Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bugs or Slugs?


is exceedingly fond...

of my basil and sage!

I have yet to catch the perps red-handed, so I'm not quite sure who I'm dealing with here.  I've had slug bait out in some areas for a while, and I'm trying the soapy water trick, but it's too soon to see if it's made a difference.  Anyone have any idea who could be doing this and what's the best way to combat it?  

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My garden looks nekkid!

My peas are all done for the season :(  The plants are now in the compost getting ready to provide nitrogen for next year's garden, and I have planted my pickling cukes where the peas used to be.  I know I could have had cucumbers out much earlier, but I didn't have room!  I really need a much bigger garden.

Last year my cucumbers did not grow past 8" tall.  Some of that may have had to do with the hailstorm we got in June, but it was such an off year for gardens it's hard for me to know which failures were mine and which were Mother Nature.  At any rate, I figured since cucumbers grow quickly I might as well direct-seed them this year and avoid potential transplant issues (and things like forgetting to turn the lights on or off!), and so far they seem to be doing well!

I'm hoping to get at least 6mos worth of pickles out of these - maybe a year if I'm really lucky!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I make jewelry

Many people outside the metalworking world may find it odd that I really don't wear jewelry, except for rings.  Most of the time it just doesn't occur to me.  Because I don't need to "look nice" every day, my wardrobe is more geared toward functional.  In my case, functional is "How fast can I throw something on before DD freaks out because I haven't responded quickly enough?" and usually equals T-shirt + jeans.  Functional also means not wearing anything that can easily be grabbed at or pulled on, either of which could result in damage to my work or damage to me (!), and I don't want to risk either.  The times I make exceptions I am frequently sorry.  I still haven't located the "safe place" I put the baggie full of beads (some of them my handmade sterling ones) after DD grabbed at a necklace I was wearing at a family wedding!

My friend and business partner is a Jewelry Person.  She works in an office and has to look nice, and she loves to wear jewelry.  She is someone who will continue to buy jewelry even though she makes it herself, because she sees things she wants to wear.  I can see jewelry for sale (handmade or otherwise) and appreciate it, and in the case of handmade I can appreciate the effort that went into a fine piece of work.  I will not buy it because I just don't wear jewelry!

I'm most definitely a "process person."  I don't make jewelry because I like to wear it.  I make jewelry because I love to make small things - I find miniaturization fascinating!  I love to work with metal - it stays where you put it, and the likelihood of messing something up just by lifting it (as I found with clay!) is highly unlikely.  Most important, I love to make things that  can be used.  I'm certainly not knocking  purely ornamental work and wall art, but my creative needs are rarely fulfilled by that kind of work.  For me to really get that sense of satisfaction at the end of a project I need to be able to do something with whatever I've created.  I love Functional Art.  This is why I grow vegetables instead of flowers.  Flowers are beautiful, and I can stare at them all day, but in the end I find myself saying "Here they are - so NOW what?  What comes next?"

For me, jewelry gives me that sense of satisfaction because when I'm done with a piece, I can do something with it.  It's the "functional" part of "functional art" that is the important thing.  I may not choose to wear it, but the point is that I am able to!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Playing with Photoshop again :)

I'm not sure what this is, but it's pretty!  It showed up in my garden this year.  I thought it was a volunteer lettuce, but I see similar flowers growing by the highway exit ramp, so now I'm not so sure.  I showed my son the plant with lots of pretty blue flowers.  In typical fashion he responded with "Lots.  Pretty.  Blue."  Only my mother will get the obscure literary reference, but since she reads my blog I'm putting it out there for her :)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to become a Fashonista . . . or not.

So here's the thing.  I'm not really that interested in "fashion" - at least not the way it usually gets portrayed on TV and in print.  I don't "accessorize" and my thoughts on bags and purses tend to run exclusively to the practical (Can this bag fit an Emergency Diaper Kit, whatever book I'm reading, my current knitting project and assorted paperwork?) rather than the fashionable.  I've never had a job where I had to look Professional (aside from a stint selling cameras, and even then we're talking Retail Professional, not Corporate Professional), and I've never considered jewelry part of my wardrobe.

Selling anything online is certainly no Field of Dreams, and people will not be beating a path to my store simply because it exists.  Google's new search algorithms now make it even more difficult for people doing a general search to turn up results on Etsy or any of the other Online Marketplace site that host individual "stores."  I am responsible for my own marketing efforts, and I know I need to pursue them offline as well as online.  The marketers say I should talk about what makes my product better than other similar products out there, so I can convince people to buy mine rather than someone else's.  I have trouble with that, because once you get beyond the basics of construction and quality, the differences between the products of two jewelry makers are purely aesthetic.  Are my sterling stack rings better than someone else's?  Probably not. All the marketing info I've ever read says to "determine your target audience and market to it," but none of them say anything about how to identify your target audience.  So here I find myself trying to market my jewelry, but not knowing my audience, so to speak.  I am left with guesses. 

This leaves me with trying to figure out who is likely to appreciate my particular visual style, and that's where I get stuck.  That's where my innate lack of fashion sense does me in every time, because I have no idea what other people would think my jewelry goes with.  What's worse, I do not have the vocabulary to discuss fashion and jewelry!  My mother has suggested that I start reading fashion magazines to start learning more.  Do the people I'm trying to reach follow these fashion trends?  I have no idea.

My best guesses for my "target market":
  • Mostly women.  I know men buy jewelry for women, but right now I'm looking for the ultimate wearer, rather than the purchaser.
  • People with disposable income.  For the most part, jewelry is a want rather than a need, and my best pieces (those in the direction I'd like to pursue with my work) are not inexpensive impulse purchases.  
  • Women with jobs or social positions where they are expected to display a professional appearance.
  • People who care less about the value of the materials (because I work in silver rather than gold) and more about art, creativity, and workmanship.
  • People who value handmade for its own sake, and are not concerned with the name recognition value of the artist/designer. 
  • I would guess that I would be looking for women in the corporate world (or possibly politics or high-level charity), probably mid-thirties and up.   

How does this sound to you?  How can I find out pertinent information about people with these qualities? Who do you think would want to wear my jewelry?   Have I made any inaccurate assessments?  Have I left out any obvious groups?  Would it be something you or someone you know would wear?  If so, how close do you come to my market description?  I can use all the help I can get - any advice or insight is greatly appreciated!
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