Nov 122014

We recently updated an album on our Facebook Page – (the Network Retreat album) to show a broad look at retreat over the years. In response to a photo taken a few years ago, someone said: “and look where we are now……….”

What a great statement!!!  And what great advice.

Don’t forget your beginnings.

It can be easy to look around and get discouraged – we wish we were further along, we compare ourselves to others.

Stop that! (right now!) 


The only person you have to compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday.

Same in your business – don’t compare your work to anyone else’s.

Your journey is just that YOUR journey – and don’t forget how far you’ve already come !

Take a look back at some of your older work, where you were, and look at the progression. Figure out where you want to go and then set yourself in that direction. 

Think about the hard work you’ve put in to get where you are now. And know what it takes to get to the top of your game. I love a good analogy, and stick with me here – I think our journey can be like mountain climbing. 

Put your head down and KEEP CLIMBING


Standing at the bottom of the mountain it can look insurmountable. But with the right tools – and perseverance – you CAN do it.  One foot in front of the other, sometimes the progress is slow, and sometimes you have to traverse rather than go for a direct upward climb.  

And sometimes it is necessary to stop every so often, take a breather — and LOOK BACK. See how far you’ve already come???  Don’t get discouraged by how far you still have to go – use the distance you’ve traveled encourage you and fuel you on.

It can be easy to forget the distance traveled. . . . but that’s YOUR hard work – don’t forget it! 

When you catch your breathe, when you’re recharged – it’s time to look forward again – and get back to work. Survey the landscape ahead of you, chart your course – know where your next steps will fall – and then keep climbing.

Tune out what distracts – the fatigue in your legs (late nights in the studio anyone?), the pain in your lungs (the haters trying to bring you down), the lovely clearing full of flowers (social media distractions?) If you want to keep moving you need to choose what you ‘carry’ — don’t slow yourself down – don’t needlessly frustrate yourself. . . . . there is a time to take that breather, but don’t lose your focus, don’t forget your objective.

Put your head down and keep climbing.

It’s hard work but so worth it. When you reach the summit you will feel amazing.

AND, each summit victory allows you to see new peaks (new goals) – new opportunities.

And then you know what to do – you’ve done it once already.

just keep climbing, just keep climbing, just keep climbing……………

Nov 032014

We want to hear from you! This website exists as a resource – Help us grow with YOU in mind.  Please take a few moments to answer the following very brief survey questions.



Pricing your work

 Tips & Tricks  Comments Off on Pricing your work
Oct 022014


Pricing is a struggle for so many artists.

Am I charging enough? Am I covering my costs? How do I set wholesale prices?

There are tons of different ways to calculate prices. And lots of debate over which one is ‘best’.

We’ve spoken to hundreds of jewelers – professional, hobby, retail locations, studio jewelers, etc – and have discovered there is a lot we may be missing when calculating our costs and pricing.

Are you 100% confident you are covering ALL of your costs?

We’ve discovered that many artists THINK they are, but in reality – they are not. And a business that doesn’t cover costs is not sustainable.

Besides the ‘obvious’  – materials costs and your time/wage – what else should be included?

What about overhead? How do you determine that?

Are you accounting for all of the ‘consumables’ that you use ? (What ARE consumables anyway??)

What about marketing, business supplies….?

Let’s face it, you use a LOT of items to bring a piece from design idea to handing it over to a client.

We’ve got several posts coming out that will walk you through some of this – but the best thing we’ve done is created a workbook to help you document and calculate your overhead, set your prices, and track your inventory.

After reviewing all of the information from various artists and galleries, we’ve selected 4 formulas that lend well to wholesale and retail pricing which will alleviate any guesswork and help to ensure integrity in your pricing structure and make certain that your business is profitable and sustainable. This is a comprehensive workbook based on methods that have been proven successful by numerous jewelers.

One free edit is included with each purchase so if you need a line item that isn’t there or have some other change that you need assistance with – we’ll help you out with that.

Offered at an introductory price on Etsy for a short time.


And stay tuned for the rest of our pricing series!

 Posted by at 12:39 pm
Jul 032014

I don’t get a lot of bench time at this point in my life due to many factors and so it can be frustrating sometimes when I DO get bench time and then am ‘stuck’ – not knowing what to make, feeling sort of uninspired.

Sometimes after a hiatus I tear right into a good project, but other times I just don’t know WHAT to get into but I have the urge to do something, MAKE something…HAMMER something….ya know?

The other day I had some time and it was one of those frustrating sit-at-the-bench-and-stare-at-stuff moments. (this felt like a slap in the face) I  just could not determine what to make (being out of a lot of metal didn’t help). Finally my eyes landed on one of my scrap boxes.

OK, I will melt metal.



And that’s as far as my thinking went. But at least I was moving. DOing.  (this felt better)

I took down my crucible, added a small pile of scrap sterling.

And put a big flame to it.


MOLTEN METAL. (hello my lovely, where have you been lately?)


I had no idea WHERE I was going – I just knew I was ‘creating’ – I was changing something from one ‘state’ to another.(and I could feel myself opening up)

I had no plan for the lumps, they just WERE.

But I liked it. (a lot!) (sandlot reference anyone??)

007So I melted a few more. (seriously, it was like rabbits multiplying)


Then I decided to hammer one (or two) I flattened it some then took it to the mill.

Ran it through and through.

It was kind of zen-like watching it go in one side and out the other  – streeeeetching.

Not to mention the physicality of it.

Cranking the mill – pushing and pulling – feeling my muscles stretch right along with the metal.

Still no idea where this was going, and not caring.

No expectations, no right or wrong – good or bad. Just DOING.

I’m in my element, studio, tools, fire, metal, music. I like that. 🙂

Life is good.


I now had a growing little crop of surf boards. 🙂


But I immediately was seeing them in halves.

So I measured, marked and cut.


Now we’re seeing one of my favorite shapes. (I have no idea why this may be a favorite shape, I just know I like it. I’m drawn to it. Don’t question it.)

It speaks to me.

And I to it.


“earrings” I say. (and really, what choice do they have at this point but to say, yea, ok)


And I finish up with 3 pairs of earrings.

And they aren’t anything special.

And yet – I adore them. They are fabulous for every day.

They are COMPLETELY wearable.

They have a scrumptious texture, an earthy weathered feel to them.

Like old souls.

So it becomes my secret (and yours) that they are fully new and totally born on the fly. 🙂


And I have some remaining bunnies waiting for their turn to become.

This post is to really just to say – you don’t always have to make something complex. (maybe you don’t even have to have a finished ‘product’).

You don’t always have to plan for big things…..or over think it.

Sometimes it’s just good to sit with yourself and your space and perform the simplest of tasks – melt, hammer, roll, cut, file, sand, drill. 10456053_10204429092546763_5099067443778682039_n Relax into the making.

It doesn’t have to be grand to be good.

It just has to FEEL right.

Some days good is GREAT.  🙂

May 272014
I ran across this cool little item a while back and put it on my Amazon wishlist. When I needed to order a few things the other day, I popped this little cutey into my cart. 🙂
I love a tool that does double duty and this little Xyron sticker maker has such potential, it was a great score at just 8 bucks !
This cool little tool takes your item – a drawing, cut out, picture, and turns it into a sticker. You feed it in one end….


Pull it out the other end


 Lift to tear it off on the serrated edge
 Then rub to ‘set’ the glue


 Cut and peel off the top plastic




And you are left with a STICKER!



Peel off the sticker whenever you’re ready to use it



And they stick pretty good!




you can’t go wider than the opening, but you can go smaller



Hello little cutie-pie!



 And you can go lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnger.


Now, these examples aren’t exciting.

Not at all.

But think of what you can do – appreciation stickers in the packages you send your customers, logo stickers, food labels, stickers for your kids, stickers OF your kids — or their drawings for Grandma !

Annnnnd, dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnn – in your studio – use them as piercing guides – any design !

Create the sticker, attach to your metal, and pierce away!

I am sure I will come up with other uses too…..what about you – what can you think of???

 Posted by at 1:46 pm

Backs, catches, closures, pin stems

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Backs, catches, closures, pin stems
Feb 012014

Websites, online shops, blogs, pinterest – we all love looking at the eye candy that can be found online.  So often I wish I could pick up a piece and turn it over to examine the back – especially on  a brooch or pin. Right?!? What kind of catch was made? What is the pinstem made from, how is it all attached? Is there anything additional decorative on the back?

Well, there is less than a month before the new book by Lorena Angelo is released.

book description:
“The focus of this book is on the side of the brooch that usually isn’t noticed: the reverse. When we encounter an attractive piece of jewelry, our instinct is to admire the front, but when we turn it around, it often reveals a secret. The author lets us in on that secret, typically only shared between the maker and the wearer. Clever brooch makers often adorn the back with items meant to complement the front, or the backside may have a unique, intricate design all its own…….”

I ordered my copy way back in October and can’t wait for it to be delivered!

You can pre-order now through Amazon: Behind the Brooch: A Closer Look at Backs, Catches, and Pin Stems