Friday, October 24, 2014

The more things change......

the more they stay the same.   Or it becomes MORE of the same, as in 'deeper'. . . . ya know?

 That is my take away message from this year's retreat.   This, our TENTH !

 And WOW, have there been a lot of changes over the years !

From locations - MD, to NC, to PA. To number of attendees, types of projects, and 'format'. But, the more things change - the more some of it stays the same. . . .

Our "tagline" is Share, Learn, Grow.

THOSE things have not only remained the same, but have deepened over the years.

The sharing has grown exponentially - from jewelry techniques to business to cooking to issues of relationships, family, and life.

We learn more, in many ways, each year - about our craft, about each other, and also about ourselves.


There is no "I" in retreat! Retreat is a group endeavor. We all bring tools and materials, we all bring knowledge and creativity.........we bring our different perspectives; we bring a little piece of ourselves -- and we toss it all in there. And we GROW as artists and, I think, as people.

In thinking about retreat and what it's meant to me over the years and the people that it has exposed me to, I tried to make RETREAT an acronym of sorts, this is just one of a few I thought of:


People come and go over the years, fade in and out as life gets busy with family, business, teaching, etc. Situations, interests and people, change, (what is that saying? "the only constant in life is change" So true!) but the heart of the network retreat - Share, Learn, Grow - remains the same.

This year's retreat was our second smallest on the books.

There were 7 of us who explored (risked?) together a new retreat location in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. It's a little scary changing locations but I have to say, for me, this was one of THE best decisions. Don't get me wrong - I loved the house in NC....even the crazy ride there....the anticipation would build the entire time and the old location became an old friend that I looked forward to seeing, despite it's flaws. and it DID have it's flaws for a group of our size getting together for our purpose.

The new location is not without challenges as well - but overall - I'm sold !  The house is brighter and cleaner.....and for me, the surroundings were much more uplifting. Again - brighter, cleaner.

We lucked out and had GREAT weather. It wasn't too cold, or too hot; not too wet, certainly not too dry...LOL

You can see the house below. Stills on a little rise, in a clearing. Wrap around porch on three sides, deck on the back, 3 outside table/chair areas and a bunch of rocking chairs.

Jewelry Artists Retreat 2014The house doesn't (didn't) have wi-fi so we often found ourselves outside, on the porch, trying to get a connection on our phones.
relaxation on the beautiful front porch!

But the real business took place in the basement. (this year out of any cold breeze, no rain blowing in, no bugs in our drinks - YAY!)

With our tables set up in a square with a community table in the middle full of pickle pots and other tools, we spent the week creating.

Jewelry Artists Retreat 2014

Below is my little slice of that square. :)

Make-shift Metalsmithing Bench

And I think this is Eva's space.

Jewelry Artists Retreat 2014

Rina found herself working on a piece of wall art for a good portion of the week. This very symbolic piece will be set into a frame for installation on a wall. 

Jewelry Artists Retreat 2014

Below you can see the overall set up. It really really worked out very well. :)

We had SUCH a great time!!!! 

Planning for Retreat 2015 is well underway. 

If you'd like more information, please go here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Pricing Your Work - a challenge

Yes, it's a challenge. At some point we all seem to struggle with this topic.

How do I price my work ?
Am I capturing all of my costs?
What if I want to wholesale?

Have you answered those questions for yourself?

do you have a formula/method that works for you?

For those who don't - for those who are struggling - I have spent MONTHS talking to tons of jewelers - professional, hobbyists, weekend warriors and those in it full time - and I've taken it all and created a workbook to help capture ALL costs - office supplies? packaging? postage, marketing, tools, rent, etc - calculate several retail and wholesale price structures, and track items.

Why did I do this? Oh my gosh.

Can I tell you how much *I* needed this?

Truth time - I was guessing and estimating and generally not taking it all seriously enough. And I was losing money. GRANTED, I wasn't trying to make money at the time - but when finances started to get tight I had to take a good look at where my personal 'expendable' money was going - and it was all going into my studio/jewelry.

SO, the workbook helped me take an objective look at my work.

Adding it to my tutorial offerings helps me in a business sense but it also stands to help YOU.

It's an inexpensive product that can help you focus and be consistent in your pricing.

This workbook can help you determine appropriate and sustainable pricing for your jewelry - both on a wholesale and retail level.

I've included the most common CURRENT pricing formulas and set them up in a workbook with formulas built in to auto-calculate prices. all you have to do is plug in some of YOUR variables and voila'  - 4 pricing structures just POP out! 

There is an overhead worksheet which can help you take into account all the expenses outside of materials and time/labor. As well as an inventory sheet so you can see what is selling well and at what prices and locations. If you want to create a production line that information can be really useful. 

This is a comprehensive workbook based on methods that have been proven successful by numerous jewelers. 

I'm offering it at a reduced price for the first 20 downloads. All purchases at ANY time are eligible for one free editing session. So if there are things you think are missing and there isn't enough space or you want to re-work something - I'm willing to help. 

I want us all to succeed. :)  

The workbook is available on Etsy for now. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No, I'm NOT perfect!

So yea, I guess that's no surprise.

ESPECIALLY to those who know me well. :)

So it's always mildly amusing when people comment on my diet - my food choices. . . . from the perspective that I eat SO healthy or that I must be depriving myself of something.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I think most 'online' lives are a little different than the fully rounded offline life. Not that most of us are trying to misrepresent - it's just that we share things we think will be of interest or the things that interest US. So, like it's not that interesting (I don't think) to post my recent cheeseburger (unless there was something unusual or exemplary about said burger) but it's interesting to me (and I think to a certain portion of readers) if I find a new recipe or if I get hooked on a new breakfast. Typically when I'm striving for something or interested in something - well, that's what I'm going to post.

So, in terms of dietary interests. I'm interested in a relatively healthy diet. But YES, I eat things that are not considered very healthy. OVERALL though I am aiming for a healthy diet.



I want to FEEL GOOD.

Our bodies are 'machines' and need the right fuel. Anything else is harmful to some degree.

I posted today on the new blog a few quick and easy changes you can make if you are interested:

It's not hard to make these changes even if you aren't going to give up other things. And truly, we can all stand to make some changes to increase our health because I'm not the only one that's not perfect :)