Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More

30 04 2010

After waiting, planning, working, praying,the much anticipated art exhibit is almost here: my one person art exhibit-

Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More

– is three weeks away tonight. Here is my gorgeous postcard invitation, if you’d like to receive one – send me an email and I’ll be sure to get one over to you!

Read more here...

Oksana Prokopenko: Icons and More

Education – Annette Piper

18 05 2009

Educating yourself and your clients should be a very important aspect of your creative business.

Naturally, you, as the creative talent behind your endeavour need to know the materials you work with, how they can be worked most effectively and how to look after them.

Experience will count for a lot, particularly in the skills knowledge area, however specific materials knowledge is very important and your customers will appreciate your expertise.

Don’t necessarily accept what a supplier of your materials says – particularly if they are a new supplier or not well known to you. They may be repeating something they have heard, were told, or, unfortunately in some cases, making it up to ‘sound good’.

By asking lots of questions of your suppliers, they will hopefully take on board your interest in the facts and bolster their own knowledge. You will benefit from their efforts of educating themselves and in the process learn more yourself.

Seek out information through courses, appropriate texts, information sites and forums. If someone not qualified offers you their opinion on materials, take it on board – but question everything if you’re unsure. Even professionals get second opinions!

As a gemmologist and jewellery designer, I am fortunate to have a good knowledge of gemstones from my years of study and work in the trade. However, even I get occasions when I’m not quite sure if a stone I am buying is represented correctly. It may be just a little niggle of not being sure, but I’ve found it’s a wise niggle to listen to!

It can be quite an adventure to educate myself further on a little known stone and ensure that I know exactly what it is I am working with. The end result of course, is that my clients know precisely what each stone in a piece is, including any treatments it may have had.

Be sure to share your expertise with your customer.  On the other hand, don’t overwhelm them. Offer your knowledge as part of the selling process. They will gain confidence that you know what you are talking about and in time you will become an expert in your field – at least to them.

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

Know your materials - can you name all the gemstones pictured here?

 To read more from Annette, visit her blog at http://annettepiperjewellery.blogspot.com and view her jewellery at www.annettepiper.com

If only I had known… – Annette Piper

17 04 2009

Ah yes, if only I had known … there are so many things in life that could have been better with the aid of hindsight.  A wonderful thing hindsight, but in a way – it takes away all the surprise!!  Here are a few of my “if only” moments …


If only I had known gemstones would one day take over my life and a good proportion of my house!   I worked with gemstones since my earliest working days but never imagined they could have become such a big part of my life!   And the storage issues are a nightmare – they have to be there to see and to touch and to feel, but there is just not enough shelving in my whole house to accommodate them all!   When we built my workroom I blindly thought that would be enough shelving.  Ha.  How could I have been so utterly wrong?


If only I had known that jewellery making was to be my future I would have paid a lot more attention to the jewelers when I was working in the trade and would have taken them up on their offers to let me have a go at the bench!  As it was I only picked up bits and pieces from them (but all valuable nevertheless) and then had to pay to do lessons! 


If only I had known the Aussie dollar was going to tumble in relation to the US dollar last year I could have bought so much more stock and saved some $!   I remember that the AUD was almost at parity and I was actually thinking ‘but I don’t need anything else’.  How absolutely mistaken I was – I ALWAYS need more – especially gemmies.  Now I just have to pay so much more for them … it has slowed down my purchases, but certainly hasn’t stopped them!


If only I had known the satisfaction I would get from creating and selling my creations I would have started a lot sooner.  It has made me a happier, more rounded person being able to fulfill my creative outlet and sharing my passion with the world!  Of course, others could call me addicted, but hey, nothing’s perfect!



Bright red bamboo coral - if only I had known it would have been so hard to get really nice quality pieces - I would have bought a lot more!

Bright red bamboo coral - if only I had known it would have been so hard to get really nice quality pieces - I would have bought a lot more!


 To read more from Annette, visit her blog at http://annettepiperjewellery.blogspot.com and view her jewellery at www.annettepiper.com

Turn your boring wardrobe into a canvas for Color! – Heather Hertziger

12 03 2009

Color can be very scary for some people. Look at your closet right now, how much of it is black, gray, beige, brown, and white? Are you a color-phobe? I’m not here to scold you or try to talk you out of your fear of color. I am here to tell you that it is OK, and you are not alone. I am here to show you how to disguise your color phobia with three easy pieces.

Outfits with the popular 3/4 length sleeves scream for fabulous bracelets. A brightly colored bracelet not only hides the fact that your clothing color scheme is subdued. If you want to draw attention to yourself a cha-cha bracelet that swings and make noise is an excellent choice, the shorter 3/4 length sleeves seem made for this sort of bracelet as your sleeve will not get caught in the dangles. If you prefer your jewelry to be of the silent type a simple strung bracelet of brightly colored beads is an excellent choice. And if you prefer classic and simple then check out chainmaille. Metal is always a good choice but chainmaille adds an artists touch as well and shows that you are not the type to follow the herd when it comes to choosing jewelry.


Tops with low necklines scream for a fabulous necklace. Bold necklaces draw attention away from your clothing and to your lovely face. Depending on how chunky you like your jewelry to be you have a lot of options. Many artists make fabulous chunky pendants that look great suspended from a simple cord. Strung necklaces with or without pendants are great too. You can combine various materials with different textures to make pieces not only interesting to look at but interesting to touch and fun to wear.

 purplefantasynecklace1 trianglependant
  If your top has full length sleeves or a neckline that doesn’t work well with a necklace then a funky pair of earrings may be just the ticket. Earrings are always fabulous and there are literally 1000’s of designs and styles to choose from. If you are hesitant to wear a really bold necklace or just don’t care for bracelets then earrings are your best friend. If you’ve never worn bold jewelry before then earrings are also the easiest way to start. Without spending to much money you can find yourself a fabulous pair of fun and funky earrings just perfect for you.

blueet2 red31

So, take these tips, and turn your colorless wardrobe into a marvelous canvas on which to display some beautiful artisan jewelry. Whether you buy your jewelry from me, one of the other artisans on this blog, or from an artisan you come across at an art show, wearing a piece of colorful, beautiful handmade jewelry tells those around you “I am fabulous, and I deserve fabulous, colorful things.”

See, I told you a neutral wardrobe wasn’t a bad thing. 🙂

Heather blogs from her home in Watertown, WI. You can find her work on her website, Artfire, Etsy, and 1000 Markets.  You can read her personal blog here.

Curve Balls

21 01 2009

ballNo matter how well-planned a business is, there’s always that unexpected curve ball that comes at you and whacks you when you least expect it.  In the back of my mind for the past four years, I’ve known that a curve ball could be lurking, waiting to be thrown, and since I’m a lousy catcher, that ball was going to hit me smack upside my head.

The ball seems to have hit me now in the form of Exhaustion and Illness.  Right now I’m fighting both, and it’s not a lot of fun.

Part of me (the very, very tired part) wants to just throw up my hands and say, “take the year off”.  But I had some incredible momentum in 2008, and I don’t want to lose it, so I’m going to have to adapt to this curve ball.

In a nutshell:

1)  I’m cutting back on my craft shows.  I did something like 20 last year, and most of those were 3-days long.  That’s where the exhaustion comes from.  This year, I’m planning on only about 10 shows, and being much more judicious about when they are, so I don’t book myself for two months solid.

2)  I’m allowing myself to rest.  That may sound elementary, a no-brainer when you’re tired or ill, but my personality type thrives on work.  I dare say most artists are the same way, but sometimes, something has to give.  Do whatever it takes to give your body and your mind a chance to repair and recharge.  If you have to write on your calendar, “do nothing today”, well, make that appointment.

3)  When I DO have the energy, I’m using it wisely.  I make a list each morning, and focus just on that list before I allow myself to deviate.  That’s tough for me, because I am the ultimate multi-tasker, but it’s become way too easy to do tons of work and get nothing done.  (Know the feeling?)

None of these things is easy for me, but that curve ball, it hurt.  No one expects to get sick or tired or have something happen within their family that makes you have to stop and totally re-plan.  It’s good to have a fall-back plan, other options, other ways to get things done.  So before a curve ball hits you, take some time to think about “what if” — and don’t feel horrible if you drop the ball.

Lori Anderson is currently taking it easy in her studio in Easton, MD.  Her work can be seen at www.lorianderson.net, and her random musings can be read at www.lorianderson.blogspot.com.


(Photo via thecompletepitcher.com)

Inspiration – Heather Hertziger

12 01 2009

Inspiration is one of those very personal things.  What one person finds inspiring may not do anything for someone else.  Some people may find that their art is inspired by majestic views or paintings by masters.  Others find that they need other sources for inspiration.  

I belong to the second group.  I look at a painting, a sunset on a pond, or a beautiful mountain and I appreciate them for themselves, but rarely do I feel inspired by something like this.  My inspiration comes from learning new things and finding ways to incorporate those techniques into things I already do.  Lately, I have been feeling uninspired to work on my torch so I decided to work on something completely different for me and so I found some directions to make this necklace.


I don’t typically make pieces like this so it was a real stretch for me.  However, now that it is made, I am inspired to see what it would look like with some of my lampwork incorporated into the design.  I will be hitting the torch soon and creating a new piece with my lampwork added to the design.  Stay tuned to see what I come up with.


Business 101 – Annette Piper

20 12 2008

I am lucky to be in a situation where I sell my creations – this validates my reason for making substantial amounts of jewellery and enables me to continue to purchase vast quantities of gemstones!  


But a lot of people don’t sell what they make – sometimes this is because they choose not to, sometimes it is because they don’t know how.


Here are some of my pointers to selling your wares should you want to sell but not know where to start.


* Ensure you practice until your wares are as good as they can possibly be. Don’t even attempt to sell goods of questionable quality and workmanship as this may harm your reputation down the track.


* Create a ‘look’ that fits your style.   This look will be utilized in such things as business cards, packaging and advertising.   Think about your target market and what they react favourably to in advertising.   Research first to avoid costly mistakes – you don’t want to pay for business cards and then change your mind a month down the track and find they no longer suit you! 


* Price your items fairly. A good guide is to charge what YOU would be prepared to pay as a member of the general public.   Once again, do your research – you don’t want to be either too high or too low compared to your competitors in the marketplace.  Make sure you add all your costs together when pricing an item –  don’t guess in the early stages.  You will often be surprised how quickly small amounts add up.


* Seek out local shows and events in your area and see which attracts your target market.  Attend these shows as a visitor first if you can to gauge the clientele and the other booths/stalls.   If you think it is a good fit, then start to apply for them (some shows have extensive waiting lists).   A lot of quality shows will be juried, so be prepared with examples of your work.


* When you make it to a show, think about your set up.  Do a trial run at home of your display to make sure it works and looks attractive.  You may not have time to tweak your display at a show!    Make a list of things you will need and tick these off when packing.   Make sure you turn up to the show in good time to set up before the doors open.   Greet everyone with a smile.   Don’t pack up until the doors have shut or the last customer has departed – open booths will benefit from last minute sales.  Sit down a couple of days after the show and think about what went well and what could have been done better and make notes to refer to next time.


* Think about alternate ways of selling your wares – eg. home shows, trunk shows in local businesses, through art and craft outlets, on consignment, online through sites such as etsy or your own website.


* Network with other business owners, artisans and artists.


* Enjoy what you are doing!   If you lose your passion it may be time for a rethink.


Amethyst and sterling silver ring by Annette Piper

Amethyst and sterling silver ring by Annette Piper



To read more from Annette, visit her blog at http://annettepiperjewellery.blogspot.com and view her jewellery at www.annettepiper.com