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!