Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Silk Color Palette Challenge Introduction

Where do you find your inspiration for color palettes for your art and your life?
Marsha Neal Studio Macro Image of Cone Flower
And what do you do with that inspiration?

Personally I am a color and texture addict.
I love pull a lot of my inspiration from photographs, art, magazines, nature.
Pinterest anyone???
It is all quite visual. If I can hold something - that visual then becomes combined with the way something feels and it is like inspiration overload...

This overload often leads me to get into the clay studio and start to work on new jewelry components.
Marsha Neal Studio ceramic clay accent beads - coming soon!
Then comes times to figure out how to work those components into finished pieces (boy am I thankful there are a lot of great jewelry designers out there willing to use my work in their designs!)

Marsha Neal Studio "Stormy Waters" Silk Knot Bundle
Pin It

And then there is the silk...

My actual silk obsession, as far back as I can remember, started as a child - in the JC Penney women's lingerie section. I remember asking my mom to park me in the stroller next to the slips while she shopped. I slept on a hand sewn pink silky pillow case and wore the silk off of my "baby blanket"...

My obsession with silk ribbons in a more formal way started when I used to travel to bead shows all across the United States to sell my ceramic pieces to jewelry designers. I met Ute, the woman that hand paints the silks I carry, out in Tucson in 2005 and I happily came home with a small batch of her hand painted silk ribbons to sell along with my beads.

Pretty soon I realized that people were not only coming to me for my ceramic work, but for the silks.
It was not long before I was ordering them in bulk batches by the thousands in three different types of silks (2mm, Silky and Fairy Ribbons) in over 70 colors.

One of my most enjoyable things to do while selling at bead shows was watch the color palettes people would pick out for a project they had in mind...
You can tell a lot about a personality by the colors (earthy, bright, neutral, cheery, etc).
One of my favorite palettes ever - all rich muted tones!
These days I have two little kids and I no longer travel to sell my work personally through shows.
I miss that face to face customer interaction...

My studio is in my house, and this is where I go every day to work.
Being an artist isn't always about being creative...
In my case it is more about being an artist that runs a business & trying to come up with fun interactive marketing ideas to keep my business alive.
That 90% work, 10% creative studio time is very realistic in my world.
"Mom - I like this one the best!" Purple - Yes!!! She is a bead girl in the making...
My energies are seriously focused on selling through my website and Etsy shop so I can keep my business up and running.

I still love to see what silk color palettes people pick out for their work as I pull silks to fill orders.
2mm Silk Ribbon Strands pulled for an order.
And feeling this joy from working with the silks and pulling them for your projects & getting to know so many people through social media outlets - it got me to thinking:

How can I get more people involved with this picking a color palette thing?
It makes me happy, it would make them happy too.
How to make it a challenge?
Network with other artists?
Have lots of fun, and give stuff away (I love giving stuff away!)...

This is where Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge idea came about.
My thoughts:
Take a photo that inspires you (respect copyright, use & give credit or don't use it) and pull colors from that image and make a palette of (10) of the 2mm silks that I sell and make a "knot bundle".
Help me sell and promote it & run challenges of your own along with ones I will run here on my blog and we can have a blast with this stuff and get creative juices going.

And I can give stuff away (did I mention that already? Hmmm...)

So want your first chance at getting FREE stuff?
Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge"><img src="" alt="Marsha Neal Studio Silk Color Palette Challenge" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
First Way to Win: Feb. 29 to March 4, 2012 (closes midnight EST)
1. Add the silk color palette button to your blog sidebar or website to help me promote this event (copy and paste the html code into a html gadget on your blog - for blogger. Other blogs, not sure how it is done).
*You can copy and paste your blog address into the comment if you share the button so I can check it out too (I love finding new cool blogs to follow - don't you?)
2. Tweet, Share on FB, whatever social media outlet you take part in...
3. Then comment here on this post that you have done so for every action you take.
*Every comment you leave for each action gets you one entry for a drawing for a free (10) 2mm silk knot bundle of your choice from the 12 finalist palettes.

Second Way to Win: Stop back from March 1 to March 4 and vote for your favorite palette (closes midnight EST).
Want to get more chances at winning another silk knot bundle for you AND for one of the 12 finalists? Then stop back here on March 1 to March 4 to vote for your favorite palette(s) and then leave one comment once you have voted (one comment per person please) and you will be entered into the drawing to win a 2mm silk knot bundle of your choice. The "12 palette finalist artist" with the top voted palette gets to select a 2mm silk knot bundle for themselves too...

Third way to win:
For any of the silk knot bundles of the 12 finalist color palettes you purchase from March 1 to March 4, you will get an entry to win an additional 2mm silk knot bundle of your color choice AND a free pair of my new porcelain clay beads in your glaze color choice (you pick round, chevron inspired, or shard inspired). Purchase must be made by Midnight EST on March 4, 2012.
New Marsha Neal Studio Bead Sets for my Etsy shop!
Pin It

My Etsy shop will be updated on Monday, March 5, 2012 with a pendant destash (selected items in a designated section) as well as all of my new bead sets you see in the photo above will be listed for sale.

And if you were around last time for my destash sale - you know I like to give even more stuff away!
So get ready for some fun!

Make sure you are a fan of my Marsha Neal Studio FaceBook page so you can get in on some of the destash purchasers giveaway actions starting Monday!

Now - quick - go add that button to your blog and start sharing (don't forget to comment!) 
I want YOU to win something!!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Silk Color Palette Challenge Coming March 1, 2012

I'm working behind the scenes on a few projects right now...
Feeling just slightly overwhelmed - but getting through it little by little.

The first project that I am working on getting finalized is that on Thursday, March 1st - there will be a new post for the Silk Color Palette Challenge.

What is a Silk Color Palette Challenge? 
You'll have to check back soon for details (silk bundles, inspirational photos, 12 artists picked to participate already, chances at giveaways for purchasing silks, selling silks, etc). I am creating a page right now with all the details & sending the current 12 artists their info so they can get their blogs ready.

For this and future Silk Color Palette Challenges, I've updated my silk color choice photos and have added them to my Flickr account for people to use to create custom palettes for my future challenges.

I use BigHugeLabs mosaic maker to do things like this:
These are all of my 74 colors that I'm offering for 2012 in the Hand Painted Silks.

These three images are used in my Etsy shop listings (which also needed an update).

These three images I use for my business use and you are welcome to share them without removing my information.
However, if you also sell these silks, Do Not use my images for your listings.
Create your own by photographing silks yourself & in a different style so our shops are not confused.

Keep an eye out...
Oh, and I am also working on photographing these new bead sets for listing in my Etsy shop later this week. Make sure you are on my mailing list for a head's up!
Marsha Neal Studio Beads (8 sets of 2 bead pairs on most strands).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Last Bead Glaze Firing - For Now...

I just finished unloading my last of my new bead line glaze firings. Now to photograph the individual color groups - depending on the sun today. Then to get them into groupings for the website & Etsy shop!

Here is a preview:

Oh, I wish it were a little overcast today and not raining...
Photography will have to wait just a bit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I Am Here

It has been way too long since I have worked on expanding my porcelain pendant & bead line. I've actually been in a crazed making and glazing state for about 2 weeks now. But I'm almost done...

One last batch to glaze & fire - then I can photograph & start listing items on my website & Etsy shop!!!

Here are some previews via iPhone blogger blogging so I can get back to work - but say "I am here". Just a little busy working...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In Progress

I've been super busy in the studio!
Beads being made, fired, glazed, fired...
Just wanted to share progress with you. I apologize if the photos are out of order (phone blogging has limits).

Etsy shop update next week sometime. Will keep you posted.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Studio Time Is Amazing...

I love times like this...
Finally having time to work on new "work".
Thank You Bonnie for showing me how to weave beads like this!
A fun girls beading night - this project was an unexpected but I've been SO wanting to play with beads and all that greek leather and my buttons I've had for years...
Button stash from my days of selling at bead shows.
I'm thinking of putting some of these buttons into groups and selling them in my Etsy shop.
What do you think?
I finally finished glazing a bunch of work that was taking up "creative space" on my slab roller.
Ah - nice and clean - and just one container of pieces for one glaze put aside in the "to do" area.
Will have lots of glazing to do this next week...
I made a new variation of the Pagoda tops - or Ring Holders.
I wanted something a bit more substantial than these (which were my first experimentations).
They will be glazed up and added to my Etsy shop soon.
I've been working on making small beads with large holes.
You know - for those projects with leather and multiple strands...
I worked obsessively for a few days in the studio which I have not done for a very long time.
The creative rush was flowing and I just wish there was a way to capture all the thoughts and ideas that were busily tumbling through my head...
Here is the bisque kiln loaded - ready to get nice and hot so the pieces are hard enough to glaze without disturbing the texture...
Here are some test glazes that I'm working on.
I can see a lot of work being painted like this in the next couple of weeks!
And some of my pendants that I'm trying to glaze up and put aside for the next round of "pendant destash" which will be happening in early March.
Here is my kiln full of clay shards and "shard" bead cones and "shard" beads...
It feels good to have a whole series of work based upon my shard pieces.
Delighted is the word I would use to describe how I feel about it...
And after the firing - a peek into it when it was still a bit too hot to open.
At Cone 6 the nichrome wire sags, so you have to be sure to balance and spread out the beads & pendants so they don't touch in the firing and fuse permanently together.
Above are some of the shard bead cones.
The ones that are glazed white are for ideas that I've got for wedding type jewelry.
My step-sister is getting married in October 2012 and I've been inspired to play with ideas for brides.
Not necessarily for her wedding,
But for others that might be looking for something more unique and out of the norm.
And Shard Beads - Tube beads...
Small and Large holed pieces.

Oh, the ideas are flowing...
I need to really break out my sketch book and capture some before they are gone in the regular running around here in my life...

I plan on working for the next couple of weeks on glazing more pieces.
So keep an eye out for updates on how things are coming along and when my Etsy shop update is going to be...

And while I'm at it - blogging that is...
I'm throwing this post up on the Beads of Clay monthly blog hop for:
Second Saturday, State of Your Studio.
If you've got a creative space, you should join in by adding your blog post as a link...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Treasury Collection Exercises...

I love seeing how different people create Treasury collections on
Here is one that I created for Beads of Clay for the First Friday Art Walk.
Beads of Clay members for February 2012 First Friday Art Walk.
This one was pretty easy to create.
I just searched the team tag for handmade items, then selected my theme (the color blue).
Delaware Etsy Street Team Feb 2012 First Friday Art Walk
Not so easy is to create this one above from a team that is not around a common theme...
The Delaware Etsy Street Team is a location based team.
So unless shops are using the proper tags, you are limited to what shops you can include for a certain event. Especially if that event is a promotional one, and some shops aren't interested in being part of it.

And I'm always amazed to see how pieces from my shop fit into treasuries.
And I've worked hard to get better photos so that people would want to use them in treasury collections.
That was one of my goals for 2011.
Have better photos, get more exposure, get new customers.

If you've ever tried to sell anything online, you know how important photographing your work is in order to get people to want to actually purchase it from you.
My photography has come a long way since the beginning...
MNS Chickadee Photo enhancement
And still, there are some days where I need to photograph something, but the weather is not cooperating, and it is too cloudy out, I photograph anyway, and things have a bit more blue to it than I would like.
I always have to go back and shoot them again (will I ever learn?!)

I think if you want to start to figure out how to improve your photography and increase your exposure on Etsy and through other online Social Media outlets - such as Pinterest - and really get results...
You've got to have beautiful photos and you've got to update and refresh tags once in a while.
Think popular colors, seasonal themes, holidays, & teams - just as the basics for more involvement.

An exercise for your brain and to refine your photography skills at how you want your work to be seen is:
1. Look at treasury collections that you are drawn to - what items stand out?
What is is about those listings makes you want to click on it?
Why is a treasury successful or just eh...

2. Do you have items that would fit into these collections?

3. Does your current photograph of that item make the grade?
If not, try again. Use props. Use models. Watch out for shadows.
Try a 12"x12" scrapbook paper - make your background stay to the background.
Do not let it distract from it.

Ensure success:
1. Don't be overwhelmed. Take small practical steps. Get your brain ready.

2. Work by item groups in your shop - updating common items makes you feel like you accomplish more.

3. Take a fewphotos, put them in your computer, try them out. If they don't work, try to figure out why.

4. Once you get your photos done, organize them. Title them. Create files for easy access while updating.
Maybe consider grouping by items that are easy to "copy listings" with minimal changes.

5. Tags. This is something to look at before going overboard with listing items.
Look into your shop stats & see what people are typing in to find your items use these as tags.
Try searching for items as if you were a customer looking. What would you type in?
Where do you show up in searches through Etsy?
Don't forget team tags. Try using the most of the space you have.
Combine tags that make sense.
Like for the Delaware Etsy team I use the team tag: DETeam
For events there are abbreviated tags: FFAW for FirstFridayArtWalk
So I would use DETeam FFAW all on one line.
That way, when someone is searching for items from the Delaware team, it shows up.
When someone is looking for FFAW it shows up.
And if my team member is creating a treasury and wants to use items from our Delaware team that they know are participating in this First Friday event, they would have direct access to a narrowed search which allows them to have to put out less effort. I want to make it easy for them to find my shop and use my items. Tagging properly makes it easy for someone to find you through the Etsy search.

6. Google Analytics. It is a bit scary I admit. But if you have the time look into it - at least get it turned on for your Etsy shop so it can start tracking (shop settings, options, shop analytics).

I just felt like it was important for me to write this stuff out.
Everyone does things different with what makes their shop successful.
These are things that I do that have helped my shop success in the last year and for being active on various Etsy teams.

I hope it might help you out a bit if you are struggling with your shop. has a lot of things to help too:
Learn How To Sell on Etsy
Selling FAQ's
Etsy Do's and Don'ts
Etsy Blog - Keeping Current