Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dreaming of Disneyland

I adore all things Disney and don't think I'll ever outgrow that childhood thrill of visiting Disneyland whenever I get a chance! So I was really excited to participate in a Disney theme charms exchange, and I thought it would be fun to make some of my own glass beads for it, inspired by the classic Mickey and Minnie mouse icons.

Aren't they cute!?! And while I was making them on the torch, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to visit this magical place again. I often try and go there while I'm in Anaheim attending the Craft and Hobby Association trade show (CHA) in January or February, but this year it's being held in Los Angeles, so I guess I'm out of luck this time. One of these days I'll have to tell you about how I've been able to get in for free on three different occasions—but that's a whole 'nuther story, so I'll save it for later! ;-D

The next day, after the beads had annealed and cooled in the kiln, I cleaned them and added some silver and red crystal findings to create these finished charms:

I hope their new owners will love them as much as I do and I can't wait to see what other types of charms I get back when the exchange is over! I need to make a few more so I can make something special for myself too!

hmmm… I wonder if the airlines are offering any special rates on their flights to Orange County for the near future? *Ü*

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Making a Good Impression

 (Note: This is an article I just wrote for Handmadeology, but Tim was nice enough to let me publish it here too. Be sure to check out his site for other great marketing ideas!)

I don't know about you, but I LOVE getting packages in the mail. It doesn't even matter if it's something I've ordered myself—I just get a thrill every time and can't wait to see if what's inside is as wonderful as I'm hoping it will be! So when I started selling my beads and jewelry on Etsy, one of the things I wanted to do was to try and give my customers that same thrill by wrapping my items in pretty boxes, along with one of my cards with a handwritten note of thanks inside (color coordinated to make even Martha Stewart proud, of course). I'd like to think it makes them feel extra special and valued—which they are—and it makes me so happy to get their feedback over how much they enjoyed not only my beads, but the way in which they were presented.

Another reason for my doing this is to bring my marketing techniques up a notch, because I feel that helps my shop stand out from all the others. Kind of what we sellers should all be aiming to do, right? ;-D Along with the pretty stuff, I tie a handmade tag with my name and contact information to the ribbon bow. These are the same tags I use to mark my finished jewelry at craft shows, so whoever ends up with my designs can easily find me in the future. Tags like this are a snap to make—all it takes is a simple graphics or text program, a printer and a circle punch. If you don't have the right software, you can also try taking your handwritten or stamped designs to your local copy center to print them out. Another great way to feature your logo or contact information is to make your own stickers, either on your computer with special paper, or through a company like MOO (

It takes extra time and effort to go the extra mile like this, but I know my customers really appreciate it and remember me and my service long after the sale is over—and hopefully come back for more in the future. Many of you probably don't have scrapbook papers and ribbon overflowing your studio like I do, but there are still a lot of great ways you can make a creative presentation with your own packages. For instance, if you sell organic items, how about wrapping them in stamped kraft paper and simple twine? If you're into shabby chic objects, how about wrapping them up with a bow made from a scrap of vintage fabric? If you sell baked goods or candy, how about writing a thank you note on the back of one of your favorite recipe cards? You get the idea!

So get out there and make a great impression of your own! *Ü*

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Taking the Pledge

Whew!! We're barely into the Fall season, but I only have to walk down the aisles of any store to be reminded that I also need to get my "rear in gear" and start cranking out the holiday theme designs as well! Is it my imagination, or does this happen earlier and earlier each year?!?! :-o So I'm airing out my sweaters, breaking out the boots, and taking this pledge:

I, Lori Bergmann, pledge to participate in the Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp to the best of my abilities. I vow to check in every week, do my homework and support my fellow Holiday Boot Campers. I will read the weekly newsletters and blog posts, check in on the weekly forum thread, read the weekly blog post, check off the checklists and salute the mascot. I promise to share what I’ve learned with those who need it, support my fellow Etsy indiepreneurs and, most of all, have a positive and persistent attitude. I understand that together we can spread the word about our handmade and vintage goods, making this holiday season a more unique and meaningful one to gift givers and give-ees everywhere!

 Alrighty, people—now who's with me?!?!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Joining the Handmadeology Team

Yippeee! I'm SO excited to announce that I'm now the newest Team Member of the wonderful Handmadeology website! I've been following founder Timothy Adam's blog articles for a while, as they are full of great information and tips on how to achieve better success as an Etsy seller and self-marketing artisan. Even if you're not involved with Etsy, there are wonderful articles on his new site that include things like "Handmade Features" and "Crafty Ideas" where artisans from all over the world share their design ideas and "how-to" steps on a wide variety of handcrafted projects. There's also a "Modern Design" section for those of you who love more contemporary design.

But I have to warn you—with all these great design sources, PLUS a super Forum and anything and everything relating to Etsy on this one website, I've been finding it hard to log off and actually get some work done because I've been so fascinated by all the cool things I've been learning there! LOL

And oh, yeah—you can also follow this site through his Facebook Fan Page and Twitter. (By the way, I recently took the plunge and joined the Twittering flock myself, so I'd love it if you would click on my "follow me" button on the right, so I won't feel so lonely out in cyberspace?! ;-D)

I hope you'll mosey on over and check it out for yourself—I promise, you'll love it as much as I do! And if you happen to catch any of my Guest Blogger articles, I'd love to hear some comments on how I'm doing and any suggestions on what article subjects you'd be most interested in reading in the future. *Ü*

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finding My Focus

One of the things that I find the most challenging about being the kind of artist that loves to dabble and try many different kinds of mediums and techniques is that my brain seems to always be on "bright idea" overload. There should be a name for this disorder: Artistic Random Thoughts Invoking Spontaneous Techniques (aka A.R.T.I.S.T.). ;-D I have all these great ideas swimming around in my head—constantly pushing and fighting to find their way out and be transformed into great designs (hopefully!). But with so many different directions to go, sometimes it can be frustrating and it ends up being easier to just ignore them all and stay with the safer, "tried and true" things I'm already comfortable doing. Can you relate?

So, one of the ways I have found that helps me get focused is to "assign" myself one to three different ideas to try each time I sit down to create something—whether it be a new technique, color combination, or unique material—my goal is to try at least one new thing during my work session. I like to give myself a couple of options, since I'm also the type of artist who finds it difficult to create anything halfway decent unless I'm "in the mood" for whatever it is I'm working on. I might try one thing, decide that that particular Muse isn't visiting me right then, and move on to the next thing until I find a Muse who is feeling more cooperative. *Ü*

How do I decide on the ideas I want to focus on? 

Sometimes I pick one from the notebook where I keep most of the "brilliant" ideas that pop into my head, sketches, and snippets of magazine photos, etc. that inspire me. (Tip: I get some of my best ideas when I'm dreaming, so I like to keep this notebook by my bed so I can quickly sketch it down before I forget!). If my notebook isn't handy, I'll jot down ideas on any scrap of paper I can find and collect them around my work area.

Another method I like to use with my lampworking is to keep a collection of random beads in a little silver tray on my work table. These beads are mainly funny experiments or accidents that impressed me when they came out of the kiln—an unusual color combination, the way a pattern unexpectedly came out, or maybe something I tried once and needed to come back to when Ms. Muse was playing nicer. I pick out a couple of beads that "speak" to me that particular day, set them out by my torch, and away I go!

For example, this week, somewhere in all of this…

I happily found the inspiration to get this…

Of course, these are just some of the best examples—there were plenty of "duds" that came out of my kiln this week too! LOL But the key thing (pardon my pun!) is that using methods like these and setting simple goals every time I sit down to create is what helps me stay motivated, focused, and able to cross off things off my "to do" list (so that I can make room for new ideas!).

If you've been struggling to set your creative spirit free, why don't you give this a try? Or if you have any other helpful ideas that work for you, I'd love to hear about them too. After all, we artists can never have too many sources of inspiration, right? *Ü*

Friday, September 10, 2010

Special Requests

Lately, I've been able to spend more time on the torch making beads, which makes me very happy! I've been working on a couple of custom orders too and those are always fun for me because I love collaborating with a customer and creating something that I know is absolutely perfect for whatever they need it for. Just before I go out for a torching session, I will often ask my daughters if they have any special requests of their own that they would like me to try and make, and they love to give me a challenge—which sometimes results in some pretty hilarious beady creations. For example, this is what came out of my kiln last week:

Please keep in mind that this is the first time I've ever attempted a turtle or a bee, okay?! While Mr. Turtle is a halfway decent job, my poor little Ms. Buzy Bee appears to be a little shocked and dismayed at the way I placed her wings—looks like she's about to take off from an airport runway instead of flitting from flower to flower?! LOL hmmm… they both have possibilities for future designs, but I definitely need a little more practice on these guys? ;-D

The mushrooms in the background are the second time I've made them and I have to say, I think they turned out rather nice! Katie had asked me to make one for her a few weeks ago and while the first version was still passable, I really like the direction these new versions are going. That's the great part about getting ideas from other people and challenging myself to create things that I normally may not have attempted—you never know what kind of fun, great, weird, and wonderful things will happen! *Ü*

During the times I'm not working on special requests, I'm working on other "glassy goodness," like these:

Wild Enchantment
Silvered Olive Earring Pair
Nuggets d'Oro
Ruby Bumbledots

With the coming of the Autumn season, I have even more new ideas buzzing around my head than I have hours in the day to work on them. But now that my girls are back in school, I'm heading off to my studio nearly every day and giving it my best shot. So if you have any great ideas you'd like to challenge me with—I'd love to hear it! *Ü*
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