Bead Counting

Last week I shopped for some birthstones at Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop and at Ayla’s Originals. Ayla’s had a wonderful vintage bead sale and I couldn’t resist picking up a  sparkly iridescent strand.

Then I made a pact with myself to inventory what I have at home. I always gravitate toward the same colors, so I had to ensure that what I have is sufficient rather than giving in to temptation.

I also need to update my spreadsheets with what is still on hand after a few years, so much counting ensued.

When I went to the Bead & Button Show I had a list of colors and types of beads I could buy. I also had a current photo of my bead rack in the camera for reference. Over two days I made my way through my stash and identified beads that I had not yet learned names of in 2011.

Clearly I have plenty in my stash to keep me busy, but it is still wonderful to peruse bead stores, fondle the strands, and learn more about unique gemstones and bead artisans.

Right now my mission is to make a dent in the beads I have and post those creations onto the shop.

I also need to get the birthstone bangle completed that started this inventory session in the first place.

What are your favorite gems?

Setting up Webshop

I just installed JigoShop to my site and am in the process of uploading my new products.


You’ll see some website makeovers as I figure out the right theme that also keeps my sidebar alive.

product page

I’ll still have an Etsy presence, but it is getting harder to keep track of what is online, what expired, and what hasn’t been uploaded yet.


Since the Etsy IPO and made-in-China products creeping in it feels like it is time to take control over my online shop.


The good news is that product shoots and edits have become routine and are less tricky than when I first started listing products.


The WordPress interface is just like my blog.

product page

I already got my very first order the day after installation.


Now I just need to figure out more of its functionality so I can ship more pieces into the world.


I still have a lot more to upload!


You’ll also see everything in my various Fall and Holiday fairs that I am applying to right now.


Here’s to upward trends!


Etsy Refresh

Valentine’s Day is coming up so it is time to review my jewelry inventory. With 238 pieces of jewelry in stock that is more time consuming than anticipated.


I’m pleased to see that only one pendant has gone missing after packing and repacking items for multiple locations at least 10 times this past year.


Deleting listings that have sold at fairs was satisfying.


Now I am busy refreshing Etsy and photographing new wire-wrapped pieces that aren’t online yet. It feels like I have loaded some pendants before, but the listings tracker tells me otherwise.


So I get to roll my eyes at the camera as I do my neck shots. Cropping is a wonderful thing!


One of my favorite beaded wire-wrapped sets is uploaded now, and I am curious to see where it will travel.


As I played with my wrap dress I found a new year-round use for scarf pendants: a belt-embellishment.


Etsy has an #EtsyMatch campaign that I am trying out on Social Media.


It got their attention on Instagram already.


I still have a ways to go with photographing, editing and listing, but take a peek at my shop and see what you might like to get your Valentine.


Here’s a sampling of the newbies on Etsy. I’ll post how they look in real life soon. Gotta get back into selfie-snapping.


I’m contemplating a collar give-away for the ones I haven’t uploaded yet. What do you think?


Re-stocking Etsy

I’ve been Etsyfying over the past week and loaded several earring pairs in time for the day of love on the 14th.


Hop on over to my store and take a peek at all the newbies.  Enter LETLOVERULE14 in the coupon code box through the end of the month to get a $5 discount.


Aurora Rose is offering several Valentine’s Day Specials in their store, and I love the mini-photoshoot they gave my hearts. Amber and Kim offer creative gift ideas that don’t put your wallet on a diet.


Stella Boutique is celebrating 1000 fans at their Facebook page with a 30% off coupon, so swing by there for heart-warming gifts before February 11.

A re-shoot for additional pieces will commence this week and then there will be more online.


New Additions at Aurora Rose Boutique

After Saturday’s fair I swung by Aurora Rose Boutique to stock up some Holiday inventory. The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is stopping by at 2 p.m. today for its combined November gathering so I wanted to give our attendees some pieces to peruse for our pre-holiday shopping spree.


Kim had asked me about scarf pendants a while back, and I finally got to make a few (after learning more about them).


Requests for Christmas ornaments have also been made already, so I provided a batch of those. I am taking custom orders for these now.


I spruced up my shelf with a little Christmas tree.


Since Kim was drawn to a few of the pendants while at the fair I decided to leave those with her too.


The birthstone project inspired me to spruce up some collars that felt a bit blah to me. Sometimes you have to let pieces sit for a while before knowing what to do with them.


So my infinity collar got an infinity rainbow and the oval cage is now holding semiprecious stones.


It is always such fun to visit the store and see the new quirky items in stock. My wallet is anticipating a slim-down, but it will go toward supporting other artisans and give me a head start on the Christmas shopping list.


Aurora Rose, A Unique Boutique is a gallery-style boutique featuring the wares of the most magnificent locally handcrafted businesses found in the Chicagoland area. Founded in 2011 and owned by mother-daughter duo Kim and Amber Peters, the store offers diverse handcrafted products including soaps, lotions, candles, baby blankets, jewelry, fairy dolls, parasols, wall and home decor, greeting cards, hair adornments, children’s clothes, stuffed animals, quirky decorative items, handbags, doll clothes and select food products. These one-of-a-kind and customizable pieces are created by 36 vendors, 28 of whom are female owned (this number may have been boosted since the November fair at which more artisans were recruited). Aurora Rose also offers art classes on a regular basis.


Aurora Rose Boutique is located at at 111 Stephen Street in Lemont, IL. Today’s event is open to any woman entrepreneur or business woman in the area, so stop on in! Store hours are Monday: 11am-7pm, Tuesday: 9am-4pm, Wednesday: 11am-7pm, Thursday: 11am-7pm, Friday: 11am-6pm, Saturday: 11am-5pm, Sunday: closed.

Come into my studio…

… and have a peek (sans spiders and flies).

“If you can identify the conditions that allow art to flourish,
you can work toward creating
equivalent conditions in your own world.”

~Ted Orland, Exhibition 36

Now that my supplies are (temporarily) organized, let me give you a studio tour.

home-based craft studio

The table-as clear as it gets:

craft table view

My encaustic setup:

encaustic heating plate

A dresser (from Overstock a few years ago) holding paints, leaves, rarely used embossing and mosaic tools, blank cards, wool and shipping materials (it has more clutter on top now, too…):

Custom cabinets:

The studio cabinets were custom made two years ago. My first true craft investment was the sewing table which would roll around my living room. Jo Packham’s books Organizing your Craft Space and Where Women Create had me dreaming of the perfect studio space.

“You don’t need an elaborate studio;
you don’t need incredible equipment,
and you don’t have to wait for that moment
where everything seems perfect,
because it will never be perfect.
You just have to jump in and make do.

You just jump in and make it, and if you work at those ideas,
no matter what materials, and what equipment you have,
you can make incredible things that people will love.”
~Roberta Williamson, Making a Living in Crafts

My first set of stackable-foldout shelves when I moved in 2007.

After the move I designated a studio that occasionally doubles as a guest room. By June 2009 I had upgraded to a shelf-in-a-box from Lowe’s:

After a lot of research (and not finding those awesome antique architect’s drawers featured in magazines) I assigned my annual bonus to a studio budget. My design:

The shop’s rendering:

The project included radiator covers for my home, too, and the company I used shall not be named because both timing and dimensions were ‘misunderstood’. In spite of the frustration, the end result is nice and functional.


Installation day:

Custom-ordering furniture has a bit of a grown-up feel to it. Picking out the hardware (an Anthropologie splurge) was fun.

“Surrounding yourself with beautiful objects and
appreciating the beauty around you makes life richer.”
~ Sandra Magsamen, Cash for your Crafts

Tips for custom furniture orders:

  • Measure multiple times: even though I measured twice and the salesperson measured thrice, the end product still needed to be adjusted
  • Make sure design changes don’t change the scale: My shelves were made taller than my original design, which ended up making the drawers slightly taller too
  • Work directly with a carpenter if possible: because a sales rep took my order the carpenter was not aware of the use of my shelving unit, and he made some drawer adjustments based on his perception (that the drawers were ‘unusable’ with my narrow specifications).
  • Account for all electrical outlets and your baseboards: I had a custom-cut hole for an electrical outlet.
  • Count on everything taking longer: my 6-week project took 9 weeks.

I hope you enjoyed seeing where I work. Where do you create? Feel free to link to your studio spaces in the comments below.

Inventorying some more

“The value in keeping anything is
in keeping it current and instantly accessible. … Refresh often.”
~ Don Aslett, Weekend Makeover

Upon my return from The Creative Connection I was inspired to organize my studio right away. I failed to do that last year and my Ruth Rae felt album project is still in a box ‘to be completed’.

It’s a messy process to get organized.

The table was cleared for my homework (though I ended up doing that on the floor) and my new goodies were inventoried right away. As I entered my new Mermaid Dowry items and looked for last year’s entries I found out that I never completed my beads drawer. I had counted all my buttons (746 of them) in one half of the drawer, but found few entries for bead-related materials in my spreadsheet.

Of course I dropped a box as I pulled everything out, sigh.

Could have been a bigger box, though…


It was kind of zen to count up all these teeny items.

“If someone asks me what makes me happiest,
it is never anything I can quantify
like a house or a possession or something I can touch.
It is the spirit of the human being,
which can fill me with more joy than anything in the world.” 

~ Goldie Hawn, A Lotus Grows in the Mud

126 spreadsheet lines later I can account for 10,100 beads!  They’re all in this drawer.

Counting paper was less fun because I didn’t record prices for the packs as early as 7 years ago. Guesstimating thousands of sheets can be tedious.

This pad is even older.

Here ironing the tissue paper was a soothing activity.

“If a thing or activity does not create passion or excitement
or they have waned, then it is time to dejunk.”

~Don Aslett, Weekend Makeover

My ribbons account for more than 9,000 inches and the embellishments drawer now contains 8,000+ pieces for those keeping track of the inventorying venture. Since July I’ve been good about entering new craft supplies as soon as I receive/acquire them. It is much easier to do this with a receipt in hand than weeks or months later.

Right now I am using a regular spreadsheet for documentation (Numbers in iWork-not as good as Excel), but over time I want to try out MYOB Account Edge  or Bento which were recommended by fellow crafters on the Where Women Create Facebook Forum.

Do you inventory at all?

“All of the work we do has a place in this world.
Our challenge is to sift through the opportunities and find our niche.”
~ Judy Wise in Taking Flight


Things in progress

My embellishment drawer comes to 93 spreadsheet lines and 7,000+ items. WHEW!

Beads will be less work but I am going to hold that until after my trip.

I have watched numerous DVDs and am digging through guide books (I’ll share my favorites) and web sites to put more detail into my itinerary, yippie!

How cool is it that you can map distances on the internet without even having been to your destination yet!

I played with a card design but am not sure I like it yet.

What are you working on now that taxes are out the door?


Ribbons galore!

I’ve been collecting gift ribbons and lace over several years. There is no plan for these yet, but I ‘need’ to hold on to them. I know you crafters can relate!

114 spreadsheet lines later these are all accounted for, and a value is guesstimated.

Since 2009 I’ve been better about tracking my craft purchases before I stow them away. I also have a stash of receipts from the years prior and my (digital) photo albums help out a bit too. Still, it’s a lot of guesstimating dating back to 2003.

So if you’re thinking of starting a crafting business, I highly recommend setting up a spreadsheet now that tracks brands, SKUs, dates purchased and price. Enter everything before you throw away the packaging. It often tells you your quantities too so you don’t have to measure or count things on your own. I am learning that there are programs that can then help calculate what you use when you make something and automatically updates your inventory. How cool does that sound?

As I tucked the ribbons back into a drawer, I found some UTEE creations as well.

Good to know what I have on hand ‘in case of emergency’ 🙂

It feels good to be one drawer closer to starting my business. I ‘only’ have 6 more to go, along with 3 cabinets!

Up next is my embellishment drawer—probably full of surprises! 😉

I did take a breather Sunday (and Tuesday). That was fun! I’ll tell you about Tuesday soon.



Well as much as Spring should be here the weather hasn’t quite made up its mind yet. But my studio is filled with sunlight which has me motivated to continue the inventorying process.

I took a breather from organizing in March, and instead reviewed my life. I dug up my diaries and reread what I’ve chronicled since 1982. It’s been a fun journey and gave me some good perspective on how far I’ve come over the years. Sometimes we need to look back to get out of an ‘existentialist funk’ and appreciate all the things we accomplished that we tend to now take for granted. My 1989 self was quite wise, I have to say, and there are a few pages I’ll refer back to for some good writerly nuggets when my book begins to materialize… 🙂

This past week I perused the wide range of Angel Policies stamp companies have to ensure I’ll be using mine appropriately as I convert to ‘for business use’. Angel policies describe what crafters can and cannot do when they contemplate using craft materials for sale. A good definition is here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Angel Policies, take a peek at these links:

I own just under 700 stamps, but will have to ‘let go’ of some to be compliant with copyright requests. 🙁 In spite of some restrictions, I was happy to find that I have many I can play with. Lost Coast Design made me laugh: “Buy our stamps and use them. Make as much money as you can, and buy more stamps from us.“

As a writer, I want to make every effort to honor the copyrights of others, even if it means giving up using some of my favorite stamps when I open for business. There are some stamps whose companies are out of business, other companies I couldn’t find, and in those cases I’ll err on the side of caution and only use the stamps for personal use (or part with them when I am ready to). But guess what, I can now make a business investment in locating similar stamps (perhaps on Lost Coast Designs)! Nice excuse to go shopping, isn’t it?

I’ll also be looking into making my own stamps. Here’s a lovely link about that process.

Meanwhile, the travel plans are progressing and I am watching every DVD Netflix has about Greece. I’ve also renewed all the library books to continue brushing up on the overwhelmingly rich history I’ll be seeing in person soon!

This coming week, I’m moving on to ribbons and embellishments. Best to tackle it one trinket at a time!

I hope your arrival of Spring is as joyous as it is here, and that whatever Spring cleaning you are doing progresses swimmingly.