Notes to Self ~ Pet Peeves April 6 2009

We all have them: pet peeves. Sometimes it’s really puny stuff that we should learn to ignore:  like being upset when somebody borrows something and doesn’t return it from where they got it ~ or sits at your desk and moves stuff but doesn’t put it back as they found it.

Today I have 2 pet peeves: and combined make a great reward of failure. 1 + 2 = 3.

  1. People who won’t reveal their sources. I spent a thoroughly wonderful time wandering through the Toronto spring One Of A Kind (OOAK) show, got a lot of business cards, and chatted with some wonderful artisans. I found some really interesting wires being used by some of the jewellery makers. I asked several where they found their wire and the stock answer was ,’oh, I get it from so many places.’ Yeah, right!! Who are you trying to protect: the manufacturer of the wire ~ Not. Your business? That backfires when you give me that answer: I put down what I was looking at and admiring and considering buying, turn and walk away. I enjoy buying other people’s jewellery~~ we all have such different styles. Even if we all make artisan jewellery, we aren’t necessarily in competition with each other. I love beads.  Lotsa beads. You prefer wirework. Or you use precious metals. Or you do bead making, lampwork, and such. All the same stuff but different from one another. Share information with those who ask and build a stronger artisan jewellery makers’ community. Now I won’t be sharing information I found that may helpful to those 2 people. Share and grow.   PLUS
  2. I hate getting a helpful information and there is no website or name or anything to remind me where, at which booth , I got it. Case in point: yesterday I got a business card size recipe for sparkling up copper. I didn’t take the time to write down the name or booth number of the artist and now I have a wonderful recipe and no way of contacting the individual. Her work was wonderful. Too bad. Put your name on everything. I have a helpful table of necklace lengths and bead numberson the back of my business cards. The information is helpful and everytime it is viewed there is the place she got it from.  I wrap my packages in cardstock that has my name on it and I add a business card: the package is kept closed with return address labels I printed with my website and email listed on it. Put your name on everything!   EQUALS
  3. 1 + 2 = 3.   This year’s OOAK had something revolutionary: a big plot of real estate for winners of a juried show sponsored by the Eastern Ontario Community Futures Development Corp. There was a First Nations booth showing the work of an Ojibway ~ Todd Jamieson ~ and a Salish ~ Alfie Fishgap. When I got home I emailed another contact who was not at the show,, to ask him to research the CFDC for his work ~ he does some remarkable West Coast designs in his clothing. I had his card, he was interesting and intelligent; I remembered him favourably, and I have followed up with him after more than a year with no contact. He put his ‘brand’ on his work and he wasn’t afraid to talk to me about his work.


Just think about what I said. Generosity and Planned Opportunity can make the difference.

Helen – off her soapbox.                      ……………For Now.


Notes to Self – Press Kits


We are a group of people trying to sell handmade custom items: I make glass bead artisan jewellery. And we have little money to splash around. Our office location is often in the back bedroom, on the kitchen table, or in our basements. We all need ideas that cost little or no money  and we can do ourselves.

One of those indispensable things is a press kit. There are 2 types:  1 ~ a version that will fit into your handbag or pocket., and 2 ~ a full blown carry-in-your-briefcase version. The whole idea is to be ready at all times to advertise your work and your internet site. It makes sense but sometimes you just have to see it written down for it to really sink in.

Type 1:

Business cards ~ yours and others’ (see next) and perhaps a brochure or postcard about your business.

See? It doesn’t have to fill up a great lot of space.

Type 2:

Business cards ~ yours,  business cards of other businesses you have found helpful, a brochure or a newsletter where your business is advertised, pictures of your work in your portfolio.

For both types, you must shamelessly advertise your business as well as others. Don’t offer your business card, let somebody ask for it: and a great way to make somebody ask for your card is by asking  for theirs first.

With both types of press kit you need a ‘patter;’ a description of your business that you can give in an elevator. It should be only a sentence or two and it must be well practised. Keep saying it out loud until you’ve got it down pat. Saying it out loud lets you hear how it sounds. Sure, you think you don’t need to because, after all, it is running in your mind. Trust me on this, you need to say it out loud. Practise it in front of the mirror or while you are drying yourself after your bath or shower. Practise it ~ OUT LOUD ~ while you are stirring the chili.  But practise it out loud you must.


If you are off to visit  a potential customer, you have to do a bit more. Nobody is going to buy anything from you if they can’t see what your product is. If your product is artisan jewellery  it’s easy: wear your own designs. Never go out without wearing something of yours. You are a walking, talking billboard for your business. It’s a bit harder if your product is baby booties. Put your custom handmade baby booties on your baby.

And carry photos. It’s properly called a portfolio. It’s the grown up version of Gramma’s Brag Book.  Get practising your photography and editing the images. If you think you are just not good enough at it and you have some money, take your pieces to a professional photographer. That decision will cost you time as well as money. And, after all, we are our own worst critic. If you need validation, show your pictures to a mate for her opinion.

Everything in your Brag Book /Portfolio should be of the same size; whether it’s an 8X10 or a 5X7, keep the photos the same size. Have some closeups in there: just keep the physical size of the photograph the same. It looks more orderly, not more arty.

Part of your portfolio is an expanded version of your 1 sentence patter: a mission statement. Why are you doing what you are doing? What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from? Don’t make it too much longer than half a page: anything longer is just noise and it tells people that you really don’t know which end is up. Have it typed on the same size paper as your photos.

Another item in your Portfolio is your contact information and your business cards. Always be ready to give more than just one business card per contact. I like getting more than 1 card because I keep them in different places. And remember, you want to carry one in your card case for the time when it could be given to somebody in need of that service.

And put your portfolio in an attractive binding: make it 3-ring so you can pop in and out with new shots. You won’t be leaving your portfolio behind. But, if you’ve thought ahead and placed more than 1 copy of each picture, you can slide it out of it’s plastic sleeve and offer it to your potential client. Details about the photo can be printed on its back .


John Donne, an 18th century philosopher, coined the phrase, ‘No manne is an yslande.’ It was true then and it’s true today. These press kits are a small part of social marketing. Social Marketing. You’ll burn out trying to do it all yourself. Let others help you. And make it a 2~way street. What you give freely and in good cheer will be returned to you in like kind.

And that’s where the business cards of other entrepreneurs becomes important. If I need a handyman and you have just the perfect one I would be awfully glad to get that card from you. And now there is a bond between us. And I have your card to be passed on to somebody who has a new baby in her life and  needs your beautiful children’s clothing. You helped me with the handyman and I’m more than pleased to offer your card to the person needing your products.

More than just handing that person your card, I will be saying how generous you  are and that you would be pleased to help her out with new baby clothing.

Word of mouth is the single best way of gaining customers. It holds more weight than a TV ad or a spot in the newspaper. But good word of mouth ads are hard to get and easy to lose.

A person will tell 1 other about their good experiences with your company. That same person will tell 7 others of their bad experience with your business. 

If your customer has a bad experience with you and you are able to make them happyt again they will pass on to their friends the bad and follow it immediately with something like this; ‘ what they did was no good but they redeemed themselves by doing ___.’

Passing on another business’ card and telling people of their services costs you nothing. And it gains you the respect of the recipient. And don’t get grumpy and refuse to pass on your competitor’s card: you can say something like, ‘if you can’t find something in my shop, maybe you’ll have better luck with ABC Widgets.’ You end up looking honest and truly wanting to help. And that person may decide to buy from you based on that alone.

The whole idea behind Social Marketing is to develop a rapport with customers and other entrepreneurs. Making a customer faithful to you in the long run will pay off. These loyal customers will let people know of you through word of mouth advertising. It is the long game you are playing: don’t jeopardize your business using get-rich-quick tactics.

Notes to Self – The Great FLOOD

We were sitting after dinner when my sister and I heard rushing water. We knew it wasn’t the dishwasher; it has a completely different sound. And it couldn’t be our washing machine: it’s too far away to hear it and we weren’t doing a laundry. And it couldn’t be a water feature:  we don’t have one.

So, we needed to find the origin of that ‘running water’ sound.

We discovered we do have a water feature.

In our bathroom.

Living in a condo is great: no shampooing carpets in the hall.  Climbing stairs is not an issue; we have elevators. We don’t worry about landscaping and shovelling snow: there are people who do that for us. And when something goes wrong we call the building suprs.

What is bad is the washing machine in the suite above us flooded into our bathroom. And that was the cause of our Great FLOOD.

That was 2 weeks ago and our ceiling is still wet. We’ve had fans running for 2 weeks to dry it out. It seems that every time we go into the bathroom there is more damage. The ceiling above our shower stall is sagging. And today we found a crack in the paint on one of the walls.

The good thing about all this is that I have met our upstairs neighbour – over the phone. And we have a really marvellous property manager and our building supr works hard to help all of us in the building. Never a grumpy word to us when they get called out in the evening.

So, while my sister is tired of the mess and wants everything fixed before Christmas, I am content that they have placed us high on the priority list. We will have the fans running for the rest of the week (it’s only Monday today) and our ceiling will be assessed again on Friday.

AND the plasterer-er-ers will be scheduled for next Monday to replaster our bathroom ceiling.

I hope we can get our wall repaired where the crack is, too.

But, for now we are happy promoting our good neighbour policy. It fosters good relations in the property manager’s office. And that can only be helpful in future crises.

At least, that’s what I think.

Notes to Self – All Life Must Cease …

All life, as I know it,  must cease until my bathroom is repaired.

Last evening, while I was doing some research on the ‘net, I heard running water. And my sister heard running water at the same time. We walked down the hall to the bathroom, and what did we see?!

We had a water feature. A waterfall if you will. It was coming down in torrents from the vent in the ceiling. We rushed about, not quite like headless chickens, getting pails and buckets and even one of the refrigerator drawers, getting dirty towels from the laundry and a few clean towels from the linen cupboard, too.

We bailed and we added towels and I called the evening emergency number for our condo.

The super came up to assess the situation. His eyes bugged out and then he ran. Eventually the water lessened. Then the waterfall stopped.

Bob, the super, returned with a wet vac and cleared as much water as he could. On his next visit he had the insurance people with him. We spent the night listening to industrial fans and dehumidifiers.

We are in need of a new bathroom ceiling. The water damage extends across the entire ceiling. It’s going to be a messy job: we live in a 30+ year old building and it is constructed of concrete, lath and plaster.


That’s what happened last night. And that’s why life as I know it will not return until this whole mess, new ceiling and all, is finished.

Oh! What caused our inside Niagara Falls?

Our upstairs neighbours were doing their laundry. You’re right: the drain hose popped out of the drainpipe. And they didn’t know it until Bob the Super knocked on their door. I expect it was worse for them: our water damage seems to be restricted to our main bathroom but their pool of water extended into the hall and 2 of their bedrooms.

It could have been much worse for us.

Notes to Self: A New Direction

Well, I did vent some hot air in my last Notes to Self: Bead Journal Project. I felt better after doing it, so the venting did some good. I still don’t apologize for the bombardment. If anything, I am grateful for the individuals who challenged the worthiness of my September bracelet submission.

The Spanish Bracelet that WON

The Winning Bracelet

The bracelet that didn't pass

The losing bracelet


It made my brain work ~~ always a painful process. Well, for me it is.

I have over 40 years of experience in the needlework arena. I don’t sew, and it takes me months to get around to replacing buttons that have disappeared into the recesses of coat pockets. But I do use needle and some form of ‘thread’ and I embellish, using many different techniques.

An embellishment in its own right, glass bead artisan jewellery when well done invites compliments and conversation. And it takes humble things, like wire, and makes something beautiful using many different techniques.

It is the marriage of embroidery techniques and my version of glass bead artisan jewellery techniques. What is born of this union is the Tips and Techniques thread I started some little while ago and have been ignoring shamelessly. It has been given a new lease on life.

So. I’ve decided to thank the naysayers for shedding light upon my path. They gave me lemons and I’ve given you lemon meringue pie.  MMMMM~Good.

Yours in beads ~~Helene

Notes to Self – Bead Journal Project

I’m about to step onto my soapbox and get mouthy. You are forewarned.

I signed up for a year long challenge: Bead Journal Project 2008-2009. Each month of the year you make something that has beads in it. The size and style and methods are my own decisions to make. The only  rule is that beads are used somewhere in it, that it reflects myself and the month in which it is made.

The term goes from September 2008 to August 2009.

It’s a great way to bring like-minded people together.

I chose jewellery as my overall theme. For my September piece, I chose to make a bracelet. It’s inspiration came from my sister who wants to travel to Spain but can’t afford it. The bracelet, her request, was to be worn when she goes shopping or mall crawling and it was to be a reminder that she is saving her money for her Spanish trip. Thus the name of the September project: Spanish Bracelet.

I made several different bracelets that have beads in them. But I made 1 bracelet with coiled wire and no beads. And it is this bracelet that has made a tempest in a teapot.

I documented my creations through pictures: both the wirecoil Spanish Bracelet and others that had beads.

And I received a couple of comments suggesting I had not followed the rules of the Project.

Yes, I know I am venting.  And I’m not finished.

The September project was a piece using memory wire: that was explained early on: I was having an awful time constraining the memory wire. I even broke a filling through clenching my teeth.

I finally through it on my workbench in disgust. And that’s when I made the Spanish Bracelet of coiled copper wire. I know – no beads.

Well, shortly after giving up on the memory wire, I noticed it had coiled itself in a rather interesting manner while is was sitting in disgrace on the workbench. It had redeemed itself.

And that picture was added to my Journal notes.

It was suggested that I should not be making beaded artisan jewellery as it did not fall within the parameters of the rules. And that the wire coiled Spanish Bracelet had to be removed because it had no beads.

I defer to the last comment but certainly not to the first. The rules say beads must be used. But it does not say anything anywhere that it must be embroidery with beads.

But if an argument must be made with embroidery in mind, then here it is.

On the memory wire bracelet I made wrapped beads in the stumpwork fashion: embroidery floss was wrapped around and through a wooden bead. That was then added to the memory wire.  Wire springs were coiled to make wire beads and then added to the memory wire.

The Phoenix Rises

The Phoenix Rises

 What was so clever was that the end curls, one small and one large, wrapped around themselves, making an unusual form on the wrist.

It had beads.

The whole lot of beads was strung on a copper wire which then worked back on itself spreading the beads and wrapping the copper ‘thread.’

This wire wrapping is used in jewellery making, yes. But it is also used in embroidery. It’s called ‘couching.’ And you will find couching in needlepoint, Japanese silk embroidery, stumpwork, surface embroidery, and other techniques.

Having said all this, I still affirm that what the beads is carried on is not up for discussion. Only the use of beads is a requirement.

I used beads.

And that’s what I think.   Helene

Notes to Self – The Art of Gift Giving

We have no money. And Christmas is fast approaching. Already Christmas decorations are appearing in the shopping malls and Halloween hasn’t arrived yet. Every thing you see appears to be so ‘commercial.’

To avoid getting the wrong gift, gift certificates and gift cards are available at many stores, both in the ‘real world’ and in cyberspace. You aren’t giving money, you are giving the gift of choice.

Instead of giving a gift like artisan jewellery, give a beading kit or even just the instructions. It will introduce a lucky person to a new craft which can lead to many hours of fun and creativity.

To make Christmas more meaningful for you and your family, consider my friend Heather’s tradition. Each fall she gets a ‘boy stocking’ and a ‘girl stocking’ from the Salvation Army. She fills them with toiletries that a family in need can always use: soap, shampoo, a mirror, comb and brush, toothbrush and toothpaste, and so on. She also includes mitts and scarves. And a book or toy: one for a boy and one for a girl. Heather has her own children and grandchildren  and even a couple of great-grandchildren. But she includes another 2 childen she will never meet. Is that not a gift of love?

Maybe adopting a child in need or volunteering as a Big Sister or Big Brother is a way for you to give the gift of your time throughout the year.

A favourite of newly weds, especially the very young ones,  is a gift tailored to your spouse. A book of coupons to be redeemed throughout the year for special attention and costs just a bit of paper and little time to think up the special part. I know from experience that this kind of gift is a very big hit at any time during a marriage. Expand the field and make a coupon of love book for everybody in the family. Maybe babysitting will fit the bill for a new mother. It’s a gift of thought you will be giving with your coupon book.

With a bit of effort you can come up with many gift ideas that ‘keep on giving’ throughout the year: things that won’t be thrown into the back of a drawer or closet and soon forgotten. Give the gift of your thoughtfulness, give the gift of your time.

About the Author: Helene Turnbull is an glass bead jewellery artisan who writes about beads and beading techniques. She has held a needle and thread in her hands for over 40 years and during much of that time there are beads involved with her embroidery.  You can see some of her work at and