Just a quick note to say that my Etsy shop has been re-opened! I cannot believe what a crazy busy summer I've been having! Its been a complete blur. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months hunting rocks in the Black Hills, and finally settling into my new house near the Badlands. I have a million new seriously awesome rock bases, including some rare ones, as well as a bunch of new gem tree design ideas! In the coming days I'll get started! In the meantime, I have many neat gem trees, tree of life necklaces and sun catchers for sale! Please visit my shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/spiritgemdesigns. Thank you so much for your continued support! I will write more later, as I can find the time in my busy life!
We're finalizing our plans for moving to our house in South Dakota! We've had enough of our current situation, and are really looking forward to the sunny skies and open fields! The above photo shows the awesome view from our new house in Wall, overlooking what the locals call the "Mini Badlands".
We've never taken such an adventure before in our lives! We're leaving behind friends, family and everything we knew, in pursuit of a minimalist lifestyle. We will be able to focus more on our art, and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer, while not having to worry about keeping up with the Joneses. I'm going to be so much more in touch with my art, and can finally find my own rock bases! There are a lot of rock shops in the area too, so I should never fall short of some really cool bases. Who knows, maybe I'll get a part time job in a rock shop! I'm not sure how many trees I'll come across, there is more rock than tree in our area. I have a feeling I might stumble across some really cool bonsai trees in the rugged landscape.
I plan on doing a lot more photography, once we leave Minnesota. There is so much to see in South Dakota! I am very proud to be sharing a part of Wall history, as well. There have been millions of people through Wall Drug, which is only a few blocks from our house. The store started very modestly, trying to catch some business from the new highway that went by town. Look what they turned themselves into! Its pretty cool. I don't know a lot about the history of the area just yet, but I am very eager to learn. I've only passed through Wall, and had my longest stay in the town of Hot Springs, which is about an hour south of Rapid City.
I'm going to be using my Instagram account a lot more! I'll probably come up with a neutral name for the account, so that I can use it for both Spirit Gem and for Oddball. But for right now, if you'd like to follow me, I'm at http://www.instagram.com/oddballcatttoys.
We have quite the project out there too; we bought two fixer upper houses. The main house where we'll live, needs mostly cosmetics and projects finished. We have to install flooring, patch drywall, and fix a crooked foundation. The walls are all white, so it'll be fun figuring out what color scheme to paint. I'm a total HGTV addict, so hopefully I can put together a really cool, cozy space! Our other house will become a workshop/studio. I will have my work and businesses in there, away from the house. My fiance, Kevin, will have his wood shop in there, as well as a space he can do his jewelry. That house is going to be a challenge! It is basically gutted right now, they even took out some load bearing walls we'll have to put back in. The floor is gone, so we're thinking of pouring a concrete slab. One of the previous tenants cut holes on a couple of outside walls, to make room for larger windows. While its a great idea, the project wasn't finished. I think we will definitely put in the larger windows, but we'll have to put in siding, since its tough to patch stucco.
In celebration of this move, I'm holding a moving sale in both shops, to help raise money for additional moving funds and house repairs. Both Oddball Cat Toys and Spirit Gem Designs are using coupon code MOVINGSALE for discounts. Oddball is offering free shipping, and Spirit Gems is 10% off the price.
Looking at this photo of our house, I'm starting to feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder, from Little House on the Prairie. Do you remember those books as a kid? It would have been so interesting to be a pioneer in those days. I would have definitely loved all the crafting they did!
All right, I need to get back to work. I have one new sun catcher to list today, and more to make! I'm not sure about the design just yet. I made the hoop myself with twisted wire, but I'm not sure if I like the look or not. I'd almost rather have a thicker hoop and a simple twist of wire, maybe a colored wire against the silver. But, I think this is definitely a step in the right direction! I enjoyed my old sun catchers, but these are another level.
I also have a redesigned Tree of Life pendant too! I'm so proud of the pendant hoop, I made it myself! I don't know a lot about wire twisting, other than my trees, and am eager to learn more about forming hoops for jewelry. I may get into more complicated forms of wire wrapping from here, who knows!
I'm really feeling charged up these days, ready to make some new tree designs! I found some interesting gem trees over the weekend with shapes I haven't seen before. I am excited to try and incorporate that into a design of my own. I should be able to get some really interesting Bonsais going too, for those of you who are looking for something truer to nature.
I made a couple of Tree of Life pendants over the weekend. I'm still thinking of growing into this segment, its something that doesn't take long to make and will package well for local shops in SD. I want to keep the TOL different than the others on the market- the shape of the tree, possibly even the wire hoop, and definitely the roots. I want to get a line of birthstone pendants, as well as specific chakra healing pendants, made. These will form two different series, to keep things different and interesting.
I should really be growing my website too, make it a really good place for crystal education. There isn't a lot of really good information out there, and many of my customers want to know more about the crystals I work with, and what they're buying. This post has got me thinking about a new design for the website, and a much more exciting blog. :-) The ideas turn, I just wish I had many more hours in the day to get it all done!
I'm also trying to work on concepts for some really cool product tags. I want to have a little story with each piece, basically the story of trees and their meaning. It would be fun to name and number the trees too.
All of these ideas are exactly why I'm behind in getting new gem trees made! I'm sorry! I need to figure out a better balance between marketing, creating and listing. Since gem trees aren't like the latest infinity scarf on the market, I have to do a lot to market and drive interest to my work. I'm trying to figure out better way of doing it so I have more time to create.
With all that said, I'm going to leave you with photos of the brand new Tree of Life pendants! The first one is Andalusite, and the second is Blue Topaz.
Andalusite is a very interesting gem, that shows different colors in different directions. It helps overcome depression and self doubts, helps overcome past troubled memories and overwrite into present and positive experiences. Andalusite is also great for helping heal bone fractures, connective tissue, psychosomatic and stress related conditions.
Blue Topaz is the stone of the moon, helps you be honest with gentleness, helps sensitive people cope with teasing in good humor, controls feelings of anger by bringing hidden emotions to the surface in a calm way, good for speech and communication problems, helps emotional balance. On a physical side, Topaz is a body vitalizing gem, helps in whole body regeneration; disperses effects of negative energy from whatever source, helps maintain metabolism; assists thyroid, throat, eyes, ears and nasal issues.
I am so terrible about keeping up with these blog posts! I don't know what to say half the time lately. You don't want to hear me rambling about making stuff, that's boring. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of exciting things going on right now, besides work!
We are trying to move out to our house in South Dakota at the very end of February. We're really tired of Minnesota, and ready to begin a new life! I am very excited to see how business goes out there. I really want to get my work into local shops. While Etsy can be fun, it is ALOT of work. And, my work really sells much better in person. Its really tough to convey size and at times the actual colors. While my photography has greatly improved, its still far from being awesome. I have an excellent camera phone now, but terrible lighting in my apartment! I'd love to be able to use the Badlands as a backdrop for my tree photoshoots. We'll see!
I do have some new gem trees, and more coming! Its been hard getting into the energy work lately, to be honest. My current residence doesn't have a lot of good energy, and I've been so drained. I put so much energy into my trees! But it'll come, little by little! I really don't like making a ton of trees at one time either. I think each piece needs its own time, with gaps in between, to refresh my creative energies. I really want to get into making more complicated designs, but its just not working right now. I have a lot more studying and practice to do, which is frustrating me. How hard can making a tree be?! Its definitely harder than I'm giving myself credit for.
I'm also thinking of putting together Make a Gem Tree kit, so you can make your own gem tree! I'm not sure how to work the kits. I can sell the directions themselves, or direction plus supplies. And, how to do the supplies in the kits? But I think its a great idea. A basic tree is pretty simple to make, its the more complicated structures that take time to learn.
I will be quitting the jewelry tree stands, and in lieu, have instructions on how to make them. Its going to be difficult for me to get wire at a decent price when I move, because I'll have to constantly be ordering wire. I don't want to have to drive the price up just to cover the costs of shipping for the wire. Jewelry Tree Stands are simple to make, and once you master the right ways of twisting the wire, it'll take 15-20 minutes. You can make them as small or as large as you desire!
I may get into selling rough rock specimens and tumble stones, depending on what goes on in South Dakota. I've always wanted to do this, and it seems like a great opportunity!
If I get my gem trees into local shops, I may not be offering so many on Etsy anymore. I may end up being more of a custom order shop, with instructions and make your own kits. I don't know yet though, these are thoughts I'm throwing out. I plan on shifting to a new business shortly, called Little Badlands. I want to add more products in with the gem trees, but I'm not sure what that'll all include yet. It really again depends on what happens when we arrive in SD.
In addition to this business, I will be growing Oddball Cat Toys, which will become a subsidiary of Little Badlands. I cannot mix the two together, they will stay separate. But, I'm having so much fun with the pet segment! It is definitely a much harder business to run, and the profits are much lower. I'd love to see if I can sell some pet products in the local shops as souvenirs. It is a large, often ignored segment in the tourism industry.
Now that I'm writing out what I've been doing and thinking, I see why I don't have a lot of time to blog. hehehe I think I need to cut down and simplify my business life a little. :-)
Here are some photos of the newest gem trees for sale in the shop. If you click on the photo, it will lead you to the listing in my Etsy shop, where you can learn more about the tree, and/or purchase it.
Wow, I cannot believe its been that long since I've written a post! I am terrible! Actually, I've been trying out Facebook, which has proven to be quite the waste! I really need to get back into the habit of doing my blog once more.
Business is running well! It was so busy during the holidays, that I barely got to sleep! between Spirit Gem and Oddball, I was working 15-17 hour days just to try and catch up with orders. It was AWESOME! I thank you so much for all the orders, and I really hope you enjoyed your little treasures!
Unfortunately because I was so busy, I didn't have much time to keep up with my gem tree stock. My forest was cleared out of trees! But not to worry, I have lots of new bases on hand to create some wonderful gem trees! I'll try to add a bunch of bigger trees, although I really enjoy doing petite trees! They have the best shapes possible, at least in my opinion. I am adding a petite one as well, as my entry level tree. If you're not able to afford a larger piece, or are unsure of where to put it, the TINY tree will work great! Here's a photo:
Let's see. I had a really gorgeous Rose Quartz on Rose Quartz gem tree to list... except my new kitty, Dee Dee, decided it was hers! She had quite the adventure with nearly being killed in a high kill shelter in North Carolina. Before that, she was definitely abused and neglected by the former owner. Once she was rescued from the shelter, she spent a few weeks at a foster and then she was flown to me in Minnesota. Unfortunately the day I picked her up, I had a terrible kidney stone and stopped with her by my side, to the ER for treatment. She was the first kitty they ever had in the ER! Needless to say, the poor baby had been through quite a bit in her short life, She was as cool as a cucumber, thankfully! The Rose Quartz really helped her get over her traumas and fears quickly. I cannot say enough for crystal healing for animals! This was Dee Dee's choice to pick the tree. She had ignored others, but the second she saw this one, she reached out to it. I don't think this one will ever go on sale, but I will make another one to sell! (provided she also doesn't steal that one, lol)
We ended up having to postpone the move to our house in South Dakota until spring, although from the looks of it, its going to be end of February/early March. We are both so incredibly bummed, but the timing wasn't right to move. The house required a few major pieces before it could be lived in, which we are still working on. We'll get there, though! I really hope my business does even better once I make the move to rock land!
I'm playing with the idea of changing the business name from Spirit Gem Designs to Mini Badlands. The area around our house is called that, and I would love to have a name that comes from the land, because I want to be part of it. I want to add other products too, although they may not be in gemstone form. I have grown very addicted to weaving, and am playing with the idea of adding some bags and rugs to the mix. I'm making woven cat blankets for sale over at Oddball. But, I'm not sure. I don't think I can manage three stores, but I also don't want to cloud the trees with something completely unrelated. We'll see what happens!
I think that's it for now. I just wanted to check in, make sure people know things are going GREAT!, and apologize for the absence. I think I'm going to skip further Facebook posts and just blog. They may not be big posts at times, but at least they'll be pretty pictures! I'll see what I can do about adding more stuff to the website too. I will be busy in the coming days getting the Oddball Cat Toys website and blog up, the business has grown to the point it needs it! I'm very happy about that. :-)
Anyways, happy Thursday, and stay warm!
It looks like my time in Minnesota is coming to an end! We are finalizing the contract on our new home in South Dakota, and are looking to close at the end of October. There is so much going on right now surrounding the move! We've had some legal issues with our current landlords. I'm not going to reveal the name of said property management company until the move is complete, but I will say this- DO NOT rent. Its really sad our last days in Minnesota have to end like this. We've seen the very worst in people, and so many illegal things happen, that we are not able to fight against. You think the law is on your side, but then someone comes in with more money, they are able to say whatever they want.
I don't want to dwell on this here. I'm supposed to be very excited about our new home! The home is situated in between the Buffalo National Grasslands and The Badlands National Park. I can only imagine how much my work will improve! There aren't a huge amount of trees, but there will be such fabulous landscape! Our view from the house will stretch miles onto nothing. I'll finally be able to see a proper night sky and stars without the city lights! I'll have crisp, clean air around me. And, as for trees, we have two apple trees! Apparently they're not doing well right now, so I'll be taking care of them! I grew up with apple trees. My grandparents had several on their property. I loved their delicate branches and odd shapes. I loved picking apples too! There's nothing quite like a fresh apple off a tree. I only can hope there won't be bees around the fallen apples, like my grandparents house. I'm terrified of bees!
We have actually two homes on the property, and the smaller one will be made into a work studio. We will be putting in either sliding glass doors or large windows, on the side that faces the Badlands. I'm really excited at the thought of sitting at my desk working, and gazing out on to the landscape! It'll sure beat my view here- my neighbor's door! I think it'll be really nice too, to have a studio and be able to walk away from it when the work day is done. Right now, my studio is in the middle of my house, so I rarely get time to just enjoy life. My cats are always dragging me away!
My time right now is spent trying to get sales up to afford the move. Things have slowed down again, and I'm getting nervous! I have been going crazy making new gem trees with what few rock bases I have. I'm experimenting using special tree slices, aka wood coasters, and also a new take on the plant saucer. I've made some new gemstone bracelets, and will be adding a few new sparkly sun catchers in the next few days. I really want to add a new product, but I'm not sure what at the moment. I want to keep with the tree theme. I think I should make a huge gem tree! Like, over an inch thick on the trunk, and maybe around 100 branches? I have no idea how to plan a tree as such, but I can visualize it in my mind. :-)
Here are photos of my latest gem trees! If you click on the photo, it should take you to the listing on Etsy, where you can learn more about them and purchase them. (and please do, every sale helps me get closer to my dream!)
That's all I have for now! I really need to focus my time on creating new pieces and packing for the big move!
I cannot believe its been nearly a month since I posted that we were looking to move out West! Since that post, we've located a house we want to buy, and are in the final negotiations and contract write up! I cannot tell you how EXCITED I am! The house we chose is a bit insane, actually! It needs a lot of rehab, BUT the land is PERFECT. It sits on the edge of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland, and the Badlands National Park! I could practically walk to find rock bases! I'd be very close to rivers full of Agates. And best of all, near lots of tourist & gift shops for my work!
The lot contains two houses, one of which we will be fixing up into a studio. Previous owners have already started work on adding a screen door and windows, that face the Grasslands! I will have the most perfect views everyday- first a gorgeous sunrise, followed by rocks and hills during the day, and for evening star gazing. This would be an artist's dream come true! I really hope we can pull together the money to get the necessary renovations done. The studio house is what I refer to as my "English Cottage". It just has that look! The land also has two apple trees, which is very cool.
This will be a major adjustment for us. We've never lived in a small town before, or moved so far away from home. We want to chase the dream of freedom away from corporations and credit companies. We want to be self sufficient and surrounded by nature. This is a totally crazy thing, I cannot say it enough, but life is short, you have to do what makes you happy. Its not worth getting by each day, unhappy and stuck in your life.
We have an option to stay an additional six months here, and raise cash for renovations. I'm really torn between wanting the extra cash, and wanting to just DO IT! I hope I can get a lot more gem trees made, and get more sales going! Things have been quiet lately, I really do apologize! I will have a lot more time to get work done and listed now.
And speaking of new gem trees, I do have a Red Agate on Petrified Wood, that will be listed here shortly! I will post the link and photo when they are done. I still have to edit the photos and create the listing at this time.
I got in a fresh new shipment of gorgeous gems last week! I have very dark Amethyst, Aquamarine (for the ever-popular Tree of Life Pendant), Howlite, Red Jasper, Rainbow Obsidian, Tourminilated Quartz, Rutilated Quartz, Moonstone (both peach/grey and rainbow white), Peridot, Garnet & Fluorite.
I want to redo the suncatchers too. I want to make another round of them to photograph, and also hopefully simplify the listings. I am so happy that they sell so well! They are such a cool piece of art, and a great alternative to having a gem tree, if you have more wall and window space than shelf space.
I also have some new gemstones for bracelets! I've been selling many bracelets lately. I also hope to redo the listings with better options and photos.
Its going to be a crazy work week, I see! I better get to it! Happy Monday, everyone!
I've been quite busy these last few days, planning a very big step for not only the business, but for my life as well! My fiance, Kevin, and I are ready to move on and out of here! We've decided to give Rapid City, South Dakota a try. We love the area, and it is in the heart of rock country! Our goal is to move this November, before the ugly Midwest winter strikes!
As the months and years ago on, the more unhappy I've become. Culture tells you to get a high paying job that you work until it kills you (either emotionally or physically), buy a huge house that you probably won't enjoy, drive an expensive car you really shouldn't afford, and taking credit out just to afford the things you really don't need and honestly cannot afford. Years ago I did get caught up in some of that, and the second I pulled away, everything fell apart. At first, I fought hard to get it back. That was when I started the gem tree business, and started seeing things in a new light.
It is really crazy to chase the dream of being an artist. It can be rough to make a living, for many reasons. I want to break those barriers and prove them all wrong! I always get told by people to get a real job! I ask, "why?". I feel very fulfilled spiritually, from my work. I want spiritual fulfillment, not a fat bank account! I get to be a part of the most amazing things in life- trees and rocks. My life is uncomplicated. Of course, i do have old debts to get out of, but I'm not creating any new ones. I'm living by my means. If I have a car I enjoy driving and it doesn't break down, great! I have a roof over my head I can afford without worry, great! I used to be all about the expensive clothes and status. Now, I'm actually very interested in making my own clothes. I bought a knitting machine earlier this year, in hopes I can learn how to knit sweaters. I will, once life settles down a little bit!
Our move to Rapid City will mean selling off the majority of the crap we own. It really is crap. We bought stuff without thought to purpose, if we really needed it, and if it was something that would help our future. Of course, I have boxes full of old foreign language books that I've been holding onto since I was a teenager. That was an old part of me that is very hard to let go of. But, every time I look at them, I am sad because I never took the opportunity to embrace the skill I had working with them.
There's a lot of work and planning ahead for us! I am really counting on each sale especially right now, to afford the move of our dreams! I cannot tell you how excited I am to head out to the Black Hills and go rock hunting! I will be finding my own bases, each with its own story. I am going to have to study HARD these next few months, so that I know exactly what I'm picking up! I have an idea of picking up state rocks from South Dakota and Colorado, and making special edition State Gem Trees from them. I'd love to see my work expand into gift shops and tourist boutiques across the West!
I don't know why I never pursued this life in the first place! I have fond memories of rock hunting in Colorado, and dragging my very heavy suitcases back full of my finds! While everyone was admiring the beautiful scenery around us, I was scanning the ground! The coolest thing I ever found was a small seashell, at my uncle's ranch in Elizabeth, CO. It was in the small rocks that lined the driveway. I wanted to know the story behind it! Why was it there? Did it come from long ago, during the ice age, or did a bird transport it from somewhere? I should have followed my interests into college! But now, I can study, with the help of nature and some really good books!
I will be writing more about the journey of us leaving everything behind, and starting a new minimalist life, out in the heart of Nature!
Here it is, a new gem tree design! It is a Palm Gem Tree! I couldn't find a pattern for it, so I made it by sight. I am still perfecting the design, but will have some Palm Trees up for sale in my Etsy store shortly! The one pictured is about 5.5 inches tall. I plan on making a small version of about 6 inches, and then a large one at about 8 inches. This palm tree has 88 gems on it, from 8 different fronds. At this time I'm unsure if the 8 inch palm tree will work with 8 fronds, or if I'll add another 2, for a total of 10 fronds. And, I'm not sure if I'll keep the count at 11 gems per frond, or if the 8 inch would look better with more gems.
The Palm Gem Trees are very HAPPY! gem trees! The one above was made with a very happy-go-lucky Green Serpentine gemstone. I doubt I'll do all green palms, why not have different colors?!
I did a photo refresh on Etsy this week, and the photos look pretty good! They are crisper and clearer. Every tree poses with a ruler in the last photo, so you can see the actual size in a universal scale (each is in inches). I am working slowly but surely on fixing titles and descriptions too, to make them more exciting for the customer. I love creating my art, but when the piece is done, I just want to move on and do more! I don't enjoy doing the photography and writing, that's the hardest part!
I'm finding so many design inspirations on Pinterest, searching for "trees". I'm thinking of making a daily post or something, of the photos that I love best. I think instead of my rambling business ideas, it would be much more fun to see and talk nature. :-) I'm hoping to make these changes starting Monday!
I am also in the process of trying to make my dream a reality over the next few months, and live in another part of the country. It would still be so great to live in a more active rockhound state, and hopefully even be able to do some hunting on my own. I'd love to be able to find my own rock bases, it would add another story onto the tree. It would be very cool to find work in a rock shop too, or maybe a rockhound's apprentice. I am pretty good at the online sales thing! (hint, hint!) If you know of any opportunities in the US, or even Canada, for a rock artist and budding Rockhound, please send me a message! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Enjoy your weekend! I look forward to a fresh start next week, and some brand new finished gem trees!
Yay, the day is finally here! I officially re-opened my Spirit Gem Designs Etsy store this morning! You can now browse my work, and shop your favorite items easily once more!
It was interesting, the same time I had to close my Etsy shop, my grandmother passed away. She really loved my work, and she always visited me at my rock shows at Har Mar Mall. The last time I saw her, she was very concerned about my business, and if I was going to any more rock shows! I was very surprised, since she just moved to hospice care and her health was very poor. But she loved my work so much! I told her there were no more rock shows to attend, and that I had to close my store for a couple of months. She was so sad, and just couldn't understand it!
My grandmother had bought (and she insisted on buying!) a beautiful Carnelian Gem Tree during my first show. I know it helped support her during the last couple years of her life, when she struggled with various health issues. She also bought a gemstone necklace from Kevin, and we gave her a sun catcher and a bracelet. It really meant to so much to me, to have that family support when I needed it. Now after her passing, I was given a small amount of money, and I knew I had to use a portion of that to get my store up and running again, to make her proud. So this is for you, gramma! May my forest of gem trees help support and heal once more!
In the coming days, I will have some new gem trees available. I will be moving my mala bracelets over to another store, where they will join some cool friendship bracelets, knitted bracelets and paracord/bungee cord bracelets.
Please don't forget to show your feline friend some love, and visit my Oddball Cat Toys shop on Etsy! I also have for sale a bunch of pet gemstone healing charms, that work great on both dogs and cats, as well as zipper pulls.
Click on the banner below, to be taken to my Spirit Gem Designs Etsy Shop!
My name is Anne, and I am the owner, designer, and administrator of Spirit Gem Designs (also known as Anne's Wire Gem Trees).