Sunday, September 8, 2013

Congratulations to the Top Voted Metal Clay Designs - Text and Textures Challenge Results

Sideways Cross Tree of Life Bracelet by Janie of Lifeartdesigns

Back view - Sideways Cross Tree of Life Bracelet by Janie of Lifeartdesigns

Sunset at the Tree of Life by Carrie Michael of CarrieMichael
Congratulations to the top two voted designs using text and texture!  Janie's designed bracelet had 17 votes and she now has "bragging rights" as well as gets the opportunity to select the next Challenge theme.  Carrie's designed pendent had 16 votes and both designs of these talented artists will be placed on the banner of the blog!

Congratulations to everyone that participated!  Hopefully, this Challenge allowed all the inspiration to practice some new skills working with metal clay! Participation in these design Challenges often leads to new creative ideas that are incorporated into future works of art.

Thank you to all who voted!  We had a wonderful response and doubled our votes from the previous Challenge, as well as almost 500 page views!  Welcome to the Metal Clay Heads Team Blog and we hope to see you here again!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Text And Textures With Metal Clay - Metal Clay Heads Team Challenge

Presenting The 2013 Third Quarter Metal Clay Design Challenge by Etsy’s Metal Clay Heads Team. 

Entrants were posed with the challenge of designing a metal clay original work under the theme “Text and/or Texture”.

Metal Clay is a wonderful product that is soft and pliable, then dries hard by air, then finally hard metal when fired.  Each stage presents opportunity for the artist to form and fashion the metal clay with texture, shape, balance, color, endless possibility!

With each Team Challenge, the Metal Clay Heads team members embrace the task of incorporating new skills and techniques to gain personal growth as designers and artists.  Sharing ideas, learning from each other, the highs and lows of successes and failures, each member is encouraged and supported along the adventure.

The entries are gathered together and posted below in random order.  The voting is open to anyone and the winner with the most votes will have "bragging rights" as well as their design posted as the banner for this blog!

Please vote using the Poll to the right.  Share this post with anyone that might not otherwise know about the Challenge.  Everyone can vote, and there are so many people that would enjoy viewing the entries.  Comments are welcome!  Please feel free to leave a comment below this post.

As you view the entries, please click the artists' links to visit their shop and learn more about their work and see more photos.

AND NOW.......The Entries!

"Sunset at the Tree of Life" by Carrie Michael of Carrie Michael

This pendant has details and texture created by using metal clay in a syringe, as well as hand carving the metal clay.  The colors were applied with Liver of Sulphur using a paintbrush. The gemstone is held securely in a heart shaped setting that is incorporated right into the tree design.  The tree branches and roots flow out to the very edges of this pure silver pendant and seemingly embrace the frame itself.  Inspired by a true friendship.

"Symmetrical Name Charm" by Kathy of YorkAvenueStudio

Personalized name pendant with fresh style! This design shows off a name or word with a reversed image that becomes something unique as a special shaped charm. I make this design with golden bronze that shines like gold and sparkles in the light. The lettering is hand written into a sheet of foam that leaves grooves as the pen is pressed down.  The clay is pressed into the foam.  The grooved lines are now raised which gives the charm texture and more depth.
"Solstice" by Vickie of Jewelflyt
Round in shape, Solstice features a raised central circle - created using a mold of the end of a seedpod - set with clear 3mm cubic zirconia (lab created). The surround has been textured freehand, with a repeating pattern.  This handcrafted pendant is made from precious metal clay - fine silver.
"Hedge Parsley from the Flint Hills of Kansas" by Gayle of kitandkaboodleshop
Pendant is made from a hand made mold of Hedge Parsley found in a tree line at the edge of a prairie field in Kansas. It is handcrafted from Goldie Snow bronze. Gem is a Cubic Zirconia. Gayle has an excellent explaination of her process for making effective molds that capture the details of grass - Here is the link to her mold-making squidoo lens:

"Broken Heart" by Glenda Skarie from AdoriLargento
A duo pair of pendants that together spell "LOVE", made with Goldie Roman Bronze.  The background is textured with vines and twigs.  The tear between the two pieces is another texture that is possible with metal clay that allows for the "rip" affect in solid metal. 
"Ruby Flower Pendant" by Erin from heartsabustin
The pendant was textured with a stamp and the dragonfly was cast from a mold I created. The pieces were joined together, and the lab ruby was set in the center of the flower. The whole piece was fired together and oxidized to bring out the lines of the flower and dragonfly.  The ruby is open to the back - it is set completely within the metal clay and is totally secure. This allows light to reach the back of the stone, causing it to glow beautifully.

"Sideways Cross Tree of Life Bracelet" by Janie from lifeartdesigns

Silver metal clay memorial bracelet with name and date on the reverse side, the front is a sideways cross with a tree of life on top of the cross. It is attached with leather and sterling silver wire wrapping. 

"Ohio State Buckeye Fine Silver Pendant" by Anise from SeavBeach

Being an Ohio State Buckeye fan, I have been wanting to make jewelry for years to support my team. Finally! Made with fine silver and colored with alcohol ink.  The text is raised.

"Winged Sugar Skull" by Anna Siivonen from AnnaSiivonen

Hand carved texture in bronze metal clay.  The clay shrinks when fired and the details become distinct on smaller pieces.  This sugar skull features a heart with wings.  The bronze is oxidized to darken the detail.  Polishing finishes the metal and highlights the features of the artwork.

"Love Pendant" by Jennifer from envydesignsjewelry

Made by pressing silver metal clay onto a texture plate I made from my own drawing, it features the word 'love'. I surrounded the text with a vine of cherry blossoms. This pendant is made with recycled fine silver .999, and features a fabulous deep blood red trillion cut garnet.
Now it's time to vote!  As tough as it might be, please vote!  The more votes, the more support is shown for this team as a whole!
Voting will be open for two weeks and will close September 7th.  The poll is to the right of this post.
Best of luck to all the entries!  The Metal Clay Heads Team is such a wonderful group of talented artists with a passion for sharing techniques and this Challenge shows the diverse ways metal clay can be textured when wet, dry and fired!
Ready, vote!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Another way to look at Marketing

I am in no way a marketing guru - I do however have access to some very talented and knowledgeable experts in the field, that I pump for information at any possible opportunity!


I recently attended a workshop on marketing and thought I would share some of the points that were discussed.
It was a bit of an idiots guide to marketing, some great points came up that might just set you thinking along a line that could give you an idea or two – hopefully.

What is the market?
"A market is any place where the sellers of a particular good or service can meet with the buyers of that goods and service where there is a potential for a transaction to take place. The buyers must have something they can offer in exchange for there to be a potential transaction."

Market segmentation:
The process of splitting customers, or potential customers, in a market into different groups, or segments, within which customers share a similar level of interest in the same or comparable set of needs

This was an interesting one, that once you start breaking it down, shows it can be further and further broken down.

Say you were selling language skills (an area I know), who wants that? Well of course once again it isn’t everyone, or maybe it is, but it can be broken down.
People who want to pass an exam
People who want to go to university
People who want promotion in their job
People who want to travel.

You can see once you break it into segments, how you reach each group is suddenly very different.  The person who wants it for Uni is probably in the late teens early 20’s cool hip dude, the person who wants it for promotion in their job, may well be late 30’s / 40’s.

Which leads us to the 4 Ps


  • What  customer needs does it satisfy?
  • What features does it have to meet these needs?
  • How is it positioned in the market?
  • How and where will the customer use it?
  • What does it look like? How will customers experience it?
  • What size(s), color(s), and so on, should it be?
  • What is it to be called?
  • How is it branded?
  • How is it differentiated against competitors?
  • What is the value of the product or service to the buyer?
  • Are there established prices for products or services in this market?
  • Is the customer price sensitive? Will a small decrease in price gain you extra market share? Or will a small increase be indiscernible, and so gain you extra profit margin?
  • What discounts should be offered to specific segments of your market?
  • How will product price compare with competitors?
  • Where and when can the marketing messages reach the target market?
  • Will press advertising, TV, or radio, or billboards be used to reach the target market? Or will it be direct marketing, PR or the Internet?
  • When is the best time to promote? Is the market seasonal? Are there any wider environmental issues that suggest or dictate the timing of a market launch, or the timing of subsequent promotions?
  • How do competitors do their promotions? And how does that influence the choice of promotional activity?
  • Where do buyers look for the product or service?
  • If they look in a shop, what kind? A specialist boutique or in a supermarket, or both? Or online? Or direct, via a catalogue?
  • How can the right distribution channels be accessed?
  • Is a sales force needed? Exhibit at trade fairs? Or make online submissions? Or send samples to catalogue companies?
  • What do you competitors do, and how can the product be differentiated?

The main point here is this:
Imagine a drill – what is it? How would you sell it?
Imagine a mirror – what is it? How would you sell it?

No one buys a drill or a mirror they buy the benefits a drill and a mirror give them, the ability to make a hole in the wall, or the aid to help them look their best in the morning.

So when you are advertising your mirror – yes it is 18 inches by 12 inches, yes it is made of glass, and yes it does have a very nice catch on the back to hang it on the wall, but that isn't really what anyone is buying, they are buying the opportunity of being able to look at the wall and make sure their hair is just right, that they don’t leave the house with their skirt in their knickers, or their belt all caught up at the back.  The more someone's appearance matters to them, the more they need a mirror!


Moving on to the different types of marketing – which are vast:

Different types of marketing:

Today we have traditional and modern modes of marketing:
The traditional ones cover things like newsletters, brochures, direct mail, (email) branded gifts and events.

The modern ones are more like blogging, SEO, social media, podcasts and videos.

What is the most noticeable thing in those lists? Yup – the modern methods can often be done for free or at a low cost, whereas the traditional ones were probably the ones where you needed a huge budget.  Good news for those of us in the small fish large pond category.
Blogging? Great way to get people to connect with you, if you can find them.  Personally I don’t have the time to do it, and you need to keep the content fresh and up to date.  Relevant to all online stuff is that it needs to be kept fresh to generate interest (and views).
SEO? Sounds horrendous, but once you get the idea, it starts making sense.  Essentially, if you want to be found, firstly try and find yourself online.  Ask a friend to do the same and see what keywords you used.  Those are the keywords that need to be used.  Not too general, not too specialised.  
Imagine hiding one of your pieces in a shop of very similar pieces.  Then you have to get the shop assistant to retrieve it for you, purely by describing it.  Save the words you used, they are the ones that describe your piece, and they are the words you need in your titles and tags.

Social media?    DON'T SELL - BE SOCIAL!
Well here again is blogging, plus the likes of facebook and twitter.  At the risk of repeating myself, it isn’t a great idea to ‘sell’ on these things.  They are supposed to be ‘social’!  You know what it’s like when you go to a party and someone is trying to sell you their pyramid cleaning products or someone comes to the door hard selling something? We all turn off.  The idea is to engage. To make contact with people through anecdotes, stories, shared successes a little plug once in a while – probably done quite subtly but hard sell on facebook and you’ll get yourself unliked / blocked / unfriended quicker than a rat up a drainpipe. (I regularly remove people from my FB feed who just keep posting me their etsy listings and nothing else).
Podcasts? Not sure on that one, though sure someone can come up with a great idea.
Video?  I have seen some fab videos.  With flip cameras and ipads making the taking of videos so much easier now, getting something like this on your website or blog, either to show off your range or to share a tip is a great way of connecting with people.  Who of us haven’t scoured the net to find a clip that shows us how to achieve something we’re trying to do? If you don’t mind sharing your tips, this seems like a great idea.
So, to sum up;
 We’ve covered market segmentation, the 4 P’s, selling the benefit not the product and some of the different types of marketing.  The key phrase that encompasses it all I think is:


Selling goods that don't come back, to customers that do.