Tutorial: How to Make Glass Eye Cabochons

This is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make the very same glass eye cabochons that I sell from my SteampunkDream Etsy shop. Every now and again I get sent messages asking how to make these pieces, so I figured it was about time I made a guide I could point people to rather than responding to each individual e-mail or Etsy convo with my process.

(Lots of eye designs are available for digital download from my other Etsy shop MegansCreativeDesign, or on my website here.. I will be using one of the designs from this Steampunk Evil Eyes Collage for this tutorial.)

Step 1.

Cut out and separate the eye designs you are going to use from the printed sheet. (I recommend printing your designs on heavy card stock paper or matte photo paper so there isn’t the glare that comes from glossy prints.)

Fantasy-Eye Designs

Step 2.

Drop a single drip of crystal lacquer onto each eye design.

DSC_0142

Step 3.

Press the flat side of the glass dome cabs onto the design, pressing hard enough to push out any air bubbles. Hold for several seconds (until the glass is securely in place and attached to the design without sliding off.) Wipe off any access lacquer with a rag or tissue to keep it from drying on the glass dome surfaces.

How to make glass eyes

Step 4.

Allow to dry for an hour or more.

Step 5.

Cut away the access paper from around the glass dome, making small, close cuts to eliminate all exposed paper stock.

glass cabochon tutorialtaxidermy eye tutorial

Optional step:

Depending on what you are planning on using the glass eyes for, you may need to coat the back side (where the paper stock is exposed) with a some sort of protection. If you are using the eyes in polymer clay sculptures, for example, you’ll probably want to paint a layer of enamel the the back of the eye, or at least a coat of rubber cement depending on your project. If, however, you are going to be attaching the back to a backing for jewelery making (as I use them for), coating the back of the eyes may not be necessary.

 

How to Feel Better About Raising Your Prices

One of the surprising observations I had while staying over in the UK, France, Italy and Ireland, were how few knockoff/made-in-China fashion stores there were. At least in the districts my husband and I explored, over 90% of the apparel and accessory shops were either handcrafted or manufactured within its own country, or offered only designer labels.

I delighted in the fact that there could be a shop in Paris that only sold handcrafted umbrellas (beautifully made, and well worth the 600+ euro price tags) or one in Scotland that only sold ornate mirrors for home decor, and that both appeared to be thriving, well-supported businesses.

Shopping in Italy

This was such a strong contrast against my own city, where the Wal-Mart parking lot is always full, and small boutique-type businesses rarely last a single shopping season. The majority of the shopping population here grabs their attireat discount outlets such as Ross or TJMaxx, and occasionally, at big-box departments stores such as Target or Fred Meyers.

Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with this, but as a handmade jewelry designer, being surrounded by and myself inhabiting a discount-seeking culture has made it psychologically hard for me to charge a fair price for my artisan-crafted pieces. Despite the fact that most of my pieces take me several hours to design and create, are made with high-quality materials, and incorporate well over 20 years of beading experience, I found it hard to actually follow any pricing formulas that suggested I triple or even quadruple what I have been asking.

Research and immersion have been key in helping me break this psychological barrier.

Even if I don’t plan on buying anything, I’ve been purposefully spending more time in high-end department and boutique stores, looking at the higher price tags as something to be celebrated and to strive for.

I make frequent visits to sites like NET-A-PORTER and Neiman Marcus. Seeing how much these guys charge for fashion jewelry helps me to realize just how much I am giving my own stuff away.

If you are struggling with charging what your pieces are worth, I implore you to do the same.

Spend more time in Nordstom and less in Nordstrom Rack.

Frequent high-end boutiques and lifestyle stores.

Follow designer labels on Pinterest.

Really take the time to immerse yourself in the luxury market. Because it’s out there and it’s growing. Even if you live in a city like mine, where most people seem to purchase based on price, you can’t be certain that they aren’t shopping online for the more quality stuff, or that someone on the other side of the world, who is more used to paying properly in exchange for quality, won’t stumble across your online shop and find just what they were looking for.

Result Time: Taking a Vacation While Running a Business

notre-dame

Well, I made it back.

After 16 days spent in Europe I’ve returned to my home country, and my home-based business.

Surprisingly, it didn’t all go to hell in a hand basket while I was gone.

Though I shouldn’t say “surprisingly,” really, because I prepared my ass off.

I did have to check in occasionally when I had available Wi-Fi to access with my smart phone when there were questions or custom order requests that my assistant didn’t know the responses to, but she let me know when they were there so I wasn’t having to constantly check or stress that messages were being left in limbo on the days when I didn’t have internet access because. (I had given her some response templates to let these inquirers know that I would be getting back to them within the next few days, so no one ever felt like they weren’t being heard.)

In the past, when I went on vacation for longer than an extended weekend, I had to set my Etsy shops in vacation mode and/or deactivate the majority of my listings. This meant, of course, that sales stopped and inventory remained. Ultimately this not only temporarily endangers cash flow, but can also hurt your site’s SEO (because when the Google-bots come crawling, they won’t see your stuff!), it removes the possibility of any PR and partnership opportunities, and much more.

kilkeny-castle

It’s funny how many of us go into business for ourselves because we want more freedom (to travel, to spend with loved ones, and so on), yet we feel even more chained to the work of our business than we do our day jobs.

(At least at the day job I get 2 weeks paid vacation!)

So it’s nice to conclude that it doesn’t have to be that way. I have to confess that I was really nervous about leaving my business (my baby) in the hands of someone else, even someone who I trust and have thoroughly trained. The only listings I deactivated while I was gone were my made-to-order pieces, which don’t take up a lot of the virtual space on my site anyway. Even that was being overly cautious, as I could have simply had my assistant message the purchasers of these listings in the event of any of them selling, to let them know that there would be a delay prior to the creation of their item, along with putting the information in the item descriptions. Refunds could easily have been made to customers who may have missed the warning and thought they could get their items within my usual time-frame.

So having a vacation while running a home-based business? Totally possible. It only takes some careful planning ahead of time, and organizing as though your are hiring (even if you aren’t.)

Oh, and Europe? So fabulous. I can’t wait to go back and explore even more of the continent. Next time, with even more confidence that my business can keep on going while I’m away.

Pad Your Profits with Multiple Revenue Streams

To create each of my bead-embroidered glass eye rings I go through the following processes:

  1. Digitally designing the eye in Photoshop.
  2. Creating the glass cabochon with the printed design.
  3. Bead embroidering around the glass eye to create the ring.

At the end of this combined process, I have a finished product to sell: a beaded glass eye ring. While this is obvious, what can often be less obvious to other handmade sellers are all of the possible revenue streams that stem from the above process.

Yellow Dragon Eye Ring

Yellow Dragon Eye Ring

Instead of simply creating glass eye rings, I am also creating the possibility for revenue streams such as creating digital collage sheets from my Photoshop designs, selling the glass eye cabochons to other artists to use in their jewelry and/or sculptures, de-stashing the left-over beading supplies or less-than-perfect cabochons, or even selling tutorials on how to bead embroider and create your own ring.

All of these possible revenue streams stem from one process.

Yes, my main focus is to sell the completed project–my eye ring–but there is no harm in padding my bottom line with the other possibilities that go along with it.

Steampunk Eyes Digital Collage Sheet

Steampunk Eyes Digital Collage Sheet

That’s the important distinction to make here. All of the above listed revenue streams stem from one product and process. I am creating the digital designs anyway, I am creating the glass cabochons anyway, and I am documenting my creation process to systematize my production anyway. I might as well take these steps a little farther to generate revenue from them.

Too often business owners confuse “shiny object syndrome” for “multiple revenue streams,” but there is a key way to tell the difference.

Multiple revenue streams branch out from your already existing business activities, while shiny objects distract you from your overall vision and goals. (Click to tweet this!)

An additional revenue stream that does not detract or distract consists of expanding an already existing process within your business, or adding to that process, such as tacking on an up-sell or creating follow-up products that existing customers would most likely be interested in. It could also be the creation of a pre-purchase product (such as an inexpensive sample), selling your already existing products in more than one location, or partnering with other businesses as an affiliate or joint venture partner to earn commission from recommending products to your customers that you personally don’t produce.



Letting Your Business Happen Without You

Let Your Business Happen Without You

So I’m in Europe right now.

If my itinerary all goes according to plan, I should be headed to the Dublin airport to pick up a car where my husband and I will have to figure out how to drive on the wrong side of the road, and with a stick shift used by the wrong hand! Yikes!

Should be quite the adventure. I’ll have to tell you about it after.

I can’t tell you about it right now, because, as I’m writing this, I still have a couple of weeks before I even take off for my vacation.

Woah. Total mind trip.

That’s right. I’m writing this blog post in advance and scheduling it to go live in the future.

(On WordPress you do this by clicking “Edit” next to “Publish Immediately” in the top right sidebar, in case you didn’t know.)

shceulde blog posts in advance on wordpress

Advanced written blog posts, social media updates, and e-mail newsletters are all part of what I refer to as my “Business Buffer.”

A buffer is great to set up prior to any vacation, or other planned event where you know you might be too busy (being too busy relaxing and having fun counts here too!) to worry about getting a Twitter post out there, or announcing your Christmas in July sale.

It’s also great to have any other time too.

Because sometimes things happen that aren’t planned. Like you get sick, or someone in your family gets sick. Or your best friend is going through a divorce and needs to crash at your place. Or there’s a major storm and the power goes out for a couple of days.

Shyte happens.

When you have a buffer in place, you never have to worry about your business suddenly disappearing from all potential prospects and customers. You don’t have to feel like your “missing out” in the fast-paced, short-attention-spanned life of the internet.

In general, I like to operate at least a week ahead of time, that way I always have a week’s worth of buffer set up in case any minor emergency were to strike. During any given week, I’m actually preparing next week’s blog posts, social media updates, and so on. (A marketing calendar makes all of this super painless!)

I also like to keep a file with random social media updates, such as quotes or links to interesting articles, on hand for using to fill up my buffer when I can’t think of a whole lot to say.

So in cases such as this week, when I needed to be scheduling out 3 weeks of content so I could relax and have fun while I’m on my vacation, it wasn’t as much of a stretch as you might think. Rather than working on only next week’s content during my current week, I spend the last couple weeks of May and the first week of June creating content for at least 2 weeks out per my marketing and editorial calendars.

Done, and done, and done.

So if you’re reading this right now, it means that it’s working. My business is running smoothly, just as it should, while I’m on the other half of the world not even having to think about it.

It can happen, it just takes a little forethought and a bit more hustle on your end.

 

Defining Your Business Vision {free download}

More.

 

Better.

 

Enough.

 

Even more.

 

Even better.

 

That’s not enough, we need more…

 

It can feel like you’re really going around and around on the hamster wheel when you are working in your business. You need more sales (of course) so you work to get more traffic, more followers, more e-mail sign ups, more press, more word-of-mouth, more prospects, and so on and so fourth.

You keep striving for MORE but until you define how much of that MORE you need, it’s a never-ending battle which will eventually wear you down, burn you out, and leave you feeling like a failure.

You need a destination to strive for, a goal in focus, and a vision to draw from when taking action to meet that goal.

But “more” is not sufficient, because you’ll always want more.

Specific numbers, measurable and trackable numbers, are what we are looking for here.

This is for not only money either, a lot of facets within your business can be tracked with numbers–more than you may realize.

  • Because what gets measured, gets done.
  • What gets tracked, improves.

So what’s a good way to do this? Well… being the artsy-fartsy type, I’m always a big fan of visuals, in which case, a lovely mind-map works wonders.

So I made one up for you to fill out.

You can download it here. Save it to your desktop and type in your answers in the spaces provided, or print it out to write out your responses by hand.

Vision Map Worksheet

You can even fill out more than one. Set one mind-map at 10 years from now, one at 3 years from now, and your last at 1 year from now. Working backwards from your ultimate dream vision will provide you with the clarity and focus your looking for.

If you found this tool useful, please share it with others who you think might benefit from it.

Organizing for Help (or why you should act like you’re hiring even if you aren’t)

My business, Megan’s Beaded Designs, is hiring its first employee.

It’s an exciting (and stressful, and scary, but cool) time.

I’m officially a #GIRLBOSS! Craziness!

To give myself the ability to leave on vacations once in awhile (I’m heading to Europe next week!) I knew I was going to need an assistant to take care of things like shipping orders and responding to customer inquiries while I was away. Not to mention the possibility of expanding the reach of my jewelry and hair accessories when I can shift my focus to more revenue-generating activities. Now I can be less tied up with the time-sucking details of which I can pass on to my employee.

(Plus, of course, the desire to sing this song every time I think about my new role.)

But then herein lies stressful part: >>>I<<< knew how to do everything in my business, but how on earth could I entrust/train someone else?

All of my systems and processes have been stored in my head (not exactly the best place, admittedly.)

Sure, I may know where I keep that one tube of blue seed beads, or which tray harbors my miniature teacup rings, but it would be close to impossible to transfer all of this know-how to someone else. I would be a terrible boss if I excepted my new assistant to be able to wade through my disaster of a studio to find inventory, locate the right packaging materials, or even just sort though images from within my laptop’s digital files.

It was time to get serious about organizing.

spreadsheet

I’m going to be completely honest with you, organization and order is not my natural state of being. I will live in chaos until it becomes simply too frustrating for me to bear before I take any action to rectify it.

(I waited until my wardrobe expanded to 4 closets before I bothered to sort by color and my DVD collection is still in the boxes we used to transport them when we moved into our house OVER THREE YEARS AGO.)

So, yes, getting my business organized and systematized was a ton of work.

It took me well over 3 weeks to get it all sorted out. But man, was it ever worth it. Even when I don’t have my assistant processing my orders for me, it is so much easier for me to do it now.

When someone orders a specific pair of earrings, I no longer have to wade through my entire collection to find them. Instead, I check the spreadsheet I created in my cloud-based inventory documents to find out exactly where the pair is stored, where I also keep track of how many more pairs are left in stock for  next time.

As you can imagine, I’m wondering how I ever got along before.

office clips

Again, I am far from what anyone would describe as “OCD.” The desk at my day job is always covered in papers and sticky notes, and the work bench at my home-studio was likewise covered in beading supplies and packaging materials.

It was not an easy task for me to turn things around. But once I did? Life-saving. Or more literally: time-saving.

Before I got my assistant officially on board, organizing for her has prepared my business for growth. Documenting the steps I take within each process of my business, along with organizing my raw materials and completed inventory has my entire operation running more efficiently.

Which is why I’m recommending that you prep your business for hiring employees, even if you never plan on hiring one.

Seriously.

Act as though you will be bringing on help, and that it’ll arrive next month. Now you have 30 days to organize and systematize. Pretend like this imaginary person(s) is going to be handling everything from shipping incoming orders to social media marketing. At the end of the month, you’ll be amazed at how much easier you’ve made running your business for you.

Add Instant Credibility to Your Website or Blog

You may be great, and your readers might think your great, but a little social proof never hurt anybody.

There are a couple of quick and easy thing you can do, today, that will add instant credibility to your website or blog.

The first thing: add an “As Seen In” graphic to your home page or side bar. Just copy or screen shot the logo images of all of the websites and blogs you or your business has been featured on.

The press bar at the footer of www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com shows off all of the blogs and websites my jewelry or I have been featured on.

The press bar at the footer of www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com shows off all of the blogs and websites my jewelry or I have been featured on.

The "As Seen In" graphic on the sidebar of this blog add a sense of credibility to my expert status and advice.

The “As Seen In” graphic on the sidebar of this blog add a sense of credibility to my expert status and advice.

The second thing: sprinkle in testimonials anywhere you are attempting to sell your products.

It’s one thing if you tell your visitors that you products are awesome, of course you’re going to say that they’re great, but what potential buyers really want to know is what other people who are like them thought of your goods and services.

Screen capture your Etsy reviews to share on social media, and quote these reviews and social media buyer feedback throughout your website, blog, and product descriptions.

Testimonial on Evil Eye Jewelry Page

Testimonials are sprinkled throughout the featured collection pages on www.MegansBeadedDesigns.com.

So what are you waiting for? Nab those logos and great reviews to add some instant trust to your biz!

Revisiting Failure

A couple of weekends ago, I experienced what felt like an epic failure. I was horrified at how much I was able to let myself and my business down, completely overwhelmed with disappointment following what could have been–should have been–an opportunistic networking event.

To summarize, I donated a bunch of my jewelry and hair accessories to a local fashion show event in exchange for the opportunity to attend. Excited (and nervous) about meeting several local shop owners, fashion models, photographers, and others in the industry, I pinned the hope on this event as my “chance” to get a leg up on getting my work into local shops and salons.

What I forgot to consider was how introverted I am and how poorly I handle interacting with a room full of strangers. I left 1/3 of the way into the event, in tears, completely overwhelmed and disappointed in myself, unable to exchange a single business card or conversation.

Oops.

But this brings me to thinking about how we consider business failures, and made me revisit an old article from my original WordPress.com blog archives.

Here is that article again, in case you need a refresher just as much as I do:
embrace-your-failures

How to Embrace Your Failures

First thing’s first: you need to accept the fact that you’re gonna eff up. Hell, you need to accept that you’re probably gonna EFF UP BIG TIME. Accept it now, and you’ll be better prepared to handle the situation when it arrives.

Have you accepted this? Okay then, let’s move on.

Next, you need to realize that everyone makes mistake. It’s a lame cliche, I know. But it’s actually TRUE. Even that little miss perfect seller you are always comparing yourself to has made mistakes. The reason you can’t tell is because she’s remedied the situation, learned from it, and BECAME BETTER FOR IT.

You can't learn if you don't eff up.

You can’t learn if you don’t eff up. Failures are a major part of the character building process. The best way to handle a failure is not to run from it, or try to hide it, but embrace it head on. Tell yourself, “I messed up by doing a, which can be prevented in the future by doing b instead.” See how that works?

If we acknowledge the mistake, and find out what should have been the solution, future mistakes can be prevented. To just hope that the mistake won’t happen again, while continuing to go on as we were before, offers no benefit. By ignoring a failure and simply hoping that the effects will go away, we are dooming ourselves to committing that failure again.

Do all of these generic statements drive you as crazy as they do me? Lets talk about some specific examples so you can see what I mean.

Let’s pretend there are two online sellers who each sell homemade chocolates. Both sellers start to receive complaints from customers that their chocolates are arriving melted in their mailbox. Seller #1 urges her customers to check their mailbox as soon as possible so that the heat won’t get to them, and continues to sell as usual. Seller #2 discontinues selling the chocolates during the hottest summer months, and packs more coolants and priority ships when she does sell the chocolates again.

Now let’s pretend there are 2 craft fair vendors, each selling knitted scarves at a summer fair. Neither are getting a lot of business. Seller #1 continues to sell at the fair each summer, hoping that some new scarf designs will eventually get her some sales. Seller #2 tries the fair again, but the second time making other knitted items that aren’t wearable like mug cozies and yoga sacks. When sales are still lagging, as people really just don’t want to carry around knitted items in 90 degree weather, Seller #2 stops attending the outdoor summer show and saves her booth money for holiday and other indoor, winter season shows.

In both of these examples, Seller #1 isn’t really doing much to fix her mistakes. She is just hoping that even though she will keep trying the same thing, different results will follow. The second seller, however, is taking the results from the previous mistake and re-directing her decisions. She might make more mistakes still, but even after those she will continue to change and adapt for what works best for her business.

Conclusion: You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to not package something enough so it will break in the mail. You’re going to sell at a lousy craft fair and not make your booth money back. You’re going to sign a lame consignment contract and end up getting you ass handed to you. You’re going to undercharge for shipping and lose out. You’re going to get kicked off an online forum for starting a new thread when you weren’t supposed to. You’re going to have plenty of typos in your Facebook statuses and you’re going to have a blog comment that gets dinged down into hiding. Recognize the mistake, learn from it, and grow because of it. As you start to recognize your failures as opportunities to become a better person and run a better business, you will even begin to embrace them.


How can I take my own advice and learn from my recent failure at networking? Well, there are a couple of things I can take from this experience.

For starters: the next time I aim to join a big crowd of strangers, I know I would feel a lot less overwhelmed and lonely if I brought a friend or dragged my husband along with me. Otherwise, I need to be more sensitive of my introverted personality type and not push myself into situations that my brain simply cannot handle the stress of. Rather than trying to work the crowd, it would make a lot more sense to send out individual, personalized e-mails or phone calls to shop and salon owners, inquiring to set up one-on-one meetings where I could show them my work to see if they’re interested in selling it within their space.

Lesson learned.

What about you? Have you expedience a recent “failure” that you can turn into a valuable learning experience?

What to Do When You’re Drawing a Blank

When you’re in the business of being a creative, you don’t have the luxury of only creating when you feel like it. You are required to be creative almost every single day, and sometimes the well of creativity you draw from runs dry or your initial inspiration disappears. So what can you do? Projects have deadlines and products need to be created in order for you to have enough inventory to sell. When you can’t afford to take a break, but are still drawing a blank, there is one simple thing you can do to get your creativity going again.

be-creative

Even though it may seem counter-intuitive at first, one of the quickest way to jump-start your creative brain-pathways is to set up limitations or boundaries on your creative tasks.

Click here to read my guest post on Create & Thrive to find out more…