Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Build Your Own Web Site. No Code!

There is a conversation that seems to be bubbling up about web sites with my artist friends.
  • “I know I need a web site, but I don’t know where to start, and it seems like too much work.”
  • “I’ve got a web site, but I don’t understand how to add new work.”
  • “Oh no, I’m not a computer person. I don’t even do Facebook.”

In other words there is a barrage of excuses, frustration, fear, and anxiety.

     I will fill you in a bit on my back ground on even knowing how to building web sites. When I started my jewelry business, I felt it was imperative to have a web site. This was in 2004 or 2005. I knew I couldn’t afford to have someone else build it and then there was the question of maintaining the web site. I knew I would be a tiny little account for a web developer, and that would, more times than not, have my needs at the bottom of the web builder’s priority list. This meant any changes that were made might take a week or two to occur.

Home Page from first web site I built.
     I signed up for a beginning class in coding at the local Community College in those early days. I managed to build a web site while in class, although it was primitive, I did it. The one real thing I
learned was, I am not a coder. Yes, I could wrap my brain around understanding the code, but the idea of sitting all day long, every day working code would never, ever be my thing. The next solution to building my own web site was to learn Dreamweaver, a site building software put out by Adobe. My business wasn’t very demanding then, so I bought two three and a half inch thick books on Dreamweaver, a couple of CDs, and sat down for three months and build a web site. Woo Hoo! I had a web site, and continued to maintain my site with Dreamweaver through 2013.

     Toward the end of 2013, I helped proof read a web site for a friend of mine that was using the WIX platform. It was as if I entered a brave new world. Compared to using Dreamweaver, it was like being turbo charged. In 2014 I set up the Kathryn Bowman Studio web site you know now on WIX.com. There are thirteen pages, some of which are rather complex. All it takes is the time to plug in the content, photos and copy. WIX has hundreds of templates, or you can easily build your own design. It is completely what you see is what you get.

     Even with these wonderful online platforms, I have discovered that people are still fearful of starting on the daunting task of building a web site themselves. That is where I have been helping people out. I sit down with them and we begin. With guidance, they start to discover that they are able to master the tools from the various platforms available online. They don’t have to be a “coder”. They don’t have to be a total geek. The platforms now available online are really very elegant, user friendly, and intuitive. It is really about opening the door, walk through, possibly with trepidation at first, but soon they have a web site. If you can have a presence on Facebook, put photos and content up, you can use one of the online web building platforms. On average I have spent about eight hours with them from start to online.

      This has meant stepping into new territory, helping creatives build a web site. I’ve helped a few people build their new sites. They are pleased with their results and they feel in control of their future by being able to maintain the site themselves. In October I will be offering the first;
Build Your Own Web Site. No Code! Class
Part 1 is October 3rd and Part 2 is October 17th
Part 1 on January 16, 2016 and Part 2 on January 23, 2016
at Lady Bug Beads
7212 Big Bend Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63303

We will cover a lot, be ready when you come to class with these elements well thought out:
  1. Laptop with wireless capability. (Apple or PC) An iPad, Tablet, or Phone will not work for this class.
  2. Select three existing web sites you like. These will serve as a guide in your design.
  3. Know site purpose; sell, inform, teach.
  4. Develop a domain name (site name) and two variations on that name.
  5. Digital Photos on your computer of products, art, or subject. At least 10.
  6. Photo of yourself for about page.
  7. Logo if you have one.
  8. Favorite type face or an idea of what you like or your look.
  9. A color theme for site.
  10. Note book for notes.

Contact Lady Bug Beads and secure your spot, call 314-633-6140, or drop by the store, 7212 Big Bend Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119 and sign up. See you in class. I know this is limiting to those of your not living in the St. Louis area. I’m busy writing an e-book that you will be able to purchase and download soon on Building Your Own Web Site. If you have any questions e-mail me and I will be happy to explain options and ideas further.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

For the love of flowers, wear one.

Amethyst Magnolia Bloom
My love of flowers is widely known, and a big part of my jewelry line. I have been working with the Plum Blossom beaded bead for about ten years. During that time I have continually found new ways to make that beaded bead and new beads to make it with. So when I picked up a few of the Czech glass Rose Petal beads, you can guessed it, I was thinking these will make a perfect Plum Blossom beaded bead.
I set to work that evening, and here are the results. The beaded bead works with both the 14 X 13 mm Rose Petal beads and the smaller ones that are 8 X 7 mm. When I tried the large Rose Petals I didn’t like the exposed filament between the beads so I added a seed bead between each Rose Petal bead. I liked the effect, and it gave me an opportunity to add another color. In the end, the result was a beautiful pendant that I call the Magnolia Bloom.
Garden Row Necklace

Garden Row Bangle
Now I am in production. I am making the Magnolia Bloom as a Pendant and as a DIY Pendant Kit. Both the pendant and kit comes in four colors for Summer; Amethyst, Blue, Fuchsia, and Ivory. The DIY kit pendant can add to your favorite chain, cord, or leather. If you don’t have time or the inclination to make the Magnolia Bloom it comes already finished with a Sterling Silver chain. With the smaller Rose Petal beads I have created a different design, I call Garden Row. It brings together three Plum Blossom beaded beads on a 24 inch Sterling Silver chain or on an adjustable Sterling Silver Bangle. The bangle is very cool. I love wearing it, and forget I even have it on, it is so light and comfortable.

Go check them all out in on of my Etsy Shops, Kathryn Bowman Studio for Art Jewelry and 1 Bead Weaver for Jewelry Making. I have linked all of the photos to the shops, so it will be easy for you to have a look and shop.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Avoid being overwhelmed with color.

     When it comes to selecting a color for something, anything, are you decisive or do you waiver? This is a question that has fascinated me since I started teaching beading techniques 12 years ago. For me, color is a joyous form of expression. As I taught more and more ladies, I saw what a frustration selecting a color for a beading project was causing many. When faced with a wall of beads in every imaginable color, many are more than overwhelmed, some are almost panicky. I help them select colors, but they would express a lack of confidence all of the way through that process. I feel bad for them. I have always wanted to help in a way greater than just picking out the beads for one project on that one day.

     This has led to my studying color in a new way. This meant getting out side of myself and trying to see color from another point of view. I am grateful that I naturally understand color. When presented with a color wheel, I just thought, "Oh that's handy," but already understood what colors went with who. After helping hundreds of women select colors to make a jewelry piece, I'm convinced a color wheel looks like a kaleidoscope of color with no true meaning to many. Not the tool, a color wheel can be. Let's try to make some sense of that wonderful color wheel and have some fun with color.
         During the next few blog posts, I will attempt to clear the fog about color. Sharpen the relationships that each color has. Give you some tools to play with color in your life. Let's get rid of the frustration when it comes to choosing color. First pick your base color for wardrobe. This color will give you freedom from wavering. Mine is black or gray. I know how boring that sounds. The freedom of having every element in my wardrobe in black gives a confidence that you will be put together every time you leave the house. You can have two colors, but keep them in the same family or shades of the same color. You might select brown and tan. I have a friend that loves red. Some days she is dressed in nothing but red, another day there is just a splash of red, possibly her shoes or a scarf. Red is always part of her identity. Without one color to unify your wardrobe, your d├ęcor, your jewelry, you are going to continue to bounce around, undecided, every time you are put in a position of making a color choice.

    Let's continue to talk about color into the future, but for now pick your base color. This color will be your go to, when selecting other colors and to match things up. Make a commitment to this color, and we will explore this further.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Making Jewelry & Travel

How do you make jewelry when you are on the road? If you are like me, I can't stop making. There can be many reasons. I may be making a sample for a new class, there might be a art show in my not too distant future, I might be experimenting with a new design, and the reasons can go on and on. But right now in my life, I need to be making jewelry for the simple reason of sustaining my jewelry making business. Because of this when I take a trip for business or pleasure I have devised ways to
to take it all along. Fortunately I love my work and really isn't ever completely about work. I may have a deadline, now and again, but I'm always having fun.
     So you are going to benefit from my efforts to figure out what works and what doesn't. As a metalsmith, it is pretty obvious that it is impossible to work on the road, unless you are visiting another metalsmith that you have a pretty good relationship with, and that will allow you to work in their studio. Put simply a metalsmith needs tools and a work space. So I get all of my metal components for my projects finished before I head out. On the road I work on my beadwork or wirework. Everything packs up small and is really portable. This requires packing tools, supplies, and a work space.
     Tools for beading are pretty simple, scissors and a few needles, done. Wirework is tool intensive, and for that I take three pliers, wire cutters, a file, tweezers, a crimp pliers, and a crochet hook if I bring a crochet project.
I have found a travel pouch that is the length of the longest tool and has a zipper all round on the top with easy access. In the lid is an inside zippered pouch that I can tuck a finger file, the file handle, and the crochet hook. Take you time in find the ideal pouch. It's out there. This one that I am using was described as a shaving kit.
     If you are worried about carrying tools on an airplane, here is the link to the TSA (Transportation Secruity Administration) Traveler Information page. You can carry pliers, scissors less than four inches long, and a finger file. Now if I were to leave the finger file in the handle I have for it, I could not carry it, because sharp objects can be no longer than seven inches. With the existing rules today, I'm good if I take the file and handle apart. In talking with my students over the years since 9/11, there is an amazing amount of confusion about what an airline passenger can carry on the plane. If you are in doubt, it is very easy to find out before you head to the airport and feel secure about what you are carrying with you. If you are really in doubt, put that item in your checked bag and it will be waiting for you at your destination. For heavens sake, you can put a hatchet in your checked baggage. If you are totally paranoid, ship the questionable item UPS to your destination. It has been thirteen years since 9/11 and we need to update our thinking about travel and what we can carry. Things have changed a lot since that tragic day. Stay current with a quick visit to the TSA site. Oh and, scroll down on the page, it is a long page. That way you will get all of the information you need.
     Part of getting my outfits all together for my trip, is also put together my jewelry making projects. "Travel Kits" we will call them. I have learned over time that I really only need enough Travel Kits to keep me busy for the actual travel time, the flight time and the sit around time, and maybe one more if there happens to be a delay. (Yes, they do happen.) When I reach my destination you will be too busy visiting, eating, touring, or working, if you must, to be sitting around making jewelry. All of the Travel Kits go into another pouch along with any findings I anticipate I will need for the projects. I see ladies pack boxes and boxes of beads for a trip, because they can't decide what they want to work on. I say keep it simple, lighten the load, and take the time to create Travel Kits. Added bonus, when you get home you have all of the projects organized to keep working with no fuss.
     So this adds up to a pouch for tools, a pouch for Travel Kits, and a plastic box with a latching lid that will double as your work area. The plastic container that I have found is 11 inches by 7 inches, and is 1 3/4 inches deep. This is the third plastic container I've tried, and this one is a keeper. Once you have found the ideal container cut a bead mate to fit the interior of the box. I simply cut a square out of each corner and tucked the bead mat inside. The sides fold upward all of the way around the box. The best "surprise thing" about this box I am using, is the lid will snap off while I'm working, making the box easier to fit anywhere as I work. The lid can double as a place to contain all of your supplies, but out of your way. When working on the tray table on the plane and the guy by the window wants out, just close the lid, stand up, let him out, and continue beading until he gets back. Don't even need to miss a stitch.
     I'm aware there are many products available for travel and the jewelry maker. I'm not trying to be in
competition with any of that. These are my low tech. solutions for keeping it simple. I hope you have picked up a tip or two. The travel box and pouches fit easily in my carry on when traveling by air. If I'm taking a
road trip, all of this works well too. In fact, I love a road trip when I don't have to drive. For me it's a "beader's perfect storm." After years of traveling (in my past life I was a flight attendant for 33 years.), I'm at a point where I try to drag as little as possible around and still have all I need to entertain myself, and pass the time if need be, on the road. If you have any great travel solutions, add them in the comments below. It's always fun to hear what great ideas other people have come up with.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Put Your Jewelry on a Pedestal, Here's How

Do you need a quick jewelry display to feature one of  your most excellent pieces? If you only need one, this can be finished in an hour, tops.

My jewelry is currently in a juried gallery show in St. Charles, IL, Molten Glass and Metal Show, running January 11 through February 15, 2014. For that show, they requested display items, to best show off your work. I've always bought commercially available jewelry display items and then recovered them with a taupe faux suede fabric. This created  a distinctive look, yet understated to show the jewelry off .

The bracelet displays I had been using were a half round that displayed two or three bracelets comfortably. For this show I thought is would be nice to showcase the bracelets and brooches that I was sending individually. What to do . . . ? I thought it would be interesting to have cylinder pedestals at different heights. The local sources I visited didn't have what I had in mind. I did remember, however, that I had seen round gift boxes at the "dollar store". I got two heights and got busy covering them with my signature fabric.

First I made a pattern. Really I did my measurements and cut directly into the fabric. For you I have made a pattern that you can copy onto paper and adapt to your specific measurements.
Tool List: 

  • Scissors, Ruler, Tape Measure, Exacto Knife, Pen, Pencil

Supply List

  • Round Box
  • 1 Yard of Fabric, probably much less. If you are covering one box, a scrap will be large enough.
  • Spray Glue - 3M General Purpose
  • Card Board - 1mm thick
Cut the long fabric strip, cut 1/2 inch "V" notches on one side of the long length and straight slit notches 1/2 inch deep in on the opposite side. Spray back side of the fabric and the exterior of the box with spray glue, and roll the box carefully the length of the fabric. Match the bottom of the box to the "V" notch side of the fabric. Now slowly and carefully fold the "V" notch tabs onto the bottom, and the straight slit notches into the interior of the box. 

Turn the covered box bottom side up. This will now be the top of the display cylinder. We will now create a cover for what was the bottom of the box. Using the box as your pattern, draw around the box onto the 1mm card board. Cut the card board circle out. Draw around the card board circle onto the back of your chosen fabric. Free hand draw another line 1/2 inch from the line you just draw around the box. Cut the fabric circle out. Cut 1/2 inch straight slit notches about a half inch apart all the way around the fabric circle.
Spray glue on the back of the fabric circle and the card board circle. Carefully position the card board circle into the center of the fabric circle, and glue down. Fold notched tabs over to the back of the card board, one at a time. Glue to the top of the jewelry display.

For those of you that have done this type of fabric covering, this brief how to will have you on your way. I want to give you detailed instruction, and have written a four page PDF file for those of you that need a little more information. In the download there are loads of photos and step by step instructions from start to completion. You can purchase the PDF download at my Etsy Shop or on my 1 Bead Weaver web site.