Saturday, December 17, 2011

One Year Anniversary of Sparkling Creations! (A Week Late)

I’m so pleased to be celebrating the one year anniversary of Sparkling Creations! Technically, I am one week late, because I received my small business license on December 10, 2010.  However, certain events, such as the last week of school here in Rockingham County and my 29th birthday, prevented me from really celebrating this important milestone for my business!

The most important lesson I’ve learned this year though has been that patience/perseverance is the key to running a small business. Period.  I have lost count of the many times I have uttered the prayer “Why God have I committed myself to this insanity?” throughout the past year.  I have learned to press on through weeks of not selling a single jewelry piece, spending entire days photographing jewelry and then realizing that in each photo there’s something you can’t photoshop out, having to type in four months of sales/expenses again due to a corrupt file, having a “friendly” chat with the Virginia Department of Taxation over sales tax, etc.  However, despite those trials, I did manage to preserve and continue my commitment to this business.  I read the entire Bible over the past summer and whenever I get frustrated over events such as the ones mentioned, I found this verse:

 “We count those blessed who endured.  You have hear of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”  ~James 5:11

While I have definitely not suffered the trials poor Job had to deal with, this verse has been a great encouragement to me as I’ve dealt with the more unpleasant aspects of running my jewelry business.

God gave me so many amazing opportunities this past year-I’ve done four craft fairs, one jewelry party, sold jewelry online both domestically and internationally (Canada), created almost two hundred pieces of beautiful jewelry, wrote a detailed business plan, the list could go on and on.  The most amazing thing though is that for the 2011 business year, Sparkling Creations Jewelry has made a small net profit!!  If you had told me a year and a half ago, that I would not only be running a small business, but making a small profit off of it, I would have laughed in your face.  Very loudly.

It’s just proof to me that God is full of surprises and uses people (such as myself) to do incredible things.  I’m definitely looking forward to another year of them!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Accomplishing Goals-A Ring for Every Occasion!

A few months ago, I mentioned that I had created a list of 15 items to do before I turned thirty on December 15, 2012.  I am pleased to report that I have successfully accomplished #15 Creating a ring completing out of wire! 

I love the versatile nature of this ring design, seeing as I can use a wide variety of crystals and gemstones of different shapes and sizes in order to create beautiful rings.  I can also choose between sterling silver and copper wire for even more design possibilities!  Here’s a few examples of rings that I’ve made the past couple of weeks:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Business Update (much delayed)

I know that I haven’t updated this blog in several months-however, I really don’t like blogging about nothing and not much has gone on business wise, until recently!  The highlights:

-On October 15th, I participated in the Broadway Fall Festival.  It was an outdoor event and while not the most productive sale wise, it certainly was very memorable.  I spent the entire time, holding down my display as wind gusts up to 25mph swept through the
Main Street

-Right after the Fall Festival, I received an invitation through my Etsy account to participate in the 2nd Annual Artisan’s Holiday Bazaar on the James Madison University campus on November 30th!  I am very excited about this opportunity, especially since the Events department on campus found my work of high enough quality to participate!  It’s from 11-5, but I have a very cool boss, who is letting me take off that day from work in order to take part in this event.

-A few days after the Holiday Bazaar at JMU, I am participating in yet another craft fair.  The Christmas Craft Fair will take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds on December 3rd and 4th.  I sold jewelry at the Spring Craft Fair at that location and had a modest profit from the event.  However, after talking to several local friends, I found out that this particular event can attract up to 5,000 people over the course of the weekend!! 

-Finally, here are a few jewelry pieces that I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jewelry Party Success!

Saturday August 22nd was a big first for me-the first time that I undertook the responsibility and privilege of organizing and putting together a jewelry party!  It offered some unique challenges (coordinating invitations, spending 10 minutes in Walmart agonizing over which gift bags to put purchased snowflake ornaments in, transportation of 45+ cupcakes by myself, etc.). 

Despite complications though, it was a very enjoyable experience for me and one that I will definitely repeat in the future! My good friend Beth hosted it at her beautiful house for me. (My humble apartment wouldn’t have worked, unless you wanted to party in an oversized cubicle.)  In addition to my sterling silver and copper jewelry, I displayed snowflakes, which I used bead weaving techniques to create with seed beads and Swarovski crystals.

However, the most important part of my party was the fact that I donated 25% of my sales to another good friend of mine, Emily, who will embark on a five year mission term to Italy starting in 2012.  Here’s a link with more details about her trip and Avant Ministries, which she does her mission work through.

Finally, here’s a few snapshots of the event-enjoy!

I had some assistance for putting the ornanments up!

Tree of Life Pendants!

Me with my display table
 Emily examining my selection!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Celebrating Your Birthday With Sparkling Brilliance!

For centuries, people have associated birth stones with specific months of the year.  While I am very skeptical of the metaphysical significance behind the birthstones, I do like the idea of associating a specific stone with a birth month.  Since birthstone jewelry has remained popular, I created a simple earring design, which allowed me to be flexible in incorporating the various stones.

However though, seeing the cost of some of the rarer stones, costs have prevented me from using most of the traditional birthstones in my jewelry.  (and unless I find a diamond mine in my backyard, I’m afraid that people with April birthdays are out of luck.)

Fortunately though, the Swarovski Crystal Company has associated crystal colors with birth months.  I’ve included the complete list with pictures of my earring design.  Enjoy!

January-Garnet, February-Amethyst, March-Aquamarine

April-Crystal AB, May-Emerald, June-Violet

July-Ruby, August-Peridot, September-Sapphire

October-Rose, November-Topaz, December-Blue Zircon

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Creation of a Tree of Life Forest

I described in an earlier post, my Biblical tree of life pendant necklace, inspired by a passage in the book of Revelation.  Since then, I have created over a dozen more trees of life pendants.  I decided to create a post about them, because a few days ago, one of my co workers referred to them as my “signature item”.

My various trees of life are definitely among some of my favorite handcrafted pieces.  I first saw the pattern for them in a Beadstyle magazine and wanted to give it a try.  After examining the pattern though, I thought that the 3mm rondelle crystals used in it gave the tree kind of a “shrunken” look.  So, I substituted 4mm round Swarovski crystals to serve as the main decoration. 

At first, the seasons inspired me in creating my trees.  For spring, I used lavender and tanzanite crystals to represent blooming purple flowers, while I utilized emerald and fern green crystals for the lush summer foliage.  Indian red and smoked topaz crystals served as the bold changing colors of autumn and for winter, I used white opal crystals for snow covered branches, with blue zircon crystals as the ice at the tip of it.  Here are some examples of my spring and autumn trees.

Then, I decided to expand my little forest by creating a wide variety of fruit trees!  So far, I’ve created apple, blueberry, lemon, orange, plum, and grapefruit trees.  My favorite of these has to be the lemon tree as you can see, the yellow is brilliant.

I’m always looking for ideas for new trees and so far, I’ve thought of nut, blackberry, cherry and coconut trees.  You will see these new additions to my little forest in the near future!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Metamorphosis of an Idea into a Beautiful Butterfly Necklace

It all started with a forgotten pendant.  I had purchased a beautiful aquamarine butterfly pendant from Michaels, when I first became seriously interested in making jewelry in 2009.  However, I could never really find a use for it, especially since I had to make a handmade bail for it, which was beyond my skill level at the time. 

A couple weeks ago, I had resigned myself to the task of sorting and organizing my beading supplies.  I stumbled across this pendant again and I suddenly had the thought-wouldn’t it be neat to see this butterfly resting on a flower? 

With that thought in my head, I decided to create a cluster pendant with colors to resemble the petals of a beautiful flower.  First though, I formed a handcrafted bail out of sterling silver with a topaz Swarovski crystal to represent the middle of the flower.  Then, using padparadscha and rose water opal Swarovski crystals for the pink petals, I wire wrapped them to jump rings, with the butterfly pendant dangling down from it.  Here’s a picture of the actual pendant:

For the actual necklace, I wanted the strands to imitate the lush green of flower stems and leaves.  I created several wire wrapped links using Swarovski crystals in various shades of green (Pacific opal, chrysolite opal and fern green).  In addition, I used small portions of sterling silver cable chain to connect the pieces as shown below:

I love how the necklace turned out and I hope to create more beautiful pieces reflecting God's creation in the near future!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Beaded Snowflake Ornanments

For those of you, who want a break from hot weather or just can’t wait for the holiday season, here’s a few samples of beaded snowflakes ornaments I’ve made over the past couple of weeks!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Capturing Lovely Jewelry on Film (Or on a Memory Card)

Photographs have always appealed to me in their ability to forever preserve a beautiful scene, person or object.  For many years, I have enjoyed participating in the field of photography as an amateur. 

Then I started taking pictures of my jewelry for my small business.

I will honestly say that photographing my jewelry is, by far, the most frustrating part of operating my small business.  I cannot even begin to count the times I have resisted the urge to throw my camera against a wall, due to weather conditions, blurry photos, jewelry pieces not staying in position, etc. However, my personal “favorite” has to be the time when my photo lens jammed and the camera wouldn’t take a photo, just after I had positioned a necklace which had finally stayed draped on a vase after ten tries to get it to stay into place.

Fortunately though, technology has been a blessing, in that I can just take another picture, without worries of wasting film.  I have a Canon PowerShot, which has several helpful settings, including macro mode, which allows you to take photos of small objects in great detail. 

For outside shots, I set up a mini studio behind my apartment building.  I spread a white towel over the cellar door and take photos, if the weather decides to cooperate. 

However, I don’t have to depend on nature to take good photos though.  For Christmas, my parents gave me a portable light studio, complete with lights and a tripod.  The thin walls diffuse the light, greatly reducing shadows and really help the photos look more professional.

Despite the headaches of photographing my jewelry, I will say that getting that perfect photo does make the whole tedious process rewarding and is a very effective means of promoting my jewelry!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Exclusive Peek at a Jewelry Workspace

When one imagines a craftsman’s (or craftswoman in my case) work place, I’m sure they think of a sunny spacious room, with soothing music in the background to create a comfortable work environment.  Shelves of craft supplies line the walls with a large work bench in the middle of the room, ready to create dozens of masterpieces.

Sounds great huh?  Well, this lovely image is the complete opposite of my current jewelry workspace.  With the constant blaring of my neighbor’s rap music and their shouts in addition to a beat up coffee table, the uniqueness and personality of my little “studio” cannot be denied.

In all seriousness, I really do like my current workspace, humble in nature as it might be.  I wanted to give a brief “behind the scenes” look at it for this blog.

Here’s a wide shot of it:

I usually sit over here to work on a piece of jewelry.  As you can see I have my pliers at the ready, with my current project laid out on the bead board:

This stand is actually a bamboo serving tray that my mom didn’t want.  I use it to store various supplies, including Swarovski crystals, tools, a steel block for hammering wire and of course my little hedgehog friend. 

Finally, here’s a bookshelf, where I store jewelry catalogs, books, my small business information, patterns, and sketches of my jewelry pieces.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Coming up: the painful process of capturing jewelry on film.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Behind the Scenes: In The Beginning There Was Inspiration…

(For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be doing a short “behind the scenes” series on the process of creating my jewelry pieces.)

A couple of times, friends have asked me how my jewelry ideas come to me. The creative process (at least for me) isn’t a magical experience where waves of creativity hit me and I get this huge rush where I make a dozen jewelry pieces instantly. Most of the time, I can just look at crystals, gemstones, etc. and something just clicks color or design wise. 

These ideas seem to come at the most inconvenient times and I have to quickly sketch out the idea on whatever writing materials I have on hand.  These include scrap paper, napkins, church bulletins (I pay attention to the message I promise!), inside of book covers, and the back of ticket stubs. 

Here’s one jewelry piece that I’m still in the middle of working on.  It’s an idea that came to me when I saw a butterfly shirt that a kid wore at my job, so I had to hurry and sketch it there:

Once I actually have an extended amount of free time, I sketch out my ideas in colored pencils.  I really don’t consider myself a good drawer, but it really helps to have everything laid out on paper, so I know what materials to purchase, figuring out measurements, etc.  These drawings are two pieces that I made in May:

I collect these sketches in a binder and often refer to them as I create the pieces.  Although it takes a while to sketch them, time passes quickly as I commit my ideas to paper.

Coming soon: a not so exclusive behind the scenes look at my jewelry “studio” where I create my sparkling pieces of art!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fifteen Things to Accomplish Before I Turn Thirty

I’m going to deviate slightly from the topic of jewelry to introduce my official list of items to accomplish before I turn thirty years old in December 2012.  Some of these items do involve my jewelry making business, so I thought I would include it on my blog!  Here is the official list and I bolded the jewelry related items:

1)      Shoot a handgun (at a nonliving target)
2)      Climb a REAL cliff
3)      See the Pacific Ocean in person
4)      Make $3,000 in jewelry sales (Very ambitious I know!)
5)      Play “Greensleeves” on guitar (my favorite Christmas carol)
6)      Read the entire Bible cover to cover (working on this one….)
7)      Fully memorize fifteen Psalms in the Bible
8)      Go horseback riding
9)      Go on at least five dates (preferably with the same guy)
10)  Finish translating Aletheia discipleship course into French (my church’s Bible study course)
11)  Go on the zipline at Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, Virginia(completed this one on June 3, 2011)
12)  Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
13)  Find a place to volunteer once a week
14)  Lead a complete Bible Study one night
15)  Make a ring completely out of wire

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Copper: The New Black (at least for me!)

For the past year, I have almost exclusively worked with sterling silver wire and chain in my jewelry pieces.  However, as some of you are aware of, the price of silver has risen dramatically in the past couple of months.  Since, I am only in the beginning stages of my jewelry business; I started to worry that the cost of materials would greatly slow my growth.

However, my friend, Emily, asked me a month ago, to reconstruct a necklace for her, using copper wire.  I first warmed up to the metal, when I went to the bead shop to buy supplies for her project and noticed the large gap in price between silver and copper wire!  As I wire wrapped her necklace, I noticed how easier it was to form the copper wire with my pliers and from then on it was a match in heaven! 

I learned through a bit of research that copper is one of the oldest metals used by man, dating back from 6,000 B.C.  It was used for weapons, armors, art ornanments, pottery and jewelry (of course).  The Bible even references the material, when Jesus saw the poor widow in the temple give her humble offering of two small copper coins.  I am proud to continue in this historical tradition and have to thank Emily for helping me open a new creative path! 

Here’s a few examples of my new pieces of copper jewelry:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Biblical Jewelry Inspiration-the Tree of Life

As a Christian, I believe that it is a goal in my business to create jewelry pieces to the very best of my ability, in order to glorify God and give him back the talent that he granted me. However, besides having business principles which reflect God’s Word, it can be difficult to demonstrate my faith through my actual jewelry pieces.

However, about two months, I was reading the Bible and came across this verse:

“On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”  ~Revelation 22:2

I enjoy making wire wrapped tree of life necklaces, so the idea suddenly popped in my head: “Why don’t you make a Biblical tree of life using different color crystals for the fruit?”  I happily followed that train of thought and here’s the result:

Although I think this tree is beautiful, I feel that it is a pale reflection of the real, eternal one waiting in heaven!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Premiere of Kristin's Bridal Jewelry!

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of creating bridal jewelry for my friend Kristin.  Her wedding is in September, but I prepared her pieces far in advance, because as we all know, brides to be have much to prepare for the big day!  I had never created jewelry for a wedding before, but I definitely took up the creative challenge!

I cannot take full credit for the designs though, because Kristin played an active role in helping me create them!  For her wedding, she will only have one bridesmaid, her sister and she chose dark red and chocolate for the colors.  After looking at some of my jewelry pieces, Kristin chose these two pieces for her sister.

For her own necklace and pair of earrings, Kristin wanted pieces that matched the sparkling crystals in her lovely veil and dress and the dark red and chocolate colors.  She also wanted a pendant for her necklace, so after much consideration, we decided on combining the style of this necklace

With the colors of this one:

To create this lovely necklace!

Here’s the earrings to match!

I love how the pieces turned out and I look forward to seeing Kristin and her sister wearing them in the fall!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New blog!

Hello!  I'm pleased to present my new blog, which will detail in depth aspects of my jewelry making small business.  It's so easy for me to post a few pictures of my pieces online and for people to quickly glance at them for a minute say "Oh how pretty"  then move on another site.  Therefore, I want to create a more personal inside look into my business and hopefully get some insight from my readers as what types of jewelry styles/pieces that they would like me to create.

Contents of this blog will include my inspiration for my jewelry, my latest jewelry styles, updates on future craft fairs, jewelry making instructions, etc.  I will probably update this blog two or three times a week, due to the fact that I do not have Internet access in my apartment.  Any suggestions/comments are greatly appreciated!

Within the next couple of days, I will post pictures of a bridal jewelry set that I made for my friend Kristin's wedding!