Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Secret Wood

Image of Rocky Lagoon

I'm SO obsessed with My Secret Wood rings! Aren't they gorgeous? Using beeswax, resin and wood, the artisans create stunning designs, sculpt miniature scenes or preserve tiny flowers inside each one. Head over to their site to see more!

xoxo jamillah

Image of Mystery Forest

Image of White flower forest

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Technical Skills Workshop : 4.23.16

Thank to you all the wonderful women who attended yesterday's Technical Skills Jewelry Workshop at Catylator Makerspace!

As jewelers and craftsmen, when we finally put down our tools and say, "I'm finished," what does the term finished actually mean? Is it ready for sale? Is it ready to be packaged as gift? Is it photographable? Or are you just so fed up with making it that you throw your hands in the air in frustration and shout, "I'm SO done!" Alas, every now and then we all experience technical hiccups -- slippery crimps, too-wide loops, links that pop or knots that just won't stay no matter how many times you tie them. Those incomplete, unnamed jewelry items end up hiding in the shadows of our inventory never to been seen again. We promise ourselves that one day we will pick them up and tend to them properly, but it never happens, and we end up taking them apart.

For this very reason, together with the creative staff at Catylator Makerspace, we designed a workshop to address the most pressing technical issues our students were experiencing. In three jam-packed hours we reviewed:
  • Tools & safety
  • Measuring, planning & layout
  • How to hide messy endings with calottes/ knot covers and crimp covers
  • Findings - what they are and how to choose the appropriate ones for your project
  • Wire wrapping
  • Stringing
  • Making links
  • Uniformity & sturdiness
Questions were answered, problems were solved...and all the lovely, yet sadly neglected, Quasimodo jewelry items the attendees brought to class? They were refashioned, repaired or completed! Finally! (*Applause, whistles, cheering, confetti!!*) I'm so proud of everyone who came! See you next time for Wire-Wrapped Found Objects!

xoxo jamillah

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

SUGARLOAF Craft Festival 2016

The Sugarloaf Craft Festival at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds was amazing this year! If you've never been to a craft fair...this is the one to attend. With over 100 vendors, food, live music and on-site craft demonstrations, Sugarloaf is like Woodstock for handmade artists. And don't be fooled by the name, the festival isn't strictly reserved for the folks up on Sugarloaf Mountain....they get around -- spreading the joy up and down the east coast.

Personally, I have a soft spot for handmade art and carnival food -- deep fried funnel cakes + fresh squeezed lemonade. The weather was fantastic, the company was even better and the crafts? My photos are just a fraction of what was on display. I must have wandered in and out of the barns for at least six hours...11-5pm? Let's just say my legs were like jelly when I finally collapsed on my sofa with armloads of goodies from Joyful Bath Co. and Berkshire Bags!

Visit Sharon London on Facebook
Carl Mateo was there representing my newest favorite dress collection by Sharon London. You have to try them on to believe how beautiful + feminine + flattering these dresses are. 

Handpainted nesting dolls.
Traditional Mexican leatherwork by MexicaCrafts
Handmade Berkshire Bags
The pottery displays were filled with gorgeous colors. These mugs make me want to cozy up with a gigantic bowl of coffee ice cream and binge-watch Netflix!

The best part about visiting craft events like Sugarloaf is that you get to meet the artists face-to-face and learn about their processes. Hannah specializes in heated brass hair ornaments and sculptural jewelry inspired by anthropology + nature. She also teaches metalsmithing workshops in Grantsville, MD at the Spruce Forest Artisan Village. Hammers + torches? I'm there!

Hannah Jean Metalworks

Watercolors by Priscilla George

Jewelry by Volang Boutique

Scarf Wraps by Cloz's

Jewelry stands and wall mounted mosaic jewelry holders.

Wooden flowers 

xoxo jamillah

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 Trends to Watch in Jewelry + Home Decor : GEODES, Geodes and More Geodes!

When I was a little girl, I remember staring up at my father's bookshelf, wondering at the mysterious potato-shaped bookends that were supporting our family dictionary. They were rocks, to say the least. Huge chunks of ugly, sandy colored rocks sliced in two halves. On the outside, the bulbous lumps were not worth a second glance, but on the beautiful! Purple crystals bloomed in spiky clusters like other-worldly bouquets of rock candy. Each dagger was naturally ombre, changing from dark, delicious grape tones at the base to nearly translucent shades of lavender at the pointy tip. I used to take the our family treasure to school every year for show and tell, crossing my fingers in the hopes that the heavy 5lb specimens wouldn't rip straight through my vinyl Lisa Frank backpack!

As a child, I fell in love with geodes, crystals and all things gemstones. It doesn't take a fortune teller to predict the newest trend for 2016 is all about natural minerals and the gloriously underrated agate GEODE crystal. Whether in its natural state, smothered in gold, or polished to perfection, agate - a unique form of quartz, is springing up everywhere from jewelry to home d├ęcor. Take look at some of the goodies available below and share in the comments what geode treasures you've found!

xoxo jamillah

Soul Makes
My Decorist Makeover

Semi-DIY Agate Coasters 1
DIY Gilded Agate Coasters  - Fabric, Paper, Glue

Funky Agate 18x18 Linen Pillow
Agate Pillow - One King's Lane

ON SALE Green Amethyst Stalactite Gold Necklace OOAK
Floral Agate Slice Pendant on Etsy

Stone Cut Cookies
Edible DIY Agate Cookies

Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to Choose the Right E-Marketplace Solution : Shopify versus Big Cartel + Etsy Launches PATTERN

If you are already swamped just by reading the title of this blog post, take a deeeeeep breath. You have friends out there in the world of handmade e-shops who are riding this wave of changes with you. I'm one of them!

This afternoon, while sipping an amazing cup of masala chai tea, I was considering opening up a second online shop to diversify what I could do with my Etsy page when I found an article comparing Shopify and (Click here to read the full article.) Like most of you out there, I want buyable pins on Pinterest. I want a shop tab on my Facebook page. I want the look of the real store without having to give credit to whatever web host I've chosen. I'm ready to upgrade...but is it even possible with the limitations from my Etsy page?

Then I began to wonder, how does Etsy compete with all the new guys who offers these services? How do they plan to stay ahead of the game when you can now shop Instagram posts and Tweets? Etsy has been using the same grid format for over 10 years with little change and even less variation at the POS (point of sale).

As always, Etsy is only $0.20 per listing, with unlimited listings, but your items expire after 30 days and you have to renew each one over and over. Now you can either do this manually or automatically, which is fine as long as you remember to select the appropriate option. For every 300 products, that equals about $60 per month, plus the 3.5% fee from every sale. Your web address will have the URL ending, letting your customers know that you belong to the #1 handmade marketplace. However, advertising on the Etsy homepage costs extra and there is no guarantee you'll be a "featured" vendor and reap the benefits of being noticed by the Etsy team.

To compare, Big Cartel is a monthly subscription-based e-commerce site with 4 plans ranging from FREE (for 5 listings only) to Titanium status at $29.99/month for up to 300 listings. That's half the cost of Etsy for the same number of items in your store. You do however have access to promoting your products on Facebook and using the Big Cartel app to handle face-to-face transactions. You also have the option of customizing your URL from to a for a small price. The limitations? Big Cartel currently only accepts PayPal payments.

Shopify is gaining a lot of ground on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. I really like the template options Shopify has for their websites. They look very professional, clean and modern. Plus, how cool is it to cross-post from your blog and create shoppable pins at the same time? The variety of POS options is outstanding. Not only can you create a website and add a functional store to your Facebook page, but you can also make sales transactions in person at your next craft table via the Shopify app.

Personally, I'm an avid Etsy fan. I've been a member since college, when they first launched in 2005. I was selling jewelry out of my dorm room and telling everyone I knew about the great new way to connect with other crafters online. To me, Etsy is like the of handmade and vintage e-marketplaces. And just this April, they launched PATTERN!

Don't know what PATTERN is?
Are you ready to be as excited as I am?
Get more fussy banners, no more thumbnails all over the place, no more chunky sidebar swallowing up half your page. You can now make your Etsy shop look like an actual store and use a ".com" URL ending without telling the whole world that you still use Etsy. It's like being in a secret club. With PATTERN, you are still an Etsy member, but you don't have to redo all of the hard work you've already done for your shop get to make it look pretty + professional though their easy conversion service. And for $15/ month? You have no reason not to switch. PATTERN is one giant leap into the future and I can't wait to re-launch my shop using their new templates!

Before selecting which service works best for you, consider the following:
  1. What is your monthly budget for your website? (If you don't have one, now is the time to make one!)
  2. How many individual items do you plan on selling? Less than 300? More than 300? If you have very few items and a low budget, you may have good results using the free service offered by Big Cartel.
  3. Consider your audience. Where do you receive the most traffic? Your homepage or blog? Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Choose a site that reaches out to the majority of your customers. If your shop doesn't have a large web presence and you make most of your sales in person, you may be fine with your smartphone, an app and a nice landing page.
  4. Do you have an eye for web design? Depending on your web skills, you may want to choose a host which has the most variety of templates, leaving your design input to a minimum, so that you can focus on developing your product more so than fiddling around with fonts.
In then end, choose the site that works best for your shop's needs. The internet is a tool that should work to your advantage, not against it. So, stay informed and read up on the FAQ pages. Do your homework comparing the prices and features before you make your final decision. If want to learn even more about the differences between the e-shop marketplaces out there, TheHelloLovely has a very detailed post you can read here.

Let me know in the comments which site you chose and why. I'd love to hear from you!

xoxo jamillah

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mother's Day Earring Workshop in Downtown Silver Spring

Space is limited, enroll today!

Moms are special.
They appreciate the little things. The hugs and kisses, the small gestures, the out-of-the-blue "I love you's", the carefully hand-picked, one-of-a-kind gifts. This Mother's Day, show mom how much you care by spending time together making jewelry!

Learn how to make a pair of beaded drop earrings right alongside mom using a variety of beads. Students are welcome to bring their own tools & supplies, but all materials are included. (As we will be cutting wire and hand tools, such as pliers, this workshop is for adults and children ages 12 and up.)

Afterwards, grab lunch at one of the many restaurants in Fenton Village, walking distance from Catylator Makerspace in Downtown Silver Spring. We are located at 8121 Georgia Avenue inside the World Building on Lower Level #1 (LL1). Parking is free in the Thayer Avenue garage. Hope to see you there!

xoxo jamillah

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