Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly BEST: Blue Forest Jewellery


As you can see from the title of the post, this week I have the pleasure of featuring a jewelry artisan from across the pond.  Blue Forest Jewellery is a business owned and operated by Alison from Coventry, UK.  She's been working with jewelry - from repurposing and adapting pieces to making her own - for about as long as she can remember.  You may have already guessed this based on her business name, but Alison finds inspiration for her work in color and nature.  Semi-precious stones, earth tones, and bright splashes of natural color are prominently featured in the jewelry she creates.  The name "Blue Forest" comes from the bluebells and beautiful sky she sees in the Forest of Arden where she regularly walks her dog and spends time in nature.

Much like me, Alison only makes jewelery she'd wear herself.  With that in mind, I decided to browse through her shop with the intention of picking out a few pieces that I would buy for myself.  Check them out below:

As you can see, Alison's work is at the same time both trendy and classic.  To find out more about her and Blue Forest Jewellery, check out the following links:

So, which piece from her shop does your wardrobe need?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Friday, September 24, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Pride Edition

Anyone that follows me knows that I'm openly bisexual, a member of the Queer Etsy Street Team, and a huge supporter of all things LGBT.  A lot of people celebrated LGBT Pride earlier this year, but here in North Carolina we are celebrating this weekend.  Tomorrow I plan to head up to Durham to meet a friend who will accompany me to my first ever pride events (yay!).  So, I decided to take this post as a mini-celebration online of something that definitely influences and colors my craft.

As you may have heard (even right here on this blog), the Queer Etsy Street Team is raising money to benefit the Trevor Project.  The Trevor Project provides the only 24-hour national (US) suicide and crisis hotline for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens.  They also provide a host of other services to benefit queer teens and young people and actively advocate for their rights, protection, and safety.  Purchases from our team shop go to benefit the Trevor Project.  We are donating 100% of proceeds to them from this year and we're offering free shipping to all customers for all items.  Please take a look at the shop and purchase something to support this cause.

If you're interested in taking a look at other LGBT art, feel free to browse some of my old Weekly Treasures blog posts.  You'll find several treasuries featuring queer-themed work found on Etsy.

Bi Pride Glass Pearl Earrings - LGBT Pride DanglesI've been talking and thinking about inspiration lately and how I find it necessary in order to create.  My bisexuality plays a significant role in my work.  Most of you have heard the story before, but to make a long story short...due to stress and a host of other factors (including personal conflict over my identity), I decided to start making jewelry as an outlet.  That wasn't the first time I'd ever dabbled in jewelry making though.  A couple of years prior I had searched and searched online for bi-themed jewelry and was unimpressed at the relatively minimal selection.  I ended up going to Michael's, purchasing an assortment of findings and pale pearls, and making my own bi pride jewelry.  I still wear it on occasion and I have a pair of earrings made with the same pearls for sale in my shop (see picture).  When I started selling jewelry on Etsy, I made a conscious effort to add an LGBT line so that others in my situation would have a little more to choose from.  Unfortunately because of time constraints, I haven't been able to replenish my stock for that line or for any of my others.  I am, however, immensely pleased that one of my sources of inspiration turned into a product line that resonated with customers.

What aspects of your personality do you put into your work?  What is it about you that bleeds over into your creative projects?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Weekly BEST: Gilliauna

This week I get to feature a great jewelry making duo that aren't just BEST teammates of mine but also QUEST (Queer Etsy Street Team) members!  Their presence spans two countries - from Seattle, WA to Vancouver, BC.  The sensory and emotional experience of color is a major inspiration for this pair and that comes through very apparently in their work.  They also often use vintage beads and repurposed jewelry in their creations.  You'll find extraordinarily beautiful items in the jewelry shop ranging from rosaries to eyeglass chains to lanyards to necklaces.  Check out my favorite items from their wide selection:

Handmade Charm Bracelet - Bound in Love

Bronze Floral Choker. Olive, Brick, Inlay. Handmade Artisan Jewelry

Holy Rosary Handcrafted in Blue Ceramic and Pearls 

Beaded Badge Holder Necklace - Orange Crush 

There are 15 pages of fabulous items in this shop so be sure to go and pick out your own favorites!  Also, check them out at these locations around the web:

Destash Shop:
The Meandering Musings Blog:

And last but not least, visit to find out where you can see their items in person.

Now that you've checked out the dynamic Gilliauna team, let me know which item or category of items you love best from their shop!

Until next time,

Friday, September 17, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Finding Inspiration for Your Craft

I've truly missed being able to craft and spend more time interacting with all of you, but studying has taken up so much of my "free" time lately.  Perhaps you've been in a similar situation - where you are so invested in something else that you don't find the time to be creative anymore.  Or maybe you have had a lull in your work for some other reason.  I got to thinking today about my inspiration for crafting and why it is so important to me.  As you may know if you've followed my history, I started making jewelry as a response to depression and anxiety I was dealing with in my personal life.  I turned to wearable art as a way to express myself while having something fun and productive to do in my spare time.  I don't always feel like crafting things though.  Sometimes I've gone to my work room (aka dining room), sat down, picked up a few things and then set them down and walked back out.  Why?  Sometimes I just don't have the inspiration.  As someone that generally creates one of a kind pieces, I desperately need to have some sort of inspiration in order to plan my next piece and move on to the next idea.  Here are some things I do when I lose my inspiration and need to refocus in order to craft:

Photo from Tsun_TsuKu_Tsun used under CC license

1. Don't push it.  When I try to make things and I'm not feeling inspired, I always end up taking them apart or never finishing the project.  If you don't want to make it (and you don't have a customer waiting for it, of course), wait until you do feel like it again.  When I take a few days off, I'm usually itching to get back to the work table.  Never try to force yourself to be creative - let the ideas come to you naturally.

2. Go outside, even if that's not really your thing.  Nature can be a powerful influence and just experiencing it for a while can bring up new ideas.  If it's too hot, cold, or stormy for a long walk in the woods or on the beach, try finding a (safe and comfortable) spot to sit and view nature.  You don't have to risk being struck by lightning or passing out from heat stroke to get the benefit of experiencing nature's beauty and power.

3. Experience someone else's art from a different field than your own.  For example, if you're a painter, try going to see a play.  If you're a jewelry artisan, consider checking out the paintings in a local art gallery.  If you're a photographer, go listen to an orchestra play.  These are all flexible examples, but the point remains - you don't want to copy someone else's ideas (i.e. a painter reproducing a photographer's work in watercolors without permission) but, when done correctly, reaching far outside your own medium is a great way to spark your creativity.

Photo from Passion Fusion used under CC license
4. Try something new.  After I made jewelry for a while, I branched out and learned how to sew.  Working with fabrics and vintage buttons gave me ideas that eventually bled over into my style of jewelry.  Trying out a new medium is a great way to get new creative ideas and potentially even new product lines for your business.  If you don't know how to do anything else, try taking a beginner's class at an arts and crafts shop or studio.  Even learning something non-"crafty" like cooking (which I see as a type of art form in itself) can have a positive influence on your work - and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.

5. Think outside of the norm.  (I bet you thought I was going to say box, didn't you?  Same thing.) Do you find yourself at peace when you're strolling through a farmer's market early on a Sunday morning, enjoying the air, tasting fresh produce, and smelling flowers and freshly baked bread?  I do.  Maybe you experience that feeling while sipping coffee at a cafe, playing with your dog at the neighborhood park, or listening to your grandfather share his life stories.  Whatever it is that moves you, go do it...and be moved.

So what gets you in the creative mood?  And how do you find your inspiration again when your passion starts to fade?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weekly BEST: Too Much of a Good Thing


This week's feature is about a multi-talented artist from Oregon who makes accessories, housewares and greeting cards.  Leyla started crocheting at age 12 and loves working with cotton.  Her greeting cards are a huge hit with everyone that receives them and can be found locally in Salem, Oregon at Willamette Valley Fruit Company, Danner & Soli, Felicity Boutique, and State Capitol Gift Shop.  I can't get over how beautiful the cards are!  Here is a selection of my favorites from her shop:
Hot Air Balloon Note Card Set $7.50
Wedding Card $4.00

For lots of other cards and crocheted goodies, you'll have to check out Leyla's shop:

What is your favorite item from her shop?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Friday, September 10, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: How Becoming a Joiner Can Improve Your Business

There are artists and artisans selling online who simply do not understand the allure of membership and what it can do for one's craft business.  If you're not a joiner, this article is for you.  Crafting communities are known as such because of the numerous benefits you experience when you are able to connect large groups of people around common interests and goals.  All of the major crafting sites and social networks for crafters have smaller communities within the larger community - on Etsy they are known as teams, on Zibbet they are called groups, on ArtFire they are dubbed guilds, and on 1000 Markets they are promoted as markets.  If you sell crafts or art online, I'm sure that you've seen some version of the mini-crafting community within a larger site.

View Image

I am currently a part of four Etsy teams: Queer Etsy Street Team, Boosting Etsy Shops Team, NC Triangle Street Team, and Handmade Artists Forum Team.  When I was on ArtFire I was on the Shops With Less Than 10 Sales Guild (I had no choice but to leave the guild when I closed my shop and downgraded to basic membership).  On Zibbet, I'm in the Zibbet Vintage, Zibbet Mentors, Zibbet Community on Facebook, and U.S. Zibbeters groups.  (Since I brought them up I feel like I should say - I discovered I wouldn't have time to actively promote a shop on 1000 Markets, so I didn't complete my application and therefore am not able to comment on their markets.  No slight to them intended.)

To be frank, I can honestly say I have gotten nothing out of the groups I haven't had time to participate in regularly.  The ones I have though have drastically improved my business.

NC Triangle Street Team on EtsyLet's first talk about the NC Triangle Street Team.  Although because of time constraints I am no longer active with the team and may have to resign membership for a while, I can honestly say being a part of a local team has been extremely beneficial.  The best resource this team has to offer is their forum.  Members can offer each other critiques, promote their treasuries, organize local meetups, and find out where and when craft shows are happening as well as how to apply.  Before joining this group I had a very difficult time finding craft fairs on my own.  Networking with the group not only allowed me to find smaller events I could actually afford to get into, but also helped me avoid some seemingly promising events that were duds in years past.  Joining a local group allows you to tap into the reservoir of knowledge the members have about your area and will help you find out how to best market your business to your real-life community.

Etsy Queer Street TeamThe Queer Etsy Street Team has been great for me on many levels.  Members promote each other through inclusion in treasuries and mentions on the team Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Tumblr blog.  There are activities such as the team shop and monthly item creation challenges that are completely optional.  (If you haven't heard about our efforts to raise money for the teen suicide prevention agency known as Trevor Project, check out my articles here and here to find out how you can help.)  The Trevor Project :: 866-4-U-TREVORThe best benefit of this group though is the social aspect.  Even though I'm not the greatest at remembering to attend our weekly chats, I am able to chat with other members and join in on discussions via the threads sent to my email by our Yahoo! Group.  Finding other queer people who are interested in the same things as me hasn't been easy but this team has helped to fill that void.  Maybe you as a mom, student, Christian, etc. would benefit from "hanging out" (online) with a group of similar people and enjoying the new friendships you make.  I can definitely say that QUEST membership has made me more invested in keeping my business on Etsy.  I do not want to be cut off from these quirky, intelligent, and super talented peeps!

The BEST!Since the Handmade Artists' Forum really deserves it's own full post, I'm going to talk last about the Boosting Etsy Shops Team.  Unlike the other teams I'm in which simply require monthly participation, BEST requires a solid weekly effort.  The sole purpose of the team is cross promotion.  Every week members are assigned another team member to feature.  The main focus is on blog features (you can check out mine here), but members who only have Twitter, Facebook, and/or other social networking accounts are also welcome to join and cross promote that way.  Each week I write a post about a team member that showcases their shop and (ideally) someone else in the team writes about me.  The benefit should be obvious - when someone else is talking about how great you are it carries more weight and credibility than when you are just talking about yourself.  You're also benefiting from reaching your team members' blog audiences, as chances are they are not all the exact same people reading your own blog.

I've tried to explain the benefits of joining groups (teams, guilds, markets, etc.) by showing some examples of how they've helped me.  As a rundown for those just skimming this article, some of the greatest advantages of group membership are:

1. Inclusion in team treasuries (Etsy) and guild collections (ArtFire)
2. Promotion of your shop by team members that reaches audiences who would otherwise never know about you
3. Social support and camaraderie (aka fun)
4. Information on craft fairs and networking events as well as info on how to run your business in your area
5. Business advice, technique tips, tutorials, etc. from those who have the same "crafty" interests as you
6. Providing you with something to talk about on your social networks and blogs other than yourself

Some groups have specific requirements for membership, so read everything before deciding to join.  Which group is right for you will depend on what your interests are, what you're able to invest time-wise, and whether or not the group's level of activity matches what you're looking for.  Some people are working on their businesses full time and may be able to participate actively in many different groups that meet their needs.  Many others are more like me and work at a separate job for the majority of the week, only to come home to more major responsibilities: school, family, religious activities, etc.  View ImageI have had to pick and choose lately which groups I want to spend my limited time on, since my focus really has to be on performing well at my day job and studying hard for the LSAT at night.  

Be advised, you will only ever get out of a group what you put into it.  

If you can only invest a couple of minutes per week on a team, limit the number you join to one or two and seriously consider groups that have a primary focus of cross promotion so that you're maximizing your time.  Don't be afraid to switch guilds if you don't like the one you're in.  If you contact the moderator for membership and don't receive a response of any kind, that usually means that the group (or its listed leader) just isn't active anymore.  Don't take their silence or even an outright rejection personally.  You're much better off knowing now that the group isn't right for you than after putting in the time and not seeing any results.

Are you in any crafting groups within major crafting communities?  Share your tips and warnings about joining groups in the comments!

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weekly BEST: Waterwaif

This week I'm featuring a talented jewelry artisan from Melbourne, Florida.  Waterwaif features a variety of modern and vintage jewelry in sterling silver, gold, and copper.  Her connection to her work is very personal and each piece has a story to tell.  The ocean is one of her sources of inspiration and strength and this connection shines through in her work.  I picked out these as my favorite ocean-themed items from her shop:

Be sure to also check out the shop for more jewelry and some original paintings!  Find Waterwaif around the web at these locations:


What's your favorite item from her shop?  Let us know in the comments!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Announcement: Elle's Beads Future

I'm sure if you regularly follow the blog, you've noticed I'm not posting as much as of late.  I feel as though I owe an explanation for this.  The good news is that I've made the decision to apply to law school.  I want to further my education and I'm taking the time now to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and fill out applications.  The bad news is that test prep and application writing take up the time I used to be able to spend on Elle's Beads.  While I will still update the blog and my shop whenever I have the opportunity, I won't be spending a lot of time on either for the next few months.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.  The best ways to get in touch with me will be through Twitter and email.  Feel free to drop me a line anytime!

Friday, September 3, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: Etsy Tools from Whale Shark Websites

Whale Shark Websites is a online resource run by a programmer named Martin.  He has developed a great tool that will save considerable time when posting treasuries on blogs and other websites.  The Etsy Treasury HTML Code exactly what it sounds like!  By copying the treasury ID (the random string of numbers and letters in the middle of the treasury's URL) and pasting it into the generator, you can get HTML code to post the treasury on your site without needing to upload a screenshot and provide a link manually.  You still may want to take screenshots of treasuries if you want to upload the picture to Flickr or a photo hosting site. Otherwise, this will be a huge time saver for those of us who post treasuries.  The generator allows you to determine the size and number of columns displayed, meaning you are able to shrink the treasury to fit the space you have available.  Here's an example:

(Click the image twice to view a larger version of the above screenshot.)

This is what pasting the code I generated into Blogger looks like:

'Not Easy Being Green: Queer Etsy Street Team's September Challenge!' by QueerEtsyStreetTeam

The latest installment in the Queer Etsy Street Team's Rainbow Challenge series. This month QUEST explores nature's favorite hue, from Emerald to Olive and back again.

Lady of the Green statu...

Green Plaid Hip Zip

Kambaba Japser, Onyx an...

Handmade, Carved, Wood...

Three Tiny Toads lampwo...

Beaded Eyeglasses Holde...

Olive You Kawaii Olives...


Good Luck Green Aventur...

3 Piece Bluish Green Ap...

Fairy Trail - 8x12 Prin...

Green Apple Explosion S...

Hand Painted Rotating I...


Blue Herons - 14 x 17 i...

Be aware that in the example above, I've shortened the treasury from 4 columns to 3 columns.  In order to maintain even rows, the 16th item is not being displayed.  Be careful of this when you are working with this tool.  It may be better to shrink the size of the images than to have items lopped off when changing column numbers.

Martin has also developed other tools for Etsy sellers.  His creation CraftWeasel has been taken over by another developer and renamed Tagtastic.  Tagtastic allows you to enter the name of a type of item (i.e. beaded jewelry, knitted scarf, etc.) and it returns relevant tags based on average views/day, number of items, and average price.  The shop stats tool will analyze your own tags and see which ones you use the most and have the most views.

Be sure to check out Martin's blog for information on setting up a business website and adding an Etsy feedback widget to your Wordpress blog.

Do you use the tools on Whale Shark Websites or Tagtastic?  Let me know what you think of them in the comments.

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weekly BEST: Vie for Color

This week's featured seller is quite unique.  Vie For Color is an Etsy shop that features hand-painted clothing in bright colors and patterns.  The artist was inspired to try this medium after growing tired of only painting canvases.  Here are some of the funky items you can find in her shop:

Find Vie For Color around the web at these locations:

I think the painted dress is my favorite item of hers.  Which is yours?  Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I'm a part of an Etsy team called Boosting Etsy Shops Team or BEST. The purpose of the group is to provide promotion for each team member through our existing social networking accounts. Each week I'll be doing a blog feature about a different team member.