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Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year, a New Life....

"It takes a lot of courage to
release the familiar and seemingly
secure, to embrace the new.
But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.

There is more security
in the adventurous and exciting,
for in movement there is life,
and in change there is power."
--Alan Cohen

What an incredible year. A year of challenge and tears; of toil and trauma; of beauty and joy; of true blessings and happiness.

I can honestly say when I look back on this last year, it has been one of the most transformative in my life--and the big changes that have been looming for months aren't even here yet!

I have learned a great deal about myself this past year.

I have learned that I am stronger than I think; more talented that I realized; and more blessed than I ever knew. I have learned who my true friends are, and aren't.

I have learned that I absolutely love what I do, and I am going to try my damnest to build a career and business out of it. I have learned that I am a gift from the universe, and I have so many gifts to give back to her!

On this New Year's Eve, I look to the future with promise and anticipation, even if it's a bit scary to look out past the horizon and not know what's there.

In my mind's eye, I see-- way out in the distance-- a soothing creek migrating its way out of the lush foothills that will comfort me when I am tired and a soft spot to put my feet when I need to stop and take a breath. I see my friends and family waiting for me, like loyal soldiers ready to accompany me on a weary journey. I see my little boy smiling a mile wide, waiting for me to play hide and seek with him amidst the trees in the thick, green forest.

I am ready, future. I am ready for your steady hand.
I am ready.

Monday, December 14, 2009

So you are going to be a Featured Seller? An Inside Look into What I Did!

"Now is the Right Time"
--Lotus Sutra

I'd been a member of Etsy for almost a year when I got the convo in my Inbox from Etsy Admin that started out with, "We think your work is awesome, and we'd love for you to be a Featured Seller!"

I couldn't believe what I had just read, and yet I was not surprised because I had seen it in my head. Since I had joined Etsy, it was a big dream of mine to be a Featured Seller. And everyday I visualized it happening and how I would handle it; what I would do if I were selected. I sent out positive thoughts and worked on my shop; redid my branding, upgraded my collateral and packaging, focused seriously on my product photos and descriptions. And so when the call came as they say, I was ready.

I am sure that many other Etsians visualize this very thing happening to them, too. But when it happened to me, I knew I wanted to take full advantage of it. Fortunately, I had two months to prepare myself for the Nov. 11-13th event, and I used it to create a comprehensive strategy for building a new customer base from the Front Page real estate.

In just 2 days I had nearly 150 sales, and at least 100 more in the weeks that followed, as well as 1200 hearts, numerous features in other blogs and thousands of item hearts as well. I also had several awesome leads on the wholesale side and some inquiries regarding production-scale projects!

As I was preparing, I didn't have much in the forums that was of help. So I am posting these tips for others in the hopes that it might do them some good when they get the call:
* Focus as much as possible on offering Ready to Ship items and emphasize the immediate availability in your product descriptions and headlines. I believe I got more sales because customers knew that they could have it in hand sooner. If this means investing in supplies, then do it. It's your one chance to sell, sell, sell! As a result of this single strategy, I sent out 90% of all my 150 orders within 3 days AFTER the sale. By Monday of the following week, all of my orders were out the door and I was enjoying a nice glass of wine!

* Stock on up packaging, etc. and have it ready to go! I spent the better part of the weeks before my spot sticking OH label stickers on boxes, pre-prepping "Thank You" cards and getting my shipping system organized and figured out. It saved me loads of time I would have spent during the spot doing things that would have been frustrating and time consuming!

* Relist, relist, relist! If you can take the time to sit by the computer and manage sales as they happen, then I would recommend relisting as items are sold vs. listing multiples of the same item. The reason for this is that it keeps the items on your Front Page fresher; Etsy pulls directly from what has been recently posted to populate the images on the home page for the Featured Seller spot, so relisting helps keep the photos and items there fresh, which pulls in sales.

* Having items ready to ship made processing packages much easier. Unless it was a custom item like a ring or a personalized design, I would just pull the inventory (everything in my shop has an item number) and place it on the invoice. When I had 6 or 7 of them ready to go, I took a few minutes to box them, package them and create shipping labels for them.

* Focus on a solid breadth of price points. I created a category of "bling under $30" which got a lot of sales. In a bad economy, people are still looking for treats. I believe it helped tremendously with sales, as well as sales of multiple items.

* Snag the customer, then keep them for life. To keep customers coming back for more, each purchase from my Featured Seller spot received a special "Gift for You" coupon for 20% off their next purchase, either in my Etsy shop or on my Web site, The strategy has worked well; so well that I continued to administer these coupons during the holidays as well, giving them an expiration date at the end of Feb. I hope this strategy will keep customers coming back at a traditionally slow period.

* Expect to Educate. There are a lot of newcomers to Etsy who see your shop on the Front Page and purchase something but really are confused by the buying process. I was prepared for this, and posted a "New to Etsy" link on my announcement section that helped newbies walk through the process. It didn't help everyone, which is why I say expect to help people through the purchasing process!

* Market yourself and your big achievement! Post your news on all of your available outlets; facebook, Twitter, etc. I sent the news to everyone I knew; including my wholesale customers as a way to generate even more buzz around the feature.

* If something bad can happen, it just might....My Featured Seller spot occurred when Etsy was "reorganizing" the way it counted page views. Craftcult was down for hours; and in addition I believe it jacked up Paypal as well for a few hours as well. I had 3 or 4 hours in which I had NO SALES during my Featured Seller slot because Paypal kept timing out. Expect that these things might happen and take folly in knowing that you prepared yourself with as many ready to ship items that could be sold quickly as possible.

* Have a blast. I know I did. It was the ride of my life. I can't wait to see what's next!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The final holiday push.....

If you are like me, you are looking to wrap up your Christmas list and check it all off this week!

And if there's a deal to be had, then all the better!
I am having sales at both of my virtual shops this week, so check it out!

At Original Hardware, get 20% off all necklaces and earrings through this Thursday, Dec. 17th. This Thursday is the cutoff for shipments to get there in time for Christmas! Enter promo code 'gift' at Checkout to receive your gift!

In my Etsy Shop, get 15% off and FREE First Class Mail Shipping through this Thursday! Use the promo code "original" in the messag to seller!

Happy Holidays to all of you. I look forward to a new year of blessings and joy, of challenges and change, of peace and strength. And I wish the same for each of you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fakers and G R A C E

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."
Herman Melville

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season....I have had a busy couple of weeks, and in addition to all of the regular things I have on my checklist this time of year, I am also grappling with an internal struggle of how to handle it when other designers outright copy my work.

Since these designs come from my soul, I find it not only disheartening but a complete violation of who I am. These works are personal to me, and to find someone looking at a picture and trying to replicate my pieces exactly as I make them offends me greatly.

I should also note that ALL of my work and the content that is used to describe them is copyrighted. That means I could get a lawyer and send a nasty letter because what you are doing is not only immoral but illegal!

I can tell who it is because they leave an indellible mark everytime they visit my Etsy shop or my Web site. Their visits to both have increased exponentially the past few months--to the point where they show up as a top 10 visitor on both sites in Google Analytics!

I know that part of the artistic way is to borrow ideas and concepts from others. But where true artists are different is that they take those concepts and make them their own.

I have always found imposters to be a pet peeve. And when they are imposters on my own work, they are even more so! I wish I could call that person out, but perhaps when or if they ever come across this they will know who they are. But I bet--given that they find nothing wrong with taking others' artistic designs and claiming them as their own--that they won't recognize it is them I am writing about anyway.

And if you think I'm just throwing stones, think again. It's one thing to copy a circle or a component, and entirely another when you are copying something that is very specific to what I do. You say there are no original ideas? In your world, there must not be.

I have learned a lot about grace this year--to live with dignity and respect, and to expect it from others. It's not always an easy task, particularly as an artist. I work hard to create original work, from which I try to help feed my family and grow my business.

I am trying to rise about these latest events and not let them bother me. But they have, and this is why I am getting it off my chest here.

So hey, violating artist: if you read this post someday, reconsider your path. Make yours an authentic one. Make yours original. Make yours real.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A love like no other....

I rarely write about specific things that are personal to me, but I can't help it tonight.

I just got the proofs back from my son's recent 4-year old photo shoot (here's one of us together). My heart burst with joy and emotion to see that beautiful little face, that face so full of promise and sheer happiness. That face so bright with innocence!

Four years ago, I quit my career to stay home with my little baby boy. It wasn't even a difficult decision. I was ready to stop the rat race and put myself into something that I felt really mattered. And when they put me in his arms after a difficult pregnancy, I was so relieved and soooo instantly bonded to him.

I remember wondering before he was born if I would bond with him in the way I'd seen other mothers bond to their children. I was adopted, and that experience taught me that mothers could leave their children as difficult as it might be for the promise of a better life. When I met my birthmother years later I realized just what an incredible sacrifice it was to leave your child to the trust of somemone else with the hope that they would be whole.

The meaning of it hit me even more as soon as my own son was born; I couldn't imagine such a sacrifice, but I sure did love my birthmother even more for doing it. But as soon as he was out of my stomach, I vowed to that cooing little boy I would never leave him. He could always count on me, no matter what.

He'll be 4 years old this month, and I can't believe how fast the time has gone. I am so grateful for the past four years, of being able to be his mother and grow from him and learn so much from this little boy. He makes me want to be a better person. He makes me want to be the person I was meant to be...

Happy Birthday little man. Your mom loves you very much!
Godspeed, by the Dixie Chicks:

Dragon tales and the water is wide
Pirate’s sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you
Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams
The rocket racer’s all tuckered out
Superman’s in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, we’ll find the mouse
And I love you
Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams
God bless mommy and match box cars
God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God heard amen, wherever you are
And I love youAdd Image
Godspeed, little man
Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Holidays Sale! 15% off All Designs through Monday, Nov. 30th!

Sale is effective through Monday, Nov. 30th and applies to both my Etsy site and my Web site, Original Hardware. This offer not good with any other discounts or promotions. ENJOY!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Forest Fires and Gratitude....

"Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality."
--Alfred Painter

The pies are done and the kitchen is wiped clean. I sit with glass of wine in hand, a quiet house, a quiet night. The half-round moon glows through my studio window like a magical beacon: its winter white aura soothes me from a hectic, but fun day, with my son.

As many of you know from my blog posts, this has been an incredible year. A year of challenge and change, with still more of both to come. From this challenge and change has come an incredible bounty: a creative fervor and ambition that has taken my business to some great places and set me up for a year of more great places. It has also taken my spirit to some interesting corners: some dark, others sweet and full of light.

It would be easy to focus on the negative that is going on within our own lives; our community, the world. It would be easy to point fingers at the things that aren't working and call them out. But why is that? Why is it not easier to take stock of the beautiful things that are indeed working in our lives each and every day--the very things that we take little notice of sometimes but that bring us genuine joy?

This past year, it would have been easier for me in particular to find the things that sucked the happiness out of me and took me to the dark places. My 40th year on the planet has brought with it lots of turbulence. Ten years ago, I would have mired myself into the negative places that all of this turbulence has brought me. I would have asked "why me?" "what did I do?". But do you know what? A miracle has happened in my life. Amidst all of the things that have brought me sadness this past year, I have found myself to be at peace with myself; peace with my life; peace with who I am.

Had I not been through the fire this past year, I wouldn't have had this amazing revelation within. I would not have had this amazing regrowth that comes from being burned around the edges and then burned into a pile of ashes. But I realize now that you can't emerge something better, something stronger, something greener without having been burned first. You can't emerge like a Phoenix from the ashes without having been burned first.

This is just like the forests that surround me in Colorado. Many of them come alive in years after they've been scorched by fire. Nature needs the fire to regrow, replenish, wipe itself clean. You can see where the Colorado landscape needs it most; where years of fire suppression has reigned supreme to protect multi-million homes, pine beetles have taken over and killed many trees in its path. Where where was once an amazing canopy of green there are beetle-infested brown trees taking over. In short, much of the Colorado forest could use a good fire.

I liken the Colorado landscape these days to my soul. It is time for a fire to cut it all down, reduce me to my core, take me to the places I've never been. Without it, I won't be able to emerge with a stronger stump, a greener aura, a more fertile soul...

And for that, more than anything on this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful.

Friday, November 20, 2009


“The authentic self is the soul made visible”
--Sarah Ban Breathnach

I have read Sarah Ban Breathnach's books, in particular Simple Abundance, many times throughout my adult life. In her writings, she talks a lot about what it means for each of us to be authentic; to be our truest selves.

To me, this authenticity comes out in many ways. For artists, it manifests itself in the things we create from that authentic spirit. And when others try to take that authenticity in the form of art and call it their own, it is not just a violation of idea it is a violation of soul!

I think about this a great deal lately, for lots of reasons. I think about the way in which my work is my authentic soul made visible and how important it is to me on so many levels. I am grateful that I am capable of expressing my soul in ways that others just cannot; each of us has the power to express it, but not in the same way which makes us all different. It makes us who we are.

As I go into the next year, I will be concentrating on what it means to be my truest self once in light of the fact that my life is about to change once again.

My sense of self is about to go through another transformation. And transformations can be tough. They rock you to the core, and they take you to places you aren't sure your heart wants to go. But after all of that struggle comes peace in the heart. So when the bad stuff comes, I want to remember what I know to be true today and always:

* I am stronger than I think I am
* I am resilient and flexible
* I am a wonderful mom, friend and daughter.
* I want to do good by people, and I want them to do good by me.
* I expect great things to happen and I know that it is up to me to make them come true
* Shitty things happen to good people. It is what they do in those times that makes them even more true, more authentic
* My experiences have shaped who I am, and that makes me truly unique and special. It does not make me wrong, bad or inadequate.
* This too shall pass...

What makes you authentic? What are you doing in your life to nurture that authentic spirit? What are you doing in your life that is not authentic?

I find myself asking these questions everyday, and by asking them they have taken me to all kinds of places.

As we peel back the layers of our selves, we can see what is really there. To be authentic we must shed those things that we have borrowed along the way that no longer fit or never did. We must start anew, awash in the promise of a new day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Too much thinking going on......

It is quiet in the house. My son is taking a rarest of naps (he is recovering from an ear/sinus infection) and I have a lot on my mind.

This morning, I went to the gym and tried to run from it. I ran so fast I thought that I would sweat it all out; then I went to lift class and worked so hard my muscles buckled...

But the thoughts are still there, so it must mean that I must sit here in the silence and figure out what to do with them.

A friend of mine gave me this quote book awhile back, and I find myself sitting in the sunshine of my studio thumbing through the pages. This quote is the one that will guide me today:

Monday, November 16, 2009

This is me today.....

"Whatever women do they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult." ~Charlotte Whitton

I had a rockin' few days, and I'm reveling in my woman' power today.

In 4 days I have packaged and SHIPPED 100+ orders that came as a result of my Featured Seller spot on Etsy last week (thank you Etsy!); responded to several interesting wholesale inquiries AND finished my first catalog order EARLY.

I have finished 2 loads of laundry, made arrangements for my son's birthday party, went grocery shopping and made 3 meals that went into the freezer for later.

Now, I realize this isn't a typical week. But how often do you look back at what you've done and marvel at the accomplishment?! No, really marvel at it?

Most of the time, I just think it's all in a day's work. But lately I've come to realize that we women have an amazing ability to multitask and get a ton of shit done AND do it well.

I'm all for taking time to relax and not have anything on the proverbial plate. But when life throws you many balls at once, the only thing to do is juggle.

Friday, November 13, 2009

75 orders, lots of queries, some great opportunities....

I have had a ball being the Featured Seller on Etsy. After 2 months of preparation, it's over and it was successful beyond my wildest dreams.
I have met some fabulous new customers and Etsians along the way. And I've been presented with some great opportunities that I hope will bear fruit.
In two days, I've managed to box and ship out 65 packages. The remaining boxes are those that require custom orders, such as rings and initials, etc. I will get them all out by Monday.
So tonight, I am regrouping and having a glass of wine to celebrate the week and to celebrate the accomplishment.
Taking time to celebrate is a big deal for me. I usually set high goals for myself and when I reach them, I don't do anything but go onto the next.
I have realized that I am missing out bigtime by not taking just a moment to be thankful and to be proud of myself. When was the last time you took stock of what you have done this past year, past month, today and gave yourself a big hug for doing something great?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Secret's out!

I am so blessed to have been chosen to be Etsy's Featured Seller from Nov. 11-13th!

Thanks to all of you who have made my life so rich with blessings. And thanks to each and everyone of my customers for the love, encouragement and business they have given me over the years!

You can see the interview here:!!!!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sssshhhh.....Something Big is Coming!

I can hardly stand it! I want to tell the world, but just not yet.
Look for news tomorrow on my blog and other venues.
It's big, fabulous news--like an early Christmas gift!
Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Road....

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence

Two roads diverged in a wood

And I, I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost

Road Less Traveled

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Accidental Tapestry.....

Sometimes an accident is really a good thing.

A few days ago, I had accidentally left a batch of pendants in the etching bath for 12 hours (kiss of death!).

I ended up with very thin pieces of metal with very deeply etched patterns on them--not so good for necklaces and earrings! In disgust, I had cast them aside into my scrap pile, thinking that all my time and effort was a wash...

Then, about 2 in the morning, I realized how wonderful they would make as overlays to other pieces in my collection! It was all I could do to go back to sleep!

I put my torch to work the very next night after Evan went to bed, and came up with this ring as my first design from the accidental etches. I absolutely love it!

This ring is 1/2 inch wide. After the beautiful texture is applied, it is polished, tumbled for strength and gently oxidized to bring out this ring's amazing texture.

I have posted it on my Etsy shop for the time being, but fans of will find it there soon, too.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Color of a Colorado Sunset

"Orange is the happiest color."
--Frank Sinatra

I am fortunate enough to have a perch right outside my front door that is perfect for witnessing the most beautiful of sunsets.
In the summer--especially late summer--one could always find me in my chair, glass of wine in hand, to watch the show.

Vibrant tangerine slips into gray into blue, creating a muted palette of peace.
It creates such a spectacular display that I found myself wondering sometimes if it was real.

I created these pieces when I was so inspired by the sunsets here in Colorado, and am just now getting around to posting them in my Etsy shop and at Original Hardware.
Have a gander, or click on the images to take you right to their respective locations on the World Wide Web!

And yes, there are lots more designs on their way.
Fortunately, I went on a huge creative bent 2 months ago and I rode that creative wave for as long as I could.
It resulted in scores and scores of new work that I will be adding throughout November for the holiday season!

Enjoy! And as the holiday season fast approaches, please know that I so appreciate each and every customer.
You have helped make Original Hardware what it is today, and I am so blessed!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

In a black mood....

"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud."
--Coco Chanel

I don't know about you, but I follow Coco Chanel's classic fashion advice: when in doubt, wear black.

My closet is full of it, and so I tend to be drawn to designing and creating classic jewelry styles that marry silver and black together.

Such is the case for the pieces that I have just recently added to Original Hardware and Etsy sites.
These pieces are fabulous for wearing all year-round, whether it be with a little black dress or a little black t-shirt.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New rings that I love!

Hi all!

I have too many new designs to post to count them all.

It will take me days and days to finish edits to photos and posting to both of my sites!

But I wanted to emerge from my computer stupor to share my newest rings that I love!

Add Image

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A late week pick-me-up

It's nice to be on the front page of Etsy!
My Aura stacking rings are second box in the left column.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Week of Self-Portraits...

Hi. My name is Carrie Schafer.
I am a rock and silver addict.

I have a big event coming up for Original Hardware and was asked to submit a photo as part of the promotional efforts. This is what I ended up submitting. Thought it would be a good blog entry on a particularly light week! :-)

I am tired this week, and I think it's because of the off-again, on-again cold weather here in Colorado.

Yesterday it was 80. Today it was cold and ready to rain/snow. Here, you go from wanting to barbecue and have an ice cold beer outside to making mashed potatoes and meatloaf within 24 hours!

Oh well, at least I have this photo! And with Photoshop, I learned how to take a few of the wrinkles out around my eyes. It's either that or plastic surgery........tee hee.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Calm before the storm.....

"One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul."
-- Clarissa Pinkola Estes

This is me this morning. Don't I look calm? I am feeling pretty calm, too, despite the fact that my list is long and I just burned through 3 hours with my son in preschool on a silly issue that (gratefully) turned out to be nothing.

This is me being calm. I will look at this photo, when, a week from now, I am NOT calm. To prevent myself from freaking out at all of my to do's, I typically create a list so that I can have some control over them and knock them down one at a time.

As you think of the hectic holiday season, think of me and this face. I am sure that I won't always look this calm, but the good stuff is coming up. And I just want to be calm enough to remember it and enjoy it.

Come January, I'll be so bored out of my mind I will miss the hectic pace!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Today I am Grateful for.....

* Hot coffee on a cold, foggy morning.
* A cute little boy who still wants to cuddle sometimes with his mommy.
* The way the fog looks when it rolls in over the foothills and sticks just above the ground. It feels like a London winter!
* Twinkies.
* A couple of days of rest to focus on rejuvination. Tomorrow it's back to getting ready for holiday.
* Clarity.
* A Mexi Melt at Taco Bell. It's only 89 cents and I know it's crap, but boy is it good!
* A clean bathroom, preferably made clean by someone else.
* Getting organized for the chaos that is to come.
* Having the time to work out. It makes me feel strong.
* Being at peace despite the storm clouds that come into and out of your life.
* A much-awaited catalog order that finally came in. It's officially my first catalog order! And I know it won't be my last!

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Post Trunk Show and Ominous Weather.....

"Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third." --Marge Piercy

I had a great weekend with my friends at Hip Zephyr in Seattle--what a great showing!
I sold lots of goodies to Hip Zephyr fans and met some new souls. And the good thing is I have about 200 new pieces still left that will make its way to my Etsy shop and Web site--stay tuned for announcements on the new bling.

To top it all off, I had a great time with one of my best buds, Brooke. She and I go way back, and seeing her is like maple syrup for the soul (comforting and sweet). It could be months since our last chat or visit and we start immediately right back up, pecking like hens with so much to talk about. She is a beautiful spirit inside and out, and when I'm with her I can be my true self.

But now that I'm back, storm clouds are brewing here, figuratively and literally. I look to the next week with some trepidation over what's to come, and yet a stillness and peace that I cannot describe. I see the cold whisping its way over the foothills and licking at my feet; I can feel ominous things stirring, and great things stirring, too.

It is the beginning of a big period of change. I look forward with wide eyes and a wider heart; I look to the world with grace and gratitude.

Like a wild horse, I tell my spirit that it is time to run without hesitation over the grassy hills of yonder; to the places I've never been.

Indeed this year has taken me to a lot of places I've never been; some good and some not so much.
But each is a gift, now isn't it? It's all a gift. All we have to do is look at it for what it is; then peel back the gift wrap and stare in awe......

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trunk Show Prep--can I just go to sleep now?

Next Thursday evening, I have the special privilege of being the featured designer at a trunk show sponsored by Hip Zephyr, this super cool boutique located in the Phinney Ridge area of Seattle.

In preparing for the show, I've made at least 100 new designs and won't be finished with my booty until end of day Tuesday. Then, I'll have to shoot all of it, price it and pack it up so I can be on a plane Thursday morning. Booyah!

Every time I think I have enough, I can't stop! Between custom orders and the upcoming show, I'm a bit frazzled.

I know it will be worth it when the show goes well, and the bonus part is that I get to spend the weekend in Seattle with my BFF.

If you're in the neighborhood, please stop by next Thursday night, from 6-9 p.m. at:

Hip Zephyr
6421 Phinney Ave. N.
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 905-6069

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


raindrops slide down glass
in jagged little trails.
today, like yesterday
is a new day.

today I wash
in the promise
of a new day--
washes over me
pours over me
slides down me
in jagged little trails.

I become someone new
someone better
someone stronger.
I let the rain
wash away
pour away
slide down,
down into
my soul.

I am born again
and again.

I am

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

In Honor of Coach and Little Robins....

"Of all else that I want for your life, it is for you to be happy."
--Coach Duane Hartman, Sept. 2001

This week is always a tough one for me. I can see in my mind's eye the burned image of planes flying into buildings, the feeling of our country's collective heart being ripped open at the inconceivable sight of the World Trade Centers and their precious cargo collapsing into dust.

Like other mementous occassions from previous generations, I will never forget what I was doing on that fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001. I was spending my last days with my dad, Coach Duane Hartman, as he lay dying in the hospital of cancer.

"Do you think there will be a line to get to heaven?" Dad asked me as we watched the carnage of Sept. 11 unfold from his hospital room television.

"No," I said. "I am sure God has these things figured out so no one has to wait."

"Oh, that's good," my dad whispered softly. "You know how I hate to wait in lines."

Five days later--on a sunny Sunday afternoon--Sept. 16th, 2001--as the fall sunshine streamed through the windows, my father drew his last breath surrounded by his family and close friends.

When he died, a Robin flew to the window and stared at me for what seemed like minutes. I felt like we had made some sort of cosmic contact, like my Dad's spirit had already made its way into something living; as if I still had something to hold onto outside of the love in my heart.

What is strange is that on many other occassions since my Dad's passing, the bird has returned. Not THAT bird, per se, but a bird. A Robin. Every time.

This spring, a Mother Robin set up shop in a tree right outside my kitchen window. She brought two little robins into the world. I would watch her every morning as she continuously fed her hungry little pair as they tipped their beaks to the sky and chirped with all their might. It reminded me of how grateful I am to my role as mother and the loving grace it has brought to my life.

Recently, the bird appeared again as I sat outside during a needed break from the studio. He perched his fat little body on a tree and cocked his head to one side as if to say, "hang in there." It brought me peace.

It's been 8 years since my father's death, and not a day goes by that I don't think about my dad and how much I loved him. He would be so proud of me and what I have done with my life. He would be gentle with me during my times of struggle. He would, as he had done so many times, cradle his arm around my body, squeeze me and say, "I love you kid."

One of the last things my father said to me on his deathbed was "Of all else that I want for your life, it is for you to be happy."

Dad, I am trying with all my might to do just that, not just to honor your memory but to honor my own.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Posted on My Studio Wall.....

Is this quote:

..for a long time it seemed to me that
life was about to begin--real life.
but there was always some obstacle
in the way, something to be gotten
through first, some unfinished
business, time still to be served,
a debt to be paid. at last it dawned
on me that these obstacles were my
life. this perspective has helped me
to see there is no way to happiness.
happiness is the way. so treasure
every moment you have and remember
that time waits for no one.

happiness is
a journey,
not a destination..............

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rings, anyone?

In my opinion, a girl just can't have too many rings. Of course, if you are in a committed relationship there is the wedding ring--so significant and so dominant on the left hand.

But what about the other fingers? What do they get out of the deal? There's no reason that they shouldn't get in on the game.

So I've been on a tear lately in the ring department. I cannot get enough of the gemstones. Seriously.
Boxes of bling are en route from India, Bali, New York! HEELLLPPPP!
Sunstones. Labradorite. Faceted smoky quartz. Sunny citrine.

Beeauuutiful stones that Mother Earth created from her bare hands, using time, temperature and a little squeezing! How could I not partake in her bounty? Just how could I forsake her?

I have created a new line for this fall of rings that feature beautiful stones set in bezel cups. The difference between a bezel cup and a tube setting (which is what I use for my more expensive stones and sets) is that bezel cups are easier to work with.

I pass on the time savings to my customers by offering them at a very affordable price. I still plan to offer sets this fall with tube settings, but these button rings as I call them are lovely for stacking and accessorizing.

They are so cute: they kind of look like glamorous buttons of color from the side.
Here are a few of my favorites:

OMG. Your fingers are going to be sooo happy....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Get 15% off ALL designs in my Etsy Shop Aug. 21-23!!!!

I just love being a seller on Etsy, the place for all things handmade. The community of artists is fabulous and inspiring, and the collection of handmade goods is absolutely amazing!
Today, Original Hardware is featured in Etsy's very popular Weekend Deals email, which goes out to thousands of avid subscribers.
Get 15% off ALL designs posted in my Etsy shop beginning today, Aug. 21st and running through Sunday Aug. 23rd!
Simply choose all of your lovely items, pay for them through Paypal and await a 15% refund!
What could be easier than that? I would say making Rice Krispies, but I've tried that this week. And all I got was a very hard hocky puck of a treat stuck in a glass pan....It wasn't pretty.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Honey, I'm HOMMMEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"There's no place like home."

It's such a cliche, but the saying above is so true. No matter what winds are blowing where you live, in which you live, being home is the best place.

Even though the distance and the break was good for me, I missed my hammers. I missed my stones! I missed not being connected to my customers...

My sweet son Evan and I returned from Washington state late Sunday afternoon, and I've been busy ever since. This is a livelihood for which I have endless passion. It is my life! And for that I am so grateful!
We had a great time visiting my mother, and now I look forward to the last quarter of the season with excitement and anticipation.

I've ordered boxes for the holidays, added at least 30 more new designs to my sites (yes, even MORE!) and I'll be adding more in the weeks to come. I have trunk shows to prepare for, a catalog order to get moving on. I am so excited about what the future holds for this middle-aged gal.

The three images you see here are part of my "Exotic Fern Series", all new etched works that feature a fern pattern taken from a henna tattoo.
Henna tattoos are found in some eastern cultures, particularly India, where women's hands are adorned with some of the most gorgeous designs and patterns.
This might sound strange, but I can feel my spirit in these pieces. They are me and I am them. They are what makes me great. They are what makes my work my own. They are my totems of authenticity!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane....

So tomorrow Evan and I head to my mom's house for a leisurely visit in Washington state. I won't be back until the 16th.
I am anxious to see my mom and I know we'll have fun, but leaving behind a business and its momentum is very hard for me. I am having a hard time letting it go.
I will see you all on the other side, hopefully well rested and, no doubt, chomping at the bit to get working!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just the Tip of the Iceberg....

"The Best Way out is Always Through."
---Robert Frost
So I've been on a creative bent for the past month to work on an early fall line, and I had to ultimately stop myself so I could get some of it shot and added to my Web site before I left for vacation with my son at the end of this week.

My creative energy typically comes this way: a flood of activity that gives me the fuel to create new work that just flows out of me.

When the creative ebb is over, I take a break. I know better now to push it. If I'm not feeling creative, the work just doesn't have the end result that I strive for and the result of my "forced creativity" almost never ever sells...

But such is not the case with the new work I have recently finished. I am excited about ALL of it! I have added 30 new designs to, and when my son and I return from my trip to visit my mom on Aug. 16th, I will be adding them to my Etsy site as well. The funny thing is that this is just the beginning!

I still have 30 pieces that are finished and still have to be photographed and another 40 on the bench in various stages of completion.

I have been working my little fingers to the bone, using my passion not only to fuel new work and get a jumpstart on the busy fourth quarter, but also to keep my sanity during what has personally been a difficult time.
So here are a few of the new pieces I've added this week. Stay tuned for a deluge of new work just in time for the fall season, which I hope will be well received by my customers!

I truly appreciate each and every one of you for your support, encouragement and neverending comments and love! I so love what I do and I hope that with this new work, it shows....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things I Know for Sure.....

"You don't know where you're going unless you know where you've been...."

It's been awhile since I've posted anything new, and that's because life has just been busy--which is all good.

Every night after my 3 1/2 year old son goes to bed (I've lost the afternoon nap, save for a few surprise rests here and there) I go to my studio and work like a busy little bee. The house is usually very quiet at that time of night, and my mind gets centered as creative ideas flow through me.

On my bench at the moment are scores of new designs for early fall. I am so excited about the way the work is looking at the moment, and I have so many new ideas I want to pursue after little boy fades into sleep....

During these quiet evenings of work, I have learned a few things about myself that I thought I would share. Oprah calls them "ah-ha" moments. I guess I would call them personal lessons.

While my list is long, here are 10 Things I know For Sure today:

#1. I am so blessed. I have my health, my family and a business that is poised for something great. But most of all, I have for the first time a positive frame of mind. From my mind flows positive thoughts about my work and life; and what I have seen flow back to me as a result is nothing short of a miracle.
#2 Coffee or Mountain Dew at 7 p.m. might sound like a good idea at 7 p.m., but not such a good idea at 2 a.m....
#3 Creating boundaries for yourself is one of the keys to happiness. Being able to say no--gently--when your radar goes up is just as important as saying yes to the important things.
#4 Nothing beats Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale in terms of retail therapy.
#5 See the good in others and they will see the good in you.
#6 There's always another way of looking at the same issue; be open to the way others see it.
#7 If you rule your life by fear, you will never reap the rewards of being truly open to the possibilities that present themselves to you everyday.
#8 There's no shame in having a good dermatologist on hand to fight Mother Nature's cold hands of aging. Call him often!
#9 On a bad day, nothing beats a slice of moist and delicious coconut cake with buttercream frosting.
#10 Have the courage to speak clearly and ask for what you truly want. You just might get it if you do....

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Original Hardware Designs Featured in Seattle's Hip Zephyr

You got to just love the name of a place like Hip Zephyr, Seattle's coolest women's boutique located in Phinney Ridge.

Seattle is one of my favorite cities, having hailed from the Pacific Northwest. I love its cool urban vibe and hippy mentality, which is why I'm so excited that my designs are now part of this fabulous place for all things cool!

Shop owner Dana Smith has assembled quite a collection of high-quality goodies, from jeans to, well, jewelry.

If you find yourself, with coffee cup in hand, walking the streets of Seattle, stop by and pay her a visit. And tell her Original Hardware sent you!

Hip Zephyr is located at 6421 Phinney Ave N Seattle, WA 98103. Store hours are 12-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 12-5 p.m. Sunday. Call the boutique at 206-905- 6069.

Thanks to Hip Zephyr for including Original Hardware designs in your lovely boutique!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Original Hardware Featured in Etsy Finds Weekend Deals!

Original Hardware is honored to be part of Etsy Find's Weekend Deals newsletter this weekend, which features all kinds of cool handcrafted items from shops offering Free Shipping Worldwide!

Original Hardware's Etsy Shop ( is offering free shipping worldwide on all orders today through Sunday, July 19th.
I ship USPS Priority Mail in the United States and USPS First Class International to all other destinations. So stop in and load up your cart!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Original Hardware Designs Now Available at Lark & Key!

Original Hardware is greatly expanding its roster of wholesale clientele, and I am proud to announce my latest customer, Lark & Key!

An intersect of art, design and craft Lark & Key, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, showcases the work of the two artists/owners as well as goods from other independent artists, artisans and designers from around the country.

Believing that great art and design should be accessible to all, they have created a warm and inviting space that offers a unique selection of artwork, pottery, jewelry, t-shirts, paper goods and more.

There is something for everyone - whether first time buyer or long-term collector, gift seeker or quality craft scavenger.

Lark & Key is located in NODA, Charlotte’s historic arts district, located 2 miles from uptown. The gallery is open Wednesday – Saturday from 11-6 and on Sundays from 12-4.

Stop by if you live in Charlotte or if you are just visiting. The gallery is just beautiful and the people who run it are, too!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Technology Overload!

I have been told by many others on Etsy that having a business page on Facebook is a great way to get the word out about your business. I have resisted until now, simply because I thought maybe it would be too much work.

In actuality, it is a lot of fun, and a great way to find new customers and others who appreciate the artists' way!

So, I now have a Facebook page! If you are a Facebook user, please stop by and visit my page and become a fan!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thank you!

'Every time we remember to say 'thank you', we experience nothing less than heaven on earth.'
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~

Original Hardware has had a lot of good things happen this first half of 2009, and I couldn't be more excited about what the future holds. I haven't forgotten why my business is taking off in new directions.

Each one of you--my customers--is critical in building each block of this artisan business. Every day I think of the friends I have made over the years and the incredible connections I have as a result of this business.

It is time for me to say thank you to all of you with a Customer Appreciation Sale at Original Hardware. Through Sunday July 12th, get 20% off ALL designs! Just enter the promo code 'Thankful' at checkout and the discount is yours.

This is an exclusive sale extended to only those lucky enough to receive my newsletter or read my blog! It's my way of showing each of you how much I appreciate your business, and how much I look forward to continuing to create artisan jewelry in the years ahead!

Thank you!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pop the Champagne!

"The biggest chance you take is not taking a chance at all...."

Today I heard from the catalog that I submitted designs to a few weeks ago and it was great news! Two of the 8 designs that I submitted have been accepted for their Spring 2010 catalog!

I am so excited about what this might bring to my business in 2010, and the doors that have opened as a result. The lesson here is not that it couldn't be done; the lesson is that a year ago, I would have resisted doing it for fear that they would never get accepted in the first place.

This self-sabotage kills opportunities! So I say to others who have thought twice about taking a chance, DO IT. What have you got to lose?

I don't know any of the details just yet, and have been asked to keep things quiet until I have contracts in hand, etc. All I know is that my order will come in sometime in October and I won't have to deliver until January. That helps me plan to get ready in advance for all of the things that happen in the last quarter so I am moving into 2010 on all cylinders.

This has given me the confidence to seek out other opportunities that even some of my best customers have urged me to pursue. I am here. I am alive. I am present. And I am willing to take a chance on the things that scare me because they are worth it in the end.....

I want to immediately jump in and get started, but today I am savoring this milestone. It is 90 degrees outside and I have cracked open a beer. And heck, I might even have two!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Remembering Dad

"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me."

Here it is--Father's Day. Every time this special holiday rolls around I find myself in a half-funk missing my Dad terribly. My father, Coach Duane Hartman, passed away at 60 of stomach cancer 7 years ago now.

As heartbreaking as losing him was, I had the priviledge of being at his bedside during the last weeks of his life. While it was the most difficult thing I ever had to do, those little moments in between morphine and illness were filled with love and grace. And acceptance of all that we cannot control in this life.

Every Father's Day since his passing (and really, everyday), I think about how much I miss him and how much he's missed in my life. I have a son now. My own business. I am stronger than I was back then. And I am much more resolute in living the last words that my father quietly whispered to me before going to the light: "Take care," he said to me. "Be Happy."

Dad, I am happy in so many ways, and I have you to thank for setting the example of how to live a positive, gratitude-filled life.

While I can't send you a card or host a barbeque in your honor or give you some tacky little gift anymore to show you just how much I appreciated your love, warmth and unconditional support, I can honor you by living up to your dying words. I can continue to live the words you left me with. I can continue to strive to be happy and take care of myself.

For those of you who have fathers still here on this planet, give them a hug and tell them thanks. They did their best, even when it may not have always produced the best outcome. They loved you in their own ways, even though sometimes that way was difficult to understand. They are proud of you, even if they never say or said it.

Today I'll be thinking of my father and thanking God that he was in my life for as long as he was, and even after all these years that he's been gone, I'll probably shed a tear for his leaving so early.

And I will raise my voice to the sky and say, Thanks Dad. You were the best Dad that I could have ever wished for. I miss you. Happy Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Etching Show and Tell!

New Work, New Techniques!

I've gotten into etching and won't ever come back. It's an addiction for which I've fallen hard, and I can't believe I've waited so long to try the technique.
I think I was intimidated by the chemicals, but there are two types you can use to get a good etch.

I use the lesser of the two evils--ferric nitrate--and a little smidge of citric acid to give the brew a good bite. And it's really not bad at all!

This last round I fell asleep while the pendants were etching, and I didn't wake up until the morning! I figured I've have nothing but metal shavings. But I had glorious pendants that I was really happy with.
This pendant on the left is actually reversible! I etched the piece on the front with an exotic flower pattern that reminds me of India. A labradorite stone sits in a handmade bezel in the middle.

Flip the pendant over, and there's a delicate little lotus leaf stamped in its center, so you have two looks for the price of one. Forget Target's new slogan, when it comes to jewelry This is a Brand New Day!!! :-)

I also love the mandala motif that is represented in the top necklace and this bracelet. I started making bracelets again after a reprieve, and most of them in my site are etched pieces. I hope they do well!

These are just a few of the designs I have posted on my site, so here's a sneak peek! I'll be adding more etched pieces in the coming days...

I can't decide which is my favorite, so maybe some of my followers can give me some feedback.

I'd love to hear from my customers about which styles and shapes they like best, as I'll be adding new etched pieces in the coming season, including a whole line of necklaces that are reversible.