The Song

The hair. The clothes. The voices. The BEST Christmas song.

A Quick Trip

gEM's in Geneva, Switzerland

gEM's in Athens, Greece

gEM's in Winnipeg, Canada

gEM's in Kitchener, Canada

Lightbox Lessons

Since I joined Etsy, I have been trying to improve my product photos. I believe that a great photo is necessary and important to on-line shoppers: colours, textures, and angles make it easier for an on-line shopper to take the purchasing plunge.

And good photos also help you get "discovered" for Treasuries and maybe even Gift Guides!

I have searched for suitable backgrounds and props for my jewelry. Ultimately, I decided that my art is best displayed on a plain white background. What sets my jewelry apart from that of others is my use of colour, pattern, and texture.

Periodically, I still struggle to get a great photo...even with the light tent (light box) that I constructed this summer. But undoubtedly, my best photos have been taken using my plain white box.

cardboard box, glue, utility knife, ruler, white muslin, white bristol board, and time!

If you are planning on making your own light box/tent, here are three important tips:

1. bigger is likely better
I thought that since I was photographing jewelry, I wouldn't need a very large cardboard box. This box measures 10" x 10" x 10" with a 6 1/2" x 7" front opening. The whole front is not open, because there is white bristol board surrounding the inside of the opening. I assume this is necessary for light reflection.

I have since discovered that when photographing "fiddly" things like earrings and necklaces, you sometimes need to get both hands in to move things around. This box isn't quite big enough for both of my arms, especially while I am wearing gloves, and winter jacket!

2. cut multiple backdrop pieces to have on-hand
Bristol board has a matte side and a shiny side - both finishes will mark when you are dragging around jewelry.

I have changed the backdrop a few times. I use both sides, and then install a new piece.

3. don't let your cat sit in it
Cat hair is hard to remove from all of the various planes, especially in a compact space that doesn't fit both of your hands at the same time.

holiday shopping Part 1

My Etsy Shop

Get your holiday shopping started (or finished, for you lucky ones!) here. From now until December 6, 2009, I am offering 15% off your purchase (before shipping). PLUS if you spend over $20 (before shipping and discount) you will receive a free gift. When you make your purchase, please specify RED or GREEN in the message to seller box, for your free gift!

Dot Handmade

I recently participated in an annual neighbourhood Art Walk. Over 50 artists sold their craft, amongst the backdrop of beautiful homes, a blue sky, and the crunching of autumn leaves.

I didn't have an opportunity to check out any of the other artists, except for the the work of the three women that I shared a space with.

But - someone did find me! A co-worker from 15 years ago stopped by for a visit. We worked together at a local African bead and artifact store, mostly enjoying the beads. Michelle was the first person to introduce me to beeswax and crafting metal links.

These days, Michelle still loves beads and all things handmade! Please check out her Etsy shop DotHandmade

so much to say

Easy on!

Metal free!



Every art has tools of the trade. Items needed to complete your masterpiece - make it possible. Tools may include a paint brush, a staple gun, counter space, or a level. But a tool of the trade may also include a specific environment, a certain feeling, or music in the background.

I decided to ask some of my favourite Etsy sellers what their "tools of the trade" are.

AnnyMay can't live without her sewing machine. The sweet re-purposed house slippers in the below image are one of her designs. But for AnnyMay, her sewing machine is at it's best in her century house, surrounded by her family - surrounding herself with family is her tool!

Zenbecca needs her tiny, super sharp scissors and glue sticks - lots of glue sticks. She also needs lots and lots of stuff - inspiration just happens. But along with inspiration, must come the courage to crack open the stash of goodies, and the vision to see beyond the obvious.

Visit zenbecca here

Watercolour artist, multi-media artist, CrazyBliss has a tool arsenal, including her own two hands. But to be at her creative best, she needs space, and some time to herself. Pencils, paper towels, paper cutters, screwdrivers, cutting boards, synthetic watercolour brushes, and good lighting are her regular tools.

Visit Crazy Bliss here

Making the perfect handmade soap, jam or jelly, or even a lip smacking lip balm, BovineBubblesandHogwash needs her scale! And for all of her super shower goodies, with a waterproof label, she needs her laser printer!

Visit BovineBubbles here

And the best tool of all, no matter what your art, was mentioned to be by CrazyBliss - yoga. Yoga to start, and taking breaks while you are working to stretch yourself out. Yoga not only brings increased strength and flexibility to your body, but it can help to clear your mind...opening up the creative flow!

a ghostly story

Let's continue with the creepy, Halloween-y talk...but I still don't celebrate Halloween ;)

I believe in ghosts. The harmless ghouls that make your hair stand on end. The spirits that lurk in your halls and walls, that cause you to feel that you aren't alone.

My family lived in such a house: a house haunted by a single ghoul (we think) who roamed our rooms, in Port Hope, Ontario.

It doesn't look like a haunted house. It has some quirky steps outside, a gracious veranda, and lots of windows.

Creaks and ...groans? Yes, every house has those, right? Unexplained tumbling vase of roses? A face, floating...

The specifics have since left my memory. I can't give you the year, or the date. But I can tell you what happened. In the middle of the night, and months later.

My bedroom, visible as the two upper windows in the first picture, was spacious. My bed was on an inside wall, with the two tall windows to my right, and my door (complete with transom) was on my left. The floor was made from wide pine planks, and the walls were covered in yellow floral wallpaper.

One night, I awoke, and found myself frozen in place. I was laying on my back, covers pulled up to my chin. Frozen. Frozen with fear. The "ghost" was in my room, and for the first time, I could "see" him. No one in my family had caught a glimpse of the "presence" in our home.

Until that night. He wasn't looking at me. His profile, a man with dark, tight curled hair, and a beard like Abraham Lincoln, was suspended in the air, across from my bed. I only saw his profile, because he was looking out my window. I remember closing my eyes, and opening them again, only to still see him "suspended" in the air. I didn't want him to see me. I didn't dare move, call out, or pull the covers over my head.

Eventually, I fell back to sleep. The next morning, I reported the sighting to my family. Along with a name...Walker.

Months later, a property search for our address (performed for our realtor) showed the second owner of the land to be "Walker".

my Halloween

I'm not one for Halloween.
Of course, the stores, even the fabulous on-line store Etsy,
are brimming with Halloween goodies. It's hard to avoid the orange
and black, the laughing pumpkins, the scary cats, and the towers of candy!

Since I can't avoid it, I decided to scour Etsy using two search words
in the "Handmade" category: Halloween, Canada. I didn't
intend to search too deep or for anything obscure.

And I found these awesome cards!

She's Batty Designs

I could give one of these cards to anyone,
and it would bring about a smile.

She's Batty Designs has cards for lots of occasions!

The Woman of a Kazillion Talents

Near the end of September, I had the pleasure of meeting Pegg, the woman behind fiveforty on Etsy. A mere 11 hour drive from my home, hides a baker, a chef, a weaver of rugs, a lover of pearls and baubles that she translates into gorgeous jewelry, and a great lady to spend a day with.

Pegg's crafts are spread throughout the house. And if cooking is a craft, then her crafts are outside too, in her flower and vegetable gardens! Bags of beads; piles of sweaters and t-shirts waiting to be woven in to one of her 100% recycled rugs; rows of veggies waiting to mingle in a salad or a tasty casserole.

My new recycled rug from fiveforty!

The Road to fiveforty !

As a member of Etsy since May 2006, fiveforty is an expert curator of treasuries (collections of the work of Etsy artists, assembled by Etsy artists), and her stunning collections have graced a handful of Etsy front pages. Oh yes, and her own work is often found in treasuries too!

Pearl and Copper Earrings

Would you like to get to know fiveforty? Please check out her blog Five Forty at Home. Be sure to scroll down, with your eyes glued to the right side, and there you will find some tasty Five Forty recipes. I recommend the Thin Finn Pancakes!

sharing coconuts

Ok - so I am in love with coconut beads. You know that already.

When I was recently asked to share my coconut story, I wasn't sure what to say, or what to think.

What more can I say other than coconut beads are awesome!

I did end up saying a bit more, and you can read about it HERE, along with other coconut stories!


I have never been asked where I find the inspiration for my jewelry. Thank goodness.

I'm not more creative in one season compared to another. I don't spend time looking at other shops. I don't read fashion magazines. I don't love food (making or eating!) so I don't derive ideas from creative meals, and produce in the fields.

I do, however, love colour. Simple as that *.

I like to think that I have a keen sense of style - and I just know what looks good. I've been known to wallpaper my wall, and three months later, my paper selection is in on the cover of a furniture catalogue.

Here is an example of how my brain works, using my most recent long, asymmetrical necklace:

I recently ordered some beads on-line. Not having many bead shop options in my city, I now find myself strolling through on-line shops. The trouble with this, is that there is no instant gratification! I can't caress the beads or roll them around in my hands. I can't sit and admire their colourful goodness.

So instead of planning in real time, as I would have, had I shopped in bricks and mortar, I dream about them. What will I create with the beads, soon to arrive in my mailbox? What combinations will I choose?

My latest purchase has two colour tones that I don't usually work with: peach and purple...eggplant to be more specific. In the nights leading up to the package arrival, I fell asleep imaging my new peach and eggplant necklace.

*I have design training, which I apply to my jewlerly

into the sunset Prairie Girl

The final necklace, featuring my fave wood teardrop shaped pendant is off to a new home. Four great necklaces now have new homes in Winnipeg, Bowmanville, and even one in Texas.

If you work your way clockwise from the top left corner of the collage, you can experience the evolution of not only my photography - but the inspiration behind "Prairie Girl" as well.

I've had fun.


Why not go nuts for coconut?

There is little waste from a coconut: milk, oil, fruit, shells...

For years, the shells have been used for making jewelry: necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings.

Coconut can also be used to make gorgeous accessories like this PURSE

But for emmsgems, coconut is all about the beads...and buttons!

Coconut Button Earrings

Back to School

It's that time of year again...Back to School! Time to load up on supplies, and refresh your child's wardrobe.

Here are a few suggestions from emmsgems for Back to School Coolness:

How about a reusable lunch and snack bag from WasteNotSacks

Or a little pouch to hold supplies from Kukubee

And when the day is done, when it's time to wash the day away, why not enjoy a soap treat?

Donuts, popsicles and ice cream soap treats from CarvelCountrySoaps

next up...

First, there were big and chunky bracelets. Now, I am all about long, asymmetrical necklaces.

*but don't shed any tears, chunky bracelets are still being churned out, as are all of my other goodies!

These necklaces have all the same goodies: wood (including exotic woods!), gemstones (like the turquoise pictured in the above necklace), glass, and a new material for me...resin (unlike Amber).

Fall is coming and long necklaces sure do spice up collared shirts and turtle necks!

another covert operation

Here is another great thing about Etsy...

Anyone who belongs to Etsy, as either a buyer or a seller, can create a list of "Favorites". That is, when you see an item that you like, you can mark it and return to it at any time, say...when you are ready to buy it. Part of your profile, is a page of "Favorites".

The great thing about this, is not only does it make shopping easier, (no more searching for the scrap of paper where you wrote down obscure names and numbers, that when looked at later, mean nothing to you) but it is viewable by anyone who knows your username.

But easy shopping for yourself isn't the only great part - your favorites can act as a list to your friends who want to buy you a gift!

I was excited when this message came attached to a recent purchase, "This necklace is for a friend of mine. I saw that she had "hearted" it, so I bought it for her..."

*"hearting" is what you do when you add something to your "favorites"

How awesome is that?! Selecting a gift, handmade at that, that you know someone has had their eye on, without having to ask them!

Now, the only obscure words on that scrap of paper will be your friends usernames!

we were highlighted!

Etsy has their own blog, The Storque .

From here, you can find your way to an article on just about anything craft, vintage, handmade, or Etsy related. It is updated frequently, and even includes some nifty articles for Etsy sellers on how to best promote and arrange their shop for optimum exposure and sales.

A selection under the "Shopping" categor
y of articles includes "Etsy Finds". The admin behind Etsy shop for you! They find what's hot in Etsy shops, and bring it forward in this column for you to see.

Yesterday's column was all about accessorizing yourself... Access Yourself

Check it out, and scroll on down to the belts, bracelets, and shoes section, and there you will find...emmsgems!

Oh, and if you love this stacked bracelet, I'm sorry but it has since sold. However, emmsgems has oodles of other bracelets and funky jewelry!

At this time, I am unable to find an exact number of total shops on Etsy. But I can say this, shop numbers are in the hundreds of thousands. And if you like numbers, here are some more:

The shop with the most sales (not including findings and beads): The Black Apple (art prints) has 24, 177
#2 is Dennis Anderson (bath and body) at 19, 139

Sales for the Etsy world in June 2009 were $12.8 million

1,315,547 new items were listed in June 2009

How a Bead Becomes a gEM's - Part 3

Colour scheme selected, pattern worked out, and approximate number of beads necessary to create a finished necklace of 16"-17" have been counted out.

Now it's time to string! Or assemble the necklace.

On necklaces like this one, I recently switched from dacron as a stringing material, to silk. Silk has a beautiful, and flexible drape...no kinks will happen here!

When I used dacron, I finished my ends by melting them with an open flame. Now that I use silk, I have switched to Crazy Glue Gel (silk turns to ash when it is close to flame).

Other string materials include tiger tail, Beadalon, hemp, waxed linen, leather, fishing line...

As almost all of my creations use natural stone, variations in size, colour, and shape can occur. I try my best to weed out "mis-matched" beads from a piece. This can involve stringing a few beads, and then holding it up to check the position of the beads relative to the other beads. It's like painting a wall, and stepping back to check out how it looks.

When I make earrings in particular, I am careful to get the beads as similar to each other as possible - as similar as nature can make them, and that sit in my collection. The beauty of natural materials is the uniqueness of each bead!

A few other things that I should tell you about how I string beads:

*I use beeswax to prevent from the end of the silk from fraying while sliding beads along it

*I don't use beading needles. I have tried many over the years, and I just end up frustrated. I am very skilled at manipulating the beads (even seed beads) in between my thumb and index finger (multiple beads at a time). The beeswax also provides a slightly stiff end, which is easy to use.

*I drop finished, but not yet clasp-ed up, pieces all the time

The Scribble Group

This spring, a collection of artists, with Etsy and a love of handmade in common, combined their creative minds to create One Of a Kind Art. The completed OOAKs are being listed for sale on Etsy, under the seller name, TheScribbleGroup , with all proceeds going to charity.

*Sales from the months of July, August and September are being directed towards Jay and her team of Groovy Boobie Girls, for the 2010-60km Weekend to End Breast Cancer

Not only did I have a hand in creating a 9 of these master pieces, I have had a sneak peek at the progress. I can't wait to see all of the finished "Scribbles"!

Each piece is created in 3 steps. After completing a step on 3 pieces (each artist had an opportunity to be either the first, second, or third contributor), the contributor forwards the pieces to another assigned artist.

3 steps. 3 artists. Completed piece!

At any one time, 27 or more pieces of art were zipping around the Canadian landscape via Canada Post.

The woman behind the Scribble Group concept is the talented emmarts, a generous woman with a passion for art and learning. Please check out her etsy shop here: Tickle Your Senses

Contributing artists are unveiled as their pieces are listed, but I can't forget to mention two other people who have made this possible.

Bovine Bubbles and Hogwash



Scribbles make great gifts!

A Little Gem

In this first post, of random little gems, I want
to make sure that you know of the following:

an alternative method to cooking corn on the cob!

Corn on the cob, a summer staple in many homes! Boiling up a big pot of water on the stove, and dropping in the fresh corn ears, is quite possibly the most common method. With some forethought, you can cook them on the BBQ - husks included - if you soak the entire ear first. You can also grill up a husked cob.

But what do you do if the grill is overflowing with other summery goodness, and the weather is hot and sticky, and turning on the stove is the last thing that you want to do?

Loosely wrap a husked ear in wax paper, and mircrowave it! In our microwave, we give each cob two minutes. Yum! Perfect and juicy!

*take care when unwrapping each cob, as steam will escape

How a Bead Becomes a gEM's PART 2

In our first, How a Bead Becomes a gEM's piece, I showed you where gEM's are created. Now I'm going to take you further in to the creation process.

gEM's contain any combination of the following ingredients:

semi-precious gemstones
wood beads and/or pendants
sterling silver

And sometimes any of the following ingredients may become an integral part of a gEM's:

fresh water pearls

I have a huge selection of semi-precious stones, in a variety of shapes and sizes, in beads and pendants. My favourite stone is turquoise, in all of its colours: blue, green and yelllow. A close second for me is carnelian (most often found as a firey orange colour).

So the pendant, or focal bead has been selected, and now the search continues for just the right extra pieces: some wood, and a stone. Glass is used sparingly.

Once the pieces have been selected, I begin to lay out a pattern on my bead board. I start by placing the pendant in the center of the bottom, and then placing the next largest bead. Other beads fall in to line, and I may discover that the left side of the board, and the right side of the board no longer match. I may shuffle the bead order around, creating 2 different patterns, or I may even add or remove a particular colour/style from one side.

On a rare occasion, I may leave the bead placement on the board, and walk away, to return to it later with fresh eyes. Patterns are evaluated for weight and balance, of not only colour, but texture as well. As they say, Rome wasn't built in a day...

I love doing this!

In my short time as someone who sells their craft on-line, I have only done this twice...and I have to say, it makes me feel good.

I love packaging an item up, and sending it off as a gift to someone other than the buyer.

I feel like I'm part of a secret club, or like I am in on a big plan. Very covert.

I am in the middle of packaging up a bracelet and a pair of earrings as a birthday present. The buyer asked me to exclude any pricing information, and address the package to her mother, as it was a gift for her birthday.

My jewelry already comes wrapped up in tissue, and is slipped in to a silver bag, but I love to add a gift tag, or some special tissue paper.

I also love that people are comfortable to let me in on the plan. It's me that goes further and asks if they would like anything special on a tag/card. So far I have sent a Christmas gift (ordered from overseas, and mailed to a local address) and this B-Day gift.

So don't forget all of the other occasions when a funky emmsgems bracelet is the perfect gift, or maybe a pretty pair of earrings is what your friend needs to brighten her day.

*I'll even add confetti if you will take the heat for the clean-up

Canada Day!

Canadian deals to be had...

Many Canadian shops on Etsy are having Canada Day sales! Here are a few that I have purchased from recently:

Super talented artists are offering their creative works with super special Canada Day deals!

On-Line Shopping

I have bought my share of items on-line. To sell on-line, I like to understand and be familiar with the experience of shopping and buying on-line. Items that I have purchased include various handmade goodies from Etsy.com, bead and beading supplies from both large business, and independent seller, and of course...concert tickets. My purchases from Etsy.com alone have included jewelry, jam, note cards, knitted and crocheted items, and soap!

Are you a bit wary of on-line shopping?

Here are some of the things that I look for when taking the on-line plunge:

1. easy and secure payment
2. multiple photos of the item you want to purchase (if applicable)
3. check the dimensions!
4. shipping: is insurance available? what method of shipment does the seller use/offer? be aware of customs rules and regulations, as well as the amount of time it can take for an item to clear customs; if the seller uses a courier service be aware of brokerage fees, which can tack a lot of money on to your purchase
5. comments/reviews from other people who have purchased from the buyer
6. is the item coming from a home with pets or smokers?
7. return policy

There is a whole world of products on-line just waiting to be discovered! Shop for gifts, necessities, or a little something for yourself...opening up your mail box and finding a package with your name on it is a great feeling...way better than bills!


Up and coming in my iCraft Exhibit:

5 OOAK bracelets at awesome prices!

I have decided to use my five iCraft placements to feature particular styles/colours/pieces in a rotation. One week devoted to that weeks theme. Keep coming back during the week, as new pieces in the theme will pop up. But remember, this is the kind of "exhibit" where you can purchase what you like...and we strongly suggest that you do so, so that your favourite doesn't become someone else's favourite!

First up is: Chunky Bracelet Week.

How a Bead Becomes a gEM's - Part 1

I would like to show you how a bead (and I have many!) becomes a necklace, a bracelet, or a pair of earrings...in general, how a bead captures my attention, and becomes a gEM's!

Creation Station

Where do I get my beads:

I prefer to buy my beads in person. It isn't about examining each bead, rolling them over in my fingers, planning a future piece...it's about grabbing whatever catches my eye. I find this more difficult to do with on line shopping.

I have a favourite bricks and mortar bead shop. I have been shopping here for over a decade:

Arton Beads

If you are ever in the Toronto area, I highly recommend this shop. The owners (River and Alice) own two stores, side by side. One store (the original) sells findings, wood beads, glass beads, lots of stringing material and more. The "new store", the one highlighted on their website, sells gemstones, pearls and sterling silver findings and beads. Make sure to visit both stores!

Where do I find inspiration:

art work over my bead table (beside the window!)

My inspiration comes from the beads themselves. I know my beads. I know what I have, and I often find myself thinking about my collection when I'm ready to fall asleep at night. Occasionally, I will sit down at my bead table, and scour through my containers, pulling out pendants and beads until one calls out to me.

some beads

My creation station is messy, and only half organized. While some boxes of bead tins are labeled (wood, focals, etc.) that doesn't mean that there aren't more wood beads somewhere else. I have multiples of all my tools (3 round nose pliers, 2 tape measures etc) and scraps of materials (really, it's the garbage) from previous creations still in a divider on the beadboard (of which I have 3).

That is step one of my uncomplicated process!

you should have some!

I am hooked on making bracelets, in particular chunky bracelets.

It must have something to do with the season, and our change of clothing. We find ourselves shortening our sleeves, or even taking our sleeves right off! A perfect canvas is exposed (even behind a billowing 3/4 sleeve) for showcasing a fantastic bracelet!

Pattern. Chunky. Wood. Funky. Colour.

In particular (but not exclusively) I have been making bracelets on a clear stretchy cord (from what I have seen, and tried, this cording makes the most inconspicuous and tight knots). The great thing about stretchy bracelets is that they are so easy to slide on (no fiddling with clasps or toggles!) and they don't slide too much around your wrist...making it easier to sip your fave summer drink!


have you been here?

Have you been to icraft.ca ?

icraft is a Canadian venture, similar to Etsy...where you can buy emmsgems in Canadian dollars! Okay, you can buy a lot more than just emmsgems, and you can buy in other currencies too.

Check out iCraft!

Be sure to visit my creator exhibit: emmsgems


Etsy has a fancy little buying feature: shop local. You can enter the name of a city (like your own), and find all items created by artsies and craftsies in your neighbourhood! You can shop handmade local - or find something special to send to a far away friend from their hometown!

Here is a local treasury:

dressing for the kitchen

It's as if a light went on in my kitchen last week! I finally understand why people wear aprons. I am fairly "new" to kitchen endeavours: a "green" chef and a "raw" baker.

I am constantly running my hands under water, and drying them on my kitchen hand towel. I find myself tempted to just wipe my hands on the dishtowel, and sometimes even the hand towel, in order to save my hands from drying up. Then it hit me....like a bag of flour...if I was wearing an apron, I could just wipe my hands on it!

I'm embarrassed.

Here are a few of my favourite aprons:

New...vintage...there are so many cute options!

You can even use your favourite fabric and make your own!

Am I crazy to say, "Bring back the apron!"
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