat updated.

What's new with Iron Dog?
I've got a show coming up at the end of this month. It'll be outdoors. I had sworn off outdoor shows a while ago. Okay, maybe not outdoor shows in general, just one show and one of the several reasons for dropping it was that it was outdoors.
I invested in a canopy/tent. Hopefully, the wind and weather will behave for me and things will go smoothly.

I have a new helper!
My boyfriend surprised me by showing a decent level of interest in what I do. He even asked me to teach him a few things and before I knew it, he'd made 15 items for me. I suppose I'll need to start paying him somehow. He also seems more than willing to come with me to shows and help out that way. Good thing, too, since I'll be needing it with all the new procedures I'm adopting.

Procedures? Yeah, so according to state law, I need to have sales tax listed seperately on my receipts. Up until now, I had just lumped sales tax into the item cost and rounded up to the nearest dollar. That way, I didn't have to bring coin change with me to shows. Just bills. Lots easier, but I wasn't writing out the sales tax on the receipts. I plan on keeping my prices rounded, but I made a cheat sheet to look up how that price breaks down into item price and sales tax so I can note it on the receipt.
Also, I plan to get mobile broadband on my laptop so I can process credit cards on the spot through Propay. Before I'd use the imprinter to make the receipt and wait until I got home to actually process the cards. But at that point, if the card were declined, I'd be SOL. I used to ask for Driver's License to verify the cardholder as well as write down their address and phone number so I could get ahold of them if the card were declined. But I found out that that is a big no-no. So, rather than try to find a way around getting the customers info, I just decided to go all out and make it so I can process cards on the spot. Easier, faster and safer for everyone.

Bah! Enough of the technical stuff. What sort of new pretties have I made? Well, I'm still on a titanium kick. I had an issue with my anodizer, but thanks to my electrical engineer of a brother, it's back up and working full speed.
I've also taken a leap and invested in some gold rings to incorporate into my jewelry. I'm still hesitant to make anything completely gold. Not sure why, but I think it's because I, myself, do not prefer gold jewelry.

I dropped out of that gallery I was showing at. I didn't like the way it was being run, but mostly I was having difficulties scheduling my shifts around my new work schedule. So, I decided to give it up. Sales had dropped off anyway, but it has freed up inventory to put on Etsy and in shows.

Speaking of Etsy, I really need to get some more items up there. With the show coming up in a few weeks, I'm hesitant to put things on Etsy that I will be bringing with me to the show. Knowing my luck, an item would sell on Etsy the same moment it sold at the show. I'm thinking of saving my easy-to-reproduce items for Etsy to help reduce that fear.

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll be back with something a little more exciting. Maybe even some pictures, too.