Thursday, August 26, 2010

New Piece and Burst of Creativity

Funky Unique 2 Once in a while I get that really creative burst happen. Such was the case with this piece. I began by creating a loop with just enough space to set a 3mm bezel cup into. I had no idea what I was going to do next but just started playing, curling the wire around the original loop in a spiral shape and then moving it back and forth to create an undulating pattern. I made some little sterling 'rocks' out of some scrap metal (which I have plenty of!) by melting small pieces of wire on my soldering brick until they curl up and become a little ball.

I added some paste solder to the bezel cup and pushed it into place, then put some on the little balls and placed them on the piece. I heated the whole thing with my torch until the solder flowed, then turned it over and soldered a stem into place.

The piece was pickled to remove the firescale created by the torch, and then tumble polished to harden it. It came out of the polisher shiny all over but I knew I needed to add some oxidization (darkening) to add some depth. I set the rainbow moonstone cabochon and then started to oxidize the parts I wanted darkened by using a paintbrush to apply the solution.

I rinsed off the solution and then put the finishing touches on the piece by using my hand polisher attached to my dremel.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Art of Feedback

Anyone who operates an online business in a marketplace like Etsy, knows the importance of feedback. The feedback system was designed to let other shoppers know how trustworthy the seller is – are their descriptions accurate, their policies fair, their items the quality they profess? It’s a good system when it’s used properly and everyone understands the ‘rules’. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some really interesting comments and feedback scores, both in my shops and in others.

For example – I had one just yesterday. A customer contacted me wanting to know about my return policies. She had purchased a pair of tiny, catchless hoops she wanted to return. I explained she could return them in their original packaging within five business days of receiving them. When I receive them back, I will issue a refund. The items are one of my best sellers so I was curious about the reason for the return, so I asked her if there was a problem with them, or with my description, etc.

She said “no” and explained that she only has single piercings in her ears and she needs something she can take in and out often and easily, but that I’d done a good job of describing that they were more for people with additional piercings, as well as a photo to show how they work best. She also noted there was nothing wrong with the workmanship either, but that she’d been hoping they might fit her needs too.

Okay – fair enough, I thought. I thanked her for the info she took the time to provide and then I happened to check out my feedback, as I do regularly. This same customer had left NEUTRAL feedback and a comment that they weren’t right for her and that she’d contacted me regarding a return. We’ve since worked it out but I was very confused.

I’d provided a quality product, accurate descriptions and photographs, as well as exemplary customer service, and the feedback was neutral. I’ve seen this in many other shops too – feedback ranging from neutral to negative, for similar reasons. I think there’s some confusion about what feedback is and what it isn’t.

If I purchase something that’s the wrong size, the wrong color for me, or I just don’t really like it when I get it, that doesn’t warrant neutral or negative feedback. I’ve bought plenty of beads over the last two years that for some reason I expected to be larger than they were but the descriptions were accurate. My mind had made them bigger than they really were – so it was MY error in judgement, and nothing to do with the bead store’s product(s).

I’ve also seen feedback left as negative feedback with no comment, and no contact from the customer to discuss any issues or problems. It left me to wonder all kinds of things: (a) did it never arrive? (b) did you think they were bigger/smaller/thicker than they were? (c) they were sterling silver – did they tarnish and you didn’t know sterling did that? I could go on forever with what could have happened, and it would have been great to know what it was.

Leaving negative or neutral feedback without contacting the seller for a resolution to the problem is similar to a person who buys a shirt in a local store and when the seam comes down, instead of going back to the store and explaining the problem (with or without a receipt), they make a sign and picket the store. What happened to communication?

I’d love to see a tutorial in place that someone needs to complete before they can leave feedback. Or perhaps a series of specific questions that generates what the feedback will be. That button click can make or break a business – it is very powerful. Please use it wisely :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who Spilled the Beads?

Guess what happened to me today? I went to grab a plastic container of tiny beads and the top popped off – spewing teeny little beads everywhere! What an incredible mess; they were everywhere, all over the floor and my bench. The bouncy little things went into my pots of sterling scrap, on my chair, and behind every piece of furniture in my shop.

My intention was to put away some new beads I had bought recently but I was waylaid by about an hour’s cleanup. The photo below shows the size of the beads – at this point they were mostly cleaned up.

Who Spilled the Beads

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I haven’t worn one myself but I’ve become rather fascinated with them. I find their beauty kind of ethereal and ancient … like they march to a different beat, which of course, suits me just fine.

The nath is an Indian tradition and is worn for special occasions, such as marriage and childbirth. It is often joined by a chain that connects to either an earring or a pin to the hair.

I made this one and it’s been purchased already. I love the delicate work – the stones all wire wrapped by sterling wire into place; making a delicate flower. Moonstone Flower Nath 3

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Studio Tour

People are always curious about where the things I create come from so I thought I'd share a little. First of all, they come from my hands, and mine alone, so keeping up is quite a job - but it's one I wouldn't trade for anything. Welcome to my little studio!

View from the Doorway

This is the view from the doorway as you step into my world. I spend most of my time in here creating, answering your questions, re-listing, and ordering new things. Occasionally, I clean up and it's getting to be time to do that now. I'm putting it off a bit, because I need an overhaul of sorts and I'm too busy, as well as not sure what the goal is - I want it to have an impact and it may mean breaking the studio into two rooms - the creative room, and the business/computer room. I haven't decided yet, so it is as it is.

As you step further into the room you see an absolutely invaluable cabinet on the right. A thrift store find for about $30 that I don't know how I lived without.

Cupboard 2

On top is where I keep my music - to keep the creative juices flowing as I'm working away, and within the cabinet - jars and jars of little pieces of what makes up my business - hoops, rings, components, bezel settings - all things I have made and ready to put the finishing touches on to ship out, or things that are completely ready to go. I spend most Fridays re-assessing this cabinet to see what needs to be made and put into stock so I am 'ahead of the game'.


And yes – that’s a fire extinguisher in the bottom of the cabinet. I work with a torch to make many of the pieces you receive so it’s important to consider safety when using open flame. It’s right there should I ever need it.

Further down the wall on the right is my work bench. Another inexpensive find – I purchased this piece from an ad in the paper for about $40. It is the best work bench I can imagine, and even though it’s a work bench, I must admit to a bit of sadness when my soldering brick got too hot and melted the top finish. Oh well – now it is truly broken in!

Work Bench

This bench is really the backbone of what I do. You can see my torch, my finishing dremel, and my polishing dremel-like tool. At the back of the bench is bead storage and the stack of plastic drawers on the right hold all of the sterling and copper wire and sheet I have on hand. My chair is on rollers and it gets a workout here – back and forth between the bench and the silver drawers and the computer station behind me when I hear a ‘ding’ in my email with a question, order, or comment from those who support me so wonderfully.

Every seller needs to show their pieces in a good photo. I am no expert but have learned a few things from others willing to share their information. Natural light where possible is what I’ve found best. I keep some props in front of the window where I can set up some good scenes for photos. On nice days, I take it outside for even better shots. The mannequins are a valuable addition to my photos and add a lifelike element that helps buyers make a decision based on size, placement, etc. I know they look a little odd, but they’re my ‘buddies’ – even the headless one ;)

Mannequins and Photo Window

My newest addition to the studio is this funky, lime green bench. I just knew I had to have it, even though it wasn’t exactly in the budget. I picked it up at a 2nd hand store (sense a theme here?). The guy wanted $95 and I got it for $75. It is the shipping bench and holds everything I need to get orders ready to ship out – thank you tags, envelopes, my stamp, customs forms, boxes, tape, ribbon, etc. It has a drawer to hold post-its, pens, pencils, paperclips and more – is loaded with cubby holes, nooks and crannies, and even has glass shelving with mirrors behind it. I love it! Someone has painted the words “love”, “be free”, and “magic” on the cupboard doors, and I truly think it was made for me.

Funky Bench

So yes, I do need to clean up a bit, although my friend Sharon from MetalRocks assures me that I’m tidier than many artists she’s met over the years. I do know that when I get too much mess, I have to clean up or the creative energy stops flowing.

Thank you so much for taking the time to walk through the studio with me and I hope it helped give you a better sense of who I am and where the pieces you wear come from.

In gratitude,

Darcey Lyn

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One of a Kind

Oh boy, is this piece too cool or what?

It's already sold and never been posted but it's an example of how I want to 'push the envelope' this year in terms of my design style. I am incredibly busy - working 28 hours a week as a business coach - and the remaining (who knows how many) hours a week developing my own business. The interesting challenge comes in because my business consists of handmade goods so I have to promote, design, create, and fill orders - all for a one woman show.

It's a fun challenge though - one I'm up for - and one I'm so grateful for your support in!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tomorrow's SALE

Okay - it's decided - I'll be doing a 20 percent on 20 sale. For every order of $20 or more, I'll be giving 20% off in the shop. This will be for both Rock Your Nose and Rock Your Belly. In my Rock Your Wire Etsy shop - look for items in the "Rockin Birthday Sale" section. See you there!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Upcoming Birthday Bash Sale!

When? Friday, March 19th
Where? All my shops:

Come and join in the fun and savings!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Limited Edition Pieces for 2010

This year I'm going to be making some limited edition items - get them while you can because there is no guarantee when - or if - they will appear again. It is totally dependent on my time and materials.

There are some pieces that I really love to make but I don't necessarily want to make them repeatedly, or in some cases, they are very time consuming so I want to make them as time permits.

Such is the case with these limited edition pieces I posted today. There are only four of them. They're called "South by Southwest" and feature a sterling silver bezel cup that I've added handmade little rocks of sterling silver to and then set in a perfect, sleeping beauty turquoise cabochon.

I've made just four of these - of course I've already kept one for myself ;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Nath

Oh boy! Do I love this piece. It's a one inch nose nath that's made of sterling silver and it has been wrapped in more sterling, with my handmade budded headpins holding on swarovski flower beads to make a little flower garden. I've added some sterling beads for detail and really love the outcome.

I'm very curious about the more traditional styles of piercings - particularly those from India. This one isn't really a traditional style, but it is my version based on what I've seen so far. I plan to 'push the envelope' even further in the coming months. I love the fact that it's often my customers who get me to go to the next level by requesting something I've never done before - thank you to all of you!

Oh - and we only have 15 more followers to go before we do the contest. How exciting :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Upcoming Contest

Okay guys - I plan to have some fun here and those of you who follow along will hopefully get into the spirit of things too!

In addition to creating my unique and rockin' nose art, and blogging about it, I will be doing some contests, customer appreciation days, and give aways. Why don't you give me some input with your ideas for what you'd like to see and I'll see what I can do to make them happen.

I'll start right now by saying that when I have 20 followers, I will do a give away contest. Start following if you're not already and stay tuned for some rockin free nose jewelery for a lucky winner!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today's Project

So far it's noon and I've been incredibly lazy today. We listed our house for sale last week and the last minute work has been phenomenal! So this morning was my day to rest and now it's time to get busy.

I've had requests for my work in gold lately, which is really exciting for me. It's a fairly new area where I can stretch my boundaries (and my budget) a little. I have had a couple of gold pieces for sale for some time now but got a request for a bezel set opal in 14 karat gold - I piece I completed last week that turned out lovely. My customer chose a blue green opal, which I ordered specifically for her, and while I was shopping with my supplier, I thought, "why not stock up on an extra opal and some more gold?" So I did and there's one listed for sale now in my shop.

Another customer approached me to custom make her a gold cross nose stud. I plan to start that project in a few minutes - starting with cutting two pieces of gold that I will hammer a bit and then add some flux to before laying across each other to form the cross portion. After the pieces are fused together, I will solder on a gold post, pickle the piece to remove the firescale created by the torch, and finally, finish and polish it up for her. It will be a lovely, unique, completely handmade nose stud. Watch for photos in the shop because I plan to do more of these. Sometimes my customers give me the best ideas of all - thank you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My New Buddy

I have a really cool new buddy - she arrived yesterday and I just pierced her nose today. I think she loves it ;)

Seriously, though, I think this new addition to my shop will help all of my customers get a sense of how their piece will look in relation to their own nose. My buddy (I really should give her a name) is about 3/4 size of an adult female, so a bit of interpretation is required but I think she ROCKS!

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quality Commitment

Anyone who knows me knows that I am committed to quality. I have a belief in offering products that reflect my quality standards. You will not find any plated materials in my shop - in my opinion they are of inferior quality for a piercing, as the plating, whether that is silver plate, gold plate, rhodium plate, etc will quickly wear away, and expose the base metal beneath. Ever bought that pair of earrings in the sale section of your local department store? Remember how the shiny gold part wore away and became this black, ugly mess so soon after your purchase? That is because the earrings were plated. I have seen the same types of materials offered as nose jewelery and what I can tell you is that the outcome will be the same.

I work with sterling silver, 14 karat gold, and 14 karat gold fill to create my unique nose jewelery. Many people mistake gold fill for gold plate but it is not the same. 14 karat gold fill is an actual tube of gold that starts out hollow. The gold is then filled with another material, usually brass. The outside parts are gold. It is a high quality material that, with proper care, will wear the same way gold does.

Sterling silver will tarnish. If your piece begins to tarnish - as it will - it isn't ruined. All sterling silver tarnishes – it is called oxidization. It can be cleaned with a silver cleaner. I buy mine from the jewelry counter and simply dip the silver in there for a second and give it a rinse. It shines it right up. Be careful of stones though! Pearls will dissolve in it, as will turquoise.

I buy quality stones and crystals as well. Most of my stones are natural gemstones, but I also buy lab created gemstones. These are of the same quality but are less expensive as they are made by human hands, rather than the ravages of nature. The properties of the stone are the same but they are less highly prized and valued than their wild counterparts. In all cases, when my stones are lab created, the description I give will let you know that.

Another aspect of quality commitment is the care and attention I give to the creation of each piece, as well as the finishing work. Each piece is scrutinized before it is sent out to you and sometimes I put one into the melting pot because it doesn't reflect my quality standards. My pieces are handmade, and do look handmade, so they won't have the same exactness as things that are stamped from a mold or a press. I think this is part of their beauty - as I believe most of my customers do as well. We're tired of buying things that look the same as everyone else's - things with no heart, beauty, or soul. I bend each piece to the customer's specifications and carefully finish the end so there are no jagged edges. This requires the use of a cup burr added to my dremel tool, and a bit of fine grit sandpaper to get it nice and smooth.

Creating new and unique styles of nose studs and rings feeds my spirit. My commitment to quality begins even before I purchase my products to create with and doesn't end when the piece is in the box on it's way to the new owner. It extends much beyond that and encompasses all of the aspects of my little business; from production to customer service.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Customized Unique Nose Studs

My piercing is on my left nostril and a long time ago, before I started making my own nose studs, I bought a stud with a screw end from a local outlet, and man, was that thing hard to get in! It seemed like no matter which way I turned it, it didn't want to go into my piercing. When I finally did get it in, it just felt wrong. No other way to describe it - just wrong. I knew someone else with a piercing on the right and she had the same troubles with certain studs. When I started making my own, I twisted the screw in the other direction for hers and she found them much more comfortable and easy to insert. Eureka - I had discovered the difference between making a piece for the right or for the left nostril. Now I'm sure many of you out there already knew this little tidbit of information, but I didn't up until then and I was really pleased with my discovery.

I didn't make any changes to my items for sale at that point but began to think about the idea of customizing my studs - and rings and hoops as well. I realized it was something that would be appreciated by my customers so I set out to change each one of my listings to reflect this new offer of service - the choice between a left and right stud, and the choice to customize the size and gauge of hoop and ring items.

I love the outcome! It offers a personalized style of service to my customers, as well as giving them a nicer product. I know all of my customers appreciate the additional level of service. It does mean that my pieces take a little longer to make. I can get them mostly ready, but at the end each piece requires individualized finishing. I think the quality shows and it's worth the extra effort.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Some History on Nose Piercing and My Personal Journey

I thought I'd start off this new blog with a post from my Rock Your Wire blog about my personal experience with getting my nose pierced. I love my piercing and the variety of little works of art I make for it! I'm glad to have a chance to share it with all of you :)

Besides earlobe piercing, nose piercing is the most popular style of piercing. It is an ancient style of piercing, dating back to approximately four thousand years ago, and it has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years in mainstream society.

Most piercings I saw as a Canadian child were on women from India. I often admired the lovely sparkle I saw in the side of the nose, but never dreamed I would someday have one of my own. Indian women usually have their piercings on the left, which is associated with lessening of pain from childbirth and menstruation. When I chose my left nostril piercing, I didn't know this little fact and wish I'd had my piercing done before the birth of my first child! I chose a natural childbirth because I was just twenty two years old and I thought that was the best way to go about it, so I had not so much as an aspirin to ease my pain during the 29 hour journey. Perhaps a piercing would have helped. The second time around, my first question at the hospital was, "what do you have for pain options?".

The main types of jewellery worn in the nose are studs and hoops. There are some interesting pieces that go from the nose to the ear and I'm toying with the idea of creating some of these unique pieces to sell in my Rock Your Nose Etsy shop. My most popular form of stud is the screw shaped end - it is definitely the biggest seller. My piercer pierced my nose with a long needle and then inserted an 18 gauge screw end stud with a tiny zirconian stone. Actually, what happened was he inserted the stud and then said, "oh no!" Okay, I don't know about you, but when you've just had a needle shoved in your nose and have been breathing through the pain, the last thing you want to hear is "oh no!" The stud he had just inserted into my throbbing nostril was defective - it had no stone. I was somewhat disappointed, but not enough to want it taken out and have one with a stone inserted instead. Little did I know what would happen next.

Well, I guess that little stoneless thing just didn't want to be on display in my new piercing, so as I slept two nights later, my left hand with a ring on my finger reached up in sleepiness to SCRATCH my nose! The ring caught on the little stud and pulled it right out, so there I was, at 2am with a 6am commute ahead of me, sitting in my bathroom sink (because I wear glasses and can't see without them), trying to stuff this screw ended thing into my now bleeding nostril. I believe I started to cry from frustration and pain because I could not put it back in no matter what I did.

Some women might have given up at this point, but not me - no not me. I went back to bed and called my piercer first thing the next morning when I got to work. He booked me in for an appointment and when I got there he said a few more words that I didn't want to hear. He said, "okay, get up on the table - we're going to perform a miracle here". Eek! And then my highly skilled piercer, whose name is Nick (from Duncan, BC Canada) proceeded to poke that needle right back exactly through the original hole. It hurt like hell the second time around, but I proudly left the shop with my left, throbbing nostril sporting a little stud with a gem in it this time. I slept with those tiny, round Band-Aids on my nose for many months to come - just in case.

Little did I know that 5 years later I would start making jewellery. And I had no inkling of the fact that one of the first things I would do when I learned to make my first little sterling silver coil would be to put an L shape on the end and put it in my piercing. I had no way to know that those baby steps would lead to me offering them to other people for sale and coming up with ideas for new designs in my sleep. I had no clue that I would open an Etsy shop for my jewellery and that my designs for nose piercings would become so popular that I would open a little shop dedicated just to them. It's been a long journey and I'm so proud of my Rock Your Nose shop.

Because my designs are motivated from my own experience, I always make the highest quality pieces that I can. I use glue very occasionally to hold Swarovski crystals to the sterling stem, but only as a matter of necessity - there is no other way to get them to stay in place. For my other pieces, I use traditional fabrication methods of silver soldering and melting with my torch. Each pin in my pieces is handmade by me. I know, I know, I could purchase headpins and use them instead but I take a lot of pride in what I do and in what I provide to the customers who support me in my work. I will be updating my listings to offer screw studs that are customized for a left or a right piercing because there is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to fit a screw end made for the wrong side. My work as an artist has grown, as has my imagination. I'm always coming up with new ideas and am currently waiting for some beads that will add some fun and spark to some of my dangle studs and my hoops. Every day is a new adventure :)