What’s New at Talisman Too?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the things I’m working on, and in the last year or so, that’s really changed. My focus these days is mostly on Wire Wrapped Pendants, using beautiful stones that I personally hand select. For some wirecraft artists, the focus is specifically on their mastery with the wirework, but I want my pieces to be more in the Arts and Crafts era ideal, where (decorative)form follows function, and the material takes center stage.

My work is not austere. I often make use of swirls and fancy finishes, but I do try to craft in a way that the details only come into focus with contemplation. I want to imagine that people might be admiring the stone – it’s color make-up or shape, and then their eyes move toward the frame, and they begin to appreciate the work that went into crafting it.

Picture Jasper PendantIn this piece, I chose a smaller-sized cabochon of Succor Creek Jasper, with a scene that looks quite like a desert horizon, with a wonderful blue sky.The frame weave is fairly simple, with a design pattern that radiates outward, reminiscent of that from First Nations Southwest pottery.

Silver Lace Onyx with WireWeave FrameI just could not pass up this stone when I spotted it at Prairie Flower Beads in Portage, WI. The lacy black Dendrite reminded me of a row if trees in a desert.  For those who think that’s impossible, I would suggest you need to make your way to the desert soon. There are definitely trees in the desert! Wherever water can nourish them, the will slowly grow.

Wire Wrapped Lace Agate PendantThis piece, with it’s swirling colors, could handle a more complicated weave frame, an so I chose to develop my own pattern, which I call “Melody Weave” due to the delicate pattern of wire running up and down along the foundation rods, like musical notes on a staff.Ceramic Art Bead Encaged in Woven WireAnd this – This was a pleasant act of serendipity for me! I was practicing a variation of the Snake Weave pattern, a simple weave that uses both ends of the weaving wire simultaneously. I had chosen a small cabochon to work with, and cut the foundation rods to fit, but when I got the length needed, the panel was simply to bulky for the small stone.  Not wanting to have wasted my efforts, I looked through my bin and thought, “Maybe I can work with this bead…” As you can see, the result was quite nice. I’ll be looking for more pretty art beads to cage in the future.

These are just a few of the new pendants I’ve created recently, and I’ve several new earring designs as well. I hope you’ll take a few moments to browse the collection, which you can find here on Etsy. I’d appreciate if you can click a few of the little “Hearts” on anything you find especially intriguing. Doing so helps my work gain ranking in the Etsy search system, and it will also help me to better understand what types of things people find more appealing.

Money Can’t Buy You Love Valentine’s Day Promotion

Valentines Day Earrings Promotion

I know what it’s like to want to do something special for someone, and be so limited in my funds that it can be difficult, and I know I am far from being the only one who knows that predicament!

That’s why, this year, I want to do something to help people who aren’t in a position to spend much money give a little Valentine’s Day gift to someone they care about. To that end, I am offering a choice of Pink or Blue Glass Bead Earrings for sale at the price of fifty cents each, plus shipping.  The cost covers my Listing Fee of twenty cents, and thirty cents for the padded envelope.  Shipping cost is set by the post office, at $2.62.

This promotion is available for a limited time only, as I have only so many beads to make these pieces with, and of course because Valentine’s Day is coming up soon.  The offer is subject to end without notice!

Here are the Details:

  • Only ONE piece per person, please. If you purchase more than one of these specially priced items, your order will be cancelled, and your money refunded. You CAN, however, include other items from the shop in your order.
  • United States addresses only.
  • Link to the Pink Earrings
  • Link to the Blue Earrings


What’s New for the New Year?

I expect to be doing a lot of wire weaving work in the next few months – reason being that it has finally “clicked” for me, and instead of being frustrated by all but the most simple of efforts, I am getting really excited to be making some more elaborate pieces.

Sodalite Semiprecious Gemstone Pendant with Wire Frame

Sodalite Bead Pendant Framed with Copper Woven Wire and Antiqued for a Rich Patina

You can see more images of the work, and purchase if you’d like, through my Etsy shop. This piece was made following a tutorial, but now I feel confident that I can actually branch off on my own and come up with designs without following a step by step process.  In fact, this afternoon I will be working in weaving a frame for a beautiful Fire Agate that I recently purchased.

I’m also making new earrings almost daily, and have been traveling this last month and stopping at bead shops along the way.  Here are a few pieces that have come out of recent bead binges! Click on the images to be directed to the item in my shop.

Swarovski Crystal Pearls with Vintaj Bead Caps

Pearly Beads, from Swarovski, topped with pretty Vintaj bead caps

Another pair of earrings recently made – simple and casual.  A little bit of metal manipulation to halter these pretty Dove Gray Czech Glass beads.

Czech Glass Beaded Drop Earring

Pretty drops of Czech Glass in Dove Gray Sway from Antiqued Brass Rings

Next is another dagger-style drop design, pinched with a delicate bail.  Something a little bit unexpected!

Iridescent Earrings Black Tie Gala Dressing

Iridescent Glass Twists, Suspended from a Delicate Bail


Feel free to browse both my Talisman Too and Talisman Studios Shops, to see what else has been done since your last visit, and “Favorite the shops to see new additions when you log on to your own home page at Etsy!


A Few of My Favorite Things

I have to admit that, when I organize my inventory, I am often enchanted with my own work. I guess that’s not a bad thing!

Here are some of my recently made items, but you know what?  I have not been able to get time to work with all the newly found beads I have – oh, how I wish the temps would cool down a bit, so I can feel inspired to work with them.

Ruby Red Czech Glass Bead Earrings Copper Accents

Deep Red Czech Glass Beads, accented with Antiqued Copper

Genie Lantern Earrings in Iridescent Blue

Genie Lantern Earrings in soft blue iridescent glass, accented in antiqued brass

Blush Pink Beaded Earrings with Antiqued Copper

Lovely peach pink Czech glass beads, with hand hammered earring pins and wires, antiqued copper




Purchasing to Repurpose

Earrings with Far East Design

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through antique and vintage shops, whether online or on the street. Mostly, I justify my use of the time(which can be significant) with the idea that I am searching for vintage buttons that I can use for my collection of ponytail holders at Talisman Studios, but just as often I am enjoying the design and practicality of objects which once were part of someone’s home.

When I saw the necklace that I harvested the beads I created these earrings from, I couldn’t resist buying the piece, and I almost completely forgot to ask the obligatory question(“Do you think you could do better on the price?”), because I wanted to get that beauty home and dismantle it!

I am guessing the necklace was a souvenir purchase someone of my mother’s generation made while traveling in the Middle East or perhaps Asia, The necklace was fairly simple, and not likely to be desired in and of itself, at least at this time. Too clunky for current styles, I thought, as I considered the negative aspects of using the parts instead of keeping it whole. But the beads – so wonderful!

The barrel shaped focal beads are almost certainly Bakelite. Though I have not tested for authenticity, Bakelite is fairly easy to recognize.  It has a certain sumptuous look and a saturated denseness that is pretty unmistakable. However, I decided to leave the question open – I do not think the material matters quite so much, in this case. Bakelite or not – they are just lovely beads; a deep chocolate brown, almost black, color.

But the truly remarkable components are the brass bead caps.  Each one was cut individually. Looking closely, one can see the angled marks of the metal snip used to make them.  The design is inspired by a Lotus Flower motif, which is why I wonder if the necklace wasn’t originally sold in some local bazaar in one of the mountainous regions of the Himalaya. They are delicate, thin sheets of metal, and this makes then precious, in my opinion.

I opted to add a simple round ring to the top of the design, when I made these earrings, and am reminded of a lantern shape. I have enough beads to make a half dozen or so pair of earrings, but I would also like to use some in necklaces.

The earrings have some sort of appeal, as each and every time I wear the pair I am keeping for myself, someone has commented on their beauty. This just doesn’t usually happen to me. So I have to believe that somewhere along the line, these beads were handled by someone with a strong and positive energy.  I think it may have been the artisan who crafted the brass beads, and probably the original necklace.I can imagine a man, crouched into the squatting position of rest one sees of the tribal folks of the East, working on new creations as he spent his time selling to travelers passing through.  I see him as a kind man friendly, interested in his visitors, and accepting. I am grateful to have found the necklace, and am confident that man would smile in knowing the pieces will be finding new wearers ho will appreciate their beauty.

You can find the earrings, available for sale, in my Talisman Too shop.

Eastern Barrel Earrings 7<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/18171003/?claim=nc77q77q6ye”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>





Etsy vs Amazon in the Battle of the Handmade Market

Why I’m Sticking with Etsy, the Reigning Champion

There’s not an online seller of indie craft who isn’t intrigued by the announcement that Amazon.com will be entering the market for handmade items, particular those that frequent the forums at Etsy, who’ve been discussing the lurking competitor daily.

For the most part, sellers are excited at the prospect; many feel Etsy betrayed them when the company relaxed it’s definition of handmade to include factory made products. Like myself, they are distraught, if not disgusted, at having to now compete head to head with factory-produced items which always undercut on price and can often be found at malls and street fairs across the country. Personally, I don’t think the person who chooses a brightly colored plastic bubble necklace

Selection from Etsy Search on "Bubble Necklaces"

Selection from Etsy Search on “Bubble Necklaces”

is the same customer who would want one of my beaded pieces

A necklace from the Talisman Too Collection

A necklace from the Talisman Too Collection

but I can see how this affects many others. My beaded jewelry shop would probably suffer more at the hands of these imported goods if my goods could be found in searches, but I am not fooling myself to believe that even the massive influx of these cheap goods is the reason my items don’t rank highly. There are thousands of “blue beaded earrings” on the venue, and a large percentage of them are genuinely designed and constructed in the minds and by the hands of people in their home studios, just like me.

Nonetheless, I’m under no delusion that a move to Amazon will solve my dilemma. In fact, I may be helped by the behemoth, once the disgruntled and starry-eyed Etsyians make their move to the newly launched platform.

A small seller like myself simply won’t be able to jump through the hoops that will be required at Amazon, once they have populated their community with hopeful selling residents. Right now, the vague outlines of their program seem almost comforting to the casual observer. Sellers must have less than twenty employees or be part of a collective with under one hundred members, but many people don’t seem to realize that China abounds with factories employing numbers that are well within the “collective” range, particularly when the products being produced rely on hand work, such as intricately embroidered or crocheted goods.

Amazon promises handmade sellers a respite on fees that can bite deeply into one’s overhead, but I wonder if most sellers aren’t employing their reading comprehension skills. Specifically, the lowered fee structure is only temporary, and this has been stated outright. Suggestions of a more “small-seller friendly” fee structure have been hinted at, but certainly not promised, an important distinction. The statement’s been nicely framed, lulling the gullible into believing that this beastly creature(the definition of an amazon, after all) will nurture their growth like a kind motherly type, saving them from  the cruel feudal hardships they feel they’ve suffered under the reign of Etsy.

The issue, as I see it, is that once a person puts the amount of time needed to build out their shop, develop linkbacks and all the other efforts that go into online selling, they will be heavily invested in the venue, and the idea that they might have to abandon the project will certainly bring on feelings nausea. They will hold on, struggling to work harder, and many will fail, while hungry-for-revenue Amazon swallows and burps. I’ve experienced something like this with my ClimbAddict shop, part of which is housed on the print-on-demand venue CafePress, where the Terms of Use I accepted upon arrival in 2006 have been changed nearly as frequently as one changes their bedsheets. I won’t go into those details, but suffice it to say that many, many sellers who once cheered and supported the company now write venomously about the cut-throat tactics they’ve endured. Why will Amazon, with it’s voracious appetite, behave differently?

I like the idea for Handmade at Amazon, but I believe they are counting on naive entrepreneurs to flock en mass to the cozy nest they have created, partly out of some vindictive desire to claw at Etsy’s foundation. Perhaps it is because some of the factories and importers which have been part of Amazon’s selling base found it lucrative to move to Etsy during the relaxed-guidelines transition?. When the harsh winds of reality blow the loose straws away from the nest, I feel many a former Etsyian will have been devoured and excreted like a compressed owl pellets

When My Etsy and Real Life Universes Collide

The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274

These are galaxies, and not universes, but you get the idea, right? Photo Credit: “The Colliding Spiral Galaxies of Arp 274” from NASA.gov

People often see their online life as an insular experience. They usually don’t know the people whose comments they read in discussion forums, and they don’t expect to ever meet the bloggers behind the stories that appear on their social media feeds. When by chance they find themselves face to face, in real life, with someone they share a common online denominator with, the experience can be accompanied by unexpected feelings. Usually it’s one of pleasant surprise, but on occasion embarrassment, and even shame(if the participants had engaged in acerbic debate online). Almost always there is at least a small element of having made contact with a sentient being from somewhere beyond our world, as if we were a crew member on the starship Enterprise having an interaction with a holographic version of someone via the teleport.

As a rock climber, I have contacted, or been contacted by, other climbers seeking a partner for a day on the rocks. In fact, over the years I have met hundreds of people that way. One climbing friend I have made, Sonya with StoneMetal Designs, also happens to have a shop on Etsy. but I knew her before she opened her shop. So, that’s not the same as when one is going about their day and serendipitously finds themselves talking with someone with whom they tangentially inhabit an online community.

This happened to me recently, while I was talking with a visitor at my place of work(no, not my studio where I work on my jewelry – that would be pretty strange, since I don’t have a studio, and do most of the work in the passenger seat of my van!). Somewhere in the conversation, entrepreneurship came up, and I mentioned that I make beaded jewelry. The visitor, Amy from Amy Kohn Designs, exclaimed “Me too! Do you sell on Etsy?”

Viking Knit Bracelet Amy Kohn Designs

Bracelet by Amy Kohn, with Tutorial to make available – just click the image for information!

Of course we went on for several minutes, discussing the commonalities of doing beadwork and selling via the Etsy platform. Once Amy and her friend were on their way, I shook my head at the sense on incredulity I felt at crossing paths with a woman who happened to be visiting with a friend while on vacation from her home Israel and making the “Etsy Connection.”

Rainbow Beaded Ankle Bracelet

Rainbow Beaded Bracelet, from Shimmer Shimmer

It’s almost a no-brainer to assume that people working in bead shops might also sell on Etsy, but the energy one receives at making the connection is still unique. While I was in Flastaff, Arizona, a few years ago, I walked into a local bead shop and met Carrie Ann from “Shimmer Shimmer” and Sarah from “Patience Sister.” We had fun sharing stories of how our work has evolved, what inspires us, and how we market our wares on Etsy.

Robins Egg Blue Earrings

This pair of earrings was purchased from another Etsy seller who I met while visiting the bead shop she worked in.

At another bead store, this one in Colorado Springs, I met the very cool June Indigo from “Rainbow Unicorn.” June was so kind – she asked me to bring in my samples to look at, and not only did she make a purchase, right there in the shop, but so did one another store visitor who just happened to come in while I had my earrings laid out on display! The purchased put nearly a full tank of gas in my gas-drinking van, which was quite helpful on the 3,000 mile cross country trek.I am sure that most folks who sell their handmade goods through online selling platforms share similar stories. Please comment and tell about yours!



The Delicate Beauty of Arabesque Beads

Arabesque Bead Earrings Teardrop Shape

While visiting the A Rolling Stone bead store in Redlands, CA, I found a display case of beads different than what I had been used to seeing. Labeled as “double dipped copper beads,” I instantly fell in love with the delicate filigree construction. Expensive they were, but I could not resist.  I bought what I could afford – but two sets of two beads; enough to make two pair of earrings. I hoped that I would be able to reorder more when needed.

Once I got home and had some time, I began scouring the internet in search for suppliers.  The bead store I had visited wasn’t really set up well for ecomm, and I admit – I was hoping to locate a source selling at below retail cost.

At first I had difficulty finding the beads, but this was due to my searching under the term the beads had been labeled. Once I did some brainstorming, I easily found several sellers of these wonderful beads which are made in India. Unfortunately, I also found that the retail-priced beads that had hooked me in the first place were actually inexpensive, comparatively!

Nonetheless, I went forward with a purchase from one supplier, and added a few new designs to my shop.  First was a pair of earrings made from exquisite pillow beads in a trapezoid shape. The intricate work in this arabesque design in so pretty, I had a hard time not keeping them for my own. I’ve paired them with Caribbean Blue faceted beads of Czech glass.

Trapezoid Pillow Shaped Arabesque Bead Earrings

Another bead design I could not resist were round in shape, reminding me of our sun, or that of an antique clock set atop a street post in a European town. The stylized flower design, to me, could be inspired by the flares of the sun, and perhaps that is what made the connection for me. I accented these antiqued gold beauties with amethyst purple glass beads, along with metal bead caps to balance the design.

Arabesque Beads in Orb shape with Flowere Design

I had located the original teardrop beads in silver color(the bead is made of copper with a coating of silver), and with this design, I tried hand hammering metal for the headpins. I chose a sickle shaped motif, which I envisioned as a stylized variation of the star and crescent element, so important in ancient eastern design, and nowadays associated with Islam.

Arabesque Teardop Bed Earrings in SilverI hope to add more designs that incorporate these beautiful metal beads, but for now these will have to suffice, The old saying may be that one has to spend money to make money, and I have certainly done my share of spending! Now I need to make some money to justify spending more.  Well, at least until I fall prey to my propensity to visit bead stores and online catalogs…..