Jacket fail

Sometimes, the wire just doesn’t want to do what I want it to do.

The beads? They’re usually pretty compliant. They sit there on the wire, and sparkle, and look pretty. Their job isn’t that hard. But the wire… the wire is, on occasion, stubborn. It argues. It fights. It just generally makes my life difficult.

Last night was one of those times.

After a significant chunk of time spent photographing several rose studs and posting them to Etsy (I didn’t post them all; I took pity on my poor Twitter and Facebook followers and decided to wait a few days before bombarding them with yet more postings of variations on a theme), I was prepared to sit down and make earring jackets to go with them. Because darn it, I promised you a mix and match experience, and a mix and match experience you were going to get!

Or… not.

I tried. Honest.

I worked on three different pairs of earrings, and instead, ended up not finishing a single pair.

What it came down to is, niobium is a bit of a P.I.T.A. to work with.

When I made the copper clay earrings, my nickel-free headpins were too soft and kept breaking when I tried to wrap them; this time, I was working with niobium headpins that were too hard and too short, and did not want to bend more than twice in a wrap. But! Such predicaments, I must forge ahead.

Sadly, I did not forge ahead, today. Today was, unexpectedly, spent doing not very much. To my surprise, I wasted a more than a little bit of time fiddling around with reviews of B-movies by angry 30-something men on YouTube.

Don’t ask why; I don’t really have a good reason. I was reading Anno Dracula: The Bloody Red Baron, and the author made a reference to a character, and I Wikipedia’d it, and… well, yeah. Thus, a day better put to good use making jewelry… or at least giving myself a much-needed pedi… was instead spent watching reviews of such film gems as Elves, Maniac, Extra Terrestrial Visitors (a.k.a. Pod People) and The Minority, which were then followed by clips from the Broadway productions of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek, and Young Frankenstein. Yeah, I know, there’s not much in the way of continuity there, either. The B’way stuff can be blamed on my playlist, which popped out with something from The Drowsy Chaperone; I decided I really wanted to know what Sutton Foster actually LOOKED like, since I spend so much time LISTENING to her.

So. That was my day. Well, I tell a lie – I took a shower. And there was some grocery shopping in there. And I cleared off the desk that my unused desktop lives on, so that’s fantastically useful. But hey – it does mean I now have the ability to have color-changing LED’s flash in a variety of different ways in my bedroom (they’re mounted under the glass of said desk), so… that’s something. I’m not sure what, exactly, but… something.

*sigh*

Tomorrow’s another day. It’s a day that, in theory, I will spend mostly with the ‘rents, but I will attempt to squeeze in at least A pair of earring jackets. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be atrocious, so maybe travel will have to be curtailed, regardless, resulting in (at least in theory) more jewelry-making time.

Oh! And I received another pair of commissions from a friend of mine (the one who commissioned the purple rose jewelry that got this whole train a-running). I think she may be OK with the blue rose oval piece I made last month for one of them, which would be nice, but the other would be a from-scratch, similar piece that’s been puttering around in my head. Much more goth-y, with a red rose and red leaves in black clay. Should be fun. 🙂

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks. I have work to do. Both in the form of jewelry, and proofreading a paper on the Boxer Rebellion. Fun, fun. 🙂

The deed is done!

I have listings!
Listings! Plural!
…Well, OK. 2. Which is more than one, but not by a whole lot.
And they’re only rose studs.
But it’s a start! And, as Broadway has taught me, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”
If someone actually BUYS something, that would be fantastically nifty. If not… that’s cool, too. The goal, after all, is to sell the earring jackets; the studs are just there so people have something to hang the jackets from, for one-stop shopping.
It’s a beginning, and I’m happy with that. 🙂

What’s next?

Yesterday, I ran out to Target and bought a couple of small wire shelves for the living room, in an attempt to bring at least a little order out of the chaos. I had a growing pile of beading, Art Clay Copper, display furniture and shipping stuff in the middle of the floor of the living/dining area, because I didn’t have anywhere else to corral it; now I do. I’m quite sure I’ll outgrow it really quickly, but for the short term, I’m feeling pretty good about reclaiming that bit of floor and knowing where all my bits and bobs are. I even bought a couple of plastic bins, and marked them up with labels from the Dymo. Yay!

While I was in Target, I discovered the tissue paper I’ve been trying to find for a reasonable price – bonus!

Tonight, I have a doctor’s appointment. I’m hoping to be home early enough to either make something or photograph something. I was reading Etsy tips the other day, and among many (many many) other things, they suggested that if you’ve got only one thing to post… post it! Well, I’ve got more than one thing, but they’re not the thing I was planning on focusing on, at least to start. What I have ready is rings. What I want to post is earring jackets and rose studs. I have the rose studs, and I have the jackets I made for ME; I guess I should post those, for starters. I do feel it’s time to post SOMETHING. I’ve gone to all this effort to get started, right down to getting gift boxes and tissue paper and 10 bubble envelopes (just to start with; I can find other ways to use tissue paper, or stickers, or gift boxes. Even the Dymo labels that are specific to shipping, I could, in theory, use for something else. But the only thing I can do with a 6”x8” bubble mailer is… well, ship things. If nothing happens, I’d hate to be stuck with 100 bubble mailers, y’know?); it seems silly to have gone to all this effort, and then have my site sitting there, fallow.

So! Photos soon. And then… show on road, kids. Hee!

…I just hope people actually, y’know… look! (And buy!)

On further thought….

That’s just stupid.
I’m creating problems for myself where, as of yet, no problems exist.
I’ll buy the Endicia labels. OK, so there won’t be delivery confirmation; if someone is really insistent about it, I can go out & get it. I need to make products & actually sell them before I can worry about annoying customers I don’t even have yet.
So! That’s that problem sort of solved.
On to bigger and more interesting things.

Communication breakdown: MacBook vs. Dymo LabelWriter vs. PayPal vs. Endicia vs. me

After three nights of fighting with the internet and my MacBook, I have come to the conclusion that getting my newly purchased and hardly touched (but much loved, regardless) Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo to print the PayPal internet postage labels it was bought to generate is a complete impossibility. I have, as the internet has instructed me, downloaded CUPS-PDF to my Mac. This would (if it functioned) allow me to circumvent Pitney Bowes’s automatic print-to-label-printer-incorrectly function, and save labels as PDFs, then change them to landscape instead of portrait, which would apparently make them print correctly. After a day of fighting with that, uninstalling it, reinstalling it, trying to figure out where the heck it WAS installed, and just plain trying to get it to work, it stubbornly failed to show up as a printer option. Further research showed that the version I’d downloaded was intended for a Mac with a later OS than I have. Another evening was spent trying to track down the version of CUPS-PDF that WOULD work with my OS. I finally found it last night, and it works! Yay! But the label preview on the PayPal/Pitney Bowes shipping page STILL wouldn’t work; the label refused to show up. No sample label, no printer options, no nothing. I was willing to take the financial hit of sending myself a fake package, if it would have WORKED! I’ve wasted three nights of my life trying to get this to work. I could’ve been doing something constructive, like cleaning, or doing laundry, or, I dunno, MAKING JEWELRY. But no – I was trying to complete what has turned out to be an impossible task.

Slightly daunted, I turned to other options: Endicia! I signed myself up for Dymo Stamps, and was prepared to do the pay-as-you-go option, even though it would mean my recipients could see how much it cost me to ship to them. What I didn’t realize until sometime later in the evening is that this bare-bones version of Dymo Stamps did not include Delivery Confirmation. PayPal internet postage does; Dymo Stamps, not so much. It WILL do it, if I’m willing to sign up for the $16/mo Standard Dymo Stamps Service for Mac. Mind you, for PC, it costs $10.

That bugs me terribly.

I’m sorry, but it can’t be $6 worth of harder to program for Mac. For that matter, there’s no reason why PayPal themselves couldn’t have come up with a Mac-friendly version of their internet postage. They don’t even have a version of the Dymo LabelWriter printer driver that’s still sold; the highest they go up to is Dymo LabelWriter 330!

Clearly, the best way to use my Dymo LabelWriter to print internet postage from PayPal, complete with Delivery Confirmation, is to get my craptastic Dell PC (free in 2006 with the purchase of my Ford Focus. Ironically, the computer, though seriously obsolete and miserably slow, has long outlasted the car that it came with) up and running again. Right now, all it does is provide my AirPort with functionality; I almost never actually turn it on. At a guess, the best way to get it going is to get an external hard drive, pull all the excess stuff off of there (music files, huge stashes of laboriously scanned photos from when I was trying to get a family photomosaic project off the ground (FAIL), etc.), uninstall programs I haven’t used in three years or more (since I got the laptop), and just make it a bare-bones machine that I use as my wifi server and printing station. With anything else on it, it’s incredibly slow; it’s barely worth booting it up to update my AirPort as it is.

So! Today I price external hard drives.

Y’know, I honestly thought that once I had the LabelWriter, the whole postage issue would be solved. The more fool, I. *headdesk*

I know it seems crazy to be obsessing about shipping before I’ve even sold anything, but I wanted to get all of this squared away before I got to that point.

…Not surprisingly, I have accomplished nothing regarding jewelry, other than having pretty pictures in my head that I’d like very much to get OUT of my head and made into jewelry. The next two to come down the pike should be called “Rainbow In the Dark,” and “Swingin’ On a Rainbow.” They’ll probably be pretty much the same thing except in different colors, but there may be a changeup in the pattern, if the mood strikes me.

The deed is done.

I’m a business. Officially. The government is aware of me, and prepared to tax me.

I’m currently filled with a strange combination of exhilaration and abject terror.

Poo just got real

I have a business address!

How cool is that?!

OK, so if anyone were to decide to visit my “office,” they’d end up in a UPS Store staring at a small metal door. It still looks nifty on a business card.

I know… because I just loaded it on to my already-prepared MOO.com business card template. Hee! Not going to print them up just yet; I’m going to wait until I have new and different photos to put on them, I think. The mini cards look great, and will serve their purpose for the time being.

As soon as I get confirmation from the UPS Sstore that the address is written the way I think it is (you’d think that would’ve been in some sort of literature they give you, but… not so much with that. Huh. I don’t even have a contract copy – just a receipt), I’m going to go ahead and sign up for my federal tax EIN, and we’ll be almost golden; just the county clerk’s office and their $52 fee to contend with (actually, it’s $50, with $2 for them to notarize it. I have a friend here at work who’s a notary, but it just seems like such a hassle, which I imagine is what they expect), and I’ll be a bona fide business, kids!

Be afraid, be very afraid. 😉

I’m ashamed to admit, I’ve taken a break from actual jewelry making the last two days due to time constraints; setting up the mailbox was an unexpectedly 2-day process (the clerk the first day couldn’t manage to complete the process, and ultimately, it seems he did most of it wrong by having me fill out forms by hand instead of him typing it into the computer himself), after which there were errands to be run. I now find myself with a file box (I’d have preferred a filing cabinet, but right now… a $13 file box is about where we’re at), hanging files, a nifty multi-purpose date stamp (http://www.staples.com/2000-PLUS-Self-Inking-Micro-Message-Dater-and-Phrase-Stamp/product_507842) to help keep me honest (print up an order, stamp a rec’d date on it. If a convo happens, stamp an e-mailed date on it. Shipped it, stamp a shipped date on it, etc. etc. ad nauseam), and… um… a blu-ray player. That last bit wasn’t planned. Monday, when I’d expected to be walking away with a mailbox key, I walked away empty-handed. I needed to run an errand at BJ’s, anyway, and while I was there, I went up and down the aisles (as I always do, so this wasn’t unusual), and found nothing of use in the office supply area. Then I walked through the electronics, and there it was… a $99, built-in wifi blu-ray player. I could not resist the allure; I’ve never seen one for less than $120 before. I’m beating myself up about the unnecessary expense, but man, is it a fun toy. I’ve only got one blu-ray disc (Harry Potter 1), but that’s what Netflix is for. Heh. Mind you – I haven’t spent a whole bunch of my “free” time watching movies; all I’ve been doing is setting everything up! Getting it hooked in to my wireless router, and then getting it connected to my YouTube, and Netflix, and whatever all else accounts, has been time consuming. The unexpected nifty aspect, however, is that I can now watch VHS tapes again; the blu-ray is hooked up via HDMI cable, so the regular hookup that was being used by my old DVD player is now free for use by VCR. And now I have a DVD player to go with my other TV that’s currently taking up space on my living room floor (I unexpectedly won a 32” HD TV at the office holiday party this winter), but will eventually end up in my office/craft room/basement (however that works out), once I, y’know, have one or more of those.

OK, I’ve also officially just signed up for Google Voice, which means I not only have a business address, I now have a business phone, too. I’ve even got a Flemington # (for the record, I, personally, don’t – I have a Piscataway number. I move regularly; the phone number does not). And when I get calls, they’ll go straight to my cell phone. Where I can choose to screen them, to answer them, to listen in while someone records a voice mail… all sorts of nifty stuff.

So. Freaking. Cool.

ROFL! I just tried leaving myself a message, but I was speaking really quietly because, well, I’m at work. The transcription that Google Voice came up with due to my mumbling was… interesting. Too funny. But it does indeed work, so that’s nice.

Wow.

Um… yeah.

Definitely freaking out a little. But, y’know… in a good way.

OK, I think I’m going to go sign up for my tax ID.

 

 

…All this, and I have to go to Albany over the weekend for Easter (more work time lost), and bake gluten-free cupcakes next Monday, for which I need pans and carrying lids. Also, ingredients. More money to spend, yippee….

*edit* Have hit a snag on the tax ID front; have a mentoring request in w/ SCORE to talk me through next years tax implications & what needs to happen. You’ll know more when I know more!

Taxes giveth, and taxes taketh away

The Federal tax refund has arrived! That means I can run out and get my business mailbox at the UPS store, and then I can sign up for a tax EIN, and register myself as a business with the county clerk, and then I’ll be a real boy!

Well, a real business, anyway.

Scary, scary.

And I should have enough left over to buy a kiln, once I’m inhabiting a space that will allow for kiln usage.

To that end, I was also pre-approved for an FHA mortgage, this weekend.

REALLY scary.

…I feel like such a grown-up. Heh.  

I also feel like I should really get an accountant; I’ll have to talk to a friend of mine about that. And I’m wondering who, among the real estate and insurance professionals I’ll be working with over the next few months, I should tell about my intentions to have a home-based business, and whether they need to be aware of the kiln.  

 

I made a bunch of rings when I got home from the bead show on Saturday, but neglected to take pictures. Most of them were my standard 3-stone wire ring, but I did make a couple with variations on that theme. Some were more successful than others. None of them came out as well as the usual pattern, but then, I’ve had an awful lot of practice with that pattern. I used some of that absolutely beautiful amethyst to make one of the usual pattern; I’m particularly proud of that one. I wish I’d used the sterling silver wire instead of the silver plate; that’s how good it looks. Ah, well – plenty more beads where that came from! And another bead show coming in July! 🙂

 I’ve almost completely filled this case:

Image

(those aren’t my rings; that’s the picture from the website where I bought the case, years ago)

The intention is to sell each and every one of them (or at least, to use them as a photographic reference and say that each can be made to order in a different size, with the exception of a few of the epoxy clay rings; for some reason, the supplier only seems to carry those in size 6.5, 7.5 and 8). There is a preponderance of size 8’s, because I wear size 8 and it’s just the default that I make a ring in.

I know that rings aren’t going to be the thing that draws people to my Etsy shop; they’re just unbelievably easy to make (except when they’re not; sometimes the wire gets stubborn), so when I just feel like making something, anything, I make rings. Lots of other people on Etsy are doing the exact same thing, though, so I’m not going to fool myself into thinking they’re going to be a big money-maker.

Just got an e-mail back from the UPS store, saying that prices have gone up since we discussed pricing this past “winter,” but they’re going to be kind enough to give me the pricing quoted back in November. Sweet! Because I’m not happy about a $215/yr price as it is. I mean, it’s not unreasonable by any means; for $17 a month, I finally have the security of having packages of beads and wire and precious or semi-precious metals (and, in future, semi-precious stones, once I have a kiln and can fire them!) delivered to a secure location, rather than sitting on my SHARED front porch. I get to put a business address on my cards and shipping documentation, and not have the universe know where I live. And unlike a P.O. Box, FedEx will deliver there. So… yippee! But the reason it’s taken so long to accomplish is that $215 is just not a small number. While I will happily spend $40, $50, even $100 on something like beads, tools or a label printer… $215 is serious cash to be spending all at once. I kind of needed it to be found money, that wasn’t already earmarked for things like food, bills, or rent. Which… hey! Found money! 🙂

 

Next steps:

  • Get mailbox (today! *squee!*).
  • Get Federal Tax EIN (perhaps tonight; if not, then tomorrow).
  • Register as a business with the county clerk’s office (has to be done during business hours 8 – 4:30 on a weekday, so… this Friday or Monday would be good, since I plan to be off. If my boss approves Friday, anyway. Monday, I’ve already got).
  • Get a business bank account. (this is not, strictly speaking, absolutely necessary, but it seems like a really good idea. If nothing else, it should allow me to keep better track of cash from my theoretical incoming sales. If it goes right back into my regular account, I’ll just, y’know, spend it. That’s no fun; no sense of accomplishment, and I don’t know how much I can reinvest in the business. Planning to do it at Affinity Federal Credit Union)
  • Choose a solid pricing formula. Thinking about using $18/hour-labor plus 1x materials plus 50% for wholesale, * 1.7 for retail.
  • Start photographing and posting the rings that are already ready on the Etsy site (might as well get something on there!).
  • Make jewelry (duh).
  • Make even more jewelry.
  • Make that gothy epoxy clay rose pendant we sketched out the other day.
  • Play with Art Clay Copper.
  • Once the niobium headpins come, it’s earrings, earrings, earrings – need to start making salable pairs of the 2 patterns I’m currently working with, in a variety of colors. Also need to start working up new patterns.
  • Make more rose studs. WEAR GLOVES. And use a fan, and/or open a window.

I think I’ve got enough on my plate… don’t you? 😉

Oh, and I also have to inform the real estate agent that I’ve been pre-approved, and start working on THAT issue. My lease isn’t up until September, but the impression these folks keep giving me is that the time to start is now. I guess, since closings can go horrifically wrong, that makes sense. But when I told the agent that I’d been pre-approved, they said not to start actually looking until June; why didn’t I wait another month to get pre-approved, then?! Gah!

OK, not going to worry about that right now. Happily living in the land of not dealing. Going to concentrate on jewelry, and hope for the best.

Happy Monday, all.