Thursday, July 31, 2014

7.31.14 Fresh Glass

I was in a horrible mood not to torch when my head is off. So I took a break and paid commissions and taxes for the quarter.  But hit the torch again this morning! MUCH better day!

This set was made on Sunday... I "thought" someone had asked for a remake of this... I was wrong. So, they'll get worked into the Facebook rotation. I broke one of the ovals taking it off the mandrel yesterday! See?? Good thing I didn't torch!

There's still a bunch of active listings on Facebook. Links on my fan page. Don't forget to comment on the post to enter the drawing!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fresh Glass | New Listings on Facebook

In the fresh glass pic, we have a witch's pumpkin hat, a long skinny gaffer glass focal and more frit beads for the never ending project.... sigh. 
And I have scads of new listings on Facebook...these end / will move early afternoon.

As always, there is a highlighted post on my fan page with links to the groups. And... there's a giveaway... any one who comments on the sales post will be entered into a drawing for a $20 gift certificate next week. Drawing every Tuesday!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fresh Glass 7.28

Yes, the Halloween beading season is looming! My best Korn Kitty ever!  It's so weird when you feel your skill set change!!!  And the Spidy bead is HUGE... If he doesn't find a home, he's going to be my Halloween costume this year! And... still working on those frit beads!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fresh Glass 7.26

I'm SO behind on fresh glass posts! I've got at least three more coming! It's been a lovely week on the torch!

This one features a lovely blown multilayer shell and more spacers from my endless glass spacer bead project!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Are Glass Beads so Expensive?

I wrote this for one of the sales sites on Facebook but decided I should publish here to make it available to all who want it. Feel free to share on your site...with credit, of course!

As makers and sellers of glass beads, we hear it all the time...Why are glass beads so expensive? Well, I'm glad you asked!

Let's take a look at why:

  • Torch - While a beginner torch costs as little as $50... most glassers quickly move on from the hothead as it's loud and the ability to control the oxy flow is intimidating! Oxygen flow is used to develop colors in pricey silver laden glass and controlling that on a hot head involved grabbing the head of the torch with expensive welding gloves!
The next torch up is $188... but depending on model and features (heat and the ability to control it from big and bushy to pin point accuracy), the price can go into the thousands!
  • Cost of Glass - The average big hole donut weighs about a gram. Some larger focals, such as a 1.3" lentil, can weigh 36 grams. 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 and for a single big hole donut, our beadmaker has invested about glass.
But...that's plain glass. Did you know that most glass gets it's color from some type of metal? The price of gold, silver and copper has been on a steady increase for years. And premium glass that we all find so mesmerizing... costs $80 to $100 a pound!  So that same one gram donut made out of premium glass is now around .33... in glass.
  • Kiln Cost - So many don't even calculate this in...but they should! A small 6 x 6 kiln uses 1.4 kilowatts / hour  and runs for 12 hour cycle for a total of 16.8 kilowatts. Your electric bill tells you the cost of kilowatts...Mine is 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour + a 10% surcharge from my city.  That come so 14.63 cents x 16.8 kilowatts =  $2.46 per session to run the kiln.  
  • Fuel Costs - Most of us use propane and oxygen mix torches. A tank of propane can last from a few weeks to a few months depending on output. Prices vary per state but can run from $16 to $26 per five gallon tank. 
Oxygen comes in the form of an oxygen concentrator or in a tank. A small oxy con burns about .46 kilowatts an hour. So lets say our beadmaker torches a full eight hours / 5 days a week: .46 x 8 x 5 =  18.4 kilowatt hours x 13.3 cents = $2.25 spent every 40 hours on the oxy con... And this is a small one. Many lampworkers use a large one or have two networked ones... Meaning that number could be four times higher for some glassers!
 Tanked oxy is $35 per  300 cubic cylinder (about a five foot tall tank) but there are also deposits on tanks ($50) and delivery fees. Again, overall costs vary with size of torch, whether the artist works hot or cold and how many hours a day they work.
  • 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
  • Giveaway Money: Etsy takes 20 cents to list plus a percentage. Ebay takes around 10%. Paypal steals 30 cents plus almost 3%. Yes these are the cost of "doing business" but all selling costs must be factored into the price of the bead! And many bead makers often host giveaways and promotions on their fan pages...trying to get your attention!
  •  Overhead: Yet another thing many artisans never think about. 
    • 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! Most presses that allow for consistency in sizes start at $55 ... EACH.  Bellflower presses are $165
    •  Protective eyewear to see in the flame... $60 and up
    • 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. 
    • Special molding tools- $60 each shape  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."
  •  Time: This is my favorite category because so many of us never pay ourselves a decent wage!  Let's say we're making a set of five of those big hole beads:
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
Promoting: 20 minutes to an hour
That's an hour and eight minutes assuming everything goes according to plan... An hourly wage MUST be attached to this time! And with fast food workers and other unskilled labor demanding $10 an hour, should the time, skill, cost of educating ourselves AND the fact we play with FIRE all demand a decent wage??? 
And then as a "professional beadmaker" or one who is hoping to make a living selling her art, you have to contend with the "hobby beadmaker." With no commentary on skills or quality here because there are many talented hobbyists out there... but the hobby beadmaker is often content to simply "make enough to buy more glass." But in reality, that hurts the market and lowers the wage of the professional. Just as Chinese glass has hurt the pricing structure so has the hobbyists.
 Add in that it is a field dominated by women and, sadly, so many women undervalue their time. There was a time when prices were calculated at $60 / hour of time involved... a buck a minute.  Those days are long gone which is another reason there are so many fabulous glass beads out there, longing for homes.
  • Pricing: That thing we hate to talk about.  But bead makers all need to consider everything above in setting prices! And wholesale... many of us wholesale our beads and that price structure has to be in place before the retail structure!
A good rough formula for any artist is Materials + 25% of Materials costs for Overhead + Labor (for all aspects: making, cleaning, photographing, writing) = WHOLESALE price
Retail is usually double to three times the wholesale price.
So while those fabulous beads may seem pricey, they were made by an artist...with some very real and expensive costs to consider.

Ultimately the responsibility of educating our buyers falls to us...and to them as they must educate their customers as to why the glass bead jewelry costs so much more than  the other jewelry out there. Jewelry designers, like bead makers, are selling miniature works of art. And educating buyers and building an appreciation for the work is the key!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday - Friday Offerings on Facebook

Specials are up... most end around 10 am tomorrow.

I tried something new... I show off my collage photo on my fan page the night before. This actually helps me be more organized for listing on multiple sites... and... I usually sell one or two! It's nice to give the fans first dibs!

CONTEST! I'm now giving away a $20 Gift Cert every week on my fan page. To enter, just comment on any sales post!


THURSDAY  - FRI SALES LINKS - Comments here will count toward next weeks drawing.
  • Pink Oddballs in Gone to Pieces: SOLD!
  • Murple Crystals - SOLD!
NEED HELP getting into any group? JUST ASK!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fresh Glass 7.23.14

See? More crystal obsession!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fresh Glass

I've been so busy, I haven't posted fresh glass pics in a while! I've got more to show you but... I like each picture to have it's own moment in the sun! So... stay tuned!

Can you believe that long skinny??! I hate the way it looks here... kinda cartoonish in color but, in the hand, it reminds me of old parchment and those colorful book liners!

I'm just OBSESSED with the crystal shape from Zooziis!  So many listings on Facebook seem to have those and I'm drawn like a moth to a flame!

It's all my friend Amy's fault! She was having a trunk show and was selling these earrings:
Not only is the glass a rare oldie that I can't get my hands on (and have lusted over for a long time!), Amy just put them together in such a perfect way! I HAD to have them!  They arrived and I realized my ear piercings had closed so I rushed out and got new ones... and in another month or so, I will finally get to wear those beauties! But they are the beads that started my obsession!

I played a bit with enamels after my JC Herrel class... I adore those little blue spacers but man, are they labor intensive! They will never sell for what they are worth... I think I'm over enamels!

And a few dichro focals to round out this batch!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bead Adoption Update

It seems like forever since I posted a Bead Adoption post... Just hard getting my grove back with all the changes in my life this summer!

All these beads have found homes thanks to Facebook!

That's just a taste... I can't remember all I've sold in the past six weeks!

As usual, you can find my current listings on my fan page. That's the best jumping off point with a main photo of every listing available and links to the special sale pages.

And if you are a lampwork fan and on Facebook, be sure to check out:
Lampwork Bead Auctions

Artisan Lampwork Beads for Sale

Lampwork Bead Market

Lampwork Beads and Jewelry Carosel Auctions

Gone to Pieces - Budget Lampwork

Lampwork Auctions

Glass Pendants and Wire Wraps for Sale

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Memorial Beads: Mabel Lou

I wrote about my beloved Mabel Lou's funeral over on Creekhiker but thought I would do a post here just sharing the beads. We had a hiking funeral for her with all her favorite people and most of her favorite canine friends.
Mabel Lou

I made Memorial Beads for everyone in attendance at the funeral, an extra to send my mom and a few extras "just in case" as I had put off making them until the last possible day! I used temperamental Clio and a variety of under glasses to try and make pink beads... and this is what I got:
At first I was really upset that they didn't come out all pink like I wanted, but after just sitting with them for a while, I started to see our sky and river and the amazing sunsets we have. 
 The creek / wilderness where Mabel and I hiked every single day.

And I guess, they look the way Mabel Lou wanted them to look. All the friends got to pick theirs. 

I was so distraught, I forgot to take pics of the clean beads! So these were all taken as they were being worn. 

From L-R, Top-Bottom: Atilla's Dad, Hank n Sue's Mom, Chloe's Dad, The Rottrover, Bart's Mom.

And these are the ones I ended up with:

 I chose this heart for me because of the little hole where Mabel's ashes came through.

The funny thing about these beads...they pick up what ever color I wear. The Rottrover Mom has told me the same. She's worn hers  with teal, purple, ivory and pink... and her bead works with all. I've worn mine with denim, aqua, olive, brown, pink, orange and black... and they just seem to be versatile enough work with whatever I put on! Besides the fact my Baby Lou is with me...they are some of my all time faves!

Another view, reversed,  against the sky:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Listings on Facebook! And a Giveaway!

New listings up on Facebook! And l@@k at me getting all fancy with the background color from BeFunky! Tee Heee!

REMEMBER you need to join the groups to bid and in some cases SEE the auction! If you have trouble, message me! I'm here to help!

And if you COMMENT on the original post on my fan page, you will be entered into a $25 Gift Certificate Drawing! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tutorial: Keeping Track of Different Sales Venues

Today, I'm showing you how I keep track of what's selling and where. It can be so overwhelming! I stopped listing all together in early May when my dog died. As more and and more groups sprang to life, I became obsessed and confused! HOW does anyone keep track of this???

So I sat down and did what I always do when I'm confused. I write all out where I can see it!  Once I can look at the big picture, all the pieces parts start to make sense!

I realized there were four categories of information I was trying to track:

The tabs of my four page spreadsheet
  • Tracking: Where a listing was (and where it had been...I don't want to relist an item in the same venue when I just listed it there yesterday!)
  • Listing: What did I say about that bead and did I remember to say it's annealed?? I can't tell you how I hate having to rewite listings after hastily deleted before pasting! I also need to know where the photos are on my computer or what they are called. 
  • Sales: Who bought what for how much? Did I ship it? Am I holding it?
  • Groups: It's a PITA to look up the rules every time you list... So I made a list with links to the groups and basic rules I need to how many listings I can have in a specific group!
Here is the tracking page:

 The headers on this page are:
  • Name: What I call the bead
  • Page Listed: As you can see, I use abbreviations. LA = Lampwork Auctions. LBA = Lampwork Bead Auctions
  • List Dates: Dates the listing was / is active
  • Result: I track likability and comments by buyers to gauge whether I should relist or wait a bit. Notice none on this page are sold...more on that in a bit!
  • Link: Hyperlink to the active listing. I delete when the listing is over as I don't want to accidentally paste the wrong hyperlink into a promotions photo on my fan page! Klutz prevention!
Using the Tracking Page:
  • When I get a bid  or BIN, I write that in the results column and cut the name / Page listed / Dates / Results and transfer it to the SALES page. I then delete the enter line with the link to keep things tidy. 
  • When it doesn't sell, it gets highlighted and moved.
  • About the colors: White is an Active Listing, Green means Go Relist. Yellow is expired and something I'm pondering... Move it another sales page, Etsy or my website. 
The Listing Page could very well be incorporated into your Tracking Page. I chose not to for a few reasons. I didn't want to accidentally delete my lengthy listing info (and I don't trust myself!) made the page too long!

This page only has two columns:
  • Jpg names: the name of the photo on my computer. Alternately, I will list what file it's in. 
  • Description: The actual listing copy pasted into my Facebook listing. Tip for EXCEL: if you click in a cell and paste a listing with spaces in it... it pastes them in multiple cells. If you double pastes all the formatting in one cell!
If something sells but I'm holding the item (pre-negotiated payment delay / wire wrapping / customer still shopping), it gets highlighted and moved to the bottom. Once it's shipped, it's deleted.

The Sales Page:  Again, the first four columns are pasted from the tracking page. Then I add:
  • Sold To: Buyer's name
  • Contact: Have I found her Facebook contact info... did it go to the Other mailbox?
  • Shipped: The date I mailed it. 
  • Price: The price they paid.
  • Ship: The shipping costs I need to add (I give discounts for multiple items.)
  • Total Sales: I add a little math widget to total my sales for a given period. 
 I just add a line and keep it all organized by buyer but I can sort by date sold or date shipped.  It's pretty easy to see at a glance who I need to invoice or ship.

The Groups Page - Again, I use this to keep the hyperlinks to the groups home pages handy and to keep any rules I need to be aware of easy for me to find. That being said, some groups change their rules quite often. 

Columns here are:
  • Main link - hyperlink to home pages
  • Listing numbers - How many active listing are allowed.
  • Nutshell - Any rules I need to watch out for or actions I need to take.
You will obviously want to check the groups you sell in and make tweaks accordingly.

This may be overkill but it's what I need to keep track of it all. I hope it helps you as well!

I have uploaded a blank version of my doc for your use ( I did keep the groups page intact... no need to put you through more research!). It will run on Excel.

If you enjoyed this tut and found it useful, please consider supporting the starving artist that wrote it.
My glass beads and tools are here.

My Starbucks account. Click the link and enter my card # 6044305060554270

My Paypal:

Thank you!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tutorial: Promoting Your Facebook Sales

It's no great secret that ever since Etsy allowed "additional makers," sales for so many handmade bead artists have tanked over there. We simply cannot compete with "bead makers" importing their stuff from China and selling it as first quality goods!

Along comes Facebook and whatdayaknow??? Many of us who were ready to sell off our equipment have sales again! Turns out, customers like interacting with bead makers and jewelry designers in real time! Thank you Facebook!

But almost all the sales venues are private, making sharing difficult. Customers have to join to even see what is available. I've been told by several admins that the sites get spammed around 20 times a day! All admins are very quick to remove the spam and ban the user.  But that means we sellers have to work a little harder to promote our wares. 

And, as I shared before, each of the groups has their own rules... with active listings allowed ranging from a paltry one to a jumbo six! In order to make a living, you have to spread the listing love around. Plus, what doesn't sell in one place, very well may sell in another.

I try to list between six and eight items and generally sell about 1/2. That is including the oh-so-amazing five minute listing.... where someone calls BUY IT NOW while I'm still loading items!

Being that our stuff is spread between several sales venues, just HOW does one promote? Most Facebookers have learned to copy the link to their listing in the private group, upload a photo to their public page and paste the link. But if you have six or eight or more listings... How the heck do you promote that? You DO NOT want to do them one at a time. Seriously, not enough people will see it!

And that type of posting is problematic... Do you know what people see when they do not belong to the secret group??? This:
You would think the good folks at Facebook would make it say: "Content from XYZ Beads is not available because you are not a member. Click here to join!" But it does not! Our customers have no point of reference of where to go... We are confusing them!

Why Promotion Is Important:

Before you even ask... as I was prepping this tut last week, l@@k what popped up in one of the groups!!!

That last comment - about search being hit and miss - is from an ADMIN!

Customers WANT to find you... they just don't know HOW!

Create Your Listings:  As you go to the various pages, uploading your listings, you will want to open a sticky note or notepad to keep track of your links with a few word description for each. It may be helpful to you to keep your photos for each day's listings in one folder.  I will be sharing my tracking docs with you all later in the week!

The Art of Collage: 

After struggling and failing with this...showing single beads, reminding people to join, not getting views, I stumbled upon this technique. Make a collage... ONE photo of ALL your listings for any given day.

At first the idea overwhelmed me... but as I was researching hits for my glass bead promotions blog, I had a stunning realization hit me upside the head! I started to notice that certain posts got way more hits and clicks than others. When I started comparing to answer the why question... all those posts had one thing in common: a collage!  On the days we show off a collage of beads, our hits nearly triple!

That was all it took to sell me!

Prep Your Pics: 

Now I understand not all of you are Photoshop freaks. That's OK. But you should know how to size your photos for web viewing. The number one reason being, it makes your images that much harder to put into a catalog for someone else to try and sell your designs as their own. Plus your photos will load faster.

If you need help sizing your photos, I cannot recommend Online Image Editor highly enough! Aside from the kid friendly interface, they do not logo your photos!! (Many edit sites add their logo to your pic! Ewww!)

For Facebook, I make the longest edge of my photos 500 pixels. And the resolution for online viewing is 72 dpi. That gives me nice sized photo of my listings and a more than big enough image to make a collage.

Be Funky:

BeFunky is an app and online site that allows you to create a collage. They have a paid service with more options, but their free service is very generous. You can create a nice collage of your listings in minutes! This tut will walk you through their interface. By all means, if you have the skills to do this on another site or Photoshop... keep using it!

  •  On the collage page, the first tool on the left is photos. You are going to upload your pics of all your listings for the day. You will click on the little picture graphic next to the red 1. Use the pull down menu to tell Be Funky to search your computer and click the green Add Photos button.  Upload each pic and they appear on the left side of the screen.
 The additional tools on the left are:
  • 2 Templates - These are the collage templates
  • 3 Backgrounds - This allows you to change the space between pics, round corners and add a background color.
  • 4 Patterns - Prints to place behind pics.
  • 5 Text - Add text in a variety of fonts. You can logo your pics with your name.
  • 6 Goodies - stickers and such. 
Truth be told... that's a lot of work... I only use photos and templates.

  • Choose a template.  The photo below shows all the free templates. Once you click Get More Templates, you are entering the paid area.

  • I've selected a template. The site highlights it in red. (Note: for the example, I changed my mind after this pic was taken!)

  • Start dragging pics over to the collage. Just drag and drop. If you mess up, hit the trash can in the upper corner to delete or drag to a different pane to make the photos swap places.

  • Here, the red arrows show the drag tool engaged on the key heart bead photo.

  • Save your image: Presuming you don't need any of the fancy stuff, you are ready to save!  There is a menu bar along the top of the page (go back two pics to see it!). Save is the second button from left. When you hit it, this box pops up:

You can save directly to your personal Facebook page but not your fan page - so I don't bother. I always just save to my desktop. You can see the green yes next to desktop above. *More on collage ideas at the bottom!

  • Name your file: I usually name mine by date... so I have a visual record of sales. And here's one quirk of BeFunky... it always takes the name and adds .jpg twice! In the example here July10.jpg.jpg   I urge (BEG??) you to delete one of those! It can be confusing to some websites!

  • Share to your FAN PAGE!  Your fan page is your business portal to Facebook and can't really share from your personal page to your fan page. In theory, that's where you customer's are looking for you. 
This part is a bit of work and can be the most confusing. Create a post, and describe each listing in a few words. Try to do this in some logical order that follows your photo. For the collage at the top, mine would go like this: 
Pink Coral Disks in Lampwork Bead Market {hyperlink};  Sasha pink and coral focal in Lampwork Auctions {hyperlink}; Clio orphan in Gone to Pieces {Hyperlink}
I would keep adding picture names / sales venue and links for each photo in the collage. Sometimes, I have to save, double check a link and go back in and edit. But you can edit!!

Here's a screen shot of that listing:

Note: You should update this... If something sells, you don't want customers getting that 'Content Unavailable' Screen.  And... I personally think when people see your work selling, it places a higher value on that work! It makes people want to "jump on the bandwagon!" See my Tiny Heart listing in the middle of the page: SOLD!
Finally, I will add a comment reminding people they need to join. Sometimes I will post links to all the groups and above all, remind them I'm there to help...just ask! 
  • Share Everywhere!  This is the most important step! Log out of your fan page and return as yourself. Share to your personal wall. Your friends and colleagues want to support you! 
 But that's not enough! Presumably, if you are selling on Facebook, you've already done some marketing there! I belong to several...many bead groups! This is where your networking really pays off.
Most of these pages allow you to share at least one item a day... well why not ONE photo with 8 beads on it! If you are sharing from your fan page, the link goes right back to your fan page. Where they can LIKE you! And if you are keeping up with your sales, they can see if something is sold or available! 
If they comment or like or share... you are on your way to a viral listing! 
Here is the perfect example... One set and I didn't share it. A whopping whole 63 people reached (which is decent for FB these days! On average, a listing like this may only get 25 views!): 
And one I shared everywhere. 256 people reached!

Additional Promo Ideas: You want this to get out there. You want people to get the idea to go to your fan page to see what you have. Here's some other promotions... I do some most every day depending on my time frame.

  • Link your fan page to twitter so all your posts go there and link back to your page! 
  • Have a prize drawing for your fans who like and comment on your listing posts! Even a modest giveaway will get you a few likes or comments! (NOTE: Asking for shares is against Facebook's Terms of Service and you do need to run disclaimers!)
  • When you have a sale, update that post on your fan page and while you're emailing your customer about the sale, share the link with her! People will often buy something else to save on shipping! 
  • Blog your daily listings! How hard is it to upload a photo and paste in the links?? Mention your end times... build that sense of urgency!
  • Share on any Jewelry boards or Lampwork Etc. A lovely pic gets attention!
  • Share on Glass Beads Daily. The hyperlink (right click on the time of the listing / copy link location)  of your listing on your fan page uploads with the photo! No manual upload. I just tweak the Link Title to read Daily Facebook Listings ends at 4pm Hollys Folly Glass Beads & Jewelry. You have 75 characters... say as much as you can!

*MORE Collage Ideas: As I've gotten better at understanding the power of the collage style promotion, I've been trying new ideas with great success!

  • Plan your listings by color! If you don't have enough, choose the complimentary color or work in color triangles. Color grabs attention! 
  • List only focals of a certain style one day... or sets... or ribbed beads or angels... whatever you specialize in.  Make the collage as cohesive as possible. Use the collages to let customers know what to expect from you.
  • Develop a sales plan: Pages A & B on MWF / Pages X, Y, and Z on TTS. OR a color plan: Red beads on Monday, seasonal beads on Tuesday, Spacers on Wednesday... Try to develop a pattern! 
I hope you've found these ideas helpful in promoting your Facebook sales! 

If you enjoyed this tut and found it useful, please consider supporting the starving artist that wrote it.
My glass beads and tools are here.

My Starbucks account. Click the link and enter my card # 6044305060554270

My Paypal:

Thank you!!!