Sunday, May 31, 2009

I'm making a bra!

Well, technically the bra is already made, and I'm just making it better. I decided that I wanted to make my own coin bra. Chris is out of town for 3 days, I'm going to have a lot of free time to kill, and really, it's just time to do something a little different. So bra embellishment it is!

I set out with Chris on Friday night determined to get the necessary supplies. Our first stop was JoAnn's, for heavy-duty thread (to hold the coins on) and ribbon. I wanted a black and silver jacquard/brocade type ribbon. My coins are silver, most of my dance jewelry has silver as the primary metal, so a silver ribbon seemed like a must. Unfortunately, JoAnn's didn't have a single black and silver ribbon.

So I'm making a mixed metal bra. I have a black and gold ribbon, and a trim that is black and a metallic that is somewhere between silver and gold. Plus silver coins, a gunmetal pendant that I might put at the center to hide the strip of cloth joining the cups, and I might even add some metal sequins if I'm feeling adventurous.

The plain black ribbon is for turning the bra into a halter-strapped bra instead, for a slightly less obviously-lingerie look. This will be good for those times when I'm not wearing a ghawazee coat or Turkish vest to cover the straps. Although, I'm torn on making this alteration -- I couldn't find any detailed instructions on-line for doing it, and it seems like it would be less secure than the straps the bra comes with. It would be incredibly embarrassing if my bra flew off when I was dancing, you know.

Whatever I decide to do, I'll post more pictures when it's done!

(By the way, today's Daily Special is Underworld! Awesome Gothic earrings, only $25)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Because I'm the Elf Girl

Elven Soul is one of my favorite necklaces ever, and it's also today's Daily Special!

And my gaming guests just arrived, so there's no time to write anything else. More tomorrow!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tribal Jewelry, Part 1

Rings & Things' Dave asked in my comments the other day if I'd combined my love of beading and dancing yet. Inspired by that, I figured I'd do a little tour of my love affair with tribal jewelry to wear when dancing. The above is Avatar of the Moon Goddess, which happens to be today's Daily Special, and also very much inspired by the tribal aesthetic.

This untitled necklace is one of my first tribal creations (and also desperately in need of a better picture, but that's beside the point). It features a lampworked fish by an Australian artist whose name I lost long ago, some gorgeous carved jade fish that I bought from a tie-dye vendor at one of the "metaphysical row" gem shows, tiny Afghani jade beads leftover from a past BFAC kit, faceted jade beads from a New York shopping trip, and Bali silver fish from when Marilee still sold Bali beads.

I have waist-length hair. It's good to be able to pull it back when I dance (though sometimes I leave it down and do some head-tossing moves). This pair of hairsticks features some of my first tassels (I need to find my how-to book and make more!), made out of embroidery yarn from the thrift store.

The Belt of DOOOOM! I started this belt long before I was dancing, quickly got bored of it, and didn't restart it until I thought of how awesome it would be to wear while dancing. It's an African helix in black and many shades of green, adorned with peridot, dark green aventurine, and lots of jingly bells. It's currently in need of repair.

Called simply Tribal Strands, this is one of my favorite tribal necklaces. I went through my collection and picked out a crazy variety of gorgeous beads to create this multi-strand beauty, which I frequently wear to Renaissance Faires, for dancing, or just for fun. It has so many colors that it goes with just about everything. I made a variety of woven and strung bracelets to go with it as well, but I couldn't find a picture of them.

In fact, I have a lot more tribal jewelry that I want to share with you, and more detailed thoughts on dancing and adornment, so this is going to be a little series of posts. I'll probably spread them out over the next week or two, so it doesn't get monotonous and so that I have time to photograph a few more things :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rarh! I'm a dragon!

Because I love dragons, today's Daily Special is In The Dragon Nest.

I really need to add more dragon jewelry to my line. I have lots of interesting dragon focals in my collection -- the problem is that I want to keep most of them for myself. It's the same with faeries. I'm just greedy that way.

Yesterday I made the copper and lava necklace that I was talking about. However, it didn't involve mother of pearl, as I apparently don't have any round MOP beads left. Denied the use of a neutral, I decided to go for contrast instead, and chose malachite. The deep, banded greens actually look great against the warm glow of the copper. I'll post pictures soon.

Last night was a gaming night, and it went surprisingly well given the large number of people who showed up and the fact that a lot of them don't get along. We really need to complete the work on the game room. I'm tired of it being half-finished, and all of our books being in boxes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fun with 'Net Outages

Today's Daily Special is Snowdrop, on sale for $80 down from $100. Sale ends noon PST tomorrow!

I was a bit delayed with setting up today's special, as our internet was down for about 3 hours. When I say our, I mean pretty much the entire city of Tucson, or at least, anyone who uses Cox. Chris's best friend and my best friend were both suffering 'net outages, and neither of them live very near us. Luckily it came back up.

I'm working on designing a new necklace with some of the beads from my Phoenix trip. Black lava and copper from Rings and Things, and a copper and silver (not sure if it's Sterling or Nickle Silver) focal. I need something else to pull it together -- I'm thinking a little bit of Bali-style silver, and maybe some mother of pearl.

To move things away from "all business, all the time," last night I had a lot of fun dancing. I'd moved my big, evil craft table (long-term blog readers will remember this table as the one that mangled my finger) out of the living room, so there was a lot more room to dance. This meant that of course I had to break out my new 10-yard skirt. What fun! Every movement of my hips or knees was accompanied by a flounce of ruffled skirt. My current goal is to figure out how to do one of my favorite moves that the Ren Faire belly dancers do: kicking up the hem of the skirt and catching it in their hand as they dance. It just looks so impressive, much better than reaching down to pick up the hem.

Of course, you might be asking "AJ, why would you even want to pick up your hem?" and there's an easy answer for that. In tribal-style belly dance, when you wear a big floofy skirt, there's all sorts of little flourishes you can do by picking up the hem, waving it around, wrapping the skirt around yourself, or hold it while you twirl. Similar to veil work, and lots of fun to do.

I'm trying to dedicate a lot more time and energy to dancing, so expect to read more about it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Specials and Shipping!

Today's Daily Special is Turtle Talisman, regularly $175, now $150 until noon PST on 5/27.

Also, I'm pleased to announce that all of my Etsy items now ship for free to Canada. Next up, I have to get that set up on the website. In the meantime, I will still be refunding the shipping costs for any Canadian orders.

I realize that lately I've been talking mostly about business and very little about my daily life, and I'm not sure why. I'm going to try to be a little more open and chatty here on the blog, as I find that for my own reading, I prefer people who aren't all business all the time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Beads, Glorious Beads!

Here they are, the beautiful strands of beads that I bought on my mini-vacation. Except for the two glass strands near the bottom left-hand corner, all of these came from the Rings and Things show. I think I'll be good on stone beads for a while. My finds include:
-Brown Lava
-Black Lava
-Kambaba Jasper
-Antiqued Jade
-Eagle Eye
-Green Jasper
-Fireworks Jasper
-Smoky Quartz
-Red Tiger's Eye
-Something tagged as "Copyrite?"
-Lots of Czech glass
-And more!

I'm looking forward to designing with these beads. What I'm not looking forward to is putting them all away! Heck, most of my purchases from the February shows are still in the bags they came in. I think I'm overdue for some Spring cleaning -- before it becomes Summer.

And of course, it wouldn't be a blog post if I didn't mention the Daily Special! Check out Mistress of the Secret Forest, on sale for $85 down from $100.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Fun I Had!

Before I talk about my trip, I have to do the marketing thing. This is Asrai, and it is the Daily Special on Etsy.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get down to how awesome my mini-vacation was. First, we hit the Rings and Things show, where for just under $200, I left with a bag full of stone beads, Czech glass, and two focal beads that I bought on a whim, because they were cleverly placed next to the cash register. I whole-heartedly recommend these trunk shows to any of my beady friends who have a wholesale license. The beads are beautiful, the prices are awesome, the employees are friendly. You can check the show schedule to see when they'll be in your area.

After the show, we left Mesa and headed off to Scottsdale, where our hotel was located. I used Hotwire to book the room, which meant I didn't know where we were staying until after I paid. This could have been disastrous, but it turned out to be perfect. We ended up at the Scottsdale-Paradise Valley Doubletree Resort, which was pretty sweet. Nice room, quiet hotel, and a great pool and hot tub to relax in after dance class. Plus, it was really close to downtown Scottsdale, which as it turns out is just like a California beach town minus the beach. I'd happy visit there again. If you happen to find yourself in downtown Scottsdale, you should consider eating at the Stax Burger Bistro, which was delicious.

On Tuesday night I had my dance class at Plaza de Anaya which is basically one of the best places ever. It was my first time taking a real dance class and I enjoyed it immensely. I can't wait to be in the position to drive to Tempe weekly and take classes -- yes, it really is worth driving 1 1/2 hours each way, when you consider that no one is teaching American Tribal belly dance in Tucson, and they also have an amazing selection of dance clothes for good prices. Which reminds me: I finally have a 10-yard full circle skirt. Eeee! I can't wait to dance in that!

Then on Wednesday, it was over to the Bead Museum. Chris and I purchased a membership, then leisurely browsed through all of the exhibits. I had already seen most of it on a previous trip with my parents, but it was nice to see it all again, share it with Chris, and talk about it with him. Then I did my part to save the museum by doing a little shopping in their gift store, where I picked up a bunch of seed beads (including some metal size 11s) and some gorgeous cabs.

After that it was back home, where my cute little corgis and my awesome friend/dog sitter were waiting for us. I'm pleased to say that the girls were very good for their sitter, maybe because they learned that if they laid around being quiet she'd say "Aww! You guys are being so good!" and give them treats without them exerting any effort. My dogs are very treat motivated!

Now it's time to start putting all of my new beads into my inventory spread sheet, and maybe take some pictures of my haul to share tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Having Fun in Phoenix

Well, actually, I don't know if I've been in Phoenix proper yet, but I'm having fun in the Phoenix-area. The Rings and Things show in Mesa was great, I got a ton of awesome stone and glass beads, which I'll go into greater detail about on Thursday.

In fact, to be honest, I'm way too tired to go into detail about anything. I'm going to go crash out on my comfy hotel bed and catch up on my blogging later!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The deal with this week's deals

Today's Daily Special in my Etsy shop is Wastelands Tribe. Inspired by those bellydancers who have chosen to embrace the steampunk aesthetic! I love this necklace and really need to make one in "me" colors. 20% off today only, marked down to $100 from $125 until noonish PST tomorrow.

You may notice that I don't have a website special today. That's because I'm going to be out of town tomorrow and Wednesday (yay!), and while Etsy is easy to edit on the go, my website is not. So there are no Daily Specials on my website until at least Thursday. But my huge clearance sale is still going on, and there are still many awesome deals to be had, so don't hesitate to head over there and browse.

As much as I'd like to continue to blog, I really need to go tidy my house for the dogsitter and start deciding what I'm going to wear in Phoenix so I can pack.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Upcoming Changes

The above image is the Daily Special at my website, Sacred Grove. The Daily Special on Etsy is Keeper of Mementos. Daily Specials will now begin and end at approximately noon every day.

I mentioned in yesterday's blog post that I had some more changes planned for my business, and I figure I should talk about them here. They're both good news!

The first is that I've decided that Canadians deserve a shipping break, too, so Canadian orders will now receive free shipping. I have not set this up yet, so if you are a Canadian, and you buy something, I will refund your shipping fees.

The second is that while my website was down, I started listing my crystal bracelets on Etsy at their old price of $40, instead of the new price of $50. When my website came back, all of those bracelets were still marked $50. There's no reason for something to be more expensive on my site than on Etsy, so I'm going to mark them all back down to $40, despite the rising cost of crystals. In the meantime, if you buy a bracelet before I reprice them, I will refund you the $10 difference.

I'd have already made these changes, but the problem is that when I spend too much time adjusting shipping fees and jewelry prices, it leaves me no time to make new products! We can't have that happening, now can we?

On Niches, and Fitting Into Them

There's a reason behind the current huge clearance sale going on at my website, and it's not just because I wanted to make money to spend at the Rings and Things show next week. It all has to do with niches.

I decided some time ago that my desired niche was fantasy jewelry, but then I continued to make non-fantasy jewelry when the inspiration to do so struck me. Recently, however, I'd been thinking about my business and how my shops (website and Etsy) had a rather hodge-podge appearance. Goth jewelry, faerie jewelry, belly dance jewelry, steampunk jewelry, butterfly jewelry, and "hey, these beads are cool" jewelry. I was trying to cover too many bases.

As such, I decided that I'm no longer going to make non-fantasy jewelry (at least, not to sell). I'm going to focus on my niche. This will give my shops a more unified appearance, and give me a little more focus when I'm shopping. It will hopefully help me attract the sort of customers that I want -- that is to say, girls like me who love Renaissance Faires, sci-fi conventions, and dressing up.

It will also effectively prevent me from ever being featured on any sort of trendy indie blog, or in any fashion magazines, but I'd already pretty much realized that would never happen anyway.

I'm still deciding exactly what will still be allowed as part of my line -- does nature-themed jewelry count as faerie jewelry? Is bellydance jewelry fantasy enough, since I'm designing for Ren Faire dancers? Do I want to keep designing steampunk jewelry, or leave it to all the brass filigree-and-watch guts designers? But in the meantime, it's pretty easy to decide that all of my generic florals and plain woven necklaces needed to go, as well as some sci-fi inspired jewelry. I'm sure that as I become more decisive on exactly what niche I want to fill, I'll clear more things out, and maybe even branch out in new directions. I'm excited about it!

My clearance sale will eventually move to my Etsy shop, too, as I have a few things over there that don't fit my niche. And there are other little changes coming to my business, which I'll blog about over the next couple of days.

In other news, I was out all afternoon and part of the evening, so I decided to carry over yesterday's daily specials into today. I'll set up new ones earlier in the day tomorrow, as 3pm was really just an awkward time to do them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A lot on my mind

My mind is full of thoughts and ideas right now, and I can't really get them gathered together well enough to write a decent blog post. So let's just go over a couple of things real fast, and tomorrow I'll write a real post!

1: There's a huge sale going on at my website. I'll go over the why tomorrow.

2: Speaking of my website, the Daily Special over there is Phoenix Feathers. I love this necklace and hate that it's waiting around in a box, instead of being worn by a beautiful woman.

3: The Daily Special in my Etsy Shop is Sacred Clouds. These are really pretty earrings and would look cute with a blue or white summer dress, don't you think?

4: This weekend is your last chance to bid on BFAC auctions!

5: I am SO looking forward to going to Phoenix/Tempe/Mesa/Scottsdale next week. I need a change of scenery like nobody's business.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Specials for Today

Since the weather is so perfect for anklets, and I've been busily making some to list in my Etsy shop, I decided that Palo Verde Pixie should be one of the specials for today. I have an anklet very similar to this that I wear frequently. The beads go great with the sort of earthy greens that have been popular the last few years, and the leaves and flowers are a cute look for Spring and Summer. I've been thinking of making similar designs in other colors, for those who don't love green as much as I do.

And over in my Etsy shop, my beautiful Midnight Enchantment bracelet is on sale. The black and purple palette is delightfully Gothic, and the joy of my crystal bracelets is that they look equally nice with modern or historic-themed outfits. I wear mine with everything from jeans and t-shirts to silk cocktail dresses.

As usual, both of these Daily Specials will run until 3pm PST tomorrow.

There were also two specials yesterday, but I didn't get the chance to promote them because I spent all day chilling with my friend and then all night gaming with my group. I should probably be like the rest of the group and take my laptop to the game with me, that way I could blog and Twitter and whatnot, but I prefer to play with beads during that time instead. I got some great progress on my Gothic-Tribal anklet last night, and hope to be able to list it, the Steampunk anklet, and maybe another one or two anklets this weekend.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today's Daily Specials

Today I decided that I should really have Daily Specials on both my site and my Etsy store. So today's two specials are Lilac Whisper (website) and Napping Treasure Hunter (Etsy).

I also decided that the specials should be easy to find, because I do want people to buy them. My Etsy shop now has a Daily Special section, and on my website, the Daily Special will be featured on the front page. What could be simpler? Well, I guess maybe checking here for them, or stalking me on Twitter or Facebook. Whatever floats your boat.

One reason why I'm so keen on having Daily Specials is that I'm going to a Rings and Things trunk show in a week, and I'd like to have a little extra spending money to buy new and exciting things. While I'm up in the Phoenix area, I'll also be visiting the Bead Museum. As you may or may not already know, they're having some financial difficulties, so I'm going to try to help them out with a little gift store shopping, as well as purchasing a membership. If you live in AZ and haven't already visited the museum, it's worth spending a couple of hours there admiring the collection.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Introducing Daily Specials!

For at least the next week, I'm going to run a series of Daily Specials. For one day only, one or more items will be discounted! Today's Special is the Forest Singers bird earrings. Regularly $40, now $30 until 6pm PST Tuesday. And remember, always free shipping in the US!

Also, the last week of Beading For A Cure auctions is running now. There are some beautiful items sitting there with very low bids, so now is an ideal time to try to buy yourself something special and help a worthy cause.

Be sure to check this blog, my Twitter or my Facebook for tomorrow's Daily Special(s).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Spoiled by my secret buddy!

The bead forum that I'm a member of has a great program called "Beads For Birthdays" where all participants are assigned to be someone else's secret birthday buddy. My birthday was on the 1st, so on the 30th I received a big priority box that said "No peeking til May 1st!" I patiently waited until the day and opened it up, to find all sorts of wonderful packages big and small, popper bottles, a card, and even a bag of treats for the girls. Topher was NOT in the box, he just likes to be the center of attention.

Hmmm... everything is wrapped in Scotty Dog paper. Could this be a hint as to my buddy's identity ;) I'll find out next January!

Topher says: "Baby, I'm all the present you need!"

A cute card, and an even cuter beaded wizard keychain! I attached him to my dice bag, much to the game master's amusement last night.

So many amazing goodies! Hmmm... Next time, books in back, beads up front! You really can't see what all is in this image, so in no particular order:

Mastering Beadwork. I've been eyeing this book for a while but hadn't purchased it, and now I'm glad I waited! It covers a lot of weaving techniques, including some I haven't learned yet (like Dutch Spiral and Diagonal Peyote), and its convenient spiral-bound format means I can leave it open to learn from. Very handy!

Bead Embroidery by Yukiko Ogura: I just saw this book on Amazon the other day. Bright, well-illustrated book which shows how to do a lot of decorative bead embroidery stitches. I can see using these techniques to embellish some dance clothes in the future.

A flip-latched box full of cube seed beads and pretty silver-edged glass teardrop beads in lots of colors. I think I might use this box to store and transport my BFAC project, it's just the right size for that sort of thing.

Red Velvet Cake 3-in-1 Body Wash/Bubble Bath/Shampoo. Smells amazing, lathers up nicely, and even has a recipe for cake on the front! And I'd just run out of body wash, too.

Surgeon's Hands lotion. If it's good enough for doctors, it has to be great for this beader's battered hands!

A Turbie-Twist. Clearly my buddy knows of my long hair. Can't wait to see if it really does work better than a towel. Have to wash it first, Mr. Self-Centered Topher Cat assumed it was a cat pillow and now it's covered in his fur. *sigh*

Two packages of sparkly green square-shaped sequins. I'll have fun with these!

A doll form. She reminds me of a dragonfly faerie, but without wings, so I think I'll make some polymer clay dragonfly wings, Christi Friesen style!

Pearls! Pretty silvery-grey ones, faceted ones, and bubbly-textured ones. All gorgeous!

Cabs! Lots of pretty earthy cabs and stone focal beads that could double as cabs.

Cinna-Bun Spiral Beads. Pretty enough to string, flat enough to use in embroidery.

Stone chips: Earthy ones and amethyst ones.

Stone beads: A strand of green tube beads, and a strand of green and white stripes overlapping dimes.

Mystery Thread: Clear Japanese thread. I shall have to experiment with it.

PowerZap: I think it's one of those cool thread burners, but it might also be a mini-taser for keeping the gamers in line.

Shell beads: tiny, pretty shells that can be worked into embroidery or jewelry. Oooh, maybe I'll work them into a tribal bra!

So, thank you very much to my ultra-generous and awesome birthday buddy. I love it all :) Oh yes, and the puppies love their treats, too!