Monday, November 29, 2010

I am doing the Cyber Monday thing

I don't usually bother to do much on-line shopping on Cyber Monday, but this year I'm not only trying to shop smart, I'm also stuck at home sick, so I figured I might as well indulge in a little retail therapy of the virtual variety. I took advantage of a few sales and got a chunk of my holiday shopping done, all while sitting at home in my pajamas and enjoying a variety of healthy beverages.

Of course, a lot of my favorite shops are also having on-line sales, and it's hard not to tell myself that I deserve a reward for my smart shopping and a pity prize for being so unwell today. So far my willpower has held out, but we'll see what the end of the day brings.

And now, the part where I plug my own sale! There's still time to use code discountme for 20% off everything at Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs. Help make the myth of Cyber Monday come true for me, too!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Escutcheon is a fun word

I really love these steampunk keyhole/escutcheon pendants by Melanie from Earthenwood Studios. They stand really well on their own, so I just have to add a little accent to make them my own, hang them from a chain and then presto, an affordable steampunk necklace! I accented Piracy in the Age of Steam (shown above) with a skull, because I had just the single skull in brown with gold accents and it looked perfect with the warm sandy colors of the escutcheon. And Waiting for a Key of course has a lava accent, because lava is one of my current favorite beads.

I have to thank Melanie for teaching me the word escutcheon, I learned it when she started making various keyhole pendants. I have one of her pendants that is based on the decorative escutcheons that surround keyholes, in browns and greens with a floral pattern. I'm saving that one for myself, it will make the perfect steampunk faerie necklace. I'll of course need to hang an especially cool key from it -- probably something vintage.

Don't forget that I still have a sale running today and tomorrow! Use coupon code discountme for 20% off everything in my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Still making tribal jewelry

My tribal designs don't really seem to sell. The sad truth seems to be that tribal dancers don't really splurge on jewelry unless it's vintage Afghani silver or something awesome like that. Modern handmade jewelry, even if it's one of a kind, doesn't seem to be in the budget. But I'm going to keep creating and hoping, because my muse is inspired by tribal costuming and I like having an excuse to buy cool inlaid beads and kuchi pendants and all that good stuff.

Fusion Orchid has inlaid beads and a Thai silver orchid. I have had this orchid for years. It's so beautiful, but I was never really sure what I wanted to do with it. I think it looks good in this necklace, and it strikes me as very tribal, because I love to wear fake orchids in my hair when I dance. Who knows, if it hasn't sold by the 18th, I might wear it for my recital!

For more handmade tribal jewelry, you can of course visit my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs. Even if you've blown your costuming budget on pants (I sure did!), you can still drool and daydream ;) And don't forget that if you do decide to buy something, you can use code discountme for 20% off. Yay!

Friday, November 26, 2010

...and Sunday's just along for the ride

If you would like to do some holiday shopping, or maybe buy yourself a present to reward yourself for the massive amounts of housework surrounding Thanksgiving, you'll be pleased to know that you can use the code discountme to get 20% off of everything in my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs this weekend. Sale ends 11:59pm MST Monday Nov 29th.

This sale runs all weekend so I can hit all of the big sales days. First, there was Black Friday, the day when retailers supposedly made most of their money. Then someone decided that even though many on-line business ran Black Friday sales, they needed their own imaginary big sales day... Cyber Monday, when everyone goes back to the office and shops on-line on company time. This year, there's a big push for Small Business Saturday as well, with some credit card company sponsoring free Facebook ads for small businesses.

And then there's Sunday. Poor, lonely Sunday, just waiting to be acknowledged as the last day of Thanksgiving weekend. Why doesn't Sunday have its own special label? Is it because of the religious importance of Sunday? Or has no one gotten around to deciding what it should be? Maybe Thrift Store Sunday? OOH! Second-Hand Sunday! There we go. Let's all spend the Sunday after Thanksgiving hitting up the thrift stores, yard sales and resale boutiques in search of slightly-used treasures and vintage goodies.

By the way, the necklace above is new! It's called The Traveler's Key and it is part of my budget-friendly steampunk jewelry line.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wings of the Morrigan, Progress Post 2

The problem with doing black bead embroidery on black felt is that it's hard to photograph the progress. But this is where I'm at! And this is where you can start to see that I have decided not to make this necklace symmetrical. Balanced, yes, but not entirely symmetrical. It would have been boring to do the exact same thing on both sides!

I hope to get a lot more work done on this project over the holiday weekend. I don't have a lot of big plans -- small family gathering at my house, no Black Friday shopping, a little work on my business Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs, and lots of dance practice. But that leaves plenty of time for beading.

So far this necklace includes:
-1 Black Kyanite specimen
-2 Swarovski Elements Pegasus Pendants
-1 Color of Czech size 11 seed beads
-4 Colors of Japanese size 11 seed beads, including permanent galvanized.
-1 Color of Japanese size 15 seed beads

Disclaimer: FTC Regulations require me to tell you when I get beads for free. I got the Pegasus pendants from and I already reviewed them last year, but I am making a disclaimer just in case. They were free. I like them. Happy, FTC?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Colors of Fall -- Blog Partner

I made this necklace a while ago, but it was a surprise for a friend in Canada, so I had to wait for the sloooow post office to get it to her! Now that it is finally in her hands, I can post it all over the internet!

Back at the start of Autumn, invited its blog partners to pick out items for a Colors of Fall theme. One of their suggestions was to use the Pantone Fall 2010 Color Report as a guideline, and that was the option I chose. I really liked the color Woodbine, a warm and rich olive, so of course I made that my focus by choosing a focal and accents from the Ceramic Beads category and some really saturated Czech Glass. The focal also has touches of Endive, and on-line the brown looked similar to Chocolate, but it turned out to be more red in person, so I put some very chocolate-y brown lava beads from my own stash into the mix, as well as some red tiger's eye to draw in the warm red-brown in the ceramics, and some pearls to pull everything together. You can't see it in the image, but the necklace is finished with a bamboo-patterned, gold-plated Pewter Toggle Clasp.

My original plan had been to do a bead embroidered focal with the bamboo pendant, but it turned out to be much too large, thick and heavy to use as a cabochon. This is a high-quality focal that is nicely detailed on both sides. The focal and the accent beads both have generous amounts of gold paint accents, and I was overall pleased with the quality. The Czech glass and Tierra Cast brand toggle were both up to the high standards I expect from those materials as well. As always, packaged everything up nicely and shipped it in a timely manner.

And speaking of the lovely folks at, they're kicking their Black Friday sale off early! If you feel like taking a break from getting ready for the holiday and doing a little bead shopping, you can use code ZZ-THANKSGIVING-SALE to get 20% off your order of $60 or more.

FTC Disclosure: Federal regulations stipulate that I need to tell you, dear readers, that provided the items from the above-linked categories to me for free, in return for review and promotional consideration. I receive no additional compensation for my reviews, and I of course give my honest opinion of what I receive.

Now if you'd like to see more of my work, please head on over to my Etsy shop, Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wings of the Morrigan, Progress Post 1

This project is long overdue -- I got the Swarovski Pegasus pendants as part of the Beads for Bloggers program last September, and the central piece of black kyanite at the neat little metaphysical gift shop in Squaw Village during the Tahoe Bead Retreat last October. After purchasing the kyanite, and seeing it with the pegasus wings, I knew it had to be part of my first bead embroidered collar. Then I procrastinated. For over a year.

Well, no more putting it off! I want to wear Wings of the Morrigan to the Swarovski party at the gem show this year, which means that I have less than 3 months to finish. The past two years, I've put off my gem show necklace project to the last minute, finishing it during the show. This time I'm giving myself more time, because it's a huge project and I want to do it right.

So I researched how to make a collar, and on Friday night I drew my outline (which I'll probably adhere to only loosely) and glued down the focals. Yesterday and today were spent outlining the focals with backstitch. The kyanite was really tricky. In the past I've always embroidered around nice round and oval objects -- this piece is a real challenge because not only is it big, but I'm working with weird shapes. Of course, from a design standpoint, that was the easy part. Now I have to decide how to fill in the rest of the space!

This project is going to involve a lot of different types of beads. Each progress post will include a list of beads/objects added so far.
-1 Black Kyanite specimen
-2 Swarovski Elements Pegasus Pendants
-1 Color of Czech size 11 seed beads
-3 Colors of Japanese size 11 seed beads, including permanent galvanized.

Future progress pictures will be nicer, as I'll take them at the same time that I photograph new items, with all my nice photo stuff, but I wanted to start recording this before I got too far into it!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Special Weekend Etsy Update

It's been a busy, rather emotional week, so I unfortunately did not list any new items on Etsy, but I do have a few Etsy related things that I'd like to share with you.

First, my SEO efforts on items like the above-pictured Beaded Pomegranate Faerie Necklace (aka, The Hungriest Pixie Ever) are starting to pay off. I did a little Googling last night and was pleased to find that Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs is the #1 Google result for handmade fantasy jewelry! My visits are still low, but at least I know that it's getting easier and easier for people to find my shop. I even found a pair of my Steampunk Key Earrings on a search for handmade steampunk jewelry.

Then today, when I logged into my shop to do more SEO work (it never ends!), I found that Etsy has given me the capability to offer coupons! I'd like to be able to use this to do some great holiday sales, but if you'd like to get a head start on the other shoppers and help me test the system, you can use the code "yaycoupon" to get 10% off your order!

In FAETeam news, our latest Gift Guide is Decorate for the Holidays with FAETeam. Although the main focus is ornaments, there's also a tree topper, a few holiday-themed prints, some greeting cards, and a few decorations well-suited for your mantle, centerpiece, or desk to lend a little festive cheer.

I also curated a treasury just for fun. Green and Magical is pretty self-explanatory, I think.

This week's cool find is VooDooBunny. I saw her featured on another blog and her shop has several items that I might have to buy as holiday gifts!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Why has my blog been so quiet these past two days? Because I've been out of the house for most of that time! I spent Thursday out and about with friends who were down from the Phoenix area, culminating in an absolutely amazing experience seeing Le Serpent Rouge.

If you'll remember, last month I drove up to Mesa to see Bellydance Super Stars, which was an amazing star-packed production. As much as I loved that show, Le Serpent Rouge was even more fun. It was a more intimate experience -- not only were we close enough to really enjoy the details of the dance and the costume, but afterwards, the performers were hanging out in the theater and we were able to meet them, thank them, and get photos, signatures, and even some hugs! Because Le Serpent Rouge is a vaudeville-themed show, it was also less serious. There were a lot of jokes, light-hearted numbers, and fun times.

But most importantly, ohmigoodness the dancing was amazing! Rachel Brice was my first belly dance idol and remains one of my favorites, so to not only see her dancing live, but to be so close that I can see every isolation, and every detail of her intricate costuming, was amazing. Likewise for Zoe Jakes and Mardi Love, who are more recent idols. The Indigo and its individual dancers sometimes get accused of going too far afield in their tribal fusion, to the point where some consider them to no longer be true belly dancers, but their belly dance roots were still very much apparent in this show. There was also a touch of burlesque -- nothing naughty, but the stylings and the HUGE ostrich plume fans gave it a bit of old-time sensuality.

The music was a mix of live numbers by The Crow Quill Night Owls and the Gallus Brothers, and pre-recorded tracks. The live music was ol-timey bluegrass and other related genres that I don't know the names of -- clearly I'm not a music expert ;) If you enjoyed the soundtrack of O Brother Where Art Thou? then you'd love both bands. The Gallus Brothers also blended a bit of acrobatic antics and juggling with their music, in keeping with the vaudeville style of the show.

The event was held at Solar Culture, a gallery full of art which I never would have visited if not for the show (I hate driving downtown so I never go anyplace cool). There was even a mosaic bathroom with a beautiful mirrored sun design in the tub *sigh* which prompted all of us to wonder why WE didn't have mosaic bathrooms.

All in all, it was an amazing night, and I hope the pictures of my friends and I with Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice turn out, because I know the internet motto is "pics or it didn't happen" but I am telling you, these ladies were super nice about posing for pictures and hugging their fans! Really warm and welcoming dancers, and I am still floating on cloud 9 about meeting them and not saying anything dumb.

If you enjoy reading about my belly dance adventures and would like to support my endeavors, please take a moment to visit my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How far I've come

This picture is horrible. Why is it horrible? Because for years, I scanned my jewelry to list it on my website. That hideous greyish background is the white lining of the scanner lid. Yuck. Back then I had to choose my focals based not on how much I liked them, but whether they were flat enough to be scanned!

Last night, I was lying awake, thinking about my business, and my thoughts drifted back to my beginnings. More than 12 years ago, I started out stringing cheap jewelry and listing it on eBay. And I mean cheap. I used cheap beads, cheap plated findings, and I strung everything on fishing line. We actually had a digital camera for a short time. I don't have any photos of my jewelry from that far back, as I was 16, living at home, using my parents' computer, and that was back in the days before thumb drives and home wireless networks made it quick and easy to transfer your files from one computer to the next.

Anyway. I was thinking how I used to make my cheap jewelry, get Chris to take a photo of it, put it on eBay, and then... it sold! Just like that! There was no blogging, no mentioning it on Facebook, no Project Wonderful ads, no worrying about SEO. Back in those wonderful days, before everyone realized that you could make money on eBay, you could actually... make money on eBay. Without even really trying. A 16-year-old girl could make cheap beaded jewelry and sell it for enough money to buy more cheap beads and holiday presents for her entire family.

Now I use nice materials. I still bargain hunt, but I look for good deals on good beads. I use sterling silver clasps. I string my necklaces on SoftFlex. I do a lot of beadweaving. I stress about photos, I advertise everything on my blog and Facebook... and it doesn't sell. The internet has moved on, and it's no longer a simple matter of listing it and knowing buyers will find it. You have to actively promote, and try to be heard amongst a sea of other people actively promoting their work.

I don't want the good old days back. I don't miss my flatbed scanner and my dial-up internet and my cheap beads. Nostalgia hasn't yet made me forget all of those annoyances. But I can't help but wish that I didn't have to spend so much time promoting and more time creating.

Oh yeah, speaking of promoting, visit my shop Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs, or at least tolerate the fact that I have to link it every day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I just really like this photo

I thought that improving the photos for my shop, Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs, was going to be a long and arduous process, but really, all I had to do was stop being lazy about it. It was a simple matter of getting out all my props every time, and taking my time to line things up nicely and take a few extra shots in case a couple come out blurry.

So I've been getting a lot of good pictures, and every now and then I get a really nice one, like this close-up of The Sweetest Lady. The angle is just right, and you can see every detail of the brass stamping, and just how lovely those vintage beads are. There's even a hint of their translucent glow. It makes me happy.

Of course, I still have a lot of jewelry to rephotograph, and I try to do at least one old piece whenever I'm taking pictures of new items.... but at least all the new stuff looks great!

Thank you again to all of my friends who pitched in with advice and opinions when I was trying to decide what direction to take my shop photos in.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday, I started on a project I've been putting off for a while -- doing Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) on my Etsy shop. It started out easily enough... Changing up my shop title, the names of my shop sections, and the welcome announcement. Just little re-writes here and there to take advantage of how Google and other search engines actually work. Go ahead and visit Handmade Jewelry by Erthe Fae Designs and have a look-see.

But then I hit the hard part... re-writing all of my item titles and descriptions!

I currently have 70 items in my shop, and my method of presenting them is about as un-Google-friendly as you can get without doing it on purpose. Little did I realize that by trying to make myself stand out from the crowd with lyrical item names and short story snippets at the start of each description, I was actually lagging way behind the crowd. In fact, I was probably in an entirely different country from the crowd. Maybe a country with no Google.

I may continue to tweak things as I watch my site stats to see what actually works, but for now I'm working the title into the description, and placing the stories at the bottom of the listing -- I do not want to get rid of them entirely, because some people come to my shop specifically to read them. Check out Her Airship Sailed Through Time Steampunk Necklace to see the difference. Please let me know if you think the new format is too awkward or see room for improvement.

And now, a little apology in advance. Apparently the most important step in SEO is building lots of links to your store. Blog posts count towards this, even if they're your own blog, so I will be promoting my shop a little bit in every post from now on. I will try to keep it minimal, and make it an addition to what I'm already writing instead of the focus. I want to keep this blog interesting for those of you who've decided you like to know what's going on in my life. Please whack me upside the head if I go too far in the wrong direction.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A big week on Etsy

As promised, I listed all the new jewelry I made for Fall Festival! Shown above is Tribal Showgirl Sequin-o-Rama, for the tribal dancer with a little Vegas in her soul. For the budget-conscious steampunk, I have Waiting For A Key and The Sweetest Lady. Lastly, Celestial Goddess earrings can be tribal, steampunk, or just a beautiful accent to your Autumn wardrobe. I also renewed a lot of my budget steampunk line that had expired, so you may want to poke around the shop and see what old things are new again.

While I was busy getting all of these photographed and listed, the lovely and talented Mermaiden included me in her Once Upon A Stunning Autumn treasury, which has been getting a lot of views. One of Julie's treasuries was on the Front Page of Etsy this week, so clearly she knows her stuff!

Speaking of treasuries, I had to make one, too! Etsy's new You Might Like feature inspired it by showing me a couple of items along the same theme, making me think I want some green tea.

I also curated Manly Men Like FAETeam, Too! in support of this week's Gift Guide, which is of course themed around gifts for the men in your life.

This week's cool find is Untamed Menagerie, who has a lot jewelry that I'd like to get my hands on. Because, you know, I don't have enough jewelry.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

My MZ Glass Prize

You may recall that back in October, I took 2nd Place in the MZ Glass Design Challenge. Well, I finally collected my prize winnings this past weekend! Margaret was clearing out some old beads, so my $300 credit went a long way! Doesn't the central beetle remind you of old trade beads? He's definitely going to be made into something tribal.

The 3d butterfly is a new design and I knew I had to have one. If you want one, too, you can visit MZ's Etsy shop, where you can also see the new bees and caterpillars!

And just because I like showing off, here's the winning necklace again:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Vending! Dancers! A Parade!

Here it is, the result of all of my crazy running around last week... my booth at the Fall Festival! Big props to Evan and Meghan who helped me with set-up and tear-down and were around throughout the day to keep me company.
Meghan was getting ready for her performance when she realized that she'd left her necklace at home. Oh no! What's a girl to do? Naturally, she came over to my booth and asked to borrow a necklace she'd had her eye on. After the show, she decided that said necklace had to be hers, so now Necromancer's Mirror has a new home!

Unfortunately, Meghan was my ONLY customer. Sales were down for everyone. Other than dismal sales, it was a fun event... a beautiful day, lots of my belly dance friends around, live music from the drum circle, and I took a couple of breaks to go watch the dancers on the community stage.
Of course, I had to go see Meghan and my other friends Jacque and Rosemary, performing under the wonderful name Vorpal Shimmy! Meghan and Rosemary did a beautiful sword performance to Endless Reverie by Azam Ali (currently my favorite song), and then all three of them did a very energetic skirt dance to a rap about Ganesh. A lot of my pictures came out blurry because of how fast they were moving, but I think this photo is beautiful.

You'd think that after a busy day of vending on Saturday, I'd spend Sunday relaxing... but then you'd be forgetting that I live in Arizona, and that we cram all of our fun events into the few months when the weather is actually nice! After visiting the MZ Glass Open House (I'll post my glass goodies tomorrow!) and eating a big lunch, I hastily put together a costume and headed downtown to meet a group of Tucson belly dancers for the All Souls Procession. The costume theme was aquatic, and as you can see, I embraced it whole-heartedly. Not only am I wearing water colors, but my belt has shells and my hat and necklace have fish.

The parade was a lot of fun. I've never walked in a parade, let alone danced one. I have no idea how long the Procession was... it didn't feel too long at the time (though my arms sure got tired!), but walking back to the car felt like it was about 100 miles. The parade terminated in a huge finale, complete with fire dancers and stilt walkers and aerial silks performers and live music and did I mention fire? It was hard to see through the crowd, but still very impressive.

And now it's back to life as usual... except that TusCon and workshops with Mahin are this weekend, and next weekend is Phoenix Faerie Festival... I guess busy is the new norm for me!

Friday, November 05, 2010

So Busy!

Sorry the blog has been so quiet, I've been very busy getting ready for Fall Festival this weekend. Hopefully I'll come back with much less jewelry than I'm leaving the house with. Honestly, I have way too much stock. I have no idea how I'm going to display it all!

I made a few new items for the show, a tribal necklace and a couple steampunk necklaces and some pretty earrings... Whatever doesn't sell will make it onto Etsy next week, so keep your eyes open!

Speaking of Etsy, the necklace above was featured in a beautiful Fantasy Wedding Treasury curated by the lovely and talented Mermaiden.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and don't forget to come to Fall Festival if you're in Phoenix!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Gift Guides!

Every Tuesday this month, I'll be posting gift guides over on the FAETeam blog. Click here to read the first one!

Posts on this blog will be short and sweet this week... I have a lot to do to prepare for vending in Phoenix this weekend!