Spotlight: Jewel Parlour

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

peacock-colors-earrings.jpgHi, I’m Michelle Long, aka Jewel Parlour. I am from the little sunny island country called Singapore, and I live here with my hubby and 3 year old daughter. I have been making jewellery for the past 2+ years, have a serious addiction to beads and cannot resist buying more even though my house is stocked full of it already. I guess this should sound familiar to all us etsyBeaders!

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

That would be the cross-stitch bag that I made for the art exhibition in primary school. I must have been about 10, I think. It was a very simple design, just straight rows of purple flowers on both sides, but I remember painstakingly stitching every flower on. And I didn’t make the whole bag all by myself either, my mum’s friend, who was a seamstress, helped to sew in the lining and straps with the machine. But I was, and still am, very proud of it. I still have the bag, and sometimes I do use it. I think I’ll pass it on to my daughter, and who knows, it might become an heirloom! 🙂

wild-berries.jpgWhat inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

I would say colors. Colors from nature, beads, flowers, fabrics, magazines, even my daughter’s cartoon storybooks! I would go “oh I didn’t know this color goes so well with that” and then I’ll go try and see how the colors would look as beads. I love to mix and match different colors to see what I can come up with.

What are your favorite materials?

Gemstones, glass beads, charms, polymer clay, swarovski crystals. Sometimes I mix a variety of materials in my creations, as long as the concoctions are pretty and feminine, coz I’m quite the vainpot. 🙂

dreaming-of-autumn-earrings.jpgWhat is your favorite color? What colors are you drawn to?

I don’t think I have a particular favorite color, but I do admit being drawn to autumnal and winter colors more than others, maybe because these are my favorite seasons, although Singapore is a tropical island without seasonal changes, and I have to travel miles on an airplane just to experience autumn and winter elsewhere!

Any pearls of wisdom on selling handmade stuff?

Hmm, this is very difficult, because I am still searching for that success formula! Maybe, a huge dose of perseverance will help?

cherry-garden-necklace.jpgTell us about etsyBEAD! What would you like to see the Street Team doing to help promote you and Etsy?

I think etsyBEAD is a great community of support for beaders. I do enjoy the EBTWs, and I do lurk around the google forums regularly, even though I may not be actively voicing out (I’m a tad shy sometimes :P). But that is what I like about the group too, that you can decide your comfortable level of participation without feeling pressured, and still find support when you need it.

What is your Etsy shop address and name? Where else can we find you?

My shopname is Jewel Parlour – http://jewelparlour.etsy.com. Etsy is my main internet avenue, although I do have a blogspot, and you can also find me (jewelparlour) on Flickr and MySpace too. 🙂

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Tips: Photography Tips, Part 4 – Editing

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 the last of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading. Here is Part 1: Lighting, Part 2: Macro Setting, and Part 3: Staging in case you missed them.

••••••• 

IV. Editing

Editing photographs can sometimes feel as daunting as taking them. But here’s the honest truth – you don’t need to use a fancy photo manipulation program like Photoshop if you don’t have it or are not familiar with it. I have several photo-editing programs on my computer but the one I use the most is the one my camera came with (which is Kodak EasyShare, and my camera is a Kodak Z740, in case you’re wondering).

Assuming your photos are well lit and in focus, all you really need to do once you’ve uploaded your photos to your computer is to brighten and crop each picture. I’ve found that unless the sun is perfect, which is hardly ever, or I use a well lit light box, which is hardly ever, I have to adjust the brightness on my photos. That’s because everything is shot in the macro setting, which doesn’t use a flash, so some minimal adjusting on your computer is required.

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Click the photo to see it full-size.

When adjusting the brightness level, go slow. See what looks best. For me, I want the colors to be as accurate as possible on my monitor. My focus is actually not on the background so much as the piece itself. I photograph on a neutral background, and while I do try to get it as light as possible, I won’t sacrifice the quality of the piece to do it. Meaning, I won’t “overexpose” or brighten the pair of earrings I’m working on, just to get a white background.

When I’m taking photos, I’m usually doing a bunch of pieces at once to save time. With at least five or six shots per picture, I really don’t have time to be thinking too much about centering each picture, or making each picture look “cool”. The only thing I concern myself with is making sure each picture in focus. Then, once it’s uploaded, I’ll play around with the cropping. Some pictures and pieces look better with a lot of negative space around it. Others look better close-up, it just depends.

Be patient with yourself, and save the edited version under a different title, i.e. IMG100b, so you always have the original if you make a mistake.

At first, it’ll take some time to figure out what works for you. But the more you do it, the easier it will all become, and the faster you can get things done. Promise. If you have any questions, just let me know!

Tips: Photography Tips, Part 3 – Staging

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 3 of a four Part series, broken down for easy reading. Here is Part 1: Lighting and Part 2: Macro Setting in case you missed them.

••••••• 

III. Staging

When I say “staging”, I’m referring to the way things are arranged in your photo. Besides the piece you’re selling, there’s also the lighting, the background, props, and the way you angle the object to consider, too. Each choice you make creates your own style.

A lot of the way a photo looks can be determined ahead of time, and with Etsy, we have five photo slots to use, so we aren’t limited to only one snapshot to sell our pieces. So, we can take a really engaging, maybe a little artsy first photo, then do more traditional and standard pictures for the other four.

To start, look at catalogs or magazines, or even other sellers. What stands out to you? What kinds of photos do you like? Are the pieces on a colorful background or a neutral one? Are you attracted to photos with a lot of props, or do you prefer a very simple set up? As you begin to find photos you like, also start thinking of how they can fit into your style; basically, how can you make them your own?

Then, look at your own photos as objectively as possible. Give yourself a little critique, or ask a few trusted friends for feedback. What can be improved? What’s working well for you? Are your photos too dark? Are there too many highlights? Do your photos look washed out? Can the background be improved?

Here are the choices I made:

a. Photos I like: I like the artsy photos, with simple backgrounds and simple props, but prefer to see at least two or three clean, completely in focus photos showing me the details. I try to have one “artsy” shot, but if it doesn’t work for a particular piece, I don’t push it.

b. Semi-neutral backgrounds for a consistent look. Colored backgrounds can affect the way the colors in your piece can look. A green stone will appear to have different shades when put against a red background versus a gray or white one.

c. I want to keep it very simple, with only a white coffee cup as a prop to hang earrings off of, so the focus of the photo is on the piece itself (see photo), and I save time not having to set up different scenes for each piece.

d. I want each of the five photos to show something different, whether it’s the clasp of the necklace as well as the pendant, or earrings lying down as well as hanging.

If you’re stuck, consider just adjusting the angle of your jewelry piece. Angles are interesting because angled lines create the illusion of movement. Movement in a photograph keeps your eye moving around, keeps the viewer engaged.

Other low-cost ways to play with your photos: visit the scrapbooking aisle in your local craft store and pick up cardstock (be careful that it’s not too busy or it will overwhelm your piece) or look around your house for a hardcover book. Take off the dust jacket and photograph on the fabric cover (which works because the fabric is pulled tight, see photo on the right), or open the book and take photos on the pages themselves (see the first photo in Part 2). The words will then become a recognizable pattern. Whatever you choose to photograph on, try to avoid a super shiny surface – it may bounce light off its surface in an unpleasant way – or play with it till you get the results you want.

If you like the look of props beyond what I’ve shown here, check out the recent Storque article about staging and styling your photos.

Tuesday Winners!

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First person to find the all the right images:

Debbie (stoutdg2)

Random person who got them all right:

Kenyetta (kenyetta4)

Winners- Please email (or convo) your addresses to Meri (merigreenleaf@gmail.com or merigreenleaf on Etsy), and as soon as we have all the prizes in one place, you’ll get them.

Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to everyone who played! There will likely be more hunts in the future, so stay tuned.

Sneak peek at the prizes:

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(click to see the image larger)

Monday Winners!

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First person to find the all the right images:

Sarah (ignoramoose)

Random person who got them all right:

Lois (lois515)

Winners- Please email (or convo) your addresses to Meri (merigreenleaf@gmail.com or merigreenleaf on Etsy), and as soon as we have all the prizes in one place, you’ll get them.

There are two winners each day- one is the person who gets all the right shops first, and the second is randomly chosen out of all the people who got them right. If you’ve won, you’re unfortunately not eligible to win again; we need to give everyone else a chance, too!

Sneak peek at the prizes:

  prizes.jpg
(click to see the image larger)

Hunting for your Desire- Tuesday

Today’s image that you need to look for is a heart with an arrow:

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And just a reminder…

Any non-etsyBEADer is eligible to take part in the hunt. On each morning of the hunt, the image of the day will be posted here on the blog so that you will know what to look for (see above image). You will be given a list of shops to search in that day. The image will be somewhere in one of the listings on the front page of some of the shops on the list. The images also switch each day, so the previous day’s image won’t count! (There is also a dummy image- that won’t count, either)
When you think you’ve found all the images, email Meri at merigreenleaf@gmail.com (or convo to merigreenleaf) with a list of each listing the images are in (just copy the address and paste it into the message) as well as your Etsy user name. The first person to get all the correct listings will win that day’s prize pack!

UPDATE: We’re now awarding two prizes each day- one to the person who finds the most correct images first, and another prize randomly drawn from the list of people who sent in the right answers during the day.

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.

Previous winners are not eligible to win again- we need to keep it fair!

Tuesday’s List of Shops:

http://CrystalImpressions.etsy.com

http://beadologyus.etsy.com

http://3sistersbeads.etsy.com

http://purrfectlydevine.etsy.com

http://cassowaryjewelry.etsy.com

http://Mae2075.etsy.com

http://NomolosDesigns.etsy.com

http://Dorsethillbeads.etsy.com

http://Glamorosi.etsy.com

http://brenda45.etsy.com

http://designsbybari.etsy.com

http://CrysallisCreations.etsy.com

http://Jadedmind.etsy.com

http://designsbyjenean.etsy.com

http://npbeads.etsy.com

http://dlpom.etsy.com

http://merigreenleaf.etsy.com

http://valeriebeads.etsy.com

http://signaturesterling.etsy.com

http://thumbelinacreations.etsy.com

http://MKPjewelry.etsy.com

http://Downtoearthcreations.etsy.com

http://abbey753.etsy.com

http://StudioMarcy.etsy.com

http://Figments.etsy.com

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Can’t participate in our Hunt? Then take advantage of the fabulous sales etsyBEAD members are offering in their shops! All current sales are listed here and on the left sidebar.

Yesterday’s winners will be announced soon.

 

Sunday Winners!

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First person to find the all the right images:

Jen (twobsmith)

 

Random person who got them all right:

Libby (callyria)

 

 

Winners- Please email (or convo) your addresses to me, and as soon as we have all the prizes in one place, you’ll get them.

 

There are two winners each day- one is the person who gets all the right shops first, and the second is randomly chosen out of all the people who got them right. If you’ve won, you’re unfortunately not eligible to win again; we need to give everyone else a chance, too!

 

Sneak peek at the prizes:

prizes.jpg

(click to see the image larger)