November 16, 2014

Gene Molloy:

I can’t enter this contest, but you can. Do it now.

Originally posted on Miss Poppy's Boutique:

ContestPhotoChristmasNecklace.jpgGIVEAWAY PROMOTION!

By Susan Marie Molloy at Miss Poppy’s Boutique

I’m hosting a giveaway promotion, and everyone is invited to enter!

I’m giving away a crystal, glass, and metal necklace I designed and created in my studio specifically for this occasion. It’s made with red, green, clear, and silver beads — Swarovski crystal, Czech glass, cracked glass, a deep red vintage focal bead, and silver plated accents, all held together with a snappy spring clasp. It’s strung on very flexible jewelry wire, 18 inches long, and will fit about collarbone length on an adult. This necklace is striking with the rich colors and brilliant sparkles!


  1. Timeframe: Sunday, November 16, 2014 until 9:00 a.m. Thanksgiving Day (November 27). My studio’s Facebook page is: http://www.facebook.com/MissPoppysBoutique
  2. If you already “like” my studio’s Facebook page, thank you!
  3. Please share this post at least once…

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The Coal Shovels

October 30, 2014


There is a first time for everything, and “The Coal Shovel” earrings are the first pair of earrings that I offered in my shop that did not use any commercial elements. Except for the beads that is.

I used a smaller diamond-shaped ear wire on this piece. I  originally made these ear wire in two sizes because I wanted to be able to create sets for people with multiple piercings. It helps in following the ear line without each earring getting tangled into the other.

The commercial chain that I had used in the past to connect the ear wire to the yoke has been replaced with a handcrafted “shovel handle” connector.  If you follow this blog, you have seen the yoke before. It was written about in the post “Loopy”.

Using my handcrafted knotted head pins to wrap the beads to the yoke means that each and every wire element in this piece was made by hand.

The beauty of handcrafting the wire elements in my pieces is that I can make them in different kinds of wire if I choose, or if I get a custom order for something. Not only are there the precious metals like gold and silver, but there exists a rainbow of colored wire. Since I am committed to black beads, and black beads only, changing up the wire elements is about the only way I’m going to get some color into my work.

I realize that my monochrome work is not for everybody, and so I encourage those who need more color in their lives to visit Susan’s shop, Miss Poppy’s Boutique. I swear she has some vivid colors that I could never imagine even exist. Seeing was believing.

The Long-Tailed Sherperds Hooks, A Classic

October 27, 2014

LongTailShepherdHook2.jpgThe Picasso

There they are, the long-tailed shepherd’s hooks, a true classic when it comes to ear wires. As simple as they are, they always seem to make a statement, especially in this long-tailed version.

I am originally from Chicago, and I’m amused by the  way this photograph of them resembles the Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza.

It’s all just twisted metal I suppose, and there is plenty of that available in Gene’s Joint, so why not click on over and take a look.

On the off-chance my lovely black and silver art doesn’t get you twisted, check out Miss Poppy’s Boutique, she’s colorful.

About Chiclets Nightmare

October 23, 2014


Here’s a shot of my creation “Chiclets Nightmare”. Why in the world would I put such a name on these beautiful earrings? Well, it just fits my theme, that’s why.

I only use black beads in my work. That’s something I decided right from the start. Everybody else is trying to razzle dazzle  their customers, fans, followers, whatever they call them, with a wide array of colorful splash. That’s a legitimate endeavor to be sure, but I am not everybody else, and I wanted to give my people a little something different. I use rather dark names for my creations in accordance with my monochrome creations.

I had these square beads that reminded me of Chiclets, you know, the little square gum that comes in a box. I decided to use them in the creation of a nice, classy, chandelier style pair of earrings. Sometimes I create “classy” looking things with a rather crude looking twist, and that’s what I decided to do here.

When you are handcrafting the majority of the elements that go into a piece of work, no two pieces come out with the precision of machine-made, mass-produced, elements. This is what I feel make them unique. When the mood strikes me, I take it step further by crudely playing with the imperfections. At first blush, these look relatively good, but upon closer inspection you can notice that the wire wrapping isn’t “perfect”.  That’s by design.

It’s not that I can’t do better. I certainly can. Just look at some of my other work in my Gene’s Joint Etsy Shop. Crude just works for me when I’m in that mood.

The Importance of Writing a Great Product Description

October 20, 2014

Gene Molloy:

Wow, I got another wonderful write up from Miss Poppy’s Boutique. I’m flattered.

Originally posted on Miss Poppy's Boutique:

The Importance of Writing a Great Product Description
By Susan at Miss Poppy’s Boutique

I believe in promoting your products via any legitimate means possible. We all have different means to selling. However, despite what some fast-talking hucksters may purport, no product “sells itself.” There is no fool-proof “lazy man’s way” to get your products noticed and bought. It takes work on your part, and the more creative and tenacious you are, your products have a better chance at being seen and winding up in the possession of the buyer.

For many of us entrepreneurs, social media is the largest outlet to promote what we sell. How do you list your items? Do you just throw up a photograph, list the price, and move on to your next listing? Or do you talk about the product to grab your potential buyers’ attention?

Creative writing does a world of difference when listing your…

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Planetary Spin

October 18, 2014

Gene Molloy:

True to my promise that if someone uses my handcrafted findings in their pieces, I will put the piece on my blog, and other social media outlets, I present to you “Planetary Spin”, crafted by Susan of Miss Poppy’s Boutique.
This is how I feel jewelry artist networking should work.
These are excellent pieces Susan.

Originally posted on Miss Poppy's Boutique:



Here’s how the Planetary Spin came about.

In my studio were several beads of various sizes and blue-aqua hues that were made in India. I’ve had them for a couple of years and was waiting to see when inspiration would evolve for me. I like them for their excellent quality and beautiful blue-aqua hues. Only something extraordinary would come from them, and this week I made something pretty cosmic with them.

And if I say so, these earrings are out of this world!

I took two 12mm glass beads made in India, added two Austrian-made Swarovski crystal bicone beads, and hand wrapped American handmade ear wires from Gene’s Joint.

What I created are these unique, elegant, and fun earrings. They hang a full 2-3/4″. The planet-like glass beads have distinct blue-aqua-black swirls that dance around each…

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The Knotted Head Pin

October 18, 2014


There they are, the Knotted Head Pins. What is it, and what is it for? With any luck I’ll be able to clear that up for you.

If you do any jewelry making, you know what a head pin is, but I assume some of you have stumbled across my blog without ever attaching a single bead to anything, and so I will explain. Head pins are mostly used to drop beads onto, singly, or in combinations, so you can attach them to something else. They can be purchased at craft stores, in the findings section of the bead aisle. Some have flat bottoms, some have little eyelets on the bottom, and others have some sort of ornate embellishment cast to the bottom. The point is that there is something at the bottom for the beads to rest on.

A knotted head pin is handcrafted, and not a store-bought, mass-produced item. I prefer to make them as I need them, rather than running out to Michael’s every time I run out. The technique is pretty cut and dried, but it does take practice. It also takes its toll in flesh, mostly from the thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand. After you have made three wraps around the smallest tip of a round nose pliers, you need to bend the wire over and push it back up into the hole. Holding the wrap between the thumb and index finger of the non-dominant hand, you have to give the piece of wire you threaded back into the hole a nice tug to pull it through. This often times results in the still loose end of the wrapped coil setting itself into some bit of flesh, like a fish-hook in a fish’s mouth. Then you put your bead on, and taking the end of the pin in your chain nose pliers, you give it one final tug, which sets the knot pretty well.

Having this technique mastered is by no means going to put the commercial head pin makers out of business, however. The knotted head pin should only be used  with beads 6mm and up. The knot is too big for 4mm beads, and overwhelms the bead itself.

If you are a person who would rather purchase knotted head pins ready-made I offer them in my shop, Gene’s Joint. While you are there browsing, you can find a few examples of how I put the knotted head pin to use for me. There are also some fine examples of some other head pins that I make, such as the infinity, and the clover.

If my creations in black and silver are too stark for your taste, and you need a little color in your life, feel free to visit my wife Susan’s shop, Miss Poppy’s Boutique.

Cracked, Twisted, and Tied Up in Knots

October 13, 2014


Here is an example of what I was writing about in my last post, “Loopy.”

The only store-bought, commercial elements in this pair of earrings are the 1 inch pieces of chain, and the cracked glass beads. Everything else was handcrafted prior to assembly.

You have already seen the handcrafted diamond-shaped ear wires in an earlier post, only these are a smaller 1 inch version. That’s the beauty of handcrafting. I can make these in any size that I, or a customer, should choose. I like to use this technique when I am crafting a custom set for someone with multiple piercings. The larger wires are used for the main holes, and the smaller wires are used for any number of secondary piercings.

If you follow my blog you have also seen the 5 loop yokes in “Loopy.” They look much different when they are crafted into a piece, don’t you think? The beauty of handcrafting these is that I can make them with any number of loops I desire, as long as it’s an odd number. Five just seems to be the proper amount for most projects. There are some exceptions, but you will have to keep coming back to find out about those.

The final handcrafted elements are the knotted head pins that hold the crackled glass beads to the yoke. These are much more desirable to me than commercial head pins. Not that I don’t have to use commercial pieces sometimes. If what I want to attach to my work is so small that the knotted bottoms seem bigger than the bead, then I have to go commercial. I also make a few different kinds of head pins so as not to repeat too much of a good thing, too often.

There are many more examples that can be found in my Etsy Shop, Gene’s Joint. I invite you to stop by and give it the once over. If you see anything you like, it can be in your hands by Halloween.


October 11, 2014


When it comes to making handcrafted jewelry elements from wire, almost everything starts with a loop, and there are plenty of ways to make them. Choosing the right tool, or the right technique for each individual project can make the difference between a fine finished piece or a misshapen disaster.

The round nose pliers is a basic tool that most handcrafters have in their arsenal. They have cone-shaped jaws that start out with a very small, maybe 1mm tip, and get progressive larger as they go down. Where you position the wire in the jaws will determine how large or small your loop will be. In order to stay consistent when creating a piece with multiple loops you must be sure to hit the same spot on the jaws every time.

A better alternative when it comes to consistency and symmetry, is the step jaw pliers. These pliers have consistent tiers which get larger as you go down. Some will have three graduated tiers on one side, and a flat jaw on the other, while others have six distinct sizes, three graduated tiers on both jaws. Experienced crafters will usually own both.

Bail making pliers are also an alternative, but they are limited. They have two round jaws, each with a different circumference. They come in different sizes, and if you want the versatility of making multiple sized loops you must have multiple pairs of pliers.

A wire jig is a great way to loop in patterns. A wire jig consists of a flat surface with holes in it, and pegs to insert into those holes. There are jigs with fixed patterns built right into them, but I find the ones you can set up multiple patterns on much more functional. Pictured up above are five loop yokes that I made on a jig. You can see how these pieces are incorporated into some finished jewelry by browsing my Etsy Shop, Gene’s Joint. You can use a wire jig to loop, curve, and bend with consistency.

I will caution you when it comes to jigs, the aluminum jig that is most commonly on the shelves of big box craft stores is garbage, and no matter what you pay for it, you’ve paid too much. I have seen it branded under a few different names, but no matter what the name, it’s the same piece of trash, and not worth it. A much better alternative is one, or all (I own the Delphi, the Cyclops, and the Centaur), of the wig jigs. I have never seen one in a craft store, but they are available online at the Wig Jig website.


October 8, 2014


Let me begin by saying I have no intention of disrespecting anyone, or their work. We all do what we can at whatever level we are at. Most jewelry artists eased into doing what they do by being assemblers, as opposed to handcrafters. I know I certainly did.


We were at the Pensacola Seafood Festival recently, and part of that festival is the arts and craft vendors. There were all sorts of artisans, wood workers, leather crafters, soap makers, candle creators, metal sculptors, axe whittlers, and jewelry artists. As a jewelry artist myself, I walked around looking to see what my fellow artists were purveying. I found it very curious that the jewelry “assemblers” were charging as much as the jewelry “makers”. Even more curious was the fact that I saw people spending $20, $30, $40, and up on things they could have had for $5 or $10 if they simply went to Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby, or Joann Fabrics, and bought the pieces to put them together.


That’s what jewelry assemblers do. They take a trip to the big box arts and crafts store and buy all the parts they need to put a piece of jewelry together.


Let’s take earrings for example. Walk into the bead section of your local arts and crafts store and look for findings. When it comes to ear wires you’ll find plenty of variations of the shepherds hook ear wires. You’ll probably find a few of those loops that hook in back as well. examine them closely and you’ll find they are all perfectly symmetrical, just like all machine-made, mass-produced things are. Then have a look at the head pins. The majority of them will be either flat on the bottom, or have an eye on the bottom. You will find some fancier ones with some sort of embellishment connected to the bottom, but those are really dead give away, machine-made. Don’t forget the jump rings. In case you don’t know what they are, they are the little rings that connect one piece to another. There is a split in them so you can open them to attach pieces. I imagine some sort of machine spits them out by the thousands in the blink of eye. Once you select a string of beads you have everything you need to assemble a few pair of earrings.


While there is nothing wrong with doing it that way, I don’t really believe that they should be touted as “handcrafted” pieces.


Handcrafted pieces can use commercial elements. Most of them do. There are people out there that make custom beads, but they are far and in between. Whenever I run across a custom bead maker that has something I can use I try to purchase whatever I can afford at the time, but since I only use black beads, I mostly buy commercial. If you are creating a piece using ear posts, those will most likely have to be commercial. Personally, I’m researching high and low to see if I can find a way to make my own. Finally, there is chain. Sometimes nothing else will work, so little bits of chain are acceptable. The caveat here is that if you use any commercial material in a handcrafted piece, say so. Disclose the fact. Let it be known.


The picture I have used for this post is of my handcrafted, diamond-shaped ear wires. I make two sizes of these, and that works out really well when I am asked to make a set of earrings for clients with multiple piercings. I challenge you to find anything like that at the big box store. If you take a look at my Etsy Shop, Gene’s Joint, you will see how I utilize them. I also make a couple of variations of the shepherds hook, and I’m working on a few other avant-garde shapes. They are just not ready for public consumption yet. Add to that the fact that I make my own head pins in a few different variation, and I make my own jump rings in whatever size suits me.  Oh yeah, I make my own yokes and drops too; we haven’t even mentioned them.


I guess I qualify as a jewelry artist.




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