Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Caramel's Claws Necklace

It started when I looked at a big, rectangular Chrysocolla cabochon, and thought, "That is just too pretty to cover up with a bezel."  Old prong set bezels flitted through my mind, and collided with Czech Crescent beads. This resulted, and Caramel's Claws Necklace was born.  I make that sound pretty simple, although it took a little testing, ripping, and finagling.

I think it is an idea adaptable to many shapes and sizes.   For that reason I created two listings for the tutorial,  If you just want to try the bezel technique, purchase just the bezel tutorial, available here in my Etsy shop.  If you want to make the necklace as shown, and do not already own the Acorn tutorial, purchase both in this listing.

Many cabochons are cut with sensitivity to the stone, and can vary dramatically in size and thickness.  As a maker of tutorials and kits, I recognize that I need to design for readily available focals. Plus, I wanted others to be able to use my pattern with something they could buy at their local bead shop or at the very least, online.  So I chose 30x40mm stone beads, sourced, cut, and sold wholesale only a couple miles from me, by Dakota Stones.

I used two different stones.  I did my first sample with Red Creek Jasper, and I just loved it.  But it's green, and in my experience, my worship of all colors from nature does not always apply to the masses, in particular my personal favorite green golds.  Sigh.  So I did not make this kit.

But I played with a warmer stone from the Red Creek strand, and on my second try was pleased.  I know the Bronze acorn earrings were the best seller, so here is a link to this listing...

The Patina Acorn earrings also sold really fast, so I visited Dakota with that in mind, and selected some Sunset Mookite. Patina is such a gorgeous Melon bead, with hints of gold, pink, and bronze in the finish.  I pushed the necklace a little into the rose, lavender, mauve and honey gold with supporting beads, and here is a link for what I call "Honey and Berries".

And finally, I got back to the cooler colors in the Red Creek strand, and supported the minty green with turquoise and silver with just a hint of bronze.  The Light Sage kits are at this link.

I did a second version of this kit with metallic teal prongs for the darker stones in the bunch, and a deeper Verawood bead.  Dark Sage kits are at this link.  I never made a sample, because each focal I use is one less for you to buy.

I released my first set of 32 kits last weekend, and I think there are 4 left at this point.

You know, it's a challenge as a designer, trying to decide how much money to invest in a design until testing the interest in it.  And the investment is not only in the materials involved.  It's in the time spent making and then rejecting samples, trying a slightly different bead color or finish, finding a "perfect" bead and discovering it has been discontinued or is back-ordered at the factory...  the list goes on and on.

But!  Apparently, you like this design!  So I will make more.  I may re-do some of these existing kits, but I have other ideas.  And while I think this design is timeless and durable,  the first set of kits has an Autumnal feeling to me.  And I have Winter ideas.  AND Spring ideas!

In the mean time, I have been asked for earrings to match the kits done to date.  So I am at work on those, and will release them as I finish them.  Two sets (Cinnamon and  Honey & Berries) are finished and in my shop at this listing.  Light and Dark Sage are on the way.  FYI, the Cinnamon is just one bead different from the original (and popular) Bronze kits.


I think these are close to colorways for the Winter kit releases,
 coming soon-ish to Haute Ice Beadwork.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Understanding Fees on Etsy - With MATH and Everything!

Etsy sellers, this is for you.  And for me, because explaining things to someone else sets them neatly in my mind, and preserves the info for my future use.  

I just did some calculations to confirm how much I am spending on Etsy.  Don't get me wrong, I like Etsy.  Every selling venue needs to have income of their own in order to exist, serve their sellers, pay their employees, and their taxes.  I do not begrudge them their fair share for providing a venue for me. I would ask you please not to complain about Etsy here on my blog.  Feel free to say what you like on your own. 

But the fees are more complicated than I thought they were.  I am going to share with you. 

Here are the Fees

 1)  Listing Fee - .20 per listing.  Each time I list a tutorial or kit, (or it sells and is re-listed) it costs .20.  That one is easy to understand.

2) Transaction Fee -  3.5% of the sale. (Note: I believe they do not take a percentage of the shipping cost. Just the item cost.  Etsy is providing a service, and could have an expectation of being paid for it, but it seems they don’t.)

3)  Payment Processing Fee - 3% plus .25 per transaction.  No matter where they live, including foreign countries.  

I clearly understood the first two fees.  But that Payment Processing Fee I didn’t have a real grasp on.  Again, it seems basically reasonable to me.  

Here’s how it all affects my bottom line.  

Someone purchases something small, lets say a $10 tutorial.  I give Etsy $1.10.  Listing .20, Transaction .35, Payment Processing .55.  

Of the small sale, 11% of the whole transaction goes to Etsy.

Now, let’s say a larger purchase is made.  Someone buys some tutorials and kits, and the total sale is $100, with shipping costs of $2.65.  I give Etsy $7.03.  Listing .20, Transaction 3.50, and Payment Processing 3.33.  And since I charged the actual shipping cost, that breaks even.

Of the larger sale, 6.85% of the transaction goes to Etsy. 

See what happened there?  That is a SUBSTANTIAL difference. 

I have a $1.00 listing and a $3.00 listing for materials used in my tutorials.  I need to re-think those listings, don't I? 

Also, some people buy the tutorial, read it, and an hour later, but a kit.  New transaction.  New Transaction fee, which I expected and understood, but ALSO, new Payment Processing fee, but that second .25 makes things different, in terms of percentage, eh?

Now, about PAYPAL. It took me many efforts with the calculator tool below to realize that PAYPAL CHARGES MORE, for small transactions.  And people bitch up a storm about Etsy Direct Payments! Sheesh.  Use the calculator tool (there is a link at the end of this post) and see for yourself.  PayPal charges 2.9% plus .30 per transaction. For smaller sales, that amounts to MORE.  AND if you are processing payment from out of your own country, they take 3.9% plus.30 for those processing up to $3000 a month.  Etsy has the same 3% fee, no matter where the purchase is made.  Let me be really clear here. Etsy did a kind and generous thing for us, and we bitched about it. Now there are some people from other countries whose banks charge them an ADDITIONAL FEE for accepting payment from Etsy, and those people have a right be be upset.  But maybe with their banks, and not Etsy so much. But for a while Etsy threatened to close the shops of those unwilling to conform, and that was complaint-worthy, IMHO.

Here's a graphic to help you understand.  Note, these calculations were done at the PayPal rate for those with total sales of under $3k and month.  There is a sliding scale, to further complicate things.

Total Purchase Amount
Etsy Payment Processing
PayPal Cross Border
10.00 Sale
100.00 Sale
1000.00 Sale

For larger sales, for me, even at the cost of a nickel or a dollar, I would still rather have ALL my bookkeeping information in one neat and tidy place. And since I do sell to the EU, I am happy to save a .14 on each small sale. Transferring numbers around from one place to another makes my head spin.

I just learned a great deal about pricing on Etsy.  Did you?  Draw your own conclusions.  It may affect you differently than it does me. But I need to re-think some pricing a little.  

Check out the cool Etsy Fee Calculator Tool I found here: 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Caramel's Acorns

Way back in January I was introduced to Czech 14mm Melon beads when they arrived in my TOHO Challenge kit.  I used them to make a few acorns, and have finally gotten around to re-working and writing a pattern for them.  Because, Autumn!

I have named them for my little squirrel friend Caramel.  Every morning and evening she arrives in my beading window, begging nuts.  I asked my hubby (The Best Man Ever) to make me a little rack, so I could show her the acorns I have been making.  Those ears seem to call out for decoration, don't you think?  She makes a sweet model and works for peanuts!

I love how the Patina and Pomegranate Melons are translucent, a lovely thing for an earring!  The others are all opaque metallic finishes.

My ten page tutorial shows you how to make the acorns as earrings, and also provides a metal free finish for those who want to attach them as components to other beadweaving.  I also have kits available in the five colors listed above.

The acorn is worked in peyote and square stitch, suitable for Intermediate beaders.  They are fast and fun to make.  Here's how the acorns look finished with wrapped loops.

And here is how the acorns look, finished with fireline.  This particular colorway was a one of many tests that did not make it to kitting.

I have been playing with the acorn as a component for use in necklaces this week.  I am very pleased with the proportions.  They seem to work well with many different commonly used jewels and cabochons.

Here is the Pomegranate acorn, added to one of my Pineapple Blossom bezels, based on a Swarovski Pear Fancy Stone.

And here was a quick effort with several kinds of chain from my stash.  I thought it make a good finial, and felt I could have added more acorns to the chain as well.  This particular chain was a little busy though, so I kept it cleaner.  The rope is almost 36" long and needed no clasp.

I have been playing with using crescent beads in bezels to create a sort of prong setting effect, and am pretty pleased with this one.  I am thinking about writing it up as a tutorial, but it may have to wait for a while.  The stone is a common size of Red Creek Jasper, so again, I am pleased with the size of the acorn and proportional relationship to the cabochon and bezel.  I think this acorn component has lots of possible applications!

I even tried a little Bead Embroidery, but in limited time, I don't really think I did it justice.  But I do think that the acorn component can work with BE.  I liked how the acorns were attached to the little oak leaf bunch I found in the park, and tried to emulate the organic aspect and the dual grouping.

You can find my tutorial HERE in my Etsy shop and the kits for all ten different beads needed to make two acorns, plus earring findings HERE.  I have included thread in my kits as well, as is must match the Melon bead.  Caramel wants me to be sure to tell you that the 14mm Melon beads have been discontinued by the Czech manufacturer.  They are still available in many retail bead shops, but be warned, when they are gone, these acorns will be no more.
Caramel is always in favor of hoarding.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Angel's Knot

I first made this necklace in early May, and it has taken me a while to write a tutorial and create a kit for the project.  It is inspired by my friend Ann's beautiful Brugmansia, which she posted photos of last January while I was working on my TOHO Challenge piece.  I was depressed by US politics, and this simple beauty was magical healing for my soul.

It seemed so incredibly pure and elegantly ethereal.  And yet, Ann wrote that the flower blooms only at night, and that every part of it is poisonous.  To me, this was all quite evocative, and totally appropriate to my mood at the time.

Toho provided no white (well, OK there were ivory, but not the shape I needed) or green beads, but there were purple, and I was doing my best to use all the materials provided.  I found a purplish version of the flower (also known as Angel's Trumpet) and modeled flowers for my TOHO Challenge work on it.

These flowers are nearly the same as the flowers in Angel's Knot, but with the addition of the pearly center that provides visual clarity, and is a nice foil for the matte demi beads.  I worked in Matte Crystal, Crystal Luster, and White Opaque Luster, and am very happy with how the beads work together to create a little of the beauty of Ann's gorgeous blossom.

The plant looked both gangly and ropy to me, and very drapy, so I tried to re-create that feeling in my necklace.  I riffed on the idea of an infinity knot, modifying to have a knot with two legs on one side and three on the other.  Mysterious, I hoped.  I also designed (on the suggestion of my wonderful tester Marie Weakland) a magnetic clasp that echoes the calyx supporting each blossom.

It is shown as worn below, and the size is adjustable, suitable for both a quite small, or much larger woman.  The tutorial demonstrates how to estimate the size you will need, and the kit provides beads to make up to a 22" rope above the knot.

I used lots of Toho Demi beads in this work and am super fond of what they can do structurally, as well as their lovely, lacy texture. They really helped me create a delicate, life-sized flower, and although in this rendition, I did not use the long calyx and thread-thin connection to the flower that is in Ann's photos.  I do have future plans for another version of it that will employ some of that alternate yumminess.

The flower is done in Herringbone and Peyote stitch and the ropes are Chenille worked over satin cord.  The project is for an intermediate to advanced beader, comfortable with these stitches, and ok with using Demi's and 15/0 beads. It takes about 12 - 15 hours to create.

The tutorial is available HERE in my Etsy shop, and I have made a few kits also, available HERE. The kit contains 14 different beads, plus the clasp, satin cord, and a spool of Toho's Green One-G Thread, and is certainly a cheaper solution that buying them all separately.

I've been wearing it on a multitude of greens and soft colors and it feels like a great Summer necklace to me!  I hope you'll enjoy it too!

And now on to a little Autumn beading!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pineapple Blossom gets Married!

I began this necklace, using my Pineapple Blossom tutorial, as a demonstration piece for the TOHO booth at the Bead & Button show, but it proved to be a less than terrific demo piece.  The silver-lined crystal beads can be challenging to see without a darker mat and great light, and I wanted onlookers to be able to see what I was doing.

The results are gorgeous though, and I think this would be a great wedding necklace!

I had a hard time shooting this piece, and here is an image on black, that helps show detail.

Several people had asked if I will kit this, and I don't think so.  But I am happy to tell you, it can be made with my tutorial, and I will provide the beads list below!

My pattern is calibrated for a leather backing on the jewel, and that process is included in the tutorial, as well a in a video here on my blog.

Make some bride happy!

Or you can buy that piece in my Etsy shop here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How to Put a Leather Backing on a Swarovski Jewel

Many of my tutorials call for the application of leather to the back of a Swarovski "Fancy Stone".

These stones have pointy backs with an anodized coating that reflects light back out of the glass to yummy effect.  I cover the backs with leather for several reasons.

First, the backs can be nicked or chipped if dropped, or sometimes just through repeated use, the backing shows wear.  Vintage stones are especially susceptible to damage, and the most recent ones are the sturdiest. So one purpose of my leather backing is protection.

The second purpose is aesthetic.  I think the exposed silver backing does not merge nicely with the beadwork that is not silver itself.  I use lots of color in my designs, so I want to have a matching backside for the work, like this one below.

I also think sometimes necklaces can be made reversible, affording a more casual result and turning a very sparkly stone into just a beautiful shape to work around, like in my Pineapple Blossom necklace.

Finally, I think there is a comfort factor.  I like the feel of the soft leather against my skin, more than the cold, pointy anodized backing.

Lots of things are hard to learn from just hearing how they are done, but much easier to understand when seen.  Honestly, I could not imagine how Peyote stitch was done, despite looking at a diagram, until I took my first beading class.

SO, here, to add to the text and photo instruction I have provided in my tutorials, is a little video for you.  It's my first try, and my cameraman husband did not know I was planning to get the job done in one go, so he speaks up, which is added entertainment for you.  I know, I know, I really must learn to edit and create lovely films, but I think the need here is immediate, so without further ado...

The jewel used in the demo is Iridescent Green, which means it has a factory coating on its surface. As you saw I was able to rub off a glue mistake with my thumb at the edge, and you will be able to do that on the surface as well, even with color coated finishes like AB, but this is safest with modern stones,  Be very gentle with vintage finishes. Be sure to let the adhesive dry before you try to rub it off.

My rice bed is immense because I do a dozen jewels at a time.  Yours can be much smaller. Something with a lid is a good idea, to avoid spills.  I use an ancient margarine container, when I am gluing just one stone at a time.  :)

My press cloth is light grey polyester organza.  Protects my iron and the leather, keeps them from sticking to each other, and easy to see through to what you are doing.  Any pastel or white works, but the grey is the most invisible.

I mention Poly Pellets, which are essentially Beanie Baby guts.  I buy mine at the local craft store, but you can find them here, at Joann Fabrics.  Rice beds are traditional in complex gluing projects.  I learned the trick from my model-making son.

And these are the trimming scissors I adore from Gingher.

The pen is a roller ball, which works really well on leather and suede.

The adhesive I use here is E-6000, and a pointy applicator tip is not your friend for this project. A tube with a flat opening allows you to wipe on the adhesive thinly and evenly and the little ones are easiest to manipulate. Please be careful with this glue.  The fumes (as the adhesive cures) are carcinogenic, which is why I recommend that you cure it for at least 6 hours, (and 24 is better) in a closed bathroom with the exhaust fan turned on.  I just read about a new, reduced smell, non-carcinogenic adhesive from the same manufacturer, and I will test it in the coming weeks and report back here on it's usefulness for this purpose.

Please forgive the primitive nature of this video.  I think, you have to start where you are, and I have already learned a great deal in creating this very simple little bit of film.  Hang in there with me, and my efforts will improve with time.

Now go make yourself some pretty, leather backed Swarovski Fancy Stones!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Five Lessons Learned by Failure

Well, it has taken me a while to fully process my first attempt at teaching.  It was interesting, and VERY educational.  I do not know if I want to further pursue this or not at this point.  But I am going to write down what I learned, so I can remember it for myself, and so maybe you too can learn from my mistakes.  I made a healthy bunch of them, but maybe had a little success too.

The Upper Midwest Bead Society hosts a "Demo and Do" event every spring.  This event is an opportunity to learn from other members in the society.  Some members are wonderful, experienced teachers, teaching their own designs, like Diane Fitzgerald (Beautiful Beads), Doris Coghill (Beads by Dee), Maggie Thompson (Maggie T Designs, who sells her beautifully designed portable Kumihimo stand), and Barb Knoche, who taught the first class I took ten years ago, a wonderful Peyote bracelet of cube beads.  And then there are other members who demonstrate techniques in which they are proficient, or the designs of others.

I had never attended the event, but it's a friendly, kind group of beaders, and I thought I might be able to test the teaching waters in a low-stress environment.  Here's a link to information about the event. Each class was 50 minutes long, and cost $5 for members, which I expect paid for the rental of the space at the Textile Center.

I took two classes in the morning, which was a very good thing.  The first was a Netted Pearl technique, and I had fun playing with the stitch.  I tried 4 drop, 3 drop, and 2 drop, which I thought was a little thready for my 4mm round.  Then I did a little Chenille break in the netting.  Very fun!

My second class was a Micro Macrame class.  We were told to learn some knots in preparation for the class, but I was CRAZY busy last week prepping my tutorial and kits, so I watched a video, but did not actually try the knots.  I thought I would manage, because I usually catch on pretty quickly.  BOY WAS I WRONG.

I charged off to what I thought was a great start with my cord in neat little knots, until I was told I was not doing the knot correctly.  The right knot was demonstrated, but I had the other thing in my head, and it would not leave.  I foundered for the rest of the 50 minutes.  I never got the first knot.


I know if I took the time to go back and look at the online video of the the great guy with the gigantic cord demonstrating what I was supposed to have done, I COULD do it, and I probably would enjoy it.  BUT, again, too little time, and too many pressing obligations in my life.  I didn't mind not catching on in the time I spent.  It was a good introduction to something I might like to pursue later on.

Then I had a free period before teaching my class, the last session of the day.  I sat at a table for half an hour, and wove about 3" of what I planned to teach, using Chenille stitch in a pattern to create a spiral.

OK then, time to teach.

But nothing went quite the way I expected it to go.  I did anticipate that I would probably be nervous. I thought my hands might tremble, but that didn't happen.  What DID happen was, I could not control my thread.  It tangled repeatedly.  I untangled it repeatedly. That is really rare for me. Two lessons here.


I think this is why at the shoe repair place there is a sign that says "Price triple if you want to watch."

Despite the difficultly with my uncooperative hands, I did manage to get the stitch demonstrated. But flustered as I was, I did not explain the techniques I use to manage my beading mat and rotating the cord around which I bead, because my mind was much too busy making up for the sausages standing in for my well-behaved fingers.

So my six students set off to try doing the stitch, and I realized immediately that Lesson #1 from my earlier class was in play too.  If you have never done Chenille stitch, it multiplies the difficulty of working it in a pattern by a factor of a gazillion.  SO, for the ladies who had never done the stitch, I demonstrated how to do Chenille with just two colors, so seeing how the stitch works is easier. Fortunately, they all got that, I think.

And one very clever friend of mine, quietly understood the pattern,  Although she had never done Chenille, she was able to get an inch of the pattern done by herself in really good colors she chose.


Just like when I taught dancing for Arthur Murray studios, and when I taught Costume Design and Stage Makeup at Purdue University, everyone comes at learning from their own place, and in their own style. Some people have innate ability, and some people work really hard at comprehension, and everyone has a different frustration thresh-hold. Good teachers can adapt.

I really want to believe that for a first timer, I managed to  help everyone get SOMETHING out of the class.  I felt badly about those who did not get their Chenille to spiral on the first try, until I remembered my own inability to tie a knot earlier in the day.  I got something out of that experience, even though it was not a bracelet.  And there was one more lesson too.


Will I try that again?  I don't know.  I am still processing the experience.  I am almost 64, and I have SO little time, and SO much I want to do and try.  I feel like I am still new to illustrating and writing tutorials.  I just don't know.  BUT it was a great learning experience, and for that opportunity alone I am very thankful.

If you happen to have been one of the 6, thank you for hanging in there with me.  Thank you for your patience and kindness.  I felt some of you actually supporting and calming me, and I will be forever grateful for that.