Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving Old Vintage Dyed Coral by Sealing the Coral

Beautiful Vintage Dyed Coral Drying in the Sunlight
Saving Old Dyed Coral is well worth it, most of us, (who are lucky enough), have strands of big, chunky coral in our Bead Stash. The problem with it is that over time, the finish has worn away and if they get wet, they bleed dye all over you and your nice clothing. For this reason a lot of good jewelry making material gets thrown out or otherwise discarded.

I was lucky enough to buy a lot of coral from a good friend who just didn't want to even try doing something with the material, but I knew from a good Gemologist Friend of mine that it could be saved by using a good clear acrylic sealer.

Here is a photo of two pieces of Coral, the one on the left is sealed, the one on the right is still unsealed, you can see that the piece on the right is faded and very dull.

You will need a can of spray Acrylic Sealer, (I use Krylon Crystal Clear Indoor/Outdoor Protective, Non-yellowing Clear Finish), and a protected area outside to spray.

I use paper towels to protect my table top, it doesn't stick to the coral  shells and my table is a work surface, so I don't worry about over-spray.

Wash and lay out your coral to dry, spacing it so you can rotate it easily between coats.

At this point you may want to touch up white spots where the coral has chipped or broken with a sharpie pen of matching color.

If the coral snaps off at a black joint it can be easily super glued back together and touched up with a black sharpie.

Next you want to apply a layer of acrylic sealer evenly over the pieces and let sit to dry.

After about 20 minutes you can flip each piece and spray the other side. Repeat this process until you get the results you want.

Let dry thoroughly before storing away.

As you can see below, this process works great and brings back the finish of vintage coral, that looks even better than the original!

This coral is well worth saving as there aren't large beautiful pieces left on the market anymore and the colors of dye are not as nice as they used to be. Save some Vintage Coral Today!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sea Shelling in Wisconsin? Sometimes Hitting the Beach is Picking Shells in a Friends Northern Boat House!!

Where do you begin to sort such treasure? (just a small sampling from one box)

After soaking in bleach the long sorting process begins!
Sometimes finding choice seashells involves hunting the most unusual places, even thousands of miles from the nearest ocean beach!

A dear friend of mine from Baraboo, Wisconsin had heard I was designing and making original shell jewelry and said there were a few boxes of shells laying about in a boathouse on the Wisconsin River from visits to Florida beaches decades ago.

I was flabbergasted to find they were wonderful quality specimens of just about every size and description, carefully packed away for crafting projects that had never happened as the person who had so carefully collected, sorted and stored them safely away for future crafting had passed away unexpectedly leaving the collection abandoned and languishing to a fate of eternal storage, my friend being unable to lightly part with an important part of past lives lived.

Gladly, my friend found me worthy of bestowing the collection to as I was of a like mind as its originator, that of making beautiful things from found wonders of nature.
Scallops drying in the sun, an unusual sight in Wisconsin City Parks...

Some of the Sand Dollars sorted from different boxes and ice cream pails!

Cockles anyone?
As I worked on grading and sorting over several days, it was as if I had a window into the mind of this fastidious and skilled sea sheller as she picked her way along the beach taking only the most exquisite specimens she found. She, like I, had a passion for olivella shells and sand dollars, scallops and conches, taking only the best and most unusual of what she found.

As I sat at a picnic table at an RV park in Platteville, Wisconsin I couldn't help but find myself walking the windswept Gulf Coast with this unusual woman whom I had never met but felt a truer connection with than most living people as we cleaned and sorted her lifetime of treasured memories.

We became friends of sorts and it almost seemed as if her hand guided me as I selected and classified each shell and many times in the Fall breeze I heard her whisper stories of how she found a particular specimen on a certain day when the sea and surf was particularly beautiful and the smell of the ocean often wafted close as I worked.

Although one can find quality shells at wholesale prices both in the stores and on the internet, a find like this is a true treasure trove and is an adventure itself into the mind of the collector as you sort and clean, communing with them in a shared love of everything ocean.

Olives! Sand Dollars! Oddities! True Treasure drying before the fireplace at the end of a days sorting

More Cockles! More Sand Dollars of every size and description!

I spend a great deal of time traveling in the Northern parts of the country during the Summer and I am always amazed that just about everyone I meet has a sea shell collection no matter how far they are from the ocean.

Some were sent to the recipient by Grand Parents or vacationing relatives and friends, others were picked on a once in a lifetime trip to the beach as children long ago.

The love of sea shells is universal, no matter where you live or where your path in life takes you, you can always be sure to find in even the most remote sea less shores a small box of shells collected from the beaches long ago and carefully preserved by the owner as a treasured memory as precious as gold and other family heirlooms.

I was blessed to be the recipient of this great gift of the sea from Wisconsin, and I hope to do its former possessor proud as I make beautiful things to share with others who may never have a chance to hear a wild sea gulls cry and the sound of a rolling surf tinkling musically on the shore of our great Southern oceans. I know she will be watching me and I will enjoy her company as I work with her self found treasure.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Etsy- What I Wish I Knew When I First Started Selling Stuff

When I first opened my Etsy Shop back in March of 2012 I was an official "Newbie" and I did everything wrong. In hopes of helping someone out who is just opening or considering opening a shop, I thought I would share a few things that I learned along the way that would have saved me a great deal of time.

What is Etsy? 

Etsy is THE Largest Seller of Handmade items in the world. There are controversies over what defines handmade but essentially it allows sellers to list items in their shop that have been substantially created by the Artisan Him or Her self.

If you are planning on selling white postcards with one line of print on them you will probably not have a chance, but if you have a good handmade item that is easy to make and something other people would find desirable, Etsy is your Market Place.

 Should you sell on Etsy? Why not! It's FREE and it just takes a bit of research before you are off and selling in no time!

 Naming your Shop 

When you are going to start a shop, think about your merchandise and try to name your shop something that relates to your products. I should have named my shop, "Sea Shell Treasures" or something along that line, but being I was not exactly sure what we would be selling, I chose a rather generic term that covered all situations. If I had it to do over again, I would have been more specific and may even start a new shop under a more specific name in the future.

The reason you want to do this is that Google uses your shop name in it's search data base, so if your shop is named "Joes Shoes" it will come up in google search every time someone searches for "Shoes". Google is a very important part of etsy, it's the way most people will find your products so you want to be google compliant.

Directly under the Shop name is your shop title, make sure your future sale items are described and listed here also in less that 90 characters.

Under this is your shop announcement. Many people use it to list sales and such, and that's fine, but it should also describe what it is you are selling once again and what makes it special. These three items are the first thing everyone is going to see when they come to your store. Tell them what you have and why it's unique to you without getting into story that for your "Profile" and your "About Me" Page. Google also uses this info for it's searches so use some keywords, even repeating words from your store description and title to give special emphasis to the search engine.

Shop Banner 
Do a search for Graphic Artists on Etsy for making a professional shop banner, or make it yourself if you know how, it is better to have no banner than a bad one! Some people go without the banner so their items are higher up on the page but it's up to you!
Profile Page
This is where you begin to tell your story of how you started out and a bit of back round on how special your products are because they are handmade by you, (or if you are doing Vintage, why you became a collector and why your collection is so important).

The following Online Lab videos are very important and the second one is quite long, but this is a very important part of your shop, you are up against over 10 million etsians and you need to be special to get their attention and loyalty.

About My Shop Page 
This is new to Etsy and it is important, here's where you show pictures of your shop or process in creating items, it's the best way to showcase your process and show you are a legitimate Artisan. Be creative, short and to the point, include pictures of any and all contributors making the items yous sell.

Item Titles and Descriptions
 The following Online Labs are more important than anything can say here, but I will add this, if you are trying to get seen in Google and Etsy Search, (and believe me, you are), you must use keywords in your title and description that accurately reflect what you are trying to sell so when a customer types in a search term, they get your item search result as opposed to ten  million others sellers items. 

In a nut shell, you have to name your item and initially describe it using keywords that will get customers to click on the thumbnail and enter your shop. You should try to say what your item is in the first three words so it is readable under the thumbnail in the title, such as "Big Red Shoes" or "Girls Blue Jumper", you should then go on to add a few keywords into the title such as "Girls Blue Jumper size 10-12 Floral knee length".

In your description you want to restate your title in the first line but mix up the order, perhaps adding a word or too. "Girls jumper size 10-12 blue floral knee length with pockets". This is very important for search engine optimization.

Below are the Labs for the rest of your description, personal storytelling at it's best!

Pricing For Profit

The Basics of Pricing

This is so important, I have just copy/pasted the entire thread for your reading, Etsy just recently implemented these changes and you can't get found without following these rules! I have included the link if you want to check out the rest of the forum:

On Search Engine Optimization:

Original Etsy Post

HeyMichelle says Edited on Aug 13, 2011
Since Etsy’s default search has changed to Most Relevant from Recently Listed, many sellers are wondering- how do I make my listings more relevant? Well, fear not! We have compiled our top tips for boosting the relevancy of your items.

Just getting started? Be sure to read this Seller Handbook post first:


The best way to begin revising or evaluating your tags and titles is to start thinking like a shopper! Etsy’s most relevant search is built to connect shoppers with exactly what they want; so showing up at the front of the search results requires that your item (as defined by your tags and title) matches what a shopper types into the search box.

1. Put the most important keywords and phrases at the front of your titles. What are the most likely words and phrases that a customer would search for? Please see tips below for finding important keywords. Eg:

BEFORE: Lotus Blossom Pink and Yellow Children’s Dress.....
AFTER: Girls Dress - flowers....etc etc

2. Use a variety of strong keywords and phrases in your titles and tags, and vary what is at the front of the title (be sure to always use the most important keywords and phrases, though). Don’t name everything the same thing! Each listing is a chance for a buyer to find you, if you diversify your keywords you’ll be found by lots of different searches. For example, you might start off a few listing titles with each of your strong keywords or phrases, then use other great terms on other similar items in your shop. Eg:

Girls Dress - etc etc
Children’s Dress - etc etc
Toddler Dress - etc etc
Cufflinks....etc etc
Cuff links...etc etc
Steampunk Cufflinks...etc etc
Wedding Cufflinks...etc etc
Silver Cufflinks...etc etc

3. Use your most important, major search terms in your titles and tags. The top keywords found in your Shop Stats can help you find these. But they should always be evolving, so experiment with new keywords. More help with deciphering your Shop Stats here:

4. Add more items to your shop on a regular basis! Remember, recency does play a role in search results sorted by relevancy to keep things fresh when shoppers use broad search terms that return thousands of results.


1. Think about what a shopper would be searching for! What elements of your item would be most important to a shopper? What the item is, such as a necklace or hat, is often a great place to start. Try highlighting different aspects of the item...for example, if I’m looking for a painting for a specific space my living room, I may search by the size, colors or theme of the painting that I want. Try different types of terms and then check your Shop Stats to see what works.

2. Start typing what you sell in the search bar, with Handmade, Vintage or Supplies selected to find relevant search terms. Think of synonyms and try those as well!

3. Look in your descriptions to find keywords. Often you have some great ideas in there!

4. Brainstorm with others! They can often come up with terms you wouldn’t have though of. Ask people you know who would be in your target market, and ask other sellers on your Teams for ideas.

5. Use these resources to help think of keywords:

Google’s Keyword Tool:


Showing up in a search result is great, but ultimately you want the right buyer to click on your item listing.

1. All views are not created equal! Remember you want to connect your items with the right buyers, not hundreds of uninterested buyers. So keep it relevant. Comb through your item listings. Get rid of the tags that buyers probably aren’t using to find this particular item.

2. Take great photos, since they will get more clicks in search. See the photography articles in the Seller Handbook for tips:

3. Don’t sound like a robot. Remember, showing up in search results isn’t everything. You’ll also need to connect with your buyer when they find your items, so don’t just fill your titles up with a string of keywords. Find the right balance that works for you.

Our biggest tip? Go slowly with making changes, and use your Shop Stats to see what is working before making more changes in your shop.

Also, we have a video series that will start tonight and will run through next week where we will critique shops to give the sellers tips for to improve their relevance. You can find these videos here, once they are up:

This is just the tip of the iceberg for starting your shop, and the information is daunting, but if you get it right the first time you wont have to change things later and you have the best chance at success.
Be sure to check out Etsy Forums and join the "Etsy Success Team" to get even more great fellowship and advice!

Good Luck! More to come- Photography, Shop Stats and What they should mean to you, Nay Sayers, etc...

Welcome to Sea Shore Gifts, my new blog about Sea Shell Crafts using all natural materials for your Home, Wedding or Holiday Occasion. Here I will be sharing just how I create these items so you too can make your own Nautical Creations!
My Shop is located HERE.