Category Archives: Cool Tools

Color Me This on it’s Way!

Wow…it’s been a wild couple of weeks…

First things, first. The winner of the free Color Me This sample pack is Melissa Mesara of One-Eared Pig. Congratulations!

I’m headed to Philadelphia tomorrow for BeadFest where I’ll be demonstrating and selling Color Me This Sample Packs and also plain etched sheets (so you can color your own!), plus my new embellished cuffs and some other etched, colorized components. Join me at Booth 555 if you are at the show and say “Hi!”

Color Me This Sample Pack

I’ve got a batch of them listed on Etsy in case you can’t make it to Philly this time. They will ship next week Tuesday or Wednesday when I return home. And later this month I’ll be adding larger sizes of the sample colors that can be purchased singly, as well as some 3-packs. Plus new colors on the way too.

There’s a photo album on my Facebook page where samples of your work will reside. Just post a photo on my wall and I’ll move it to the photo album. I’m excited to see what creative uses you find for the colors. And I’m already getting great feedback about the ease-of-use and results from the initial buyers. Plus, I’ll have feedback about additional sealers that are working for people. That gives some alternatives to my recommendations…people aren’t always able to find PermaLac locally or out of the country.

I mentioned “embellished cuffs” and I’ve been having a blast with them…here’s a couple that I’ve shown on Facebook. They are headed to BeadFest, too. I love the direction they are taking me and can’t wait to continue with them.

Embellished Cuff with Color Me This Turquoise Patina

And here’s another one in more of a steampunk, industrial look:

Embellished Cuff with Color Me This Spruce Green Patina (not released yet)

TTOTW: You’ve Got Mail!

Tools of the trade take all forms and software to run an efficient business is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your box. This is just a quick look at one of those tools: Mailing list managers. It’s not in-depth by any means, but food for thought.

I was working on a newsletter for my Metal Me This side of the house this morning and that got me thinking about how far software has come for electronic newsletters. Gone are the days of Mail Merge from a word processing program. Now it’s all about mailing list providers and services. There are dozens of them from low-end to extreme high-end and it’s not always easy to decide what option is best.

I had that decision escalated for me a few months back when I realized that I could no longer access my stone-age mailing list information from my equally stone-age website. And I didn’t have a backup of contacts so I was starting at square one. I googled and found lots of choices: Mail Chimp, YMLP,  and Constant Contact were a few that I knew of from other business associates.  I looked at some of the features and pricing and didn’t really do a lot of research because I needed to make a decision and get marketing. (Not a method for decision-making that I would advise most of the time.).

I ended up choosing YMLP (Your Mailing List Provider) because a couple of the people I chat with online regularly use it and I figured if I got stuck, I could bug them and cut my learning curve. 🙂 I also figured as long as I have a copy of my contacts (Note to self: Get an exported list saved off), I can move to another program down the road if I decide to. 

The designer in me likes “pretty” newsletters and that feature could be more made more intuitive, but then I’d probably never get one sent out if it were that easy to tweak them.

If you are looking for software to manage your mailing list, you’ll want to look at features available and how you can grow with, or even into, those features. You’ll want to look at costs, too. Some programs have monthly fees, some have upgraded plans for larger lists. If you start small, you can usually add on either by upgrading a plan or purchasing credits for extra emails.

There’s a whole other blog post about the etiquette of mailing out to your list and I won’t cover it here, but make sure your software allows subscribers to both subscribe and unsubscribe easily, if they choose. No one likes to have to go through hoops to sign up for something: K.I.S.S.* applies.

The main thing is that you decide if reaching a target audience can be enhanced with email newsletters.

And if you want to sign up for either my Joolz by Lisa newsletter or my Metal Me This newsletter, here’s the link:

Sign up here

*Keep it simple, silly…

TTOTW: Smooth Curves Ahead

It’s still barely Tuesday and so you’ll forgive the boring title? ETA: I thought of something semi-interesting before I got to paragraph 3. Go me!

Can’t believe I didn’t blog since last TTOTW? I know I meant to. I thought I’d have my Bead Soup to blog about and I’m sure it will be here this week so stay tuned. And I meant to blog about the new Wirework magazine which features a necklace from the Joolz by Lisa side of the house, so that will be coming this week, I promise. But apparently I have gone a whole week without a post…and you all have survived. 🙂

So, “Smooth Curves Ahead”? What’s that all about? First the “smooth” part:

These nifty sanding blocks come from my local (as in right around the corner) Foothills Ace Hardware store and they are about $7 for 3 (fine, medium, coarse). They are Ace products and called Block Shape Sanding Sponges and they are perfect for hand finishing different metal projects.

You can see I’ve not given the coarse one much workout, but the other two have made up for it. I’ve even used the fine one to fix a snagged nail, though after a session of etching, hammering, patina, and steel wool, it really is pointless.

I love my local Ace for a couple of reasons: It’s a locally owned store run by a dear friend and her husband (Go Lindy and Kevin!). Their employees don’t look at me funny when I come in with some strange idea pertaining to metalwork and jewelry. My other favorite product here is the steel wool.

Anyway…onto the “curves” part. I found these metal shears on Etsy from Romazone…almost by accident. Wasn’t sure why I needed them but they came in straight and curved and they were only about $19 each so I figured “why not?”  Why not, indeed! They make cutting freehand curved shapes a piece of cake! I have to remember to keep the handles away from the meaty part of my palm or I’ll pinch it occasionally, but otherwise these are a dream to use. I have been cutting etched 20g wire with them and have no complaints (even though I see they say up to 22g). You can see in the last photo how I used them to curve the ends of my etched cuffs (and then used the sanding blocks to smooth the curve).

Next batch I’m going to cut the ends first so I keep that nice finished pucker from the etching bath on all sides. Live and learn.

Has anyone seen the straight-edge metal shears? Last time I saw them they were on that cool magnet bar from IKEA…and now they are nowhere to be found.

TTOTW: What’s on the Wish List?

Welcome to Tuesday Tool of the Week.  Today’s tool is actually a pair of tools that are sitting in my wishlist on the Rio Grande website.

I need to move them out of there and get them on my bench as I know they would make the process of making these metal cuff bracelets much easier.

Can you guess what I’m talking about?

I’ll tell you: a bracelet mandrel and forming pliers (there’s a few other things on the wish list but then aren’t there always?)

The bracelet mandrel is holding me up at the moment because I can’t decide on oval or round and steel or cast iron…thoughts, comments, suggestions, jeers?

It’s clear that I need one as I’ve got big plans for these etched metal cuffs…just need to decide and order.

The forming pliers have intrigued me for awhile and isn’t that enough reason to have a pair?

What’s on your Tools Wish List?

TTOTW: Digital Protection

Sexy title, no?

Not sure how it got to be 5 days since my last post, but I’ve been busy…cutting close to 700 beadcaps and taking a cake decorating class with my daughter (more on that later) and trying to stay cool.

All the metal working takes a rough toll on the hands and especially the fingers. I’m currently looking at 5 or 6 minor cuts on 3 fingers on my left hand…all from the edges of sheet metal or fishing through scrap (also another blog post). I only remember one of those cuts…the rest? Very tiny, but very there.

This Tuesday’s “Tool of the Week” could help with protecting the fingers from the sharp edges, but I don’t usually use it that way. I use it to pad the fingers from the other metal working “danger”: Heat.  Working with small metal objects and a fast spinning flexshaft tool equals hot metal and that HURTS.

Enter Alligator Tape! Available all over the internet, various tool suppliers, Etsy, etc. The link here is from Otto Frei, one of numerous online jewelry supply sites that I love to frequent. This stuff is great. I have my friend, Angie Ramey, to thank for telling me about it. It’s actually from the medical industry, used as bandage material. And it works great for wrapping around fingers (there’s the “digital” connection) for protection. My photo includes a big padded finger cap that I wear on at least 2 fingers and sometimes three, depending on what I’m doing. It’s a little comical to try and work on small metal objects with club fingers, but I’ve managed a routine that works and keeps my fingers from melting!

The tape sticks to itself, but not to anything else..perfect solution. Thanks, Angie!

Just don’t wrap it too tightly, or you’ll have a circulation problem!