Archive for February, 2009

The “Spreader of Love” award

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Over at The Purple Flower blog, Swati bestowed a “Spreader of Love” award on the Rings & Things blog and me.  Thank you!  A condition of the award is that you go on to recognize 5 more people, who brighten your own blog.

So today, let me write about “who we love.”  Here are the new recipients of the Spreader of Love award:

normal_sweet_penmanship_pen

I thought I'd use the "Sweet Penmanship" project from our Design Gallery, since I'm writing about who Rings & Things loves...

  • Dawno always has something constructive to bring to any conversation.
  • RockCreekCreations is a thoughtful soul.
  • tamdoll is full of truly good ideas.
  • fireseed has generously shared what she’s learned from experience.
  • dani29 constantly encourages us.

I’ve linked to a Twitter page for each of them.  That’s because I feel that Twitter is just as great a place as blogs to connect with people.  And these five award-winners do good things on Twitter, just as they’ve done by joining our blog club.  Go check these folks out!

It was easy to find, but hard to pick, five recipients.  Thanks to every one of you who have visited and commented at Rings & Things’ blog.  Let us reward you for being here!  Read on…

Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
*At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
*You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

*At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

Green = SMART (awards) at Rings & Things

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Since I wrote the other day about “greening our commute” at Rings & Things, I though it would be fun to share more good news…

s_m_a_r_t_decalRings & Things is in the first group of businesses certified by the City of Spokane, Washington for their implementation of green and sustainable management practices.  The Spokane supplier of beads and jewelry components was awarded certification in the categories of Waste Reduction and of Transportation, as part of the city’s SMART Program.

Rings & Things gained recognition for its ongoing efforts to divert as much material as possible from the waste stream both in its warehouse and at community events, as well as for its award-winning Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program.

The SMART (Sustainable Management of Assets, Resources and Technology) Business Recognition Program is designed to encourage Spokane businesses to adopt policies and practices that encourage good management of financial, built, natural and human capital.  The program was developed by the City’s Business & Development Services Department in partnership with Avista, Eastern Washington University, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.

“When we asked businesses what we could do to encourage them to adopt these practices, they told us that they needed help marketing their commitment to sustainability to their customers,” says Mayor Mary Verner. “More and more people want to do business with companies that share their commitment to protecting the environment and resources.”

Under the program, businesses can apply to be recognized at either a “participant” or “certified” level in a variety of categories, including energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, renewable energy, water conservation, green building, transportation/commute trip reduction, and pollution prevention. Businesses also can seek special “innovation” recognition in each of the categories.

“We hope people will see this as a seal of approval for these businesses,” the Mayor says. “We see it as an additional opportunity to grow our green economy.”

This is the only such program in Eastern Washington and third statewide. The other programs are in Kirkland and Olympia.  The City will accept applications later this year from other businesses who want to seek this recognition. A more detailed program description is available on the City’s web site.

Rings & Things encourages other businesses to apply for recognition in this program.

The image above shows a SMART program decal that we now display at our warehouse, which says:

Spokane Sustainable Business
—- Certified —-
* Transportation * Waste Reduction * ”

Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
*At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
*You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

*At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

Sterling rings & bails for gluing–exclusively at Rings & Things

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

You asked for it, and we listened!  By (very) popular request, you can now buy sterling “glue-on” adjustable rings and oval bails — exclusively at Rings & Things.  Glue on your favorite art bead, upcycled found object, or polymer clay creation.

Our new customizable finger rings are sterling silver, 1 to 1.5mm thick. Their glue pad is a textured 7 to 8mm round.  Adjust them to almost any size!  It’s easy to expand and contract these rings to size them.  They come in two styles:

Here’s the “plain” disk finger ring for gluing (item #51-500-02). It’s a 3 to 3.5mm-wide band.

And this is the “wavy” adjustable ring (item #51-500-01).  It’s a hammered-disk finger ring for gluing, with a 3-3.5mm wide band. 

We’ve also added three great exclusive sterling oval bails for gluing.  These have one side smooth, the other textured, and they come in three sizes:
Item #41-592-50 is our small sterling oval bail.  It measures approximately 18 x 8 x 3.6mm.  (By the way, you can convert these numbers to inches…but on most computer screens our item pictures are life-size.)  The gluing surface is 11x8mm. This small bail fits chain or cord up to 2.5mm thick.
The other two sizes of these bails fit chain or cord up to 3mm thick.  Shown above is item #41-592-51, the medium oval bail.  This one measures approximately 24 x 10 x 4mm, with a 16 x 10mm gluing pad. Below is #41-592-52, our large sterling silver oval bail, at approximately 31 x 13 x 4mm. The gluing pad on it is 21 x 13mm.

To attach items to all of these gluable findings, we recommend using 2-part epoxies.  Other adhesives that work well with these rings and bails include:

  • E-6000 glue
  • Super New Glue
  • Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
    *At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
    *You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

    *At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

    Books on wire wrapping

    Monday, February 23rd, 2009

    All around the world of handmade jewelry, we’ve been seeing quite a bit of wire.*  This style has enjoyed sterling* popularity for several years.  You can grow your business by making sure you have the skill to incorporate custom-made wire findings and more into your creations.  How?  Just wrap* your head around some of these fine* wire books, and make wire work* for you!

    Choose from our large selection of wire wrapping and wire working books, including basic wire-wrapping instructions, volumes on a variety of wirewrapping techniques and hints, and advanced books on wire wrapped jewelry how-to’s.  Because these are such popular resources, here’s a quick tour through the library.

    Findings & Finishings” by Sharon Bateman is a Rings & Things staff choice.  This  glossy, full-color how-to book, appropriate for novice through intermediate beaders, begins with a brief overview of findings and finishings through history. It continues with descriptions of materials and tools, and detailed step-by-step guides that progress from wireworking basics to seed bead caps and bails, clasps, edging and even fringe.

    Jewelry Making & Beading for Dummies” by Heather Dismore and Tammy Powley is a best seller at Rings & Things.  This easy-to-follow guide gives lots of hands-on instruction in making simple fabulous jewelry.  It includes chapters on throwing jewelry-making parties, turning a hobby into a business and making money.  From wire wrapping and knotting to weaving and polishing, you’ll get all the skills you need to make necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, pins, key chains and more.

    All Wired Up” by Mark Lareau is another best seller.  Recommended by pro wire artists, this handbook is based on a series of classes Lareau teaches.  It provides excellent tips on everything from making fancy head pins to avoiding “Quasimodo Syndrome.”  Learn to make clasps, mounts, findings, chains and embellishments. This book features a gallery of contemporary pieces to get your creativity all wired up.

    For many more exciting titles, check out our full selection of great wireworking books.  You may find yourself getting into one of the great jewelry fashions of our time!  When you’ve got the guidance of great wire-wrapping books like these from Rings & Things, wire jewelry is nothing to get bent out of shape* about!

    *For some reason I just had to hammer* away at the wire puns in this post.  A t least I marked them with warning asterisks, but…  Sorry!!  :)

    Trendspotting: Inspired by fine art

    Friday, February 20th, 2009

    Here’s a bit of a trend lately: Jewelry inspired by fine art.  Now that’s a natural fit!

    impressionist_jewelry_book

    Have you spotted more jewelry (or other crafts) inspired by fine art?  Share your sightings here–leave a comment!

    Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
    *At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
    *You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

    *At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

    Grow your business: Marketing your jewelry online

    Thursday, February 19th, 2009

    The most important part of growing your business is marketing.  We’ll take a look at some pointers for getting the word out about the craft jewelry you make.  Today let’s start with marketing online.

    dollar_bill1

    The more people that know about your jewelry, the more you can sell.  Get noticed.

    That’s marketing.  Now with that out of the way, let’s move on:  How do you make people aware of the stuff you’re selling?  You could have a yard sale, but since you’re reading my advice through the Internet, let’s go right to the most sensible idea…

    Be easily found.  Online.

    This means two related things.  Have an online store.  (If you don’t, how are people going to give you money?)  And make sure people go there.  (If they don’t, how are you going to have a business at all?)  Luckily, both are simple to do nowadays.  Read on.

    Where to sell online

    Here’s a short list of suggestions, but hang out on any crafts or jewelry discussion site and you’ll hear other valuable recommendations!

    • Etsy:  The best-known shopping site for handmade stuff.  Etsy offers you a ton of help, it doesn’t cost very much, it’s not hard to create a beautiful-looking store of your own, and there’s an existing community of fiercely loyal Etsians.
    • ArtFire:  “Sell without fees.  Create without limits.”
    • 1000 Markets:  A newer site that works like Etsy: their home page features an ever-rotating selection of members’ stores and products.  There’s lots of good buzz about this site.
    • Crafty Nation:  Even newer, and full of enthusiasm and original ideas.  (They had a “site-warming party”.  You can submit your items to be reviewed.  You can find people to collaborate with.)  Worth checking out!

    How to get noticed

    Hang out where the people are.  Yes, here too it’s all about community.  And the more you hang out, the more you’ll hear of other places people like.  Very serious advice: it may surprise you, but the single best way to attract eyeballs ‘n’ wallets online is to be a valued part of people’s lives.  Better not stand around shouting, “Ooh ooh, I’ve got this for sale!  And this!  C’mon and buy something from me!!”  Don’t lose your cool–connect with people.  If you’ll take the time to show interest in what others are saying, naturally they’re going to spend more time paying attention to you.  And to your wares!

    Again there’s a very short list of obvious places to be:

    Twitter:  The fastest-growing, liveliest place to network with people whose interests relate to yours.  It’s fun, too–you have to put your thoughts into 140 characters (letters) or less.  A neat way to learn to express yourself clearly and reach many, many hearts and minds.  You can include links to your store, or to any web pages you think are worth sharing.  (Be sure to follow Rings_Things there, that’s us!)

    Facebook or MySpace:  These two are the biggest, best-known sites for reaching out to folks who might want to hear you.  An advantage that both have over Twitter: you can personalize your page with pictures, music, or just about anything you want.  Drawback: those hefty pages can take a long time to load on your visitors’ screens, and they may annoy people over 30.

    Jewelry / craft blogsStart one of your own.  Use WordPress, or Live Journal, or Xanga, or whatever.  (Google “how to start a blog” for all the guidance you’ll need.)  And hang out reading & making comments at other people’s blogs of related interest.  They’re likely to start conversations with you, quote you, and link to your blog or your store.  Again, have something to say that’s useful, interesting and to the point.  And in blog world, you need to be a regular…if people enjoy what you say, they’ll come back looking for you.  Don’t be a stranger!

    Discussion forums:  Similar to blog land, you can join a few favorite discussion boards about jewelry making, beads, etc.  They’re everywhere.  (For an example, see Rings & Things’ Forum.)  Usually when you join, you can set up your profile to link to your online store, blog, or both.  Here too, be helpful and friendly, and attract good attention.

    There are tons more of advice to share about particular ways of using the Internet for your business.  But what you just read is the bare basics that’ll get you up and going.  There’s time to learn more after you take those first steps.

    Have some hard-won advice on what’s worked or not worked for you in selling jewelry?  Share it in a comment below!

    Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
    *At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
    *You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

    *At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

    *Dollar-bill image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    The Bead Silencer™

    Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

    Val here at Rings & Things was photographing some bead assortments the other day: Scoop a sample, pour, catch the spillover in a bead tray.  Which makes a considerable racket–especially if you sit near the boss, who’s talking on the phone.  Necessity (or Val) is the mother of invention, so spying a sheet of foam, Val lined the bead tray, and…

    Ladies and gentlemen, introducing The Bead Silencer™!

    beadsilencer1

    I’m going to keep this post nice and simple.  You never know where a great idea is going to come from, to grow your business!

    • Consider trademarking any snazzy names that you use.
    • And think about the possibility of marketing new products.

    beadsilencer2

    By the way, Val’s invention is actually made by cutting up one of these beading mats.

    Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
    *At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
    *You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

    *At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!

    Bead news, good news: RSS

    Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

    Yes, I said bead news.  ☺

    A secret of many thriving Internet jewelry and craft sellers is called RSS.  Use it to keep up on trends and grow your business!

    RSS means “really simple syndication”.  Actually, that doesn’t mean very much, does it…  It boils down to getting news sent straight to your computer desktop.  With RSS, you don’t have to remember all those websites that you like, or fumble through a huge Bookmarks or Favorites list.

    Instead, at a website that offers RSS, you just click on the snazzy orange icon…

    …and it installs a news folder right on your browser’s toolbar.  Now, every time you sit down at your computer, you can just click on that toolbar folder to see the newest headlines pop out.  Here’s what that looks like (*if you’re a maniac like me, who has dozens of feeds) :

    Each of these headlines is clickable, and takes you into that website for full information.  Why is this a competitive edge for your craft jewelry business?

    Because RSS is such an easy way to keep up with multiple sites and pages.  Especially ones that are updated a lot.  Sites like Rings & Things provide several examples of this “newsy” material (you can click “RSS” here to check out our news feeds):

    If you’re on Twitter, you can use the Search feature to locate favorite artisans or suppliers, and set up a custom RSS feed of their “tweets”.  And if you blog, you might even provide an RSS feed for your readers.  These are just a sampling of the possiblities!

    You’ll figure out for yourself which RSS feeds are the most useful.  You may be amazed how much you’ll start relying on them to point out great new beads and findings, styles, and more.

    How do you use RSS?  Share your experiences by posting a Reply!

    Exciting news: every month, we’re going to hold a lottery right here on the Rings & Things blog. Here’s how it will work:
    *At the beginning of each month, I’ll announce a new lottery.
    *You enter by leaving Replies, also known as blog comments.  Comment on any post(s) this month.

    *At the end of the month, I’ll randomly draw 2 names to receive surprise goodie packs!