Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wind Chimes Happy Customers

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windchime, wind chime, large freestanding double chime with a beach stone base and copper
Large freestanding double wind chime with two sets of copper chimes, and a heavy natural beach stone base. Intertwined copper supports.

One of the very nicest things about selling through the Net is direct contact with customers. If you sell through a retail store, you rarely get that. What is particularly nice is being able to hear what the customer wants (for the wind chime pictured above, the customer wanted blue and very light blue glass instead of the glass as pictured), and even better hearing praise from a happy customer. I work very, very hard to make the best works I can, and it is wonderful when emails come in brimming with enthusiasm and happiness. I have recently received many delightful thank you emails.

Here is what the customer who just received the above large wind chime wrote:

Dear Tim:
I am writing to you to let you know that the double free-standing windchime sculpture is magnificant, to say the least. As an artist as well as art collector myself, I can only praise your aesthetic usage of line, curve and negative space. This piece evokes a timeless quality that does not assign itself slavishly to this artform or that artform, etc., etc.
The sea glass inserts are lovely shades of seafoam and midnight blue, both prominent colors for Middle Atlantic East Coast sea glass. The chimes themselves, attuned to abstract spectral tones, are calming, refreshing and sonorous in an almost unearthly way. This is the most unique sculpture as well as the most unique windchime set that I have ever owned.
I shall continue to follow your work and look forward to the time when I shall obtain more pieces from you.
Yours truly,
(name withheld for privacy)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Must be Christmas

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A Very busy day of packing -- it must be almost Christmas!

The orders flowed in this weekend and Monday morning: Christmas shoppers. It's a big job packing my creations, because there is a lot of glass, and there are sometimes things like large beach stones that have to go in the same box. Although after ten years of packing I know a trick or two, it is very time consuming.

The first impression my customer gets (or the person to whom they are having me ship the gift) is from the look of my boxes. So I make a real effort to have sharp, clean looking boxes with neat labels etc.

The second impression is probably not that great as they remove the shipping paper, since I use recycled orange juice boxes, and then inside are recycled newspapers for padding. The newspapers are clean though, and I make sure to get the sort that do not have ink rubbing off.

Then they find all the actual items neatly wrapped in sill foam. The sill foam I buy new, and it is expensive. But it does an excellent job-- nothing has broken in over seven years (knock on wood).

The last impression hopefully knocks their socks off, as they remove the sill foam and see the actual item.

In the last twenty four hours I have received three emails similar to this one that I quote here:


You are such a lovely man! I got the suncatcher. It's a thousand times more beautiful than I expected. It's really nice to have the print up of where everything comes from and your inspiration for it too. It's an extraordinarily meaningful piece of art and I can't wait to give it to my mom and stepfather (especially because I hold the sea and everything that comes from it so close to my heart, since I grew up near the beach). And thank you so much for the copper earrings!!! I can't wait to buy from you again."

It has been so unusually freezing cold here, but emails like that warm me all day long. I love it!

Friday, December 04, 2009

eBay Blues

If you had told me several years ago that I would today be thinking seriously of quitting eBay, I would have laughed. I would have thought you had a screw loose. But today I am thinking seriously of totally quitting eBay.

When I first started on eBay about ten years ago, it was an amazing place. Back then, I could put a wind chime on auction for 99 cents, and I would typically get more than I thought I would, and often a lot more.

Not so long ago, an auction would attract somewhere between 250 to 500 views. Often within the first couple of hours of listing, there would be a bid, or multiple bids, and perhaps nearly a hundred visits.

Welcome to the new eBay. Here is an example of what a dismal place it now is. I listed three auctions at around 5:00 PM yesterday. This is still during prime Christmas shopping days. This morning, two of them have had one (one!) visits, and the third has had two visits. Unbelievable! Back in the good lo' days, I expect those same auctions at this same time of year would have each have had over a hundred visits, not to mention multiple bids. What in the world has eBay done? Whatever it is, it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

In a nutshell, eBay now stinks.

Thank goodness I listened to a friend who saw this coming, and I set up a good website (Coast Chimes), and I also researched many other sites out there, and finally determined that one stood out (Etsy). I now get most of my sales through these two venues.

Yes, I would have laughed two years ago at the idea of closing down my eBay store and auctions. But sadly this is now what I will be doing. Because eBay no longer works for me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wind Chime and Suncatcher Sale Continues

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Flowing Copper
Beach Glass Inspired Wind Chime
Five Copper Chimes / Hammered Copper Windsail

Last week my first BIG sale went so well, I decided to continue it for a while. The exchange rate is so unfavourable right now, I need to sell more works than previously, just to meet my material bills.

I have a number of really great sale prices on Etsy (an excellent arts and crafts website). For example, the flowing copper beach glass inspired wind chime pictured above is on sale, marked down from $179.50 to just $139. You can find it on this Etsy Page. I have about fifteen items on sale on Etsy, some marked way down.

There are different sale items on my own website, Coast Chimes. I have one of my kaleidoscope beach glass inspired wind chimes on sale on the Carousel Page. And there is also a super beautiful wind chime with three nice large glass pieces and copper wire wrapping on my Gallery Page.

These are some great deals; excellent for the early Christmas gift shopper. Most of these sales will end soon. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wind Chime Sale

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wind chime beach glass inspired with copper chimes
On Sale
With Five Copper Chimes and a Beach Stone Clapper
Reg. $177.50, now on sale for $135 incl. postage to the USA or Canada

Late October and November are the slowest times of the year for me, which is kind of a good thing as it allows plenty of time to get ready for the Christmas rush, to make a lot of stock. But it is also kind of a bad thing, as for some odd reason the bills keep coming in. In fact, since I make so many things during this relatively quiet period, the bills come in faster and larger than usual, since materials cost a lot of money.

From the eco-friendly excellent tung nut oil finish I use ($38 a quart), to the copper for the chimes, it all adds up. Then there are the tools. My sort of work does not just involve investing in a lot of expensive tools like a table saw, but constantly repairing and replacing those tools. For example, just last week my soldering iron burnt out, and my air compressor fried. The air compressor took along a hundred dollar extension cord as a special bonus.

In anticipation of some particularly eye-popping bills soon to arrive, I have decided to run a few sales. I have a number of beautiful works over at the excellent arts and crafts site Etsy (eleven beautiful works on sale). And I also have a few items on my website, including the stunning kaleidoscope wind chime pictured above.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wind Chime, Mixed Media, Beach Style Glass with Marbles

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Mixed media art wind chime
Five copper chimes with a beach stone clapper
Hammered copper windsail
Visit the Carousel Page on My Website for more information

I finally got around to making some more of the ever popular mixed media kaleidoscope wind chimes. These are like my regular kaleidoscope wind chimes, but with the addition of some colourful marbles. They look really nice with the sun shining through from behind, especially in the morning and late afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky.

These measure about 45 inches long, from the top of the handcrafted copper loop hanger to the bottom of the hammered copper windsail.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Driftwood Necklace Earring Set

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Necklace Driftwood Copper Beach Stone with Earrings
Driftwood handcrafted necklace with beach pebbles and copper and matching earrings. The final set on my new jewelry website: 
(Coast Copper is no longer active, but you can special order through my contact page on Coast Chimes)

My new website, Coast Copper, is now finished. It consist of a small selection of unique artist-made necklace and earring sets: each completely handcrafted, entirely one-of-a-kind. These are not made with commercial beads etc., and merely assembled: I made all the primary components by hand.

And the best news is that I have drastically reduced the prices on most sets. I decided I would rather sell a few more sets than make more per set, and also, why not give people a good deal? It's nice to offer such unique, handmade works for such a great price.

That said, the prices are introductory, and may change (read, go up) as the site becomes more popular.

Why not check out the neat Coverflow Page, where you can see all the sets quickly. If you see a set you like, or want more information about, just click on the coverflow image and you will be taken to the description page, where there is also a larger picture.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Necklace and Earring Set, Hammered Copper

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Necklace earring set hammered copper
An example of the stunning handcrafted artist-designed necklace and earring sets now available on my new website:

I've almost finished (until the first major revision!) my new website, Coast Copper, and I have enjoyed some very nice feedback. This is a small collection of unique handcrafted copper and beach stone necklace and earring sets.

Recently I added a Coverflow page to make browsing a snap. If you have ever used iTunes, you probably are familiar with Coverflow. Each image on my Coverflow page is linked to the page where you will find a larger image, a description, and a secure buy button (through PayPal).

If you have already had a look at the site, you may like to check back to see the new, (hopefully) improved color scheme. All prices include shipping and insurance, and satisfaction is completely guaranteed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Coast Copper, New Jewelry Website

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Flowing Copper Necklace with Matching Earrings
Visit Coast Copper for Handcrafted Artist-designed Jewelry

A sister website to Coast Chimes is now up and running: Coast Copper.

Artist Tim Kline has created a very limited edition of necklaces with matching earrings. Using his years of experience working with copper and stone producing original designs for the home and garden, he now offers some astonishing, one-of-a-kind necklace and earring sets.

Like his home and garden creations, these are not to be found anywhere else. This jewelry is completely handcrafted, totally original.

To see seven unique necklace and earring sets, visit Coast Copper.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Amazing Rain Chain

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Special Order
7 Foot long Blue Glass and Copper Rain Chain
Pacific Driftwood top Section

I enjoy doing custom work, special orders. Especially when the customer is super nice (most are), and even more so when they allow a great deal of artistic freedom. Making the above pictured rain chain was labor intensive (my blue glass is the hardest to work with), but pleasure too. The customer described in general terms what she was thinking of, and then told me to use my skill and imagination-- there was no looking over my shoulder.

The real pleasure came when I completed the piece, because my wife, who is rather use to my work after fourteen years and does not get too excited about it most of the time, went on and on about how beautiful this one was. Then, after emailing photographs to the customer, her reaction was very sweet-- so excited!

Custom designs can really be rewarding, when you manage to fulfil the customer's dreams, or, in this case, go beyond those dreams, as she said.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Wind Chime: Amazing Driftwood

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wind chime, driftwood, copperA truly amazing Pacific driftwood wind chime.
Visit the driftwood page on my website for more information or to purchase.

Anyone who has wandered the beaches of the West Coast of British Columbia knows that there is often a very large amount of wood. So it is odd that it is actually pretty difficult to find decent pieces to use for art and wind chimes. Most are way to large, and the smaller ones are frequently very beat up. So when I find a good piece, it makes my day. When I find a great piece, like the one pictured above, it makes my week.

The piece above is the most interesting I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Intriguing would be the word.

Why not visit my website to see all sorts of neat works? From huge freestanding wind chimes to small suncatchers, there is something for every taste and budget.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Coast Chimes: Prices Going Up

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Beach glass inspired suncatcher chime with
hammered copper dividers and aged brass chimes.
Visit Coast Chimes for more information, or to purchase.

Prices are going to be rising on almost all of my wind chimes, suncatchers and other works.

This partially reflects the decline of the US dollar, and the increase in the cost of materials.

But mainly this is because I have reached a stage where my work has never been better. It is simply a finer, higher quality product. Despite increased skill, I am also spending more time on each piece. The care and attention shows, and it's just common sense to see this reflected in the price.

So if you are thinking of investing in a Coast Chimes work for a special Christmas gift for someone, I suggest you buy now. Over the next several weeks, most prices will increase by between 10 and 20 percent.

Buying now is also a good idea because, while most shipments go through to the USA snag-free and fairly fast, once in a while they do take a long time, getting caught up at the border.

So why not visit Coast Chimes today, and do a little early Christmas shopping? And remember, there is still free, expert shipping on all orders to the USA and Canada.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Amazing Driftwood Wind Chime

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Natural Pacific Driftwood
Five Handcrafted Copper Chimes
Visit my website for details or to purchase: Coast Chimes

Driftwood is so beautiful: I love it! But it is challenging to find really nice driftwood around here, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. The tides and waves can treat the wood harshly, so while there is tons and tons of wood, it is often too beat up.

When I find a particularly gorgeous piece, and everything clicks together, the result can be striking. For example, the wind chime above. One word: Beautiful.

I could not decide whether I liked it best with copper chimes, or with iron chimes, so I photographed it with both. It's a personal choice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Research and Development, Coast Chimes

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Cobalt Blue Glass with Aged Brass Chimes
Now with vastly improved sound.

You would think after fourteen years of making wind chimes, my research and development would be pretty much history. Not at all.

About a month ago I made several significant changes to the large copper chime section of my big wind chimes. This resulted in a more elegant look, improved sound, and less soldering.

For many years I have struggled with the small chimes on my suncatchers. Originally I used massed produced aluminum chimes, but I did not like using something mass produced, and I did not like the aluminum. I then spent many hours thinking about and experimenting with small diameter copper, with mixed results. I went back and forth between copper and aluminum, and was never satisfied.

At last I determined that I simply could not tolerate the aluminum chimes with my beautiful copper and glass. For a short while I thought I had a solution, which was simply taking enormous care crafting the mini-copper chimes, and getting my son to tie them onto my handcrafted copper hangers with heavy nylon line. Sadly, the line tended not to hold up, and that obviously would not do. Back to the drawing board.

Next I decided to use kidney ear wires to attach the chimes to my hangers. They looked wonderful, and they were clearly on for life. The one snag was that the sound was not very good, but I rationalized this, thinking three chimes in a row are never going to make much sound, anyway. I was not happy, but I thought they were good enough. I went for looks and durability above sound.

I got a wake up call when some drop-in customers came with a young boy. The boy was hopping around playing with all my work, and he was commenting as he went. Several times he made a comment about not much sound from the mini chimes. Children are so honest!

So I determined to slay this monster once and for all — back to research and development. I bought a lot of different types of materials, and decided to work on this until I was 100% satisfied. That's what my customers deserve, and that is what I expect of myself, too.

I am pleased to say that I have finally found the perfect solution. My new system to attach the mini-chimes is very strong, and the resonance is as good or better than with just plain nylon. Win, win.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Coverflow Page on Coast Chimes

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Coverflow presentation of my 15 most recent works.
Visit the Coverflow Page on my website.

Always having my eyes open for ways to improve my website, the Varsis Studio Coverflow plugin for RapidWeaver web design software caught my eye several months ago. But it was not until a new website project came along ( Click Modular ~ innovative modular homes), that I found I could justify the expense-- reasonable as it may be at $14.99.

Since the Click site was really basic, being mostly images, I thought this would add a little intrigue to the site. A way to present pictures without producing yawns.

It's neat, because you can navigate several different ways, and also you can click on the middle image and open a Shadowbox show. Pretty cool.

Now I put the same Coverflow style of page on my own website. I have it linked through a Flickr account, and I plan to upload all my most recent works to that Flickr account. This will thus be a gallery of my 15 most recent works.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Blue, Beautiful Blue

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All Glass and Copper
Cobalt Blue Glass
With Aged Copper Chimes
Wind Chime

I'm particularly proud of the two blue glass wind chimes I just completed.

Blue glass is the most challenging to work with, as it tends to fracture and is difficult to form into pleasant shapes, and even tricky to drill the holes in it. When I have a really nice piece, I pretty much hold my breath when drilling!

I figured it was well worth taking extra trouble for the entire wind chime, and used a glass roundel for suspending the chimes. This means that the chime is entirely glass and copper: nothing to wear out or require refinishing. I also treated the brushed copper chimes to antique them, as I think this color really compliments the dark blue glass nicely.

You can view the other all blue wind chime, and get more details on the one pictured above, by visiting the Gallery Page on my website.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Large Freestanding Double Wind Chime

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Driftwood with Double Chimes
Freestanding Wind Chime

My large works do not fly out the door, as they are pretty expensive. The one pictured above features a massive Pacific driftwood base, copper intertwined flowing supports, beautiful glass and two sets of copper chimes. It sold yesterday.

I used to be really happy when one of my large works sold. I still am, but that initial thrill is now overshadowed with dread: these are a chore to pack for shipping!

It used to be even more work to ship something like this. I used to actually cut plywood and build a special box for the copper support. Now I just use big sheets of cardboard, lots of tape, and shipping paper. Those poor collectors who received their order in a big plywood box probably did not appreciate having to dispose of the packing materials.

I have a page dedicated to large works and there are still two available on my website. They are really nice on a sundeck, or out in the garden. They can also be used indoors, in a home or an office, as kinetic art.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Colorful Wind Chime

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Colorful glass, beach glass inspired art wind chime.
Visit the Gallery Page of my website for more information.

For fourteen years I have been limited in colors to primarily greens, browns, blues and yellows for my glass. But a couple of weeks ago a friend dropped by some really stunning glass. The result is seen above: a radical deviation from my usual.

People frequently ask if I can't make something red, or purple. Since I don't usually have glass in those colors, several years ago I started making double-sided reverse painted wind chimes and mixed media wind chimes, where I try to put in lots of reds and purples. Purple and red, yes, but a far cry from the glass above.

This is the first time I actually have really bright colors in a beach glass inspired wind chime. Something different.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wind Chime, New Design

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New design!
Beach glass inspired wind chime with a large copper hoop.
For more information, visit Coast Chimes

Often new ideas are triggered by customers asking for something. A customer wanted my very large, heavy iron chimes with one piece of glass. I didn't like that idea very much, because first the look would have been unbalanced (bottom heavy), and second, even my thickest glass might have been challenged by the weight of those big chimes.

So I thought about it overnight, and in the morning I had a solution that pleased the customer, and me. I decided to make a large copper hoop. I put the glass in the hoop, and the hoop supported the weight of the chimes. This solved the weight problem, and also made for a much more balanced looking wind chime.

After I made the special order, I liked the look so much I decided to make another one. This time I put two nice pieces of glass inside the hoop, and used my copper chimes. Above, you can see the result. I like it. Be sure to click on the picture to see it much larger.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wind Chime, Beach Glass Inspired, Blue and Green

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wind chime, beach glass inspired, stained glass, copper
Wind Chime
Beach Glass Inspired
Blue and Green with
Copper Chimes
Visit my Coast Chimes Website to learn more.

It's been remarkably busy. Remarkable, I say, because of all the details about the rotten economy on the news every five minutes. My wind chimes are not cheap, but people still seem to recognize that there is value in quality, and they are willing to pay a little extra for something unique, well made, and beautiful.

I finally got time to make a few specialized kaleidoscope style wind chimes. I almost always have some with mixed colors in stock, but often run out of those with select colors. This week I put together two with blue and green glass, a mix I find very refreshing on these hot days. I also put together two with what I call earth colors, which is a mix without any blue.

I find I am spending even more time making each chime. I have always paid close attention to every detail, but now I see more details. After nearly fifteen years of making wind chimes, the eyes get pretty sharp. It's important to me to do everything the best that I can. The funny thing is, as I become more and more of a perfectionist in regards to my work, I have less tolerance for the sloppy work of others. There is too much poorly designed, poorly made stuff. In fact, it is hard to find something that is well designed and well made. That's just not in the cards these days. No wonder people appreciate my work!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wind Chime, Mixed Media

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wind chime, mixed media, glass, copper, marbles
Beach Glass Inspired Wind Chime
with Colorful Marbles
Visit my website for more information, or to buy.

I ran out of my mixed media colorful wind chimes about a month ago. It turns out to be not so easy to track down really nice, colorful marbles.

I'd had a local source before, but that was gone. I was hesitant to buy marbles online, as it is hard to know how good they are without holding them up to the light. I did finally get some, and they are gorgeous! The colors are lovely, and they are a little smaller than those I have used in the past, which is great since that means I can set my glass plate closer together, which lets more light through.

I buy online whenever possible, and I find I do so more and more often. Since I sell almost all my work online, it just makes sense to support the online community. Almost always the service I receive astounds me. It certainly is not only me who works very hard to give great service.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wind Chime, Hammered Copper

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wind chime, hammered copper
Copper Lover's Delight
Hammered Copper Wind Chime
With Five Copper Chimes
Visit my website for more information (Click Here)

The idea for this hammered copper wind chime came to me the other night as I was dozing off. This is often the case for my inspiration. I usually plan out what I am going to do the next day, and if there is nothing too urgent then I try to dream up some new ideas.

It would not be much fun to just make the same thing day in and day out. So I'm pleased that even after fourteen years I still have flashes of inspiration.

I really love this all copper wind chime. It looks elegant, beautiful, and unusual. It looks like quality, and it is.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wind Chime Sale!

Beach Glass Inspired
Sculpted Cedar Wind Chime
Five Copper Chimes - Beach Stone Clapper
(Click on the picture to see it larger.)
On Sale for $137 (reg. $177.50) including postage (USA / Canada)
Click Here for more information or to buy.

I rarely place my sculpted red cedar style of wind chime on sale, as they are very labor intensive to make. But I decided to put one on sale this week. It's beautiful!

There are lots of beautiful wind chimes (and other works for the home, yard, garden and office) on my website. It's worth visiting and looking around. You are sure to see things you have never seen before, as all my designs are original, unique and, of course, very well made.

Celebrate spring with a stunning art wind chime, or surprise a friend with a special gift. I am happy to include a gift card with a personal message.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Suncatcher, Beach Glass Inspired

suncatcher, beach glass, stained glass, copper, cedar, kaleidoscope mosaic
Suncatcher, beach glass inspired stained glass hanging. So pretty! So well made!
Visit my website 'Under $100' page to learn more, or to buy it.

What a shock. I expected things to get a little busier with spring in the air, but it suddenly got crazy busy. In fact, I don't believe I have ever had a week with so many sales.

Of course, it happened just after I accepted a large wholesale order. I promised the store that I could have everything made and shipped by next Monday, at the latest, and then someone opened the flood gate on orders. Even the pre-Christmas rushes in the past have never been this busy. Go figure.

So I pack and ship and pack and ship, and in between I try to get out and make something for the wholesale order. I could use a few more hours in the day, right now. Up at 5:00 AM and working right through until it's time to cook dinner. No complaints, I'm thrilled to have this success.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Peanut Butter Pie, Blog

I've had the pleasure of several bloggers emailing to ask if they could feature something of mine in their blog (Yes! Thank You!), but I don't recall anyone going to so much trouble and care as Tami over at her PeanutButterPie blog. She's really gone out of her way to do a fabulous job.

She first wrote about two weeks ago, and later sent some questions for me to answer. She then put together a long posting with lots of nice pictures.

Her hard work shows, so check out her blog and see what a nice job she has done. Thank you Tami!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wholesale Wind Chimes, Price Reduced

Beach Glass Inspired
Kaleidoscope Wind Chime
Wholesale packages available.
wind chime, beach glass, copper, wholesale
A popular style of my handcrafted glass and copper wind chimes. Visit my wholesale page by Clicking Here.

Due to the Canadian Dollar being so much stronger against the US dollar than it was a few months ago, I have been able to reduce the price of many of my works. Today I also reduced the price of my wholesale packages. So while pretty much everywhere you look, prices go up and up, my wind chimes are becoming more affordable. Nice!

Entering my fourteenth year of making suncatchers, wind chimes and other works for the home and garden, I am happy to report that the quality, always high, is higher than ever. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve, and seldom does a week go by without my thinking of some way to tweak my designs. Lower prices, improved designs!

I've also just dropped the price for many of my wind chimes for the casual shopper, too. As always, free shipping, and free cold forged copper earrings with every purchase. Enjoy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Apple iPod Touch Review: e-Book Reader and More

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Apple iPod Touch: Awesome

After dreaming of owning an e-book reader for several months, I finally snagged an Apple iPod Touch a couple of weeks ago when they went on sale.

When thinking of an e-book reader, an iPod Touch is probably not what comes to most people’s mind. But having researched readers extensively on the web, I was impressed by how many favorable reviews I came across.

I chose the Touch instead of a Kindle because the Kindle is not available in Canada, I find it unattractive (ugly), and it is too big for my pocket— I might as well drag along a book.

I couldn’t be happier with my choice.

While there are several book reader apps available for the Touch (including Kindle), Stanza (free) is the one I have so far been using. It’s wonderful! With the touch of a finger you can change the size of the font, colors, background, and all sorts of other stuff to make the page look just right for you, and for the current light conditions. There are a ton of classics available for free, and some contemporary works too. Connected via WiFi, it takes just a couple of seconds to download any book.

While I had been skeptical that the small screen size would provide a good reading experience, the sharp screen means the letters are very clear, so you can use a small font, and, besides, simply touching the side of the screen turns the page— not exactly onerous. The iPod Touch is a far better book reader than I ever imagined it would be. It remembers your place in a book, and just takes a second to turn on, so the upshot is I have been doing a lot more reading.

Stanza on the iPod Touch. Click the image to see it larger.

Bonus: I got the Touch to use as a book reader, but it turns out that I am using it for far, far more.

I had no idea of all the cool stuff you could do with an iPod Touch. There are about 30,000 apps available. Granted, the majority of those are games, which hold no interest at all for me, but there are also many that I have found very useful. Here are a few of my favorites.

Email. Being a compulsive email checker, the Touch is saving me tons of time and energy. I used to wake my computer far too often to check. Now I pick them all up on my iPod, where ever I am, even all the way out in my workshop.

Internet Browsing. The Touch comes with Safari, and again I find the small screen oddly non-bothersome. You just pull your fingers across the screen, which expands any website for easy reading. And with an app called Instapaper (free), you can save web pages to the iPod to read later when not connected to the internet.

News and articles. Being something of a news junkie, I am thrilled at the numerous apps dedicated to various news services and magazines. My favorites (so far) are the Huffington Post, Maclean’s, and the Globe and Mail (all free). You can update these before leaving home and then enjoy catching up even out of a WiFi zone.

Skype. I’ve used Skype for several years on my home computer. It turns out it works even better on the Touch. (I am guessing this is because of no interference from whirling hard drives etc.?). To use it on the Touch, you need to buy earphones with a mic— about $30 from Apple.

There are around a dozen other apps I use frequently. Everything from movie reviews and trailers (Flixster) to shopping lists (ShopShop).

Aside from all those cool apps, after a several year hiatus the iPod Touch is turning me back onto music. There are many fabulous podcasts (free), for example I have become quite addicted to the NPR Live Concert series.

Also, I have found that I can borrow audio library books online~ pretty sweet!

One final real benefit of the iPod Touch. I love watching films, however I do not like going to the video store, especially to return videos. For quite a while I have been renting videos online. Previously this meant lugging my iMac downstairs and watching on its barely adequate 20 inch screen. Now I just transfer them over to my iPod and plug it into our large tv (requires an adopter). The picture quality, by the way, is great.

My iPod Touch? One word: Awesome.