Friday, March 29, 2013

Backlinks - DIY for SEO

Backlinks - DIY for SEO
I’ve been trying to spend a little time each day to learn something new about SEO (search engine optimization), tags, metatags, anything to help with getting my brand out there so people will love my shop, and more importantly, purchase from my shop. I have discovered, the hard way, that the phrase “if you build it, they will come” is not true in the overwhelming world of on-line retail.  But I have discovered that I have been doing something right, and quite by accident.  I’m talking about backlinks.  Backlinks are like a back door to your site.  Think of your url address as the street side entrance to your shop, people walking down the street see your site, and come in. For a customer to know where you are located, Google search may tell them how to get there, but if you’ve ever dealt with Google maps, you know that sometimes the directions get confusing, if not downright incorrect.  That’s because the “front door” of your shop is when your shop is is linked by another site, perhaps through a blog feature or a tweet.  It’s there, constantly changing, or falling to the bottom of the page due to newer content about other sites.  But your backlinks are totally controlled by you.  Think of Google search as a busybody walking around to see what everyone is talking about, and they hear your name, a lot!  The more “she” hears your name, the higher your site will become in a search.  And backlinks are links (sometimes permanent links) that you attach to other sites.  Customers see these links on a site, and click on them to visit you.  Now, there are tricks to having good backlinks.
Handmade Link Bracelet
Click on the Pic to see more from Urban Jule
First, put your links on a site that is relevant to yours.  For example, if you are selling unique, one of a kind, handmade items, you don’t want to put your link on a site that is only about…horses.  Unless you sell unique, one of a kind, handmade horse supplies.  Quality backlinks are the key here, not quantity.  Google is interested in relevancy.  Second, use a keyword phrase (not your shop name) as your anchor text, Google also likes variety.  And don’t forget that when you are adding links to your shop and items, also add links to your shop sections.  Think like a customer who is not sure what they want, but they want something.  Make them want what you have to offer.  Now, to end this long and wordy text, here are some sites where you can upload pictures and links.
It's Better Handmade LogoIt’s Better Handmade.  Thank you Kimberly for giving us yet another site to spread the word.  On Fire for Handmade.  Thank you Anne for opening this site to Handmade Artists everywhere.  Pinterest.  Yes, set up a board and load it with your own items.  Toot your own horn, and other will join in the band.  Flickr.  While you can’t link your items, per se (it’s not a selling venue), you can link to your shop in your profile.  A new place I just started to visit is Wanelo.  It’s very much like Pinterest, but more retail.  Another great opportunity is via blog hops and link up parties.  I have several on my website where you are all invited to link up.  Some have rules, some don’t, but they all are fun.On fire for Handmade
Where do you “advertise” for free?  If there is a site you use that I did not mention, please share it with the rest of us.
And Happy Selling!!

Written by Yankee Burrow Creations

So, where do you link up?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

National Something on a Stick Day

National Something on a Stick Day
So many wonderful things come to us on sticks….lolly pops, popcycles, candy sticks, drumsticks…so today, in honor of National Something on a Stick Day I present to you some wonderful items featuring sticks!
HAF Something on a Stick

Up Do Silver Plate Flatware Hairstick

Handmade Silverware Hair Stick
From the talented hands of BlackBirdMetalWorks comes this unusual twist on a hair stick. Made from the “stick” part of flatware, you will definitely not have to worry about anyone else having a hair stick exactly like yours.  Unique and stylish and perfect conversation starter.

Incense Burner Stick Holder Sled Peach Abalone Glass Stained Glass Red Bead

If you burn incense then you know what a mess the ash can make and how unattractive many of the burners can be.  Solution?  GlassByKat has created this stunning incense holder that looks amazing with our without the incense.  Perfect for any type of decor and completely unique in every way.

Catnip Stuffed Southern Fried Chicken Leg Cat Toy

Catnip cat toy
One of my favorite “stick” items has to be drum sticks.  But why should we get all the fun? Brought to you from the creative mind of WrapTCats, this catnip toy looks just like the real thing!  This shop is the perfect stopping point for any cat lover.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meet Albina Rose our Latest Contributor

Meet Albina Rose our Latest Contributor
My short story. I make jewelry. It is designed for the free spirit, infused with romance and a sprinkling of magic. It is my desire that when you wear Albina Rose jewelry, your free spirit will be released, you will feel the enchantment of romance and a warm glow from that touch of magic.
It all began with my grandmother, who my business is named after, Albina Rose.  She taught me to crochet when I was 9.  She passed away in 1988 at the age of 93 and my most treasured gift from her is her large, very old and very worn wooden crochet hook.  My mother is a seamstress and taught me to sew when I was 11.  I used to follow my father, a master carpenter, around in his workshop trying to help in any way I could.
Handmade Fairy CuffMy oldest ancestor is a master armorer who emigrated from St. Malo France to Montreal Quebec in the late 1600s.  So you see, the love of handmade and the need to create is in my blood and goes a very long way back.
I live with my husband in Western New York on 8 peaceful wooded acres.  My studio loft is surrounded by windows.  I have the best views of our woods where I can see all kind of wildlife and every form of weather right from my desk, or sitting in my wing chair doing handwork or at my sewing machine that is set in front of a window.
Many of my inspirations come from these surroundings, as well as my love of fantasy, faeries and faerie tales. I live in a beautiful and magical world that I love to share through my work.
Albina Rose on Handmade Artists

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Writing Winning Descriptions for your Handmade Listings

Writing Winning Descriptions for your Handmade Listings
Before the internet, I often shopped by catalogue and two of my favorites were Coldwater Creek and JPeterman’s. Were the clothes any more stylish or the price or fit better than other catalogues? Probably not but what sold me was the product description. My eye was drawn to the visual but the words used to describe the items captivated me. Check out their websites and you’ll see how the product descriptions tell a story and the copy gives you the experience of adventure or romance. The words make you imagine how you’ll feel wearing the clothes and that emotion is what makes you hit the “Buy Now” button.
South Western EarringsHere are a few tips for writing winning product descriptions:
  • Write like you speak.  Keeping your tone conversational will allow them to feel they know you as a person not just your product and that likability factor is key in the handmade experience. They are buying from a real person not a manufacturer.
  • Make it personal and emotional, speaking to the buyer directly as if they were your friend. “When YOU wear this piece you’ll FEEL…”
  • Attach the item to a story: “The inspiration for this scarf came to me when I was shell collecting on the beach at Sanibel and I noticed the turquoise horizon line where the sea met the azure sky.”
  • Your product title should be an attention grabber. Use descriptive adjectives: sparkling, dazzling, shimmering, luscious, plush, dangling.
  • Whether you make wearables or home decor items, talk about the benefits, not just the features. “The toggle makes it easy to clasp the bracelet one-handed. This clock is lightweight enough to hang with a pushpin.”
  • If you’re having difficulty coming up with good descriptions, there are a number of good books and articles on the topic, such as “Words that Sell”  by Richard Bayan.
People scanning your page are initially attracted to the images but the wording of your product description is key to taking them from browsers to buyers.
Click on the images above to learn more about this products!
Terri from Craft Biz

Friday, March 22, 2013

Featured Artist Dan of Pixel Point Graphics

Featured Artist Dan of Pixel Point Graphics
Pixel Piont on Handmade Artists
“Books are ‘picture frames’ for our words.” What an amazing assessment of books from Dan McKinney of Pixel Point! Even in this day and age of digital, well, everything, there is something to be said about an amazing book; be it the story itself or just the beauty of the binding.
Cupid Journal CoverDan had an unusual childhood that fostered an amazingly creative spirit.  As a child, he had polio which stopped him from being active in the normal childhood activities such as sports.  He was often times left to his own devices to entertain himself within his own physical limitations. He spent hours listening to Wolfman Jack’s illegal radio transmission out of Mexico which inspired him to create his own underground broadcast…which eventually led to a run in with the FCC…but in his words, “Wow, what a trip!”  While he was blessed enough to come through the illness with little permanent physical damage, Dan never lost that drive to create.
After a life of building a career and family, Dan and Mary started a mini-farm in South Carolina, Windward Meadows, where they now have a peach orchard, flower gardens, and vegetable garden.  They grow much of what they eat and sell flowers, fruits, berries and vegetables at a local market.  They also have a brick and mortar shop where they hand pick items that are unique and fun to sell while traveling!
Which brings me to travel, this adventurous couple loves to travel and experience new things.  They recently spent time in the North-West hiking around Yellowstone National Park as well as Glacier National Park where they were fortunate enough to see a Lamar Wolf Pack “training” a new set of pups.  Definitely an experience that will make you stop and look.
Bear Journal CoverWhile Dan has always had a creative soul, it wasn’t until he spent time as a picture framer when he made the connection that the stunning book bindings that you see are actually like frames for the words.  This connection led him to his current passion which is making stunning journals of all types.
Throughout his experience, Dan has come to love the sales side of handmade art.  He enjoys working in his brick and mortar shop as well as traveling to shows.  With this experience has come a wonderfully positive view of selling.  He encourages people to go for it if their passion is to sell their own handmade work, but cautions that you must stick with it!  You did not hone your artistic skills overnight and will most likely not become an instant success in selling.  He asks that you think of selling as another medium to learn and eventually master…same rules apply; experiment, ask questions, and put in the work before you will see success.  In the end, selling is the ultimate validation of your skill
Dan has led such an interesting life and this can be seen in his work.  You can find him at his brick and mortar shop,  Pixel Point in Anderson, South Carolina if you are lucky enough to live in the area.  If not, Dan can be found online on HandmadeArtists, his own website, as well as on Etsy.  You can even check out his latest interests on Pinterest.  While you are browsing his amazing work, be sure to notice the love and care that is put into each and every piece.  I have no doubt that you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blue Buddha Boutique Giveaway Winner!!!

Blue Buddha Boutique Giveaway Winner!!!

March 2013Shaggy loops chainmaille
Not only do crafters like to craft, they like to help other crafters craft. They even enjoy encouraging non-crafters to craft. They’re crafty like that. I consider myself pretty crafty but I’ve never tried my hand at chainmaille. I love it and marvel at it frequently but had never actually tried it until…I won the Shaggy Loops Prize starter kit from the Blue Buddha Boutique on the Handmade Artists Blog in December 2012.Shaggy loops kit
They sent me a wonderful e-mail and asked me to select my colors of chainmaille. From all the wonderful colors offered I selected teal and brown. The kit arrived less than a week or so later and the links of chain had deep rich vibrant colors and were very sturdy. The instructions for making the Shaggy Loops Prize design (by Rebeca Mojica, weave by Metal Designz) were clear and easy to follow and I soon got to work making my bracelet. The kit came with the two main colored chain links or rings, and a few smaller plain metal chain links to attach the bracelet to a metal closure set which they also included.  Finished Piece Shaggy LoopsUsing my own tools I worked steadily building the bracelet’s length and periodically measuring it against my wrist.  It didn’t take long to finish….maybe an hour? I decided to alternate the colors every three links to give it my own spin and it turned out beautifully. Once I got going I soon realized how meditative this process can be. Perfect for someone just starting out or a seasoned crafter like myself.  The design can accommodate many different ring sizes and any color combo would be great!
For those of you out there who would like to try something new…something crafty… I’d consider getting one of the kits offered at the Blue Buddha Boutique  and give chainmaille  a try! I had plenty leftover to make a couple of rings or I could have made a necklace or a longer bracelet. Shaggy Loops Materials

Thanks Blue Buddha Boutique I really enjoyed that!
Written by StartsArts

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meet our latest Contributor Rapunzel's Garden

Meet our latest Contributor Rapunzel's Garden
I am Sabine, doll maker, teacher and mother of two wonderful adult children. Together with my husband I live in the utmost tip of Germany, just by the border to Denmark.
SabeneI’ve got a degree in curative pedagogy and work with children who are suffering from dyslexia.
I love making pretty things with my hands and especially enjoy working with natural fibers such as wool, cotton and linen. Pretty fabric and colorful yarn always make me feel very happy.
I began doll making while in University as a delightful side income, but I became quickly addicted to this craft. Watching these litte creatures develop from such simpe ingredients as wool and fabric is an exciting process and cloth dolls are such  a wonderful and healthy alternative to mass produced  toys made of plastic and synthetics.
In 2007 I started to sell my dolls online and I really love to create unique little friends for children around the world.
You can see my work in my Shop Rapunzel’s Garden, stop by and say hi!
handmade doll

Friday, March 15, 2013

March is National Craft Month

March is National Craft Month
This is the month for us! Crafters, artists, and those that just love the smell of glue sticks in the morning….this month is for you! Welcome to National Craft Month and what better way to celebrate than with some amazing handmade supplies from the talented artisans on ?
HAF Craft Month

BUTTERFLIES batik appliques precision die cut

Handmade Butterflies
First up, from the amazing shop of Just Me Too comes these darling butterflies just waiting to be made into something special.  Bright and happy colors precision die cut will definitely add a special touch to your next craft project.

Sunburst Hand Dyed Merino Wool Top

Handmade Wool Roving Are you a fiber addict?  Go ahead and admit it and stand proudly with all the other fiber addicts of the world!  Not that I condone feeding an addiction, but have you seen this wool?  From the shop of Mulch and More comes this amazingly bright wool top just waiting to be spun or felted into your next project.  This shop is drool worthy and the perfect stop for any crafter.

20mm Handmade Glass Demon Eye Cabochon Yellow Green Made to Order LILITH

Looking for something different for your next project?  Well, the shop of The Crimson Moon is a must see!  This amazingly lifelike demon eye cab will surely stop people in their tracks.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Evolution of Handmade

Evolution of Handmade
There is always discussion about what is and isn’t handmade. defines handmade as “made by hand, not by machine, especially with care or craftsmanship .” But even that definition has changed as times have changed.
BisonBack in the pioneer days, handmade was just that… made with your hands. There was no electricity, and there were no machines.  So if you needed something, you devised a way to make it using your hands and little else.  If you needed a blanket, you killed a bear or a buffalo, skinned it, tanned the hide, and covered yourself with it for warmth.  But humans have always been resourceful, so “handmade” got easier.
Spinning WeelPeople migrated into cities with the industrial revolution.  Those still on the farm still raised their own sheep, sheared them, spun the wool and then knitted the blanket.  But people who had moved to the cities still had these skill, just nowhere for the sheep.  And the factories found a way to take that raw wool, spin it and sell it so the city-dwellers could still knit themselves a blanket.  Certainly, the blanket on the farm that had been made from home-grown wool was just as handmade as the blanket knit from manufactured wool.  knitted blanket
As time progressed, the factories started turning out finished blankets.  Now, there was no need to take the time to knit or crochet that blanket…  why bother when you could purchase one at a local store and spend your time doing something else.  But people continued to make blankets by hand; they still had the skills and enjoyed doing it.  The handmade blankets included an element that the factory-made blankets never would – the thought, planning and care of the creator.
The same applied to wood craftsmen.  They didn’t have to sand by hand with a piece of sandpaper anymore.  The could plug a handy tool into an electrical outlet and accomplish the same thing in a fraction of the time.  No less care went into the finished piece.  The only difference was that the finished piece was completed faster.
Handmade today can employ the assistance of many machines in the process.  The fiber artist probably owns a sewing machine.  The woodworker owns a lathe or a powered sander or a router or all of these tools.  The metalsmith probably owns a grinder; the potter an electric kiln.  Are these things still handmade?  I would argue emphatically yes!  The finished products are not “made by machine.”  The machines used are merely tools in the hands of the artist, regardless of the medium.  Perhaps it isn’t “handmade” that’s evolved, but the tools employed in the creation of that which is handmade in the 21st century.
How has your skill evolved from the “old days?”

Written By iKnitQuiltSew

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winner of On Fire - Highlight Challenge

Winner of On Fire - Highlight Challenge

Winner of On Fire Highlight ChallengeHighlight Challenge Winner

My European Touch

The winner of our first On Fire Highlight Challenge is Monika of My European Touch! Her Entry came in with 425 views! You can see her winning challenge on the On Fire for Handmade site HERE
Monika from Myeuropeantouch

Meet Monika:

Have been crafting ever since I was a little girl! Monika Joined HAF on Dec 3. 2010.
I have been an artist all my life and worked with a lot of different mediums; been a mosaic artist for 10 years now. I specialize in doing mosaics using a style referred to as “Pique Assiette or Tesserae” This process involves transforming vintage china/porcelain plates into artistic designs that are always one of a kind and my own. About me, the Artist: Growing up in Germany shortly after WWII; watching my parents re-use, re-cycle, re-invent – my involvement in the arts developed very early at about 5 years of age. Trying to make new candles from candle stumps – melting them on my little doll cooking stove, using simple yarn for candle wicks; (almost burned the house down) clothing my dolls by sewing, crocheting, knitting and cross stitch. Creating clay vases, paint and draw in my family’s home in Germany to now creating/working in my home in Florida.Jeweled Picture Frame Handcrafted Pearls Swarowsky Bling Photo Frame Oval room for picture
My interests and talents have evolved over time. Any type of art has been a constant presence in my life. After all this experimenting with my very diverse talents I have grown into and have a very addictive desire to create MOSAIC, done from precise cut/nipped vintage fine bone china/porcelain plates, paired with stained glass mosaic, vintage jewelry and other tidbits and baubles. My tools are Glass Nippers, Wheeled Cutters, Glue, Grout and Sealer; sometimes paint. I create from my thoughts, feelings and inspirations around me. I reclaim/re-invent unwanted items from various sources and breathe new life/usefulness in them, create functional, fabulous, or whimsy Mosaic Art. Never having attended a class/course for mosaic I can be called self taught. Every new piece I create is a discovery and revelation for me. I have sold many pieces of my mosaic art since I started 10 years ago. On commissioned Mosaic Art I always work with the client and involve them in “Their” Art Piece. I invite you to have a closer look, please, as I do use precise cut, nipped bone china porcelain plates that otherwise would have been dispersed off and give it a new life in form of a mosaic art piece. I have sold and shipped all over the world, Hong Kong, Australia, Bahrain, Great Britain to name a few. And of course all over the United States.
Teapot Pincushion handmade Teapot Pincushion blue ivory white crystal
I have seen mosaic work before but never really thought about all that goes into it until I met Monika, the talent and powerhouse behind My European Touch. Looking at her work is like walking through a romantic candy store.

Written by Oaklie’s Fashions

Monday, March 11, 2013

April Winchell A Custom 3D Clay Portrait

Rustic Live Edge Ash Serving Board One of a Kind With Bark


Koi Necklace

EGBG Victorian Crystal Cross Necklace

EGBG Vintage Little Girls Earrings

Girl Super Hero Cupcake Toppers

Rock Star Cupcake Toppers

Alice in Wonderland Cupcake Toppers

Nap Mat

Green Camo Deer Cupcake Toppers

Little Princesses Cupcake Toppers

Pink Camo Deer Cupcake Toppers

Tutu Bunny Embroidered Shirt

Owl Cupcake Toppers

Chick Magnet Embroidered Shirt

Cute Chick Embroidered Shirt

Pot Holders Vintage Crochet

Easter Egg Hunter Shirt

Hemp or Cloth Baskets

black tear drop with white pearls earrings

White Snowflake medium hoop unique gift for her

Twilight Wolf Dreamcatcher Necklace

Twilight Wolf Dreamcatcher Earrings

Green Aventurine Chandelier Earrings on pewter metal dangles

Yellow Chandelier Earrings in yellow faceted glass

Chandeier Earrings in Blue sodalite Silver plated cubes blue frosted beads

Chandelier Earrings with green nephrite stones

Green Emerald Swarovski Crystal heart earrings

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Custom 3d Clay Portrait

Lapis Lazuli Round Bead Leather Bracelet for Men or Women

Autumn Landscape Stationery Note Cards Set of 3

Lavendula Enamel Drop Earrings

Orange and Seafoam Earrings

Pink Enamel Drop Earrings

Hyacinth Violet Handmade Lampwork Glass Disc Beads Set of 8

Bird Pillow Cover Tangerine Orange with White Birds and Branches fits 16 inch pillow insert

Seashell Pink Handmade Lampwork Glass Disc Beads Set of 8

First Love Handmade Lampwork Glass Disc Beads Set of 8

Bright Pink Handmade Lampwork Glass Disc Beads Set of 8

Gypsy Skirt Encased Lampwork Rounds Set of 6 Beads

Flour Sack Dish Towel Loon Tea Towel Screen Printed Common Loon Bird

hook knitted bracelets with seed beads Ethno

Chickadee Tea Towel Flour Sack Dish Towel Screen Printed Chickadee Brick Red Color

Love Tea Towel Screen Printed Flour Sack Dish Towel LOVE text

Twilight Dreamcatcher Bookmarker

Bead Handmade jewelry set Red wine bracelet necklace and earrings

Scout Style II Moccasins

Bead Embroidered Bracelet Golden Shadow

Bead Embroidered Bracelet Northern lights

Embroidered necklace with fur CHIC

Ladies Headband with Flower Hand Knit in Golden Yellow

Mosaic Cake Dome handmade broken cut china mosaic cake dome clay roses pearls

Agate Porcelain and Copper Bracelet

Himalayan Leather Wrap Bracelet

Hematite Cluster Dangle Chandelier Earrings

Coffee Flour Sack Dish Towel Retro Coffee Screen Print Tea Towel

Home Flour Sack Dish Towel Screen Printed Home Text Tea Towel

Decorative shabby chic mirror cottage style hand painted

Light Blue Heart lg hoop unique gift for her

Chandeliers in Orange faceted czech glass beads with copper metal charms earrings halloween

Valentine Chandelier Heart in Red Czech beads

Dancing Rabbit Pillow Cover white bunnies screen printed on a blue textured print

Traditional Origami Flapping Birds Pastel Set of Twelve

Pink Orange Textile Fabric Beads Amy Butler Fabric Set of Twelve

Green Fabric Beads Amy Butler Fabric Set of Twelve

Floral Print Origami Boxes Traditional Set of 12

Handmade Rag Doll with Red Hair

Dancing Rabbit Pillow Cover white bunnies screen printed on a grey textured print

Custom Order Work - Is it for you?

Custom Order Work - Is it for you?
“I love your work, but can you do it half the size with twice the detail in another color with a different material…..oh, and I need it by tomorrow!” Maybe your conversations with your custom order customers don’t go exactly like this one, but sometimes it can feel just as overwhelming when working with special orders! While they can be overwhelming, special order work can also be a wonderful new market to tap into…so, are you ready?  Before you dive into custom order work there are a few things that you really should consider.  By doing your research and planning properly you can make your new customers happy without driving yourself over the edge.
First item to consider is if you are even willing to do custom work and in order to do this you have to be honest with yourself.  Are you the type of artist that likes to work at your own pace and more free form, without a set plan?  If so, be proud of that, but custom work may not be for you.  A customer has certain expectations and if deadlines stress you out, you are not going to enjoy the process.  Better for you to be honest with yourself and not take on a job that is going to take the joy out of your artistic endeavor.  If you are able to work on a timeline and within sometimes tight design constraints then move on to the rest of the requirements.
ATM custom wagonHow are your communication skills?  There are many times that a customer has a vision for the piece that they are looking to buy but may not be able to put that vision into words.  As an artist myself, I specialize in custom wedding items and there are few customers more demanding than brides (which makes perfect sense since many have been planning their weddings since they were little girls!).  They have very specific visions for their big day.  Your job, as an artist willing to take on custom clients, is to help your customer put their ideas into a workable plan.  You have to be willing to explain what you are hearing in great detail to be sure that the two of you are on the same page.  Even when a customer says that they trust your judgment, they still will have certain expectations and it is your job to bring it to life.  In order to make this happen you may be required to email multiple times over the course of days or even weeks before you come to an understanding.  This time must be factored into your final price, but more on that later.
Custom banner and avatar setsNow that you have figured out what it is that your customer is looking for you have to set a price.  This, in the case of custom work, is so much more involved than your traditional stock pieces.  You may have to order special materials that you normally do not carry or put aside other projects.  You must also factor in your research time as well as the time spent communicating in the beginning.  While you may not charge your traditional hourly rate for this time, you still cannot work for free.  Take a realistic look at the time spent from beginning to end as well as any special materials and factor this into your final quote.
Sit down and realistically set down your terms.  I’ve often seen artists in various forums complaining that a special order fell through for one reason or another and they have already ordered and used the supplies purchased for that order.  This very situation happened to a friend of mine who is now the owner of over 500 pink and blue glass beads that do not fit into her normal work style. My suggestion would be to always get a deposit of at least 50%.  This deposit should cover the cost of any materials you must order and use as well as some of your time spent with the customer.  At the very least, you should not lose money on your deal.  The customer should be very aware that the deposit is nonrefundable should the order fall through.  It is best to have this acknowledgment in writing.  We all want to believe the best of people, but the reality is that life happens.  You must protect yourself in the event that the order is not completed and paid in full.
custom wedding invitationIn addition to a deposit, you may consider a return, or non-return, policy.  Much of my wedding work is customized with names and dates.  Since this is not an item that I can turn around and sell to another customer I must cover myself.    Depending on your medium, if the work can be sold to another, then you may choose to accept returns where if the item cannot be resold, you must make the customer aware that after the process is started returns are not an option for them.  Obviously this policy will depend on your business and must be made very clear from the start.
Finally, be honest with your custom and yourself…do not make promises that you cannot keep or everyone will end up frustrated.  If you are unsure if you can do the design your customer is looking for, say that!  Most customers are willing to be flexible in their design if you show them an alternative but if you make a promise you must deliver.  In addition, be honest with yourself.  We recently had a request for a custom piece that we were just not comfortable doing.  Instead of taking on a project that went against our own beliefs, we happily referred this customer to another chainmailler who would do the work.  While we lost a potential sale, another got a sale and in the end the customer was happier.
Hand Painted Toasting Glasses As well, be honest about the time that you are going to take to finish the project, and factor in an extra bit of time for those unexpected roadblocks that always seem to come up.  In my case, I have two children that always seem to have either some event, sport, or will come down sick at the worst possible time.  I generally factor in an extra few days for these unexpected items and if I don’t need this extra time, the customer is pleasantly surprised to receive their item early.
Special order work is a different type of business from the traditional “make it and list it” business.  While custom work can help your business to grow and tap new markets, it is additional work and sometimes frustrating.  Before you dive into this arena, be honest with yourself about your working style and take the time to consider the cost and time involved before accepting a special request order.  If you do this, both you and your customers will be happier…and a happy customer is a repeat customer!

Just click on the pictures above to see more about each product!

Teacher Gift Pendant

Carnelian and Unakite Hammered Heart Silver Filled Teardrop Earrings

Wooden Dog Birthday Card Happy Birthday Childrens birthday Kids Cards

Butterfly Happy Birthday Card in Browns Embossed Butterfly

Dimensional Butterfly Shaped Note Card in Soft Greens

Black and White Thinking of You Butterfly Card

Floral Happy Birthday Card in Lavender and White

Music Lovers Treble Clef Pendant

Hermit Crabs hang around necklace gift for her

stretchy bracelet of magnesite beads in many colors

Chandelier Fushia Crystal Teardrop earrings with Rose Swarovski crystals

Glass Pearl and Czech Glass Necklace

Butterfly Dreamcatcher Earrings

Butterfly Dreamcatcher Earrings

10 Inch anklet

10 Inch Anklet

Marshmellow Charm_Polymer Clay Charm

Silver Filled Ring Amethyst

Cookie Charm_ Polymer Clay Charm

Star Dreamcatcher Earrings

Star Dreamcatcher Earrings

Beautiful Fashion Scarf Pink Lavender Silk Cotton and Wool Felt Scarves and Wraps

Milk Charm_Polymer Clay Charm

Chocolate Cookie Charm_Polymer Clay Charm

BB032 Classy Black Crystal Flower Bracelet PDF TUtorial

Stretchy bracelet of Mother of Pearl and Cats Eyes herat beads

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Taking Care of Your Tools

Taking Care of Your Tools
Good Morning,
Today I thought we would look at taking care of the equipment and implements we use in our work, creations and art.
The other day as I sat down to work on a ring, this happened. Oops!
Broken engraver
The plastic casing has broken, and wires are exposed, the small piece of metal that acts as a connector / conductor has pulled away from the housing and is lost.  This tool is very broken, and no longer safe to use. I have had this tool for about eight years and never thought to look inside, a little maintenance may have averted the need to purchase a new one.

Not only is it necessary to keep your most important tools, your hands, healthy, it is also important to keep the implements and equipment you use healthy as well.
Once a month check you tools.  Really look at them, evaluate their health and assess the best way to repair or give the tool some much-needed attention.  Is something broken or starting to wear or fray?  Are there nicks, chips, divots, dings, or other things that may prevent you from achieving that perfect look or other task you are attempting while creating your goods?
If so, you may want to think about replacing or perhaps repairing them.
A simple sheet of sand paper can be used to polish pliers’ jaws and the heads of your hammers.  This removes surface imperfections that may mar or interfere with the finish of your piece.
If your tool is battery operated, take the batteries out after you Battery Packhave finished using your tool.  Store the batteries in cool dry place, or tuck them in your refrigerator.  If your tool has a battery or power pack be sure to charge it regularly, a low battery charge may force your equipment to work harder than it has to and may damage the internal mechanism of the tool.
When possible tools should be kept away from each other, this eliminates much of the wear and tear on tools you are not using; they won’t bang in to and damage each other.  Try to dust your tools during the inspection, little bits of this and that can gum up the joints or movable parts and damage the tool or cause it not to work properly.
Inexpensive plastic cases can be purchased, or plastic containers from your favorite Deli or Market can also be used as storage.  Clean them out and place your tools inside.  Keep the lid and you can keep them dust free.
Keep your tools in good working order and they will last you a lifetime.
~The Alchemists Vessel

Friday, March 8, 2013

Featured Artist Ann of Brushes with a View

Featured Artist Ann of Brushes with a View
There is something so special about giving and receiving handmade gifts. The thought, the time, the effort to create a one of a kind treasure for a special friend or family member makes the gift so much more. In one case, this desire to give a friend a personal gift led down a road she never planned on going.
Ann is an outgoing mother of 3, two of whom are in college and one still at home as well as a widow of 7 years.  She is currently a full time stay at home mom who calls herself a jack of all trades; everything from electrical, to plumbing, to general fixer upper.  After all, a single mom has to do it all!
Ann has painted off and on for many years starting with wood yard signs way back when.  When she discovered that you can paint on glass it opened up an entirely new medium for her.  Ann started off small by putting a few of her pieces in a friend’s local bakery and was shocked when customers actually wanted to place special orders for her work!  Since then, Ann has sold at local craft fairs and is slowly getting her name out around town and soon Brushes with a View was born.
sunflower irish coffee mugsOne of her favorite types of sales are those custom orders!  She loves the idea of taking a customer’s idea and making it come to life on glass.  The reaction of her customers is always happiness when they see their ideas become a reality thanks to Ann’s talent with paint.
As much as Ann loves to sell her work face to face, she admits that having people question her pricing is one of the less enjoyable moments.  Rather than let that frustrate her, however, she pleasantly explains the process of painting on glass and how it is different from traditional painting.  Once this conversation takes place, people are often much more understanding of the pricing and more understanding of the process that goes into it.
Ann has learned a lot while getting her budding business up and running and is happy to pass on a bit of advice for those looking to sell their own handmade work.  Her most important piece of advice is to do your homework!  Read as much as possible and learn everything you can about your medium and about internet selling.  Ann happily reports that she is learning more every day!
Handpainted wine glassesSo, are you ready to see what this feisty mother of 3 can do with paint and a plain glass?  Brushes with a View is easy to find on HandmadeArtists as well as on Etsy.  You can also Tweet with her on Twitter and follow her daily activities on Facebook.