Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Five Things I Learned At My First Craft Fair

Hi, everyone! I already talked about five things I learned while preparing for my first craft show. Now that the show's over, I'd like to share with you five more things that I learned and/or confirmed while doing the show.

I wound up adjusting some of the items in the big empty area so that it wasn't so big and empty.

First of all, preparation is key. I saved tons of time by making a list of things to pack, referring to list as I packed, and I packed up the car the night before. I had to be out of the house by 7AM - who wants to get up early enough to pack a car when you have to leave that early? Good luck remembering everything first thing in the morning, too. Have I mentioned that I am most assuredly not a morning person? I would have had no chance if I hadn't prepped ahead!

Another step I took ahead of time was to buy a book of receipts and to set up Paypal Here on my phone. Only one customer chose that payment method, but she made up about half of my sales, and she wanted receipts, too.

Lastly, something that I hadn't prepared enough but wish I had - I really should have done a full "dress rehearsal" with my table. I had set up my displays ahead of time, so I knew how I wanted my table laid out, but I didn't set up my jewelry on the displays. That was a mistake. Set-up took me so much longer than I was expecting, the morning of the show. I was there at 7:30AM, on the dot (the earliest we could come to set up), and I didn't finish until about an hour after the doors opened to the public. If I had set things up before, I'd have had a better idea of how time-consuming that all was, and I probably would have tried to set some of it up beforehand.

The second thing I learned is that it is possible to over-pack. I had two large displays, my tub of supplies, a huge tacklebox with my inventory in it, about five grocery bags of miscellaneous stuff (duct tape, charge cords, and so on), and a box of smaller displays. I almost didn't have room in the car, and I brought a lot of things that I wound up not needing. I've always been an over-packer, thinking that it's better to have something and not need it than to need something and not have it. I still think that way, but even so, it was kind of ridiculous how much I brought and didn't even look at once I had my table set up.

One of the most important lessons I took away from all of this? Customer service will set you apart. I had a chance to talk to some of the other vendors at the end, and nobody that I talked to indicated that they had had a good sales day. I, on the other hand, had a phenomenal day, and here's what I attribute to the difference: I stayed at my table and didn't wander around to check out the other tables until there was a "dead zone" (seriously, right around lunchtime, there was virtually no foot-traffic for maybe an hour). Same thing with my phone - I stayed attentive and kept an eye out for potential customers until that "dead zone" happened...then, yeah, I played a game for a little bit. :P I also stood up to greet people, nodded and smiled at the very least, and indicated that I was available to answer any questions that the potential customer had. It's half a week later and my feet are still sore, but I think it was worth it for the number of sales that I had.

Another thing that I think may have made a difference is that I had a well-organized table. Displays are important for drawing people in, and it's important that everything's organized and looks nice. I had one piece in particular that was a very fancy necklace, and I had it dead-center on a bright-white, faux leather bust.

The one that caught everyone's eye.

Literally everybody who stopped by (and who said more than just "hi") said that that necklace had caught their eye and they had to stop and look at it. That one display actually drew people to my table like a magnet. The rest of my displays and my tablecloth were all approximately the same color, an off-white/ivory/eggshell sort of color, and most of my jewelry popped right off the table, figuratively speaking. In hindsight, I should have had some slightly darker displays for the silver jewelry, because those pieces got a little lost, but the rest of the pieces that were on display? BAM. 

I specify "on display" because I had some other pieces just laid on the table, and I'm thinking maybe I should have rotated which pieces I had displayed. There just wasn't enough room for any more displays than I had, and there was one piece in particular that I thought for sure would have sold, but didn't. I think it's because it was just on the table and got lost, instead of being on its own display bust.

The one that didn't sell.

Speaking of "getting lost," I had some really nice signage, but the wall wound up being further away than I was expecting, and I think the text was too small to read from the customer's side of the table. I saw people glance at the signs, but that was it. I think next time, I'll go for a U-shape (three tables), L-shape (two tables), or a V-shape (also two tables), instead of just one long table. I think that'll draw people in and invite them to browse, as well as bring them closer to the back where they could actually read the signs. :)

One of my signs.
The last thought I'll leave you all with is this: Jewelry takes a long frigging time to set up. I know I mentioned this in the first tip, but it really bears repeating. This also applies to any small items you may have, especially when you're filling an eight-foot-long table! Given my packing arrangement in the car, I don't think I could have filled my bulk displays the night before - it would have been too difficult to transport without losing any pieces - but if you can, I suggest doing that.

On the whole, I'd say that I had a very successful time at the APaTT Holiday Bazaar in Amity, Oregon. It was my first craft show ever* (in which I had my own table and wasn't sharing space on my mom's table) and the first time that APaTT (their PTA) had held a craft fair, and I'm really hoping that they run it again next year so I can attend again.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Temporary Hiatus

My two online shops (at Zibbet and Tictail) are temporarily closed/on vacation while I recuperate from the holiday bazaar that I attended on Saturday. Quite a few items sold - I got hit by a flurry of activity right at the end, and I'm not even sure which exact items sold! So, I need to figure that out, as well as unlist items which I no longer have in my possession.


I'm also using the hiatus to restructure my stores and prices. I'll be creating a Clearance section for some of my older items, and I have newer items to photograph and list. There will also be a new section for a line of custom birthstone-color crystal jewelry: once I make some prototypes of different designs, I can photograph those and list those as examples. I'm really excited about that line in particular, because it means I won't have to have a bunch of items laying around waiting to be sold - they'll be created on demand, therefore saving me space. :D There are also some pieces that were created for the bazaar that I need to photograph and add to the shops, but that's at the end of my to-do list.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Custom Order: Birthstone Bracelet

Hi, everyone! Just wanted to share some details for this custom order I've been working on. The client wanted me to make a birthstone bracelet for her daughter for Christmas, with stones representing the daughter, daughter's husband, and their kids. The client wasn't sure exactly what she wanted at first, so I had free creative reign for the initial designs, then she could pick which one she liked the best. The client had several creative options for each bracelet, such as order of beads and clasp type, and there was usually at least one variation per design. The client was also free to suggest changes to any of the designs if she so wished.

I wound up having to snail-mail some cleaned-up sketches to the client, because they were not photographing very clearly. I had created a wire-wrapped design, a design with charms, 

This, by the way, is why I love taking custom orders - look at all of that creative energy! The order was for one piece, but I came up with four designs, each with variations. Plus I'd been contemplating offering custom birthstone jewelry for quite some time, and this order was the kick in the pants I needed to get to work on it. Now, I have some designs worked out as templates for other birthstone jewelry. :)

The client wound up liking the one with charms the best, but wanted it as a necklace; there was still one more choice to make - to have the bead units in front of the stamped charms, or off to the side.

No idea how a white light winds up yellow in photos.

Spoiler alert: she liked the beads in front of the charms. It's kind of funny, because if it was me, I'd have picked the other design, so I'm glad that I asked, haha. This project was a lot of fun for me, and the client absolutely loved the necklace, which is even better! I love making custom pieces. :)

Do you want a custom piece of jewelry, designed and handcrafted just for you? Ordering from me couldn't be simpler - just email me at carly[dot]pohle[at]gmail[dot]com to get the process started. I will work with you, step by step, to make what you're looking for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Five Things I Learned While Preparing for a Holiday Bazaar

1. Estimate how long something will take you, then double or triple that time (at least!) if you've never done it before.
I decided to make my own DIY displays from cardboard, quilt batting, and burlap, and figured they'd maybe take an hour per display - wrong! My first one took something like four hours, start to finish. I managed to streamline the process for the others somewhat, and they took about an hour each, but that's also counting only the assembly time. Prep time (cutting out everything in advance) was another hour or two.

2. Set up your table in advance.
This is actually something I still need to do, but it's important. Without setting up your table as kind of a dress rehearsal, you don't know how everything will look together, if you have enough displays and inventory to fill the table (or if you have too many displays!), and you don't know if everything will stand on its own or if it'll be prone to falling over. You can see how your table flows - if the eyes drift comfortably over it or if your table is too visually busy.

3. Start preparations early!
This goes along with #1, but it bears repeating because it is just that important. When I started prepping for this show, it was actually for a different show that would have been held about a month earlier. I was initially upset that the first show fell through, but thank goodness that it did because there was no way I would have been ready for it to the degree that I will be ready for this one. And I thought that I had actually started preparations at a reasonable time for the first show! Nope. Not even close, as it happens. (Again, see #1.)

4. The show costs way more than just the vendor fees.
There's a table (if not provided and/or unable to borrow one), tablecloths, decorations, displays, business cards, signage, and that's not even considering the cost in time (again, see #1 and #3). Even with DIYing and borrowing as much as I can, I'm still shelling out plenty on all the other things. On the plus side, I won't have to repurchase most of those things for the next show.

5. There are tons of resources out there on the internet.
Even if you don't know anyone in your circle who has done shows before, there is lots of good information out there in the internet. Just search for "craft show tips" and that'll turn up many, many articles full of do's, don't's, hints, tips, tricks of the trade, and so on.

Speaking of craft show tips, I did a follow-up post:

Five Things I Learned At My First Craft Fair

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today's Project: Ear Cuffs

So, a while back, I posted about making some ear cuffs and how there were so many different design variations with them, and so on. Well, today, I decided to play around with the design for a bit, and I'd like to show you what I came up with. :)

Basic wire ear cuff by BokBok Jewelry
The first one is kind of a template for the others - a basic wire shape that looks nice on its own, but that can also be embellished. I took my old cuff (the one I posted about back in January), flattened it out, and pressed it into paper that was on top of a soft surface, so that the shape of the wire would "emboss" the paper. I then traced the wire shape that was left in the paper, and that became a template for making this particular design of ear cuffs. It made it so easy to make these cuffs!

Basic beaded ear cuff by BokBok Jewelry
The next cuff design I made looks an awful lot like the first one, but I wired a bead to the center of the cuff. I had originally shaped the cuff, then tried wiring the bead; it would have been easier if I had just found the center of the cuff wire, added the bead, then formed the cuff. I'm also curious to try just stringing the bead onto the cuff wire itself; I haven't tried it yet, but it may be easiest.

The last design I made uses the original, basic cuff form, to which I added a single bead dangle. It keeps a lot of the simplicity and minimalist look of the basic design, but the dangle adds some movement and color. (I could have done a better job on the bottom of the headpin with the bead, I admit, but this is just an example.) 
Ear cuff with bead dangle by BokBok Jewelry

From here, I plan to experiment with adding a bead directly onto the cuff wire, as well as making different cuff forms. These ear cuffs have been a lot of fun to make and play with, and best of all, they're something that I can make and wear for myself!  :)

Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment to let me know!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Today's Project: Paper Beads

As the title says, I've been working on making paper beads today. I've never done it before, but I figure that the best way to learn (for me, at least) is to jump right in, so that's what I did!

I started by looking at some templates online. I didn't see any that looked easy to print, so I wound up measuring everything on my paper myself. This was, perhaps, for the best because I am using wrapping paper leftover from a birthday present and the paper isn't exactly in a standard measurement.

I soon learned two things: one, wrapping paper, being thin, makes really thin beads; two, it is super-difficult to keep the paper lined up so that the bead winds up symmetrical! When I do this again, I'll be using thicker paper and longer cuts so that my beads aren't so skinny (unless skinny is what I'm going for, of course).

Anyway, I've gotten one fully done so far and two are drying on the skewers. I've been thinking of what I want to make with them, and I think I'll have to wait and see how many beads I wind up with.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Upcoming and Current Projects

Hi there, everyone! It's been almost two weeks again; what have I been up to?

First thing is that I have been working out a few new designs. One is an all-wire pendant; I came up with it after playing around with bundles of wire (not the copper wire, but some mystery-metal craft wire that I want to use up). It has many coils and is much easier to make than it would appear. I wrote down how to make it, and am working on tweaking the instructions to make it an honest-to-goodness tutorial! I still need to have my instructions tested for clarity and I need to take some work-in-progress photos, but it is near the top of my jewelry priority list. :) The other design is for a cute collar-type necklace using chain and many bead dangles. I did up a full necklace/bracelet/earring set in blue and white, and am working out several others. Currently, I'm trying to figure out which colors of beads that I own will go best with a peach color.

Necklace, bracelet, and earrings.
My display bust is a little small, so the necklace looks long.
The necklace is about 16" long and will sit nearer the base of the neck, more like where the bracelet is.

I think I may have overdone it just a tad with the Contrast controls
in my photo-editing program on this one, but those are the earrings.

Second thing is that I have a definitive goal in mind for the back yard. I've been working at getting rid of weeds, keeping it mowed, and reclaiming the edge of it, but I know what I want to put around the outside of the grass itself to help contain it. That would be brick. I like how brick looks; it'll help keep the grass from spreading where I'd rather not have grass (namely, into the shrubs and bulb beds); and if I'm really feeling froggy, I can paint the patio to also look like brick to continue the look. There's still a lot of edging to be done - it's a jungle out there - but it's nice having a concrete (or brick, heh) goal towards which to work.

Third and final thing is that I'm working with the kiddo on her potty-training again. Last time, I quit early because everyone got sick and I just didn't have the energy or drive to keep it up; also, it wasn't so much "training to use the potty" as much as it was just a general introduction to the toilet. I'm glad I did that initial introduction, though, because she knows what the toilet is and what it's there for, and all we have to focus on now is learning how her body tells her that it's time to go potty. I'll spare y'all the details, but from what I've read online...well, let's just say that I think I got really lucky to have the kid that I do.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Quick Question

Does anyone else look at photos of models (or anyone, really) wearing earrings and immediately check the earlobes? I've seen some amazing earring designs lately, but on almost all of them, the model's earlobes have been this really angry red color, and I have to wonder if that's from the weight of the earring, maybe a sensitivity, or maybe the model just did a lot of earring posing that day and the lobe is red from all the "wardrobe" changes. Just wondering if anyone else out there has noticed this, too. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

So Much Wire, So Little Time

So, my dad recently brought over a bunch of copper wire he's collected over the years. I managed to sit down and sort through it a bit, and holy moly, there's a lot. I've got five or six coils of it, each coil being at least ten feet of wire by my estimation, plus another ten-ish-foot-long triple strand of it. Some of it's bright and shiny, and some needs some serious cleaning. So far, all I've done with it is to take a quick guess-timation of how much I have (yards and yards!) and the gauge of it (maybe 10- or 12-gauge? it's fairly thick), and I've made a few idea sketches and an idea list.

Taking a quick glance around the interwebs, I've found this post for cleaning and maintenance tips. I have enough materials that I can spare a bit for cleaning experiments; I'll keep y'all posted on which I've tried and if I find that they work or not. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tool Review: Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool

Photo from its Amazon listing.
Before I get to the review, let me clarify that I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the makers or sellers of the Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool. I am merely a user of said tool with some opinions on it. :)

Let me tell you how I found this tool. It was a few years ago (two or three, maybe?) and I was just getting serious about stringing. I had just been using fishing line and tying knots in the end when I started, and I had moved on to crimping tubes but didn't have any actual crimping pliers. I was using just regular chain-nose pliers to flatten the tubes, and while it looked better than knots, I wanted the tubes to look nice. Professional. Tubular, one might say. Also, because the flattened tubes left sharp, pointy corners. So anyway, I was in the market for a pair of crimp pliers, but I also wanted something easy to use, and simple. I happened to see these in the jewelry section of my favorite big-box store, and I was sold.

I don't have any photos of me using the Crimper Tool, but I did find an instructional video on Youtube. I couldn't catch what-all the person in the video said (kiddo's sleeping and I couldn't find my headphones), but the video shows how to use the tool.

I chose the 1-Step Crimper Tool over a regular pair of crimping pliers because I noticed that the regular pliers have multiple spaces to put the crimping tube, and that would have confused me. Like I said, I was looking for something simple, and I know me - after a while of using the pliers, I just know I would suddenly have a brainfart and forget which part of the pliers are used for which part of the crimping process. This makes me sound like a total ditz, I know, but I do have a tendency to blank after being on auto-pilot.

Enough about my foibles - here are my pros and cons about this tool:

  • Pro: Easy to use. There's only one spot to put the crimp bead, and the tool does the rest. You do have to remember to not cross the wires while crimping, but that's the same with any crimping tool.
  • Pro: Quick. Three movements, and the piece is crimped! 
  • Pro: Professional. You don't have to worry about proper squeeze pressure like you would with regular pliers - the tool does all the work, and the crimps come out uniform and neat, every time.
  • Con: Size. I have dainty little hands, and the movement between one set of handles and the other is a little awkward for me. Your mileage may vary. 
  • Con: Doesn't put on crimp covers like regular crimping pliers can. To offset this, however, I have been able to successfully place crimp covers with my chainnose pliers, so I don't find this to be a dealbreaker.
On the whole, this is my most specialized tool, but also one of my favorites. It's everything that I was looking for in crimping tools, and the two downsides to it aren't that biggie (for me, at least). If you're in the market for a crimping tool, I recommend giving the Bead Buddy 1-Step Crimper Tool a look. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Long Time, No Blog!

Hi there! I hope everyone out there in Internet Land is doing great. I know I have been!

Apart from a slight reinjury today, my toe's almost healed up. I don't think I rebroke it - again! - but whatever happened did hurt a bit. I can walk around almost like normal, and I don't have to sleep with my foot poking out the bottom of the blankets anymore, so that's good.

In other news, I've been steadily getting new listings up and running in both my shops. I'm almost done with the last batch of photos I took, and I've created plenty of new pieces since then, so it's just about time for photos again!

Mostly, what I've been working on is reclaiming the yards. Apparently, whoever lived here before we did either really liked to garden or had the money for a landscaper; there are shrubs everywhere and they're all planted close enough that they need pruned back every year or two so that they don't choke each other out. Unfortunately, my husband and I didn't realize this for the first year, plus I was pregnant and definitely not feeling up to strenuous yard-work, then we were busy with a brand-new baby the second year, and dealing with an extremely mobile and inquisitive one-year-old the third year...long story short, it's kind of a jungle out there. The worst part is that the previous owners (or whatever landscaper they had possibly hired) had planted new bushes on top of older plants that were just chopped short, so besides pruning back the keeper bushes, there are older bushes and sucker-plants sprouting out of the middle of said keeper bushes, and it's just insane. Some of the suckers have inch-long thorns!

Snowball flowers. Photo from Wikipedia.

It's taken me nearly a week, but I got one of the biggest, messiest plants almost pruned to where I want it. I think it's a Viburnum opulus "Roseum" - we just call it our "snowball tree". My research suggests that it's a shrub, but it's easily the size of a tree, over ten feet tall, and about as wide. Well, it's been intruding on our rosebushes - the rose bushes have a definite lean, just to get some sun - and its dangling branches interfere with my doing any other yardwork around it, so I decided last week that it was time to do something with it. I've seen another snowball tree in a neighbor's yard, and it looked like three distinct trunks that kind of twist up and around each other, offering mutual support, with an umbrella-like canopy of leaves above. This is drastically different from what ours looked like - a multitude of trunks sprouting from a central location, going every-which-way and just unruly as could be. I don't have any photos of what it looked before, though take my word for it - it was a mess. I decided that I was going to cut back the suckers and keep a few main trunks to try and get it to how our neighbors' looks, because their tree/bush looks really nice.

Almost a week later, I have two good-sized branch piles out in the yard and there are maybe seven trunks still standing. I also discovered that there were several dead branches in the midst of the mess, and there appears to be a nest of carpenter ants living in the dead branches. Ew! I also discovered that one of the astilbes that I had planted out behind the snowball tree in our first year here, back when I could still get behind the tree, is finally coming up. I think maybe the snow we had this last winter kicked the bulbs into survival mode, because this is the first sign of the astilbes I've seen since I planted them. The snowstorm also seems to have affected our fence, because - now that we can get back to that corner! - there's a section of fence behind the snowball tree that is in some serious need of repair.

Astilbes. Photo from Wikipedia.

The silver lining to all of this is that I can feel myself getting back into shape. I haven't been able to do much physical activity besides walk short distances for two months now, and it's been bumming me out. I've been doing 30-60 minutes of yard work every day for the last week, though, and I find myself feeling really good afterwards. I'd say it's the endorphin rush, but that good feeling lasts all day. I think it's knowing that I'm on the mend and can actually do something for once in two months. :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Productive Week

I am feeling so good about everything I've gotten done on my shops this week!

As of my typing, I've gotten nine new listings up at my main site, and five up at Zibbet store. Five of the listings on my main site were figuring out how to take 20+ individual listings and condense them by using drop-down options, and I'm pleased to report that the listing condensation went swimmingly. I even made Pinterest-friendly collage photos (watermarked, to boot) as the first photo for those listings. :D

Like this!
As a result of all the store activity on my end, my views are up a lot in both shops. They may just be search engine bots, but I'm happy about it. As I'm listing, I'm also promoting the new listings on Pinterest, Facebook, Zibbet, and Google+, so I'm sure at least some of the views are from people. ;)

I've also been going through my Zibbet listings and removing some of the copy-paste, in-every-listing text (like the prompt for shoppers to visit my Facebook page). If I'm trying to make a sale on Zibbet, why would I send people to Facebook? Or so my thinking goes. I can always send them to my Facebook and Google+ pages (and here) in my thank-you-for-buying note.

Hopefully, the decrease in duplicate text will help with my SEO and Google ranking, too; that's another reason why I condensed the 20+ earring listings into five - I'd rather rewrite a listing, trying to not repeat myself, five times instead of over twenty. I considered removing those earrings from Zibbet entirely, but the white and blue pair (pictured above) is one of the biggest draws to my shop, according to my shop stats.

Anyway, there's still a LOT of work to be done. Aside from adding new listings in perpetuity (Google loves activity!), I want to watermark all of my photos as I have above. They just look nice like that. I still need to customize the colors on my site to fit my "pretty but not obnoxious" pink scheme that I have here and on Zibbet. (Side note: would you believe that pink is one of my least favorite colors? I just remember that every time I think about my branding, and I have to chuckle. I picked it originally as part of a pink-brown-green nature theme, but somehow the pink and brown have taken over.) Zibbet's allegedly going to roll out its site rebuild pretty soon, and I'm sure there'll be a learning/adjustment period associated with that. I also want to increase my mailing list from 0 to >0 subscribers. Plus there are still Zibbet listings to edit (removing the duplicate text, like I said).

I also plan to join a local show this winter, and while I have a lot of stock, I need to create more to really feel prepared. There's also the issue of displays - I have exactly two nice necklace displays, and my one earring display is kind of...well, the charitable way to describe it is that when I made it, it only needed to look nice from a couple of angles, for photos. I'm also not sure exactly how one is supposed to display chokers. I'm considering keeping a Quaker Oats canister, wrapping it in some nice paper or fabric, and using that. I have so many macrame chokers, it's not even funny, and none of them are listed in my online stores because I have little to no idea how to display them. Oh, and I need to get new business cards printed and shipped to me - I only have a few business cards on me, and they all say Etsy. There are a bunch of cord necklaces with unfinished ends that I need to tie up, too.

It's a lot of work, this little hobby of mine, but it gives me something productive to do, instead of playing video games in my off-time. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against video games, but at least this hobby pays for itself. ;)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"I'm Getting Tired of Looking at These Necklaces" Sale!

Howdy, folks! I've had these necklaces made for a while, though they've only been listed online for a couple years, and some of them have been just sitting around for almost ten years - oh my goodness, has it really been that long?

As the blog post title says, I'm getting tired of looking at them. Everything in the Clearance section of my Zibbet store, including the necklaces pictured above, is on sale, 20% off, from now until June 15. No coupon code is needed, though I do have a standing coupon for free shipping on orders over $25 (coupon code SHIPFREE). At the risk of sounding cliché, check out the savings! :P

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Latest Pieces

The upside to having a broken toe is that I've gotten lots of jewelry done! My photography skills are a little rusty, but check it out:

Updated, 5/23/14: When I posted this, I had forgotten about a bracelet and hair accessory! They're the first two photos below: 

Red and silver bracelet by BokBok Jewelry.
Acrylic beads, silver-tone findings.
The beads look magenta on my screen, but in real life,
they're this really deep, rich red.

Red and silver hair accessory by BokBok Jewelry
Acrylic, glass, and silver beads, plus craft feathers.
As the bracelet above, the red's not showing up right on the beads.
This piece is fairly lightweight and should stay in place with a good-quality bobby pin.

Green and white ombre set by BokBok Jewelry.
Stone chips with steel chain.

Pink and silver set by BokBok Jewelry.
Plastic and silver beads with steel chain.

Teal and yellow set by BokBok Jewelry.
Painted glass pearls, silver beads, and steel chain.

Red and smoky purple set by BokBok Jewelry.
Painted glass pearls, lampwork glass beads, silver beads, and steel chain.

Silver and pink set by BokBok Jewelry.
Pink pearly beads, steel chain, and silver-colored everything else.

Three simple pendant necklaces by BokBok Jewelry.
Plastic beads, silver rings, and steel chain.

Steel chain loop earrings by BokBok Jewelry.
One pair is pink and yellow, and the other is blue and orange.
Plastic beads, steel chain, and silver findings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5 Things I Learned From Breaking My Toe

This is the first bone I've broken, and while I would rather have continued my no-breaks record instead of shattering it (along with my toe), I've learned some things along the way. Instead of breaking your own toe, please learn from my fail:

1. The initial pain, while the most intense, was not the worst. The worst is the recurring pain. I leave the foot down for too long - it hurts. I accidentally walk normally - it hurts. I do nothing and the nerve endings twitch - it hurts. The best part and the worst part of all this? It doesn't hurt all the time. That's the best part because, obviously, pain-free is the way to be; it's the worst part because if it hurt all the time, I'd be more inclined to take some ibuprofen. Since it doesn't hurt constantly, I've gotten myself convinced that I don't need the pain-killers...until the next time it hurts.

2. The itching! My god, the itching. I've read about broken bones before and know people who have broken something before, and so I knew on an intellectual level that the healing process itches, but I was not prepared for the very intense, prickly heat sensation. I can't even scratch it, because - you guessed it - that hurts. I just keep reminding myself that it's a sign of healing, and how it's really a good thing, and yadda-yadda-yadda I just want to scratch the bone it itches so much. The only experience I've had to compare this to is allergy-induced itchy eyes, where I just want to pop my own eyeballs out to get to the source of the itching. That is gross, now that I read it, but that's how I feel in the middle of allergy season, and it's how my foot feels now.

3. The whole "keeping it wrapped" thing. I've been "buddy-taping" the broken toe to a healthy neighboring toe, as one is supposed to do in this situation, and there is a very fine line between "wrapped loose enough to irritate the break", "wrapped just right", and "wrapped too tightly and now your pinky toe's turning purple".

4. Broken toes are apparently enthralling to kids and animals. My loving daughter and dog keep bumping it or trying to lay on it or poke/sniff at it. I know they're curious and/or concerned, but neither one of them understands the concept of "leave it alone, will ya?"

5. This one was the most mind-boggling for me: Contrary to what I believed prior to this experience, you do not need to kick something hard to break a toe. In my case, I kicked my other foot while taking a stumble first thing in the morning; it wasn't even a powerful kick, but I hit that toe just right (or just wrong), and bam! - broken. The toes on either side were fine, but the "little piggy who had none" was just unlucky, I guess. I've rebroken it twice since the original injury, and in both cases, they were regular toe-stubbings that just happened to hit the exact wrong toe. The last one was against a table leg, something I've done a million times, and oh man, it hurt so much, even worse than the initial injury.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Latest Project - Agate, Tigerseye, and Hematite Necklace

No better way to keep something a surprise than to put it on the internet, right?

Close-up of the agate focal.
I started work on this one today - don't tell my mom, but it's her gift for Mother's Day. ;) She helped me pick out most of these beads, years ago when I first started transitioning from macrame to stringing, and I think she'll really like it.

The focal is a disk of stone - agate, if I remember correctly - that has these really neat sunrise colors in it. It's partially see-through, so it shows up greenish on my blue beading board, but it's really yellow and reddish-orange. It's undrilled, so I picked out a goldish color of wire to wrap around it and make a bail. I strung it with tigerseye rounds and chips, hematite chips, antiqued brass beads shaped as hearts, gold-colored metal beads with a rose motif, and gold-colored glass beads. I originally didn't have the gold beads in there (they were more glass beads instead), but the necklace was just too dark and needed a little more shine, which is where the gold rose beads come in.

I don't normally put brown and black together, but the two colors were already there in the agate and the tigerseye, and I think the hematite is shiny enough to stand up to the other beads and not get lost. It's fun to push my own envelope sometimes. :)

The necklace is unfinished for now, because I want to get my mom over at the end of the week to measure it so it will hang where she wants it to. I plan to finish it with more of those glass beads - they'll leave a nice, smooth feel against the back of the neck, unlike the chips - and a brass toggle clasp.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

At Which Length Would You Wear This?

Water-inspired elemental necklace by BokBok Jewelry
The water-inspired pendant for my elemental line is done - finally! (By the way, "Modern LARP Jewelry" wasn't getting anywhere, so I changed the name of that particular line of jewelry to "Elemental Collection". Just so y'all know. :)) The stone is hand-painted (though not by me) and is one of a kind; I did all the wire-wrapping by hand, including the bottom of the pendant - that's not a decorative headpin! I did that! (Sorry, I'm just really, really excited about the way this turned out. I've done some wire-wrapping work before, but nothing like this.)

Anyway, I was originally going to string this with some blue glass pearls and some other blue beads, but as it happens, they're all the wrong color of blue for this pendant, so I'm going to keep it simple on some bright silver steel chain. I just have to decide on the length. I already asked on Facebook and Google+, but I'll ask here, too - how would you wear this pendant? Short? Medium? Long? Let me know! :)

By the by, I have one more solid design for the Elemental line, inspired by one of my favorite forces of nature: lightning. I'm still looking around for the right focal for that design, but I'll keep y'all posted.

Friday, April 25, 2014

You Learn Something New Every Day

Before spreadsheet.

After spreadsheet.
I learned something today: no matter how great your tools are, they're worthless unless you actually use them.

Let me give you some background. When I first started on this jewelry endeavor back in 2012 (when I decided to start selling pieces online), I wanted to be serious about it. My idea of being serious was to have an actual inventory list. Lots of times, I'd forget about beads that I had, or think that I was out of findings when I really wasn't. I figured that a spreadsheet would help me sort through my actual inventory of components and help me keep track of what I do and do not have. My husband, luckily, does this sort of thing for a living, so he helped me set up a really fantastic spreadsheet where I can list out my components - their descriptions, amounts, and prices (as a whole and individually). There's another sheet for my finished inventory, then a few more for record-keeping and such. While I was filling it out, I found that it did really help me get organized.

Fast forward to this week. I sat down and designed a necklace the other day, and decided to make it. I started pulling out the parts that I'd need, only to discover that I was out of antiqued copper chain (which was going to play a very big role in the piece). After a fruitless and very time-consuming search, I looked on the spreadsheet, and sure enough - I'm out of chain. D'oh! I'd have saved myself lots of time and hassle if only I had remembered that I had set up the spreadsheet specifically so that I wouldn't have to search through my inventory to see what I have. But Carly, I hear you asking, if you're so organized like you just said you were, why was it so difficult to search? I'll tell you why - because most of my beads are still in a large, green storage tub right now so the kiddo can't get into them. They're individually sorted, making it really easy to pull out what I need when I find it, but that's the thing: with all the little bead boxes stacked on top of one another ten deep inside the larger storage tub, it takes a while to check.

Learn from my fail, folks - if you're going to spend a lot of time and energy to set something up that'll save you even more time and energy later, remember to use the darn thing! :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Proud Mama Moments

The kiddo has made tons of progress this week on learning how to be a kid! With so many lightbulb moments, I just have to brag on her. :)

First proud-mama moment this week - my kiddo spelled her name for me as I was writing it. She just turned two, and she's spelling her name! I've known kindergarteners (5-6 years old) at my old job who couldn't do that. It blew my mind, but I am so proud of her.

Second proud-mama moment - yesterday, she figured out how to work a doorknob. Multiple nap attempts failed because I'd lay her down, then not a minute later she'd run out to the living room, very pleased with herself, to announce, "I did it!" because she had opened the door herself. It was hard to be upset with her in the face of her accomplishment, but man, yesterday was a really long day because of it. :) She wasn't going to go down for a nap unless she was exhausted, which meant lots of walks around the neighborhood - and I had broken my toe last week, so that kind of sucked.

Third proud-mama moment - I can see her actively working to increase her vocabulary. She knows the names of things and people that she sees often, but today she opened up the cupboard and started "asking" the names of my baking ingredients. She'd point to one, then look at me with her eyebrows quirked in a question. It was so cute (not that I'm biased). She's not just picking up information here and there - she's actively inquiring for more, and working hard to learn new things. I just hope that that curiosity never leaves her.

I hit a milestone in the last week, too - this toe is the first bone I've ever broken in my life. Some milestone, huh? :P As much as it may ache, I have to remind myself that I've actually gotten off pretty light: I didn't break something that really impedes my daily life (I just limp around a bit, is all), it is healing up pretty nicely, and hey - I went a solid 30 years without breaking anything! That's not too shabby.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Inspiration vs. "Inspiration"

Whenever someone pins one of my designs to a Pinterest board that they've titled, "To Make" or "DIY", I have to ask myself the following question:

Where does one draw the line between inspiration, imitation, and straight-up copy-catting someone else's design?


This bothers me perhaps more than it should. After all, I hoard tutorial pins, but rarely do I actually make something from a Pinterest tutorial; therefore, I reckon it's not likely that they'll actually go and copy my design. Re-pins onto "inspiration" boards, however, don't bother me, and I'm actually flattered by them. Why the difference? Because, to me, inspiration is when I look at a piece and think, "I like that technique/color/component/style, but I would make it like this instead of that", and the two pieces wind up looking nothing alike. "To Make" or "DIY" boards, on the other hand, are like walking up to me and saying, "What you make is so simple that anyone can easily do this. Your work is not special." It's a slap in the face, basically. Like I said, I may just be overly sensitive to this. I've tried looking at it in a complimentary fashion - "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" - but nothing doing. At best, I'm trying to let go of the negativity, but I'm finding it difficult.

I got started on making jewelry because I saw a necklace I liked but couldn't afford; I could, however, afford a kit to make something similar. Is that any different than people hypothetically making knock-offs of my designs? I would argue that, yes, it is different, because I didn't reverse-engineer the original necklace design to make my own; I went out and paid for instructions and materials to make something in a similar style, but it was an entirely different necklace. This one reason why I've been seriously considering making tutorials for some of my more popular designs - people are going to make it (or imply that they'll make it) regardless of my feelings on the subject, so I might as well let go of my artistic ego and maybe make a buck off of a tutorial, or maybe a couple bucks off of a kit with instructions, or just offer the tutorial for free to get my name out there. I believe there is a phrase for my current thoughts on offering tutorials: paralysis by analysis.

While we're on the topic of imitation and "inspired by", I just want to briefly put my opinion out there on the subject of "Inspired by the Harry Potter/Hunger Games/Twilight movie(s)" or "Disney-inspired mouse logo that looks suspiciously/exactly like Mickey Mouse" or "J.Crew-inspired bubble necklaces". Many of those are not "inspired by"; they are blatant rip-offs and I wish people would stop making and/or buying them because they are diluting the meaning of "inspiration". Also, because they're blatant rip-offs. There, I said it.

To wrap this post up, I'm trying to keep in mind my own background experiences, as well as Lady Karma, when dealing with overzealous DIY pinners. Writing this post, at least, has helped me get some of these feelings off my chest, and that helps immensely. I'll try to keep the rants to a minimum in the future, but there were some things in here that needed to be said, haha. :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Worst (and Best) Advice to Triumph over Creative Block

I've written snippets here and there about my struggles with beader's block and writer's block. I've been having a bit of both lately, which I'll just call "creative block". Part of it is that I've been hugely busy lately - keeping up with the yard, then catching back up on the housework I've skipped to focus on the yard. Plus, the kiddo just turned two years old, and her personal schedule is changing again, meaning that her nap-times are unpredictable and her awake-times are very demanding of my time and energy. I had another week of poor sleep, and have been catching up on that, too. To summarize, I don't juggle tasks very well, and I don't deal with transitional phases very well, either. I do best when I can pick one thing to do and can just sit down and do it; lately, that thing has not been writing or creating, and I've fallen out of "the zone".

When I'm ready to re-enter the zone, I'll sometimes look around for advice on how to pick it back up again. Without further ado, here is the worst advice I've heard or seen, followed by the best advice. (Disclaimer: Obviously, words like "best" and "worst" are subjective. Your mileage may vary, and something that I've labeled as bad advice for me may work like gangbusters for you.)

Bad Advice: Do Something Else for a While, Then Come Back

My problem with this is not the general idea, but that it simply doesn't work for me, specifically in creative areas. It's great for, say, a math test - if you're stuck, move on and come back to it! That works just fine for me. For creative endeavors, however, I often get stuck because I did something else for a while. Doing something else for a while, therefore, makes my rut grow larger, and it becomes harder to climb out of it.

Better Advice: Show Up and Do It

Want to make or write something? Schedule time to do so, even if you have no idea where to start. Once it's time, make like the Nike commercial and "Just Do It"! Start slapping words or beads or paints or what-have-you together until you have something, even if the end result is unappealing or just plain ugly. There will be something there that speaks to you, something that you can work with and that will inspire something that you like. Alternatively, grab a tutorial off of Pinterest (I'm not the only tutorial hoarder out there, I know it!), doesn't matter which one, and make it. It may feel like you're just going through the motions, or that you're putting head down like a bull and charging through that brick wall that is creative block and smashing that thing to bits. Whether you're demolishing the wall or merely dismantling it brick by brick, it'll get easier as you stick with it, and eventually, you'll be out of your creative rut.

Worst Advice: Just Avoid Creative Block in the First Place!

This goes along with other meaningless platitudes like "just be happy!" and "boredom's just a state of mind!" It's not that simple. Creative block has many different causes, and while you can take steps to avoid some of them, I'd be very surprised if there were a way to avoid all of them, all at once.

Best Advice: Find the Root of Your Block, and Pull it Out

Like I just said, creative block has many causes. For me, it's often an insecurity/fear of failure, or that I've fallen out of the habit of creating or writing, or that I have too many distractions. Figure out what's blocking you, then fix it. Too many distractions? Eliminate the distractions. Fallen out of the habit? Get back into it! (I've detailed this process in the "Show Up and Do It" section above.) Scared that what you'll make won't be good enough? Make it anyway; face that fear! Take a walk, remove yourself from your surroundings, and sometimes that's enough to just dissolve the block. Listen to music, do some dancing (even if it's just in your own living room), get outside and take nature photos. Pretend that R. Lee Ermey is your very own personal creative trainer, yelling encouragement at you in your head. Pull an Oblique Strategies card and think about it for a while. Just keep trying 'til you find something that dissolves whichever block you have at the time.

I hope you've found something of use in here. It sure helped me kick down another brick in my writer's block wall! :) If you have another strategy that works for you (even if it only worked once), please share it in the comments!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My 3 Favorite Color Inspiration Sites

As you may have guessed, color is a big part of what I do as a jewelry designer. Finding the perfect color for whatever I'm working on has always been a priority - even back in grade school, I remember spending way too much time mixing basic-colored Tempura paints (we had the primary and secondary colors, plus brown, black, and white) to get just the right hue of magenta for jungle flowers I was painting as a collaborative mural with my class. One time, I came up with this awesome hot-pink color in high school with similar paints - I think it was with orange and red in just the right proportions. It made for a wicked-cool sunset painting in art class.

Anyway, occasionally my own personal color "well" will run dry, and I have to look outside of my own imagination for color inspiration. Here are my top three sites for inspiring me to look at colors outside of my usual palette:

1. Design Seeds
"chi tones" by Design Seeds

This site, founded by designer Jessica Colaluca, features color palettes assembled by her, inspired by different photos. It's great for finding color combos that I may not have otherwise considered.

2. Colors on the Web

Color wheel by Colors on the Web
I use this site's color wheel when I'm feeling more adventurous, or if I want to see what the creative universe has to offer me. It generates three random colors out of 16 million or so, according to the description, and it's funny how often the combo works. You can also "hold" or keep a color that you like, and rando-generate the rest. Colors on the Web has other tools, plus some informative pages on color theory and lots of other great stuff that I honestly haven't had time to check out because I get distracted by the color wheel. :)

3. Colorspire
Color scheme designer by Colorspire

This site has a random color generator, too, but it has tools for you to create a swatch of your own. With the color wheel, you can easily pick out analogous colors, complementary colors, tertiary colors, and so on. Then, you compile them into your swatch.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Photo Filters

When taking photos (lots and lots of photos) the other day, I decided to get a little fancy-schmancy and play around with some of the filter settings on my camera. The resulting photos will be exclusive to this blog post - lucky you, Dear Reader! - and they are below.

Victorian-inspired cameo necklace
shot in high-contrast monochrome.
Same as above, but with a brighter light setting.
I think I like the darker one better. How about you?

Gemstone frame necklace shot with a soft filter.
I kinda like it.
Gray marble necklace (coming soon!)
shot in high-contrast monochrome.

Amethyst and moonstone necklace
shot with color-exclusive (purple only) filter.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Kid Play: Cloud Dough

Yesterday, I wrote a bit about letting the kiddo play in some cloud dough, and I've received some questions about what that actually is, so let me fill y'all in. :)

First thing, I don't have any photos. Sorry! This stuff is kind of messy, even when I'm not playing in it, and I didn't want my camera to get gunked up. Seriously, I wound up with bits of flour all the way up to my elbows the other day, and I have no idea how that happened. All I did was dump the dough into the tub for her.

Secondly, I originally got the idea (and the recipe) from Pinterest; specifically, from the blog Juggling With Kids, and even more specifically, this post here. I hadn't heard of cloud dough before, and if I've seen it before, I didn't remember it.

Cloud dough is amazingly easy to make. The recipe I found called for 8 cups of flour (presumably all-purpose flour; that's what I used) and 1 cup of baby oil. The flour I had on-hand already, and I found a tub (side-note: it's only a litter box if that's what you actually use it for) and a bottle of baby oil at the local Dollar Tree for a buck apiece.

I made just a half-recipe to start because I wasn't sure the kiddo would like it. This was over a year ago, and we're still on the same batch of cloud dough. I've been keeping it in a plastic gallon freezer bag (also found at the Dollar Tree!), and it's kept just fine on a shelf. I don't know why it wouldn't, just that I can't say the same thing about the batch of Oobleck I tried making - that stuff grew moldy in a week or two, and was gross. The cloud dough, though, is still going strong.

Based on my own experiences, I recommend this activity for kids over a year old. The first time I tried letting the girl play with it, she wasn't quite a year old yet (9-10 months old, maybe?) and was mostly interested in taste-testing. The next time was about six months later, and she loved burying my hands in the dough. No more taste-testing. She's almost two now, and she delights in using some measuring cups and spoons to help her mold the dough and make shapes in it.

When we play, I put the tub of dough into the bathtub, and when she's done, the dough goes back into its baggie and everything else gets washed right there in the bathtub, including the kiddo. She's old enough now that she helps me wipe down the flour gunk off the bathtub floor, which is nice. :) This is a great activity (for my household, at least) to do right before nap-time, because of the clean-up bath. It might just be my kid, but she loves baths and playing in the water, and it is very soothing for her.

You can find more of my collection of kid projects and play ideas here and here, and my main Pinterest page is here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Best Bargains for Tools (That I've Found)

When I really started my beading journey - when I decided that I wanted to try making my own earrings, and do more than macrame - I didn't want to spend a lot on tools because I was just starting out and what if I didn't like the new techniques? I felt like that money would have been wasted. So, I decided to ignore the advice I had read online (that being to buy the best tools you can afford) and bought some tools that were very inexpensive but that get the job done. Even nowadays, when I've been stringing and wire-working for years, I still tend to stick to things that work, rather than things that are the best. On that note, here are the best buys and finds (in no particular order) that I've encountered, for beading tools and storage.

1. Starter Kits

I have always learned best with instructions in front of me. As a result, when I want to learn a new technique, I pick up a kit. They usually have extra beads that I can keep for bead soup or design alterations, and they're often less expensive than taking a class (unless the class is free). Anyway, I was looking at some of the craft kits in Wal-Mart one day, and an earring kit called my name. It required roundnose pliers and wire cutters, though, and I didn't have either of those. I went looking at the tools, and as luck would have it, they sold various tools individually, as well as a starter kit that had roundnose, bentnose, and chainnose pliers, along with the wire cutters, a bead reamer, and a bead-tweezer/scoop, all in a carrying case. It was on sale, and it went for about what it would have cost to individually buy the two tools I was looking for in the first place. They do the same job as expensive, ergonomic versions of the same tools, the kit had everything I needed to get started, and since the price was so low, I wasn't very worried about using the wire cutters to see if they could cut stainless steel floral pins. (Spoiler alert: they cut the pins, but the pins put dings in the cutting blades.) To this date, the wire cutters are the only tool out of that kit that I've had to replace, and I've used those tools for years. The cutters would still be fine if I had heeded the Internet, which said to use special cutters made specifically for stainless steel.

2. Nail File = Metal Sanding Device

As a toddler wrangler, the local Dollar Tree is my store of choice for fun little things for my kiddo to play with. I sometimes find other things, like this awesome nail file/buffer. I immediately picked up two, one for me and one for smoothing the cut ends of wires. You see, I found this tutorial one day on how to make your own sanding sticks for smoothing metal, and I had been on the lookout for something similar unless or until I made my own sanding sticks. Emery boards, which is what I had been using, can get expensive, and the ones I used only had two grits. This one, on the other hand, has seven, and gets wire ends down to a smooth finish. I used it to make the ends of the clasps on the Lydia Collection necklaces smooth. As I do more things with metal, I will probably upgrade to actual wire burs and metal files and what-not, but in the meantime, this nail buffer works incredibly well. I do recommend using some basic safety gear, though - breathing mask, eyewear, and rubber gloves. I would recommend the same if you use the sanding sticks. The filing process leaves "metal dust", and it's better to be safe than sorry.

3. Storage For a Buck, Can't Beat That!

Also at the Dollar Tree, I found little see-through, plastic tubs. They're perfect for holding wire, cording, and other large-ish materials. One dollar each, not too bad.

4. ...Or Can You? Storage for 50 Cents

There are several types of findings that I use on a regular basis and I need to have them out where I can reach them. I was out yard-sale-ing with my husband this summer, and found this awesome craft cabinet. It's small enough (about 8"x11", and 5" deep) to fit on top of a table while leaving me room to work, and it holds all my earwires, spacer beads, jump rings, and the like.

5. Storage for Free!

At my old job, the staff room was a place where we could bring in things to give away that people might be able to use. One lady brought in a box of small plastic boxes that she had gotten from a friend of hers - the boxes are completely see-through, have removable lids that snap shut, and they're about 2"x4"x1". In other words, they are perfect for beads. After I took about half of the box, she dropped a bombshell on me - she had a whole other box full of these little boxes and I could have them all! So now, I have almost all of my beads in these little boxes. Once I get an honest-to-goodness craft cabinet (or craft shelves, or something other than a large, green, not-see-through storage tub), I'll be able to see all my beads at a glance. As it is now, they're stored inside the aforementioned large, green tub, but I can pull out what I need, and the boxes work kind of like the compartments of a bead tray. They don't take up a lot of room on my work surface, either.

Now, I realize that a lot of these (namely the last two) were as a result of luck and/or being in the right place at the right time, but hopefully there's enough general information inside - look for clearance sales! hit up yard sales! ask around your workplace or other socializing area! - to help you all on whatever journey you're on. :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Product Story: Simple Beaded Bracelets, or Modern LARP Jewelry

Fiery Marble Bracelet with Silver Steel Chain
(or, as I like to call it, "+5 to Fire")
by BokBok Jewelry
This particular product line started with a combination of sleep deprivation and beader's block. I frequently have periods of insomnia - or just times where I don't sleep well, whatever you'd prefer to call it - and understandably, I get a little loopy. During one of those times, I was also in a creative slump* and hadn't made anything for a while.

(*)This one requires a bit more explanation, because "creative slump" or "beader's block" or what-have-you usually means you're out of ideas; for me, it means I have a tornado in my head of ideas, and I can't pick just one to focus on. I only call it a "slump" because that's exactly what I do during these times - I slump around the house until something changes and either the tornado slows down or I manage to grab an idea out of the chaos. Sometimes it's an environmental change - clutter, in particular, is incredibly distracting to me - and sometimes it's a change in my routine, and sometimes all it takes is for me to write down the thoughts; getting them out of my head and into the world tends to help immensely.
My inspiration, found here.

One day, while I was shuffling around like a sad zombie, I happened to toss a glance at a piece I had made already - a simple, beaded, pendant necklace. Why couldn't I do something similar, but in bracelet form? I had lots of necklaces already (earrings, too, for that matter), but not many bracelets.

In my sleepy haze, the thinking process was a little wonky. I wound up skipping the whole planning/sketching process and just ran with my instinct. That turns out to be a good thing, because I remember trying to figure out how to make some sort of pendant bracelet, like a charm bracelet with only one charm. I may revisit that idea (as I type, I can see how it could be done with a smaller bead and a different layout), but at the time, all the idea was doing was distracting me from actually getting anything made.

I don't actually remember the making process - I do remember being frustrated with my sluggish brain, and I remember consciously deciding to just "make something happen", but I kind of went into a zone once I picked out the bead and chain. Something was going to happen with this combination, gosh darn it, and then I had a finished product, but don't remember much of the stuff in between the two. At least, for the first bracelet. I'm used to "getting in the zone" while beading, but the lack of sleep makes my memory unreliable. Anyway, I was double-checking the piece for any flaws - were my loops okay? did it fit nicely? did it look good? - when an idea struck me: modern LARP jewelry.

LARP, for those who don't know, stands for Live Action Role-Play. It's like playing Cops-and-Robbers, but for older folks (teens/adults), and that's about the extent of my knowledge. I know of Dungeons-and-Dragons-esque LARPing, and people LARPing other table-top games (Vampire and other World of Darkness games are another option), but I've never actually done it.

I have a general understanding of the DnD world due to my love of fantasy RPGs on consoles and computers alike, so I figured most of the fantasy LARP jewelry would probably be elaborate, elfin-looking pieces. A Google Image Search confirmed that guess. What if people wanted something they could wear every day that reminded them of their fire-flinging wizard character, though? Or what if someone did a setting hack that changed it from medieval fantasy to modern (or even futuristic) fantasy, kind of like Final Fantasy 7 (or FFVII, or FFX, or Shadowrun, or any number of other games I had played)? I thought this may have been an unexplored niche, and another Google Image Search confirmed that thought as well. It's also possible that the medieval fantasy folk just have much better SEO than modern fantasy folk, but I couldn't know without trying. I quickly sketched up ideas for jewelry based on different elemental forces (fire, water, earth, wind), and felt so much better. I slept well that night.

The next day, I took another look at this idea. Maybe there's a very good reason that I couldn't find any modern-fantasy LARP jewelry, and that was because no one was LARPing that setting. I felt like that was a pretty good possibility, and so I knew that this jewelry would have to have a general appeal as well. I had to keep it simple, and that's not necessarily something that I do often. Challenge accepted!

Olive Green Beaded Silver Chain Bracelet
(or, as I like to call it, "+5 to Earth")
Looking through my design notes, I settled on my next piece - an earth-based bracelet. I had a large, green, faceted, probably plastic but possibly glass bead, and made a bracelet like the first. The olive green color reminded me of a mossy forest setting, and it looked interesting with the silver chain. It also passed my, "can I wear it on the street in broad daylight?" test, which isn't actually a test but just something that I asked myself. :P

When the time came to list these two in my Zibbet shop, I was very grateful that Zibbet has the option to have as many shop sections as you want. I made a "Modern LARP Jewelry" section, and listed them there as well as in my more generic sections. There haven't been many hits on them there, but I was careful to not use any brand names or game names in my shop to avoid the trademark issue, and I think that maybe I'm just not reaching my intended audience because of it. After all, if someone's going to LARP DnD, they'd probably search for stuff by name rather than in general. I'm trying a different tactic on my TicTail shop, that being a more general approach, and Pinterest loves the designs, so there's still hope!

Victorian-Inspired Tiered Cameo Necklace
by BokBok Jewelry
Since I'm familiar with the tabletop version of Vampire: The Requiem, I decided to look up vampire LARP jewelry (in general, not just VtR) in Google, too. Apparently, vampires love red and black, lace or silk chokers, and Victorian-style design elements. Predictable! But again, that may be for a reason. Those are definitely the first two colors to come to my mind when I think of vampires. I thought briefly about coming up with a vampire LARP line similar to this fantasy-setting line, but then I thought about it, and logically, vampires can probably wear whatever they want because they're basically immortal - while individual characters may vary, when speaking generally, their setting transcends time. In other words, while I can set up guidelines for myself when making the fantasy LARP jewelry (like the colors for the elements, for example), I found myself unable to do the same for the "vampire style". The best idea I've had so far is to use colors other than red and black, but again, those are probably classic vampire colors for a reason; another issue with that idea is the question, what would make that jewelry scream "vampiric"? That's not to say that I definitely won't do that (especially when I've already given it a shot), but I'm just not marketing it as specifically "vampire LARP jewelry".

Going back to the modern-fantasy line - as of today, I still have yet to make something for either wind or water. For the water, I was thinking a wire-wrapped pendant necklace, quite long; it looks really neat in my head, but I want to do it well, so I've been working on other wire-wrapped projects for practice. As for the wind, I'm just stuck on the color issue. I was thinking about yellow, because in the games I've played (again, electronic games, not tabletop - at least for the fantasy settings), wind tends to be either yellow or green and I already picked green for earth, and I don't have many yellow beads to choose from. As I type, though, I'm running through my beading inventory in my head, and there may be an idea there without having to buy more beads. I'll keep y'all posted.

For right now, I don't have a section for LARP jewelry (modern or otherwise) on my main shop site, but you can find the section for it on my Zibbet store, here.

If you see a product of mine that you'd like to know more about, please let me know! I plan on having these Product Stories be a regular thing on my blog, and I'm fine with having y'all tell me which one I should do next. ;)