Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grooming Your Website

I have had my lampwork website for many years, and I am of the nature where I like to be able to perform most of the aspects of my business myself. A couple of years ago I armed myself with 'Dreamweaver for Dummies' and after a great deal of study I managed to teach myself enough of the basics to successfully rebuild my website in Dreamweaver, I then went on to build my jewellery website. I'd like to share with you a few of the things I have learnt along the way through advice from others.

ALT tags are an important addition to your website, they add keywords which aid search engines and it helps those who are on dial-up, if the image is loading slowly the ALT information will let them know what image will appear. An ALT tag is the description of your image, including keywords, which is added after the Image Source info.
e.g. IMG SRC="redfocal.jpg" WIDTH=100 HEIGHT=100 BORDER=O ALT="Red lampwork focal bead with blue spots" This can be added directly to your Code page or if working in Dreamweaver the description can simply be added into the ALT box in the Properties Inspector which will then automatically place it in the Code page.

Another addition which is beneficial to attracting search engines, is a site index included in your website. This is simply a seperate page with text only, listing the links of each page of the website. An example is my site index on my lampwork website.

If you would like to find out if other websites have links to your site, go to Link Popularity and type your website URL into their search box. This is a free service which will show the results in Google, Yahoo and MSN. Of course you can type in any website URL if you are interested in viewing the links to that particular site.

To find where you are ranked with the search engines, go to Google Rankings If you do not have an API Key it is very simple to apply for one, and it will be emailed to you. This will show your ranking on Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.

If you have any questions or wish to add your tips, please do so in the comments.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

'Saturn' Necklace

I've created with my amethyst rondelles, bone beads, lampwork beads, seed beads and this is the result -

I've just added my latest 5 woven necklaces to my website, if you would like to take a look.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Resulting Jewellery Piece

Continuing from my post last week, my components have all been applied to my weaving and this is my latest piece to evolve - 'Primeval'

My next project is already on the work board and taking shape. It's been quite some time since I created a necklace in purples, so that will be the focus for this piece.

seed beads

seed beads and lampwork spacer beads

focal bead

focal bead - reverse side

The results of my purple project will be shown later this week.

Friday, July 4, 2008

My Next Jewellery Project

It's time to collect my components together and begin weaving another necklace. I love earthy browns, and haven't created anything in these hues for some time, so now is as good a time as any. Firstly, I've chosen the seed beads, gemstones and made my lampwork spacer beads.

I've made a reasonably large focal bead in a design that's been in my head for a while, I wanted it to look like dripping caramel. I'm not sure if I succeeded, it is such a different design to what I normally create, and I know it will take on a totally different look once it is in a finished piece.

Reverse Side

We'll just have to wait and see the outcome of this piece, the style isn't entirely planned as yet. Quite often I like to start a woven piece and just let the design take shape as I work. Will be back with the results next week.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Some of the Best Tools are Handmade

I am addicted to tools and am like a kid in a candy store when I find myself in a Hardware department. However, I have found that some of the utensils I use the most are simple tools I have fashioned myself.

When making raised floral lampwork beads I like to give each floral petal a crease down the centre to give that realistic touch. I have bought a tool with which to do this with but was never happy with it. I had several hobby knives laying around, so I cut a piece of brass sheet metal and sharpened the end on an electric grinding wheel to give a reasonably sharp edge, and replaced the knife cutter with the piece of brass. I've used this simple tool for years and it does a wonderful job.

Petal Creaser

If I'm working on a piece of sterling silver jewellery, I quite often like to add texture to the metal. I bought an inexpensive hammer from 'Cheap as Chips' for about $3.00 and then using an engraving bit in my dremmel, cut into the hammer head with a wavy design. I hammer the silver pieces with this to give a textured surface. Simple!

Textured Hammer

I need to add my silverwork to a pickle mixture after the soldering process to clean the silver. You don't need to buy a pickling pot specifically for this stage. I bought a second hand electric frying pan, place the pickling mixture into an old casserole dish, that then sits in the frypan and keeps the mixture hot.
I can also utilise the frying pan in my lampworking area. If I am working on a bead that requires elements to be made first and kept heated, I lay them in the warm frying pan in the lead up to attaching the pieces.

Pickle Pot

When making my woven pieces I need very few tools. I weave the piece held securely with u-pins, on a portion of foam board. Couldn't be any easier than that.

Foam Workboard


Not all my tools are made by myself, I have some really cute hammers I bought from Roma Zone on Ebay. When I received them I thought, wow they are so small what use will they be, and now I find I'm reaching for them more than my other regular hammers, I think they're great for working on silver wire.


This tool I must confess I don't have. Ever since I began silversmithing years ago I have lusted over a rolling mill, but alas they are far too expensive here in Australia and will remain on my wish list. I have read that a pasta machine can work with thin sterling silver to add texture. You just roll it through (obviously not through the shredding section), as you would with a rolling mill. I'm still on the lookout for one, and hopefully in the not so far future I will be able to test this idea out myself.

Pasta Maker

If you have any great tools to share, please feel free to do so.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Suppliers List for Jewellery & Lampwork Components

I enjoy sharing information and always hope that I can be of help to a few of my readers. I've added a list here of suppliers I have purchased from and others I have found in my research but not as yet become a customer.

Conso Cord - Beadbabe.com (USA)

Swarovski Crystals - Beadbabe.com (USA)

Sterling Silver Wire - A & E Metal Merchants (Australia)

Sterling Silver Wire - Monster Slayer (USA)

Gemstones - My Beads (Australia)

Gemstones - Bead Needs (Australia)

Gemstones - Gem Mall (USA)

Lampwork Bead Presses - Catt Walk (USA)

Jewellery Displays - Jewelry Supply.com (USA)

Jewellery Displays - Blingin Pty. Ltd. (Australia)

Leather Cord - Leather Cord USA

Renaissance Wax - Conservation Resources (USA)

Japanese Seed Beads - Whimbeads.com (USA)

Japanese Seed Beads - Over the Rainbow (Australia)

If you have suppliers that you feel should be added to my list, please let me know.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Submitting your Jewellery to Galleries

Selling jewellery in today's market can be very difficult. I've sold my lampwork beads on my website for many years, and found that keeping my website constantly changing and staying in contact with my customers resulted in steady sales. Although I've been making jewellery for quite some years I have only just now decided to endeavour to market my creations. The price of my work is more at the mid to higher range, and although I have built a website showcasing my jewellery I don't believe it is the best marketing tool for my specific product.

I have successfully submitted pieces to exhibitions/competitions in the United States to hopefully provide my work with some exposure. The reason I have focused on the United States is simply because I haven't found the opportunities to be present in Australia. However, I am now putting my focus on submitting work to Australian galleries. My goal is to have some of my pieces displayed in each State and Territory. As there are only 6 States and 2 Territories in Australia, I don't think my goal is an unreachable one.

I don't confess in having a great deal of experience in gallery submissions, as I only began travelling down this path in April, but I have certainly learnt a few lessons along the way. Of course they were learnt by the mistakes I have made, but isn't that the best way to learn?

  • Choose a gallery which already carries jewellery
  • If you just select a gallery without first checking to see what forms of art it supports, you could be wasting your time and effort to submit your work. I found a good source of appropriate galleries was to look in an art magazine with advertising of exhibitions currently showing at various galleries. Where a jewellery exhibition was being launched would be a gallery to approach.

  • Submit a quality photograph
  • You need the receiver of your submission to respond with a 'wow' when they first see your image. Obviously the jewellery needs to be well made and desirable, but no matter how wonderful a piece is if it has not been photographed well, the appeal can easily be lost. If you feel you do not have the photographic skills needed, then I would highly recommend to have your collection professionally photographed. I have been through this process with many of my best pieces, and it is was definitely worth the cost, and you will always have the images on file to utilise over and over again. I have a full photo and detail taken of each piece, and include both of these in my submission.

  • Submit more than one piece
  • You will find if you only submit one piece of work, if it is accepted then generally the gallery will request more, so as to save them the work of a further request, be prepared and send them a few images (4 to 6 images).

  • Include your pricing
  • This is something I have omitted from my submissions but will be including in future proposals. The reason I suggest including this is that I had one gallery that felt my pieces would be too expensive for her customers before she asked about my pricing. This has prompted me to add a wider range of pieces, including my top of the range and a few less expensive mid range pieces with the prices so as they can decide immediately if my jewellery would be a saleable item in their gallery. Make certain to have the price clearly stated as 'artist's price' so they are aware it is before their commission is added. Generally speaking, I have found galleries add between 30% to 50% commission.

  • Do not submit to more than one gallery in the same City
  • In my limited experience, I have found that if your work is accepted you may be requested to sign a contract stating that you will not show your work in another gallery in that City. This could be a problem if you have already submitted to other galleries in the same area. I would suggest to make one submission only, if that submission is not accepted then feel free to approach another gallery in that area.

  • Add a short bio
  • Let them know a little about yourself and also list any exhibitions/competitions you have participated in. Do make this information cover just a short paragraph.

  • Be very patient
  • I have found the galleries processing of artists submissions is a very long one! I was devastated when I emailed my first 5 submissions off and a month later still had no response. I made a phone call to each one only to be told by some that it would take another 4 weeks whilst others remarked it would be done when they had the time. They definitely don't rush these decisions and do not consider making an artist wait for a few months or more, a problem.

When I receive a rejection, I immediately re-submit my piece to another gallery in that City, it's important to keep the ball rolling. I still have a way to go to reach my goal, but am excited that my pieces are finally being viewed by the public 'in the flesh', and am quite confident that by the end of the year I will have a presence in each State and reach my goal!