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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Preparing Etsy and eBay Listings for the USPS Postage Hike

Don’t forget, USPS rates are going up tomorrow (Sunday, the 27th).  Be prepared.

I spent a good part of today updating my shipping profiles in Etsy and unfortunately removing my free shipping on eBay and my website.

Here’s the chart I used for the new pricing levels. 

To change your Etsy listings, go Shop Settings, then Shipping & Payment

Next, you can either edit a previous shipping profile or create a new one.

Here’s what the editing (or creating) screen looks like for shipping profiles.  I give mine names that indicate the exact shipping weight, but you can give them whatever names work best for you.

If you do plan to offer international shipping, don’t forget to put a “check mark” in the box next to Everywhere Else.  Merely filling in the prices, won’t add that option to your listing unless you mark the box indicating you do ship everywhere else.  It’s my understanding that if you don’t have it marked, your listings don’t show up in the international searches.

After you’ve got all the shipping profiles you need, go back to the shipping page and prepare for semi-awesomeness.

Changing a shipping profile does NOT change it in each listing, but you can bulk update your listings relatively easily.  The only downside is Etsy not showing us what our previous shipping profiles were for each item.

And that’s it for Etsy.

Updating your eBay listings is easy if you previous used “Calculated: Cost varies by buyer’s location”. 

If you used “Flat: same cost to all buyers”, you will need to adjust each listing (I recommend “calculated” based on weight/location).

For package type, I select “Package (or thick envelope)”, but I don’t bother with dimensions.  My items are never close to the dimension limits.

Then there’s a separate section for international shipping options.

So if you’ve always had your eBay shipping costs calculated based on weight and location, you won’t have to do anything regarding the USPS postage hike. 

Unfortunately for me, I will be switching by eBay listings from free shipping, so I have to go into each listing one at a time and revise them all.

At the end of the day, if a customer is over-charged for shipping (which I know once I package their item/s and print the postage), I always refund them the overage if it’s more than $1.

By the way, if you print your postage online, you often get a little discount so the postage will be a little less than what’s shown in my chart above. 

In Etsy, there is a field to indicate how much additional postage a given item will incur if shipped with other items in the same order. 

In eBay, if you use “calculated”, you don’t need to worry about multiple items because eBay just adds up their weights and makes a total based on that.  If you use “flat rate” in eBay, then you do have the option of defining a charge for shipping of multiple items.

I hope some of this info ends up being helpful to someone.

Have fun!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Artist's View Window Pendants, Other Etched Jewelry, and Vegan Bean Salad

Note: You can click on any jewelry photo to see if the piece is still available (or to get more info/photos). To see everything that is currently available, click here.

The pieces in my new line are time-consuming to make, but I am liking the outcome. The concept is: “Looking at the world through an artist’s eyes”.

In the first piece, we look through a Gothic brick window to view a peaceful scene of rolling hills the way Alfred Augustus Glendening Sr. may have seen it back in the late 19th century.

In the second piece, we’re looking through a Spanish arched window at El Grego’s famous and dramatic Toledo landscape (one of my childhood favorites).

I refer to these as 3D pendants because of the spacing between the front and back panels which lends depth to the image.

I am also signing the backs of these (etched into the metal).

Then, while I had all the etching stuff out, I wanted to take advantage of it so made these other three creations.

A pair of earrings with text from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem “Fate”.

The second pair of earrings combined etching with patination, paint, and alcohol inks… then a bit of metal forming.

The third etching is just because I adore the work of Albrecht Dürer, 15th century artist and mathematician.

By the time I was done with all these pieces, I was working on like the last 2 inches of my work table (which is about 3 feet deep).

Someday I hope to have a workshop where everything gets to stay out and in a designated location (soldering area, enameling area, forming/forging area, etc). For now, I’m extremely grateful to have any space to work in.

”It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass (February 14, 1818 – February 20, 1895). I read his book—Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave—while helping Monica with a school assignment a couple years ago.

Made my favorite salad this week.

It’s so easy and so tasty:
  • 1 can organic corn
  • 1 can organic black beans
  • 3 organic celery stalks chopped
  • ¼ organic onion chopped
  • 2 organic red bell peppers chopped
  • Organic salad dressing to taste

And since I think I forgot one last time I posted and in honor of today’s theme (famous artists)…

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New USPS Postal Rates and Design 4a Finished

BTW, if you use the green kitchen scrubbing pads to “rough up” and clean your metal before soldering, enameling, or etching don’t accidentally get the non-scratch blue Scotch scrubbing pads. Sometimes being colorblind sucks. I thought I was buying the green ones so didn’t even notice the words “non scratch” until I got home, used one, and couldn’t figure out why my metal wasn’t changing. Ha ha ha!

That’s my last remnant of genuine green scrubby on the left.

I finally finished my first 3D gothic window from the new window series. Remember the design sketch?

My first one isn’t exactly any of those, but close enough. Here’s the finished product.

Click here to see the listing.

This shot shows the distance between the back of the pendant and the front. I wanted it to seem more like you’re looking out a window and thought the gap may lend some credibility to that effect.

And it’s the first time I recall signing a piece properly.

I’m pleased with how it turned out, particularly since my riveting skills usually leave a lot to be desired.

Anyway, now we need to talk about something serious. Most of you probably know the US postal rates are going up January 27th. As of that date, I will no longer be offering free shipping. I’m sad to see that feature go, but things change and I have to accept that.

For those of you who sell on Etsy, eBay, or anywhere else, please look into the new rates and adjust your postage charges accordingly.

To the best of my knowledge, here are some of the changes.

First off is some info from the Endicia (my postage printer) site:
  • Parcel Post has been renamed to Standard Post and will ONLY be available at retail locations
  • Express Mail International Flat Rate Envelope weight limit has been reduced from 20 lbs to 4 lbs
  • First-Class Mail International Parcel has been renamed First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) and joins the Competitive mail class group
  • Free Electronic Delivery Confirmation will be available for select packages and mail classes to select international locations
  • Express Mail International now includes the first $200 of USPS insurance
  • Priority Mail International shipments to Mexico join the “All other countries” pricing group
  • Optional expedited delivery of USPS packaging is available for $2.50
  • First-Class Mail one ounce stamp prices are increasing by one cent to $0.46
  • The prices for flat rate priority boxes are going up as well.

Note: I've added more "how to" info regarding updating your Etsy or eBay listings for the postage adjustments: Click here

And here’s a little chart I made myself to make it easier for me to adjust my shipping process. I’m pretty sure these figures are correct, but I’ll know for sure when I start shipping after Jan 27th.

Here's the part that's throwing me. You know how when you list something you can set a postage price for that item based on its weight. For example, if it’s 1oz, it’d be $2.07 to mail from US to US and it’d be $6.55 to mail from US to Canada. But what if the customer buys two things?

In the listing, you are asked “How much additional shipping would you charge if this item were shipped with another item?” Well, in the US to US scenario, it’s easy because each additional ounce is an additional $0.17, so that’s what you’d put as the additional cost to ship this item with another one. But for US to Canada, it depends on what else is shipping (unless I’m reading the new charts wrong; which is always a possibility).

The way I’m looking at it now, if your 1oz item goes along with another 1 oz item, there’s no additional charge; if it goes along with a 2 oz item, the new charge (3 oz total) would make the additional 1 oz cost $0.80; if it goes along with a 4 oz item the additional cost is $1.20. See the problem? What am I supposed to say for shipping costs for an additional item? Yes, I do always refund shipping overage back to the customer, but they may run and hide if they THINK shipping will cost an extra arm and a leg. Know what I mean?

Ah well, we’ll see.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Start of Design 4, New Designs in the Windows Collection

Inadvertently started my “windows” series in a different direction than planned. I still intend to do the metal sawing, but since I had those steel metal clay pieces already made, I decided to go with those first.

It turned out to be quite the PITA since I had to get the parts of the paintings to fit EXACTLY inside all the non-circular shapes… and we’re talking teeny tiny. Those shapes may LOOK like circles, but they aren’t. It’s a combination of me rushing while making the pieces and the way the clay shrinks when fired.

I ended up making two for sale and one to keep. Here are the two for sale. To read more about the paintings I used, click on a picture (that link will work until the piece has sold).

My next clay pieces will be more organized (with a plan in mind). I might do some this week since I just got my shipment of charcoal in.

In the meantime, I started on the first window from sheet metal. I used a jewelry saw to cut the two pieces (front and back… I plan to rivet them together), then I etched a brick design onto the front piece, then I cut out (again with the jewelry saw) the window.

Since that photo, I’ve smoothed the edges. But then I spent two hours practicing my riveting skills… which, it turns out, are sorely lacking. I can’t afford to mess up all the hours of work on this piece by subpar riveting, so I’ll practice a wee bit more tomorrow and then try to get the piece finished (adding scenery, adding patina, etching my logo to the back panel, riveting, adding necklace chain).

Yesterday I received some amazing beads in the mail. It was such a treat because I haven’t purchased beads in forever so it’s a real rarity for me to get something in the mail. These were from Andrea Pirkey and Jason Powers (in trade for one of my practice or otherwise “unusable” pieces).

I love these beads!!!

If you’d like to check out their Etsy store, I’ll bet you’ll be hard pressed to walk away without ordering something. Beautiful beads on every page. Enjoy Powers Art Studio.

Hope you all had a relaxing weekend!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Just a day of cleaning (and destash beads)

Today I began polishing my steel metal clay pieces. I really enjoy the process of polishing metal.

I also listed a bunch of new beads in my Etsy destash section.

I cleaned up the soldering, tumbling, enameling, jewelry making, hammering mess I made the previous two days.

Placed an order with Rio Grande.

And by golly, that’s about it.

Tomorrow is SRAJD application processing day so I can’t estimate how much workshop work I’ll get done.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Results of Designs 1, 2, and 3... and the Steel is out of the Kiln

Checklist for today:
1) Fire metal clay pieces
2) Finish enamel charm earrings (project 3)
3) Patina paddle earrings (project 1)
4) Photograph and list all three projects
5) Order supplies

If I get all that done and still have time left today, I’ll start on project 4.

While I was doing the Phase 1 firing of my metal clay today, I was reading one of Hadar’s books and it re-inspired me to try GOING through her books, doing all the projects (or most of them).

Since charcoal and steel bowls are on my list of supplies to order, I’ll wait until I get those, but then I’d like to challenge myself to complete as many techniques in her book(s) as possible.

I managed to get through items 1-4. I will try to work on ordering supplies first thing tomorrow morning. And actually, Design #4 may have to wait a day or two because I have a commissioned order I need to work on.

The metal clay pieces I fired today were several all steel pieces and two all bronze XT pieces. The bronze was leftover from my December class with Hadar. They are all pieces for me to practice inlay (of various sorts), but here’s what they look like right out of the kiln.

Those bumps on the larger of the two bronze pieces is blistering. The heat was too high for those pieces. You can see pitting on the backsides.

After that, I worked on soldering, tumbling, texturing, adding patina, and using the rolling mill. And here are the new listings.

Design 1 before and after.

Design 2 before and after.

Design 3 before and after.

As you can see, it’s not important for me to have the final creation look precisely like the original design idea. As a matter of fact, in some cases, the final creation won’t look even remotely like my original idea. Although I like to have a plan to start off with, it’s equally acceptable for me to wander from that plan as far as is needed to reach the end of the journey.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Design Ideas (#4)

Project 4… window frames

Eventually, I’d like to make these in metal clay, but first I want to try them by sawing plain old sheet metal.

So my idea is to find lovely window designs and make the frames out of metal then add the background (outdoor scenery) from photographs, resin, paint, enamel, etc.

Since I have very little experience with sawing metal, this will be good practice for me.

First I shall select a few windows. That is easy enough by doing a search on Google and Bing for “gothic windows”.

Here are the sketches I made…

This should be a fun experiment for me as for years I’ve been thinking of ways to incorporate windows into my jewelry making. Something about windows really intrigues and excites me.

As I write this, I’m enameling. The best thing I ever did for my enameling was to purchase multiple trivets. As one item is in the kiln, I have the next one ready to go, and I can spend time preparing a third one.

There is no down time… the kiln constantly has something in it. This is important when I’m making pieces that have up to 10 layers each, which metal cleaning between enameling layers.

Today’s progress is that I made one more enameled circle to go with Lori’s beads (project 2) and I made a necklace/earring set out of them (yeah, I chickened out on the bracelet).

I also got the enamel charms done for project 3. Maybe tomorrow I can finish the silverwork (forging and soldering).

I still have the dang steel that needs to be fired. I guess I’ll try tackling that and let revamped project 1 take a temporary back seat.

Hopefully, I’ll have some photos to show you soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Partial Results of Designs 1 and 2

Of the three design ideas, I only had enough time in the workshop to attempt two of them.

I made my copper strips for enameling, but twice, the enamel just disconnected completely from the metal. I took a few photos to show you, but for some reason there was only one photo on my phone when I went to look for them. Shrug.

Anyway, I have no idea why the enamel didn’t fuse to the metal. I cleaned the metal the way I always do. I fired the way I always do. But my first 2 out of 3 popped clean off, so that was enough for me. I’ll save the copper strips and maybe patina them and make the earrings.

So I moved on to project 2. Had more success there. The round beads are Lori’s lampwork (as I mentioned last night) and the circles are my accompanying enamel disks.

I’m not sure I want to make this into a bracelet. If my enameling is going to be that fragile, my confidence level for a bracelet with enamel components is fairly low. I may see how it goes, tomorrow, when I begin to wire the components together. Otherwise, I’ll turn them into earrings, I guess.

But it’s all good because I always have fun and learn a lot.

Didn’t get a chance to get to project 3, so my plan for tomorrow is:
1) Make a bracelet (or earrings) out of design 2
2) Patina the copper paddles and make earrings as an offshoot of design 1
3) Make the enamel pieces for design 3
4) Do phase 1 and phase 2 firings for the steel metal clay pieces I finished yesterday

BTW, I don’t think I ever showed you this necklace (click on the photo for more details).

I enjoy making “double dome” pieces.

Here are some double-dome earrings I kept for myself.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Resolution and Planning Jewelry Designs

I’m not super into New Year’s resolutions, but it’s fun to think of things that could be NY’s resolutions and then see if/how I progress with them.

So here’s one I’ve settled on: I will plan out more designs and do less “flying by the seat of my pants” designing.

With that being said, I plan to enamel tomorrow and here’s the design I intend to work on.

I don’t mind in the least if the end result doesn’t look like my intention; I just like having an intention when I begin.

And the intention I’m beginning with is a bracelet that will be Lori Peterson’s lampwork beads alternating with some enameled circles decorated with millifiori type glass.

And two pair of earrings…

I’m also finishing up some steel test pieces that are ready to be fired, so we’ll see if I get time for a kiln run too.

Speaking of firing metal clay… One thing I learned at Hadar’s workshop was that the steel bowls we fire in have a shelf life. I got a really thin one at Ichiban Kan last month and fired a couple times with it. As I precariously carried it from campstove to kiln (between firing phase 1 and phase 2), I wondered at what point the bowl would stop being usable (i.e. would be so thin it would fall apart). You see, each time you fire, that firescale on the bowl is part of the metal that used to be the bowl. So at some point, it would become too thin to be usable. I was seriously hoping it would NOT happing during a kiln firing.

I went to pick up the bowl today and it just fractured in my hand like a super thin egg shell.

Good thing I still have the (much thicker) cat food bowl, but I’ll add more steel bowls to the list of things to get next time I’m out.

Here’s a final photo of the brick framed words pendant. I was okay with the front, but the back is a disaster. A very nice lampworker has offered to trade a bead for the pendant. Yay!

And here’s the pendant of a petroglyph man in a torn frame (click the photo for more details).

And a pair of earrings (double sided) from my last enameling session (again, just click the photo to see details).

Here (sold already, so no hyperlink on the photo) is the Egyptian goddess Nuit etched onto a copper cuff bracelet (I love that she’s arching over the wrist just like she arches over the Egyptian people to protect them in all the depictions of her from ancient Egypt).

Alright, that’s it for now. Fingers crossed for my first “intentional” design session. :-)