Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't forget the Giveaway!

Thanks to all for your support and enthusiasm as I enter this new world of online sales and marketing! I appreciate all your comments and sorry some of you have had trouble getting coments on the blog. Just check out Etsy (see right for the link) and my Etsy store and let me know via e-mail, Facebook or comment below and you can win the earrings pictured in my earlier blog! I will pick a winner on Thursday, July 2! Good luck and keep checking in for more giveaways!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Thanks for the iPod!

OK. I said that I would become more tech-savvy following New Year's, but I truly didn't know where to begin. My kids got me an iPod for Mother's Day and I honestly had no idea what to do with it. Lucky for me, Kristin and Mark loaded a wide variety of songs onto the iPod and showed me how to turn it on. At first, I was even confused with the on/off switch. I made Kristin charge the battery before heading to Spain. Although she MADE me watch her do it, I am worried about the day that the battery needs to be recharged. I have used the iPod a lot and appreciate this gift from my kids.

My next problem: tuning into the music and tuning out the rest of the world. The problem is that I walk around our neighborhood almost every day. Luckily this is a residential area, so I do not encounter very much traffic. Today I literally had to apologize to three walkers/runners because I almost bumped into them. I better pay less attention to what I may be stepping on and keep an eye out for who I may be stepping into.

That brings me to my first successful experience with the digital camera. I will admit that until yesterday, I had no idea what a card reader was but (woohoo!) I took this picture and even uploaded it by myself. I must admit that I followed Charlie's verbal commands through part of the procedure, but hey, I'm getting there.

I love these newfound skills and am almost ready for the 21st century. So, watch out world! I might be the iPod-listening photographer bumping into you!

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's a Giveaway!

Today I made my first sale in my Etsy store! A woman from the UK bought a piece for her upcoming wedding. To celebrate the event I will have my first giveaway.

June has been an exciting month of new ventures! My new year's resolution was to try to learn how to do more on the computer (luckily, I didn't quantify this, so I really can learn something small and not fail at the resolution part) and it took until June to bring things together. I think I am still behind the learning curve on this one, but I have to admit it brought some exciting new opportunities and customers to my jewelry and crafting business. I started this blog thanks to Kate's help (she is putting that marketing degree to good use) and also started a Facebook page and an Etsy store.

For those of you new to Etsy, it's great! It's an online community to buy and sell all things homemade! Kind of an e-Bay for crafters. Thanks to Kristin helping me with the pictures (that resolution might have to wait for next year) I listed a few things and hooray for the first sale!

Ok, now for the good news ... I want to introduce you to my Etsy store, so anyone who checks it out can get registered for a free piece of jewelry! See the picture of what you can win at the bottom of the page .... . Just use the link on the right to head to my Etsy store, check out what I have there and come back and let me know what you think (use the comment section at the bottom of this post)! That's it! On July 2 (my almost one month anniversary of the new store), I will pick a random winner and send them their prize!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pretty in Pink!

Well, I cut the first hydrangeas from the garden and brought them inside the house! I just love them! One of my all time favorite flowers and a good reminder that summer is here, also my favorite season of the year. I am inspired by the soft, pink colors of these early blooms and and so I worked with pink vintage today. I love working with old pins, earrings, buttons and I came up with a another way to make "old" new again!

I have several different pendants like this made for my upcoming jewelry show and some will be making their way to my Etsy store (check it out, there is a link on the right). These necklaces are simple yet make quite a statement and I can do something custom as well! The chains are sterling and the pendant is attached to a smooth, sterling disk. Each necklace will be totally unique!

Maybe the purple hydrangeas will bloom next..........

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cross my heart

Today was a beautiful day, so nice to have a break from the rain! I made a big batch of sun tea (with fresh mint from the garden..so good) and crafted my heart out on the back deck all afternoon. Mark had some kids over and they played outside all afternoon and were also happy to be able to enjoy the good weather.

I wanted to make a wire cross for a friend. I have one hanging in my house; they are a ton of work and get the hands a little achey but this friend is worth it! Hope you can sit back todayand relax with some tea and enjoy the sunshine! Here is picture of what I accomplished!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Here are some pictures from the trip to Alaska! Mom and Dad took nine grandchildren on a cruise and a great time was had by all. My boys loved being with all their cousins, manners were heavily enforced (gotta love that) and I think they learned a few things along the way! Hooray for family!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back to the bead board.....

Some customers ask me how I figure out what I am going to make. Here is a picture of a bead board I used. I sorted out various beads from a room full of boxes filled to the brim with beads and put them together and viola! A bracelet is born! The above beads were handmade and I absolutely love working with beads that are so colorful and unique. I also love hammered silver, so putting the two together with beautiful crystals feels like playing instead of working!

Here is the finished project, which sold within days of making it and I actually had two other customers wanting something similar. This bracelet was truly hard to part with! I want one for myself and next time I might just keep it.

REALITY CHECK......This photo is for those who know me best! This is what my bead boards more typically look like! Anyone who has been in my studio knows this is more of a reality (actually this is pretty organized)! It is sometimes the random things that end up leftover on the bead board that combine to make the coolest new designs. There is truly a method to the madness!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's in In Style?

Well, Michael and Mark are still on the Alaskan cruise with my parents, Kate is busy at work in Manhattan and Kristin arrived safely in Spain, although I think her adventure is unfolding around her! That leaves me home alone all day with no excuse not to get something done around the house as well as making some new stuff for another show I have tomorrow. But instead my In Style mag came and I stopped everything to check it out! I love reading this cover to cover and hope to scope out new trends in jewelry and fashion (I am not usually disappointed).
I did love to see they featured a set of bracelets similar to some I had already made with African trade beads. These bracelets burst with color and have accents in wood, hammered sterling or crystal. So fun! Love it when I can be on top of something the stars are promoting! I think I will put one of them in my Etsy store. Check it out, there is a link to my store on this page! Yay! Now time to get back to work! Not everyone gets a vacation!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out with the old....

I wanted to post some pictures of the necklace I created with vintage pieces...I might have a new thing going here. I made myself a necklace and could have sold it a few times over at the show I did this week. Great inspiration from Kate's article (see link below)! Now I have some orders for similar creations. Each one would definitely be one of a kind! The bottom photo is my experiment and the other two are follow up ideas. I plan to make another one this afternoon! Maybe one will make its way over to my Etsy store.
Kristin left for Spain today and will study there the next few weeks. She has been my resident photographer, so I hope I can get things right during her absence! Adios and gracias, Kristin!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Out of Africa

At a local bead show, I stumbled upon a story that interested me as well as some beautiful beads! The beads were so smooth and colorful, but the story of how they came to be is even more compelling. The beads are called Kazuri beads and here is what I learned:

"Kazuri Founder Lady Susan Wood was born (1918) in a mud hut in an African village. Her parents were missionaries from England in the Ituri Forest. Lady Wood was sent back to England to be educated and married Michael Wood, a surgeon. They came to Kenya in 1947. They were dedicated to making a difference and Lady Wood started a coffee plantation on the Karen Blixen estate, famous from the award winning movie "Out of Africa" , at the foot of the Ngon'g Hills, about 30 minutes from the bustling Nairobi city center in Kenya.In 1975, Lady Susan Wood set up a fledgling business making beads in a small shed in her back garden. She started by hiring two disadvantaged women, and quickly realized that there were many more women who were in need of jobs and so Kazuri Beads was created and began its long and successful journey as a help center for the needy women especially single mothers who had no other source of income. In 1988 Kazuri became a factory and expanded hugely with over 120 women and men.

Today Kazuri, the Swahili word for 'small and beautiful' produces a wide range of hand made, hand painted ceramic jewelry that shines with a kaleidoscope of African colors and Kenyan art that reflects a culture and appeal to a worldwide fashion market. Kazuri's beautifully finished products are made to an international standard and are sold worldwide. These standards are maintained through high training standards and a highly motivated management team. Kazuri is a member of the Fair Trade Act."

I have enjoyed creating many 'small and beautiful' pieces from these Kazuri beads and have gone back to the dealer for more and more. These are frequently requested bracelets, and I always enclose a little story of how the beads came to be! It feels great to wear something nice that actually helps women halfway around the world take care of their families. I will have some bracelets to look at on my website and hopefully for sale soon on my Etsy site if you would like one for yourself! The matching earrings are great, too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Four sisters

Last night I did a jewelry show that was very successful and very fun! I wanted to take the time to show you some of my greatest supporters who happened to be in attendance at last night's event.

I'll back up by saying that Charlie found a great bottle of Shiraz while in a Maryland liquor store last week. I can't say anything about the wine itself but it is called "Four Sisters." He told me to share it with my aunts, four sisters who have played a very important role in my life! I am so lucky to have them so close and they really have done so much for me, they deserve more than a bottle of wine!

The women above have raised nineteen children. They are faith-filled, strong women with the quickest wits and the smartest brains. Two have buried children, one is a breast cancer survivor, one is an ovarian cancer survivor; they have served or are serving as board members at their churches, at local universities and with community organizations. They have had successful careers as a nurse, realtor, volunteer. They attend daily Mass, little league games, recitals and babysit for their grandchildren whenever possible. They take their families on vacations.

They were my first customers when Gales Designs was only a few bracelets laid out on the ping pong table in the basement. They were there in force last night, six years later. So I thank them for teaching me to love God and family with all my being, face adversity with strength and dignity, and most of all to laugh much. I am very lucky to have these four sisters! Their support in my life means the world to me!

I left last night's show filled with gratitude, happiness and even at my age, with the promise that I would call when I got home.

(Photo l-r: Pat Wentling, Peg Giering, Betty Hurleman and Kitty Wright)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cleaning Day

School is out less than a week and I have assigned the kids the task of cleaning out a few of their drawers. I am the queen of the "junk drawer" and I don't think Charlie gets this at all. Every house must have a drawer (or two or three.....) where random things accumulate and are saved for some later purpose. It always gives me great pleasure to clean out a drawer like that on occasion (albeit rare occasions) and fall upon special mementos (birthday candles that say "13") or not so special mementos (a wine cork). I guess if I put them where they belonged I could find them when I needed them (scissors, stamps, lip gloss), but it would make cleaning out the drawer much less fun. I always think that something may have a later purpose and is worth being saved and now I can see that it might even be profitable.

Kate sent me this link to a successful NYC jewelry designer who creates beautiful pieces from old treasures. What an inspiration! I am heading to the bead board with all the cast off vintage things that I could not bring myself to throw away, but really have no purpose. I think I will make something fun for myself...if not, you will find it in the "junk drawer" for years to come.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Summer time, summer time

Today feel likes the first day of summer even though it is just the first day of Mark's summer vacation. Friends voices filled the house today and suddenly I am on duty to have something ready at lunchtime. I really do love the relaxed days and not having any real schedule. It inspired me to make some really fun, summery earrings today and Kristin took some good pictures for me outside.

I hope everyone gets to enjoy these fun days with the kids home and the calendar a little less full while finding inspiration in the beauty of summer. Have a good day!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The nest is emptying.....

Today Michael moved out. After graduating from Penn State a few short weeks ago, he already started a job in Wilkes-Barre and is enjoying his new position at the Sears Distribution Center there. He got an apartment mid-week and the U-Haul pulled out this morning filled with anything he could scrape together to make his new place a home.

As I fill an order for a mother's bracelet for a first time mom, I am reminded how fast these years go. But I also know there are more adventures to come after your kids leave the nest, which I realize as I make a grandmother's birthstone bracelet for someone not that much older than myself! (I am in no rush for this one, but just pointing it out!) Photos here show both of these finished projects on their way to a new home.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Here Comes The Bride!

I am always busy designing bridal jewelry. I love how each bride has her own style and all the wedding jewelry I have done has been varied--from small to large, casual to classic. Some brides have had me make earrings, bracelets or other sets to match the bridesmaids' dresses. This can double as their gift for being in the wedding! So useful and personal! Each time they wear their pieces they will think of your special day. Pictured is a fun wedding...I got to double as a guest and a vendor! The earrings shown matched the bridesmaids' dresses and how cute are the bracelets for the flower girls?

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Project: Vintage Bracelets

At Gales Designs, I'm making old new again. These bracelets are made using vintage jewelry parts. People have given me their grandmother's old earrings to make their own customized bracelets with a great family history as well, and I've gone to flea markets and antique shows to collect old pieces to re-make.

I love thinking that the pieces I use had a life and a history before I ever saw them. What kind of stories could they tell? Each one is completely different, although they're a bit fragile due to their construction and age.

I've used all colors to make these bracelets--pastels have been big this summer, but black and white are also popular. They're a conversation piece when you're wearing one, and you'll never have to worry about someone else wearing the same one!

Photos are, again, the fabulous work of Beth Cardwell!

Welcome to my blog!

I'm so excited for the chance to keep you all updated on what I'm working on and what inspires me! If you're looking for a special, one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry for any event, contact me--I'm happy to work with your specific needs.

For those of you who don't already know me, my name is Beth Gales and I live in Lancaster, PA. I started making jewelry for my friends in 2002, but with the encouragement and support of my family, Gales Designs was launched shortly afterwards and has been thriving ever since. My husband, Charlie, handles the paperwork and my sisters and their husbands have tirelessly helped me sell, market, design and show my jewelry. They've also helped turn my love of seaglass, vintage jewelry and antique show and flea market finds into a business adventure.

A special thanks to my parents, who have always encouraged me to make the most of my talents, and to the entire Gales clan for taking Gales Designs nationwide!

Check back for updates on what I've been working on and more information on my ideas and inspiration. Thanks for visiting my blog!

The picture at the top of the post is by Beth Cardwell, a great friend and fabulous photographer also in Lancaster, PA! She does amazing work--you can see more by visiting her blog.