Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2012

Something special…

I’ve been working on something I’m pretty excited about. I want it to be a surprise, but I can tell you it’s a themed collection. Some of you will get a kick out of it, and some of you will be like whatever, I’m sure. But I think you’ll at least like the beads. I’ll have plenty of pleasant weather to get more beads made this week. Can you believe this forecast?! A far cry from this time last year.

4warn.com

Ooh, look at that mean, bitter February cold front that knocks the high temp all the way down to 60 degrees!  I hope this isn’t a harbinger for another 120 degree summer. I can’t take another one of those.

Anyway, after being shocked and appalled at my Etsy fees this month (thanks for your purchases!), I’m planning a Superstars sale this week. Before I get TOO excited about that and make any announcements I can’t take back, I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I’m battling with a head cold, I’ve got snot from here to Tulsa and back, combined with explosive sneezing every few minutes, but it could be worse – there doesn’t seem to be a fever or a sore throat… not yet, anyway. It isn’t so bad that I can’t work or think, I’ve been able to get stuff done. (Well, actually, one of the things I got done was leaving the hummus in the kitchen cabinet this evening, so maybe my previous statement isn’t completely true.) And when packing up the beads this evening, I used copious amounts of hand sanitizer and made sure I didn’t sneeze on anything. Seriously.

The big Superstars announcement, if it happens, will be tomorrow or Tuesday. If you’re on my Superstars mailing list, look for it in your inbox.

Thanks for checking in, more later this week…

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Dear USPS,

photo lifted from wikipedia.org

I went to order more Express Mail envelopes on your website the other morning, only to find that they are no longer offered there. Whether this is a permanent or temporary situation, or if it’s because your webmaster has been too busy playing World Of Warcraft to add them, matters not. Why, you ask? After being lead in circles for about 15 minutes (because your recently redesigned website is now even more clunky and difficult to navigate), I finally find out that the rates for Express Mail International have increased by $8 with the new rate hike. Now I’m looking at spending around $40 to ship/insure an Express Mail International package, and that’s still the cheapest way to insure international mail through the USPS. I have been splitting that cost down the middle with the buyer, but after this, neither one of us will particularly want to use Express Mail, no matter how reliable it has proven itself to be. To me (and most folks, I reckon), an additional $5 both ways for shipping is over the top for my average price point.

So I must ask, what am I to do? How is some little piss-ant like myself, who produces a luxury item in a not-so-luxurious economy, supposed to keep my shipping and selling prices at a rate low enough not to deter international buyers and not go completely broke on shipping alone? I’d much rather go broke doing something I ENJOY, not standing in line at the post office. After all, international sales are nearly 40% of my customer base at the moment. Otherwise, I’d be shipping inside the US exclusively. Luckily for you, USPS, you’re the only game in town because my international buyers don’t want to pay exorbitant “brokerage (rip-off) fees” some other shipping companies charge.

I’ll be completely honest: I love my international buyers, but I dread shipping to them. For each rate hike and/or unexpected policy rearrangement, I must review my international shipping options, which new forms to fill out and how to prepare the packages. In the endless maze that is the USPS website, I’ve learned if you need to ship a live queen bee to the UK, she must be accompanied by an import license, and you can’t mail anything made of celluliod to Switzerland… but I still haven’t been able to find an affordable option that will fully protect myself and my international clientele.

It’s bad enough that I must fill out at least one form for each package, and be sure that an “official looking invoice” is either inside the package or affixed to the outside of the package in an unwieldy plastic envelope – which, to me, is nothing more than wasted paper, time and costly printer ink. But the customs authorities in other countries have become pretty consistent about scoffing at hand-written receipts and demanding an “official” one. Who defines what looks “official”? And aren’t we all supposed to be saving the planet by using less paper and toxic substances such as printer ink? I mean, really. What a load of penny ante crapola. And for what? Maintaining the illusion of free trade, while discouraging it with a bunch of pointless busywork?

To add further insult, the two packages I shipped the other evening that were registered and insured cost me $53 and change to mail. Sure, the two buyers paid half of that, but they will most likely have to pay even more to their local customs office once that package is delivered. Unless I want to risk my own livelihood and freedom by declaring lower values on high value parcels to both circumvent VAT’s/fees at the buyer’s customs office, and to attract less attention of potential thieves while it’s in transit, (I won’t, by the way, because it’s illegal) I guess we’re all bent over a mail cart, glutes fully lubed and spread. Nice doing business with you, USPS.

I mean no harm, and expect no response or any adjustment to your policies whatsoever. It’s pretty incredible what you guys DO get done, and we really do appreciate it. I couldn’t get by without you. It just stings.

Thanks for your time,
Offended in OK

—————————-

No, I didn’t send that to USPS, and I won’t. I just needed to vent. I’m sure there are at least a few of you feeling the same pain right now.

Thanks for reading… a more pleasant bead-related update coming later.

Read Full Post »

Onward… and Etsy!

Click HERE to visit my shop, or the thumbnails below for each item.  Look at all these ROUND beads!!!

Cocoa Poppy Glimmer Strips:

Fireworks:

Amber Fizz: 

By the by, if you like the internet the way it is, click the STOP CENSORSHIP banner in the upper right corner and find out more. I kind of see what the lawmakers are trying to do here, but…

When people start talking politics, my brain goes somewhere else. I keep my mouth shut because I wouldn’t know what to say. I will say that if it wasn’t for all the politics, politics wouldn’t be so complicated. It all sounds like a bunch of fiddle-diddle BS that rarely ever amounts to anything in the end, or so it seems… I’m halfway afraid to vote on anything, thanks to the sneaky, unrelated “other purposes” that you might find if you’re willing to dig through the language.

I’ve always had the opinion that the crooks in DC are going to do what they do no matter how much we vote, rant, riot and jam up our senators’ phone machines. If I could find a way to believe that taking a stand truly made a difference to anyone but the one taking it, and if I didn’t care so much about my own self-preservation, I’d probably have a lot more to say in general. But whatever. I guess now that the threat of being suddenly jerked out of the endless maze of Youtube is inching ever closer to becoming a reality, a few good twentysomethings have looked up from their teeny tiny screens, uncrossed their eyes and – GASP – dialed a phone number! They said, “Uh, like, we like the internet and stuff!!!” A big Thanks is due to Google and Wikipedia (and the countless other websites who wore black yesterday) for getting some valuable attention on this issue.

Read more about it here, where they go into a bit more detail about how it may affect YOU:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

and here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PROTECT_IP_Act

If you’re interested in doing any boycotting, here is a list of corporations/organizations who support SOPA and PIPA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_organizations_with_official_stances_on_the_Stop_Online_Piracy_Act

Thanks for reading, enjoy the beads!

Read Full Post »

Untitled

It must be pretty obvious to most of you what a state I’ve been in because several of you have asked me if I’m okay. Thank you again for your concern. To those who have been idly curious but haven’t asked, please allow me to extend my apologies once more for my lack of luster these days. I haven’t been cryptic with you guys here to garner attention and sympathy, but I’m just not at liberty to discuss anything in depth. I’ve agonized over what to say, but honestly, to elaborate would just be gossip and that’s when things get nasty real quick-like. No thanks. I already feel like a big fluffy target for emotionally stunted people who can’t get a grip, so why invite more trouble? And it’s true, I can deflect just about anything that throws itself at me. I deal with my problems head on, and I avoid situations from which problems will surely arise. But the problems of the people I care deeply about are going to affect me. There’s no getting around that.

So, let me sum it up as succinctly and as vaguely as I can and still make sense. Having someone sane to count on can save a person from certain madness, and I’m happy to be that someone when I’m called upon. Sometimes your problems and their solutions are apparent to everyone but you, so give me a jingle if you’re willing to hear the truth as I see it. Let’s get right to the bottom of things, organize the details and find a way out, okay? This is time well spent with anyone who wants to make a positive difference in their life and is willing to work at it from all the angles. But when someone is determined to self-destruct, that’s that. I could rescue them from the edge of a cliff today, but I’ll find them hanging by their pants on the same sorry twig tomorrow. So hang tight, stranger. Life is too short to get dizzy over people who add nothing positive to their own existence, or mine.

Maybe nothing I just said makes sense without the context, but considering what little as I’ve allowed here, I feel remarkably better.

The good news is, everything can be worked out and gotten over, I suppose… I’ve just been served too many harsh realities to digest all at once. (Although I’m not sure if they would have been any more palatable rationed out over time.) At the moment, things have settled down a bit. They could get hairy again, I don’t know. I can’t worry about what might happen until it happens or I’ll go off my nut. I plan to enjoy what I can, and simply avoid whatever/whoever makes the veins in my neck bulge out. Besides a few bitterly cold nights, the weather has been fabulous, and I’ve gotten so much work done. Work is a bright spot in my day and I do it as often as I’m able. I plan to try some new things in between the very welcome stack of orders in my queue. My 12 year wedding anniversary is coming up – a marriage that has withstood the mess we’ve been slogging through lately is something to be cherished and celebrated.

In other news, I completed my 2011 Gallery yesterday. If it seems a bit bare, it sort of is – I’m reserving the metal stuff, such as pendants and rings, for a dedicated gallery that’s still in the planning stage.

Knowing you’re there and that you care keeps me moving forward. Thanks for reading and bearing with me through these unsteady times.

Read Full Post »

ETSY!

I’ll get right down to business.

Click HERE to visit my shop, or the thumbnails below for each item.

Jaded Sage Glitter Pashmina:

Rainbow Sherbet:

Okay, then… I hope you guys like these! I’m off to find something sweet to chew on and muster up the warmth to get to work this evening… although, it’s going to be awfully cold, too cold even for my legwarmers, so maybe I just won’t.

Thanks for stopping in!

Read Full Post »

Here’s a quick peek… what I lack in quantity, I think I made up for in design and color:

we'll be on Etsy in just a bit...

In other news, I finally, FINALLY got my hands on a Pepe disk cutter. I’ve been jonesing for one for quite a while now. If you’re in the know (ie, have been looking to buy one yourself), you are aware that the large and combo Pepe disk cutter sets have been widely unavailable for months now. I even heard a rumor of a 1/2″ – 1″ set going for nearly $200 on ebay at auction end. If that was actually true, and they were willing to pay that much, why not just spring for one of those blingeriffic Swanstrom monsters? Anyway. The week before Christmas, I was minutes away from giving up and ordering a Eurotool version and had a strong hunch that I ought to call Pepe directly to check in on things first. The lady on the phone was rather vague, perhaps she feared I was about to storm in and demand a disk cutter (this was a local call, only fifteen minutes away, aren’t you jealous?) but she did finally admit they had sent some out to the various distributors the week prior. I asked if they had shipped to Gesswein or Contenti, and she said yes. YES! So, my next call was to Contenti, and the lady had to check before confirming it, but yes, they were expecting a restock of all the Pepe disk cutters. She assured me there would be PLENTY. Wowee! So I stalked the disk cutter page and when ADD came up next to the item number, I was on it like fuzz on mice.

pepe cutter (photo lifted from contenti.com)

So I gave the 1 inch cutter a try, assuming that would be the most difficult, and I’m beyond impressed. I lubed up the punch with beeswax and smacked it twice with a 2lb brass hammer and that disk came out clean and crisp. When I first started buying metalsmithing tools, I got the Harbor Freight disk cutter, and I actually returned it. Something has to be pretty awful for me to return it. (The wonderful wool argyle men’s sweater from the Gap comes to mind – I still long for that sweater a year later, but the itchy red rash sort of cancelled out how good I looked in it.) I consider most of my purchases very carefully and have this idea that once an item comes into my life under those circumstances, it’s mine forever. It had a nice case and everything, but it simply didn’t cut, not even 24GA copper sheet. And yes, I was sure I was using the right end, derp.

So, hey, I mentioned a shipment of a buttload of new colors a while back. Some are fabulous, some are okay, and a few have me scratching my head. Nobody is paying me, so my opinions are either worth a lot or absolutely nothing, depending on how you look at it. At least you’ll know I’m being honest. Here are the most noteworthy:

Effetre Butternut 414: Meh. It’s like a streaky ocher, and not streaky in a good way.

Effetre Pistachio 415: This one isn’t too bad, it sort of reminds me of Vetrofond Ocher/Wasabi, just more smooth and less streaky.

Effetre Bonnie Blue 739: Um… so, if you want to pay an outrageously inflated price for 224 Sky Blue that’s a little on the streaky side, Bonnie Blue has that in the bag. Perhaps someone will discover a desirable working property, maybe a cool reaction with another color or silver leaf, but it isn’t going to be me.

Effetre Streaky Denim 687: This is an interesting color. Yes, it is streaky, but not in a Pea 212 or Nile Green 214 sort of way, where the flux gathers in the crevices of your wind-ons and just laugs at you. It’s like navy blue mixed with pink, basically. It won’t likely become one of my must have colors because it’s just a bit too subtle for my tastes, but I don’t regret buying it.

Effetre Earth 688: I think this color might appeal to those who enjoy streaks and curdles. And it streaks and curdles even more than Dark Ivory, and you don’t have to do anything special for that to happen. This isn’t really my thing, so, you can have at my share.

Effetre Striped Pink 253: 253 is right before 254, with 254 being Evil Purple. Evil purple earned that name by being a most beautiful, intense pinkish purple and devitrifying (turning chalky) out of control. The most recent batch(es) of Evil Purple 254 have been considerably more purple than in the past. Striped Pink 253 is a bit more like the OLD 254. It does have what I guess is a core of clear, so it may not be the best option for dots, but as a simple bead, it is a dead ringer for the old 254, perhaps slightly more on the pinkish side. I will admit that I am by no means an Evil Purple Aficionado, and I’m quite certain there are some applications where 253 won’t quite cut it for a 254 expert. But it may come in handy if you get desperate…

Vetrofond Slate Blue 268: This was supposed to be a blue-grey glass, but what I got seemed an awful lot like the 969 Pearl Grey Odd, which is also supposed to be sort of blue-grey and just ends up being grey. This new batch was nothing like the Slate Blue I gave away so many years ago. I’m inclined to regret giving it away, but I just don’t.

Reichenbach Purple Rose RL-2202 (104 COE):  You read it right. A purple rose in 104 COE. I was just as surprised as you probably are, and was even more surprised that OCR actually had it in stock – perhaps not having a photo of it on their website was to blame for that anomaly. I said to the guy on the phone “wow, I’m amazed that the bead ladies haven’t glommed that up yet… but, I AM one of those bead ladies, so…” And I have to say that hands down, this is the best 104 purple that’s ever crossed my bench. It LOOKS a lot like the Zimmermann Purple Rose (Z99), both in rod form and in stringer decoration (save for a slightly more translucent quality when molten), but it behaves differently in the flame. It doesn’t boil, but being a Reichenbach color, it’s stiff enough to handle in stringer form. It is a very intense royal purple that, as I mentioned, has a translucency, but some time both in and out of the flame helps it form a lighter but still very intense opaque “skin”. I do believe this is caused by a certain amount of devitrification, but this appears to be a “helpful” devitrification that doesn’t spread onto the surfaces around it. See the bottom strand in the above photo for a glimpse of this most excellent purple!

And once again, I’m telling myself “You do not need more glass.” Really, truly.

Okay, enough blah-blah – gotta get those Etsy listings done! I’ll be back in just a bit.

Read Full Post »

ETSY!

Hello, fine bead folk. I’ve been chained to the bead machine by my evil captor for the last couple of weeks, and he kindly let me loose long enough to list a few choice selections for sale. (Sorry, that’s sort of an inside joke between me and Mr. Sarah, and the only excuse I could come up with for yet another long silence between blog postings.)

Click HERE to visit my shop. Click the thumbnails below for each item.

Button Jar:

 Egyptian Mint:

Twilight Peach Raindrops:

Red Violet Red Shimmer Spikes:

In other news, I’m a week and a half behind on my soaps, so auto-tuned Christmas carolers and that abhorrent Toys R Us lady still linger on in my life. I’m purposely NOT using Google to find out who the Toys R Us lady is, because it’s better that I don’t know. I’m already in a bad mood with the TV because the date of the last episode of One Life To Live grows nearer each day – I think I remember it being January 13th – and the next day, Tim Gunn (ugh) and Ty Pennington (major barf) will be in that time slot.

The online versions of All My Children and One Life To Live aren’t happening, apparently. Some folks conjectured that it was a ploy by ABC to mollify angry soap fans long enough for them to come to grips with the end of an era. I wouldn’t put it past them. I’m trying not to let it bum me out too much. It’s times like these when I’m most thankful for my sanity and a well stocked arsenal of productive coping skills. I wouldn’t want to be the lady who defenestrates herself over a TV show going off the air. (Don’t know what defenestrate means? Google it. I promise, it isn’t as bad as it sounds.)

So, back to life – lots of orders in front of me this month! And the first week of February is reserved for metal orders, and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m currently working on a post about some new glass colors I received recently, so be looking for that, too… Thanks for checking in!

Read Full Post »