Monday, March 23, 2015

NeoWorx Seems To Think They Own My Blog

I don't know what's going on but all of my content on Google now seems to re-direct to Neoworx with a "for sale" sign on the right-hand corner. No, my blog is not for sale. Not at any price!

Needless to say, I am furious, as there is content in here that people need regarding the life-saving Canine Distemper treatment my dog, Carmella had.

I have written Neoworx to tell them they need to remove the re-direct, and am looking into how to contact and report this to Google and Blogger.

This is the worst time for this to be happening, as my health is not doing well, and I had planned to write some things about that in this blog. I don't know whether anyone will see if since everything's being re-directed.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Artisan Watercolor Paper Swatches for Scrapbooking

Pick a card; any card! Tired of the same old cookie cutter mass-produced die cuts and patterns commonly sold for scrapbooking and card-making? These fun rectangular artisan watercolor swatches are bright and colorful, featuring lively abstract designs. No two are exactly alike, and you will never be bored! 

Punch holes in them and use them as tags, punch them with dies and paper punches, or cut them with scissors in your own creative shapes.

I am phasing in a variety of unique parts made from watercolor paper in an array of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns for the papercraft artist looking for something truly one of a kind to use in one's work!

See these and other unique and hard to find supplies for the discriminating artist/crafter available in my Etsy shop

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's New At Giftbearer Jewelry and GiftbearerSupply


Happy Easter to all my customers (and soon to be)! today only enter coupon code HOLIDAYUSFREESHIP with your purchase of  $18.00 or more and get free shipping anywhere within the USA! 

While this deal lasts there's no limit on the number of items you can apply it to. Just check out and pay by midnight EST. You do not have to have a Paypal account to pay through paypal with a debit or credit card.

Take this rare opportunity to buy and save for everybody on your gift list for Mother's Day, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and other gift-giving occasions.

The above pictured black shark's tooth earrings are my newest; wire-wrapped with 14 Kt. gold wire, and dangle from vermeil chain and ear wires. They have a very black tie look to them while maintaining a distinctly tribal style.

In my supply shop new things are happening as well! Papercraft supplies have been growing in demand on Etsy, so I decided to purchase some die cutting tools and equipment to fill this need.  I'm gradually phasing in some of these paper cut outs;








In addition to these, I've also started adding some iron and anodized aluminum chain in bright colors. Here are a few of the colors I have in stock now;





And last but not least; I experimented with my unique version of rock candy. These took me way to long to feasibly make a profit on, so I'm keeping them for myself, but it was interesting to see what I could do with them;
 Hand-carved sticks in cups of sugar saturated liquid (one row of green and another of yellow). The best formula I could find online said to use about 3 cups of sugar to one cup of water, boiled until thickened. I used up a whole bag of sugar, but overall it was worth it.
 24 hours later some stray crystals began forming in the cups. I pulled them out and let them dry on a plate while more crystals started to attach themselves to the sticks.
 The sticks gathered a thin layer of crystals within the first 24 hours.
This is what I got after about 2 weeks! They are finally big enough to eat. I thought it was interesting that the lighter yellow one had bigger and more cubic crystals growing on it whereas the brighter yellow one had finer and more needle-like crystals. This seemed to have something to do with how concentrated the sugar solution was. Because so many crystals filled up the cups quite rapidly I had to fish out those that were attaching to the cups themselves so as not to get the sticks stuck in a mire of rock hard rock candy and reheat and pour the liquid back into the cups to get the crystals to grow on the sticks! Since the evaporation of the water in the solution resulted in less to cover the sticks each time crystals grew on the sides of the cups I had to add water before melting the hardened sugar back down. This is most likely why I got different results from one stick to another.

I don't have it down to a science yet but it was a fun project. The green ones are not growing near as fast as the yellow, but I have one or two that will look like one of these in a few more days. 

I did find that the remaining solution could be used for more sticks after I remove others, so I am staggering them as long as I have enough usable solution to produce more lollipops.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Win A Rainstick Necklace From Giftbearer!

The old adage "Time Is Money" is often true, and if you've ever wanted a Rainstick Necklace but just couldn't come up with the $265.00 in cash or credit to make the purchase here is your chance to obtain one just by putting in some time and ingenuity!

If you pride yourself on your marketing prowess or would just like to challenge yourself and give this a shot then here is how;

Rules For Rainstick Necklace Giveaway

1) Participants (referrers) must first PM me their full name and email address via either Youtube or Etsy.

2) Send buyers to Giftbearer.etsy.com Instruct them to include your full name in buyer's note upon checkout to let me know you were the one who referred them. (I'll be keeping a tally of how much money each referrer brings me).

3) The goal is $2,000. Once this promotion brings in or exceeds $2,000, the one who has brought in the highest total dollar amount through their referrals will win their choice of Rainstick Necklace from those available at that time in my Etsy store. I'll then do another Youtube video and blog post at artlifenewsblog.blogspot.com announcing the winner.

4) To be eligible to win you must be subscribed to my Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/IAMGiftbearer . Make sure your email settings are set to receive all updates so you won't miss it!

5) Winner will be emailed and must provide a reliable mailing address and make selection of chosen Rainstick Necklace from my Etsy shop within 7 days to receive prize.

6) In the event the winner doesn't complete the process required, on the 8th day the next highest dollar amount referrer will be emailed of winning and will have 7 days to do the same.

7) Contest open to US and Canada residents only.

Watch the video here ---> 

To purchase jewelry go to:

Music: "Rattlesnake"
by Greg Reiter



Friday, September 20, 2013

An Untapped Opportunity Comes Through Pinterest


I opened up my email this morning and found this letter from Pinterest.

Just over a year ago, my wife and I welcomed our son into the world. Since his first day, I've been pinning fun things we can do together, right now while he’s still little and later when he gets older. I know many of you do the same. Pinterest is where you keep your wishlists, vacation plans, dream home ideas, and other things you want to do soon and in the future. 

That's why for us, it's so important that Pinterest is a service that will be here to stay. To help make sure it does, we're going to start experimenting with promoting certain pins from a select group of businesses. 

I know some of you may be thinking, "Oh great...here come the banner ads.” But we’re determined to not let that happen. While we haven't figured out all the details, I can say that promoted pins will be: 

* Tasteful—No flashy banners or pop-up ads. 
* Transparent—We’ll always let you know if someone paid for what you see, or where you see it. 
* Relevant—These pins should be about stuff you're actually interested in, like a delicious recipe, or a jacket that's your style. 
* Improved based on your feedback—Keep letting us know what you think, and we'll keep working to make things better. 

For our first test, we'll promote a few pins in search results and category feeds. For example, a pin for a Darth Vader outfit from a costume shop might be promoted in a search for “halloween.” Nobody's paying for anything yet—we want to see how things go and, more than anything, hear what you think. 

Thanks so much for all your support these first few years, and we hope you'll keep pinning with us for many years to come! 


All the best, 
Ben 


It occurred to me that this could be a wonderful opportunity to give businesses that create handmade items a fighting chance to compete with the big box stores, if implemented so that these promotions favor such businesses. Those who hold the cards in social media sites can make a difference if they believe in handmade and in giving artists and crafters a leg up, and keeping handmade alive and thriving in the larger pond of entrepreneurship. Since many handmade businesses utilize various forms of social media as guerilla marketing on a daily basis, they/we provide a constant stream of material to keep these systems pumping. I figured I'd put my advocacy background to good use and write in to ask that Pinterest consider my proposition. Below is my letter;

Hi Ben,
I like this idea but have one request. Could you prioritize small businesses like mine who are sole proprietorships making handcrafted items? As the economy has gotten tougher those of us in this category have really had to be up around the clock many nights to compete with the big box stores, yet we don’t have near the advertising budget that the big box stores have. I see a lot of commercial mass produced brands also being pinned and often it feels as if I am John Henry competing against the machine.
If you would do this it would go a long way towards leveling the playing field for us “little guys” who make things one by one with our own two hands.
Please write and let me know what you think and if you can make these small handmade businesses a priority in this effort.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
Pippit Carlington

If you have a small business producing handmade items, if you have an Etsy or similar online shop, you spend long hours promoting your brand, or you feel that this would help your business and/or that of someone you care about I encourage you to write Ben at Pinterest too and let him know you'd like such businesses to be the focus in this new marketing experiment. At least for the time being it's free and could have great potential to put many artists and crafters struggling to get a solid foothold on the map!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let's Put A Stop To Gun Violence Now!


The recent events in Washington DC's naval base have brought into clear focus that the problem of gun violence has not gotten any better over time. One by one as each of the massacres in recent years took place and grabbed the media spotlight they each fizzled when it came down to Congress adjusting laws which would better protect American citizens from such events.

I have not personally experienced gun violence but increasingly find myself feeling uneasy and a little more unsafe as each of these shootings happens.

As I watch the news over the past few days the overall sense of defeatism makes it impossible for me to remain silent any longer. The burning question that comes to mind is "Where is the outrage surrounding this issue? Where are the protests in the Streets?" We have recently seen people get up and organize around the country after the death of Trayvon Martin, a growing presence of activism to increase the minimum wage and to allow unions into large companies like McDonald's and Walmart, but why is it that despite the fact that polls have shown that the majority of citizens agree that new protections need to be instituted surrounding guns, that we are not seeing the kind of energy in the streets to insist that happens?

If Red State Legislators don't want to provide the necessary votes we have to make them with our voices and wear them down until they have no other choice. Those of us who believe something needs to be done about this problem must "be bold" as former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords would say, and just refuse to give up until we get this accomplished!

So today I went to Gabby Giffords' Americans for Responsible Solutions organization and signed onto her pledge and sent my message to Congress to ask that they take the bull by the horns this time and get it done, come hell or high water! This is just one of many small things you as an individual can do. After all you live here too! Why should your voice not be counted?

I thought as an example I'd post the letter here that I sent to Congress through the site;


Dear Congressmen/Congresswomen,

I need you to do the right thing now and pass reasonable safety protections to prevent gun violence as much as is possible.

After yet another rash of recent shootings, this time in DC, there is no reason to hold this up or put it off any longer. Too many people have been irreversibly injured and killed because a minority of people selfishly want to have no restrictions or regulations on their guns.  Although I have not directly experienced such atrocities (yet),  I pray that we can get this fixed so that  neither myself nor people I love ever become a victim of such violence, allowed to spiral out of control.

Sometimes as a member of Congress you have to do what's right even if it's not what's fun, just like you may not  let your 8 year old have a motorcycle and drive it on the expressway even though he might want one.

This problem has been allowed to go too far.

We need background checks now! Not in a few years, not in a few decades! Now!

We need a way to keep track of where legal guns go when they are transferred from one owner to another. We needed this yesterday!

We need to set some limits on what types/quantities of guns and ammo are allowed for civilian use. Even though it might take time to hash out it should have been started a long time ago and that should be well on its way to a viable solution now!

Our country can no longer afford to divert attention away from this central matter concerning these deadly weapons with side-chatter about "video games", "mental health", "evil", or "nanny-state government".

No gun owner who is honest and law abiding has anything to fear of these protections being put into place.

It is a problem that any American is willing to tolerate these violent incidents and become desensitized to them.

It's very simple; safety first! There are wants (guns), and there are needs (life and self-preservation). As adults we have to do the responsible thing and put the needs of members of our society before its wants.

Gabrielle Giffords, one of your own made the ultimate sacrifice when she became a victim of gun violence, and will be sacrificing probably for the rest of her life. This issue chose her, insisting that she address it whether she wanted to or not. If she can do it, so can each of you.

Please start this process now.

Sincerely,

Pippit Carlington

If you're wondering what this has to do with you as an artist or entrepreneur; it's that the old adage is so true that "The Personal is Political, and the Political is Personal". Often we don't realize the effect we have on those around us and others' effects on us.

As artists we are in a special position to make the world better than we found it and we can be an active participant in shaping our lives and improving the lives of others. Even if you don't have money to contribute to various causes and can't get out that often each one of us can make a difference in this world we live in through letter-writing, phone calls, through social media, through blogging, and via other avenues we already use in the function of our daily lives and routines.

I found this video that features a beautiful song Overcomer  with a beautiful message.With all the heavy issues facing our nation today, and whatever you're going through as an individual, just keep your eyes on the prize. Once you realize that 9/10ths of the way things are was man-made you come to know that almost anything is possible.

You can keep up with Gabby Giffords in these places as well;
Imstagram: @GabbyGiffords
Twitter: @GabbyGiffords and @ShuttleCDRKelly
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Americansforresponsiblesolutions

You can also contact the organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns comprised of over 1,000 mayors around the country from 46 states who support common sense gun legislation. They had a demonstration here in Atlanta not too long ago. I was not able to get there on that day but I hope to be able to attend another one if they do it again.



Friday, May 24, 2013

Branding Your Art Based Business By Giftbearer; Contemporary Tribal Style Jewelry

Somebody recently asked me for some tips on branding and it got me thinking about just how to put into words how I've gone about branding my jewelry business. It is something that comes naturally to me so I thought it would be helpful to others to elaborate on what exactly it entails.

You Are Your Business;
For those of us who are sole proprietors and especially true of artists, we are our business. What this means is that your business reflects who you are; your colors, your values, interests, and most of all your style. In order to sell your products you need to attract like-minded customers who appreciate what you have to offer enough to pay you for it.

Set a Mood; Create an Ambiance Around Your Business;
When I started my business I knew that I wanted it to reflect a tribal feel yet not primitive and not too traditional. I created several taglines which a use interchangeably to get customers to remember my unique brand.  "Contemporary Tribal", "Anything but Primitive", Tribal is Beautiful...And it Just Keeps Getting Better, and "High-end Indigenous Jewelry", are all short phrases that describe in a nutshell what customers are buying when they purchase my work.

Use Fonts, Shapes and Colors in Your Work and in Your Pictures Reflecting Your Target Market;
Since I had decided to go with the tribal theme which reflects my roots I kept that in mind when choosing the font for my Etsy banner, business cards, and other promotional material.

I use traditional tribal symbols in my work such as the triangle/arrow shaped earrings you see above "Sacred Spearheads" , but give my pieces a posh look that will appeal to people who like fine jewelry.

When people think of the concept "Tribal" they usually think of opaque materials such as Turquoise, Coral, bone, horn, and in some cases, Spiny Oyster and Abalone shell, and I do use those in my jewelry, but I also use like colors in other materials such as the Apatite in the earrings shown above. Using Turquoise would have been too predictable, and it wouldn't have achieved such a pristine look as it has with Apatite.

The rich reddish brown, cream, and Turquoise in this stuffed necklace and the patterns on it are distinctly tribal as is the shape. The first pictures I took didn't quite hit the mark, so I re-photographed it on this deer hide with the fur still on.
In keeping with my tribal theme I take most of my photos outside in natural light whenever possible, often with a natural backdrop, although I take a number of my product photos on a white foamcore board such as this necklace.

Depending on the piece, some look better on white and other on a natural background such as this one;

I often photograph my jewelry to make it look like a living thing in its natural habitat. The Peridot cabochon in this ring seems to be camouflaged tucked in the crook of this plant's branch. I believe that everything has a soul, and jewelry is no exception.

Imagine what habitat your products would live in . If your style is steampunk you could photograph your items among some pipes, tools, nails, or even in a construction site or on some corrugated metal sheet.

If your style is Zen then use a very minimalist background. You may want to use props that mimic your design. I have often photographed leaf or vine jewelry among leaves, logs, sticks or branches.

I've seen some artists photograph or display their items at shows on a bed of dried rice, lentils, or peas.

Videos and Slideshows;
If you have a video camera or even just a still picture camera you can bolster your branding by creating videos or slideshows about your items. This provides a wonderful opportunity to get your brand out there and to reach people in a much more emotional and visceral way than words alone ever could. There are sites where you can find music that is offered for free use. In some cases you may have to pay to use it for commercial purposes, but many of the musicians let you use it for free just as long as you give them credit. Your video provides both you and the music artist promotion and can be beneficial to both of you.

Here is one I recently made with Windows Movie Maker, a free program that came with my computer. I decided to group my jewelry into several different slideshow videos. This one features some of my Sterling and Fine Silver jewelry. I chose some drum music to add dramatic effect. I was unable to add it to my blog from Youtube because there was a strange still photo of some other necklace that is not mine in its place but later found that I also had the option to upload it directly from my computer and that worked. When I had uploaded this video to Youtube there was a problem sending out notifications to my subscribers or sharing on social media via the buttons they provide, but I've reported it and have been just copying and pasting the URL when I want to share it on social media sites or using the other share buttons in my browser.

video
Youtube is great when it works, but you should be sure to always keep copies of your videos just in case you run into some of these problems.

Once you've set the scene for your products so that everything is targeted to the market you want to attract, then all you have to do is get out there and promote, promote, promote! You'll know your reaching your target customer when sales start to increase. This isn't always linear. There may be stops and starts, but you will find that gradually things will become steadier over time. When you promote, also try to think about places where your customer would frequent. Post links if those sites will let you, talk about what you do in forums, and in those places that won't let you promote directly choose an avatar that reflects what you do, and if possible put a link to your shop in your signature line.

It has really only been the past year or so that I've been finding the search term Giftbearer in my Etsy stats. That tells me that my branding is working!

If people remember the name of your business then that means your branding is having the desired effect!