Wednesday, June 27, 2012

New Shinies!

I'm going to take a break this week from my usual advice, information and such to bring you….

…. Shameless self-plugs.

I know, I know, it's not my usual, but I had said a few weeks ago that I would post when things happened, and they have.

Apart from being up a couple of nights in a row and creating more earwrap/cuff sets and a few more earvines, not to mention a few hair accessories that are new to my arsenal (photos of the stuff I have photographed are of course up on my Facebook Page), I have managed to get some of my website up, and have sent it live.  It is still in early stages, and of course will be added to over time, but the main three galleries (Earrings, which I tend to specialize in, Bracelets, and Slave Bracelets) are fully live, if still under construction.  I have also gotten the majority of the color charts done (and man, more than a thousand photos went into THAT, and I'm still missing a few, but have been waiting for good sunny days to photograph, and the weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate for more than an hour a day so far), with only a few things left, apart from some of the special shape pages.

The shiny new site, which is also home to my old personal site revamped, can be found now as Kalla's Domain, and the jewelry site may be found within, at Dream Weaver Jewelry (and more!).
I have to give a shoutout to my my long-distance boyfriend, without whom I never would have been able to check, re-check and double-check every link, every line of code written, and every image.  Thank you, hon! I couldn't have done it without you, and I know I'll be calling on you more until the site is totally done, only needing to be updated with NEW things, rather than things I already have!

The information is also found on my Contact and Galleries and Shops pages (in the tabs above).

In other news, I DID get a response from one of those who I sent out a questionnaire to, so there will indeed be an interview up next week!

And now, even though it is late, I must get back to work, for I realized it was already Wednesday, and I didn't have a post written.

Until next week's interview, thank you one and all for reading!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interview Series: Week 15 – Eye See Sage

Greetings everyone!
Any of who you read my Facebook will know that on last Saturday, I sprained my ankle. While it is now Tuedsay afternoon (around 1:30ish), and my ankle has gotten better, it is still healing and still a little weak.  It is, for the time I've been off it, doing fantastically, and I want to thank everyone again for your well wishes!

However, I have something more serious to say before I post this interview.  As of right now, I am out of Interviews!  This one is the last response I have gotten, and it doesn't look like the second thread on the Zibbet forums is inspiring anyone new yet.  I sent out quite a few questionnaires, and have not even heard back from half of the ones I sent out!  I'll see about poking those folks on Thurdsay *adds to To Do List*.  So you're stuck with my babble every week instead of every other week until I get in some new responses. That out of the way…

The artist I want to bring to you today responded in a very interesting manner – instead of answering my individual questions, she sent me a lovely narrative!  So this week, I will be letting Zibbeter Jenny Sweeney, of Eye See Sage tell her story, and only interrupting to add photographs (Since you know me, I can't let an artist get away without sharing a sampling of what they have!) with my usual comments.

eyeseesage954203410 My name is Jenny Sweeney. I am a fused glass artist (but Very part-time). I work full-time as an occupational therapist.
I have always loved fused glass and blown glass necklaces when I saw them at craft fairs. Last year, I had the opportunity to try several different techniques with glass, including making fused glass pendants. I enjoyed the process so much that I decided to buy my own kiln in order to make and sell my own creations.
I quickly noticed that there are lots of people online selling glass pendants and decided that I needed to diversify my products in order to make any profit from my hobby. I learned how to make my own molds so that I can now make a variety of household items, such as soap dishes, candy bowls, and night lights.

 Candy Dish, Fused Glass, Nut Bowl
I love the colors in this.  This would look lovely as a focus piece on a coffee table.
Then again, anything filled with candy is ALWAYS the focus…

eyeseesage954203410 I have noticed when I sell in person that different venues seem to lead to different types of sales. For example, one venue I sold out of soap dishes. I quickly made more for a fair the following week, but only sold one that day. Pendants sold better that day than the previous week.


Soap dish, fused glass dish
I have purple flowers in my bathroom, but this would probably go very well in there… Hmmm….

eyeseesage954203410 Since I work full-time, I am only able to make new things at night or on the weekends. I love putting some glass in the kiln before going to bed and waking up to something new! Most of the time, I am pretty sure how things will look when they are done. I do have my fair share of "oops", however. One night, I must have put slightly too much glass on the mold, as the next morning, there were large drips of glass down the side. Since it was an upside-down mold, when it was cool, I flipped the glass over and now had a dish with projections going up in the air. It actually looked pretty cool. I displayed it at a craft fair, and while it did not sell, many people complimented it. If it doesn't sell this year, I will use it in my own house.

Baby nursery fused glass night light
I could not find the awesome "oops" in the online shop, but I was distracted by shiny. Purple and blue – you can't go wrong!

eyeseesage954203410 On the weekends, I spend time doing the grunt work-photographing the items and listing them on Zibbet. That is my least favorite part of the process.
For pricing, I have been setting a single price for a type of item (for example, all soap dishes are the same price). My profit varies, though, since different items have different costs associated with them for the raw materials. For my business, at this time, it is the easiest method and works for me.


Green drink coasters set, handmade fused glass
These caught my eye quickly, and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it's the Agate look. These must be added to my wish list…

eyeseesage954203410 My design process is pretty basic. I decide what type of item I will be making, then start with one piece of glass. All of my items use at least two layers of glass, so I have to look at the glass that I have and figure out a good design based on the final shape and the other colors I am using. Sometimes I will look for inspiration online or in books, but I never directly copy a design. All of my items are one of a kind, mainly because it would be too hard for me to completely duplicate them! Once I have the glass picked out, I layer it on top of my base glass then place it all in the kiln. What starts out as a piece of flat glass with two to three layers and straight edges comes out with one layer, smooth edges, and can be different shapes depending on the mold that I designed. It is so exciting to see the results since a lot of the magic happens in the kiln where I cannot see it (the kiln gets up to over 1450 degrees and usually is not opened while it is on). The "cooking" process takes close to 4 hours, plus a few more hours for the glass and kiln to cool down before you can look at how it turned out.

Purple fused glass necklace pendant
Ahh, pendants. I love glass pendants, and it was so hard to choose just one.  This one is very odd and very eyecatching in particular, so here it is!

eyeseesage954203410 My biggest roadblock would have to be lack of space! My "workshop" or whatever one might call it, is a spare bedroom in my house. I have two tables that are covered with glass supplies and the cutting surface. I clean my glass in the bathroom across the hall, then bring it back to the bedroom for assembling. My kiln is downstairs in my front room, so I have to carry the glass on the kiln shelf downstairs and load it while hoping it doesn't move or fall off. It is quite a process!

Fused Glass Art Suncatcher Ornament Wall Art
No glass collection is complete without a suncatcher! This one is very bright with lots of colors to bring a splash of color to any room!

eyeseesage954203410 I am happy that I found this great hobby. I sell online on Zibbet, which currently is new designs and just a few pendants. I have a shop on Etsy which has most of my pendants but I am slowly switching over to all Zibbet :)

Regarding my business was originally Eye See (meaning this is how I see things), a carryover from an old photography business name. I needed a slightly different name, so added "Sage", which is my son's name.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share.

You're most welcome, Jenny! Your work is fantastic, and it was very hard to choose just a few items to show here. So many people only see glass as window, mirror or dining material, but some glassworkers, like yourself, turn it into works of art that can be a touch here, a touch there, and bring completion to any room with just that little finishing touch!

Be sure to visit Jenny at her Zibbet shop, EyeSeeSage for more of her lovely work!

Until next week, thank you one and all for reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Page… not … Found?


This week's Minnerview has been interrupted by the fact that the page I was going to feature is no longer in existence!

After thinking that it was just down for a short time when I went to do the photos last week, I have had to completely redo this post (and it's 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon).  I will be getting in touch with the shop owner for a possible reschedule, and to see if the shop has just had a change of name, or location.  So this week's interview will be posted NEXT week, and I'll just move on to the next shop in line.

In the meantime, please enjoy this rude dancing bear I found via Google Images.


If you're actually still with me, I'd like to take the opportunity to talk about something rather important.

Facebook has decided that IT will choose what you see on your wall. Not you.
I noticed that only a tiny few people are even seeing my posts anymore, so if you have me on your Facebook, then please set it your "Home" wall (where you see posts by friends, pages, etc.) to "Most Recent".  Instead of only seeing posts that a lot of people have commented on, you will be able to see the most recent pages' and friends' posts – instead of seeing that post a friend made two weeks ago that 20 people had commented on, and is now "old news".  I do try to post every day, or at least every other day, at least once per day.  The time may be variable, but posts are there.

Sadly, the only other way to keep up with it is to visit my page at least once a week.  They have made it very difficult for smaller pages (like us hand-crafters, for instance) to reach out to our fans unless we have LOTS of money to spend on advertising.

Another way you can stay connected with me is to follow me on Twitter, though my updates may get lost in the feeds since some people post every few seconds, multiple times per day.  My Facebook feed does post directly to Twitter every time I post though.  You can find my Twitter page under "Galleries and Shops" in the tabs above.  I will also add this information to my "Contact Me" page.

Spread the word, if you know anyone who is missing updates from their favorite pages – the Most Recent should help those show up more often!

Until next week's actual interview – Thank you one and all for reading!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Small and Local is not ALWAYS Better

I know that I say you should shop small and shop local, from independent artists as well as your local small businesses – but beware, not all of them have high quality, your safety, your health, or your satisfaction in mind.

When you think of "small business", what do you think of? Do you think of that little candy shop down the street, where the owner is there talking to you about the batches of chocolates she made that morning, or asking you if she can make you something special?  Do you think of the tiny coffee shop on the corner where the owner greets you, thanks you for visiting him and knows exactly what you want before you open your mouth?  Do you think of that consignment shop where you can find anything and everything, and the couple who owns it can sit and talk with you for hours about this item or that, or how they came across this, or who brought that in and what they were like?
Do you think of the grocery store on the main road in your little town where you go if you don't want to trek all the way into any major city? Do you think of the companies that run your home – your power company, water company, phone company, internet service, plumbers, contractors, bank, gas company? What about the "chain" stores that are privately owned and run?

There are thousands of possibilities, and some of them you may not even realize are small businesses!

A long time ago, I remember visiting a Kroger shop.  It was a tiny "convenience" store located in an out of the way place near a tiny Martinsville, NJ strip mall.  It was grungy, the prices were outrageous (In 1995, was milk supposed to be $6.50 a gallon?), and the two people who worked there were rude and seemed to think that it was a huge privilege we were violating when we didn't buy more than milk and the sandwiches that were suggested to us by someone who frequented the place and told us their deli was out of this world.  We were sneered at and looked down upon.  The place "felt" wrong somehow.  I never went back, even though the sandwiches were indeed phenomenal. 
My boyfriend mentioned that his father worked at a Kroger pharmacy early on in our relationship.  ….. Kroger has a pharmacy? What? 
My sister said she gets lost in her local Kroger, mostly because her boyfriend demands Kroger sausages for any recipe she makes that uses sausage. … Lost? What?
I went to a Kroger for the first time in.. uh.. *counts on fingers, moves on to toes* 17 years – with my sister. 
Clean. Huge. MUCH lower prices. The folk at this one were friendlier by far than the people in Martinsville. I was astounded.  Since when did this dinky little no-place turn into THIS? Wow.
Sadly, I will always remember it as a tiny, grungy, over-priced store with rude employees (who were likely owner(s)/family of the owner(s)). That small place made such an impression that I am likely to go anywhere but Kroger, despite what it has become.

Most places that are large now started out small.  It seems some, like Kroger, grew more friendly and more desirable. This is not always the case.  In many cases, the larger a company grows, the more it looks for profit, rather than quality.

Doctors are one of the ones I place in this category.  Long ago, doctors would go out of their way to heal others, and sometimes didn't charge for their services because they were more focused on keeping people healthy, rather than making money.  Now, too many doctors will charge exorbitant prices, and their quality of services is questionable.  There are still a few our there who still go out of their way, but sadly, due to insurance, regulation and greed, many will not. 
My father was a victim of doctors who did not go out of their way – his primary physician neglected his x-rays, and signed off that he had read them and instructed the patient on what to do.  It was only when my father went in for back surgery that his cancer was addressed, many months after that x-ray. 
His cancer specialist went out of his way to find ways to help him, but another doctor, while he was hospitalized due to complications later in treatment told him bluntly that his cancer specialist had lied to him, and that he was full of cancer, that treatment did nothing (which was a blatant lie), and he was going to die.  After hearing that, my father gave up, and passed away only weeks later. 
The original (translated) Hippocratic Oath includes one major statement: "I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."  This includes the original Latin phrase "Primum non nocere", which translates to "First, do no harm".  By telling my father that his other doctors lied to him and told him he was going to die, this doctor violated that oath, and by neglecting his x-rays, his primary physician also violated the oath.
My father's primary physician was a local, small business doctor in the small town we live near, which we no longer go to.

Another example is small businesses who may have a "monopoly" of sorts in an area – such as power, phone, gas, or internet companies.

We do not have the option of cable or larger companies available in our area for our phone and internet services.  My internet is provided by a small company who had been owned by a woman who my father had met – at that time, quality of service, so my parents had said, was phenomenal.  When the woman passed away, we are not sure who took the phone/internet company over, but their prices went up, and the quality of service went down.  We pay a similar price now for a much smaller, lesser service than for what I paid where I lived in Maryland for Comcast Cable internet.  My internet speed now is not up to FCC regulation (which is 4Mbps download, 1Mbps upload), but we are paying the same price as what Comcast charges for more than twice the service we currently have.  For the same service I had with Comcast, we would have to pay nearly twice what we pay now. 
Technical support has been "iffy" at best, my favorite moment being when I called about the service being out and was asked repeatedly "Are you sure you didn't knock the cord out of the wall when you were vacuuming, honey?", even though I said twice that I set up the network using <blah> interface and <thus and such> router, with <this stuff> settings, and that my computer was communicating just fine with my router, but the router showed "No Signal" from the modem, even when the "Internet Signal" light is lit on the modem. … No. No I did NOT knock the cord out of the wall while I was vacuuming, thank you VERY much, can I please speak to someone who knows how to talk with a network administrator?  Insert a lot of grumbling here.
While the consistency has improved (as I work on this post during a thunderstorm, and I have connection and phone both, yay!), for quite a while I was lucky to have internet OR phone services at all if it rained, looked like rain, was slightly windy, looked like it might be windy, or even with pristine conditions. I spent many nights, or even several days at a time when I first moved here without internet for no good reason, and even now the company doesn't warn of "scheduled maintenance" – which can take down the internet service for hours with no explanation at all.  I have talked to others who have had this happen to them during long-distance business meetings over the internet, wasting valuable time – and sometimes had a very high cost – including losing a client or customer.

A small business typically will have better quality, better service, and a more personable way of dealing with clients and customers.  Independent artists, contractors, or those who are their own company (single-person entities) often will double and triple check their work before calling it done, or ready for sale.  After all, they only get more business by word of mouth, and if the word of mouth is "This person (or their work) is horrible!" it means less business.  That's not to say, as I've mentioned above, that some of them don't get cocky and think you, the customer, are privileged to be in Their Royal Presence just because they ARE as small business or an individual.

We did have someone else taking care of our lawn for some time after my father passed away, since neither Mom nor I could run his lawn mower.  He was tall with ape arms.  We are short with stubby little T-Rex arms. (Okay, so that's overdoing a bit, but still funny to visualize!)  Leaning over to work the controls did nothing good for our backs, even without the medical issues!  Some of the people we had out to do our lawn charged high prices for mowing the lawn, clipping and pruning bushes and trees and whatnot.  We had one small group of four who charged us for the lawn, the pruning/limb cutting, and they only did part of the lawn, didn't do the trees, and wanted cash up front!  We paid them, but they never completed the job, since they already had their money and didn't feel like finishing – taking two days to do the work they DID do.  They did our front lawn, but not the sides and back, and not a single tree was touched.  Needless to say, they lost our business right there, and we did tell others what happened. 
On the other hand, we had a father and son team who quoted a lesser price, did our lawn, the trees, trimmed along flowerbeds and outbuildings, raked up clipped grass and leaves, filled in a hole in our sand driveway while removing the "hump" at the bottom of our driveway (we have a sand/dirt road, and the grater/plow usually leaves us a large hump at the bottom of the driveway), power-washed the stonework of the house, and weeded our flowerbed, all in one day!  We were in shock – and paid them more than asked, and spread the word of how awesome they were.

It can be very tricky, sometimes, to trust a small business or individuals after such things happen.  It can be harder for those (like me), who are just starting and still trying to put the word out that "Hey! I exist!", especially if other individuals or small businesses have made customers not trust someone so small, just starting up, who may not have any kind of review yet.  Most of the hand-crafters I feature are in this category; they have few sales, little feedback, and need someone, somewhere, to give them a shot.

My words of advice are: Try that local/small business/individual artist at least once, even if you've never heard of them before.  Every single one is different in how they handle customers, clients, and the quality of their work or service.  Be the voice that says "This is fantastic!" or "Don't bother with this one!", even if you do only try once.  Sometimes things happen that can cause a first impression to fall flat – perhaps shipping didn't go properly, or communication wasn't impeccable, or something outside the local/small business/individual artist's control caused something to wrong. Weigh these things. Ask questions. A good person/company will say up front "Sorry about <issue>, this happened! How can we make this right?" or "Sorry! This happened, but I've got it under control, and here's an update!" – all dependant on the situation.  I've missed sales on sites before because of internet outages (*cough* See above), and scrambled to contact the buyers and let them know what happened, and to tell them when their item would ship, or if it already shipped.  See how they handle themselves, see how they treat you.

Never, ever, take out an issue with a previous person/business on a new one you're trying.  You might explain you've had trouble with prior similar people/businesses (shipping, if it's the internet, or as in our case with our lawn-care), and you're giving it another shot, but you shouldn't do so right up front – it may alter how they treat you for that valuable first impression!

Always go in fresh, as though it is a completely clean slate.  Forget previous encounters, and see what that new local/small business/individual has to offer.


Until next week's interview!
Thank you, as always, for reading!