composition

If you've ever spent time in the etsy forum, you've probably noticed many threads asking some variation of the question "how can I increase sales" or "how can I increase traffic to my shop?". I've taken part in some of these discussions and found that the advice is the same. To be an etsy success, one should a) offer a great product (one that stands apart, is of superior quality, and fills a niche), b) take excellent and interesting photos showcasing the piece, and c) spend time promoting the shop on etsy (forum, treasuries) and beyond (friends, family, neighbors, other websites, and local shops).

Of course, I'm interested in making my shop a success, so I've tried to improve in all three areas. But the photography issue was the one in most obvious need of repair. (I'll admit that I still have room for improvement, but oh, if you had witnessed the early days! I shudder at the site of those first photos!) So, I studied a bit and practiced even more. I've already mentioned my light box construction and the beautiful lighting in my backyard. But a photograph must have more than good lighting to be interesting. As I've learned by reading The Pioneer Woman's blog, a good photo must combine three elements: focus, exposure, and composition. I continue to work on focus and exposure, composition is the most interesting to me.

In my high school photography class, I learned a few things about composition, like the 1/3-2/3 rule and something about objects in the foreground (I don't remember a lot of details), but nothing that really helps me much with photographing jewelry pieces. So basically, I've been playing around with how I position pieces, the angles I shoot, and what I use as props. In most cases, the props are a simple piece of paper in a subtle shade, but sometimes I'll find something around the house that just seems to make for a more interesting shot. Example for today: my grandma's beautiful teacup! When my grandma moved into her smaller digs, she needed to pare down a bit, so my sister and I (and the cousins) found ourselves on the receiving end of a terrific bounty of family heirlooms. My eye was drawn to this teacup immediately. Though I'm not a tea drinker, I couldn't resist the gorgeous warm yellow exterior and the delicate floral design lining the inside of the cup. Isn't it fantastic? 

Since the cup is bold and colorful, I've used it to showcase something simple and small: the teeny, tiny penny earrings you see here, hanging from the rim. I think the bright yellow of the cup and the green background (out of focus) draws the eye in to the earrings, which somehow manage to be perfectly in focus--with no photoshopping! I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, so expect to see more interesting props in the b-line soon!
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blueberries

For about 20 years, my parents owned a blueberry farm, and since I was in my early teens when we acquired it, my summer job for the next decade or so involved picking, sorting, and selling blueberries (and a lot of other things we had in the farm gift shop). You'd think that all that exposure might cause one to want to avoid that particular food, but not me. In fact, for me, the quintessential summer fruit is the blueberry. I love how they look, how they smell, how they taste, and even how they feel. Yumm!

So, since blueberry season is just about to start (in Ohio and Michigan, anyway), I decided to make a treasury featuring the fruit and inspired by its smokey deep blue hues. First off, a beautiful photograph of blueberries by RobertSocha. I love the smokey film on the berries captured here. Tinctory's blackbird pendant also has that smokey look and reminds me of all those smocked dresses I wore as a kid. I would love to scrub my hands with savor's black mission fig soap after picking a few bowls full of blueberries!

Check out this adorable horned lark by BirdNerd. Isn't it cute? Birds sure are lovely creatures, but ask any berry farmer, and they are likely to regard them more as pests during the growing season (those birds are no dummies--they want the same goods we want!) We always struggled to keep the birds from decimating our crop and finally found that huge nets worked best. But, they definitely left something to be desired, aesthetically speaking. On the flip side, myrakim's birdcage veil is so gorgeous. I have no need for a veil, with my own wedding six months past, but I truly admire her work!

Summertime also makes me think of county fairs, and prize-winning produce and recipes. Marykaiser's camille carpet bag is so lovely, and the medallion pin just reminds me of all those blue ribbons! And kirbyvintage's blueberry beaded necklace would make perfect fair-ware (imagine with a crisp, white tee and a cute plaid mini!).

Michelemaule's Miss My Home mixed media painting is so precious. I love the colors she's used. And the title makes me think of times when I was homesick, like summer camp.

Speaking of summer camp, I remember a few really fun craft projects I learned in those weeks away from home. We'd play with clay, or beads and string, embroidery floss, you name it. In the years that have followed, I've continued to learn a lot about different crafts and hobbies, and I think I'm as good an artist now as I ever have been. But one fantastic aspect of selling on etsy is being inspired by all of the talent hosted on the site. I'm amazed when I see what others are doing. One such inspiration: gemmafactrix (see her adorable tiny bubble ring above). I love her work and totally get a kick out of reading her blog. Another: fellow Michigander, soleilgirl! My personal favorite from her collection are the leaf peace symbol brooches, though I've included the lovely navy tie belt here (for color consistency).

If you look closely at a blueberry, or tumble it between your fingers, you'll notice that most are not really round, but they actually have edges, or soft facets. Juliegarland's blue agate earrings mirror that quality beautifully. From afar, we see beautiful, round, blue stones, but up close, we see the gorgeous details.

Gorgeous details certainly are not lacking in vesselsandwares' small scalloped dish. This pretty platter is just begging for a yummy blueberry scone, in my opinion! Hmm...maybe it's time for a snack!

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creme de cassis

Dedicated readers of this blog know that I'm a bit of a francophile and have been since I was little--probably because my mom has an affinity for the language herself. While I had taken four years of French in high school, I was still pretty nervous about my language ability in college, so I enrolled in the intro French course, which followed the "French in Action" curriculum. The French in Action series centers around daily videos in which Mireille (a young French woman) and Robert (the American crushing on her) tour about Paris. In the process, Robert (and we) learn about the French language and way of life. 

Why I am telling you all of this? Well, as I was choosing items for my latest treasury, I was just drawn toward the warm, rich, jewel-red tones of creme de cassis (black currant liquor).  And creme de cassis always reminds me of the episode of French in Action in which Mireille and Robert visit La Closerie de Lilacs and order a kir. (Incidentally, when Andy and I were in Paris for our honeymoon, I insisted on ordering a kir, though not at the Closerie!)

So, without further ado, here's my latest treasury! First of all, could you find earrings more luscious than these by brookemarton? I think they are perfectly named and absolutely appetizing! I also love the rich berry tones in TickledPinkKnits' lovely wrist cuffs--almost makes me long for the fall and cooler weather! What really makes me long for fall is the amazing barn shot captured by cjshanks. After spending the last few days camping, I'm quite pleased to be back in civilization, but this photo makes me slightly jealous of the bucolic way of life.
Any treasury focused on rich, wine tones definitely needs a lovely painting, and I can think of none more appropriate than Stains by lemonwoodclock. When I look at this, it just makes me think of how the table might appear after a wonderful dinner party! For such an event, I'd want to dress in something that others could admire--like this chunky, funky faux bling studs by littlepurls. And I know that this pink dandelion by MikeandMary would have lots of people wishing they had one of their own!

I just love the bold statement that harlequinfeltworks' classic rose scarf makes.  It reminds me slightly of an Elizabethan ruff, but much more flattering! Speaking of flattering, anyone looking for simple and sophisticated jewelry should check out ThePeachTree's shop. I have two pairs of earrings from her that I wear incessantly. I think these Cotes du Rhone danglies would look so nice with an updo and a simple dress.

I personally love the combination of cool blues and warm reds--my living room is a testament to this--and I've been eying the emmeline pillow by enhabiten for a while now. I just love it! As a teacher, and one who has always loved school (especially back-to-school time in the fall!), I just adore littlelolas' Bus Stop painting (and I'm awfully fond of the name Lola!). Plus, I'm not quite sure what those three girls are thinking, and I get a kick out of imagining their conversation.

I'm getting to the point in life where I'm much less likey to don shorts (except when exercising), usually opting for pants, capris, or a feminine skirt. But I do absolutely love the way those baggy pleated shorts highlight the lush, colorful sari top from leolucaescobar's shop. The whole ensemble is just lovely. Virtually since joining etsy, I've been an admirer of thenoisyplume's work. The colors, the texture, just fabulous, if you ask me. The garnet cabs on these January baby earrings are so smooth and rich in color, they remind me of...creme de cassis! 

Now, after all this, I'm getting a bit parched, so I'm going to hunt down a nice glass of wine!

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cordelia

 
Originally uploaded by thebline
Would you just look at her? I'm just loving the mixture of colors and shapes in the necklace I made today, called cordelia. The stones that make up this necklace were given to me by my dad, who also had a little crush on gems at one time. It seems to run in the family! 

I'm guessing these are actually from his parents, who had a stockpile of lapidary equipment that we all inherited. I never knew my grandpa, since he passed away before I was born, but my grandma sported colorful jewelry all the time--often custom pieces she had made with stone she had found herself! (Not found, as in seeing them in a shop or catalog, but found along a stream or an unbeaten path.) I remember going through her rings and necklaces and bracelets when my sister and I would occasionally have slumber parties at her house. She would sit us down at her vanity and "make us up" with bright coral lipstick and red rouge. We must have been a sight!

She had such a knack for finding gems in the wild. Whenever my grandparents would search for interesting stones and rocks, it seemed my grandma would find the largest, or at least the most precious. I can't be sure, but I like to think that she found at least a couple of these! (In case you're wondering, I've saved plenty for myself!) 
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clique

What is is about turquoise and orange? Why do they look so lovely together? Particularly in the summer, the combination seems irresistible (at least for me). Maybe the pair remind me of the hot summer sun and the cool ocean below it. One thing is for sure, there are plenty of orange and turquoise items on etsy! Here are a few that I find absolutely charming...

To start, I am totally smitten with PamelaAngus's stained glass pendant. It's so organic and earthy but pretty and feminine at the same time.  I think it would look smashing with brookethere's stunning orange jacket.  Looking for something none of your friends are likely to have? Kjoo's pendant is so intriguing and multidimensional! 

Orange and turquoise objects for the home are a must!  Papaververt's wool pillows have been in my favorites for a while now--I can totally imagine snuggling up with one for a nice catnap. Pengwynneart's original drawing would look awesome in my living room--how about yours? Even in this "electric" age, I still do manage to write a handwritten note every now and then (though I took a little break after all of those wedding thank you notes!) and I just love letterpress cards, particularly these by paperdragonfly.

I'm a huge fan of cserdan's work--the color and texture combinations she comes up with are simply brilliant.  My mom and mother-in-law each received one of her bracelets this year for Mother's day!  Her summer blooms bracelet is so gorgeous! Morphologie's fling necklace is on my personal wish list--I just adore the colors--and I love how she shows the back of the necklace in this photo, as I always seem to be wearing the back of my necklaces in front!

Speaking of photos, foundling's red flower earrings are simply adorable, but I have to admit that it was really the little crate in the pic that drew me in. Not because it's turquoise, but because my family used to own a blueberry farm and the crate just makes me a little nostalgic! If you are pining for the past in any way, perhaps you've noticed daisidvintjunky's safari dress, which I think looks perfect for a hot summer day.  Pair it with theseawithin's fabulous forrest purse and tqbdesigns' colorful eye-catching dots necklace and you'll be ready to take on anything!


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fluffernutter


Yes, that's right!  I have made another treasury that centers on food (or at least gets its inspiration from something edible)!  For some reason, I started thinking of fluffernutters the other day (peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches, in case you're not familiar) and had to start working on a treasury right away (better than diggin' in to an actual sammie, I suppose!).  I was delighted by what I found, starting off with janeofalltrades' fluffernutter chocolate truffles. I mean, how ridiculously delicious must those be?  And I can only imagine how good any fluffernutter would be if one started with whimsyandspice's caramel marshmallows! Better yet, serve them in a handsome bowl by happylake!

There were relatively few non-food peanut items on etsy (my own farrah necklace came up on the search), but I found presley q. peanut (chetanddot) perfect for the collection. Of course, we all need a mate, so I found a friend for presley in the adorable fluffkin by leafty. But fluffernutters are sticky, so you'd sure want to wash your hands with this delectable soap by LilyBaySoap before playing with either one of them. While your hands are clean, don't you just want to run some of farmhouseweavers' curls and fluff wool through your fingers?

Some people like to add things to their fluffernutters, like bananas.  I tend to think this is a great pairing, taste-wise, not to mention the sheer aesthetics.  Want proof?  Just take a look at this gorgeous scarf by fringe and the beautiful necklace by equilibria

More of a purist? You might prefer marieflyfly's eggs necklace for its comely simplicity. Whatever your choice, any of these three would look fabulous with this bonny ruffly ecru cotton top by larimeloom. For cooler days, you might want to don this fun dress by Wildewear and hit the road, a vision in peanut butter and fluff (hues, anyway).  


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olives & red wine

After spending the morning getting chilly and soaked (another day at VBS--lots of energetic kids with spray bottles), I reveled in the chance to fashion these earrings with warmer tones.  I found the muscovite beads in Ottawa and just had to get them.  The beads have such beautiful flecks of red and gold through out--almost like red wine jelly with gold suspended in it.  I decided to go simple with the earwires rather than add any distracting details. 

Another new favorite is the delicately marbled impression jasper.  To me, the green, brown, and rust tones throughout really capture the colors of an olive grove. Yum! Again, the stones take center stage here, with just simple bent earwires.

More coming soon!

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butter mints


I'm up earlier than usual this week since I am volunteering for VBS at our church. My reward? Waking up in time to get a treasury! This one is filled with soft pastel yellows, pinks, and greens, just like the dish of butter mints my grandma would offer us after dinner when we were visiting her. That was years ago, when she lived in a duplex in Florida just steps from the swimming pool where we would spend our days. She's now in Texas, and in much smaller digs, so meals are taken outside the home. But somehow, I think she's probably got some butter mints in a dish waiting for a visitor to dive right in!
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licorice and lollipops

Nearly a week after returning from our trip to Ottawa, and I've been playing around a bit with the beads that I bought while I was there. I'm now wishing I had bought more!

Here's the francesca necklace!  I just love the matte black faceted lucite bead and I think it looks really lovely with the fuchsia agate beads. The intense color of the beads is contrasted with bright sterling silver chain in a figure eight pattern. As with many things I've been making lately, this one is asymmetric too, just enough too add a little interest!

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light box

 
Originally uploaded by thebline
Over the past few months, I've done my fair share of reading regarding how to promote my shop and make it more visible on etsy. The overwhelming advice is to make beautiful photos, which, of course, means that the subject must be pretty good (at least), and that the lighting must be great and the composition noteworthy. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I do think that my photos have improve drastically since I opened shop in mid-March. 

A significant improvement came when I constructed a "light box" from a few pieces of cardboard and some white paper. I cut a hole in one of the cardboard pieces and inserted a piece of vellum (lots of paper lying around--read previous post!) to use as a light filter. The effects were amazing--dark shadows were eliminated and the light allowed me to focus in better and show more of the details of my work.

But lately, since we've been enjoying some excellent sunny, summery weather, I've taken several shots outside, especially ones in which I model pieces. The light box works well, but it is incredible how much more appealing (in my opinion) the natural light photos are. Here's one of me in the jezebel necklace this morning!  With these results (at least for now), my back yard is my new light box!
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from mac to vista and back

No, not that vista!  For those of you who have been following along, I am still totally enraptured with my mac and I used it the other day to design and order new business cards and thank you notes for the b-line from vistaprint.  They arrived incredibly fast (I thought I would have to wait a few weeks and they arrived in days) and I love them!  (Not to mention the huge discount I got for using a promotion code I found online!)

It makes good business sense, of course, to have business cards on hand, and I hand them out and include them with orders whenever I can.  But beyond that, I ordered these cards because I have an obsession (second only to my love for jewelry making) with office supplies. I don't know why, but I can't get enough of pens and paper, cardstock and envelopes, pencils and stamps (and yes, if you are wondering, this means I have a HUGE collection of office supplies and cardmaking/scrapbooking tools).  And I'm impressed with the quality of these--very thick and sturdy cardstock.  I chose to print the back of the cards a solid blue, just for a little punch of color, which I think looks nice.

Feel free to head to the b-line and order something if you'd like to see what these look like in person!  :)

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etsy finds



One thing about selling on etsy is that by constantly checking on my shop, the treasuries, the front page, flickr, etc., I have discovered a huge cache of other talented etsy sellers. I'm not going to do the calculations, because I'm afraid what I would find, but let's just say that I've spent quite a bit at etsy shops, from beads and other supplies, to jewelry, gifts, and the adorable dog collars that my two girls are wearing here (luckyfiona). Lola's the weimie and Sita the black lab. Aren't they precious?! (They're both a bit warm since we are experiencing an August-like hot spell in the middle of June!)

I'm off to shop for some soap (etsy, of course) now!

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oh la la!

 
Originally uploaded by ArtMind etcetera
Woke up today to find that the b-line had been featured on the front page again in this adorable treasury by behappynow. Views are definitely up again--hoorah!--and I hope sales will follow. With vacation over the last week, I certainly feel in a bit of a dry spell!

Wilma (the featured bracelet) is enjoying a little run of popularity this week, as it turns out! She's currently featured in two treasuries!  I think I'll have to make a "betty" bracelet just to celebrate, and keep her company in case she doesn't sell soon!  Stay tuned!

In other news, I got a shipment of beads in as we returned from our recent trip and my new favorite are the faceted hematite rounds I used to make the gisele earrings shown here.  They catch the light in ways you can't even imagine, but they also have this dark moodiness that I just love!  I tried to pick up the play of light and shadows by using both sterling silver and oxidized silver. I'm smitten!  Hope you like!
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no more rhyming now, I mean it!

Anybody want a peanut?  
I love this scene from The Princess Bride--it reminds me of my college days when my friends and I used to reenact it regularly (we never got tired of it!). And though this cute little bead isn't quite a peanut, that's all I could think of as I was making it! I love this cute little necklace so much I'm thinking of making one of my own. This seems to be an occupation hazard for me, but it's one that I'm okay with for now. (Good marketing getting all that exposure, right?) :)
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bead envy

We're on day five of our trip to Ottawa and I'm going through withdrawal!  Because I knew I'd spend way too much time making jewelry if I brought my supplies along, I left them behind in Ohio with my parents and our dogs.  I feel so unproductive--I'd just like to make something.  Soon enough, though--we'll make our way back tomorrow.  In the meantime, I headed to the bead shop in the Gleeb for a little bead fix and found some gorgeous new supplies!  Can't wait to make something of them!
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warming tones


Andy and I are in Ottawa right now, visiting his parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. We enjoyed a lovely day yesterday, sleeping in (I love vacation!) and visiting the war museum (well, lovely is not really the right word to describe this museum, but is was really interesting and I learned a lot about the history of war, especially with respect to Canada--that is, until we were overcome by a crowd of junior high students). We continued on to the Glebe for a coffee and a little bead shopping and walked down the street to dinner later that night at Fratelli's. Yum!

Today, the mercury is rising. Unable to sleep in late, I was up checking things out on Etsy and realized I was just in time to snag a treasury on west. Summer is finally here and I was inspired by the warmer tones of the season.  Here's the result. I love how it turned out, actually! These are almost all items from my favorites that just seem to look fabulous together--like they were made for each other. I have high hopes for this one! ThePeachTree is a regular favorite of mine, as is enhabiten. And I am seriously coveting that corset ring by lunaticart!
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anvil chorus


If you're the type of person who tries to get by with what you have instead of finding the right instrument, then we have something in common.  It seems like I am always using a screwdriver when I really need a chisel, or pounding in a nail with the flat part of a pair of pliers.  We know it ends up working poorly and taking more time, right?  So why not just get the right tool from the start?  Laziness is usually my excuse, or being to stubborn to admit that there really is a "best" way to do something.  At any rate, after trying to find different hard objects around the house to use in my jewelry making (the pounding and shaping part), I finally caved and bought an anvil.  A teeny tiny adorable little anvil that has made shaping silver earwires, etc., easier than I could have imagined.  As usual, I am left asking myself, Why did I wait this long??

So today, I am celebrating my new anvil.  It's such an adorable little thing and takes a lot of stress for its little footprint.  Here I'm just using it as a prop, but I did flatten and harden the silver earwires using it as well, in case you were wondering.  If you've been to the b-line recently, you've probably noticed a lot more earrings on offer as well--proof of how much I love working with this new hunk of metal!
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