Team Sale: Hunt for One’s Desire

written by Meri Greenleaf of http://merigreenleaf.etsy.com 

Hunt for One’s Desire

The etsyBEAD street team will be having a Valentine Themed Scavenger Hunt on February 3rd, 4th, and 5th! There will a different scavenger hunt held each day and players will be required to find specific Valentine’s themed images hidden within participating etsyBEAD shops. Watch out, though! Some shops will have decoy images which will not count. The first hunter to find all the correct images for each day will be awarded a Valentine prize pack.

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Hunters who would like to participate in the event:

Anyone is eligible to take part in the hunt, as long as they are not a member of etsyBEAD. On each morning of the hunt, the image of the day will be linked to in the Etsy promotional thread (and possibly on the blog, as well) so that you will know what to look for, and you will be given a list of shops to search in that day. The image will be in a random 10 shops from the list (and the shops will change each day) and the image will be somewhere in one of the listings on the front page of each shop. The images also switch each day, so the previous day’s image won’t count!

When you think you’ve found all 10 images, email Meri at merigreenleaf@gmail.com with a list of each listing the images are in (just copy the address and paste it into an email). The first person to get all the correct listings will win that day’s prize pack!

The event will start at 10am Eastern (Etsy time) and run until 11pm. Winners will be announced the next day.

If you have any questions, convo the event leaders MeriGreenleaf and Mamadivine on Etsy.

Members of etsyBEAD:

Please see the members only blog at http://ebmo.blogspot.com to find out which day and image you will be hosting, as well as information on the event. If you have any questions, please email or convo Meri.

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Tips: Photography Tips, Part 2 – The Macro Setting

Written by Brandi of Catie’s Blue

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Since I started selling online, the importance of great product photographs has been hammered into my brain. With jewelry, it is your selling point. People can’t pick up the piece and hold it the way they can at a craft show, so the photo will determine if someone clicks to view your listing or just leaves your shop.

Good photos have become an obsession of mine, so I figured I’d share what I know so far. Please note, I’m not saying that my photos are the best ever nor am I a professional photographer (I’m not); but I do work hard to make them the best they can be. In doing so, there are four major things I think about when it comes time to start snapping away – lighting, macro setting, staging, and editing.

This is Part 2 of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading. Missed Part 1: Lighting? Click here to view it.

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II. Macro Setting

The macro setting is the “close-up” setting on your camera, and if you’re photographing small items, like jewelry, it’s really the setting you want to use. I never use anything but macro when I’m photographing my jewelry pieces.

Macro allows you to get extremely close to a piece to pick up the fine details that may be lost on a wider shot. You have to be generally within 2 feet of the item, and you probably want to get even closer. Macro has a narrow depth of field, or a very short range of focus. What this means for your photos is that anything in the background and anything in the immediate foreground will be out of focus or fuzzy, which is kind of nice for an artsy shot if that’s the style you’re going for.

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For an example, look at the photo above. Notice how the bottom third and top third of the photo is fuzzy? How only the middle third is actually clearly in focus? That’s what I’m talking about. If you use a smoother surface with no discernable pattern, like a stone table top or a smooth piece of paper, you may not see the fuzziness as well.

100_4211acc-copy.jpgWhen taking photos, press the shutter button down halfway – on most digital cameras, this will cause the lens to focus and a box or brackets will show up on your screen. Whatever is in that box or those brackets will be what the camera is focused on first. Here’s a digital recreation of what you might see on your screen.

By playing with the angle of you in relationship to your piece, i.e. stand up, sit down, hover over it, etc., you can play with what’s in focus and what’s not. If you want to get one particular part of your piece in focus, do your best to have that piece be in the center of your screen, then press the button down halfway to double check. If it is, go ahead and press the button down all the way just like normal.

As for me, I get right up to my piece, leaving only a few inches of space between my camera lens and the piece itself. I go as close as I can without losing focus, so you may have to move around till you find that threshold. Additionally, I try not to use my zoom if I can help it. Digital cameras now come with two kinds of zoom, optical and digital. Optical is what the actual lens in your camera can do – mine has a 10x optical zoom, meaning the lens itself can zoom in up to ten times. When it reaches that maximum, that’s when the digital zoom kicks in.

Digital zoom is when the little computer chip in your camera takes over. It’s not actually zooming in any closer; rather, it’s blowing up the image, which can distort it by making it fuzzy, and completely defeats the purpose of a close-up. Think of it this way: a digital image is comprised of thousands of little pixels. The digital zoom enlarges those pixels, but it’s not adding any new information. So, at some point, you’ll begin to see the blank bits in between those pixels; hence, your photo will be fuzzy.

541531299_bg-mini-2.jpgIt doesn’t really matter what style of camera you have, or what brand it is. Most digital cameras now come with at least a few options, one of which is the macro setting. Take a moment to look at your camera. Macro is usually denoted by a little flower, so just switch to that setting, and stay there. If in doubt, pull out your camera’s manual and look at the diagram written there to find it.

Article: The Beauty of Brass

Lorelei Eurto recently joined etsyBEAD this past fall, but she has had Lorelei1141.etsy.com for almost a year. She mostly works with semi-precious gemstones, glass, and metal beads. She also uses a lot of brass, and brass chain in her pieces. This article is about how she found value and beauty in the metal.

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lorelei-brass.jpgI started using brass in my jewelry when I saw an ad in Stringing Magazine for Vintaj Brass Company. I was immediately attracted to the intricate details, the “vintage” feeling that the finished pieces of jewelry portrayed, and mostly the chocolate brown color that seemed to go with any color bead. There are many variations of color in brass. Brass can have a bright gold-like appearance, and adding a patina process to give it the brown, aged color can also age it.

Another attractive point to using brass is the fact that it’s much more affordable than silver and gold.  Brass adds a “modern” twist to vintage jewelry. By pairing the brass with crystals, you get a dressier piece of jewelry. You also can add a little asymmetry to it, and it has a more modern, and casual feel.

I very rarely make brass jewelry that doesn’t contain some sort of glass, or gemstone, mostly because it helps to add color and visual interest.

Lorelei Eurto

Tips: Photography Tips, Part 1 – Lighting

Written by Brandi of Catie’s Blue 

•••••••

Since I started selling online, the importance of great product photographs has been hammered into my brain. With jewelry, it is your selling point. People can’t pick up the piece and hold it the way they can at a craft show, so the photo will determine if someone clicks to view your listing or just leaves your shop.

Good photos have become an obsession of mine, so I figured I’d share what I know so far. Please note, I’m not saying that my photos are the best ever nor am I a professional photographer (I’m not); but I do work hard to make them the best they can be. In doing so, there are four major things I think about when it comes time to start snapping away – lighting, macro setting, staging, and editing.

This is Part 1 of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading.

•••••••

I. Lighting

100_4186cc-copy.jpgLighting is important for obvious reasons. Without light, we can’t see colors. But when taking digital photos, lighting is critical to getting a good picture. Here’s why: A camera lens is not as sensitive as a human eye. Where a human eye can differentiate between millions of shades and tones and colors, that number becomes dramatically smaller for a camera. Where we see hundreds of shades of gray, the camera may see a dozen. And areas that we think are well lit appear dark once viewed on a computer screen. A camera needs the help of even external lights to see things properly; don’t rely on the flash.

There are two ways of taking pictures at home: natural light and mini studio light boxes. Both have die-hard fans that swear by them. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

100_4187abcc-copy.jpgI’ve found that with natural light, the colors of the piece I’m photographing come as true to life as possible, so that’s what I use. I’ll go outside and set up on my patio table. However, I have to depend solely on the weather when it comes time to take a picture. And when the seasons change, that perfect time of day when the light is exactly right changes constantly, so it’s a (fun and not so fun) guessing game.

Natural light isn’t always an option for everyone. For some, it’s the changing seasons that prevents year-round outside photography. For others, it may be a full-time job that keeps them busy during key daylight hours. lightbox2-copy.jpgOr, maybe you don’t have big windows that let in a lot of natural light. If this is the case for you, consider a light box (a.k.a portable light studio, portable light tent, tabletop studio). When using a light box, you never have to worry about the weather. You can take photos at night after the kids are in bed. You can set up anywhere, including the garage or the kitchen table. You are in complete control and, assuming you have the space to do so, you can set up your light box the way you like it once and leave it till you need to take pictures again.

Ultimately, you need to decide what works best for you. For jewelry, which is generally pretty small, you don’t need much space, so either natural light or a light box would work. It’s really going to come down to what works best for your lifestyle.

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When using natural light

  • 100_4190bcc-copy.jpgStay in the shade and avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight will cause your photos to become overexposed and the colors will be washed out.
  • Don’t use your flash. It, too, will wash out the colors in your photos and cause extreme highlights that no photo-editing software can really fix.
  • Play around with the positioning. In my photos, the sun is to the right, so there are shadows on the left. To avoid as shadows as much as possible, position yourself between the sun and your item. This will create evenness to your photo, and you can always adjust the brightness later.

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When using a light box

  • If you want to be fancy and buy special light bulbs, go to your local hardware store and get either tungsten light bulbs or natural light light bulbs; both simulate the natural light you’d get if photographing outside. Ask the sales associate there for help if you can’t find either of these bulbs.
  • Do use as many light sources as you can. Notice that most light boxes use multiple light sources that come from different angles. This is to provide an equal amount of light to all areas of the piece being photographed, as well as to minimize shadows. Use one light on top and one on the side at least, though you can also use lights on both of the sides and even the front as well as the top.
  • Diffuse your lights. Diffusing the light will create an even shine on the piece, which means that the shadows and super bright highlights will be minimized. If you paint the inside of a cardboard box white or line it with white paper like ChristysQuilts did, don’t direct the lights to shine directly on your jewelry. Instead, follow her lead and angle it towards the sides of the box so that the light bounces off the side onto your piece. If you cut out the top and sides and cover it with tissue paper, like the Strobist example, you can position the light on the outside of the box. The tissue paper will soften the light that comes through it.
    • Using white on the top and sides, even if you want your piece on a colored background, will help bounce the light around your light box. A colored background can go along the back and bottom.
  • Don’t use your flash. Let the external studio lights do the work.

EBTW: Lady in Red

This week’s etsyBEAD theme – “Lady in Red” – has been selected by Sue of Signature Sterling. etsyBEAD members will select items in their shops (or create brand new ones!) that match this current theme and put them on sale, just for you. Each item will have the tags “EBTW” and “Lady in Red”, so you can search for sale items easily. To see a complete list, click here.

The EBTW Lady in Red sale is twice as long this time – It runs from Sunday 01/27 through Saturday 02/09. Below are just a handful of examples of the gorgeous items etsyBEADers have to offer. Happy shopping!

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Valentine’s Day Sales

Just a quick reminder:

For those of you who are planning to hold Valentine’s Day sales in your own shops, please send the info regarding your sale to MeriGreenLeaf. We’re looking to compile a list for the blog!

 Thank you!

Spotlight: Ms Belle

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Ginger. First and foremost, I’m a married SAHM to one son who just turned 6 and am human mom to my rescue dachshund, Barney. He’s a standard black and tan longhair. Together, those boys give me more joy (and work) than any mom should be allowed. I’m very lucky to have them in my life.

Being an older first time mom makes things a little tricky but not impossible. I had my son after I hit 40. I never thought I’d ever have kids. I’m clueless most of the time when it comes to raising a boy. Now I know about dogs! I’ve had dachshunds for over 20 years! But kids? …well, let’s just say I ask lots of questions! Lots of late nights and coffee here!!

In my spare time I love to make jewelry. I have a passion for gemstones and a secret desire to someday become a graduate gemologist with the GIA. Maybe someday I’ll get to do that. But for now I enjoy creating pretty things using the nicest qualtiy gemstones I can find. Quality means a lot to me, so if I don’t like it or don’t think it’s up to par, I won’t sell it.

What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?

I remember stringing seed beads to make a necklace when I was a kid. I have no idea how old I was or why I was doing it, but I remember the necklace and how much fun I had making it.

What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

Everything and everywhere! I’m inspired by nature, patterns and designs, paintings and artwork, but I also find it in books, magazines, music, architecture, and believe it or not, my son! He’s a wonderful source of inspiration sometimes, especially when I take him to the bead store with me. He loves all the colors and textures of the beads as do I. That’s a really good source of inspiration for both of us!

What are your favorite materials?

High quality gemstones and pearls. 

What is your favorite color? What colors are you drawn to?

My favorite color is probably purple. Either that or blue. I’m drawn to blues mostly, but also to red a great deal. Gosh, for such a simple question it’s really hard to decide!!

Any pearls of wisdom on selling handmade work?

Selling on Etsy is hard, really hard. With so much amazing jewelry out there, it’s mind boggling at times. I have no real pearls of wisdom and am always looking for pearls of wisdom myself. Other than trying to make sure your photographs are nice looking (and I struggle a lot with that), I don’t know what to say. I try to list as often as I can and renew items frequently. I try my best to have nice pictures from different angles to show the entire piece, and I also try to make sure I describe the piece as accurately as possible. Hopefully then the buyer is well enough informed that they can make an educated decision about buying something from me.  

Tell us about etsyBEAD! What would you like to see the Street Team doing to help promote you and Etsy?

I really don’t know. Marketing and promotion is not my forte! Maybe somehow we could raise funds to create an advertisement that would appear in a periodical of some sort. That would certainly bring in traffic. But along a different line, we could do something as simple as make some refrigerator magnets that said “EtsyBead” on them. We could use them as promos to put in our outgoing packages along with cards from other members (do a card swap). Also, I love the idea of having a scavenger hunt a few times a year. That’s so much fun.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? What other sites do you have (where else can we find you)?

I’m msbelle.etsy.com (MsBelle ~ Artisan Crafted Jewelry). I’m also on Mintd and Lov.li, and have a shop on DaWanda that has not been updated. I need to do that! I also have a blog at msbelle.blogspot.com. So come visit me there too!