Friday, 30 August 2013

Fair Warning ...

Thanks to everyone for being so gracious about the long gap between posts. Bonnie it's nice to see you here,  I love your comments on my facebook page.  Barbara,I agree with you about factoring in commission. My husband is a sculptor and sells mostly through galleries, we are talking 40% minimum!!!

Fair warning – I am going to go on a little bit of a rant (measured but still a bit ranty) which will probably be of no interest to anyone except etsy sellers later in this post.  But first there’s this…

I’ve realised that the reason I don’t make earrings that often is that I don’t make earrings that often. This does make sense, promise. Earrings are on such a different scale than my usual work that when I sit down to make a pair it takes me way longer than it should to get something I like.  Once I’ve got a couple of pairs under my belt it all starts getting much easier as I get into a rhythm.

see the boar hair tassels - wasn't sure if these would be a turn-off
note the artfully placed dried leaves from my garden!!
I still think feathers have a meaningful role to play!!

My latest obsession however is with leather cuffs. It started with a fabulous belt I found in a thrift/op shop – dark brown, a little bit distressed, with an embossed tribal pattern.  It’s been sitting in my stash whilst I figured out a way to attach things to it and what kind of fastening I should use (I wanted to avoid snap fasteners).  Eventually I came up with this focal wrapping technique – basically a long piece of copper wire, balled on the end which goes down through the leather and up the other side of the focal and then wraps and around itself to form a spiral.  I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it but I was pretty happy to find a solution that suited my work. Another advantage is you only get a little bit of wire on the backside of the cuff so it’s not uncomfortable to wear.

This piece uses exactly the same technique.  I’ve got another one in the making which has a much smaller focal so only needs one piece of copper to keep it secure.

I decided simple was best for the fastening so it’s literally just punching a hole in each end of the cuff and threading recycled sari silk ribbon through. The added benefit is that the cuff is fully adjustable – larger wrists simply need to loosen the ribbon.  I’ll supply each cuff with extra lengths of ribbon so people can change-up the look or replace the ribbon really easily.

Talking  about recycled silk and leather, I thought I’d team them up in a wrap using another, much thinner, thrifted belt.   I’ve knotted the sunstones, beads and other bits on with waxed linen which is super strong and will ensure the silk (which is glued to the leather) stays on.

Now for a bit of measured ranting

I’ve been selling my work on etsy for a couple of years or so now and I love it.  It’s a fabulous community with some really wonderful supportive people, but there have been a number of changes to etsy recently and not all of them,  in my opinion, good.  Anyone who has been to etsy in the past few days will notice they’ve changed feedback to a review based system.   

Whilst the previous system was flawed I have some real concerns about this new system which I consider to be incredibly pedestrian and reductive.  I hate the idea of rating my purchases with stars, it’s just so … eBay - Moreover, the star rating is very item-centric.  I know evaluating the actual thing you buy is pretty damn important but there are other aspects to a transaction including communication and customer service, these are part of the reason we shop on venues like etsy after all. But, by far the worse aspect of the new system is the removal of buyer feedback all together.  There is no longer an option for sellers to provide buyer feedback at all! I’m a buyer and a seller and my original feedback rating incorporated both – I was proud of my feedback as a buyer as, amongst other things, it demonstrated my strong commitment to a handmade aesthetic.  I know there are lots of  other buyers out there who are really really dismayed to have lost all their feedback literally overnight.

Of course the reality is that etsy is a vast marketplace and, whilst there has been a huge negative reaction to the reviews, I suspect there may be just as many in favour/don’t care.   The point is that I really don’t have any control over this or any other aspect of the way etsy is managed – I don’t resent this at all, it is what it is.  But, from a ‘risk management’ perspective this is a real issue for Quisnam.  Right now etsy is a wonderful forum for artists like me, but if they choose to grow in a way that doesn’t suit or even disadvantages my business then there’s really nothing much I can do about it.   What I can do is make sure that I don’t have all my eggs in the etsy basket so to speak. So, one of the things I’ve done this week is set up my own website with an integrated store at  

I don’t plan on leaving etsy so my new site will operate alongside my etsy store.  The new site also gives me a place to add additional content including photo galleries, news, even my blog, but most importantly it gives me a sense of control.


  1. I just viewed your new site and it's WONDERFUL! Very professional, easy to see for my poor eyesight, and very easy to maneuver. Silly question: Where can we post our "reviews" on your artwork there? Would be great to have a page dedicated to praise! Then again, I'd probably fill it up! Someday I hope to own a great amount of your works! Needless to say I've shared you on Google+ as well as my personal FB page :) As an Etsian myself I will be looking into all this you've had to say. Thanks!

  2. Agreed whole-heartedly on reviewing the item rather than the artisan- this itself is proof Etsy are only interested in products, not who makes them. You know, in all this gold star nonsense, by far and away the biggest thing I've heard from SO many people is 'I feel like I have no control over my shop- I need my own website'. In a way this horrible, horrible decision by Etsy has 'forced' a lot of people to think about what they want for their business (and it's usually more than Etsy gives).

    On another note- I find the opposite problem to you, I can't seem to get myself to make necklaces! Every time I crack open my work boxes I end up with about 24 pairs of earrings laid out, no matter how much I try to focus on necklaces.

  3. Just wanted to say that I just bought one of Kate's pieces from her new
    store. Easy and buyer friendly process.

  4. Thanks Kate -- I am with you on the earrings. I have to overcome an inertia to get going on them, and they seem like alot of work until I can get rolling. Off to vitsit your website. Thinking along similar lines, myself, so thanks for the leadership and sharing.

  5. Your website looks wonderful. All of this discussion about Etsy has made me think long and hard about building a site to list my jewllery and I think I need to revamp my costuming site too so lot's of work is probably going to happen this weekend. Love the cuffs by the way.

  6. Those are very unique accessories. You are very creative for designing each of your masterpiece.