Thursday, September 27, 2012

FINALLY I Found a New Purse!!

Who would ever guess that a simple purse could lead to so much drama and trouble? Remember my post about my absolutely perfect and now dearly missed old purse?

Well, it has been how long now... 4 months since the post lamenting the slow death of my beloved?

I never stopped looking for a suitable replacement. I swear to you by all that is Holy, I searched every store around my big city and dozens of websites, to no avail. I searched Etsy. No go. I searched many thousands of "small black leather purse" on eBay, too. I found one there that might fit the bill, but I was on the fence and nearly over it because of the price.

As a last ditch effort, I searched the local thrift stores. Oh, how I would have loved to find my purse there, barely used and calling  my name! But no, no one on eBay or at a charitable thrift store had my old purse for sale. How is that even possible, when I can buy just about ANYTHING else????? Could it be that I am not the only one who loved this bag so much? Did they all age gracefully on their owner's arm, to retire in lamented tatters?

My dear satchel opened yet another hole. I had to cut the handles off, too, because they were beyond repair. Still, I toted her around with me as I searched for another. I had fits of depression over it and even shed a tear or two over the sheer difficulty and frustration of finding the right replacement. Why oh why was it so hard to find such a simple bag? And, why oh why was I so consumed by it? I had to laugh at myself and keep on keeping on with the search.

I went back to the bag on eBay and scrutinized its every detail. I compared prices. I looked up reviews online and even found a youtube video of some lady who loved the purse. I placed my purse on the table with a ruler and tried to imagine the size of the new one compared to it. I did all that I thought I should do so as not to be too disappointed with the outrageous price, as I contemplated buying it.

The price. I am not given to extravagance. I have never in my life paid more than 30-50 for a purse or much of any personal accessory for that matter (except for jewelry, of course). I'm a home spun girl, at heart. I was raised by a Yankee of the highest frugal order. It goes against my grain to spend a lot of money. I'm not a cheap skate, but I am conservative about my spending habits. This bag retails for about $400.00. Ummm, yeah. Now, I know there are people who will drop, literally, thousands and even 10s of thousands on a purse, but if I ever did then you would know that the men in white were on their way to take me to a nice padded room. Ebay, oh yes, the wonderful bargain haven of the planet, had it for the rock bottom "Buy It Now" (before I change my mind) price of 150.00. That I could justify. It was leather, after all, and by a company well known for high quality. Quality always nails it for me. I bought it.

Yes, Tela has a new Coach bag. Yes, it is a genuine bag. And, yes I did, I got the wallet to go with it!! LOL!!!! I can't show you more of it because it is already full of my stuff. But, here's a link to a Coach Ashley Satchel on Amazon. (Keep in mind, I got the smaller version.) And, Guess what? It has a purple lining! It was meant to be. LOL!

I guess, from my LOL's you would think I am very happy and I am, but this doesn't really take the place of my old purse. The opening of this is small and a little awkward. It will take some getting used to. My late purse had a hinge to open all the way up. Also, the strap is much smaller. However, I am very happy with this bag and so glad my search is over.

Thank you everyone for looking at purses for me. I have had so many many comments from people who say they have looked for my bag-alike while at the store. But, the search is over and I have to admit, I really liked shopping yesterday with my new Coach bag. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Decisions, Decisions...

So, I'm sitting here with time on my hands (a rare commodity) and I am wondering what I should do. Or, better stated: Where should I start? My list of things to do is so long that I do nothing. The 3 big things- do a blog entry, make some jewelry, make some cabs.

I came here to whine about my problem, so, at least, the blog thing is done. The others, well, let's see... I need to replenish my shop. So, jewelry is a must. But, I also need to make cabs while I can. With the cold weather approaching, I am determined to stock up for the Winter. Both are equally as important in my mind. However, truth be told, I have cabs enough for a year. So, it boils down to making jewelry.

My muse has been on strike. I have attempted a few things in the last few days that I had to throw away because they just didn't work. I'm hoping my little rant here will be enough to get something, whatever it is, off my chest so I can work. Damn the laundry, damn the web work, damn the stores. I need to get down and dirty with some wire. But, I need to empty my brain of the constant nagging list first. 

One of the nags is to redo a dresser for my grand daughter, who is still suffering from her appendicitis via a bad reaction to the penicillin medicine she has been found to be allergic to. I got some lilac paint for an old brown dresser and she is going to decorate it after I paint it. The weather is finally cooperating with that project. And ya know, I have just decided what to do. Yup, the dresser will be good therapy and a break. I find that when I feel like I have to make jewelry, I can't. A diversion is what I need.

Thanks blog, for being a great sounding board and thanks to those who read this. Maybe you feel this way, too, sometimes. I think writing things down helps. It just helped me. :)

Some recent cabs (some available in the cab store already) ;

A beautiful freeform mystery green cab full of pyrite. Possibly a mariposite.

Blue and Pink Burro Creek agate

Graveyard Point Plume Agate

Mystery agate freeform

Very large Pink and yellow pastel Agate from WY.
Crazy Lace Agate
Super cool fossil "Feather" Agate
Petrified Indonesian Agatized Bird's Eye Palm Root- Rare and Gorgeous!

Rutilated Quartz
Pretty Pale Yellow Quartz or Calcite

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cabochons For Sale

Superb, gemmy, large amethyst

Who doesn't love a good rock?? OK, I'm sure not everybody shares my addiction to them. But, if you do, then you may be interested to know that I am destashing and selling some of the cabs that I have cabbed myself.

Look up. There is a new category right at the top of the page. Under the tab CABOCHONS FOR SALE you'll find a vast assortment of cabs. These will not be seconds or cast offs. These will be stones that I would use for myself, but now that I have plenty, I need to let some go. Some with a heavy heart, I might add. :)

I plan to offer them exclusively in my blog store (at least for now). I won't have tons of them and I am not trying to make a living off them. This is simply a way to share some cabs with my readers. I am keeping the prices reasonable and, in some cases, I may be offering some older ones for less than what  I paid for them. I'm new at this and at pricing them, so bear with me as I work it out.

Today is Wednesday; Sept. 12. Tomorrow, I will be open for business with the first of the cabs that I've listed. I have a lot to add, though and I will be adding them as I find the time.

If you need smaller stones, I will be listing those last, but they will be coming. 

In the meantime, you can read the category description for more details.

Here's a couple I'm working on listing. :)

very large hand carved shell cameo
opal in feldspar
Biggs picture jasper

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wire Wrapping Cabs

When I began cabbing, I wanted to make stones that I would want to use. I like just about every shape. I'm not terribly picky. But, there are a few things that I like to see for my own purposes as a wire wrapper.

Do you remember this Chinese Turquoise? I did a blog post about it when I messed up trying to wrap the very thick girdle (the side). I LOVE this stone! But, I had such a hard time setting it that I ended up scrapping the wrap- and silver. With the price of silver heading up again, I didn't want to risk burning up any more silver on it. So, I recut it today. The big difference is that the girdle is not so thick and the dome is more pronounced. I beveled the sides in towards the top and blended it in. (that was technical lingo :) )

I prefer a small girdle. I can't really give an exact size because it depends on the size of the stone. In general, though, I like about 3-5mm. The thing about the girdle is it is usually covered by the wire bundle. If it is too thick, then you need too much wire to cover it. We all know what a pain it is to end up with 10 or more bail wires! Forget that! So, any way, I'm cutting my stones with a small girdle- maybe a little larger on a larger stone so I can use heavier wire.

Silversmiths prefer a bezel/girdle with a slant to it. There is actually a "perfect" girdle angle in cabbing. I don't use it. I wire wrap. I like straight sides. I cut for me, so my bezels/girdles are straight up and down. Yeah, it's easier, too. :) But, seriously, I don't need the angle to help me set the stone.

I also like stones with virtually no girdle. I use a lot of round wire. Round wire loves to roll up the sides of a cab. I haven't cut a stone with no girdle, yet. I will, though.

I haven't done any terribly fancy freeforms. (Well, maybe a couple.) Not because I don't want to or that I don't like them. Rather, it's because I am trying to perfect straight forward cabs first. I am feeling very competent, at this point, and will be working on how best to photograph them.

I thought I would post these thoughts and maybe get your own. I've been putting a lot of thought into this because I want to start offering some of my cabs for sale. I will be offering cabs for wire wrappers, not for smiths. It made me stop and think what it is that I actually prefer.  

The following are some recent stones and a better approach to photographing them.

Black Plume Agate


Mookaite Jasper (?)

Outback Jasper

Red Jasper Agate (with lightning)

Red, White and Blue Jasper Agate

And here are two recent wraps.

Spectacular Spectrolite
Large Natural Kingman Turquoise

Burro Creek Agate

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Your Labor Day

First order of business is to report that my little patient came home Saturday and is doing well. She will have the pic line to her heart for her antibiotics for 2 or more weeks at home. She will probably be able to go to school with it. We're hoping.

Also, my sale at Etsy ended, but there are 2 more weeks at my web store


Labor Day. In America, we celebrate our own labor on the first Monday in September. But, like a lot of holidays in our society, it has turned into more an excuse for a big sale than for a time for reflection. This Labor Day, I'm putting some thought into my labor and sharing it with you.

In my business, the business of making and selling jewelry, people use many different formulas to come up with a price for their work. The key ingredient is always labor. How much time did you spend working on it? Rather than talk about the price of a piece or the wage we charge for ourselves, let's talk about how much labor really goes into what we do. Whether we are selling jewelry, or making for friends and family or just for the pleasure of it, it is still good to know what is actually going into our handcrafted treasures.

I have begun to get into the habit of taking ALL my working time into account. I used to under report my time, but not anymore. That would be like working off the clock.

I'll use me as an example and look at what goes into a piece. I mostly make pendants with cabochons. For ease, let's say I found a really great stone on eBay and got a great deal at 15.00. Really? Ooops! I mean 20.00 with shipping. Let's say it took me about a half hour (pretty conservative time, actually) to find it and watch the bidding to the close. So, my project just started off with a half hour labor.

My example stone came in the mail and I looked it over. I decided that I wanted to work on it right away because it really inspired me. I sit with it and sketch ideas and percolate for about 30 minutes. I haven't touched any wire, yet, but the project is at 1 hour already.

Before I do any actual work, I set up my area for the project at hand (a very simple wrap). I have calculated my approximate wire needs in the last step and now I prepare my wires. I usually straighten, clean and twist them all. I'll call this step 15 minutes. (1 hour 15 minutes total.)

Now on to the wrap. Like I said this is a pretty simple wrap and it goes off without a hitch. I'll say this took 45 minutes. Most people would think of this stage as the only stage to count for labor. But, I'm really not finished by a long shot. (2 hours total.)

I take the piece and file a few ends, test a few things and make a couple of simple adjustments before I toss it into the tumbler. I won't count the tumbling time. But, this small step does add about 10 minutes to the project.(2 hours 10 minutes total)

While the piece is tumbling, I clean up and get set up for the next piece. I usually put everything away before I start a fresh project. I'll call this 5 minutes. (2 hours 15 minutes total.)

When I am done tumbling, I pull the piece out and clean it with a brush and dish soap to get any residue off before I give it a patina, which I almost always do. So, I prepare the LOS and set the piece in fresh, hot tap water before adding the LOS. In a matter of seconds, I am rinsing the piece and drying it. This is a relatively quick process, say 10 minutes. (2 hours 25 minutes total.)

Next, I need to take steel wool and brass brush to the piece, wash it off again and then polish it. 15 more minutes. (2 hours 40 minutes total time.)

Finished? Nope! Now I need pictures because I sell online. This can be a long process, but for the example, let's say a series of 10 good editable pictures takes me about 20 minutes. Add to that the post work of 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. It could be a little more or less but this a pretty good number. (3 hours 10 minutes total.)

For selling, let's say I did a little research and spent some time writing a good description and uploading the pictures. I think a simple piece would be about 10 minutes. Now the total is up to 3 hours 20 minutes.

You could add anything you left out or deduct some time if you think it was unreasonable (say you were interrupted during the wrapping phase for 5 minutes).

You should also add a small amount of time to compensate for maintenance you routinely do. Say, you recondition your pliers every month or so, or change your tumbler water or whatever. Consider, the time that you spend sourcing and buying materials, too. You can't just add that to the piece you finished directly after ordering. You have to break that down over lots of pieces. I'll add 10 minutes to pieces to cover all the in between stuff, which when you think about all the miscellaneous little things that you do they actually add up to a lot time. 

I left out the time it takes me getting things ready to mail because I call that the cost of doing business. But, you can certainly add that in.   

The value of your labor in any given piece is the amount of actual time you worked multiplied by your hourly rate. My number for this simple project is 3 hours 30 minutes.

I used to say that I could finish a piece in under an hour. After really thinking about it, I realized that I was working off the clock for about two and a half hours! I sure wouldn't do that in a 9-5 job and I certainly shouldn't do it to myself.

Happy Labor Day!!!

Fire Agate- go ahead and click for a bigger view. It's really nice. :)