Combating the algorithm, et cetera

***EDITED 3/1***This blog post is a little different than my previous entries and is pretty specific to my Instagram following, so if you aren't one of those, this may not be of any interest to you. If you are one of my Instagram followers - thank you for taking the time to read this. :)

As you all know, I've been struggling being seen since the new algorithm changes hit Instagram. For my small business, this lower engagement is directly reflected in my business growth. Smaller visibility = smaller audience for sales and Instagram holds the attention of the majority of my customer base. I have tried a number of things - ganging up with other accounts to support each other, posting more, posting less, running standard IG giveaways, etc, but nothing seems to be super effective at having my posts seen by very many of you. As of right now, I am a few hundred short of having 25,000 followers, but according to IG analytics, only about 2,700 of you ever get to see my posts - like them or not - and I find that frustrating. It's frustrating as a small business owner, but also as an Instagram user - I am following accounts I want to see -- so, why can't I see them?? So - I did a ton of reading to find out how it works and how I can try to combat the algorithm. What I found out was basically this: If the IG algorithm thinks your posts are important, they'll be shown to a larger number of people (that already follow you...). The solution to that is higher engagement, but with IG limiting my engagement (to people that already follow me...) - it's an endless loop of frustration. So - let's try this. Rather than paying for IG ads (that have been useless to me), I would like to give the money back to my followers in the form of $50 gift certificates to my shop in exchange for a tiny bit of work. Here's how it will work:

- keep following me @stonesparrow

- turn on post notifications for my account (I know I said not to before, but I was wrong. Sorry, guys)

- Like my posts and comment "I can see this" or something similar (or genuine! I love genuine feedback, but just knowing who can even see my posts will be helpful). The key here is: evidently, the IG algorithm ranks comments with 4 words or more higher than shorter things left in the comment field. Comments rank higher than likes. It's an odd kind of math that makes my head hurt in the worst possible way...and I really enjoyed math in school. :/

- NEW FOR MARCH - I will continue to choose two winners this month, but rather than choosing them on random days, both winners will be announced on the last day of the month. I will use a random number generator to choose the winning comment and to choose the dates of the winning posts. The more times you comment throughout the month, the higher the chances your number will be picked. Kind of like the Lotto. Here's the catch- I have done giveaways using engagement in the past, with set dates to announce, and what I have noticed happening is this: people will reserve their liking and commenting for one day - like homework - and go through all posts the day of or the day before the winners will be announced. The catch is this: a winning comment will only be considered valid if it was posted within the first 24 hours of the post. You know - to keep you all on your toes. ;) So - no need to race to be first, but don't save all your love for the last day. If this is confusing for anyone, please let me know and I will clarify further. 

- When the winners are chosen, I will tag them in the winning posts and post screen shots of the winning comments in my stories (you know - that odd feed at the top with the circles? Tap in there to watch them. Mine are terrible.)

- If you are chosen, you have for the duration of the story (they run for 24 hours before they disappear) to EMAIL me to claim your prize - NOT DM me. DMs are VERY glitchy and have never been a reliable means of communication for me - don't worry, I will remind you to email me in the story screen shot, if you are chosen) If I do not hear from you in that 24 hour time frame, I will choose another random comment to win and so on. (EDITED: I initially had this as announced ONLY in the stories, but it has been brought to my attention by several of you, that not everyone has the same version of IG and not all include this feature. If you do have it - check in on them every once in a while. The 24 hour term to claim still stands and the post following the expiration will choose the next winner.)

- If you win more than once, your certificates can be added together and they will not expire unless I go out of business. I will accept them as forms of payment for anything in my shop EXCEPT for the initial deposit on a payment plan.

If this doesn't work at all, I will have to discontinue it, but if it works and my business increases, I might be able to expand it. I will be sure to keep you all updated with any changes to this experiment.

If you have any questions, please ask! My email address is marina@stonesparrowdesign.com.

Thanks for reading!! See you on IG.

XOXO ~ Marina

 

Happy.

Hello.

I haven't written anything on here for quite a while. I typically write when I have the burning need to say something, but I haven't felt that need for so long. I think it's because I'm truly happy. It's a strange place to be - happy is. Happy means sleep, contented sitting, wistful smiles, empty headed kisses and fully invested hugs. Happy is a warm child's hand and my husband's strong arm around my shoulders. Happy is having a home to call my very absolute own, full of quiet, light and air. Happy is laying on the ground and making patterns in the tree branches. Happy is a loss of anger, a loss of stomach knots and tightness in the brow. 

A lot of things I had to say previously were fueled from this sense of unsettlement, lack of self confidence and loneliness. While I was always surrounded by my insular family, I feel less isolated steps away from the crowded city. I think it's because I can fully focus on them now and be more fully present in the moment. It's hard to explain the changes just moving homes brought me - but they're there. They're blossoming and they're full of warmth. I am still, if not more so, full of inspiration for my work, I just have fewer words to go with them. Like I'm happier to let them stand on their own without an explanation or an apology. I hope my work will continue on in this way - filled with a lungful of breath and a quiet mind - and I hope you all wont mind the subtle change.

XOXO

Marina

new adventure

Today is kind of a landmark for me, my family and my business. We have decided to move to a house just outside of NYC, to a home with more space, some grass and some trees. Out of the four of us (6 if you count Bug and Moose), I am the only one to have lived in a house before, so this will be a huge adjustment. The apartment I am currently writing this from has been our home for almost 8 years - the second longest I have lived in any one place - the first being the house I lived in longest as a child. My younger daughter was born here, my dogs came to live with us here and my business was born here. It has been a place full of memories and inspirations, but we out grew it long ago. I am looking forward to what our new space - our next chapter, holds for us.

Over the next few weeks (we aren't moving today...) I will be focusing entirely on my family, but when we are settled, I will resume work on my next collection of wearable art. Bone Yard will be a collection of memories, dusted off and brought to new light. My silversmithing journey has brought me to places I didn't think I would go. When I started this a year and a half ago, I was interested in making stone oriented adornment, but that has changed pretty dramatically to making things that are more like small, silver canvases - the stones being the accents to the narrative. I am very excited about the things my hands have been finding they can do. 

XOXO

Thank you for reading my last blog post, if you read it. A few people responded very kindly to me and most that did respond said they enjoy my writing. I always wanted to write a book, but never felt that I had enough to say or extremely engaging words to say what I do have to say with, but I've realized that I enjoy writing and this is as good an outlet as any to really begin doing so. So, if you want to get to know me more, check back in and every once in a while I will have something new to say. 

XOXO

Marina

thoughts. stuff about me. business changes.

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi

 

Since I was small, I wanted to be an artist and always looked at things differently than other kids. I was always drawing. I remember my mother coming into my room on Saturday mornings, thinking I was sleeping the day away, only to find me sitting in my bed drawing. Sleep was never really a necessary thing if I have something that needs to get out. Now, don't confuse my saying any of this with me saying I am an extraordinary artist or any kind of artistic genius - because I don't think I am, but I just know that if i don't make something, sometimes, it strangles me until it comes out. I'll bet more than a few of you will understand what I'm taking about. 

I always drew my friends when they came over to play - I wasn't great at just playing, though. There was always some kind of art project and kids rarely wanted to come back after spending an afternoon with me, making them stay still or drawing next to them while they played with my barbies (that all had my homemade clothes...). I won the town art contest in 5th grade with a painting of mountains, trees and rocks. My mother still has the painting hanging somewhere, I think. In high school, I filled all of my elective classes with art studio classes. I went to weekend classes at the Museum School - the art school attached to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I took the advanced placement Art course my junior year and scored a 4 out of 4.  My parents never wanted me to be an artist, though, and fought me pretty hard about going to art school, but caved when I said I wanted to study Architectural Design. So, I was accepted, early decision, in October of my senior year to Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. At the time, it was considered the top art school in the US - I have no idea where it is in the rankings, now, but I felt pretty good about myself and spent the rest of the year in the art room. I graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA. 

Between the end of high school and the first day of college, I was in a serious car accident. It has forever changed the way I look and, I think, the way I think. I am comfortable with it now, more or less, but beginning college with a face full of black stitches (and my full on goth attire at the time) created an interesting introduction for me, some crazy mean rumors, and put me square in the realm of "outsider". It was ok - I learned to rely on myself and to draw from my own strengths. 

While at Mass. Art, I took every elective I could afford - a small metals class was one of them. I got my introduction to metal forming, cold connecting, soldering and sawing. I made a bolo depicting a staircase from above and a copper box with an art nouveaux piercing on the top. During this time, I was also still studying Architecture and I would make abstracted buildings out of heated and formed copper sheet. These forms would become the basis for many of the building designs I came up with. 

My drawing studio professors always wanted me to switch majors. They said I didn't belong in design. They were right, and I knew they were right, but I felt like I needed to learn how to do something to make money to support myself. I was pretty certain I was predetermined to be on my own (with a butler - long story, but if you know me, you know what that's all about). Eventually, money did win out. I found out how much I would be making my first year at an architectural firm and how difficult it was for women to advance in the field. I was bartending and waitressing at the time, and I was making more money doing those things. So, I switched my major to Art History my last year and spend one extra semester to finish and spent the next several years working in restaurants. 

I moved to NYC in 2003 for a change of pace. As much as I love Boston, it got small. New York has never gotten small. I've been here for 13 years now, and its still an engaging, undulating place that, I think, will forever hold my attention. Anyway, I had aspirations to become a "famous artist" here, somehow. I took art classes at SUNY Purchase and at The Art Student's League of NY. I still worked in restaurants to support myself and hopped around the city - my first 2 years, i considered myself an "Urban nomad" - i lived in 12 different spots before meeting Udi (my husband) and finally settling down, but I never figured out how to build up the confidence to walk into a gallery with my work. 

I saw Udi across the room one night at 3am, in the LES, at an awful club my girl friend and I used to go to after work. It was the kind of place you went to to laugh at people (as terrible as that might sound, but I was young...). Anyway, I saw Udi's eyes from across the room. From the moment our eyes met, I felt it was fate that brought us together. It was the first time I truly believed in god or some higher being - someone that had a hand in dealing the cards we hold. My life was hard up until I met him. Things began to make sense afterward. 

Our relationship went pretty fast. We moved in with each other within a month of meeting. We set up house, got married and had our first child by our 3 year first date anniversary. During all of this time, I tried to "grow up". I tried working 9 - 5 at a hair salon, then I got my real estate license and went to work as a real estate agent. I was actually good at that. During the short time I was active (3 months), I sold 4 apartments and rented a whole bunch of them. Udi and I worked together and we were a really good team. Then our first born came about and I decided to be a stay at home mom. Udi is very good at what he does and it has always afforded me the freedom to do what I wanted, and what we thought was best was to have me at home, rather than having a nanny. Udi and I are alone in the city - his family is in Israel and my sister is in Massachusetts, my parents and I are estranged, so our day to day lives has always been just us. At that time, all of my artistic inclinations went into setting up house - cooking, making curtains, baby decorations, I taught myself how to knit and made blankets. After the kids were born, I would make very elaborate birthday party decorations and crazy cakes (one cake was a fondant castle with a gigantic mural of a princess, dragon and pirate having a tea party that took up our entire living room wall - of course, my daughter doesn't remember it at all). Then about a year after my second was born, I began really drawing again. It was a huge relief - that I still could draw after all the time not doing much and just getting the images out. At this time, Udi and I decided that i shouldn't go back to work in Real Estate, so I let my license go. I figured it was time to really try to be an artist, so I started with baby steps to confidence and opened an Etsy shop. Pigmented Fibers had a handful of prints and 3 t-shirt designs. I kept my shop open from 2011 - 2013 and I sold 12 items. But, I got good reviews and responses, so it was all ok. I realized that my 2D art work wasn't that fulfilling or appealing in a market place. My 2D art work has always been about me - self portraits even if it wasn't a portrait. Not everyone wants my stream of consciousness on their wall. SO, I started thinking about what else I could make. I always wanted to take more metals classes and I've been collecting turquoise for as long as I can remember, so I thought I could go, take a class and learn how to make bezel settings. I took an awful class at SVA. The teacher thought I already knew what I was doing (I assume because I was already familiar with a lot of tools from the class I took in college), but I really didn't. After my first ring was finished, every question I asked was answered without a solution. I got frustrated and decided to set up my own little studio in my art alcove in my apartment. So, by trial and error, I have been teaching myself how to make jewelry - you know - the reason you're bothering to read all of this nonsense. I have been buying hand made clothes since I could afford to and I developed a basic relationship with one sweet maker and asked her to evaluate my jewelry to see if she thought I could sell it. She did think so, and I started Stone Sparrow Design. 

I started this company so I could continue to investigate this medium. Silver and stones are very expensive and if I waned to continue making things at the rate I "needed" to, it would become a burden on my families' finances. My goal is to fulfill my artistic need and to have my business carry itself. It wasn't easy, but last year, my business did carry itself and after paying for my supplies, I had enough earnings left over to buy my husband a present to thank him for picking up my slack at home and for standing next to me while I turned into a crazy person - trying to fill custom orders, meet deadlines, and just became a general ball of stress and anxiety. 

I started doing this to build confidence in myself as an artist, to have an artistic outlet and to have a feeling of self worth - separate from my roles as wife and mother. When my following began to build, and i got such positive responses, I tried to make everyone happy. Custom orders make others happy, but do not make me happy. Popular, formula items - make everyone else happy if they're able to get one, but don't make me happy. Aside from that, I am not doing this to get rich. This doesn't make money. I charge materials costs, factor in minimum wage per piece for the actual time it takes to make the piece - not to design it, photograph it, advertise it and write all of the things I write on social media. I use the best materials I can afford. I use the thickest gauge silver I can manipulate. I try to make something for everyone that expresses interest. I do every aspect of this business with my own two hands.

I sent out 383 pieces since opening my website for sales in February 2015.

I cannot do it anymore. 

Not like this, anyway.

The other day, I had a rough day. My youngest daughter is having issues with a teacher at school and i got into a protective argument with her. I have a skin thing that I've been trying to have properly diagnosed for about 9 months and had a surprise biopsy. My husband has a bad back and his back went out. I had a customer pester me for a made to order ring that wasn't due to be completed for another week - for the 6th time since ordering it. 

If someone is unhappy the moment they order something and it isn't even made, I would prefer to refund them and save myself from further headache. There are some people it is evident from the initial contact that it is impossible to make happy. I know this. I have always worked hard - my entire life. Every day of it. I do my best, but sometimes it isn't good enough. I'm ok with that - its not rainbows and roses 100% of the time. I try not to let these things get me down. So, the nastiness and the refund and whatnot isn't what bothered me about my interaction with the customer the other day. What bothered me was - she told me she knew I was working to fill my website for another site release and that all I care about is making money, not taking care of my customers. 

All I have been doing is trying to make all 20,000 + of my followers happy. You guys like my Sparrow's Talon rings - I try to make as many of them as I can, in as many sizes and colors as you request. They pay for themselves and give me enough left over to buy materials for the next batch. I literally make zero profit off of them. Some of the stones I use for them cost $100, but I have kept the prices as streamlined as possible so everyone can get one, at the prices they expect to see them. Jewelry stores in my neighborhood charge so much more than what I charge and the things they're selling are mostly prefabricated - not hand made. I am trying to be "Insata" competitive and "Vintage" competitive - well, it's not for me to roll in buckets of money, like I was accused of trying to do. When I have extra, I give things away. I have given away 31 pieces of jewelry - real silver and real stones made 100% with my own two hands - since opening. It makes me happy. One girl was having a really hard time balancing school and a family catastrophe. She was open with me and told me about it. So, I sent her a ring I knew she wanted, but knew she couldn't really afford it. Another woman has been having a series of health problems - I sent her something that would maybe distract her from her problems - even for a little while. I have chosen give away winners based, not on how many followers their winning will get me, but on how it makes me feel to send it to them. My first give away winner hand just had a baby and couldn't afford to buy something. She was happy when she got the pendant and posted a photo say ing how pretty it made her feel. I pride myself on my relationships with my customers - I have a LOT of great relationships with a LOT of customers. More than I ever thought I would. Yeah - I have bills to pay and it would be amazing to get rich doing something I love to do, but the reality is, it's not going to happen. I want to make things that are interesting to make, interesting to look at, maybe have a hidden meaning or some fun story about where or how the miner found the stone. I will charge what all of that costs me, plus enough to pay my babysitter and enough to get started on the next one. I have that right. I will no longer try to fill my store with things only to make others happy, though. I have found out that it's not appreciated the way I had hoped and some people feel that they can demand things from me. My altruistic side has become jaded. Regardless of my intentions, I have the right to feed my family, if that's what my goal is or the right to feed my soul.

I need to feed my soul to feed my family.

From now on, my website will be filled with pieces that are designed from the intense need to create. I hope you will continue to follow along and check out what I have to show, but if you are only here for the things the hoard wants, there several silver smiths on Instagram copying my Talon rings - right down to the name and my signature hand cut bezels. I am sure they would be delighted to use my original idea as inspiration for your custom order.

Thank you for reading this far down the page. As you can tell, I am not about business - I am about heart, art and spirit. I am doing my best to remain professional, but in order to do that, I need to detach a little bit. It is very hard to be social (on social media), when your feeling anti-social. Stepping back is better than quitting, which was my first inclination. If you want to respond to me, feel free to comment below or send me an email if you'd prefer to be private. 

XO

Marina @stonesparrow


 

Updated policies page

As much as I prefer to be nice and understanding of everyone's particular needs, certain liberties have ben taken that are causing me to tighten a few policies that I had previously been more relaxed about enforcing. Please note the changes particularly to the reserved, payment plans and returns sections. A lighter blog post will be next, I promise. 

XO

Marina


***Care***

All of the jewelry on Stone Sparrow Design is hand made, mostly using natural stones. Please remove your jewelry before engaging in wet (bathing, doing the dishes, etc.) or sweaty activity as the moisture can damage the stones and remove the patina. Please be aware that while the patinas have been protected with wax, no patina is permanent and will change with time. Never clean your SSD jewelry with commercial jewelry cleaners or other abrasives as these will damage the stones and remove the patina. Simply wipe with a tarnish cloth, like the Sunsheen cloth that is included with your order, to brighten dulled areas. Returns will absolutely not be taken if an item has been destroyed due to customer neglect. 

***Custom orders***

Regrettably, custom orders are no longer being accepted.

***Made to Order items***

Occasionally, limited runs of made to order items will be offered. There are no refunds on made to order or made to size pieces. Please be aware that a made to order item will look as similar to the original as possible, but due to the hand fabricated nature of each component, no two pieces will be exactly the same.  Please allow 2 - 4 weeks for the fabrication of your made to order piece. If more than one item is ordered with a made to order item, the entire order will ship when it is completed. If you wish your ready to ship items ship sooner, please purchase ready to ship and made to order separately. 

***Payment***

Payment plans are considered on a case by case basis, but no more than 3 payments will be allowed for one purchase. A minimum, non-refundable, 20% deposit will be required to hold a piece for a reserved payment plan. The initial deposit payment is due within 24 hours or the piece will be released.

Payment is accepted through Stripe on Stone SparrowDesign.com, at this time. All major credit cards are accepted. If you prefer to use PayPal, please contact me.

***RESERVED items***

I will gladly reserve an item for you 24 hours after the item has been listed. You will have 24 hours to pay for the item in full, or to pay for the first payment, if a payment plan has been organized, before the reserve is lifted (see above for payment plan rules).

***Promotions / Sales***

Occasionally Stone Sparrow Design will run a sale, offer a promotion or giveaway. These will be announced on Instagram @stonesparrow, Facebook (Stone Sparrow Design page), or Tumblr @stonesparowdesign. Offers will not be extended beyond the time announced and terms and conditions will be announced at the time of the offer. Giveaway items will be produced and sent to the recipients within a period of up to one year after the winner is announced. Please be patient.

***Returns***

If for some reason, you are completely unhappy with your purchase, I will gladly accept returns in their original condition if the return is made with in SEVEN days of receipt with ALL original packaging. A 20% restocking fee will be assessed and the remainder of the purchase price will be refunded once the item has been inspected upon return. In the rare case that an item is received defective by the customer, a full return will be issued or a repair / replacement will be issued, however, you must contact me by email to marina@stonesparrowdesign.com immediately upon discovering the defect in the item. I am human and things can pass by me, but I take great care to deliver your jewelry as well made as I am able and photograph each item from all angles for viewing prior to purchasing. Full returns will not be accepted for customer sizing errors. Please know your ring and wrist sizes before ordering. Returns must be made fully insured and packaged as safely as they were sent. I cannot be held responsible for loss or damage during shipping or for careless packaging. All shipping charges are the responsibility of the customer.

***Shipping***

Domestic shipping choices are as follows:

US:

USPS 2 - 3 day Priority shipping which includes tracking, $50 insurance and signature confirmation for $10. 

USPS 2 - 3 day Priority shipping with tracking, insurance for the full purchase amount and signature confirmation for  $15.

Canada:

USPS international shipping $10

US only:

UPS Ground with tracking, insurance and signature confirmation for $20.

UPS 3 day air with tracking, insurance and signature confirmation for $30.

UPS next day also available upon request. Please contact me prior to ordering if this expedited option is desired.

International orders - a flat rate of $15 is added to all International orders (excluding Canada - see above) which only covers the USPS charge and tracking within the US. Shipping internationally typically takes 10 - 45 days from shipping to arrive depending on the destination and customs delays. Any and all customs fees imposed are the responsibility of the purchaser. I cannot be held responsible for damage, theft or delays in customs. I will not mark your order a gift or improperly alter the customs forms in any way, so please don't ask. If I find that I cannot ship to your country, I will promptly refund your purchase. Expedited shipping is not possible for international orders. If you would like your international shipment to be insured, please contact me prior to ordering. Insured International shipping is typically $45, but does vary by destination and the cost of the items purchased.

****I highly recommend the insured options. I am offering choices to avoid shipping mishaps once the packages leave my hands. I cannot be held responsible for delays, losses or damage that may occur in the mail. Your order will be shipped 3 - 5 business days after purchase.****

 

Additional shipping notes :

Each order will be pleasantly packaged with the current, on hand selection of supplies. If you would like one of a kind hand painted (by me) Stone Sparrow wooden box, a (one)box can be added to your order for a $35.00 additional charge with a jewelry purchase.  A shipping delay of up to a week will occur for bird box requests.

 

Customer fraud will not be tolerated. Credit card fraud will be reported to and investigated by your financial institution. 

By ordering from Stone Sparrow Designs, LLC it is implied that you have read and are aware of all policies. 

All rights reserved Stone Sparrow Design, LLC

All designs and text is made and created by Marina Eliasi and may not be copied or reproduced in any means with out prior consent.

Additional questions or concerns can be directed to marina@StoneSparrowDesign.com

One Year.

I have never worked at anything harder in my entire life, nor have I been so fulfilled doing so. I am head over heels in love with what I do. I am looking forward to many more years of creating adornments, wearable sculpture and art work. I am humbled at the thought that in 365 days, literally hundreds (over 300!!) of my creations have been dispersed throughout the world. My hands are happy. My head is happy. Now to get back to work. 

XO

New Year. New beginnings. Integrity.

My first 11 months open were way above and beyond my expectations. I never expected to be so widely and warmly received. I totally expected to sell a few pieces and have a happy hobby to tend to, but my business turned into a very full time job with thousands of watchful eyes on social media and a custom order list that I was forever struggling to keep up with. With the beginning of a new year, the perceptions of fresh starts, clean slates and new possibilities stretch before us. I'm choosing to take the opportunity to hone my craft further in the upcoming year and make pieces that are truer to my vision and less to what is better received. If they are one and the same - amazing! It means I'm on the right track. If they are not well received, at least I will have remained true to myself and remained a happy creator. I am very happy with the last several pieces completed in 2015. I feel like I might be on my right path. In keeping with the idea of integrity, I will be no longer accepting custom orders going forward. Too often I had to change my esthetic to make a customer's vision come to life and these kinds of pieces were difficult to complete and made me unhappy. I've found that i have never ending enthusiasm for this craft when it comes from my heart. Thank you for continuing to join me on my journey. 

Informal education.

Someone recently commented on one of my IG posts that they couldn't believe that I have been making jewelry for less than a year (just about 9 months, to be precise), but I have been collecting and observing Native American jewelry for my entire life. I am the type of person who finds out as much as possible on a given topic if it interests me enough, so I have read innumerable books about turquoise, various Native American jewelry styles, tribe spirituality, etc, since I was a child. My mother began it - she had a friend who was part something Native American who also sold vintage jewelry and antiques. She often dressed in full ceremonial regalia - feathers, full suede fringed and beaded dress - and I was over the top impressed by her. We would visit her home often and her dining table was always covered with treasure. All of my first most treasured possessions came from her - my most prized being a Tommy Singer belt buckle that was converted from a concho. It probably is still my most prized despite having other pieces that are more impressive to look at - I have such respect for his talents and innovations and I was very upset when he passed away fairly recently. Anyway, my point to sitting down to write all of this is, you can learn anything from observation. Technique can be absorbed through sight, touch and a little bit of knowledge "how". I am learning every day despite only have taken a handful of jewelry making classes (that I only took for about 3 months). I did go to art school and while there, the best lesson I learned is to copy the masters, then apply what you learned to your own, fresh ideas. I am hoping that my work conveys this and I aspire to reach "master" skill eventually, even if it takes me the rest of my life to get there. For those of you who are and have supported my craft, thank you. Thank you for your enduring support while I learn and hone my skills. I love to do what I do. 

Shop changes, thoughts, etc.

Well. I sure have been busy! I've literally not had time to sit to write anything here since beginning this crazy thing. Honestly, I really don't have time to be doing this now either, but I have some announcements and reflections to shareand this is the best place to do it, I guess, so here goes.

First - thank you all for your love and enthusiasm over my work! I was absolutely stunned to see the counter hit 80 transactions on this site alone, the other day, and that doesn't include PayPal or Etsy sales and I have over 3,000 amazing followers on IG. That said, I wasn't entirely prepared to hit the ground running on 2/1, when I opened shop, so I'm going to take the summer to step back (just one step - not closing shop!) and fix some broken things and figure out some things that I've needed to fix since day one, but didn't know how. 

Bird box changes...

I know a few of you will be upset about this, a few of you won't care at all and a few of you won't even know what I'm talking about. I was packaging every order with a custom drawn, wooden bird box. I think its a charming addition to my pieces and something nice to open up and see when you get your box from me. Unfortunately, I only have two hands and so many hours in the day and I simply cannot keep up with them and making jewelry to go in them. So. Rather than giving them up entirely, I've decided to offer them as a custom addition to your order. They will cost $20 additional with a jewelry purchase and you can buy one by itself for $35. These take me between 1 and 3 hours to complete - each. I've looked around at other artists selling similar things and let me tell you - $20 for original, custom made art work is a crazy bargain. For free was crazy on my end as a business person and they became incredibly stressful to make and shipping was getting further and further delayed because of it. If you do want one, I am asking for a week to complete it and ship out your entire order after purchase.

Custom orders...

I love custom orders. As a business person: who doesn't love a guaranteed sale? The unfortunate thing is, when offering customized everything, there are too many things to misunderstand or misinterpret and I have had to remake a few things. The funny thing is, one of the remakes is one of the things that I was most complemented on - ever (before remaking it). Remaking an item becomes a complete loss for me and it takes more time to get done and sent out. So. I will be offering custom orders with a choice of stone and one design. I haven't entirely figured out exactly how the format will be, but I will be figuring it out over the next few weeks. Custom orders take 3 WEEKS to complete!!! Asking me repeatedly if it's done yet just days after it's ordered only takes more time out of my production time, because then I have to answer you. I don't want to turn into a jerk and not answer and I really do love you all, but please be understanding. If you have a something in mind that you would like made and you think I will make it well for you, I would love to work with you. But, if it doesn't come out exactly the way you had in your mind, I will not be remaking pieces from now on. If you decide you don't want it, your deposit will not be refunded and I will try to re-sell the item. Last thing about customs - practically speaking, a drawing and reality are different. Practical changes need to be made sometimes in order for something to work from drawing to metal. (Sorry for the harshness - I'm really not mean!)

Pricing...

I use only natural stones (not stabilized or color enhanced or in any other way altered from their original out of the ground state other than cutting, shaping and polishing). I have been studying stones for quite a while (i am not a geologist or expert in any way, just an enthusiast). My mother was the one who began my interest in turquoise and Native American art, jewelry and culture and I've been surrounded by it for my entire life. I read everything I can find about turquoise (and the other stones I love) and strive to really know my product before presenting it to the wold. There is a proliferation of turquoise mis-information on the internet - just because it's on the internet or in the blog of a successful jeweler doesn't make it fact. The price of natural turquoise has sky rocketed over the last few months. My turquoise cost is huge. Additionally, I would like to keep a low carbon foot print and support American mines, so I only buy American stones (which are typically more expensive). Additionally, I hand make my embellishments - feathers, drops, leaves, etc. This takes time and increases my silver usage (I do not make my sterling chains, just the rings and clasps). I could use cheap, stabilized stones and buy machined findings, but I would rather try to produce a quality product and not just be an assembly line. I know I could most likely make more money if I did, but that's not what this is all about for me. At the same time, I cannot afford to give things away either and I have kids to help provide for etc. I consider each piece I make art and I have put all of my love into each one and I try to fairly price each according to cost and time.

Last thing I want to clarify - I took a small metals class in college in 1997. It was mostly cold techniques (hammering, forming, etc), but I learned how to saw and solder as well. Before that, my high school art teacher was a jeweler on the side and did a few little workshops - lost wax casting, etc, but as students, we only did the cold stuff. Then I didn't make anything for 16 years with the exception of a little Star of David necklace for my husband when we were still dating (mostly just to impress him). I didn't learn how to make a ring or a bezel setting until taking a CE class at SVA this past fall. My first ring was completed 10/9/2014. So, I really only have about 7 months of real jewelry making experience. Personally, I think I'm doing pretty well and I think most of you agree. I did not set out to promote myself as an expert or accomplished jeweler, but I never highlighted the fact that I am still learning as I go either despite being forthright in my bio.

Anyway - if any of you have any thoughts, please feel free to email me.

Gratitude...

I have been open for a week now and I am blown away by the support and encouragement I have received. This week has gone by far better than I could have ever expected. I am happy to know that I am on the right track. Thank you for watching. Thank you for your interest. Thank you for your business. Thank you for your praise.

About to begin...

Hello...if you're reading this, you are most likely curious to learn something about me. Well, I've written the basic stuff in my bio, so from now on, it's about getting to know me, right? The first thing you should know is that I am incredibly nervous to begin this venture. I tried something completely different a few years ago and it worked out entirely differently than I imagined, so this time, I'm investing more of my heart, soul and blood (literally - I've cut every finger...) into this one, and that comes with a fairly intense amount of nervousness - for me at least. So here's something you may want to know... Almost 20 years ago I took my first metal smithing class. We learned basic stuff - how to turn on the torch, how to form metal with a hammer, etc. I made a little box and a bolo tie by the end of the semester. It was a crazy expensive class to continue for me at the time, starving art student and all, so I squirreled away my tools and remaining silver and copper for better times and continued on with my Architectural Design major. Once or twice since, I picked up my saw and made something simple, but not all that much. Then, my littelest daughter went to school and I had a few hours to spend by myself, so I took a class. I realized that it was kind of like riding a bicycle. I didn't really forget anything and all of the ideas I had been unconsciously accumulating started to come out. Now, I am entirely addicted and get to share it all with you. 

My turquoise addiction is another story entirely...