Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Joys of Treasuries!

Okay, I admit it! I'm addicted! Oh, not to drugs or alcohol or gambling. (Yeah, we'll ignore my cigarette addiction for now.) No, I'm addicted to Treasuries on Etsy.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Etsy has this delightful feature called "Treasuries." Etsy members create or "curate" them by gathering items which are listed for sale on Etsy and compiling lists by theme which then show up as photos of 12 related items. (Curators pick up to 16 items -- 12 for the Treasury that everyone can see and 4 alternates that only the curator and administrators see.) Visitors to Etsy can then view them and get a great look at what's available on the site.

Yes, I love to look at Treasuries that other people have curated -- there are some amazingly talented curators over there. But even more than that, I adore curating my own. Nothing makes me happier than coming up with a theme, finding items that match that theme (from among the thousands of items for sale on Etsy), and creating a Treasury. I will obsessively move the items around, making sure that the Treasury is as pretty as I can make it. And I love thinking up my themes. I prefer unusual themes -- I've done Treasuries on Titanic (my personal obsession), Michigan (my home state), a walk in the woods, diners and drive-ins, ice/snow, and several others.

You can only have one Treasury up at any time to give more curators a chance (and Treasuries remain up for between two and three days before they disappear). But there's also a "hidden" Treasury that's only available to those people who have the direct link. That's Treasury West, which was originally intended as a "test" site but which has become popular as the "other" Treasury. If you time it right, you can have both a Treasury and a Treasury West. And right now? I do! It's kind of hard to do that; you have to time it right. (Treasury opens up when the number of treasuries drops below 333, and Treasury West opens up when the number drops below 222. You then have just a few seconds to "snag" a spot.) As of today, I have a "Telephone Treasury" that I curated yesterday; the link is And I also have a "Tea and Violets" Treasury West that I created this afternoon; check it out at

One of the most enjoyable things about curating Treasuries is the friendly competition that exists among the curators. We all want to have the most "popular" Treasuries. That popularity is measured by how quickly and how far your Treasuries move up the "Hot" list. And that's determined by how many visitors view your Treasury, how many comment on it, and how many click on the individual items in the Treasury. After all, Treasuries are intended as a promotional item for the sellers on Etsy.

Sometimes, the "hottest" Treasuries are selected for display on Etsy's front page. That's the Holy Grail -- all curators dream of the day their work shows up on the FP. None of mine have made it yet. But someday . . .

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ups and Downs of Jewelry Design

Ever feel like you were on a permanent roller coaster? I've been feeling a bit like that with regard to my jewelry lately. I've been selling my jewelry on Etsy ( for about two months now. At first, I intended it as a bit of a lark; I just wanted to see if I could do it. But the more I've gotten into it, the more I've gotten hooked. I've "met" some great people hanging around on the Etsy forums, I joined the MixxMade community (check it out if you haven't yet -- great site --, I've joined Twitter, and yes, I started this blog. In short, I've done all the things you're "supposed to do" to do the whole Indie-Artist-Selling-My-Stuff thing.

So why do I get depressed about it sometimes? I've only had four sales -- and two of them were to friends and/or family. Yes, it's only been a couple of months, but still, it gets discouraging. It does make you question yourself sometimes. Am I deluding myself? Is my stuff any good? Should I completely rethink my designs? What am I doing wrong? See what I mean -- depressing.

But fortunately, I'm a naturally happy and optimistic person. When I start feeling down, I begin counting my blessings. I have a wonderful job that I love (the managing editor of a gem/jewelry trade magazine), and I earn enough that, even though I'll never be rich, I'm no longer poor. (I was for a while; it sucks.) The handmade-personally-designed-jewelry world is not my main source of income. I see many people on Etsy that are making that their sole business/job -- some very successfully, but many less so. Plus, I think of my family in Michigan. One brother works for Chrysler, another brother for a company intimately tied to the auto industry, and a sister for GM. It all makes my life look much sunnier and reminds me that, even if I never sell another piece of jewelry, I'll be fine.

So I won't change my designs to make things that might appeal to more people; I'll continue to create things that I like and hope someone else might, too. I'll continue to blog and tweet, to stop by MixxMade, and to post on the Etsy forums. Even if I don't get any sales from those places, the connections I've made (and will continue to make) are great -- and I've made some wonderful online friends. And if people do happen to buy my jewelry, I'll happily celebrate -- probably by buying more beads and findings to make more! Hey, what can I say? Told you I'm an optimist.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Inspiration is Where You Find It

Someone once asked me where I find inspiration for the designs of my jewelry. Sometimes it's a simple matter of finding a pendant or beads I like and then playing around with the colors and/or patterns until a design presents itself. But I do find inspiration in some of the most common things or places -- or in some unusual places.

My "Flowers in the Woods" necklace was inspired by my own backyard. One early morning, I noticed some hardy, leafy wildflowers growing among the trees at the rear of the yard. The next day, I was in my favorite craft store and found the pendant. While it wasn't exactly what I'd seen in the yard, it gave me the same feeling. And the design was born.

I had to go a little farther to find the pendant and the inspiration for my "Africa Unmasked" necklace. At the last show I visited on my last day at the Tucson Gem Shows in February, I came across something quite unusual. I was at the African Art Village, checking out the incredible art from Africa. The very last booth I came to was selling unique handmade clay masks. Each one was different, and the one I chose was absolutely calling my name. I bought it and took it home -- but had absolutely no idea what to do with it. But a couple of months later, I purchased some wooden beads. Putting the beads together with the mask gave me one of my very favorite creations.

Something a bit more profound inspired my "Green Dragonfly" design. At my father's funeral a few years ago, my stepbrother read a poem called "The Dragonfly." Don't worry; I don't consider it sad. Rather, it was very touching and, yes, inspirational. It was all about how the dragonfly represents moving on and a new life. Ever since then, dragonflies have been special to my family. When I found the thin, metallic dragonfly pendant, I just knew I had to use it.

And my latest inspiration? Well, I was in church a few Sundays ago, and the last hymn we sang was "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" which is also known as the Navy Hymn. The last line is ". . . for those in peril on the sea." So I'm thinking of anchors, little lifesavers, small sailboats, blue . . . Give me a little time, and I'll come up with something.

Oh, and the hymn? Was also the last hymn sung at the Sunday church service on board the Titanic the morning of the day the ship sank. Yep, I'm a Titanic buff -- and have been ever since long before the movie came out. But I haven't come up with a Titanic inspiration yet. Icebergs, anyone?

Check out my shop on Etsy ( for these and more of my designs.

Karla Rosenbusch
Douglassville, PA

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Confessions of a Craft-Challenged Editor

Oh, it's a hard life! I come from a family of artists and crafters. My grandmother sewed most of her own clothes as well as beautiful clothing for all the rest of us. My father was a fine artist who created incredible paintings, drawings, and sculpture. My mother was a knitter and crocheter who made me some amazing afghans. My sister is also an artist and designer who can sew, needlepoint, knit . . . well, she can do it all! Me? Nothing! Mom and Grandma tried repeatly to teach me to do something -- anything -- with a needle. No luck. The joke in the family was that I was a craft-challenged one. Sigh.

But I discovered that my talent lay in writing and editing. I became a magazine editor and decided to just consider that my artistic outlet. Which was fine, but I still yearned to have a "craft" of my own.

Well, about a year and a half ago, I got my dream job. I became the Managing Editor of a gem and jewelry magazine. Wonderful! I deal with some of the best high-end jewelry designers in the world. I love it. But I also discovered a great "side effect" to my job. The company also publishes beading magazines. After watching the beading editors and writers working on their projects for several months, I discovered that it rubs off! I quietly tried my hand at taking some beads and stringing a couple of necklaces for myself. And when I wore them to the office, the beaders noticed. And they liked them! People started asking me to make necklaces for them. Yep, I found my craft calling. And it only took 48 years.

So that's my new sideline. I opened an Etsy shop about a month ago, and although I haven't had a lot of sales yet, I'm loving it. Not only am I doing something I love, but I've contected with the whole crafting community. And it's wonderful!

Not bad for being craft-challenged!

Visit my shop at to see all the jewelry I have available.

Karla Rosenbusch
Douglassville, PA