Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Online purchase scams- sellers beware!

Last week I heard that cha-ching that notifies me on my ipad that I had a sale on Etsy.  I was momentarily excited to see that it was my $650 collar.  That is until I read the message that came with the order.  Right away alarm bells went off.  Here is the message- I have highlighted the parts that made me suspicious:

My name is Erica. Am looking for a good costumer that i will be buying goods from if you can be the one I'll be very happy to have you as my good suppler. Do you accept Check as mode of payment .... ? Because i can only make the payment through Check if you do i will patiently waited until the Check cleared the Bank. Please am looking for understanding and honest to deal with, hope we are going to be a good business partner if you are honest. I think we still have much things to talk about and i want you to get back to me on my email so that we could talk better there hope to read from you soon. Best Regards -Erica.

"Her" etsy store was "*****begodly"- nice touch-right? They had just joined Etsy the day before and had no feedback.   I have gotten a lot of emails of this type in the past, but this is the first time someone put through an order on my Etsy site.   I was almost positive it was a scam- but there was that slight outside chance that it was legit.  What to do?  I didn't want to reply directly to their email- I am not sure why, but I felt that would be tied in with this scam. So I replied through an Etsy convo:

Hello Erica,
Thank you for your purchase. I am writing through Etsy and not your personal email because there have been so many scams lately on Etsy and I am very cautious. Because of this, I need to receive your check within one week, or the item will be relisted. After I receive your check, I will not send the necklace until it has cleared the bank. I am sure you will understand- there are dishonest people out there and I have to protect myself. I will notify you when I send the necklace. If this transaction goes smoothly, I look forward to working with you. Thanks!

I waited for a reply from "Erica", but there was none.  Meanwhile, I reported this order as a suspected scam to Etsy.

I  received this reply from Etsy:
Thanks for reporting this. I really appreciate your help in bringing this to our attention. This account and any accounts associated with it have been closed; the account holder no longer qualifies to be a member of Etsy as described by our Terms of Use. 

This article from our Help page explains how to spot this kind of fraud in the future:

It is really worth checking out this link and reading it- very informative!  Evidently, there are several scams- usually involving sending a check or cashier's check for more than the purchase price, then asking for the seller to refund the extra.  Meanwhile, the check is no good.

I have changed my Etsy settings so I will not accept checks or cashier's checks.  I feel badly doing this- but I think if someone really needs to pay by check they can contact me and we can work something out.  I know this will not solve the problem (read the part about PayPal and false PayPal payment confirmations in the link), but I hope it helps.

This scam is certainly not exclusive to Etsy.  Anyone selling online should beware.  We all need to spread the word and educate ourselves on how to protect ourselves.  If fewer people fall for this, the fewer scammers there will be.  Please share this wherever possible, and be careful! Fortunately, I was just suspicious enough. The internet is a wonderful resource for selling our products, but there are dangers involved.  If you have doubt about any order- check it out!  

I know I am not the only one to have dealt with this fraud.  Please feel free to share your stories here.  Have you ever fallen victim to one of these scams?  How did you handle it?  Do you have any advice? Hopefully by sharing your experience you can help others avoid loss.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Delusional Beading Goddess

I have been a little dreamy eyed lately. (and *maybe* just a little hard to live with!)  It has been an awesome 2 weeks.  First, I went to the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee where I met and even hung out with some of my biggest beading idols ever.  Not to mention the AMAZING jewelry. (Some of them even wore beaded crowns!!)    If you are not a beader, this might be hard to understand, but it was just so much fun. 

Then, shortly after returning home, my Battle of the Beadsmith piece was posted online.  I got the most wonderfully kind, supportive, and reaffirming comments about it.  The response was overwhelming- and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.

Well, a few days ago someone jokingly left a comment on my FB page calling me a beading goddess.  So I sat here one day imagining myself gliding around the house in my long flowing chiffon gown and gossamer wings, shining gold hair billowing in the wind, with just a touch of stardust.  Oh- I think flowers in my hair too!  And of course gorgeous, sparkly jewelry!

Now let me pause here and say that I am fully aware that I am combining Sleeping Beauty, Tinkerbell, Fairies, etc- and probably my vision doesn’t resemble a goddess at all.  I admit I got carried away- OK?... 

I have some goddesslike qualities after all- well, umm, sort of… like I love being outdoors in the garden, often barefoot.  And that is what I had been doing just before I sat envisioning myself as a beading goddess.   Then I happened to glance down at my feet…..

BOOM!  The Beading Goddess crashed to the earth, all twisted up in her chiffon and gossamer.

Well, it was nice while it lasted anyway. I guess I am just not cut out for this goddess stuff!  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Confessions of a Bead Hoarder

I primarily use seed beads in my work. I live about 30 miles from the nearest bead store. (And its a small one!)  So if I need a specific bead, I usually need to order it online and wait.  Well, there you have the excuse I use for having such a big inventory of beads.  Nothing worse than being in the middle of a project, running out of a certain bead, and having to wait a week or 2 to get an order and continue. Of course it still happens, but not terribly often.

When I was first setting up my studio, I decided I wanted to have the seed beads out where I could see them, not organized and put away in little drawers. It is nice to be able to hold up a component next to a wall of beads and see how each color works with it.  Besides, standing in front of a colorful wall of beads is a beautiful thing!  So I used pegboard, painted white.  I have a section for each size- size 11 has the biggest area. Within these areas, they are organized by color.

wall of size 11 and delicas

*one* of my walls of size 6 and 8 beads

 My size 15s are in little plastic drawers, because they take up less room, and
I ran out of wall space.  I also like to have them within easy reach of my work table.

As I work on projects, I put the beads that I am finished with in this container under my work table,  then take care of them all at once.  Someone once suggested that this container should not be too big, so that you are forced to empty it more often.  Good suggestion I think!!

time to take care of these!!

Now for the RV storage. Remember in the last post I showed you 2 closed cabinets in the RV?  Well, taadaa!  Here are the bead cabinets opened.

Aren't they awesome??  The beads are hung in Beadsmith bead towers- they have elastic loops to hold the tubes.  They are attached into the cabinets with wing nuts, so they can be removed and taken in the house when we are not traveling, or taken with me to a class etc.   My scissors and tools are within easy reach.

I also take small amounts of various colors in these cases.  They take up very little room, latch securely (which from experience is important in an RV) and are good in a bead emergency.

Speaking of small amounts of beads (remember, I am a bead hoarder), here is  one of the ways I store those tiny amounts of leftover beads.  With an old pair of scissors, you can cut right through the plastic bead tube and shorten it.  You can store a lot of these little buggers in a small box!  When I am making small earrings or a small pendant, I go to this box and use up those lil bits of extras. 

So that pretty much covers the seed beads. For some reason, I really enjoy sorting out beads into tiny tubes and arranging them.  And really, is there anything prettier than a wall of colored beads?! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Bead Dungeon and related topics

My mom turned 95 in March.  For Mother's Day this year, my sisters and I decided to make videos for her of our homes and other little tidbits she might enjoy.  Since she has never been able to see my studio, I thought she might enjoy that.  But before video taping the "tour", there was a lot of cleaning that needed to be done.  Since I am not a person that cleans needlessly, it occurred to me that this would be a good time to take some pics and start a series of blog posts.  I love seeing other's studios and how they are organized  (or not!).  Plus I thought I would throw in some beading tips and shortcuts I have picked up over the years. 

First, the studio.  You know the pictures you see on Pinterest of the brightly colored studio with sunshine streaming in the big windows that overlook a fabulous flower garden?  A sea breeze billows the lace curtains and the huge room is furnished with coordinated spotless furniture.  Oh yeh, and there is no clutter.  Well, go back to Pinterest right now and gaze some more- get it out of your system, cuz that is NOT my studio.  In fact, I am being a bit hoity-toity here, calling it a "studio".  Around here it is known as "the dungeon".

I'll give you a bit of a description.   As the name implies, it is in the basement.  I have no windows or natural light.  (I do have an exhaust/inlet fan to provide fresh air and clear out fumes) I would dearly love natural light, but we work with what we have. I make myself feel better by thinking about the fact I work at night, and would not have natural light anyway. As for furniture, it is scavenged from here and there- a mishmash of whatever works.

Now about the clutter.  Well lets just say, if there was a TV show called Bead Hoarders- I would be the star.  I have so many beads I couldn't use them all if I. lived to 100.  Then I bought some more.  The room is small to begin with, and beading stuff is crammed into every available space.  It is pretty organized, but there is LOTS of stuff.

Here is a snapshot of one corner of the dungeon.  (really- there are 2 more walls of beads!) I have tidied up a bit, but this is before major cleaning.  I will take you around it in future posts to show you more close up.

 We also have a 25ft. RV that we use to travel to shows and for vacations.  We end up spending many weeks at a time in it.  I take my beads with me (of course!) and work on the road.  I can make a piece, list it on Etsy, make the sale, and ship it all from the road.  I love when that happens!!

In the RV, I have lots of natural light.  And sometimes a sea breeze, as well as beautiful scenery. (In fact, look out the window on the pictures. Right now we are listening to the sound of this babbling brook. Almost as good as a sea breeze!?)  But a definite lack of space.  So storage has been a challenge and I have had a lot of experience packing.  My husband just built those 2 bead cabinets for me.  I can't wait till next time to show you what is inside them!! Awesome!!

Although neither work space is ideal, I feel so fortunate to have these places where I can bead. The dungeon is cozy and peaceful and set off from everything.  If I want to leave a project sprawled out over everything for a couple of days, I can.  No need to take care of it so there will be a place to eat dinner.  Everything is within easy reach and I happily lose track of time, often beading till 3AM. 

So there's the overview.  Next time I will start showing you how my beads are organized and stored.  Right now I have to go buy some more beads- I think I saw a little corner that wasn't filled!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Forced changes #2

My last post showed how I removed a broken cabochon and replaced it.

This post involves another broken stone- this time not so easy to replace.

As so often happens, I really had taken a long time making this necklace.  I would work on it a little, then put it away in a drawer and think about it for awhile.  I liked the way it was coming together, but just didn't know what the next step would be.  When I finally got it out to seriously work on it again, I looked at the stone closely, and yep- you guessed it!  It was cracked!!! I don't know if it had been cracked all along, or if it had cracked while being jostled around in the drawer.  Either way- it was cracked.

This stone was a wonderful slab- not rounded on the top like a cabochon.  And an unusual shape, not to mention the unusual patterns in it.  In other words, I couldn't find anything I was happy with to replace it. Although it was cracked, it wasn't broken all the way through, so it wasn't in danger of falling out or anything.  But I still wouldn't sell it this way.  

After asking for suggestions on FB, I came up with a plan.  To disguise the crack, I beaded some branches over the it to mimic the branches on the metal components below it.  (by the way- those metal pieces are old earrings)

I loved the result!!  I think it really added interest to the piece, and blended in very well.  

So I finished up the piece and added the fringe. Finally finished!!   I photographed it.....

Done?  Not so fast there!  After looking at the pictures for awhile, I realized I really was not happy with the fringe. (Plus, there were some remarks on FB that people saw, um, other things when looking at it.  I won't even go into that- I will leave it to your imagination!)  So, back to the drawing board.  After experimenting with several different fringes on the bottom, I finally came up with one that I was happy with.

So there is the finished piece.  When people ask how long it takes me to make one of these pieces, I really can't tell them.  I just grit my teeth and say "LONG"- especially this one!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Forced Changes

I have been writing a series of blogs on changes I have been asked to make in my beadwork.  Sometimes I'll change it, sometimes I refuse. My next 2 posts are about 2 changes I was "forced" to make.  You'll see why.

The first was a  necklace that I just loved.  It featured a little angel that was a vintage pin, sitting on a cabochon that reminded me of the world.

All was well  until we went to an Art Show. While packing up, a whole tray of jewelry  was knocked onto the pavement. (I am not saying here WHO knocked it onto the pavement, but it wasn't me.  As a side note- I am still married)  This necklace was the only casualty.  The cabochon cracked right down the center.

this picture is the cabochon after I removed it

I liked the necklace, but couldn't really figure out how to save it. The cabochon was both glued in and surrounded by a beaded bezel.   I finally decided nothing was lost by trying to replace the cabochon-after all, it was ruined the way it was.  I cut out the last couple of rows of the beaded bezel first.  But removing the stone  was not as easy as I thought it would be.  That E6000 really holds well!  But I pried it out without damaging too much of the beading.  I found another cabochon that worked, rebeaded the damaged bezel, and it looked like it was supposed to be that way!

I really did like the original cabochon better, but I was happy enough with it, and at least it was not a loss.

The next post will feature another "accident"- and a change that I ended up loving!! Till then....

Friday, February 1, 2013

More Changes

My last 2 posts have been about change.  The first was a change I made for a customer which turned out well.  The second was a change I refused to make.

Well, another post on change just sort of fell into my lap.

 Last fall a customer purchased this bracelet from me at a show.

She asked that I make a  necklace to match it.  She liked the design of another necklace that I had displayed with 3 cabochons. So I based the new necklace on that.

This is what it looked like when I sent the finished picture to her for her approval.

Now this is why special orders are so hard.  What you envision as perfect is sometimes not at all what the customer has in mind.  It is understandable- but frustrating.

She thought about it for a couple of days, then emailed me back that there was a problem.  She was tactful, but said that every time she looked at the picture, she saw a surprised face- with 2 eyes and an open mouth!  This has happened to me with jewelry in the past- in fact- that may be a future blog post!  People sometimes see something in a necklace that I never saw- then after they point it out- that's all I can see when I look at it!!

I told her it was OK if she wanted to cancel the order, I would be able to sell this necklace and it would be fine.  She was very nice, and said that she still wanted the necklace, but could I make some sketches of some ways it could be altered, and was willing to pay me for the extra time spent.

Well, you don't want to see my sketches.  Maybe I can bead- but sketch...not so much.  And I really did not want to spend the time tearing apart the necklace when I was not sure that it would be what she wanted.  So I came up with an idea.  Photoshop!!  I just made 1 extra small component and photographed it- then photoshop did the rest!!!   What a time saver.  I know these pictures are crude, but they were good enough to give her an idea of which one she preferred.


She picked the picture she liked and I altered the piece just one time.

So below is a picture of the finished piece.  I must agree, I like it better than the way it was at first.  And the face is gone.  The customer said how much the mock ups helped.  I will definitely use this technique again in the future!

She also sent me a picture of her wearing the finished piece. She loves it!

So,a happy ending!!  Another example of improving upon a design by listening to a customer.