Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sj Designs Jewelry Etsy Shop Opening

For some reason, I've had a big mental block about actually sitting down and getting my Etsy shop up and running.  There just seemed to be so many little many decisions I'd have to make.  Not to mention that I'd need good photos that accurately represent my work.  I think that I had psyched myself out for a while.

Needing to get ready for the Artsy Market sale meant that I needed business cards...and needing business cards (and not wanting to have to order new ones right away) meant that I needed to get over my fears and get that shop open!

So, drumroll please, I'm proud to announce that Sj Designs Jewelry is officially open for business online!

You can check it out at

I know it's not perfect, but I have to get over my weird desire for perfection because it doesn't actually exist.  We can always strive to do better, to learn more, to adapt.  I hope that I'm able to do just that.  I'm sure that with time and experience my shop will evolve and change...hopefully for the better!  If any of you have any feedback or advice on that front, I would love to hear it.

I will be adding more items to my shop after the Artsy Market this weekend.  How much will depend on how well I do on Saturday and what I have left!

A big thanks goes to my husband for lending me his photography skills, listening patiently to me babble about all things jewelry, being my design consultant (often aided by our cat Freya), acting as text editor, and always just helping me work things out.  I'm so lucky to have such a supportive spouse who always has my back in whatever crazy venture I take on!

I also have to thank my mother in law, Heddy, who helped me make a much better banner than the one I had cobbled together.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Counting Down to the Artsy Market

Wow, it's been a super busy last few days around here making preparations for my very first public sale next Saturday!  It's all starting to feel very, very real.  The local paper, the Waconia Patriot, did a full page spread this week on Escape to the Islands and the Artsy Market.  They even had a sidebar listing all the businesses that are participating. It was pretty cool to see my business name there in black and white!

Obviously, I have to get lots of jewelry made and priced to sell, but I've also been trying to figure out my displays.  I bought a small table that I hope will fit into my space, table coverings, and storage supplies to keep all my goodies tidy during the show.  I also started working on how I can give some interest and height to my display.  I figured that just having my display heads wasn't quite enough.

I'm pretty proud of one of my projects, pictured below partially finished.  I took an inexpensive small suitcase (that we usually have picture frames sitting on in our living room) and added a series of small cup hooks inside.  I will be able to hang several necklaces inside and it goes nicely with the slightly rustic look of my other things.  Ultimately, I'll have to play around with my set up to see what works, but I have gathered some nice things that I think will work well together, feel tropical without being tacky, and be reusable in the future.  Also, since you can't see the cup hooks from the outside, my little suitcase can go right back to its old job after the sale!

In other news, my new business cards came yesterday.  The green color is totally me and makes me happy.  They are just quick ones done from a template at Vistaprint, but they will do the job until my friend Anna and I can work up something a little more unique to me and my designs.  Progress!

I can't believe how much I've managed to get done after working my day job as a librarian and juggling all the other details of normal life.  There's still a lot more to do, but I will get there.  Next up, I have to finish making the bookmarks that will be my contribution to the goody bags for the first 50 people at the Artsy Market, put the finishing touches on my Etsy shop, oh, and make some more necklaces!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Buzzin' Around

I'm sure that you can all imagine that I have been buzzin' around trying to get ready for the Artsy Market (and I have!), but that's not what this post is about, not really.

In one of my first orders of Vintaj supplies I picked up a pack of Queen Bee Connectors and some Busy Bee Charms.  I'm not sure why I bought them, just because I thought they were cute I guess, and they've been sitting in my stash for a while.  Now they languish no more!

Also in my stash was a ceramic bee pendant from Kylie Parry.  In the process of making a necklace with that piece (and getting a little "stuck" on that one) I ended up making this super cute set of Honey Bee Earrings.  I love the way these yellow beads that I picked up on a whim look a little like honey comb and a little bit like bee hives!

Next came the matching Honey Bee Necklace.  I added some fun new clear yellow teardrop shaped beads above the bee connectors so that I could do just one strand of chain around the back of the necklace.  In a pleasant surprise, these links look like pollen that these busy bees have collected!

After these two projects were done, I finally went back to the necklace that I had originally meant to make with renewed inspiration.  It's funny how "productive procrastination" often works out for me.  So here is my last bee piece...for now anyway!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Artsy Market Preview

Remember that I told you all that I had set some business related goals for the new year?  Well, getting out there with a more public sale was one of them... I just didn't expect to be doing it so soon in the year.

A little over a month ago, The Stash of Waconia put out a call on their Facebook page recruiting crafty ladies for a one day craft fair as part of Waconia's Escape to the Islands event in March.  I finally got the details for date, time, etc. at the end of January and have been in overdrive creating mode ever since.  February is a short month so I know I have to buckle down and really bust out some awesome jewelry designs...wish me luck getting it all done!

The event is called "Escape to the Islands" Artsy Market and you can check out their Facebook page for more info.  Here are the basics though:

When:  Saturday, March 2 from 10 am to 5 pm
Where:  The Greenhouse at Waconia Farm Supply, 801 Hwy 284, Waconia, MN
What:  A one-day boutique style market full of artists/vendors that make fun and interesting items

Since this is an all day event (and a girls gotta eat!), I'm lucky that my friend Anna has agreed to help me out at my table that day.  I'm super appreciative of all the help and support I get from friends and family.

In all honesty, this opportunity has been just the kick in the pants I needed to get moving on all the other pieces (this blog, my Etsy account, etc.), so I'm feeling extremely fortunate to be a part of the Artsy Market.  Hopefully some of you will be able to come and visit!

To build a little anticipation, here are a couple of preview pics of things I plan on bringing to the Artsy Market for sale.  These should bring a little color into the long Minnesota winter for some lucky person.  Now it's back to work making more lovelies!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February Art Bead Scene Challenge

If you are at all interested in art beads or jewelry making, there is a fabulous blog called Art Bead Scene (or ABS for short) that does a monthly challenge based on a piece of art.  The only real rule is that any creation you enter must include an art bead (i.e. a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist).

I participated for the first time last month when I was inspired by an awesome painting of peacocks, but this is the first time for me to enter since I started my blog.  Part of the fun of these challenges is seeing what everyone else made in the blog tour that ABS hosts at the end each month.  I'm excited that I will get to take part in that part of the process this time!

Anyway, enough background.  Let's talk about this month's challenge and the inspiration behind it.

Heijinja, 1941

Tōshi Yoshida
Woodblock Print

I had originally sworn off participating in another design challenge until I get done with an upcoming craft market I'm participating in during the first weekend in March (more about that in a future post!).  But when I opened my package from Nancy Schindler of Round Rabbit the other day, I knew that I had to change my mind because her Petals Pendant in Antique Rose (on the right in the picture below) was perfect for this challenge.  The fact that it arrived the day after the artwork was announced made it feel like destiny.  The colors in shades of pink, burgundy, and grey in the focal were just right... I also thought the lines running behind the flowers were evocative of the architecture from the print.

So, having made my decision to participate, I set off to dig through my boxes and boxes of beads and pulled out a wide selection of possibilities.  I also found another Round Rabbit pendant that might become a second entry for this challenge if I get my act together!  From here I culled it down to my very favorites and then started playing around with different bead combinations.  The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to work in some of the freshwater pearls in light peacock to pull out the grey tones from the print and the pendant.

I picked out a gorgeous Green Girl Shibuichi Rose Blossom clasp that I've been hoarding for years because the flower reminded me of the cherry blossoms in the print.  Wanting to use other metal pieces that played up the unique color of the shibuichi (an alloy of copper and silver), I broke out my metallic Vintaj patina paints.  You can see the clasp below with natural brass on the left and painted pieces on the right.  In the end, I only ended up using one of the painted jump rings, partially because I liked the darker natural brass and partially because some of the other elements didn't work with my final design.  I'm sure I'll find a good home for the other painted pieces in other designs soon!

So, without further adieu, here is my finished design.  I stuck to the more muted side of the palette from the print focusing mostly on the pinks from the cherry blossoms and the grey from the rooftops and background.  There are hints of darker red in the pendant and some of the beads but nothing too terribly bright.  The luster in the clasp and the pearls add richness and depth to the design.

My friend Kathleen exclaimed, "But it's so muted for a Sarajo!"  She may be right that this color palette is outside my normal comfort zone, but I think the color choices speak to the quiet beauty of the scene in the least that was my goal.

Adding a P.S. to this blog post....  I did actually manage to create as second piece in response to the artwork.  Here it is!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Taking the Plunge with Sj Designs Jewelry

Hello, and welcome to my blog which is a showcase for my little handmade jewelry company, Sj Designs, and my various creative exploits.  I also plan to share other fun and creative things that I stumble upon along the way.  There is a whole wonderful world of color and design out there and I want to be a part of it!

I started making jewelry in 2008 and it's hard to believe that I've been doing it for that long.  For the life of me, I can't even remember what made me sign up for that first class but I'm so glad that I did!  Even though my husband initially thought that I was just collecting beads, my hobby soon took off and I was stringing necklaces and making earrings for myself, family and friends.  Over the years I have expanded the skills and techniques in my arsenal and keep finding new things that I want to learn.

A few years ago, I began dipping my toes into sales through my neighbor's local shop (a big thank you and a shout out to Becky and The Stash of Waconia).  This was an easy and safe way to start selling my creations.  I started wanting to do more so my next big step was a holiday open house sale in December of 2012.  Thanks to all of you who came out to support me that're part of the reason I am where I am today.

Now after all of these baby steps, 2013 is the year that I really take the plunge and make Sj Designs a "real" business.  My New Year's resolutions were almost entirely related to growing my business and I'm happy to say that I'm already well on my way to achieving many of my goals.

I didn't think that I would ever have a blog... What would I say?  Would anyone be interested?  But here I am taking that step.  It is so wonderful to have a creative outlet and having a blog is one more way to put myself out there.  This is an exciting and slightly scary time for me...and I welcome you along for the ride!