Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Karen Snyder and I've been a crafter for about as long as I can remember. I am a stay-at-home-Mama of two beautiful children with a husband who makes my dreams possible.

This blog is about all sorts of crafting. I am a paper-crafter from early days, a jewelry-maker with an unending obsession for chain maille. I make chain maille purses, many of which will be chronicled in this blog as their future owners await their completion. I love metalsmithing. I am an indifferent beader and don't get me anywhere near seed beads... they scatter, screaming to get away from me. I love to try new things, have a short attention span so if its a long-term project... I'm probably not doing it LOL.

If you have questions, ask. If you have tips, share. Same with suggestions - share! I want this to be a great forum for people to brainstorm and problem-solve with a good attitude. Crabby Apples need not respond, this is a feel-good kind of blog :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The 2300, 2400 & 2500 Fans Winners Are...

I'm so pleased to announce that the winners of the 2300, 2400 & 2500 Fan Celebration rings are:  Faith Hartley, Tammy Tunstall and Elizabeth from Inspired by Elizabeth!  Congratulations ladies and thank you to everyone who participated!  You make what I do a joy every single day!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let's Celebrate 2300... and 2400... and 2500 Facebook Fans!

Romanov ring in copper with yellow crystal

WOW!  The last time we met here for a give-away, we were celebrating my O. Sebastian Facebook page having 2200 Fans.  My page hit 2300 fans just a week or so ago... and then a day later, hit 2400... and then a couple of days later, hit 2500!  I am astounded, pleased, fascinated, surprised, and completely thrilled!  It took me a few days to decide what I wanted to do to celebrate these milestones and it seemed like every time I made up my mind, another milestone was happening!  I can't thank all of you enough for such a wonderful experience.

So clearly, this give away has to be something special, right?  Right!  Not one, not two, but THREE lucky entrants will receive a custom-made Romanov ring in copper.  Each winner will get to choose the size they need and the crystal color they would prefer.  These rings are sealed after tumbling, so they will stay bright and shiny and give you years of enjoyment.

Wait?  What's that you say?  You already have a Romanov ring?  Oh... and did I hear someone over on the left say that the Romanov weave isn't their favorite?  Hmm... what can we do about that?  How about a choice?

European 4-in-1 ring in copper

That's right - each winner will have a choice of a Romanov ring or a European 4-in-1 ring in copper! 

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling me which ring you would prefer and either an email address or Facebook name so that I can contact you if you are a winner!  This contest will remain open until Saturday evening, May 28th at 9 pm (CST).  Winner will be announced directly afterwards, both here on my blog and on my Facebook page.  Thank you again, to everyone, for helping make such an amazing event happen!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dear Mama

My Mama Marilyn - isn't she beautiful!

Let me start by saying, as I've often said before, that I have more blessings than any one human being deserves.  At the top of that list is my Mama.  Not Mother, not Mommy, not Mom - Mama.  Every now and again, it's Mama Marilyn.  That used to cross Daddy's eyes, me using her first name, but she just smiles that twinkly smile at me when I do it.  She gets it - that I love her name and the way that it rolls off my tongue.  Try saying it out loud - you'll find that you can't pronounce "Marilyn" without your mouth making a smile. 

Not everyone gets a great Mama.  I'm one of the lucky ones, and I know it. 

Let me tell you a few things about my Mama.  She's a polio survivor - and I mean "survivor" in every great sense of the word.  She is NOT handicapped, she just can't walk.  I have vague memories of her walking on braces and crutches, but mostly I remember her directing our world from a wheelchair.  You might think that would be strange, or frightening, or make a child believe that their parent was somehow different.  Not me.  That's just how it has always been and I can assure you, that wheelchair has never stopped her from doing anything she is determined to do.  She and Daddy have raised four beautiful, strong, stubborn and head-strong children.  (Okay, so she raised Daddy too, but we don't tell him that!)  She is an emergency services dispatcher for a living, which makes all the sense in the world to me.  Believe me, if you've got an emergency on your hands and dial 911, it's my Mama you want on the other end of that phone.  Her calm voice and compassion can reach out and make you believe that it is all going to be okay... help is on the way and she's going to make sure that they get to you in time. 

My Mama and Daddy have been married for almost 50 years.  They've never been married to anyone else and all of us kids started out with the same last name.  I don't say that as an offense to anyone who doesn't have that same truth for their lives - it's simply a fact of MY life.  My parents are also still in love with each other.  I don't mean "they just don't know how to do anything else" either.  I mean hand-holding, never-leave-each-other's-presence-without-kissing, sweet names for each other and the whole bit.  Good, old-fashioned love that makes people smile when they see them together.  They still have moments when their eyes meet and you KNOW that, in that moment, they are the only two people in the world to each other.  I may not be able to explain to you what love is, but I can damn sure tell you what it looks like.  Love looks like my parents.

Mama grew me under her heart for 40 weeks, then promptly forgave me for not breathing on my own when I was born and scaring she and my Daddy beyond reason.  She resisted the urge to coddle and cosset me once I DID decide to breathe for myself (more than a week after my birth, by the way!) and let me go get dirty, scraped up and bruised being a normal kid.  She allowed me, a part of her heart, to go walking around outside her body and learn all the lessons that children are supposed to learn.  If she was scared, if she was uncertain, if she ever doubted  - I never saw it.  She'd smile and wave at me as I went out to do whatever it was that I was determined to do, with a look that said, "Oh yes you CAN!"  If she never knew how much that meant to me, I hope she does now.

Mama gave me a love for words and for the magic of books.  I don't remember for sure when I learned to read, but I know that once I could, I devoured books by the tons.  I do know that I was in the 4th grade when she found me reading the "Little House on the Prairie" books for the gamillionth time and realized that I needed books like most people need to breathe.  She started passing the books she read along to me when she was done, always carefully monitoring to make sure that I wasn't out of my depth.  "Shogun" when I was in the 6th grade opened my eyes to history and culture - and Mama let my teacher at the time (Mrs. Ruth Hepler, may she rest in peace) know that it was okay to let me read "Tai-pei."  "Magic Kingdom For Sale, SOLD!" let my imagination run wild.  Romance, history, fantasy - all of it were to be found in the pages of books and Mama shared it all with me.  Some books we still talk about (Mama, I swear one day we will find that old book that we still talk about - the one with Sembur and the Buddha's tears that we can't remember the name of?  We WILL find it!) and we still share books and authors constantly.  (Kim Harrison - WOOT!)  I'm proud to say that I am the one who convinced Mama that the Harry Potter series was NOT to be missed.  I rarely read anything wonderful before she does - she's got book-sniffing skills y'all!  She is the one person I allowed to read the book I wrote, in it's entirety, before I started editing.  She still thinks I'm a genius over that - though I'm not sure if it was the dragons or the rock people that did it...

I will turn 42 years old in August and my Mama's eyes still light up every time they see me.  I'm a Mama myself now, but she still lets me be her kid when we are together.  Sandwiches with diapers (well what good is a sandwich without tomatoes, after all, but you have to do SOMETHING to keep them from dripping down your shirt!), sweet iced tea (you put the lemon in your tea all you want Mama, I'd still rather eat mine), and my inability to fry chicken or bacon (because if anyone was going to get popped with hot oil while frying, it was going to be HER) are all wrapped up in my Mama for me.  I am loved, cherished and appreciated every day of my life for nothing more than being her daughter.

Everything I know about being a woman, a mother, and an artist, I learned from my Mama.  I am grateful.  I count her first when I count my blessings (okay, I count she and Daddy in the same breath actually).  If I ever grow up, I want to be just like her.  If she comes to comment here, she's going to refute half of all this and tell you that I did it all on my own.  Don't believe her :)

I love you Mama.  There are no words that explain it well enough.  There are no pictures that show it well enough.  You are the most beautiful woman in the world and your soul makes you glow.  I'll make the pasta salad, you make the tea...

Friday, May 6, 2011

And the 2200 Fans Winner Is....

Leslee Woodyard is the winner of this gorgeous bracelet!  Congratulations Leslee and thank you to everyone who participated!  It won't be long before we're back here again to give away something for the next milestone - so keep watching!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Celebrating 2200 Facebook Fans

Welcome to my blog celebration for reaching 2200 Facebook fans!  As always, I am first and foremost grateful to all of the fans, past and present, who have helped me reach such an amazing goal.  Every time I reach a new goal, I'm certain that the next one will be much harder to achieve than the last - and I'm always stunned when it happens when I'm not even looking.  That was certainly the case this time.

As many of you may or may not know, the last month has been very challenging for my family.  We found ourselves in the midst of a hail storm ( golf-ball sized hail borne by 80 mph winds) that damaged our house and our vehicles.  To make matters more difficult, we've had almost constant rain since then that has made having repairs completed an adventure.  I'm happy to report that we've gotten the repairs made and are well on our way back to normal (whatever THAT is) and look forward to the end of the rainy season.  I want to thank everyone for the patience, support and love that you've shown my family during this time.  It could have been so much worse for us than it was and we are grateful to be counting our blessings instead of our losses.

So let's celebrate, shall we?  The prize for this milestone is a 16 gauge copper Half-Persian 4-in-1 bracelet.  This bracelet is something that would appeal to both men and women and I will adjust the length to custom-fit the winner's needs.  It closes, at present, with a heavy copper lobster clasp, which I will switch out for a toggle should the winner prefer.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post with an email address or how to contact you through Facebook.

This drawing will stay open through Friday, May 6, 2011 at 9 pm CST.  I will then use random.org to select the winner.  Best of luck to everyone and thank you all for your continued support!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

2011 Fan Fest Extravaganza

My son Sebastian's prize pool earrings!
When I announced on my Facebook page that I would be having an extravaganza celebration when I reached 2011 fans, I asked a few of my friends and fellow business owners if they would be willing to donate an item to the prize pool.  They all said yes and made some gorgeous items to include - and I thought that was the end of it.  Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the explosion of generosity and kindness that came next!  I announced the pages that would be participating and the next thing I knew, my inbox was bursting with offers from other pages to donate items to the pool!  What an amazing blessing!  In the blink of an eye, there were 30 items in the album and I can't begin to tell you how honored and thankful I am :)

So the original plan was for there to be one winner of all the beautiful things, but that was before so many businesses became involved!  With so many beautiful things and so many pages participating, I decided that the best way to make this a true Fan Fest Extravaganza was to spread the winning around among as many people as possible.  So that's what I'm going to do - each prize will be awarded individually and yes, I know that's a lot more work for me, but I'm not fussed about that at all :)

So I bet you are wondering how this works, right?  To enter the drawing, you must go to my Facebook album called "2011 Fan Fest Prizes" and like every page who has donated to the prize pool.  As winners are drawn, the names will be checked to make sure that they've liked every page.  If they have not liked every page, they will be disqualified and another winner drawn.  Please understand that this has to be fair for every page who donated and every person who enters - so there are no exceptions to this rule.  Once you've liked all the pages, please return here and post a comment on this blog entry with your first name and email address - and please, join me in thanking all of the businesses who have graciously donated their time, effort and beautiful work to help me celebrate 2011 Facebook Fans in 2011!  This drawing will remain open for a full week, allowing everyone time to visit all the pages and get their entries in.  Entries will close on Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 7 pm (US CST) and the drawing will begin, via random.org, immediately following.  Winners will be announced as their entries are verified.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

1800 Facebook Fans Rock My World

Well here we are again, another Facebook fan milestone and I'm flabbergasted!  I keep thinking that it can't get better than it is, and all of you keep proving me wrong.  From the bottom of my tickled-pink heart, thank you!

Now, all of you know that when I reach a milestone, I do a give away... and this time is no different.  The prize this time is one of my brand new Romanov micro maille rings in copper.  It will be sealed so that it will stay bright and tarnish-free.  You may choose to have it made up as a Mother's ring, family ring, or just a fabulous cocktail ring depending upon the crystals you choose for the sections.  These rings are an exclusive O. Sebastian design that I hope you all will love as much as I do!

So what do you have to do, right?  It's usually a comment here on my blog, but that's not how we're going to roll this time.  This time we are going to have fun and see just what kind of ruckus we can raise!

If you are around my page much, you know I have a thing for Sam Elliott.  "Thing" might not be strong enough... it would border on obsession if I didn't have a hubby, two children and my own business to distract me!  I've decided to give into the urge and wallow in Sam-ness for this give away - so the first thing you have to do is go like Sam Elliott's Facebook page.  (If you are so young that you don't know who he is, google him!  If you don't agree that he's the hottest thing since Houston asphalt in July, well... I don't know how to help you with that but I'll still love you just the same LOL.)  Then you need to go to my Facebook page and leave me a comment that includes the @-tagged name Sam Elliott - that's how I'll know you've liked his Facebook page.    That's all you have to do to be entered into the drawing.

I'll take it one step further - if all the tagging and liking his page results in a comment from Sam on my page, I will give away two rings!  (This, of course, would be after I awoke from my faint and regained the power of speech!)  My intention is NOT to try to get him to come visit my page, but I sure wouldn't hate it if that happened :)

So let's have some good, silly fun with this give away.  Entries will remain open until Sunday morning, February 27, 2011 and I will announce the winner Sunday evening.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

First Law of Sales: People Buy From People

This is the first installment in a series, where I will focus on sales, business concepts, and strategies for improving your exposure and customer base.  I am hoping that this series will be helpful as well as bring people together to share ideas, ask questions and improve all of our businesses. 

Having said that, some of you might wonder why I have any business doing the writing.  I spent 15 years in corporate AV (audio visual) sales, during which time I helped grow three separate offices from the ground up.  I began my career at the reception desk and learned the entire back house part of the business before ever selling a thing.  I was able to have a very successful sales career because I understood every person, piece of paper, piece of equipment and signature associated with each transaction.  When it came time to open my own business, I found that my years in the corporate world had taught me more than I'd ever realized.  I sure don't know it all though - so this isn't about me preaching.  This is about me sharing what I know and hopefully encouraging others to do the same so that, together, we can all improve our businesses and our profits.

The word "sales" strikes terror in the hearts of those who've never done it and have heard all their lives:  "You are either born a sales person, or you aren't."  I don't agree.  I WAS born a sales person, or at least that's what I've always been told, but I know for a fact that I wasn't born a GOOD sales person.  I worked my tail off for 15 years to improve and grow a skill set that would enable me to work hard and smart.  What I finally realized was that the first lesson I learned was the most important - People buy from people.

So, that is First Law of Sales:  People buy from people.  Seems pretty straight-forward, right?  It is.  Sales becomes so much less daunting when you realize that the buyer is a person, just like you.  They want you to give them a reason to buy from you - some connection that has more to it than just grabbing something off a shelf or putting it into an online shopping cart.  Isn't that what YOU want when you shop?  I know it's exactly what I want. 

So how do we accomplish that feat - how do we become people to our buyers, instead of just a selection of wares on a website?  Let's start with my own personal favorite - Facebook!  I've been on Facebook less than a year and have 1740 (at last count) fans.  Do all of them make purchases?  No.  But they all have pages and friends who see where they comment, what pictures post on their walls, etc.  The networking possibilities of Facebook and other social networking sites is astronomical, so take advantage of it.  Twitter is also another amazing resource, albeit one that I don't yet use.  I know I should and have it on my "to do" list of things to figure out.  Have no doubt that I'm still learning too - and technology is an ever-changing creature that we all chase. 

But that still doesn't really tell you how to become a person to all those fans, does it?  The simplest answer is to tell your own story through your work, your posts and your comments.  I share bits and pieces about my family, share the laughs and cries that come with each day of being a WAHM with 2 small children.  I post pictures of new creations and finished orders, share links from other business pages and just generally try to be me.  Hard-nosed, pushy sales will never work in the online world because people just don't like it and they don't have to accept it.  They can, and DO, choose to spend their money where they find good products, good value and excellent customer service.  So that's the good news, right?  Sales doesn't have to be pushy and uncomfortable!

Facebook and other similar tools make it easy to show your work right away and get a response.  What you do with that response is critical.  Do you reply with answers to questions?  Do you thank people for stopping by and leaving you a comment?  Do you return the favor when someone visits your page by visiting them back?  Do you post pictures of what you buy from other businesses and thank them when they do the same for you?  Never forget that every single post and comment you make can and will be seen by others - make the most of those opportunities.

When it comes right down to it, think of it as selling to yourself.  Imagine that you are your own client - what would you want to see?  How would you want to be treated?  A gentleman who taught me the world about sales once said to me, "Sell unto others as you would have sold unto you."  That's really a brilliant way to put it, and I'd be willing to bet that one thing you enjoy is a buying experience that feels warm and friendly.  Give that to your clients and they will come back to you again and again.

1700 Fans Pendant Winner

Do you want to know who won the tulip pendant?  Me too!  I fired up the generator over at Random.org and it decided that today's luck number is 25.  I went back to the comment list and found that Jamie, who loves purple pansies, is our winner!  Jamie, if you could leave a note on this post with your email address, I'll send you all the details to claim your prize.  Congratulations!

Thank you again everyone for making this journey of jewelry such a pleasure for me!  I couldn't do any of it without all of you :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Celebrate 1700 Facebook Fans

In the midst of snow and ice storms here in the Dallas, Texas area, I was bowled over by my Facebook page reaching 1700 fans!  I don't think I will ever get over the thrill that comes every time my page reaches a new milestone :)

So when it came time to put together a give-away piece, I was looking through my beads and couldn't help but be side-tracked by this gorgeous tulip bead by Heather over at Blissful Garden Beads.  If you spend any time around my page, then you know about Heather's beads.  Glorious, that's what they are!  Anyway, I had just a single fuchsia tulip left and had been struggling with what to do with it.  After some fiddling and fussing, this gorgeous pendant is what I created.  In addition to Heather's amazing bead, this design also uses sterling silver and genuine Swarovski crystals.  Winning pendant will come with a black silk pendant cord.

To enter, please leave me a comment and tell me:  What is your favorite flower?  Mine, in case you were wondering, are tulips :)  Entries will remain open through Saturday night and winner will be announced Sunday, February 13th.  Good luck everyone and thank you for bringing me to this milestone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

And the 1600 Fans Winner Is.....

Thank you to everyone who entered to win the chain maille wrapped cabochon!  It has continued to be a very crazy time in my life and one where I am reminded to count my blessings.  I have many and each of you are among them - thank you all for the encouragement and for being so supportive of my work!

So let's announce the winner, shall we?  Random.org spun and wiggled, then told me #52 is the lucky one.  I consulted my list and I'm so pleased to tell you all that Catherine from Catz Handmade was comment #52!  Congratulations Cat!  I will post a picture this evening of the cabochons I have in stock so that you may take your pick :) 

Thanks again to all of you for making it possible for me to say that my work has 1600 fans!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Appreciating 1600 Facebook Fans!

My friends and fans continue to astound me!  In the midst of a very crazy week, I was given the glorious gift of 1600 Facebook fans - what a lift that is for me!  I want to thank everyone who visited, commented and brought their friends along. 

Some of you might know that Bette of GemsCrystalsAndWire and myself are currently hosting The Great Cabochon Challenge.  We have both been abandoned by our Creativity Faeries (they skipped off to the Bahamas with our Cleaning Faeries - last we heard, they'd found a couple of cute Guardian Angels and they have stopped answering their email!) and thought we'd instigate a little frenzied creativity.  In honor of The Great Cabochon Challenge, I decided to make the prize for this give away my all-time favorite thing to do with a cabochon - wrap that baby in chain maille!

The winner will get to choose from a selection of cabs I have on hand (picture coming later this evening on my O. Sebastian page) and whether they'd like to have it wrapped in sterling or copper.  To enter to win, please leave a comment below and tell me how you found my work.  Was it through a friend?  Have you known me since we were kids?  Did you take a ride on the party bus during a Fanning Party? 

This give-away will remain open through Friday, January 28th and the winner will be announced Saturday morning.  Good luck everyone!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pick A Pair of Pendants Winners!

Let me just start by saying "Woot!"  What a great response this give-away got from all of you - I guess the partners thing was a fun way to change it up!  I'll be trying to think of other ways to make it more fun for the next give-away.  But I know that's not why you all are here - you want to know who the lucky winners are, don't you?  Let's get to it!

Random.org's first pick of the evening was comment #39.  If you weed out all of my comments and the extra comments, you'll find that #39 is Anne Phillips of the Anne and Machell Duke team!  The second number it gave me was #5, which happens to be Cyndi Cox of the Cyndi Cox / Judy Taylor mother and daughter team!  The third number it picked was #29, belonging to Dee Ann Crandall of the Dee Ann and Mary Lou Waldrep team!  Congratulations ladies!  I will announce this on my page as well and do my best to track everyone down to let them know.  All three pendants are shown on my fan page in their own album.  Please take a look and let me know which pendant you would like for your prize.

For everyone who didn't win this time, keep an eye on my page.  I'll be posting a coupon code to use for a great discount off these pendants :)  Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Do I Celebrate 1500 Facebook Fans?

Helm Chain Flower Pendant
With a give-away, of course!  Wow - 1500 Fans!  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my work would ever draw that many fans!  So much has happened during this incredible journey and I am grateful for every single moment.  Who would believe that less than 6 months ago, my page had less than 200 fans?  To all the people who told me that I couldn't possibly turn my "little hobby" into a profitable business, I'd like to take this opportunity to say, "Doubters don't get the buddy discount!"  LOL!

I announced earlier this week on my page that you would need a partner for this give-away and I'll bet you're wondering why, right?  Well clearly this give-away is going to work just a bit differently than the ones before.  We're going to call this give-away "Pick A Pair of Pendants!"  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and tell me who your partner is.  Each of you will have to visit this blog and leave a comment in order for your team to be entered.  Once the comment period is over, I will use random.org to choose the winning entry.  If your comment is the random winner, both you AND your partner will win a pendant!  You may choose a sterling Nexus, Helm Chain Flower or Romanov pendant and each will include a sterling silver chain.  Since 1500 Fans is such a monumental achievement (at least it is in my book!), I will be giving away three pairs of pendants!
Nexus Pendant

So pick yourself a partner (if you haven't already) and get your comments in!  I will acknowledge each team as entered once both partners have commented.  This contest will remain open a bit longer than usual so that everyone will have a chance to enter.  I will close comments at 2 PM (US CST) on Sunday, January 9th and announce the winners directly after.  Leave a comment and tell me who your partner is and why you chose them!  Best of luck to everyone and thank you for making my journey on Facebook such a fabulous experience!

Romanov Pendant