Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Little Secret Place

Who Doesn't . . .

Love a Deal??

I'm a sucker for deals and often end up trying to calculate if 20% off is better than buy-one-get-one at 30% off. (First deal is better.) Before figuring out the best price, there is a need to actually FIND the deals to compare.

I can steer you to some great online deals, but they are only guaranteed for one week. Members of Group2020, a small group of online shopkeepers, post weekly deals on Pinterest. The best news is that you can follow this Pinterest board to see the current deals.

Deals may include a bonus item, free postage, discounts, or whatever the individual shopkeeper is offering.

Need More Help?

Suffering from a lack of enthusiasm when looking for that special gift or present? See thousands of items from the Group2020 shopkeepers in this showcase.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pinterest as It Should Be

I love Pinterest and have dozens of boards showcasing handmade items for sale, interesting images, sayings, places, etc. These are things I am interested in and they are just like the many Pinterest boards other have created for their own unique interests.

My focus is mostly on getting my ideas and products to an audience and promoting the same for Group2020, my team. We tweet, Facebook, blog, G+ and love Pinterest to showcase our work.

But lately I've needed another way to streamline the paper notes, urls, scribbled designs, and other scattered information on my desk. I created a Pinterest board, just for me. It is hidden from the public and has images of things I want to remember: color schemes, designs, product photo ideas, things to try, etc. This is a wonderful "file" of things of interest just to me.

Perhaps this is how Pinterest was envisioned by its creators! Keeping the board hidden is also a good way to start a gift idea board.

See, and follow, our showcase board.

Visit my shops:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who Says These Are Nautical Earrings?

Here's the story

I posted a new jewelry creation in my online shops a few days ago and it caused a commotion! What really happened was a lot of people liked the item and a few had questions. Heck, how complicated are earrings?

I grew up on the ocean in a boating family where we didn't usually say the words "left" or "right" but used the nautical terms "port" and "starboard." Learning all the correct names for every part of a boat as well as making proper knots was very important. You might think we were preparing to sail a clipper ship! Not exactly, but we did sail. Yes, several sea captains are among my ancestors and their influence is abundant and welcome. Most of my siblings have extensive nautical decor in their homes, some salvaged from old wrecks. Last week I asked the car wash guy to get the mud off my vehicle's "bow" -- er, hood. If there is reincarnation I was a sea captain at least a couple of times.

Back to Red and Green

Channels in and out of harbors are deeper areas and they connect places in the same way highways and roads do on land. Highways use signs, but channels use markers -- most being red or green. To find your way back into a harbor there is the RRR rule. Keep the Red marker on your Right when Returning. With red markers on the right, green is on the left. The reverse is true when leaving a harbor. This little tidbit is essential for safe navigation and steering clear of shallow or rocky places. Many of the markers are buoys and are numbered.

On very special occasions, just a few times a year, my father and siblings would all wear one red sock and one green. Some wore their red for returning and others for departing! A few boating women in the family, too dignified to do the sock thing, wore one red earring and one green. It didn't matter what kind of earring, just a matching pair except for the color. My mom had several sets to choose from for nautical events and parties.

So in remembering all those fun times and the red and green, I made this particular pair of earrings, one is red and the other is green. They are perfect for yacht club parties, boating events, etc. And yes, you can call them holiday or Christmas earrings if you want. You can also buy a pair of red and a pair of green in case your schedule of boating events is light.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Has Autumn Changed or Is It Me?

Growing up in New England,
One Could Never Ignore
the Rotation of the Seasons 

From the bleak bare trees suddenly laden with buds to the happy harbors settling in for a time without boats, growing up in New England I learned to anticipate the cycle of activities and holidays of each time of year. The costumes for halloween, the feeding of birds in snow, Christmas sharing and visiting, the frozen feet sore from ice skating, mom's aromatic cinnamon buns, smells of spring, the scraping, painting and launching of boats, swimming, sailing and fishing. Special things unique to each season comprised my world.

But . . . other than the excited start of a new school year, autumn mostly made me sad. It was an obvious time of brilliant color and also of death. It was as if the season itself were a tutorial about life. Brilliant and then gone. That sad reality was so obvious and innate, even to a child. It was not a time when a child might discuss sadness with a parent or elder. The sadness was so personal as to be beyond vocalization anyway.

Work, study, responsibility, and stress obscured the observation of seasonal changes during many years. Autumn nearly slipped away unnoticed in those times, but its heavy heart never fully departed.

But then . . .
Decades melted away and I relocated away from those demanding and dramatic seasons clicking like a relentless clockwork. The churning cycle of nature is more subtle here, like a slow dance. The weather extremes are sanded down toward a comfortable range. I see I am now part of autumn in all its brilliance! Oh! Wait! Autumn seems to be perfection now. Sadness has melted. Has autumn changed or is it me?

Colors infuse my clothing choices where once they were missing. Color pops from my creative work every day. New ideas for products are many. Autumn in this life is wonderful! I want to stay up all night and create jewelry!

See my jewelry shop LehaneArts

See my chainmaille jewelry shop Lehane

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Irony of LABOR Day

Every holiday has its nostalgic aspects and emotional memories. Labor Day, for me, is somewhat ironic

Labor Day is like an exclamation point marking things that change each year like the ending of summer and beginning of fall, or the start of a new school year. For some it is the welcoming back of the football season. Parades and barbecues mark the day we celebrate labor.

Most years I have paused during Labor Day and noted my gratitude at being employed, or at starting new classes, or in being able to provide products and services to my customers. Rather than focusing on others, for me, Labor Day is a celebration of work and achievement and being part of the multitude of cogs that spin and grind and keep the world running.

How ironic that for many work is halted on the day we celebrate it!

The celebration of labor and workers who have built, and continue to create, the backbone of the country through better workplace conditions goes back to the 1880s. At first a few individual states began to recognize a holiday for labor. Eventually the gains and demands of the labor movement's struggles—often earned through protests, violence, and sometimes police shooting into unruly crowds— were celebrated with the creation of a national holiday in 1894.

There are plenty of work issues persisting today, equal pay, wage gaps, and unemployment to name a few. But the holiday and the serious issues seem disconnected to us.

How do I celebrate this year? I'm focusing my energies all week on promoting my online shops and items for sale. In a typical week I usually work to promote items from my online reciprocal promotional groups.  This week the focus will be me. Seems like the old labor movement would appreciate our communal focus and also awareness of the importance of the individual.

Here are links to a wonderful group of small business owners and to my Etsy shops.  These are perfect places to find that special gift!

Enjoy your holiday!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Is a Jump Ring and How Is It Made?

People want to know why

jump rings are opened and then closed

I enjoy creating with jump rings and knowing that these same small objects, and many of the weave patterns they form, were invented centuries ago.  Usually when I describe objects made from jump rings there is mention of a number of rings "opened" and "closed."

People want to know why jump rings are opened and then closed. In order to understand why, there is a need to know just how these rings are made. 

Jump rings are created from wire. The wire is fed onto a mandrel and wound around it to form a coil. Think of a tightly wound spring. To convert the coil into rings, it is cut on one side for the full length. The resulting rings are not closed circles because the ends do not exactly meet. When the ends of a ring are bent to a closed position, there is a small gap where the saw cut it. The size and smoothness of the cut indicates whether the rings are excellent or poor quality. 

To create something with jump rings it is often necessary to bend the ends further apart to hook them together in a particular way and then to close the rings so they stay as set. 

Although these simple components seem easy to use, their measurements are critical to being able to follow a particular pattern. The wire gauge, or thickness, is one important measurement for the rings. Other measurements are the internal and external diameter. Every jump ring pattern works within certain of these size parameters and will not work if they are not correct.

Rings come in many types of metal including gold, silver, titanium, niobium, steel, aluminum, as well as rubber. They may also be shapes other than round. Some even use square wire!

If you see an item created in a chainmaille pattern, now you know a bit about how the rings were created and why they needed to be opened and closed. 

Some of my chainmaille creations can be found in my Etsy shop

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Quirky Makes the World Go Round

"Strange, Not Normal, but Cool"

That's the way one source defines quirky. I prefer to focus on the cool, unusual, and unique aspects of those things we call quirky. Many handmade items can be called quirky. 


One of the benefits of handmade products is that many such items are unique and cool, the definition of quirky. Unusual color combinations, interesting use of materials, or a focus on shapes may define such creations. Many of these cool and unique items can be further adjusted to make them just what you want.

In one of my online shops I sell a line of quirky pendant necklaces. They are unusual and can be customized with your choice of color in the leather cord necklace as well as in the length you choose. Quirky meets customization! When you work with the seller of handmade items there is often the possibility for customization, perhaps for a small fee. 

Need it longer, shorter, a different color? Why not ask? We who create quirky items do love our work and will try to work with customers. There are limits, of course. I wasn't able to make a blue crystal pendant turn white,  a bracelet shortened to 4 inch length and still be closeable, or a cord swapped out on a necklace whose beads were too tiny. But many other requests were met.

Here's where you can find these and more quirkly items.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Choice, Options, or Customize?

My Blue Streak Perfecto

In a world flooded with things: choices, options, and customization all seem so common. But are they just alternative words for the same thing? If not, which is best?

I've thought about choices, options, and customization—and their subtle shades of meaning—for years. Why? I'm one dubbed with a first name that can have several correct spellings. As a child, those cheesy, store-bought name plates and name keychain displays caught my eye as if they were gold ingots!

The dozens of available names seemed like millions to me back then. But my most methodical scanning and searching revealed there was never just the right one for me—one with the correct set of letters for my name. Choice! Lots of choices, none exactly right!

It was so easy to envy Tom, Dick, and Harry or Ann, Sue and Marie! I looked for those displays with names back then and I still do search them whenever I see them.

Soon something better happened. During one of my parents' trips to the grocery store, I departed as usual for the cereal aisle and reading those "precious" offers on the back of all the 1950s cereal boxes. It was a marvelous exposure to offers, deals, exaggerated claims, and phoney images. BUT, one ad offered a little "license plate" customized in your choice of colors and words. Could it be?? My childhood grail! A customized plate for my old, second-hand, bike. Made the way I wanted! Now to convince Mom.

Thinking customization was the answer to all questions and world problems, it was time to plan. The bicycle was named "Blue Streak Perfecto," so a blue license plate was the obvious choice. Oh, how it now seemed wonderful to plan a plate with the bike name and not my name. Kids would know I got that custom plat somewhere extraordinary! Oh no! There was a limit on how many letters would fit and my poor "perfecto" couldn't make the cut. About 2 months later my "Blue Streak" plate arrived and proudly hung from the bike's seat for years. Lesson learned: customization has limitations and takes time.

There is a large span between many choices and customization. Price and time play in those extremes. I think products offering options suit many purposes. Products with options are not as expensive as a fully customized item, and yet they can more closely represent preferences without a big expense or long wait.

In one of my online shops I offer handmade chainmaille pendants on cord necklaces. People purchase for the design and color of the pendant — not the cord. Perhaps they do not like the cord. Now I am offering upgrade options on that cord. It can be leather, you can pick the best length — and happiest of all — you pick the leather cord color! The upgraded clasp is sterling silver. Make it classic, whimsical, or color coordinated!

What a difference a colored cord makes!

Order a pendant and custom leather cord in April, use coupon code BLOG04,  and receive free US shipping.

Coupon available in  for chainmaille jewelry and for selected pendants

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Strikes Once Again

Are Humans Mostly Just Like Cars?

You know, they all are similar with a few different colors, horsepower options, and features. Are we all that different from each other? Or are we mostly similar? I've been thinking about this for a while, especially as I watched all the non-news regarding the missing airplane. We all are curious, worried, sad, and more. Nationality has nothing to do with it. Nor does language or color. A Chinese mother's sobs are not foreign to us, nor are tears and anger. I think we are just like cars, so similar!

Our ancient ancestors worshipped the sun and moon. They knew about seasons and plants and the time to grow. This information was crucial to survival for them. Today we eat food brought in from all over the world, but deep in our bones are the old memories of planting and seasons and sunshine. We no longer worship the change of seasons, or do we?

Today I walked through a garden shop filled with thousands of plants and flowers. The sun was overhead, filtered with just a screen. Plant pots for sale, and those occupied, were filled with water from yesterday's rain. That damp earth smell was everywhere. A riot of colorful patches filled the neat rows of flowers. It was easy to be one with those ancient humans who plotted the seasons and time to start their crops.

For me, it will be orange marigolds and red salvia that remind of ancient connections, gardens past, and happy memories. And if neighboring hummingbirds stop by, that will be fantastic.

Spring rituals are pulling me to a chorus of species' memories this season. Worries have shifted from an unfinished airplane story to concern about potting soil quantities. The flower pots have been patient until now.

You can get the celebration of spring started with a new piece of jewelry I made to look just a bit earthy. Click the links to see more and better photos as well as details and purchase info.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Humans and the Communal Bond

There are many ways we humans show and share our communal bonds. 

Major league sports exploit our need to belong to a group with their sale of team clothing, decals, and more. Kids wear their team colors, shirts, and jackets — or not. Each is a statement of belonging to something or deciding just the opposite.

We love flags and colors for what they represent. But we mostly love the feeling of belonging to something or the feeling of being somewhat outside the norm and bucking the tide.

And soon we will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day. A major event is some places and perhaps not noticed elsewhere. I grew up near Boston, a big city with a large Irish population. I'm descended from Irish immigrant grandparents. Our relatives in the "old country" sent my mother a small box of living shamrock each St. Patrick's Day and I took the mysterious green and white box to show off its contents at school. I wanted other kids to know I belonged to something mysterious and special.

There is something magical that happens when people wear patriotic colors on patriotic holidays, or pink for breast cancer awareness month, or red for heart disease. An instant bond or communication can take place.  Some become insiders in the special group.

My parents said that "everyone" is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. But for many years I was in the group that didn't want to identify with any trendy thing —no green on St. Patrick's Day, no patriotic colors on July 4th. So amid the greenery in my Celtic jewelry section on is a gorgeous blue necklace marking just a bit of the old rebellious spirit that drives my ambition.

Here's an invitation to view and perhaps purchase something special for St. Patrick's Day at and just because you do, I'll offer free shipping to a US address until March 14 with the code shipfree314 at checkout. Come on and join the fun of belonging to the ancient and mysterious Celtic ways, at least for one day this year!

My Jewelry Shop Calved!

A New Calf!

My jewelry shop on Etsy was a bit overstuffed 
with a wide range of items and so it "calved." 

The original shop now houses my chainmaille creations while the "calf," or new shop, is home to the crystal, gemstone, dichroic glass, and other jewelry items.

Both shops are popular and see roughly the same daily traffic. They each also inform viewers about the other.

Check out my renovated shops and their grand reopening. Use the code shipfree314 at checkout for free shipping to a US address now through March 14, 2014.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Group2020 Shop of the Week

Creations with Incredible Details

Every "Shop of the Week" seems to have some amazing aspect to their creations. This week is no exception. creates all-natural handcrafted soaps and incredible jewelry.

Today my focus is on the jewelry at, made using a technique called bead crochet which dates back more than 135 years! Incredible focus is needed to first. plan each design, then to figure out the pattern in bead sequence, to string the beads, and to finish the piece.

BUT, these beads are quite tiny and creations using this technique use hundreds and thousands of such beads in intricate patterns. Take a look at these two items and just think about the skill required to handle the beads, let alone design the patterns.

For details click here

These earrings measure just 2.25 inches from the top of the earwire to the bottom of the beaded area, and yet  hundreds of beads were used as this closeup shows. The beads are light and dark teal and copper color to suggest the Caribbean Sea on a warm day.

•   •   •

For details click here

Now that you know hundreds of beads are used for small earrings, just imagine how many are in this 7.5 inch bracelet! And if handling all those wee beads is astonishing, don't forget that the pattern must be followed exactly as the work is made. Wow! We should all be in awe of the work done in this shop. Seeing these patriotic colors is great, too!

My Chainmaille Now on Etsy

Selling Handmade Items Online
Some Thoughts and Migrations

I've been selling online for a long time, starting with Ebay back about 1999 and followed by a parade of other places. This week I decided to focus selling my jewelry in a new way. Rather than running several shops on various venues, I am focusing on migrating my items to two shops on Etsy: one for chainmaille and the other for all other jewelry made with crystals, beads, glass, metals, mood beads, etc. 

This will make each shop easier to navigate and categorize. At the moment many of my chainmaille items can be found at more items will be migrating in the next days.  Here are two items from the chainmaille shop.

The other jewelry shop will debut shortly and there will be a blog post about it at that time.

Why does it matter where you sell online? 

As sales increase a few things take on more significance. For instance, can sales tax be automatically added to the appropriate sales, can the shipping label have the address info automatically filled in, do buyers trust and recognize the selling venue, is there an easy way to list variations on items, is there a shipping discount, and can a customer select an option or ask a question as they purchase. These minor things are not obvious problems until sales volume increases. 

So I choose to make a great effort to consolidate my shops in order to access these benefits. Check out the chainmaille shop, if you use the coupon code blogFEB2014 -- good through February -- shipping will be free on any purchases.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Shop of the Week from Group2020

Hand-Forged Jewelry
Heirloom Quality
Hand Cut Mixed Metal

Prepare to be stunned when you visit Cuprum29,  "Shop of the Week" from Group2020! This shop is on Etsy and the links below the items will take you to more detail and purchase info.

These ethnic-inspiried jewelry items are unique. Bracelets, armlets, rings, pendants, barely describe these intricate creations. The mandala necklace and earring set, shown below, are inspired by traditional mehndi tattoo designs from India. All of the metal components used to create this necklace and earring set (excluding the Czech glass beads, chain and clasp) were sawn, stamped, formed, drilled and then cold connected using wire formed rivets.

Mandala Necklace Mandala Necklace And Earring Set

Some of the bracelets are bold and modern with their streamlined design. 

Another beautiful piece is this Magen David Judaic pendant make with riveted copper and brass metals.

Magen David Judaic Pendant Mixed Metal Riveted Copper And Brass 

Each of the unique items in this shop is carefully crafted by hand.  Search for a toe ring, a bullet ring, a set of bangle bracelets, a set of commitment rings, or pendants for sisters and you will find amazing items unlike any others.

Friday, January 31, 2014

March 17 Celebrates Many Things

St. Patrick's Day,
Evacuation Day,
& the Start of Spring!

Most people know March 15 is St. Patrick's Day and in some locales it is a recognized holiday with big parades. Few know much about the saint, except that he lived in Ireland a long time ago.

But I learned there are other interesting things associated with that day.

As a child, my mom (first-generation Irish born here) taught us about St. Patrick and each year we proudly carried an Irish flag and genuine shamrock to school on March 17, until one year. That year I no longer walked to the neighborhood school, but commuted to Boston, Massachusetts, every day. The trip took over an hour due to heavy traffic and waiting for the two buses, train, and then another bus. My schoolmates were nearly all of Irish descent.

After a while at the Boston school there was a mastery of the quirkiness of the old school building with its hundred-year-old desks, creaky wooden floors, mimeographed books, ink wells, and ancient water bubblers.

Eventually we neared mid-March. Our assignment was a written one, a contest, and the best essay could win a lot of money! With all the St. Patrick things at home it seemed an easy project. But the topic was not St. Patrick, it was "Evacuation Day." Hmmm, What was that?

The local librarian, not in Boston, found a one-sentence reference to Boston's Evacuation Day and it has nothing to do with St. Patrick, but everything Irish. The day commemorates George Washington driving the British forces out of Boston in 1776 at the beginning of the American Revolution. With Boston's large Irish population, the 17th of March was an obvious choice to establish the city's holiday in 1901. By 1941 the holiday was observed in all of Suffolk County by government offices and schools, but not most private businesses.

However, by 2010 it was decided that Evacuation Day should no longer be a holiday because of the expense of paying state and municipal workers for an extra day off. So March 17 has reverted to St Patrick once again.

Family traditions can be misunderstood and strange, too. One grandfather declared that spring always started on St. Patrick' day. At that date I always pulled out my summer clothes, even amid the snow, and was never reprimanded. A feat that always amazed me! Decades later and hundreds of miles away, I still believe grandpa was right because for a few days around March 17 robins flood this neighborhood during their migration.

Gramps told a lot of tales. Me? I tell a few and I make jewelry. Here are some St. Patrick's day earrings I made. More photos and sale info is available if you click the links.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Can We Vote Out This Rule?

Can We Please Cancel
the 80-20 Rule?

You know that rule, it has many expressions like 80% of the problems are caused by 20% of the issues, or, flipped over, 20% of the effort completes 80% of the work. You can spin this concept many ways and it seems to work well in all sorts of situations. This concept is also known as the Pareto principle, or the law of the vital few, and works in the natural world as well as business and economics.

What I find discouraging is that if 20% of the effort completes 80% of a project, then the final 20% of a project will require overwhelming effort -- 80%. Experience says this is true.

In practical terms, I have reorganized my office/work space for the most part (80%). The big things are moved, hooked up, reinstalled, and working. But it is those oddball piles of papers, magazines, gadgets, and whatnot that are not yet finalized. Are these my "vital few"? They create 80% of my frustration as they glare and scold all day long.

The quick solution is to sort: filing, trash, recycling, or shredding. Why is that so hard? In researching about the Pareto principle I discovered that a common misconception is that the numbers must add to 100. In a given situation 80-10 or 80-30 may be more accurate. All of which means there are many ways to stall that sorting process with research!

If you look ahead to St. Patrick's Day, here are a couple of my jewelry pieces that may provide 80% of your Gaelic wonder. The links go to my online shop where there are more details and images.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wonderful Shops of the Web
Sharing My Discoveries

There are so many shops online that searching for a particular item results in an overwhelming list of  where to purchase. Rather than helping, it can be discouraging.

So, from time to time I'd like to share some online shops I have found that are real treasures.

Today's shop is so appropriately called "Cozy." It is a place of comfortable and cozy handmade items and it will appeal to those looking for unusual and practical gifts.

Here's an example, a knit cotton hand or guest towel.
There are also very colorful and unique headbands, cotton washcloths and more. Take a look at this very Cozy shop and be amazed!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creativity Takes Control

Important New Discovery!

Taming creative hurricanes

There comes a time when the swirl of projects, plans, failures, and successes becomes a hurricane of disaster. I seem to live in a place where cyclones happen more frequently inside my studio/office than on the weather report. Perhaps this can be called "creative chaos" -- that sounds positive!

I admit to being a creative junkie. There, I said it! From creating websites, to making and selling jewelry, designing newsletters, cards, and prints — there is a lot of activity here. Lots of papers, receipts, bills, plans, ideas, and especially to-do lists. Mailing supplies, postage printers (2), supply bins, stored completed items, file folders, and back-up drives and equipment — all claim a bite out of my space.  When a huge project comes along and demands full attention, these "space invaders" try to claim more territory and settle in shifty new places.

Making a gorgeous newsletter or website from overly dark photos and 25 articles with 25 formats and even more fonts is simple when compared with playing lion tamer to my creative space's tornado aftermath. But I made a discovery!

Replanting everything in new places only works for just a blip in time. I needed a new modus operandi.  Decisions had to be made. Every paper and folder was evicted and subjected to intense interrogation. Ancient receipts and statements were tossed in one box with their days numbered. Archived papers in other categories got flipped to the trash barrel. How was this newly possible? Aha! the agent of change is a very large paper shredder.

Arriving just yesterday, this hungry beast ate up years of history in an hour and freed up much space. It worked speedily and quietly, only asking for a sip of oil now and again. There is a new best buddy sitting beside me now. I must find more for it to devour! I know just where to look . . .

Next, some equipment and furniture will play musical chairs to reorganize the printers, but that's a tale for another time.

Happy New Year!

Find me online: