Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Inspiration is found...,

I have joined the party!!
Inspiration Avenue posted a blog inviting other bloggers to submit 5 things that inspired them to create the things they create. Well this is what works for me.

I find inspiration in a lot of my dreams. The items pictured below are samples of what have come to me in dreams. I have a note pad and pen next to my bed and when I receive these dreams I quickly jot them down and recreate them as soon as I can.

I dreamt of this necklace. I thought I didn't have the suede needed to make it only to find it buried beneath all my other leathers.

Fringed native style necklace W/ Czech glass beads - $45.00

I also find inspiration in fashion -new and old. As the saying goes," history repeats itself". So, I look back at what was popular when I was young and what is presently trendy with young people and glean some sort of idea from that.

Hair-on Cowhide Ring W/ nickel pyramid stud -$10.00
Another one of my inspiration comes from customers. I have had numerous people come to me and ask, "can you make this?" I as an artist and craftsman I never refuse a challenge and accept it with open arms as seen in the picture below.

When purging my closet I look at things like belts and bags and wonder..., hummm maybe if I did this or that I could create something new or unique. I came up with my Spatz when I looked closely at one of my 20 year old belts that would never again fit me.
Spatz - All Leather Boot Jewelry

Thanks for viewing.

If you have an idea that you would like us to create for you pass it by us. Maybe we can create something special and unique for you.

Contact us at Anne and John

Our shop at etsy AND Our shop at artfire

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Piece of Him to Cherish

I have always maintained that one of the greatest rewards in leather work is when a client comes to us with an cherished article of leather that has some sort of sentimental meaning to it and asks us if we can revamp it into a functional piece of jewelry, accessory or bag - whatever the case may be.

About a week ago, I received an email from a lady, Leslee, and she requested just that. She sent a picture, see below, of two pieces of leather and explained, "It belonged to my husband's father who died when he was very young and I want you to redo it for him as a birthday gift...," Not in our nature to turn down a challenge, John and I readily accepted it.

It arrived in the mail a couple of days later in a tight package. We could tell by the way she packed it, it was revered as something very special. As always we handled it with care.

The craftsmanship was impeccable and I could see why she wanted to resurrect it. The artist paid great attention to detail and I was in awe over it.
As our client further explained, "The leather comes in two pieces. It was from his dad's office blotter edges that he had tooled for him when he was just starting out."
We were committed to this undertaking and respected the delicate condition in which the panels were in. They are very old and if mistreated would break apart.
John and I worked together on this project. We had to measure and re-measure it to gage how much of the pattern we could afford to cut away to work into a 1 1/2 inch wide belt. The process took days of looking and re-assessing until we were both satisfied with our decision of where to cut. Because, once it is cut there is no going back.

We dyed the tooling leather, as close as possible, to the dye color of the antique strips. John undertook the task of hand stitching both pieces to the belt.
We were both thrilled with the outcome and can only wish to be present when Leslee presents the belt to her husband. But for now her reaction to the end product with do.
We welcome you to bring your sentimental articles to us and perhaps we can work together to deliver to similar results.
Thank you for dropping by.
Anne & John

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Minimize and Accessorize

Over the years I have found that less can be better. Once that diaper bags and huge messenger bags full of kids' teddies and toys were no longer required, I liberated myself and carried only what was necessary. The large totes that I adored in high school and college no longer hold the appeal they used to. It's hands free all the way. I do wear a mini leather shoulder bag, across the body, and that is it. And on days when even that is too much, I carry my cell phone on my belt.

Alligator Embossed Leather Cell Phone Case $30.00

I wanted something elegant and durable. This cell case has two layers of leather. I finished with a matching topstitch and celtic concho to dress it up. I used a velco closure to prevent damage to the phone.

Also available in our ArtFire shop.

The interior was finished in a rich black dye with two coats of waterproofing conditioner.

The metal spring belt clip that was used on this cell case will secure nicely to your belt. All interior rivets are covered with felt to prevent scratches.

This is a sample of our handstamped cell case. This is the classic basket weave pattern with rope concho closure.
Our cases will hold most flip phones and can be personalized with initals and other patterns.

If you are looking for something unique this is where you will find it.

We have various colors including; walnut, med brown, acorn, mahogany, red, blue and green.

If you have any ideas that you would like to pass by us, send me an email and we can discuss the possibilites. Visit our shops at Etsy or ArtFire.

Thanks for viewing and have a great day,

Anne ^i^

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How Do You Rate?

When I started as an Internet seller one of my biggest fears was to receive a negative rating from a buyer. Seriously, I would stay up nights fretting over the possibility that a dissatisfied customer would leave me bad feedback and if they did, how it would affect my small business. It made me physically sick sometimes - waiting.

Why did I worry so? My first experience was with an alchemy request on the Etsy site. The gentleman prospect was looking for someone to design and create a leather duffel bag. I was thrilled and sent him an email with pictures of some of the leather bags I made. He reply. "Sorry but you have no feedback for me to compare your work." Feedback has its place for prospective online buyers. They do look at it. No feedback, no purchases. That very gentleman returned to my shop several months later and asked if I would design a journal for him so that he could have it reproduced elsewhere. I respectfully declined.

My husband and I have enjoyed our Internet business now for just over 13 months. With 463 sales under our belts, so to speak, we have received only one neutral feedback from a customer. The woman purchased a pair of my Spatz and didn't like the way the spots looked.They weren't exactly the same on both Spatz. But instead of contacting me and trying to rectify the problem, she left a neutral rating. I understand her feedback could have been worse and am relieved it wasn't. I could have made another pair of Spatz for her and replaced them for the ones she had. It was my suggestion that she return them, which she finally did after about 40 days. It also appeared that they had been worn.
Sometimes we all have to make exceptions. I was devastated over that ordeal, as I still can be when feedback doesn't read as I anticipated it should. In the end, I remained civil and returned positive feedback on her site.
As a buyer and a seller, I always take a few things into consideration before leaving a rating.

1) Did I receive the item that I purchased? If yes - a positive rating.
2) Did it arrive in a timely manner? Most mail delivery arrives between 5 to 7 business days after being posted. One must also consider the location from which the item is coming and if there are holidays surrounding it that may affect the shipping date. If yes - a positive rating.
3) Did it arrive in the condition as described in the listing. (worn, antiqued, faded, new, etc). If yes - a positive rating.

I have personally never left anyone a negative rating but if it were warranted I would try and resolve the issue first and only as a last resort, not comment.
Although there are other factors, which I consider important, they do not weigh in my feedback.
Packaging -if it is neat and secure, that is all that is required. Added gift wrapping and notes are very nice but not necessary for ranking. (I do both and include a business card as well - its my personal touch in this impersonal world). Some shops charge the same shipping cost for additional items. If that is an issue with you, contact the seller first to arrange alternative shipping fees. If they do not concede don't buy the item. Remember, it is always - Buyer beware!

Customer Service - If the product arrived damaged or not at all, good business practises might dictate that the seller replace the item or refund the money. I have replaced items that did not show up for a long period of time. Although I have no control over the postal service, I did feel obliged to replace the item. (I have acquired repeat customers for doing this on a few occasions.) And in some cases, I have replaced an item that the customer had a change of heart about, even though it was a custom order and I was under no obligation to replace it. I want people happy and to return. Unfortunately you cannot please all the people, all the time.
I do not believe the old adage that the customer is always right, because they are not. This statement may not lay well with some people, but how much abuse must a person endure to get a sale or good rating. I have been around long enough now to recognized a potentially difficult customer and have, in a diplomatic way, declined to work with them. It doesn't happen often but when it does they are flagged.
So for both buyer and seller alike, when you are faced with task of leaving feedback - be kind and think of the person on the receiving end. If a bad rating can be avoided, do try and rectify the problem. It will make life easier for all involved.
As I close this posting I received a purchase transaction from a repeat buyer that states, "Hi, I told you I'd be back! LOL!" Thanks Latiffia :D

Anne ^i^