Saturday, December 29, 2012

Creative Highlights from 2012

I thought it would be fun to review some of my favorite projects from 2012. Looking over my blog posts from the last year, I'm happy to say it was fun and creative!

I was honored again to be selected for the Women In Glass issue of The Flow for one of my eye beads featuring the silvered glass eye murrini of  my friend Janel Dudley

I also won a photo contest sponsored by Archipeligo Botanicals to support breast cancer with this photo of my sister:

The bestie, her sister, a family friend and I planned our niece's wedding. I had a lot of fun making props for the photo booth and pulling off a most elegant wedding! Beading this ballerina (still in progress in this pic) for the candy table was most rewarding:


Which leads me to the most sentimental bead of the year:

That heart was made from the champagne bottle used to toast the nuptials. I framed it for the bride and groom with a story for them. The whole post is here.

Speaking of sentiment, I made a record number of Memorial beads... far more than shared here. For some of my customers, the memories are too fresh and painful so I don't even ask if I may share. Others...something magical just happens and I feel so blessed to have been a part of that grief process. (I have one of those to share.... but, you'll have to wait til next year!) While this work takes a lot out of me emotionally.... I'm SUCH a sensitive redhead... it is the MOST rewarding.

I found several color combinations that I simply adore this year. The Rio Party series was just plain fun and I had to make a necklace for myself:

My other favorite is from the Uptown Girl series... I just love the red and black with a little sparkle:


But my all time favorite bead of 2012 is this bent bead made in Kim Neely's Ether colors:

It was a challenging and creative year and I'm hoping that 2013 is  even more so and hopefully a little more profitable!

Happy New Year to all of you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas

I've planned and started at least three posts since my last one! But with the holidays bearing down upon me, there's no time to finish anything...

So, I'll wish you all a very Merry Christmas instead!

Nutcracker Cookie Bouquet featuring Sweet Stampen's food Safe Rubber Stamps

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Hanukkah from Sweet Stampen

I haven't done a rubber stamping post in a while so I thought I would just show off our San Diego area teacher's Hanukkah Cookie Bouquet featuring Sweet Stampen's food safe rubber stamps.

Happy Hanukkah Everyone!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fresh Glass 12/4

Nothing terribly exciting here in the sense that most of this is spoken for. Two prototypes for memorial beads which will be donated to Beads of Courage, a gold button for a shirt I bought and a giant BHB for an ongoing jewelry project. Last, but not least... a color test that will most likely end up in an orphan sale!  Still, it was a fun, productive torch session for me! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fresh Glass - 11/30

I'm enjoying a real creative high lately!  Yes, that bead really is that purple / pink / mauve in real life!!!

Hope you have a peachy wonderful weekend!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fresh Glass 11/28 | Last Day of Sale

 Please excuse the icky pic today... we've got five days of rain coming in and the lighting is just craptacular without our California sunshine!  It feels so good to be producing again... even if it's just color and size tests!  I adore the little bent bead (stuck on a mandrel for the purposes of this pic). I was kinda surprised at the color reactions in that one. And the long skinny purple... the glass in the middle of that bead is notoriously green for me.  But it reacted with the purple and turned PINK! Fun stuff for sure! 

 I am deliriously happy today over Dancing with the Stars. Our family friend Tony Dovolani finally got a mirrored ball trophy! I screamed so much last night, that a cuppa hot tea and the gentle flames of the torch seem like a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.

And today is the last day of the last ever Thanksgiving Sale!  Ends tonight at 11:59pm PST

Regular deals:

  • 15% off anything in my Etsy store coupon code THANKS15
  • 20% beads and jewelry on HollysFolly coupon code THANKS20
  • 25% off rubber stamps including anything on our vast sale page. Enter News25 in comments. Deduction taken after checkout!

Fan status will be verified!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fresh Glass 11/26 | Sale!

Fresh Glass... feels so good! Been too busy to torch so I was thrilled to find a little time to color test a new batch of glass. Still not sure I'm getting the best results....  But I love the oval bead with a tiny bit of Gaia in it! And the big ring!

And the sale goes on... Ends Wednesday 11:59pm PST

Regular deals:
  • 15% off anything in my Etsy store coupon code THANKS15
  • 20% beads and jewelry on HollysFolly coupon code THANKS20
  • 25% off rubber stamps including anything on our vast sale page. Enter News25 in comments. Deduction taken after checkout!

Fan status will be verified!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

OK, Here's the Deal

So here's the holiday deals:
  • 15% off anything in my Etsy store coupon code THANKS15
  • 20% beads and jewelry on HollysFolly coupon code THANKS20
  • 25% off rubber stamps including anything on our vast sale page. Enter News25 in comments. Deduction taken after checkout!
Fan status will be verified!

Sale ends 11:59 pm 11/28 Wednesday! 

Craft Supplies and Beads on Ebay: I've been a busy bee cleaning out my stamp room and my bead bowl on Ebay. I'm taking a break over the holiday weekend but urge you to check in there after the sale.Ebay shop link

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Rubber Stamped Cookie Bouquet designed by Carole Busse

It's been a busy week getting food color out to our restaurant chain customer! Add in that I took a nasty fall at the creek and tweaked my back and...well, it dawns on me that I haven't released any info about holiday sales. Patience my friend! TODAY is for relaxing and family and chosen family and good food and NOTHING else!

There's plenty of time for all that other stuff...later!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Grrrrr! Purrrr!

It's funny the things I find in my bead bowl. Last week I discovered a whole set of Tiger beads and a gorgeous long skinny Tiger focal I had apparently saved for myself for some project(?) a long time ago!  Now, I have no idea what they were for! So they are moving to the glass bead website starting today!

I have a dear friend in town and will be running the streets a bit next week. He seems to be my only "see-a-great-art-film-and-try-a-new-restaurant" buddy and it's nice to get out of the shop and see the world once every six months or so. I will be shipping every day though!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fusing Class Photos

I thought it would be fun to see some of my students work. People are always fascinated by the before and after shots of fused glass.

This is shelf one before fusing:

Shelf one after:

Shelf two  - note that some of my lampwork beads that broke are on here. Before:

Shelf two - check out how much that cross bead (upper right) melted! And note the color shift of the bottom left piece! After:

Monday, November 5, 2012


My last few torch sessions have been a lesson for me in what I can do.  Sometimes a customer makes a request and my first instinct is.. "I can't do that."

And then I stew on it for a bit... grousing about the lost work...wondering what people see in my art that makes them think I can do anything...feeling like I have no skills at all.

Months can go by. Then one day, it just hits me.

"Try it," that little voice whispers.

"But I can't, " I whine.

"Just try. See what happens... you never know," it pleads.

"NO!" I argue.

"TRY IT!!!" it screams.

And so it goes until it hits me at just the right time.

One customer asked me to make a cross. I've never made one; don't have the commercial press that is available for crosses. And that voice said, "How did they make them before there were presses?"

I gave a surprisingly technical answer! Which made me realize, I DO know how to make a cross. And so I did. I loved it! Unfortuantely, my hiking buddy called just as I was fire polishing and ... it cracked. But, I know I can do it... and I can do it again!

The other bead someone inspired me to stretch and create was a small, TINY version of my breast cancer goddess beads. I simply told her...I don't do small beads. Then I was making scads of boobies for a custom order last week. I got distracted and added WAY too much glass to the mandrel. Normally, I will pick small amounts off to deal with volume control issues. But it was a bit too much for that. So I started to think about what I could make with that smallish blob of ivory on my mandrel.

And there was that voice again, "Try it!"

So with nothing to lose but time, I tried a small goddess! And she's so cute!

She is for sale, made to order, in my Etsy shop.

I'm very thankful for customers that push me to try new things. They are a tremendous asset when my muse is otherwise occupied!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pantone Colors of Spring

Glass Beads in the Pantone Colors of Spring 2013

The colors of spring 2013 according to the color people at Pantone are:

Emerald, Dusk Blue, Grayed Jade, Tender Shoots, Lemon Zest, African Violet, Linen,  Monaco Blue, Poppy Red and Nectarine. This set is my interpretation in glass lampwork beads.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What a Week!

I've been kinda quiet here, thanks to a "what was I thinking?" issue with my teaching schedule. Yes, folks, the gal to travels and teaches for a large part of her living managed to book herself 3 classes in 6 days! O.M.G!!!!!! It's no wonder I'm running around like a drunk chicken!
There ARE new beads... just no time to list! 

Wanna take a ride on the magic carpet of my last week? Hold ON!
  • Wednesday - Wire Wrap I class...  dashing out the door, check email. Spot an order from a customer who orders lots of fondant  every year. Fondant...hmmm. OMG! FONDANT... of the truck load of supplies needed for cookie class, I have forgotten about fondant! Call vendor and place an order on the way to class. Whew! Thank you Universe!
  • Thursday - need to bake cookies for cookie class but enrollment keeps fluctuating. Distractions calls from customers, emails about custom stamp plates, promoting a photo that's a finalist in a breast cancer awareness contest, monitor online contest promoting shelter adoptions. Decide to make use of ebay's last day of free listings instead of prepping for class. 71 items listed... Great.
  • Friday - MUST BAKE COOKIES! Bake enough for class + demo + 2 extra sets in case of walkins. Clean up and realize that Monday's class is small enough, one more batch might buy some downtime on Sunday. Land a custom bead order from repeat customer. Do the happy dance. Pack cookie kits to sell, load up all the store items, vases, silk flowers, money box, ipad, and kitchen tools. Get ready for bed. Realize there are no Hershey's kisses to make rosebuds for the cookie bouquets. Go to the grocery store in a bathrobe.
  • Saturday - Leave for class at 8:15 - Unload, set up store items, kitchen work area, flower arranging work area and painting area. Teach and sell. Clean up / load up and home. Beg the dog for a night off... No luck... maybe the hike will make the back pain stop screaming. No, it doesn't. Collapse in a puddle on the sofa. The phone rings. Can't move. It rings again and again. Look  at caller i.d. IT'S A CUSTOMER. At 9 pm on a Saturday. WTH? Check messages...nothing urgent. Reprogram call forwarding. 
  • Sunday - Back pain dominates. Breakfast with the bestie who's been out of town. Major exciting household finds at the thrift shop afterwards! Lunch with the hiking buddy. Feeling guilty, make the beads for the custom order. Check emails and messages and find that the same customer has now called about her non urgent issues a total of 12 times in less than 24 hours, leaving an actual message 7 times. On a Sunday! Decide to put her on the back burner until Monday.
  • Monday - Repack sold items in store kits. Call anxious customer. She adds LOTS of items to the order going out. Fell guilty for not responding on Sunday. Get angry for feeling guilty for wanting a little quiet time. Find out my photo won the contest! Pack orders, pick up assistant (the bestie), unload and realize 30 minutes before class on box of crucial items is missing - still in the driveway. So is the ipad... can't take credit cards. Race home - get to class 10 minutes late. UGH! Home by 10 - glad all classes went well! 
  • Tuesday - Try to pack the anxious one's order, realize one item is out of stock. Call local-ish vendor to verify their stock. On the way out the door, the bestie calls - tickets to Dancing with the Stars TONIGHT! Spend an hour and a half running errands toward the vendor. Realize vendor doesn't have item you need and curse the whole drive home. Electrical contractor who has promised to show up for two weeks is at the shop... asking questions, needing input. Can't press rubber...he's in the way. No orders can ship and the studio call is now an hour earlier than expected! Race to get dressed in decent clothes and realize there was no lunch! Enjoy the show, dinner with friends. Home exhausted and ready for bed at 8pm.
 This is the photo of my sister that won the Archipelago Botanicals Contest! So excited... she will be getting all kinds of goodies from them!

Today, shipping MUST resume in the shop!  There's rubber to press... did I mention - I've manage to run out of rubber??? OY!

I hope to come up for air in a day or two... that is  after shipping 10 packages of dog prizes from the Creekhiker blog and dealing with those 71 listings on ebay! Er - Maybe it'll be another week....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rubber Stamp Convention Underway / Ebay

Whew! What a busy week this has been! I wanted to show off some new beads... and never got to it! No, Ebay was having a free listing week! I cleaned out the craft room, stamp shop and some glass bead bowls and listed 71 items for free! Whoo Hooo... I wish they would just do that all the time! Like they don't make enough taking 12% between charges charges fees and Paypal!

And I wanted to mention that the Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention on Rubber Stamp Chat is underway!

My offerings over there are:

Sweet Stampen / Museum of Modern Rubber
Convention Deals

1) Save 10% off any Sweet Stampen images and accessories. Sale also applies to our STUFFED Rubber Stamps on Sale Category... many stamps there below wholesale!

2) We have NEVER had a sale on Museum of Modern Rubber stamps...until NOW!
We are offering the following images used to make our Cake Boxes and our Gingerbread Housebox projects 10% off including the templates! The stamps, shown below for these projects include: Icing Shingles, Cake Texture / Stucco, Swirls, Candy Cane, Cornelli Lace, Frosting Swirls, Gumdrop, Peppermint, Frosting Star, Candle, Cupcake, Rose Trio, & Icing Window.
These are the ONLY MoMR images that are part of this sale.

3) I would like to remind you that we are having a HUGE wood mount sale already. These are ONLY listed here and on our Fan Page and are marked down more than 50% already and the sale rate APPLIES! These are limited to supplies on hand!

4) Fan Page Members save an additional 5%

5) Free shipping on orders over $75. Fans get free shipping on orders over $50!

  • Shop the Sweet Stampen site and check out over there.
  • Enter RSC in the comments section so that I can give you your discount when I run your card in the shop. (Our cart does NOT bill your card!)
  • If you are a FAN PAGE MEMBER, you will get an additional 5% off! Enter FAN in the comments box.
  • If you want any of the wood mounts, please list them in the comments box as well!
  • I will email you a total before charging your card.
I'm not the only shop having a virtual booth over there! 16 other vendors have sales posted with anywhere from 10 to 50% off on select items, free shipping... etc. Lots of goodies to be found!  So don't wag your tail! Get over there!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention

Mark you calendars! The Fall Virtual Rubber Stamp Convention will be held over on Rubber Stamp Chat Forum from October 25th - 29th!!  If you into rubber stamping at all, you should be a member over there! Lots of discounts and specials!

Sweet Stampen will be offering 10% over there with an additional 5% if you are our fan page members! We also being offering discounts on select limited supply wood mounts ONLY on the RSC site. And... we will offer a sale for the first time EVER on select Museum of Modern Rubber images!

Other anticipated vendors are: Beeswax Rubber Stamps, I Brake for Stamps, Viva Las Vegastamps, Queen Kat Designs, Red Rubber Designs, Mad Rat Rubber and more!!! Be sure to check it OUT!

Now, if there are any dog lovers reading along... there's going to be a giveaway for PUPS on my Creekhiker blog later today!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So, in the aftermath of discovering glass bead "artists" selling their work for Chinese wages, what's next???

Well, the truth is I don't know. I've spent most of the last several weeks deeply depressed. It's not just that beads aren't isn't either. At least not the high end stuff that I love to make beads for.

Pendants that were for part of a custom order

Midas Wages & Walmart Shoppers

I lost my best repeat customer this year. After buying my beads and those of many other artisan beadmakers for years, she started selling her jewelry. Make that... attempting to sell.

While I found her jewelry designs to be some of the most unique, fun, edgy and amazing stuff I've ever seen... the way she combined materials would blow my mind... within weeks, she found her prices being criticized.

Mind you, she was using huge glass bead focals that run around $50 bucks and usually a nice set costing $50 - $60 in her work, adding in antique beads, fine metal findings and not to mention her precious time designing. I felt in the end she was only recouping her costs plus maybe an hour of her time at a fair wage, which, considering the cost of her materials, she should have been charging MORE.

But many told her they would only be willing to pay $30 - $50 for one of her gorgeous necklaces! Even when she explained the quality of the materials used, the opinion was still the same. So what did she do??? She shut down her Etsy shop, packed up all her beads and supplies and gave them to a friend!

This was supposed to be fun... a way to relieve stress and maybe make a little money. Not a thing to cause stress and be criticized!

Doesn't that just seem to sum up the times we live in? Everyone wants to be paid like King Midas but we all want that deal.

 The gorgeous "Barbie Bead" was also part of that custom order

The Get It Cheaper Effect

Have you ever thought about how Walmart sells for less??? It's not simply that they buy in, they manipulate in volume. Michael's does something similar which is how they can afford those 40% off coupons. Walmart goes to -  say a vacuum company that sells their vacuums wholesale for - say $75 and says to them, "We're going to buy 100,000 of your vacuums but we're only going to pay you $64."

The vacuum company doesn't simply just take a cut on, they go to each and every supplier: the plastic mold maker, the nuts and screws people,  motor designers and (the scary part for me) the electric cord makers. The vacuum company does the same thing to each of them and says, "I'll take 100K units but, you gotta make it for 13% LESS."

To me, copper wire can only be so thin before it all blows up! As vendors, I'm sure they feel they are giving us a quality product at a great value. But as consumers, don't we all feel it??? Things break more often. The price of bleach goes up and container gets smaller... same with ice cream and sausage!

There is some illusion that things are the same, but they are not.

Color shifting glass beads are some of my faves. Sold this made to order set out of the blue last week!

Make Quality, Make it Better

I think the thing that hurt so much in finding someone I once thought highly of is selling her beads so cheaply is... our beads are the same. No, not the same same... we have different styles. But as first world artisans, the best argument we had against buying cheaper crap was: the glass is not annealed for strength, it will break; the beads are not cleaned and will muck up the the other beads and the stringing material, and often the skills were lacking in Chinese beads.

But with an American artist selling for Chinese wages, when I know she anneals her work and cleans her beads and her skills are just fine... well, it HURTS!

And while I hadn't torched in almost two months thanks to my depression, when I lit up the baby the other day, I was happy. I was excited. So no, I'm not gonna give this up.

As I sat there at the flame, trying two new ideas suggested by customers, I realized my skills had changed. This often happens to me when I'm away from the torch for a while. You would think my skills might deteriorate... but like so many breaks before... I found I was BETTER! My work was more delicate and the glass just flowed... I only made two beads... but they were the two I set out to make and they came out exactly as the vision in my head!

I realized I'm not going to lower my prices and play her game. If someone wants my beads, they better be willing to part with some paper. And isn't it strange how during this time of re-grouping and re-thinking my art, I landed my biggest custom order ever and the biggest order to a customer out of the blue??? Two huge orders just when I need a little validation! Wow!

But Stuff Isn't Selling

Nope it's not... But I'm still not willing to give my work away. I have a bottom line....which has helped form  my plan. I'm not going to list my beads ad infinitum on Etsy, save for made to order designs.  I'm still using them for their powerful SEO and I'm using Facebook and Ebay the same way. From now on, my sales order goes like this:

  • Preview on Fan page w/ 10% discount (no listing, html or multiple photos required)
  • Regular items to my glass bead website
  • Timely / holiday items to Etsy
  • Regular items posted to Etsy after time on HollysFolly
  • Two - three rotations through Etsy and move on to Ebay
  • Items not sold on Ebay = donated to Beads of Courage
If I have to give my beads away, they are going to children and a charity that desperately needs them! Not to people too cheap to pay for quality!  I'm happy about that!

In the Meantime

I still need a job... at least a part time one. I'm terribly torn... my stamp business actually makes money in the fall and I need to be around for all the last minute restaurant orders that fly in! So, I think full time is not going to work. Of course I could always hire someone to pack orders if need be. Having money again would mean I could throw money at my problem...

I have a teaching certificate for grade school. I got it two years ago, just as my school district went through major layoffs and a hiring freeze... my timing is always impeccable...NOT!  But I've started teaching at a nearby town's community center. Driving there, I suddenly realized my little mountain community that is part of Los Angeles, is surrounded by THREE other school districts and they all need subs!

So, I'm polishing up the teaching section of my resume. And I'm also trying to pick up more jewelry design classes at other community colleges and craft / glass shops.

While these last few weeks have been so challenging, I realize I can only be good at what I do. I can't worry about what others do. I have a plan.I can only keep putting one foot in front of the other!

And if you are still with me on this journey... THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Fallout

 Dark Waters - Custom order

I had promised an update two weeks ago... and got sidelined by a nasty fever AND a severe tummy ache from recalled almond butter! Oy! What a two weeks it's been!

I was amazed at the outpouring of support for my last post...mostly private... because so many didn't want to post publicly and appear "unsupportive of women." I also was ripped to shreds by many who didn't get the point. I'm always amazed that someone can read an article that has nothing to do with them or their business and still think it's about them.  They can't just read it and think "well, I pay myself a fair wage and account for my materials so this isn't about ME." I also got ripped for using such broad and general language... but I intended to be controversial to make a point. It's just sad to me that people can't read between the lines.

The most common thing said to me is I should try to be more helpful. I shouldn't be so hurtful and call them names. Excuse me but I need a laughter break! REALLY??? Let me see, I work about 18 hours a day running two failing businesses and teaching, looking for a "real" job for four years, taking freelance gigs when they come along. My house is a wreck and the dog needs to be fed and walked daily, as do I. My sister is dying from metastasized breast cancer and my mom is 90. There is so little left at the end of my day and yet, I'm supposed to find time to help IDIOTS who clearly don't care about themselves much less their impact on the marketplace??? WOW!

Let me just say that I didn't become a television producer at the tender age of 30 because I was warm and fuzzy. No, I'm direct as speeding bullet. And the one thing that pisses me off is that, because I am a woman, I am expected / told / ordered to be "softer." What bullshit! If a man gets to the point and says what he thinks, NO ONE says a word. But let a woman do it... I come from a long line of direct women. Women who held "male" positions with national corporations. And the one thing I've learned from these women is that when someone hurts me and my business, I want to punch and HARD... not give someone a hug and thank them for destroying my business.

It just says to me that the people who think this didn't really read the article... there is lots of good pricing info in there...

Bottom line, I write for me. I just do it publicly.  If someone wants to make a tender loving supportive post for women who want to earn less than two bucks an hour, they can do that on their blog.

But on my blog, I call those women, as well as men who don't value their time, stupid. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Old Fresh Glass

These have been sitting in my kitchen window for weeks...hence the title. That long awaited update??? Coming Monday! I promise!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Women Are Too Stupid to Run a Business?

Yes, I am a woman and yes, today I feel that way. Maybe not ALL women, but a Godawful lot of  them most certainly are too stupid for their own good and certainly have no idea how to run a business.

What has set me off is pricing on Etsy. I have long suspected that my lack of sales is largely due to my prices. This week that reality slapped me upside the head TWICE.

Needing something to list for my PromoFrenzy Team's New Listing Thursday activity, I moved one of my made to order sets over to Etsy, keeping it on my site for the same price, but adding few bucks to cover the Etsy fees over there.  I sell this set for $56 or $8 a bead:

I feel that that is a fair price for the set considering the time, skill and materials involved. The set made a big splash, getting lots of hits and into two treasuries that day! As I perused one of them... clicking on all the lovely items to support the treasury, I noticed that much higher up in this treasury was another set of rainbow big hole beads. They were not as nice as mine and there was one less bead. But the maker was selling them on a chain (my Pandora bracelet is only used as a prop.) and they were $22 LESS! OUCH!

Then the next day, a beadmaker I know fairly well... we belonged to the same artisan beadmaking group... casually mentioned on Facebook that she returned home from a trip to orders for 64 big hole beads!  SIXTY FOUR! I've never sold 64 of anything! So I go to her Etsy, the only place she sells. She sells her big hole beads for $5 plain, $6 decorated and, get this, $7.50 for a set of FIVE! Somebody explain the math on that one! 

Breaking it down....

Let's just take a look at that, shall we? Many of the better-known glass workers I know feel that charging a dollar a minute of torch time is a fair price. But in recent years, I know many, myself included, have cut that in HALF...

Glass: My beads of that size weigh about a gram apiece. So five grams of glass and the cheapest glass is around 9.60 a pound.  9.60/ 453(grams / pound) = .02 per gram. Add in the breakage / popping to be generous. So we'll say the glass cost her 15 cents.

Kiln:  My kiln uses 1.4 kilowatts / hour  and runs for 12 hour cycle when I make beads for a total of 16.8 kilowatts. and I know from looking at my ginormous electric bill that I spend 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour + a 10% surcharge / bend over fee to the great shitty of Los Angeles, so we'll call that 14.63 cents x 16.8 kilowatts =  $2.46 per session to run the kiln.  Boy, that took a chunk out of her profit!

Cleaning: Once cool, the beads are soaked in warm water and cleaned with an electric dremel with a diamond bit. Let's just say the electricity and water cost is negligible... 2 cents.

Listing fee: .20
Sales fee: .23
PayPal: .22 + .30 = .52

So far, that set of beads for $7.50 has cost our artist 3.58 for a profit of 3.92. But we have not considered several things here. 

Tools... Glass tools are VERY pricey but I'm going with the bare minimum here to make those beads.  Granted, they can be used over and over but they still have to be bought and often replaced!
  • Mandrels: 1.66 per mandrel. This makes the bead hole and you use one per bead or maybe two beads if you rock your heat control.
  • Kiln - digital kilns start at $700
  • Tweezers  $10 To move glass around when you have a little too much on one side and not enough on the other. 
  • Donut mold- $60   Ensures consistency in sets.
  • Decent camera - at least $200
I'm not including a computer since that seems to be a given for selling online but... what about photo editing software??   We've got close to a thousand dollar investment in those beads and it seems only fair to say a buck of those beads should go into "overhead."  So now we are down to a profit of 2.92 for her most precious investment...

Making the beads 5 x 5 - 7 minutes each. Let's say six. 30 minutes
Cleaning:  8 minutes
Photography: 10 minutes
Editing: 10 minutes
Description Writing: 10 minutes

That's an hour and eight minutes assuming everything goes according to plan... For $2.58 an hour (2.92 / 68 minutes = 2.58) , I'm wondering if I should call her state's labor board and report her for slave wages??? 

While that is the bottom line, she's still not considering other factors... My God, we play with FIRE. It's dangerous. It's also a costly skill to learn. I've spent thousands on my education in books and classes and tutorials! What part of that 2.58 an hour is she putting back into her education to keep her business and skills growing???  China pays on average 1.36 an hour... so I guess she's just trying to keep an eye on her competition!

How it should be...
Let's look at those same costs:

3.58 raw materials costs. Every pricing study I've ever read says you should be charging three times raw costs + overhead + labor = retail sales price. But as artist we also have to allow for wholesale! 

I would say 25% of the materials  cost is a fair overhead fee and according to our Bureau of Labor Statistics the median income for an artist in this country is 27.91 which seems a bit high to me so I'll round down to 23.00

3.58 materials + 25% materials  .90 for overhead  + labor 26.07 (1 hour 8 minutes)  = 30.55 is the WHOLESALE price of those beads!

If we were calculating for actual retail, that price would be 30.55 x 2.5 (conservative) = 76.37 making my $56 seem like a bargain!

But we're not in the real world. We're in Etsyland....

That's not all folks...

I know from this woman's post that her big order will take her four days based on the tools she owns. Let's assume that 60 of those beads are  12 sets sold at  7.50 and 8 are singles for $6. That's $138 dollars - Etsy's portion 8.14 and Paypal $8.50. Her takeaway before considering costs is 121.36 for nearly a week's work. Can YOU make that little and survive??? I can't.

But then, she's had over 700 sales on Etsy. I probably haven't had 200 on Etsy / Artfire and my own site. Would I be better off with some money instead of none???

So, how do you compete with STUPID WOMEN??? Women who call it a "hobby business" or who have husbands that support them and "just want to make enough to buy materials?" I've read more than one article where the powers that be at Etsy feel that as much as 60 and up to 70% of items on the site are UNDER-PRICED! And yet these stupid women still persist and it hurts everyone!  And the fact is, it will not change!

I'm not worth that much...

Why won't it change??? Because glass beads is field dominated by women and WOMEN ARE STUPID!

A family member of mine is an educator. He has managed oil field operations and has been a politician but sports and education are his heart. When I was a teen and we were loading kids up to go to some event, a group of moms started chatting with us and the subject of how little we pay our teachers came up. My relative simply nodded and said, "Yes, teachers will always be underpaid because the field is dominated by women." 

The mothers in that group gasped audibly and started to get defensive when  he added... "Women always undervalue their time."

Back to that buck a minute scenario mentioned above: A dear friend of mine offers her beautiful intricate beads for way too cheap! When I asked her her formula for pricing, she admitted she charged  about 26 and hour or about .43 a minute and she felt that was high but she discounts her beads to anyone spending over $100! She felt she was high to anyone wanting just one set! When I asked her about the sage advice of our leading bead-makers, she actually said to me, "I don't think I'm worth $60 an hour!"

Phah!!! NOT WORTH THAT MUCH??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? She wasn't. 

Well, this chickadee has made as much $150 an hour in previous careers (that are ageist and I cannot return to...) and you know what??? I WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY AND MORE!

And I truly wish EVERY woman would begin to realize what she is worth. You know those government surveys that come out every year itemizing how much someone would pay to do all the things a woman does around the house, cooking, cleaning, driving kids, etc.? It's always some tremendous number. Most women I know poo-poo that. But we shouldn't. WE are ALL worth so much MORE! 

The bottom line...
I'm not willing to cut my prices. And I'm not going to give my beads away.  I'm single, live alone and have a mortgage. And I'm NOT too stupid to run a business like many of my fellow artisans apparently are. I'm stepping up my job search. The writing is on the wall. I cannot make a living doing this, I can't compete with idiots and simply must move on.

I will still teach and my plan does involve beadmaking... but you'll have to read about that tomorrow.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fighting eBay for My Own Copyright

The last three weeks have provided a painful lesson in copyrights. I have been cleaning out some production over runs in the stamp shop by selling them off on eBay - with even cheaper prices on my rubber stamp website. And they sell there on eBay (Always do your research before buying there and check out your sellers... they probably offer the same item cheaper elsewhere!) which is fine. I charge enough there to pay my eBay fees and make a little more than I do on my site.

It all started last year when I got several large wholesale orders in a row from a studio in New York. I have a policy against selling my stamps below retail on eBay. It makes it hard for other retailers to compete and wholesale orders fall off and so do my retail ones. Much to my surprise, I started getting emails from customers finding my stamps there. I looked and found it was this customer in NY! And she was barely selling over wholesale, clearing trying to just cover her eBay fees and cost of the stamps! And... she was using my images and text from my project sheets!

I yelled, I emailed; we went back and forth. I couldn't afford to buy the stamps back from her only to have them sit here. At the time, my thinking was, let her sell them...she won't get any more! But I had no idea what that would do to the rights to my own images and text  further down the line!

Times being what they are and wholesale orders being non-existent and the fact that I have thousands of images made by the previous owner sitting here, I decided to sell them myself on eBay. Some money is better than none, right?

And then the trouble: 

Three weeks ago, I got a notice that two of my auctions were being pulled due to copyright violation. Wha???? I thought it was that I had copied the auction format from a customer of mine who had been sellign the same stamps on eBay against my wholesale policy... I checked and I had accidentally linked to her auctions. My bad... I fixed it and relisted the stamps.  And they got pulled again.

Each time I would call eBay and get the Trust and Safety Dept in the Philippines (although they are not allowed to tell you they are in the Philippines). I was told I was violating a copyright but given no information about what exactly I was doing wrong. I looked over the html file for my auctions and assumed that because I was linking to MY OWN website (I needed a web address of an image so that my customers can see the image while reading about it and not have to scroll up to see the pics... one of my pet peeves with eBay.). So, I moved the image to Picassa and relisted it... and again it was pulled.

I uploaded new images: one of the recipe stamped on a cookie and one straight from my catalog in black and white... and it got pulled again! I got Trust & Safety Philippines again. This time the idiot told me that since someone had used MY image on eBay before, I could not use it!???? That's like saying, "Since John Smith sold an iphone on eBay first, NO ONE can ever sell one again with a photo of an iphone!" The logic defies reason!
Our rubber is a food grade and can be used to stamp on pastry.

 Over two weeks in, I finally managed to be connected to Trust & Safety in Utah. Sweet Mother of God! America has tech support! There I finally got the truth.

"Someone" claimed I was using both their image and text.  I was certain this all led back to the customer in New York. But she had no product to sell... so WHO would make such a claim??? While Trust and Safety Utah would not tell me, I suspect it was a large auction hosting service who my customer uses to list her auctions. Regardless, they've made my last three weeks very difficult!

Because the text was also part of the complaint, no matter how many times I changed the photos, I had to change the text too. I pointed out that the text was stolen from me as well as the photo. One of the things the Philippine office had wanted me to do was to write eBay's VeRO to complain my image had been stolen... on an auction over a year old! What good will that do?

I pointed out I had changed the text more than 10%... which is the threshold for copyright law but that it was hard to change it more as we are talking about rubber stamping on cookies, a technique my company invented!  But to list a fall themed stamps, I would deleted the text. Fine! I relisted and took the steps to notify eBay of my legal claim to both the images and the text as advised by the Utah rep.

Fighting for my rights:

I sent eBay Trust & Safety Utah a lenthy fax to prove I was the owner of the images and text in question. It included:

  • The history of the image: who drew it and when, who wrote the recipe on it, who colored it (ME!) using what techniques. (Let the claimant to that image provide all that!)
  • HUGE scan files of the original image I colored in. Anyone with some photo experience knows you can't take a tiny file and make it bigger... it just won't work. The pixels aren't there! By giving them a huge image, they again would have something the claimant could not provide!
  • Bill of sale to the customer in NY, & her eBay user id.
  • A copy of the project sheet where she stole the text. 
While it took a few days, I won my case and my actions are finally up and running. And I'm spending way too much time water marking all the photos on my stamp site so this can never happen again. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rio Ribbed Rounds Necklace

I haven't done an Inside My Jewelry Box post in some time. I really should do more of these as my collection is extensive!

Back in the spring when I was making so many Rio Ribbed Rounds, I knew immediately I had to have some jewelry made from them! I whipped this cathedral length necklace up in an evening using scraps of two of my favorite kinds of chain.

 I just adore heart links:

and cable chain.

Each bead is separated by three inches of chain. I used a variety of vibrant Swarovski crystals to keep the party feel going.

I love the feel of the swinging long chain but, you know I have my klutzy days! I can just picture myself getting it caught on a swinging door or the arbor in my backyard! For those times, I shorten it with a pearl shortener.

I've found this piece to be so versatile in my wardrobe! It's a great design for any combination of beads or stones that work together!

Rio Ribbed Rounds are still being made to order.