Monday, September 28, 2015

Team Chase Fall Tea & Fashion Show

Yesterday (last Sunday) we were involved with the Team Chase Fall Tea & Fashion Show.  It was an event in our town of Chase to raise money for Breast Cancer Research.  We had the opportunity to show off our latest jewelry pieces from our "Snap Decisions" Collection which was very well received.

We also donated some jewelry pieces for the main raffle draw at the show.  The pieces included a "snap" bracelet, "snap" necklace with a selection of our interchangeable Posie "snap" art beads.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Make Your Scarf Jewelry Interchangeable!

Next to our new Snap Decisions Collection, our scarf jewelry is still a popular selling items at shows.  Since publishing my tutorial, Constructing Accent Pieces for Your Scarves, Sweaters & Shawls, we discovered a special clip finding that could make our designs interchangeable.  And now with our snap base pendants, we can combine the two making them even more versatile!

This scarf necklace is one of my favorites -- We filled the metal scarf bail from behind with clay and then added color with mica powders.  The Swarovski crystal was added later with Apoxy clay.  To create the matching clay beads in the cascade, I made my own texture stamps from the metal bail (see page 45 of my tutorial).

Using the special clip type clasp, the bead cascade can be removed and interchanged with any of our "snap" base pendants for a different look.

We now have a supply of these special clips available in our new online store along with other supplies that are hard to find and used in our tutorials.  Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don't miss out on any specials or promotions.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tips on Selling and Displaying Your Art Bead "Snaps"

I thought I would share how we displayed and organized our "snaps" in our latest art show to give you some ideas.  Christmas shows are just around the corner and I know some of you are already thinking about that so I hope this will make it a bit easier for you.  We had quite a range of items to sell and so it took a bit more organizing.  For instance we had bracelets that took one "snap" and other bracelets that took 2, 3 or even 5.

For the single snap designs we found they sit very nicely into ordinary pegboard.  Dave cut pieces to fit into our various jewelry trays and we painted them with black chalk paint.  A while ago I came across this beautiful silverware cutlery case made from cherry wood for only $5.  It was empty inside and had a nice spacious drawer in the bottom half.  I instantly knew what I was going to do with it. Dave cut a piece of pegboard to fit in the top and I upholstered some black fabric for the lid to hang our pendants.  We use the drawer for more display and holding our "over-stock".  When we do a show, everything opens up for display and then packs away again nicely.

For items that took multiple snaps such as necklaces, bracelets or even cuff links (shown below) we organized and displayed them differently.  During a show, the customers do not have a lot of time to coordinate their snaps for their jewelry pieces so to make it easier for them, we organized the snaps in groupings onto trays.  We found these plastic cards and cut some of them down to hold the coordinating snaps in groups of 2's or 3's.  We have more of these cards on order and will have some for sale soon on our website in case anyone is interested. They are available in black or white.

We found these racks (in the kitchen gadget area at the dollar store) that worked really well for arranging the snaps but they could also be placed in trays or directly on the table shown above.

We also had a bin full of our "Jewelry Pick & Nail Savers" handy and sold them to customers who needed one but were also a bonus gift with a minimum purchase.  These are really handy for removing the "snaps" from the snap findings and preventing your nice nail manicure from getting ruined.  These are for sale in our online store and I show how to cover these with the clay in part 1 of my "Snap Decisions" tutorial.

Another thing we discovered is that these jewelry picks also work on helping to release those "Pandora" style bracelet clasps.  One customer told us she was tired of chipping her thumb nail when opening the clasp.  She not only bought one for herself but more as gifts for those who also had the Pandora bracelets
And my last tip is how we provided little shopping bins for our customers to use.  These came in so handy and made it easier to manage all the items they were choosing.  When you get several people shopping at once, these are almost necessary.  They are cute little bins we picked up at the dollar store that take up very little space when stacked and not in use.  They were also easy for the customers to hold on to and nice and deep to prevent spilling out if tipped.

So I hope this inspires you with ideas on preparing for those coming shows.  We really had fun with it and are looking forward to the two other shows we will be doing this year.

If you are working with polymer clay and looking for a new idea to sell at craft shows, the interchangeable snap pieces is an exciting new concept.  My tutorial is available in 2 parts and for a limited time only, (until end of September) you can purchase the two together at a reduced price. You can purchase it as an instant download in our Etsy shop or if you are from Europe and would like to avoid paying the extra 15% VAT tax, it is also available in our online store and we will e-mail it directly to you.

We have a wide arrangement of "snap" supplies for sale in our new online store which you will find here.  And for those of you looking for the "snap" supplies to use for your craft (polymer clay or other) we have the basic DIY findings for sale as singles or in bulk at a reduced cost.

I am happy to announce that Shades of Clay now also has some of the "snap" bases and findings for sale on their site making it more convenient to add to your order from there.  You will find them all listed here  (or click on their photo below).  We have been working together on this to find the most suitable and best products for you.  We do not benefit in anyway from Shades of Clay but are just very happy customers and they are our main supplier where we get our clay products from.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

After Lake Country Art Walk

Wow!  We just finished a gigantic art show featuring our Snap Decisions jewelry.  I haven't seen this much frenzy over a product since we introduced our scarf jewelry line.  It took a few minutes for people to grasp the idea but once they did, they would select 3, 4 or 5 pieces each to fit into a bracelet, necklace, ring or even earrings.

You can see our display set-up shown in the photos above and below including special posters we had made.  I will share in my next blog post some really cool tips on displaying the snaps and jewelry findings.

This table was up front and center which showed off some specialty items such as pens, jewelry dishes, business card holders and "snap" cuff link sets.

This is my sister-in-law Pat who was a great help with the show.  I could not have done it without her!

Tomorrow I will share with you some great ideas on how to display and sell the snaps and findings at art or craft shows.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lake Country Art Walk 2015

I have been falling behind in my posting as there has been so much to do these past couple of weeks. We have been working long hours to prepare for our largest show of the year which is already this coming weekend --- oops!  TODAY! actually.  It is the Lake Country Art Walk in Winfield (east side of Kelowna).  We created quite a few new items just for this show which is very exciting.

It will be a huge struggle for me, however, as my claymate/husband will not be able to be there.  He is had major surgery yesterday and so I hope I can get through this entire event without worrying too much.  He says it will be good that I will have something to occupy my brain and not just be all stressed out.  At least I won't be totally alone with Dave's brother and his wife, Pat who I am staying with and they have helped with set-up.   Pat, along with Brenda, who helped us last year will also be there to help out during the show again this year.  I am really glad as I couldn't possibly do it without them and with Dave being in the hospital all weekend I will be relying on them even more.

Here is our basic set-up from yesterday.  Everything isn't completely in place but will be this morning.  I will have some better photos for you later.  I want to share with you some ideas on how to display your snaps and snap jewelry if you do any up for Christimas or other shows.  The photograph isn't that good as I still cannot figure out the camera on my phone to get better pictures and I forgot my regular camera but gives you a rough idea anyway.

If you haven't signed up for my blogposts or our newsletter from our website, I encourage you to do so as we have some exciting things we want to share with you.  Our first newsletter is almost ready to go out and there will be a special exclusive offer included for anyone receiving it.  We also have a few more surprises coming up such as an opportunity to receive my latest upcoming tutorial for free!  This is very exciting as it is tied to another special event I am involved in but cannot tell you yet as it is a big secret.  So stay posted and look for the big announcement soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More Tips on Baking Your Clay Pieces

After creating our clay designs they need to be baked but not all of our pieces are baked the same way.  Items that are flat we bake on a ceramic tile and if we do not want the underside to have a shiny surface we place a sheet of parchment paper on the tile and our clay pieces on top of that.

For items such as beads, and especially larger ones, we prefer to bake them immersed in a pan full of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).  Larger items can expand when heated and then contract as they cool.  The expanding can sometimes cause surface cracks which at times can heal and close up as the item cools but these surface flaws can be extremely disappointing after working so hard on creating that perfect piece!

After several years of baking our beads in baking soda, we have not had a single item crack on us, provided we were not impatient and tried removing it from the pan before completely cooled.

Another reason for baking polymer clay pieces in the baking soda is to prevent darkening or discoloring such items that are white.  We have to do this even more after learning from Donna Kato, of her recommendations to bake the Kato clay at an even higher temperature (340 F).  (See their facebook page here.)  We only bake at 325 but have noticed a stronger odor when cooking and some color shifting.   However, we have found that baking them immersed in the baking soda has kept the colors more true.

So here are a few tips on baking with this method:

--  Use Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) -- not Baking powder.  Just look for the one that comes in the box (shown above) and is quite cheap.

-- It is best if you have a pan (or two like we have) dedicated just for the baking soda method. Yes, you can use this baking soda over and over again.  Your pan will need a lid so the baking soda doesn't get all over the place and especially if you use a convection oven with a fan.  You can use tin foil which works well.  We did that for a while until I cut a piece of cardboard for a lid and covered it with tin foil.  We kept the lid down tight while baking with some large binder clips.

I was out shopping one day and discovered a new idea which made things easier.  These are pans for a toaster oven.  There were the small broiler pans (like a small cookie sheet) and the deeper type roaster pan.  We found the shallow pan fit inside the deeper one and made a perfect lid.  It sat down so nice we don't even need the clips.  We also have several of these so we can stack them and bake two pan fulls at a time.

-- And sometimes we just have a few beads to bake but not enough to fill a large pan so we have these smaller tins that have a lid and we can bake them along with our other items that don't require the baking soda.

-- For some items that just need a soft surface for support, they can be layed on top of the baking soda.  If you want to prevent the colors from darkening or your beads from cracking then they need to be completely immersed.  We have a container that we keep our excess baking soda in so our pieces can be carefully placed into the pan and then covered up. 

So here are some pieces below showing the difference in baking with and without the baking soda.  And yes!  I discovered you can bake items that have been silk screened immersed in the baking soda.  We gently wash them with soap and water to remove any baking soda and allow them to dry before giving them several coats of PYM11

Silk screened "Snaps" baked in baking soda

Silk screened "snaps" baked in baking soda
"Snap" Bracelet

And we also use the same type of pan / lid system when baking without the baking soda.  We will place a small tile (for flat items) or quilt batting in the bottom and use the shallow pan as a lid.  The pan sits in nicely or for more inside space it can be flipped upside down and held in place with the binder clips.  This is a great way of "tenting" your work and also keeping any smells or odors from escaping while baking.