Key rings, new jewellery boxes, personalised Christmas decorations, stamping on cutlery and a new copper shape

Let’s just say it has been a while since I last updated my blog so this is a big one!

www.chantelmccabe.com

KEY RINGS

I’ve had an explosion in key ring sales. It started off with a few anniversary orders in copper but now aluminium for 10th anniversaries has become very popular and people are wanting the aluminium for other occasions too. I stock aluminium in 4 different widths at present – all a delicious 3mm thick. Yes, I make these out of long lengths of aluminium so all the swanky shaping and beveling of the ends is done by hand by myself and takes a fair bit of time to do. The most popular one is the one that is 1cm wide on the far left. I have an Etsy listing for the broadest one on the far right too: broad aluminium key ring

aluminium widths

I make these simple yet striking key rings out of the 1cm one. Roman numerals are proving very popular for important dates. Luckily I love Roman numerals! These are my current best sellers. Being made of aluminium and very light, they are perfect for your bunch of car keys that you don’t want to weigh down too much. This style is also available in sterling silver in a variety of thicknesses up to a maximum of 3mm just like this one. I have copper that is 2mm thick too. Here’s the listing for the narrow one.

narrow tag 10mm

On my “to do” list is some samples in the middle two thicknesses of aluminium.

NEW JEWELLERY BOXES

Much excitement as my very first PERSONALISED jewellery boxes arrived earlier this week! They are pretty cool and are suitable for pendants, pendants on chains, earrings, key rings and small chain-style bracelets. Now I need to get some matching stationery or something. There is nothing quite like the impact felt when receiving jewellery in a great box.

new-boxes-PS

PERSONALISED CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

As a gift maker, I am now at the beginning of the year end gift rush. As I handcraft my items, it is never too soon to order your teacher gifts and Christmas presents. Looking through my display cabinet the other day, I found this Christmas tree decoration I made a few years ago. I think it is time for me to make my family an additional one. These make great gifts and clever words used can make them appropriate for many occasions, eg. new arrivals in the family, first Christmas as a married couple, etc. Look out for my 2015 sample coming soon!

Christmas decoration

STAMPED CUTLERY

Until fairly recently, I have firmly resisted stamping on cutlery but finally, after turning down numerous requests, I decided to give it a go. So far I have only done dinner knives. See two examples below: “spread the love” and “please pass the Nuttelex”. I have permission from Nuttelex to use the word “Nuttelex” on my knives.

stamped knives

An interesting thing about stamping on stainless steel is that you should NOT use your regular stamps as stainless steel will eventually ruin them as the fine letter detail will be crushed by the pressure and render them useless. No one wants that! I accordingly decided to invest in some proper stamps that are graded for stainless steel and as the greater includes the lesser, these stamps can be used on all of my softer metals. I will therefore not be using the stamps seen in the above example again on stainless steel! I have two new styles with both upper and lower cases and one set of numbers. Numbers are always great for important dates. The sets also came with a wide variety of useful design stamps so I am pretty excited about all of them, I have started making samplers: one down and four to go! Yes another thing on the never ending “to do” list! Here is my first one. Please pardon the last two lines … it was late, I was fatigued, I lost the plot … something like that but you get the general idea.

stainless sampler 1

NEW COPPER SHAPE: 6mm SQUARE

I have a new copper shape on its way! 6mm square copper wire so that I can make these sort of pendants and key rings out of solid copper. The example here is Argentium sterling silver. This is more than double-sided stamping but stamping on all four sides!

1-P1140793

That’s it for now. Please see my website, www.chantelmccabe.com for more details.

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Personalised jewellery: what is the ideal online sales platform?

Without a doubt, the answer to the question posed in the title to the post would be to have your own perfectly functioning shopping cart on your very own website, and not a freebie website with a clumsy name either!

In my case on my website, http://www.chantelmccabe.com, I’m just not there yet and to be honest I’m not that motivated to achieve that goal right now. Don’t get me wrong: I would love to have such a website BUT right now I find that due to the highly customised nature of my work being personalised jewellery, it is easier to complete sales by means of a personal exchange of communications between myself and my potential buyers. In addition to this personal method, I have an Etsy shop, www.chantelmccabe.etsy.com, in order to offer customers the option of easy ordering of standard designs but it seems to me it is functioning more as a showcase which then leads to customised orders that look nothing like anything you see in my Etsy shop. This is okay too. Unexpected but perfectly fine!

As a micro business, it takes a lot of time and effort building a DIY website and even more time and effort building your own shopping cart site. I have found the time required to be a tad overwhelming and in fact too much for me to undertake right now so I have cancelled my own shopping cart site idea for the time being. I’ve decided to rely on email and Etsy orders for now. I do hope to get back on track with the ideal of having my own perfectly functioning online shopping cart site but for now this will do just fine.

Many out there are of the opinion that when a customer buys something from an Etsy seller and are then asked where they got it from, they say “Etsy” instead of naming the individual seller. This is obviously not desirable if this happens but I wonder if it is necessarily true. I guess people do do that in relation to eBay purchases for sure. “I bought it on eBay” isn’t exactly a helpful statement to make to another prospective buyer who would like to buy the same thing. “eBay? Right. I’ll run over there and find it in a flash!” Thinking back to my own Etsy purchases, I do think I would be more inclined to refer to the actual seller rather than merely Etsy. “I bought this from XYZ on Etsy” – this could just be because I am mindful of this issue though! However, at the end of the day, it would probably be best not to risk being lumped with all the millions of other Etsy sellers and just get your own shop.

Another big motivator to have your own website shop is so that you know you own that website and you can build your brand on it with confidence knowing that it is not subject to forces beyond your control. That is a biggie. You must be able to build your brand and business on your own terms.

I do, however, firmly believe that having a presence on Etsy is important as it is another way that customers can find you. My Etsy Google results sometimes rank higher than my own website results which is great! Plus some people do manage to make a substantial amount of sales on Etsy too and in a short time. You just have to give it a go and see what works for you. A perfect example of this is the original TreeChangeDolls phenomenon on Etsy. The shop opened on 2 February 2015 and as at today’s date has had 993 sales. That is a totally brilliant result in my opinion! I won’t mention what my stats are in comparison! 😀 You can visit their shop at www.treechangedolls.etsy.com .

At the end of the day, we know what the ideal is but we can tailor that ideal to suit our actual business and the amount of time and resources we have available to build the perfect online sales platform. All in good time! It is a goal to aspire to!

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Personalised jewellery colour change fun with Photoshop and photo filters

I’ve found a fun way to show what a keepsake jewellery design will look in other metal colours without actually making it in that colour … assuming those metal options are available in that style. I use either Photoshop or a photo filter in an iPhone app.

This first example was done using a filter in Instagram. It was so easy! One click and my sterling silver vegan bar pendant turned a reasonable shade of gold. In my opinion, the colour just has to be approximate as I am just using it for illustration purposes on my website www.chantelmccabe.com.

Here’s the original made out of sterling silver.

10612971_817036578345171_5379196021862139716_n

Here’s the mock gold one made “gold” using the Instagram filter. It is important to always make your reader aware that it isn’t a real gold example but rather a mock up. Make a note to that effect when you publish it online. I’d also like to point out that another problem with this sort of mock up is that all the bits and pieces used to make the completed jewellery item may not be readily available in the other metal. In this case, I can acquire 9 carat gold bars like this but not necessarily all the exact same jewellery findings. That is okay because the purpose of doing the mock up was to give a general impression of what the piece would look like if made out of 9 carat gold.

bar pendant gold

Next up are some of my tiny tags in my Minimalist range of jewellery. These tags are available in sterling silver, Argentium sterling silver, copper and 9 carat gold. 9 carat gold is always by special order only and the rest depend on whether I or my stockist have them in stock.

These tags were NOT so obliging as the bar pendant above when it came to doing the colour change. The Instagram filter did not work the way it did with the bar pendant. It mainly just coloured the shadows! If you analyse the silver photos of both examples you can kind of deduce why. The bar pendant photo is much more clearly defined whilst the mini tag kind of fades to white and has much less definition on the right hand side hence the poor filter application. I had to resort to Photoshop CC with this one which was a whole lot more complicated that using Instagram. The silver tag has doublesided stamping been listed in my Etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/chantelmccabe.

Minimalist-oval-14x8-no-chain Minimalist-oval-copper-tone Minimalist-oval-gold-tone

Another option would have been to use another photo in the series or reshoot … but I liked this particular shot and reshooting was not an option as this piece has been rehomed already. 😉 I do my own jewellery photography at this stage using a simple point and shoot camera as professional shots are not a viable option for me and I prefer the HUGE convenience of DIY as often an item flies out the door to its new home very shortly after it has been completed. And that is all okay! 🙂

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Stamped and personalised anniversary gifts

My most recent order was for a seventh anniversary gift in copper, one of the traditional seventh anniversary gifts. My customer found my website, www.chantelmccabe.com, through Pinterest. Great to see Pinterest working for me!

A fair number of other metals also feature as traditional anniversary gifts. For the full list of gifts which includes not only metals but gemstones and other items, look over here. Here’s my summary for metals plus my personal note re availability:

  • 6th – iron – not stocked
  • 7th – copper – YES
  • 8th – bronze – YES
  • 10th – tin/aluminum – aluminum is not one of my regular metals but could be acquired
  • 11th – steel – stainless steel is not one of my regular metals but could be acquired
  • 25th – silver – YES (sterling silver, Argentium, fine silver)
  • 50th – gold – YES. gold-filled is readily available and 9 carat gold is special order only

For further ideas, look at the list of modern gifts which coincide here and there with the traditional list.

Here’s another list which sets out the traditional and modern lists side by side – there are many references to metals in the modern list: https://anniversariesbyyear.com/. Some of the other gifts are quite amusing!

Here’s my modern list summary for metals:

  • 1st – gold jewellery
  • 7th – brass
  • 14th – gold jewellery
  • 16th – silver hollow-ware
  • 19th – bronze
  • 20th – platinum
  • 21st – brass/nickel
  • 22nd – copper
  • 23rd – silverplate
  • 25th – sterling silver
  • 50th – gold
  • 60th – gold
  • 75th – gold

I’ll update this post later with a photo of the copper 7th anniversary stamped gift but in the meantime here’s my Minimalist oval wedding anniversary tag which is available in copper,  Argentium sterling silver, sterling silver and 9 carat gold. The front is simply stamped with the initials of the first names of the couple with a love heart between them and the back has the year number stamped on the back. This exact design is not available in bronze but could be recreated using either a round or heart-shape or a handsawn custom shape. And then of course, the other metals are available in other shapes too! The Argentium sterling silver version has been listed on Etsy. Please enquire if you would like to order one that falls outside the parameters of this Etsy listing.

Oval tags are available in a number of different sizes as mentioned on my Minimalist page of my website. Availability may vary according to the stock held by my supplier.

Coming soon! Watch out for my new Minimalist oval family mini pendant.

Minimalist-oval-14x8-no-chain

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Don’t forget to prove you are not a spambot!

I have spent a lot of hours this year rebuilding my website, www.chantelmccabe.com, from scratch. It takes a long, long time. The basic structure is there but many bits still need to be filled out some more. After all that hard work, you can imagine my dismay when I learnt that a message sent to me via my contact form did not get through to me! It was just lucky that I was actually communicating with the sender through another web platform and I was alerted to this. That of course doesn’t always happen! I immediately imagined that there were heaps of other people out there thinking I had ignored them after they sent me an email!

Anyway, I am happy to say that the email mystery has been solved! When you use the contact form on my website to send me an email, you are requested to use CAPTCHA code (to prove you are a human and not a spambot) above the SUBMIT button. If you try to send a message without doing this, you will get an error message below the form saying: “Form Post Failed. Please try again.” (This location of the error message is perhaps a tad obscure.) If you do use the code, the form with clear away and in its place you will see the message: “Your form has been successfully submitted! Thank you!” I’m so happy there’s nothing wrong with my contact form after all!

Even I knew the correct answer already, I consulted with my personal internet guru, Helena of www.clearlyhelena.com, and she confirmed that it is best to use a contact form on your website and not just put your email address on it.

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Minimalist jewellery range launch

I launched my new Minimalist range of keepsake personalised jewellery on my website www.chantelmccabe.com this week. And yes, like my other jewellery, it is vegan.

It is all about a simpler, smaller range of stamped metal jewellery. It is also lighter, petite and more cost effective. These attributes offered by my Minimalist range are diametrically opposed to my standard range in which I revel in extra thick precious metal, chunky size, double-sided stamping, lots of stamping and generally more bold.  The smaller discs and tags in the new range are simply stamped with an initial or a design stamp such as a heart, flower, bird, etc.

It is a great alternative to name jewellery. A simple initial or a collection of initials can be as meaningful to the wearer as full name stamped jewellery.

earrings-with-mini-charms-PS

My Minimalist charms and pendants have many potential jewellery applications such as:

  • a main pendant in a simple necklace,
  • an addition to another pendant, gemstone or crystal beads,
  • used as a single pendant or have a whole bunch as a cluster pendant,
  • use as a charm on a bracelet, or
  • turn them into earrings.

My Minimalist range is available in a range of different metals depending on availability at the time of ordering such as 9 carat gold, sterling silver, Argentium sterling silver, bronze, copper and Vintaj brass.

Contact me to order your own jewellery from my Minimalist line. I hope to add some Minimalist listings to my Etsy shop www.chantelmccabe.etsy.com in the near future.

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My personalised, stamped jewellery has a new look website!

I launched the new version of my website during the course of last week.

I started with a fresh blank template and started from scratch. I decided to go the DIY route and I am happy with the result. Let’s just say me new site is a major improvement on the old site! Having said that, it would seem that work on your website is never quite done. I have done multiple tweaks since I launched it and I can foresee that many more hours of work will need to be sunk into it.

It is really a good idea to let friends offer constructive criticism for your work. I have received a multitude of suggestions from several parties I now affectionately call “my design team”.

You can view it here .

On of the items of my website TO DO list is to figure out how to add a needed Google authorship to my site using instructions by my friend, Helena. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure what that means but she has detailed instructions which you can find over HERE. Her article is specifically geared for WordPress so I might give it a go over here in my blog first whilst I learn about the topic.

There is certainly a mountain of IT stuff out there that you need to conquer as a small online business!

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