Monday, February 29, 2016

Instagram for your business

Do you Instagram? 

I do and I love it! It’s proving to be a great addition to my business. You have the opportunity to interact with people you couldn’t reach through other social media websites, share fabulous images of your designs and view tons of eye candy from other users. With 300 million active monthly users, there is something for everyone and inspiration everywhere.

My favourite thing is that it’s really simple to share what you’re up to, Facebook is quite involved, and trying to get yourself seen in the newsfeed is a daily battle, and call me old but I just don’t get Twitter. With Instagram, just take a picture on your phone and post with a short description… Ok, so maybe it’s not that easy, if you’re there, you want to build a following, and the great thing about IG is that you can easily target potential customers looking for exactly what you’re offering.

The key to IG is to appeal to people visually, and the most simple parts of your day can be made to look great with the use of their preinstalled tools and filters. I find it great for work in progress shots to generate interest for future updates, and I’ve been told a few times that people have missed my posts on Facebook and found out about what’s coming through my IG posts.


If you haven’t already, signing up is easy, use your Facebook profile, or an email and password, choose your profile name and your account will be created. 

So how do you use it to encourage buyers to visit your business? Firstly… fill out your profile. You have room for a profile picture, a bio, link to a website, your business name and your real name. Make sure that everyone can find out a little bit about you and how to reach your shop.

My profile

Next… great photo’s. As I said earlier, I like to share progress shots of what I’m doing, it could be a pile of beads for a jewellery design, a lump of clay ready to be turned in to beads, or some beads fresh out of the kiln. I’ve found that showing the work that goes in to your creations gets you customers that appreciate what you do. But it doesn’t have to be all about work, pet pics are always popular, sunsets, a close up of a flower in your garden, something quirky you’ve found or a naturally occurring pattern. Share all of the things that appeal to you, you can bet they will appeal to others and keep them interested in following your profile.

Once you’ve taken your photo, play around with the filters and tools, crop and straighten images, edit shadows and add a vignette to make them look amazing. Only use great photos, when other users visit your feed, you want it to look fabulous… a great set of pictures will encourage people to follow you. 

Once you’re happy with your image, you can add a sentence or two and some hashtags. 

Hashtags are simply words with a # before them. The # turns the word in to a link, so say you use the hashtag #jewellery if someone searches the site for jewellery, your image will appear in the results. The trick with these is to keep them relevant to appeal to your audience while growing your following. As you type in the tags, IG give you options of the most popular to choose from. Or create your own. A list of the top 100 tags to get your stats booming is available here. Using relevant tags that people are already searching for will give you a good start to building your profile.

Before posting your picture, you also get the option to share your image to other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Tumblr, (you can set up where to share to in your profile) hitting everywhere in one easy click. 

Once you have a small collection of pics ready for people to look at, find people to follow. Using the search, type in a word for what you’re looking for, typing in Ceramic Beads will bring up the relevant results from the top users, people, tags, and places on the site. While searching, take note of the tags people with similar interests to yours use. The more specific you are with your tags, the more accurately you can target people looking for what you have. 

Follow users you like using the button on their profile, comment on pics you like, share the love and you will likely find that the majority of your follows are returned and you’re well on your way to increasing your popularity. 

Once you have some followers, post regularly, build your brand and share your story, fingers crossed before long, your users will interact and those interactions will convert to sales. 

Keep a note of what works for you, posting times, hashtags used, content etc, and you should begin to build a good formula of what works and what doesn't. There are apps available for tracking your stats if you don't want to do it old style with pen and paper. 

To download the Instagram app follow the links for your device.

AppStore Download

Play Store Download

Here at AJE we love Instagram and you can follow us using the links below…

@artjewelryelements - The blog IG Profile
@jennifercameron - Jennifer Stout Cameron
@jdaviesreazor - Jenny Davies-Razor
@blueberribeads - Caroline Dewison
@suebeads65 - Susan Kennedy
@nikysayers - Niky Sayers
@thedaintybeader - Kristen Stevens
@ktotten - Karen Totten
@theaelements - Lesley Watt
@suburbangirlstudio - Diana Ptaszynski

I hope you’ll stop by and visit us!  Leave your link in the comments so we can come and see you!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Component of the Month Reveal!

Today is the February Component of the Month Reveal!

Each participant was sent one crystal and bright aluminum Phaedra made by me.  Karen Snyder designed the Phaedra and you can purchase the tutorial and ring packs at C&T Designs if you'd like to make your own.

Let's see what everyone created with their Phaedra!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Art Field Trip: the ACC show in Baltimore (Part 2)

The ACC show Baltimore - Part 2. 
Having studied metals in college, and having set it aside for so many years... I am drawn to jewelry work in metals and am stepping back into metals one step at a time. This year at the ACC show there were so many people, so many amazing pieces I wanted to share with you, I have continued this post! Please take a look, I hope you are inspired and amazed. 

"I compose and paint the miniatures using references from a collection of art books as well as museum visits. I am particularly drawn to the landscapes and details in paintings by Giovanni Bellini, Lorenzo Lotto, Dosso Dossi and Jan Van Eyck.  To produce the miniature images, I use very fine brushes, good lighting and a magnifier. I use acrylic paint as it dries quickly and allows me to work on a small scale.

The frame designs for the one of a kind polyptychs and tabernacles are also based on Renaissance styles. I design and build the frames with wood using miniature moldings and a centuries old water gilding technique. The result is well worth the labor-intensive process. In the end, I hope to capture the luminosity of Renaissance painting in miniature."

I have no words. I had to take my glasses OFF to see better. The paintings alone are stunning... but these images are LARGER than life size. Classical, breath taking. 

all images (C) Christina Goodman

Eldreth Designs:
"Eldreth Designs was established in 2011 and is an extention of my family's pottery business, Eldreth Pottery

When I started working with my family in 2006, it was not only important for me to keep the business within the family but also to contribute something unique to the company. All designs are my original designs. With the help of my Dad, we have created a unique line of production and one of a kind jewelry.  We incorporate porcelain tiles with fine metal mountings. All of the designs are original designs and we produce them at our workshop in Oxford, PA."

Ceramics and metal? Clay in jewelry? Well, we are speaking my language... and Eldreth pottery is relatively local to my area. I was excited to see this new line of work as the next generation branches out from the pottery's traditional salt glazed ware.  The two lines show the contrast of more modern streamlined house and tree icons vs the organic painterly tree portraits. The painterly pendants were reversible - color on one side, black and white on the reverse. 
All images (C) Eldreth Designs

Eric Silva: 
"My jewelry is about self-examination; revealing pieces of myself through artistic creations. I draw my inspiration from the often overlooked simplicity of beauty found in the ordinary."

Such gorgeous materials - I was captivated by the antler. Hand carved, ethically sourced, light weight, fantastic textures, and very melodious when hung in a grouping. 
All images (C) Eric Silva
Logan Louis:
As a solo working artist, I collect and cast specimens from nature. These organic objects become my raw materials. The leaves that I find on the ground... I take these leaves, prepare them, and burn them out, creating a mold into which I then cast sterling silver or gold, so that the end product is solid metal.

I know - more organic pieces. This is what calls to me. I loved the collage element in these pieces. Color inserts, segments stitched or riveted together. There were some simple, others very ornate, but stunning regardless.
All images (C) Logan Louis

If you get a chance to attend one of the ACC Craft shows - by all means go!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Art field trip: the ACC Show in Baltimore ( Part 1)

Each year, the ACC (American Crafts Council) show in Baltimore is a treat; a chance to meet and talk with leading artists working in clay, metal, wood, fabric... any and all mediums.  The ACC hosts shows across the nation (Atlanta, St Paul, San Francisco) and its an opportunity I try to take advantage of annually as I am so close geographically. 

My post this year does focus on jewelry artists. I was struck - and hugely inspired - by the artists combining materials in fresh innovative ways. I gravitate to the fusion of traditional jewelry techniques and non-traditional materials. (No gold and diamond bling for me!)  I like pieces that are made with content, intention, narrative. So let the work speak to you as it did to me... 

"Nature is my inspiration, every detail of it leads me to create unique pieces, where color and texture become the protagonists of my creations.

A feature of my work us a touch of color that is provived by glass beads of varying of sizes, which are used in combination with metal to create a unique design. The concept is focused on silver pieces with a contemporary look, 100% handmade artistry with a variety of goldsmith techniques that distinguish industrial processes.

I loved the integration of sead beads and metal. To add color in a piece via the seed beads AND to combine bead weaving and metal smithing. The pieces were stunning - with such attention to detail the back of many pieces were imprinted with leaf textures. 

all images: (c) Claudia Fajardo
Kirsten Denbow:
"I have studied, practiced, played and dreamed. My work is unique, wearable, sophisticated but approachable, and I always try to add an element of fun.
My current body of work, focusing on traditional metalwork and enameling techniques, is a reflection of my passion for metalworking and my love of nature."

You KNOW I am going to rave about a sugar skull... but Kirsten's enable work was so fine! The delicate swan silhouettes, riveted to backings... I was drawn to the detail and the layering in these pieces.
All images (c) Kirsten Denbow

Luana Coonen:
"..Realizing her strong affiliation with nature and organic growth patterns, she now finds even the smallest flower or blade of grass more precious than ever. She expresses her deep and abiding love of nature’s tiniest wonders through her artwork, finding ways within her work as a jeweler to amplify the beauty of simple natural objects and to bring attention to our emotions. This is reinforced by her passion to use found objects and renewable materials..."

Luana's work may have been my favorite of the day. The intricacy of the sawing, interaction with the piece as it concealed and revealed treasures to the viewer and the wearer. I was drawn to her use of natural - and sustainable - organic material. 
All images (c) Luana Coonen

"I am inspired by humanity’s age-old relationship with traditional craft materials and how these materials have been transformed over time and in different cultures. In particular, the renewable resources of plant and animal fiber, the community and time involved fiber processes of antiquity, the utilization of fabrics for sheltering and comforting the body and the historical predominance of women working these materials motivated my decision to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fiber Arts. Over the past two decades pursuing these subjects, I have developed a keen interest in the use of natural dyes from minerals, plants and insects, the versatility of the felting process employed to create non-woven fabrics from animal fibers, the use of free-motion machine embroidery to “draw” on and manipulate the structure of the fabric and international travel in order to explore the diversity of textiles and the human experience. This primary use of natural fibers and dyes represents a fight for the threatened values of community responsibility, patience, physical activity, and an intimate relationship with our natural world."

These pictures do not do justice. hand dyed natural fibers. felted onto forms, enveloping objects. And then sewn, sculpted with stitches. Lightweight, layers, mysterious... Some neckpieces had sea glass stitched in, and were translucent when held to light. Exquisite!
All images (C) Strongfelt/Lisa Klakulak

And there is more! Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow. It was a great show this year - it made me think, and plan, and dream. I also like to share the work of other artists - done respectfully - I hope it informs and inspires!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Inspired by the Ancients

I have always felt drawn to old things be it fossils, antiquities or antiques but Roman things in particular just seem to have some kind of spell over me. Ever since a trip to a Roman Museum in Primary school where I was completely in awe of everything. 

Djenne Beads, Roman Glass and Ancient Inspired Earrings
So you can only imagine my delight (which goes against all my hermit instincts) when my other half suggested that we spend a week in Rome! 
We did some of the many tourist attractions of course....

Trevi Fountain, Colosseum & The Pantheon
The Trevi Fountain, The Colosseum and Imperial Fora, The Pantheon, The Vatican Museum, The Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica and many more but by far my favorite was Ostia Antica!!!
Before Our trip I had not even heard of it, but a few guide books later and it sounded intriguing....

Some 2,000 years ago, ancient Rome's lively international port city was right on the beach and at the mouth of the Tiber (ostium means "river mouth"). In the ensuing millennia the sea has retreated several kilometers and the river has changed course dramatically. Ostia was founded in the 4th century BC, first as a simple fort, but as Rome grew, the town became ever more important, as the distribution point for imports from around the Mediterranean. 
Grain was the most vital commodity, to feed Rome's one million inhabitants, and so huge storage bins (horrea) were built here. Goods were sent up to Rome on river barges. 
Ostia's heyday ended in the 4th century AD, and it died completely as an inhabited area about 1,000 years ago." 
DK Top 10 Rome

I had also read that it was not as busy as Pompeii and you could walk in and around the ruins (and let the children run free), but I was not expecting what I found!!!

The View Three Floors Up
The sheer size of of Ostia is some what amazing, I was expecting a small fishing village not a HUGE City with buildings standing three stories high, a theater, many bath houses, temples, a christian basilica and a synagogue.

There was just so much so see, even with a whole day we did not manage to get around everything, at some points it felt like we were walking through a maze, there were rooms (including internal gardens), windows and doors everywhere.

Here is an aerial photo I found online to give you a better idea of how incredibly big Ostia really is....

Photo by Paolo Fusco
And it is still being excavated, we saw some work being carried out as we were wandering around and I read online that they believe there is still a large amount that has not yet been unearthed.

There are stairs cases leading down into tunnels and up into amazing views, and little hidden places to poke around in every direction and so many beautiful and inspiring things to see and wonder about.

Stairs and Tunnels
With buildings called The Baths of Neptune, The Temple of Hercules and The House of Cupid and Psyche, you can only imagine how excited I was roaming around and the suprising thing was that all the children thought it was by far the best day of the holiday too.

Domus of the Nymphaeum
One of the bigest surprises had to be the mosaic floors, for some reason I had not thought there would be many in a fishing village but they were every where! Some were quiet simple designs and only partially uncovered from the surounding dirt....

Small Section of Mosaic Tiles Peeping Through the Grass
While others such as the ones in the Baths of Porta Marina were just spectacular....

Floor Mosaic from the Baths of Porta Marina
I now have a strong disire to micro mosaic my bathroom floor.

According to the tour guide we over heard the following mosaic was part of the design on the bedroom floor of someone very wealthy.

Mosaic Bedroom Floor
This partially uncovered delight was hidden away in one of the many not so grand looking nooks and crannies and I almost did not see it!

Partially Uncovered Mosaic

There is also a Tavern with a sales counter and a painting showing the foods available and Tabernae (stalls) of the Fishmongers, with a selling table and beautiful mosaic tiled floor.

Top the Tavern and Bottom the Fishmongers
And so many stunning sculptures....

Top two from the grounds bottom two in the Museum
Including this rather impressive statue of emperor Trajan found in the Schola of Trajan - 2nd century AD (now found in the Museum of Ostia), I just love the detail on his armour!

Emperor Trajan

What I did not see any of at Ostia however was my favorite Roman things, jewellery and glass, it is mostly just the buildings, mosacics and sculptures. This did not how ever leave me any less inspired so I headed off to etsy to gather some Roman style inspiration for you....

Roman Style Treasures For Your Jewellery Making Pleasure 

Now I am off to make some jewellery inspired by my trip, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carnegie Museum of Natural History Gem Hall

I originally wanted to share the newest Pittsburgh Glass Center Exhibit, Lifeforms, with you today, but I haven't had a chance to visit it yet.  Hopefully I will get to attend and will report the next time I post here.  So today, I thought I'd share some pretties with you from the Carnegie Museum here in Pittsburgh.

When I first walked past these items, I thought they were ceramic.  Upon further inspection, I saw that they were glass.  They are simply gorgeous!  They are made with  what I can only assume are murrini (small pieces of colorful designs in glass, which are shaped in rod form and then nipped into small pieces to reveal the design). 

The gems in the museum here in Pittsburgh are amazing - while the ammonite display in the Houston museum was incredible, they don't have such a huge display of gems as we do here.  I took tons of photos - I can't possible share them all here, but I'll share some of the more interesting photos with you.

I have to admit I haven't ever heard of many of these gems, and crystals, but wow were they gorgeous!  I have to apologize if some of the photos are a little hard to see, the exhibit is very dark with bad lighting for taking photos.  But I couldn't resist.

There was one exhibit I particularly liked, it was called Curious Concretions.  The text reads as follows:

"concretions form in soft, sedimentary rocks when minerals like calcite, siderite or pyrite grow around a kernel or nucleus within the rock, somtimes a speck of carbon or a fossil, and cement the -- sediments into a ball, rod or disk"

They are quite beautiful, and my favorite is the Pyrite Sun, found in Illinois (third photo in this series).

 Finally, they have an exhibit called Pennsylvania Minerals.  I found it interesting to see what wonderful things are found in Pennsylvania.  I've heard of the wonderful mines out west, but was glad to see we grow some pretty neat things out East!

I hope you enjoyed my little tour of the Carnegie Museum of History Gem Hall in Pittsburgh, PA!  Next time I will bring you an exhibit from the Pittsburgh Glass Center!

Susan Kennedy