At one point last week, while preparing for 2 back-to-back shows, I decided I am a glutton for punishment.  During the show set-ups and break-downs this weekend, I often feared the "shop elf" would quit (or divorce me.)

But we got thru both days and lived to tell the tale.  Fortunately, the weather was fantastic, even for Carolina -- mid 50s on Saturday and mid-60s on Sunday with sunny skies the whole time.

My sales at Cary's Ole Time Winter Festival were only middling (about 2x fees.)  There were some buy-sell vendors there, and the visitors were really not looking to buy at my price point.

On the other hand, my sales at Raleigh's Boylan Heights Art Walk were fabulous!  (7x (+) fees.)  All the art displayed was original and all artists were on site, set up on neighborhood lawns and porches.  (FUN!) The visitor traffic was heavy and constant and folks were ready to spend -- a great combination. 

Now my display units are stored away and the trailer covered.  I'll while away what passes for winter here, making my jewelry, working on my photography, honing my show applications and writing this blog.  :)
 
 

Leap of Faith

With Silver prices flunctuating wildly, but staying up in the stratosphere (I'm currently paying more than twice per troy ounce as I paid this time last year), I have found myself running into resistance from customers, re pricing.  I love the look of sterling silver, but it's difficult to offer true silver jewelry at a reasonable price point. 

So, I decided to look into Silver Fill as an alternative to sterling silver, at least in chainmaille where forging is not an issue.  I had heard from several of my trusted jump ring suppliers that Silver Fill is a viable alternative to sterling silver and is hands down superior to silver plated in terms of durability.  Plating is merely a very (VERY) thin coating of silver over a base metal.  On the other hand, Silver Fill starts with a thin tube of silver which is then filled with copper.  The ammount of silver in Silver Fill is 10% of total weight -- this compares favorably to the ammount of 14k gold in Gold Fill which is only 5% of total weight.

I tried Silver Fill on a small scale, using a ringpack from Chainweavers,  ( http://chainweavers.com/ ) for use in weaving their beautiful "Waterfall" earrings.   I found the jump rings  beautiful and easy to work with.  It seemed to me that the Silver Fill jumps rings have less "spring-back" than the Argentium  sterling silver jump rings I am used to working with.  So closures tend to stay  closed which I think is a very good thing.

I certainly will consider using more Silver Fill jump rings in my chainmaille.   There will be some transition issues.  For instance,  Silver Fill and sterling silver jump rings must not be used together in a piece -- but I already segregate Argentium sterling and regular sterling jump rings.  Also, the Silver Fill must be be tagged as such, so that customers know what they are getting.  However, I already mark Gold Fill as such (not that I have any pieces that are gold. LOL)  But, I think it's worth sorting these things out.
 
 

Measure of Success

The measures of success are not always monetary.  Didn't even make my booth fee on Friday, BUT -- designed a new set-up geared to an indoor show, and I now have some thoughts on lighting needs and solutions, etc.  So, I consider the show a success!
 
 

The Fruit AtThe Bottom Of The Bowl

Remember that Edgar Allen Poe short story where the murderer tries to erase all signs that he had been at the scene and is found there, gibbering, trying to wipe off the fruit at the bottom of the bowl?  Well, having made my decision to change my business name, I find myself in in a  similar position -- and, friends, it ain't pretty!  Here it is, Wednesday morning -- I have a minor show coming up this Friday afternoon and have just been struck by the realization that my price tags and packaging all bear the old name.  I've been congratulating myself on having printed up some temporary business cards with the new name, but I realize that cards are only the beginning.  Besides tags and packaging, I need to transfer my jewelry pieces to a new Etsy shop and inform customers and Etsy "likers" about the move.  I need to inform the State of NC of my new DBA -- don't know if I'll need a new tax ID.  I need to inform the shows I have been accepted to about the new name as well as the shows where my application is still pending.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera......... (Plus stuff I haven't even thought about.  Sheesh!)
 
 

So What IS in a name?

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I have been doing business as "New Byzantium Designs" for over 2 years.  I am now taking the plunge to change my business name to "LadySmyth Metals" and yes, I do know all the very good reasons not to do this.  But there are even better reasons to change the name.  In the course of the last 2 years I have come to what I believe is a very well considered conclusion that "New Byzantium Designs" is unpronounceable, unmemorable and uninformative.  I have heard way too many potential arts-and-crafts show clients  stumble over the old name and found myself mentally gritting my teeth every time.  Whenever I visit my local fixture supply house, the manager always inquires whether I have "gotten rid of that awful name yet?"   (Well, I guess he rembers it, but for the wrong reasons.)  Friends and family had doubts about the old name right from the beginning.  Soooooooooooo, here we go!  Good-bye, "New Byzantium Designs" and hello,  "LadySmyth Metals."