Monday, August 2, 2010

Featured Shop FantasyDesign

This week’s shop feature is on FantasyDesign ( Chris creates one of my favorite lines of jewelry called Gems of My Heart. She had shared the story with me, about how the name of the line was born, and it is so wonderful, I feel very privileged to share it.

So here is my interview with Chris.

Anne, I know you really like my Gem of my Heart Jewelry line, so we’ll start there. I have my jeweling room connected to my bedroom upstairs in my big old double story house. It’s like a separate part of the house that I keep very private and I always have incense or candles burning. I love my rooms to always smell wonderful. It is my “fantasyland” to work my designs and play with gems. I live on 7 acres of land in a tiny town with many other artistic people. It’s funny how a lot of talented people have been drawn to this specific area. There is no grocery store except a tiny little market, no traffic lights, and no stop sign. There are no liquor stores, no theatres, no hotels and no restaurants. There is a Baptist Church, a Grange Hall where the whole town can gather for spaggeti dinners and square dancing.

The Gem of my Heart jewelry line is pretty special to me. My Grandaughter Star is five and lives here with her Dad, my son Nate, and me. She is Grandma’s little miracle. She has given me a reason to be happy again since my husband of 28 years died. Star loves to watch me jewel. She is learning all of the gem names and her favorite gem is a Ruby. I was working in my room one day, and Star was there at my side watching. I attached a small ruby to a little shell heart and she loved it. She looked at me very seriously, she is child full of love but does tend to be serious, and said “Grandma, I know why you made this. It’s because I am the ruby gem of your heart”. I looked at her with teary eyes, hugged her, and a jewelry line was born.

I think I stand out a bit, because my line of jewelry is so different. For the most part, I do not use chains for my designs. I do use silver chains for a few sets that I mount gems for. I will set up some amethyst, peridot, citrine, Mexican fire opals, blue topaz, and get them mounted on post earrings to match necklaces. I love the gems alone and simple like that. Just one gem dangling from a chain and mounted on a simple setting. I love showing the bright rainbow colors standing on their own, but even better, and this is different, I love to string gem beads together and watch the play of colors with silver or gold. To take the gem beads and build from a center “Show”, up the sides that show off the center, and then place second “Show”, with smaller beads and gentler colors, so they compliment and enhance each other, but the smaller “Show” still stands on it’s own.

When I’m starting a new piece, the story usually starts when I am gathering beads, bead charms, and perhaps an animal bead. As I am getting the pieces together, something can trigger a thought, as if I am walking in the woods and see a beautiful butterfly with purple flashing on her wings, so then an amethyst comes into play. Then I notice that the butterfly has landed on lavender, and there are only a few flowers under the tree, so I only use three lavender beads. It can go like that. I also have numbers in my head a lot. I have three children so three beads in a row with thin silver slivers in between can represent my children. If I am making a longer necklace, seven will come into play because it represents my favorite number and represents me.

Every piece of jewelry I make is time absorbing. I never rush it, ever. Sometimes it can take a few days to go where I want it to go. Sometimes I get taken on an unplanned trip with a piece and it seems to put itself together, and I am just along for the ride. A lot I times, I restring something a few times because it just doesn’t feel right, and I don’t like it. I will not keep something together that I don’t like myself. I will cut it up, and start over instead. I have never given up when some creation drags on and becomes difficult. I just keep trying until I get it right. Once in a while, I hope someone will come along that understands what I have put into a piece.

I guesss in the long run, it’s not just about money for me. I wish to bring peace and gentle smiles to people when they come into my shop, then later when they are gone, they remember something I said, and it will bring another smile. Or perhaps they will have seen something I created and they will remember the beautiful gems sparkling together and it will still bring them joy and a sparkle to their eyes to match the gem. A soft gentle smile of inner peace and joy. Not necessarily an outer smile, but a true smile from the heart.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fantasy Designs Featured Shop

My scheduled featured shop for this week, was going to be FantasyDesigns ( Unfortunately, Chris and I missed each other over the weekend, and then I have been working double shifts at my day job. So, rather than move the posting of the featured shop this week, from Monday to Tuesday, I decided to extend the current featured shop another week, and give Chris a full week of exposure on the blog beginning on Monday, the regular new feature day. I felt I would be shorting Chris exposure time and it just didn't feel right to me.
My intention to give each shop a week, and then have one only get 5 days, didn't fit in with my intentions or purpose of the features.
As with the nature of any business, being busy is a good thing, and when things are busy or an artist is on a streak of new creations, stopping to give an interview can be disruptive.
So, Chris's feature will be starting Monday, and hopefully everything will be back on schedule for future blog postings. Flexibility is the nature of being an artist.
Thank you everyone for checking in this week, and I look forward to sharing the really touching story behind the Gems of My Heart line of jewelry, as well as all the other wonderful pieces of jewelry Chris creates. It's a story that actually brought tears to my eyes, and I hope that it I can bring in the feeling behind the line, and do it justice.

Friday, July 16, 2010

FantasyDesign Featured Shop for Monday July 19 2010

I couldn't be more excited to be featuring the creator of my favorite jewelry line, Gems of My Heart by FantasyDesign (www.FantasyDesign.Etsy.Com) for next weeks new featured shop. There is something about that line of jewelry, that just draws me to them. Chris also has many other fantastic items, done with some really incredible gemstone finds. If you are looking for a really personal piece of jewelry, at very affordable prices, this is where I go, and this is coming from a fellow jewelry artist (among my other other talents). I'm looking forward to getting to know more about Chris, how the idea of that line of jewelry, as well as the other pieces came to be. The talent behind the creations. I was asking everything I could think of, because I want to know too:)
I'm really looking forward to sharing this shop with everyone, and I hope you are as drawn to it, as I am.

Friday, July 2, 2010


I am pleased and honored that Erin with DramatiqueDesigns ( here on Etsy, has agreed to be the first shop owner featured. Being first, she has trusted me, a baby blogger, to not screw it up.
Erin's wrislets are fun, extremely well made, and in my case, custom made with the fabric I chose from her shop, and sewn to the specifications I chose for my blackberry. She's funny and dedicated, and extremely easy to work with.
So with that, I'm taking the jump into store features hoping to spread some knowledge, insight on the store owners, and information on how to make our stores more profitable, both by avoiding the costly mistakes, and finding out where the money can be made.

When did you start making wristlets and why?

I started making wristlets about 7 months ago while I was thinking about opening an Etsy shop. I realized that there weren't a lot of choices for very feminine and unique cell phone cases out there. I wanted something cute and pretty I could dangle from my wrist, not just something with a uniform look to it. I also added purses about 3 months ago. I felt it would be a great balance to my wristlets; Have a purse and store your wristlet inside.

After I was let go from my job last December, I applied for jobs but realized that with this economy I didn't know how long it might take to find a new one, and I've always been creative, being a stage actress, and have always had a dream of selling products with a dramatic, creative flair.

I hope to turn this into a full time income. My mantra is "You do not try, you do".

Have you done any advertising?

Facebook, twitter and my personal blog at

I've toyed with the idea of placing ads, but believe that I need to be bringing in a steady income, and have a solid business before I go pouring my dollars into something of that nature. Ads bring traffic to the sites, but if you do not have enough product and are still creatively trying to market your business, in my opinion, it can look unprofessional.

Do you do craft shows, and how do you approach potential customers?

At this time I do not do craft shows, but would love to make that part of my business. Exposing yourself face to face with customers is the best kind of marketing you can do.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome to Bubbles Of Thought From Circle A Naturals

Bubbles of Thought. I am very glad that my thoughts don't pop up in little bubbles over my head like in the cartoons. Could you imagine the repercussions of people actually knowing your every thought. It would be complete chaos. Divorces, lost friendships, lost sales.
I have friends that seem to be lacking the little yellow censor light that should go off before opening their mouths, and that is annoying enough.
Of course being the only sober person in a room some nights, speaks for itself. I've often been tempted to record some of these get togethers. I don't think anything else needs to be said about that.
If you come over to my house for the first time, you'll probably leave with at least 1 bar of soap. I love things that smell nice. I love being closer to nature here on our farm (though there is absolutely nothing even slightly romantic about the smell of manure on a hot summer day). The sense of community from living in a small town. How many people can say, their neighbor, without being asked, or even mentioning it, came over and spent 7 hours raking your hay, because they know you've just had surgery and can't be on a tractor? Many years ago, before my current husband, and the adventure of moving out to the farm, I don't think I even got a hello from most of my neighbors. I'm not scary looking, and generally really friendly, so appearance and demeanor were not the cause of their lack of being neighborly.
I live on a road, that if we see 2 cars we don't recognize within an hour of each other, we wonder which neighbor is having a party, or family situation. Otherwise, if you don't live here, you'd have no reason to be on our road. It leads to nowhere but farms on one end, and farms on the other.
I have an artists spirit, but can't draw, knit, use a kiln, or anything like that, so creating really wonderful soaps and skin care products, is part of my expression of my artistic side. Sometimes my husband will wonder what I've come up with, because the house smells so nice, or bars of soap sitting out, are so eye catching. Other times, he's been known to lean over and say "what is that". The what is that question, is a definite sign to either do a major overhaul on a recipe, or scrap it completely.
I've learned about the science of skin. The amounts of research I do, and have done, should earn me a PhD. The benefits have been worth it. I know what ingredients can sooth skin, brighten it, refresh it, help clear up blemishes, moisturize, exfoliate it, and just about every other thing you can think of. I use natural herbs, and what mother nature has provided, everywhere I can. I love the smell of honeysuckle, but to make honeysuckle soap, I have to use a fragrance oil, as the essential oil is unavailable due to the thousands of pounds of flowers it would take to yield even an ounce of essential oil. If it ever does become available, because of the amount of flowers it takes, I probably won't be able to afford to use it in soap, no matter how much I love the smell. Right now, rose essential oil is over $900 an ounce. I kid you not. Rose oil, is very literally, worth it's weight in gold, but unlike gold, doesn't appreciate in value, and can evaporate into the air, in a very short amount of time, if I leave the top off the vial. I have nightmares about that.
I love the creamy feel of the soaps I make. Their smell, their texture, the science behind what's in it. There are some very nice commercial soaps, but once you've had handcrafted, and been able to understand the short list of ingredients, you'll probably never trust the unlisted ingredients in mass produced soap again. In a world of chemicals in our food, our water, the air we breath, and no way to avoid them. it's nice to have some tiny bit of control over what goes into my body. Skin is the largest organ on the human body. I never used to look at it like that. It was just something to love or hate when looking in the mirror on any given day. If it goes on the skin, at least some of it gets absorbed. Put peppermint oil on your feet, you can taste it in your mouth. Weird but true.
I could go on and on this morning, as I was making a vanilla and cinnamon goatsmilk soap yesterday, and the smell made me hungry. I can't wait to get it photographed and listed in my shop CircleANaturals.Etsy.Com. It should be a fantastic seller. I just hope nobody takes a bite out of it. I actually had to stop handing out tiny little animal shaped soaps, to the kids being dragged around at the craft shows and farmers markets I sell at, because several popped them into their mouths, after being told it was soap, and not to eat it. They smelled good enough to eat, and they did. Now I give out samples to adults only. I've even had adults start to pick them up and put them in their mouths without a thought. Completely ignoring all the big banners that say "Handcrafted Soap", in 2 foot tall letters. I wonder how those same people manage to get thru to adulthood.
Anyway, I need sleep, and will continue my welcome and craft show stories on another day,
night all.