Taking a Break From Social Media-A Good Idea for an Online Business?

Moon-over-village

This past month, I took a break from social media. I am on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others. My business is also on Facebook and Instagram. Of course I have a shop on Etsy, and my own website/blog.

So, was it a good idea? As it turns out, maybe yes! These past 2 months, social media was alive with political commentary, news items that were highlighting some of the worst of humanity, and it became too much for my stress level. So I turned it off for awhile–worrying that perhaps it might hurt business.  Social Media vacation

As it turned out–It hadn’t made any difference–I actually saw an INCREASE in orders! Why? Perhaps it was because I could spend more time on creating new jewelry, adding new pieces to my shop.

Green Unakite Earrings

I have a feeling that I was not alone in avoiding social media. I would love to see numbers of how many others felt this way, and were not as interactive as usual. How about you?

I would love to know your thoughts on this! Leave me a comment–

Jewelry Engraving Journey–My Giant Mistake

My GIANT mistake….    engraving studio

I knew this was going to be a journey that would have it’s trials and frustrations.  And I made a huge mistake in purchasing my equipment.  When I looked at Graver Machines, I found an enormous price range–from $260-$1,850 for those that would be for jewelry engraving.  When I initially looked at these machines, it seemed to me that the $260 machine looked very much like the one that was in the $850 range and being on a tight budget, I went for the lower price.  It was a machine made in China, called “Graver Helper.”  This machine was a problem from the start.  First of all, none of the fittings were compatible with our compressor, causing us delays, as we had to find special size hoses and couplings.  Second, it came with very few directions, and they were poorly written. Graver Helper We had to “patch” together solutions to make it work.  Once I got this machine working, I began to play with engraving.  My engravings were very crude.  The hand tool vibrated horribly, and controlling the tool was difficult.  My hands hurt after 30 minutes.  While I gained better control each time I practiced, I found that even though I continuously sharpened my gravers, it was still difficult to get them to engrave smoothly.  Air was escaping from the couplings, and I had to constantly turn on the compressor to get the pressure back up.

 

I began getting discouraged.  I am very embarrassed to post this picture of my practice plate on brass, but I want others to know how bad it can be!  My hand-piece slipped constantly and the vibrations made control nearly impossible–I thought I invested in all this equipment for nothing…

First Crude Engraving

 

Then I found an engraving forum that I joined, and saw that there were other beginning engravers who made the same mistakes I did, and struggled with the same issues.  Bottom line–I WISH I HAD DONE BETTER RESEARCH!  These new engraver folks subsequently purchased the GRS GraverMax G8 GraverMax G8and they found they were able to control the hand-pieces and their engraving actually looked great!

So I wasted this money–maybe I will be able to sell the machine to someone, but I don’t know that ethically I would want to.  It is a poorly made “copy” of American made gravers.  I have now ordered the GRS GraverMax machine, at 4 times the cost–so it is a very significant investment.  My machine should arrive early next week.

Even though I have had a terrible beginning, I do think I will enjoy this art form.  I downloaded some wonderful designs that I can’t wait to try.  In the long run, I think it will make my jewelry more beautiful and unique.  I want to combine this art form with the beautiful stones I use in my jewelry.

All I can say is–LIVE and LEARN!  (Sometimes in a very expensive way).  And thus I will continue my journey into learning how to engrave….

 

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist living in Torrington Connecticut.  Her business is SilverSpiral Creations and she creates wearable jewelry art made with sterling silver and nature’s most beautiful stones.  

My Journey into Learning How to Engrave Jewelry

Well, here I am, on the road to learning how to engrave jewelry! Lynne and Vise

When I decided I really wanted to learn about engraving, I thought that it wouldn’t be that hard. I knew, of course, that there would be a learning curve, but I never understood how much equipment I would need to do it well– and how much skill it would take!

So how did I even get started on this journey? I have always loved the look of engraving on jewelry. I really love to learn new things.

So the first thing I did was to order some DVD’s on how to engrave by Sam Alfano, Master Engraver. This is an example of one of his rings.

engraved ring

His videos are a bit pricey, but if I had to take a class in person, it would cost much more, and of course, no one in my geographical area is teaching it. So I watched the videos, and he made it look pretty easy (experts always do).

What became immediately apparent was that I was going to need a LOT of equipment. I needed a good size air compressor (or so I thought) and got one at my local Home Depot.
I had not anticipated how large this would be–as I ordered it online. When I received it I realized it was HUGE!. air compressorI needed to rearrange my studio to make it fit. I also knew that I needed to buy an air graver machine to hook up to the air compressor.
I had no idea how it worked, as I could find very little information online, including how to set these machines up. I watched videos about air compressors, and tried to figure out which couplings I needed, and how to not blow up my machine. I get nervous when dealing with machinery I don’t understand. It is both scary and exciting!    graver machineToday, I figured it all out and got them hooked up and running! I am so proud of myself!

I also learned that gravers (the steel thing-a-ma-bobs that actually mark the metal), have to be “prepared” and sharpened. So I got some gravers, some handles, and then I had to get a graver sharpening machine, since I didn’t trust myself to do it right by hand.

sharpener
This is a “lap” machine with diamond disks along with a ceramic disk. Another intimidating machine! I watched a video on sharpening gravers, and realize it is an art unto itself. Another big learning curve and another significant investment!

I learned I needed something that holds the metal and allows you to rotate it freely to make scrolls in the metal, and that required another piece of equipment–a turntable and low profile vise.vice2

So I ordered those, along with a whole lot of graver tools, flat gravers, ongelett, square, 120 degree etc. I have NO IDEA how to use them yet, but I am equipped!

It is a risk, for sure. I have invested a lot of money into equipment for a technique, that I am not even sure I will like. Of course, the purchases have now committed me to learning the process. I know that I will experience frustration, and that I will make several errors, and that I will feel like going over a cliff at times–but I really, really, really, like the outcome of engraving designs. I just found this great website from Tirra Mitchell, who offers engraving help and designs for beginners. I would love to start out by making this beautiful ring Ring engraved which she shows on her site. This ring is elegant, and has a lovely little stone. The engraving has flow and flourish. This adds a feminine and lovely character to the ring. PLEASE WISH ME LUCK–I THINK I WILL NEED IT!

 

 

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist from Torrington, Connecticut. You can find available jewelry in her Etsy Shop. If you would like jewelry made especially for you, you can request a custom order.

The Art Of Crafting In The New Year

A Jewelry Crafter’s Life….

benchwork

As you can tell, my last few posts have been about the holidays, how to shop, and December Birthdays. Like most crafters this past December, I have been burning the candle at both ends. From September to the end of the year, I have virtually used every waking minute to craft jewelry. I have a day job as a music therapist in a school, so the minute I get home, I would greet my pups, and head right down to my studio.  If you are a crafter or a maker in business, you know what I am talking about. You give up your evenings, weekends and you say “no” to many events. And while you love the crafting, too much of any good thing can make you tired and sometimes even resentful.

cat face

angry face

Yes, I did say resentful! 

 

Much of the reason for resentment during this season is that you don’t get creative time–a death knoll for artists. You are mostly relegated to doing “production” work. You know that this is the time you will likely have your best sales, so you must create items at price-points for gift giving (or for the folks who want to treat themselves during this stressful season).  gift

Very few of our customers will have “extra” cash during this time of year to invest in the more expensive, more creative art pieces. And if you want to keep creating, you must be able to make what people are buying. After all, you have to keep the business going, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still make a high quality piece of jewelry during production. And I use the prettiest higher-end materials I can find. And I do not scrimp on the silver, either. My pieces are reasonable, but they are not “cheap”. Clearly, this has worked for me. I definitely do sell more at this time of year than at any other, and it keeps my art business going.

What isn’t a big seller during the holiday season is that special “new” design that is created from a sheet of metal, and a drawing or image inside an artist’s mind, that is often referred to as “Art Jewelry.”

Moon PendantJewelry Artists will say that these pieces are wearable forms of mini-art made from both conventional and non-conventional materials. And I am also talking about the custom “One of a Kind” pieces, not those designs that are sent to be mass produced. I am talking about new design ideas and unconventional techniques.

To illustrate what kind of jewelry falls into the Art Jewelry category I want to describe something I came across on Pinterest. It was a pendant made of copper with a beautiful tree of life scene, created by Roxan O’Brien of “Designs By Roxan“.  colored pencil
The gorgeous jewelry was colored with colored pencils—YES colored pencils! It is spectacular! And it was with a technique I had never seen or heard of in metal crafting. I looked at it as being able to wear a beautiful painting around my neck. But really? WHO THINKS OF THAT? An artist! That’s who! And the result, after much experimentation, is a beautiful new idea. Take a look at this beautiful piece!
Of course, the artist had to overcome problems such as how to best create the metal surface to hold the color, and the best way to seal it so the color does not come off in daily wear. This is the part of working as an artist that is exciting. To have a design in your head, and to solve all the problems to make the design work in a piece of jewelry. This can be anything from how to manipulate the metal, to how you can use unconventional materials to enhance your design. It would be so much fun to come up with something no one else has thought of, and that is beautiful and wearable. My aspiration….

 

January is here, and I have set a date to recharge and start again. One thing that gets me excited is purchasing new equipment to try new techniques. So I went shopping for me! Now, prepare to be excited……(drumroll)………I got an air compressor,   air compressor
a set of gravers, and a graver tool.
I also purchased a graver sharpening machine. Exciting? Maybe not for you, but for an artist, getting new tools can be like a child getting that latest toy! I am going to try to learn the art of engraving! Now I am not naive, I know that this is going to take a long time to learn and perfect. And I will have to practice on cheaper metals until I gain the confidence to use it on silver and gold. But think of the design possibilities this will add to my designs! I want to be able to make scrolls, draw scenes and add lettering to metal designs. Add these to the beautiful stones that I collect, and I could really go to the moon! But I do know there is a learning curve, and this will take time—time where the jewelry making will slow a bit—but that is okay. The holiday crunch time is over, and it is now time to explore.

Another new goal is to work more with gold. I have already begun to make some rings. I absolutely LOVE gold! So watch out! I am getting new ideas!!! I feel the energy is start ing to come back. And knowing I can take my time to learn new techniques and create new design ideas makes me love being a crafter. And more importantly, an ART JEWELER.

Lynne Patnode is a Jewelry Artist from Connecticut, USA. She creates designs that feature nature’s most beautiful stones as Art Jewelry. To see some of her available pieces you can visit her Shop. You can also request individual custom designs by sending an email.

 

 

December Birthstones-Beautiful Blues

Did you know that December has claim to three birthstones?  They are Zircon, Tanzanite and Turquoise!

 

They all have a rich and beautiful blue color, and each has a different meaning behind it.  So let’s take a look at these beautiful December Birthstones.

Blue Zircon is very beautiful and desirable.  Prices are often fairly reasonable,  and the good news is that it comes from many parts of the world, including right here in the USA! This stone has blue-green hues and is fun to cut.Blue Zircon Cabochon

Blue Zircon is thought to protect the wearer from negative energy, and to help change our negative thoughts to positive ones.  Blue Zircon is said to be able to improve the quality of lives, and to help a person to achieve happiness.  What a good stone to have during the dark days of Winter. I don’t know about you, but the lack of daylight sure affects me!

Another beautiful December birthstone is Tanzanite, a pricey, rare and beautiful deep blue stone.  Tanzanite is only found in one part of the world, in Tanzania (go figure) and it is only in a small area of that region. Tanzanite Gemstone The natural deep blues are the most desirable, and in fact, lower grades of this gem are heated to create that deep blue color.

Tanzanite changes colors when it is viewed from different directions. This shifting of colors has been said to facilitate raising consciousness. The stone is often referred to as the “trust” stone.

It also helps you in realizing your own ideas. The gemstone opens an awareness of the comparison between how one lives and how one could choose to live more consciously. Those who wear it will become aware of their calling. It is a stone for people who have not yet recognized their strength and fearfully close their hearts to it. This creates trust and we gradually open ourselves for further possibilities. On the level of sub consciousness, it helps us to better come to terms with ourselves.

 

The third stone, and perhaps the most widely known in the USA, is turquoise.  Turquoise is one of the oldest protection stones, and was seen as a symbol of wealth in ancient cultures.
turquoise bracelet jewelry

 

Turquoise is one of those stones that you must attune to–rather than the stone attuning to you. The stone will bring you good fortune and protects the wearer from harm.  It’s healing properties include helping with rheumatism, gout, viruses and other inflammatory conditions.  Those who own turquoise have a special relationship with that piece–whether in jewelry or as a stone.  The colors range from bright robin’s egg blue, to green tones.  Different mines in the USA have very distinctive turquoise, and many can instantly tell where the turquoise comes from.  American turquoise is becoming increasingly rare, and many mines have closed.  This turquoise continues to increase in value.

So if you are a December Birthday–which birthstone are you?

If you want to shop for YOUR birthstone or to have a custom piece made, you can email lynne@silverspiralcreations.com with the details of your request.

Five Ways To Relieve Stress During the Holiday Season

Here we are, folks!

Back into the Holiday Season.  This is a time that can really try our patience, challenge our health, and take us near or over our breaking point.  So how do we help ourselves when it feels we are constantly going from 0-60 throughout the day?

holiday-stress2

Sure, people always say to you “take a breath” or “relax” or “take a chill pill.”  I don’t know about you, but when someone says any of those things–I want to shake them and say “ARE YOU FOR REAL??????”   When someone says that to me, it implies that I am doing something wrong.  And this advice is often coming from a person who has difficulty managing their own stress.  Are they in fact really talking to themselves?  Perhaps it makes them feel better when they see someone else in distress and they can feel good about offering advice.  Although well-intentioned, it has the opposite effect.

But back to the question–how can we feel well for the holidays?  I came up with five things you can do to feel better during these times of stress.

  • Eat! eating Yes, I said EAT!  But I don’t mean eat all of the chocolate, and goodies and fatty, heavy things for the holidays.  You can indeed have some of these things, but eat your regular, healthy meals.  Don’t skip them because you had 4 chocolate cookies at that holiday party earlier.

 

 

 

  • Compartmentalize.  compartmentalizeThere is a psychology to this.  Be in the moment and don’t worry about other things until it is actually the time when you can do something about your worry.  If you are at your son’s holiday concert–enjoy it–be with friends and family.  Don’t be worrying about that credit card bill that you have to pay–not at that moment.

 

  • Make small lists. list I had a teacher who once asked me–how do you eat an elephant?  I had no idea what he was talking about and told him so.  He asked me again.  I thought maybe it was some kind of joke with a punch line.  But it turned out to be the best reminder I have when I am stressing about all I have to do.  So what is the answer?  ONE BITE AT A TIME.  In other words, just promise yourself the “one thing” you have to and get it done.  When that is done, find the next “one thing” you have to do and get that done.  Before you know it, you have gotten a lot of things done–one bite at a time.

 

  • Allow yourself to “check out”.couchpotato
    Yes, check out.  I don’t mean that you should do this while you are driving, or are involved in an activity, but before you go to bed, or after dinner, or something—just allow yourself at least 15 minutes to do nothing.  Maybe be mindful of the good things that happened in the day.  Don’t be worrying about tomorrow until you get up tomorrow.  If you must, get up before everyone else and make your “one thing” list. Have that coffees and chill before you start your day.  It really works!

 

  •  Wear a healing crystal to help keep you calm.  Blue Lace Agate in a piece of jewelry will do the trick, or if you don’t have it in jewelry, keep a stone in your pocket to touch regularly.blue agate ring jewelry  Some believe this crystal will relieve anxiety and even calm pets!  Jet stones and Danburite can also bring calm to your life.  There are many crystals with many uses, and the energy from these crystals can help you survive the stresses of the holidays and other busy times in your life.

The psychology behind these ideas is really about common sense.  Sometimes we get so lost in the forest, and we forget about the individual trees within. I hope these ideas will help you, and I want to wish you a wonderful and Happy Holiday Season!

Organizing your like can work in much the same way.  Set small goals, and clean up just that “one corner” that has been bugging you.  That corner may or may not turn into the whole area–and it is okay if it is just the one corner.  Remember, one bite at a time!

elephant-bite

And don’t worry about the elephant.  It is only a metaphor, after all.  Think of it this way—if you don’t eat the elephant, it could stampede and smother you! (Another metaphor for all of the stuff that piles up when we don’t focus on one thing at a time).

These holidays will come with all of the build up, anticipation, and extra work that goes along with it.  You will survive them whether or not you worry and stress, or if you don’t.  The other thing to remember is that the holidays are quickly forgotten.  That gift you agonized over may or may not be a favorite, but chances are as time goes on, the recipient will not even recall who gave them what gift and when.

Enjoy yourself, Love yourself, do yourself a favor.  ONE BITE AT A TIME!

Author:  Lynne Patnode

Lynne Patnode is the owner and artist at SilverSpiral Creations.  The mission of Jewelry at SilverSpiral Creations is to take Nature’s most beautiful stones and make them into wearable jewelry art.  You can shop for jewelry art on SilverSpiral Creations Etsy Store

 

 

The Price of Jewelry and the Presidential Election

Rainbow Drusy PendantWow–Just–  Wait, What?  Jewelry? The Election?

You are likely wondering what  the price of jewelry has to do with the Presidential Election.  We had an historic election just happen, and the winner ended up being a surprise to many of us, including Wall Street.  The uncertainty of this candidate winning has caused a world-wide reaction that was swift and a little chaotic.  

As we watch the stock markets fall around the world this morning, we are already finding that investors will put their money into “safer” areas–and metals are one of those areas.  So if you think about it, these metals are the very ones we use in our jewelry. When the market tumbles, investors often purchase gold, silver and platinum, and metal prices shoot up.  This DIRECTLY influences the price of  Jewelry, and quickly!

A few years back, I remember when silver went up to nearly $50.00 an ounce and gold at $1900 an ounce, and  jewelers abandoned these precious metals for cheaper metals such as copper and brass (me included).  Jewelry became way more expensive, and people were selling their old gold and silver for cash.  Jewelers were feeling the pinch from both sides, purchasing more expensive supplies, and having to try to sell more pricey jewelry during a recession.

While today’s silver price is still fairly low, (approximately $19), it has shot up by 45 cents within the first hour after the stock market opened today, this first day after the election upset.  Will this uncertainty carry on for awhile?  Will we continue to see these stocks free-fall?

I am hoping this is a short term increase, and that metal prices will remain somewhat stable.  As an Art Jeweler, silver directly effects me in the pocket-book with up-front costs, and with having to increase the price to cover these costs, sometimes means fewer pieces get sold.

Let’s try not to buy into the uncertainty and chaos.  Let’s all settle down, keep our hearts and minds open, and live life, no matter who you voted for.  It’s all we can do for our own economy, and most of all–our own well-being….Petersite Pendant Jewelry

SilverSpiral Creations

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose mission is to create beautiful jewelry from Nature’s Beauty.  To see what is available for sale, please visit her Etsy Shop

Follow Up to This Post about Metal Prices…

Stock silver pricesIt is later in the day, and the Stock Market has already stabilized–so the price of silver and gold is still pretty good—phew!  For now, anyway.  But I still think the jewelry economics lesson was worthwhile–helps all of understand the volatility of the metals market and it’s direct effect on you.

 

How to Shop for Art Jewelry Gifts in this Holiday Season

Small Turquoise Cuff BraceletIf you are like me, you find that shopping for close family and friends can be a bit daunting, especially if that person wants and loves art jewelry.

 

So how do you go about finding that perfect one of a kind jewelry gift for that person?  Where do you even begin?

 

When you think about it, jewelry is a very personal thing.  When you are giving jewelry as a gift, it is usually because you really know a lot about that person.  For example, you probably know their favorite colors, whether they are casual or formal, and how they live.  Do they like to go out to events, or are they more the “stay at home” type?  Where do they work?  Is it an office job? Is it outdoor work?  Or do they work with children?  What about lifestyle?  And of course, most importantly, personality?blue abalone pendant jewelry

The more you know someone, the better the chance that you will find just the right piece.   So what are some ways you can be sure to pick the right piece of jewelry for a gift?  Here is a checklist that should help you out.

 

  • The best research you can do is to notice what jewelry a person already wears.  If your friend or loved one wears silver all the time, buying a gold piece might be risky–he/she might not like the warm color of the gold metal and it will end up in the jewelry box.

 

  • jewelry-nautilus-pendantLook at their style of dress.  A very casual person would probably not wear a high fashion gemstone piece with his/her wardrobe and might only have rare occasions to wear this fine piece (wedding or formal event).  While everyone needs a piece like this, the jewelry will not get much wear time.  On the other hand, a casual piece of jewelry won’t get much wear if the person works and lives in a formal environment.

 

  • Take note of their day-to-day activities.  A teacher of young children or infants may not find it wise to wear long earrings or necklaces, as they can easily be broken or actually cause harm.  Did you ever have an earring ripped out of your ear by a baby????   OUCH!!]

 

  • Do they like big showey jewelry, or small understated pieces?  I myself love to have my jewelry noticed, but I have good friends that like their jewelry to be an accessory that lightly accents their wardrobes.  You might also observe whether the person wears jewelry with textures or smooth metal.

 

  • And finally, does the individual like a particular theme, or item?  I think of charms that can be added to a necklace or bracelet, or perhaps a particular stone that is a favorite.  If you are buying a ring–make sure you know the ring size!

 

Often times, it is your gut that will let you know if you found the right piece.  Most importantly don’t fall into the trap of buying jewelry YOU would want—remember that the recipient IS NOT YOU!!!

Observing all of these things will go a long way in helping you to get started on selecting that wonderful piece of art jewelry.  Google can be your best friend, and the more specifically you define the search, the closer you will get to selecting that perfect piece.  Pink rhodochrosite pendant jewelry

 

 

If you want to see some custom art jewelry please visit SilverSpiral Creations–or you can create a Custom Order

 

 

 

Floral Plumb Agate–What an Amazing Stone for Jewelry!

Check out this slice of a floral plumb agate–it is a sun and clouds scene with a landscape.  I have never seen anything like it!  It is a rare and exotic stone from Turkey.  The artist who cut it saw this scene and took great advantage of this natural beauty. I just HAD to have it! Floral Plumb Agate All I had to do to make a piece of jewelry from it was to dress it up in a sterling silver frame and add a chain.  I am in love with this beauty!