30 Apr 2008

29 Apr 2008

back to this wedding ring again. sigh. it's such a difficult shape. but today I'm going to get it finished. definitely. then i will have 2 rings and the person can choose which one they prefer.
That's pretty much all the news from here. It's vaguely sunny, it's vaguely warm but still chilly enough to wear a sweatshirt. It's time to go to the bench!!

UPDATE: getting there....two rings in the polisher, just waiting for them to get shiny to see if they really are ok. getting closer!!!

UPDATE: they are out of the polisher and looking pretty decent.....photos soon I hope!!!

28 Apr 2008

The craft fair on Saturday was pretty successful!! Although it was not busy and not that many people came, I still sold a decent amount. I was also invited to participate in another event at the end of May, so that's very positive. I'll be posting about the where and when of that event as soon as I get the info in electronic format. My display was much better than at the christmas fair I did last year, so that was also good. Got a lot of nice comments and interest. So it was a good experience! The next one will be 5 July!
Today it's back to the wedding ring again. Hopefully today I'll succeed in getting that right. Then I need to plan what I'm doing for the next couple of weeks carefully so that I have enough items for this event at the end of May! So it's still going to be busy...

24 Apr 2008

Yesterday was a lovely day. We just walked around town and took it easy and enjoyed the sunshine while it was out. We did a bit of shopping, a bit of eating, and a bit of watching some Sherlock Holmes :-) A relaxed birthday!!!
On Tuesday we went to IKEA to go look for something that would function as a display for craft fairs. I knew what I wanted, but unfortunately it doesn't exist. Or at least not at IKEA. So we ended up buying a bunch of sheets of glass and I can arrange them at different levels and in different ways by putting them on blocks of wood. Nice, neat blocks of wood painted in nice colours would be ideal, but I don't think that's going to happen before Saturday. But I think it'll be fine with regular blocks of wood for now. I need to test it on the table at home today or tomorrow to make sure it'll all be fine.
I'm still working on the wedding ring and need to sort out some earrings for Etsy. I wasn't intending on making those earrings again. I only made one pair and they were sold. But someone on Etsy asked for them, so I am attempting to make them again. I have one, but the second one is slightly not right and after taking photos I think I need to tweak it a bit more. So I need to get that finished today! Also need to make more earrings for the craft fair, finish a bunch of cuff links, finish 3 rings, and then tomorrow do all the remaining preparation for the craft fair! Yesterday I also brought the fliers for the fair to some places in town, so hopefully that'll help. I have a couple more fliers which I'm hoping to put up in the shops near my house - there's a shop that usually has fliers for stuff happening around Reading. Right, well, I better go do these things!!!

23 Apr 2008

It's Saint George's day!!! And it's Shakespeare's birthday! and it's my birthday! wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

22 Apr 2008

I had a fab weekend in Holland visiting my cousin and his wife. This week is going to be all about getting ready for the craft fair Saturday!!! I have flyers that I need to pass around, items I need to polish, display that I need to sort out, etc. I have loads of earrings ready and I'm also trying to finish a wedding ring commission. Busy week! It's also my birthday tomorrow and I don't know what the plan is because the boy is keeping it all a secret, so I'll find out tomorrow! hurrah!

17 Apr 2008

Yippee! I got accepted to the South Hill Park craft fair!!! That's in November, so it's a long way off. I'll post details closer to the time!
Also got the advertising flyers through for the Rising Sun craft fair and they used a photo of my peek ring on the flyer! hurrah!

15 Apr 2008

Struggling with the ring that needs to be re sized today....nearly finished but now need to get it back into a nice round shape and more polishing. Getting there....
Feeling rather blah this week thus far, hope things look shinier as the week goes on....

14 Apr 2008

I did it! Or rather, we did it! My friend and I managed to RUN the whole 10 kilometers yesterday at the race at Dorney Lake. The weather was pretty grim, with freezing cold rain ahead of the race. There was no shelter except one very small tent that not everyone could fit under, so we were very cold. Then the race was delayed 15 minutes because some people were still registering. So we got even colder. Eventually it started though and off we went. There were actually quite a lot of people there, at least 300, which is amazing considering the terrible weather. Anyway, off we went and the super fit serious runners whipped to the front and the rest of us just trudged along, hoping to make it the whole way. At least it didn't rain much during the actual race. I made it the whole way without stopping and managed it in one hour. I was very grateful to reach the finish line!!!

12 Apr 2008

Heh, exciting, I just figured out how to get that little icon in the address bar of your browser for my website. Hm, probably not very clear from that sentence, but you can see it clearly in this screenshot: (I've only put it on the homepage of www.magpienest.co.uk but it seems to be showing up on all pages, not sure if that's just my cache though...)

11 Apr 2008

Ok, I thought of a little tip I could tell you about that might be useful for some people. You know those sites that you visit over and over again? (*cough* that means you, Etsy addicts!) You may already have bookmarked those sites, or listed them under favourites. But, an even faster option is to have a link on your browser bar so all you have to do is one click to get to the page you want. Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the site that you want and highlight the URL:

2. Put your mouse on the URL or the little icon on the left of the URL if there is one - in this case the little orange "E" icon:

3. Hold down your left mouse button and drag the URL down to the bar right under it. I know the picture is a bit small, but you can see in the picture below that it now has a button that says "Etsy::magpienest::" and if I click on that, it will bring me straight to that page.
4. If this doesn't work for you, it could mean that your browser bar is locked. OR you're using Internet Explorer and this is another useful reminder why Firefox is better than Internet Explorer :-)

(thanks to Bob for this post, as he showed me this shortcut this morning!)
blah. I think my head's not functioning today. Yesterday I prepared lots of information and projections and what not for a year plan for my business. Today I just need to work at my bench. And right now I can't really think. Maybe I just need some more tea. Or a nap. Or some form of caffeine. blaaaaaaaaaah....ok I better stop writing.....

10 Apr 2008

If you've read this blog for a while, you might know that unfortunately, I lost almost all my personal jewellery in January due to a burglary. One of the items was my favorite gold ring, which was a present for high school graduation from my mom. I don't want to make an exact copy of that ring because it just won't be the same. However, I am going to make a gold version of this ring. Yesterday I went into London and bought the piece of gold for it. I might have time this weekend to work on it. In any case, I bought the gold and the ring will be for me, but I can take photos of it and thus offer a gold version of this ring on Etsy and so on. The gold prices are very, very high at the moment, although down from the all-time record high that it reached last month. That makes it a bit scary to work with gold, because every filing, every little piece that falls on the floor, all of it counts. I guess it's just part of having a business, there is always some type of risk. I could use 9k gold (which is cheaper), but it's quite pale compared to 18k gold, so I really prefer the 18k because it's a much warmer colour and it's a nicer contrast to silver.

9 Apr 2008

Blue skies again, and it is *cold*.
I've been vaguely trying to make a treasury on Etsy and I think I can forget about it, because the treasury is always full. Every single time I check it's waaaaaaaaaay over the maximum number, so the chances that I check right when it's open are very, very slim indeed.

My friend lent me the box set of Sherlock Holmes and I'm really enjoying it. Way back when I was still living with the parentals, I always used to watch this program on Saturdays called Mystery. It was on PBS and it rotated between showing different British series like Inspector Morse, Miss Marple, Poirot, Prime Suspect, and Sherlock Holmes. I think this Sherlock Holmes is most definitely the best one, with Jeremy Brett. Anyway, Sherlock Holmes used to be one of my all-time favourites and I'm glad it's still as good as I remember. It's interesting, well-acted, and suspenseful. Plus it's kind of amusing that now I recognise the place names of the different locations they go to - Aldershot, for example. I went to 221 Baker Street in London once, just to see what was there, but it was just the Kuwaiti Bank. Maybe I got the address wrong, because surely there would be some Sherlock Holmes type museum or shop or something somewhere on Baker Street. Hm, I'll have to check again sometime.

8 Apr 2008

Blue skies, people, blue skies. Worth writing home about if one happens to live in the UK. Photo taken just a few seconds ago as proof!
Yesterday was happily productive. I also had a few sales on Etsy, which always cheers me up and so I need to get those in the post today.
I am working on resizing a ring which is a tricky situation. If you want to make a ring bigger, ok, fine, plenty of options. If you want to make a ring smaller, it's much trickier. Not a problem if it's a straightforward metal ring. Then you take a piece out and solder it back together. If the ring has any type of setting with a stone in it, however, and it's hard. As soon as an item has a stone set in it, you can no longer solder it. Which means you can't take a piece out of the ring, because you can't put it back together. Well, you can get the stones taken out and then solder it, and then put them back in again. However, the stone in this particular ring is very soft and already got a bit scratched when it was originally put in. So, unwise to take it out. So I've wrapped a piece of silver around the base of the shank of the ring. It's going to take quite a bit of fiddling to make it look good. Oh well, I'll keep trying and see how it looks once it's polished and such.

7 Apr 2008

Yesterday evening I ran a practice 6 miles, which took me about an hour and six minutes. Not too bad (for me) and I didn't have to stop even once. I hope that on Sunday I can do similar or slightly better. I just don't want to be the very last person. Well, even that would be ok - as long as they don't close the course before I finish! haha!
Anyway...Monday again. I have loads and loads to do today and I hope that I manage to get most of it finished. I want to send off a bunch of stuff for hallmarking Wednesday. So, I better go get started!!
Must have more tea....it's very cold again and I haven't had enough tea yet this morning!

6 Apr 2008

Interesting things afoot today. First waking up to a big fat blanket of snow, quite unusual for Reading and even more unusual for not melting away in a couple of hours.
Also had a look at a new blog by a keen Californian shopper and baker. Have a look: http://somethingjusttostart.blogspot.com
Things are also moving again on the website front. I will be making another big change, this time to add a shopping cart! Thanks to Google, it looks like that is going to be possible!! Hurrah! It's still in the beta version, but with some adjustments to my website, it should do the job fairly soon. That is all good news, as it will make the site more user friendly!
The craft fair in Reading at the Rising Sun Institute is coming closer, so I am in the process of making a whole load of rings and cuff links. They need to be made first so I can send them off to be hallmarked and still have them back on time. Then it'll be more earrings! I have an idea for another large necklace - large in the sense that it is a whole necklace, not only a pendant. Hopefully I will have time to work on that this week. It'll be hard if I also want to get around to the website changes! And a ring should come back from the engravers...and I have a ring I need to re size.
So, it looks to be a busy week! It'll be getting up early and squeezing as much as I can into every day. It's good that I have this craft fair coming up, it makes me get more done!!

4 Apr 2008

Here's a photo of a new collection. I think if you click on it, you can get a bigger version!

3 Apr 2008

It's already April 3rd. That means 10 days until the 10k run and 23 days until my first craft fair of the year. So in turn that means I need to run more (eek!) and I need to make lots of items so I have enough for the craft fair!
I thought I would mention something I did a while ago today. I joined Indiego, which is a site where you sign up, you enter your info and a photo and thus create a little ad for yourself. Then you add a bit of code to your blog so that other people's ads show up on your site. The idea being that everyone helps each other -- the ads that show up rotate, so your ad will show up somewhere and so will everyone else's. You can see at the bottom right hand corner of this blog that there is an ad...for something homemade. So somewhere out there in internet land, my ad is showing up on someone's blog or website. How many times someone clicks on your ad is measured so you can see how effective (or not) this is. According to Indiego, my ad has been clicked 4 times. That's in about 2 months or so. So it's not much. But hey, it's also not nothing. So, might be worth considering. It's free, you're potentially helping out other artists and/or yourself, so why not.

1 Apr 2008

YAWN. At first I thought, gah, it's hard to get up today, but then I realised that the hour change is what makes me feel still sleepy. Ah well, it'll wear off. Yesterday I jogged (think extremely slow running) 4.5 miles and man was it difficult. I just felt like a tortoise, just plodding along. sigh. I fear this 10k is going to be humiliating, with people whizzing past me. Well, I still have a week and a half left for practice.
So another little interesting tidbit I learned at the Google info day was the three busiest online shopping days of the year (in 2007). I thought it was interesting to know, in terms of having stock prepared and website in order. The online shopping trends, apparently, are more than ever mimicking the troughs and peaks of the offline shopping world. So it's normalising to some extent, becoming mainstream. Anyway, the top three busiest online shopping days were, in order:
1. 26 December (aka Boxing Day)
2. 10 December
3. 25 December (Christmas, obviously)

Another interesting thing I learned was about water filtering. Oh yes, water filtering. No, Google doesn't filter water as well.....this was just a woman I met on the day. She and her husband have set up a business selling Japanese bamboo charcoal, which is a natural water filter. It's a completely eco business. They have researched all aspects of the environmental impact of the charcoal and it's much, much better than Britta filters with all their plastic and so forth. Anyway, I thought it was quite fascinating and a very good alternative to Britta filters. I read the instructions on their website and it's a bit of a nuisance because you have to boil the charcoal every so often so it stays clean. But it's so much more natural and when you're done with the charcoal you just put it in the garden. Anyway....you can read all about it on their website, which is www.charcoalpeople.co.uk
Yesterday I went to a Google eCommerce Solutions event in London. That actually means that a load of Google people told a bunch of people who are registered with Google Checkout things about Google AdWords, Checkout and Product search. Google Checkout is a secure way of setting up payment options on your website. It's easy to implement, easy to register for and easy for the end user (i.e. the customer) to use. It's also secure because the customer's credit card info doesn't get shared. So say you bought something on my online shop then I wouldn't actually see your credit card number. I only see the information I need - which product, how many, address and name. That's the same as the payment system on Etsy, where I, as the shop owner, also don't see the customer's credit card info. The difference is that I can implement Google Checkout on my own website easily.
Google AdWords in just the advertising you see on Google - so when you do a search on Google, on the right hand side of the page you see the so-called "sponsored links", i.e. the advertising. Companies pay to have their ad show up there when certain keywords are typed in by a user. In theory this means you should only see relevant ads. I think Google is still working on making sure that those ads are always relevant. I've certainly done searches where I clicked on one of those sponsored links only to find that the page I get to is a shop that has nothing to do with what I was searching for. But luckily it's in Google's interest to make that better, because they need to protect their reputation for getting the best and the most relevant results. Otherwise people will use other search engines.
Google used to have a shopping bit which was called Froogle - it's the same as the regular Google search except it helps with shopping specifically. So you type in a product name, say "Ipod Nano" and it'll come up with all the sites that sell that and the prices. It's a shopping comparison thing. So, they've changed the name to Google Product Search....presumably because that's so obvious you can't get confused. It's easy to find, you just go to Google and on the top left hand corner of the page it says "Shopping". Easy, peasy. Anyway, of interest to people trying to sell their things, you can submit your product descriptions to this shopping section and then your products will show up if people are searching for them. It's free to do, it's useful, so why not! I'll be doing it as soon as I schedule in some time. It won't take that long because you can submit all your products at once if you have the necessary info in a spreadsheet.
I also learned something else very, very useful. But I'm going to keep that a secret for a bit and implement it on my website and then let you know how useful/easy it was!!! oooo er how exciting :-)