Sunday, December 27, 2015

Boxing Day Hike Cures the Christmas Feast Fuzziness

View towards Gibsons BC from the top of Soames Hill
Looking Towards Gibsons, BC
From the Top of Soames Hill, Boxing Day

There are few things I like better than the traditional Christmas feast, and this year was no exception. Such excellent food, drink, and family warmth. But the morning after, one certainly feels a little plump and fuzzy. The very best cure for that is a vigorous hike, and since there were more than could fit in our little car, we marched along to the nearby Soames Hill (going up the steep grade and handling the many, many steps, I could swear this should be called Soames Mountain!).

It is a steep climb, but not terribly long, The view from the summit is more than worth the struggle. While we were up there on Boxing Day, there was snow falling, and the traditional West Coast grey is so soothing to the eyes. I really loved being up there!

Now another day of taking it easy. Then I need to get serious about making wind chimes and sun catchers, as it was a fabulous Christmas season, with many sales depleting my stock significantly. I am looking forward to getting creative: expect many wonderful new wind chimes and suncatchers  in the coming days and weeks to appear on my website: Coast Chimes

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

For The Non-Wind Chime Person

Blue and green glass sun catcher with copper, handcrafted by Coast Chimes
Unique Glass and Copper Sun Catcher
$75 with free shipping at Coast Chimes

Not everyone can own a wind chime. There are neighbourhood rules and condo rules that sometimes prohibit even small chimes with soft, pleasant sound like my smaller chimes.

That's okay. I make a great selection of sun catchers that look great outdoors all year round, any weather (so well made!), or inside by a sunny window. These are a wonderful choice if you are giving a gift, and you are not absolutely positive that the person is a fan of wind chimes. My advice, if you are not sure, is to not give a wind chime, as there are people who really do not appreciate them.

Of course, they usually got their aversion through a negative experience with those super loud aggressive aluminum chimes all too popular, and when they get a set of Coast Chimes they change their minds. So beautiful, and not annoying or terribly loud.

So Coast Chimes has you covered, even if you can't have or don't want a wind chime.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Natural Handcrafted Wind Chimes

Large natural beach stone wind chime with five copper chimes, Coast Chimes
Natural Pacific Beach Stone Wind Chime
Five Copper Chimes
Beach Stone Clapper
Available at Coast Chimes

The more I work with beach stone, the more I like it. There is something so very satisfying about the shape, the texture, the colour. And talk about durable! Combined with the copper, these chimes will endure any weather, and just look better and better over time.

It occurred to me that my beach stone wind chimes are kind of the opposite of my glass wind chimes. What I mean is that while my glass arguably looks its best with the sun shining, the beach stones look best when it is raining. Have you ever walked along a beach as the tide goes out? The contrast between the stones that are wet from the tide and those that are dry is striking. The water makes them darker, and makes the shades and lines stand out. The same goes for when they have been made into a Coast Chimes wind chime and they get wet from the rain. So beautiful!

There are a couple of drawbacks to beach stones-- but nothing you have to worry about. First, they are very hard, and thus hard on my diamond drill bits. So although aside from the time to find them they are not expensive as materials go, they are expensive to work with as... well, diamond drill bits.

Second, they are very heavy, so expensive to ship. Fortunately for my customers my new website offers free shipping to the USA and Canada. So this is not your concern, just a little pain for me.

You can find many different styles of beach stone wind chimes on my website. Be sure to check out the freestanding ones, too-- very cool! Just type freestanding into the search box.

You can get to my website by clicking on this: Coast Chimes

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Canadian Dollar Lower Shipping Cost

Picture of some wind chimes and sun catchers from Coast Chimes
A Few of My Wind Chimes and Suncatchers
Free Shipping to the USA & Canada
visit Coast Chimes

The Canadian Dollar has tanked. That's great news for my customers. Here is why.

A couple of years ago when I sold a $100 suncatcher chime I would receive $85, because the Canadian dollar was stronger than the US dollar. That was painful. Today when I sell a $100 suncatcher chime I receive a $135. Far less painful.

So  I have decided to provide free shipping on orders to the USA and Canada from my website. I haven't raised the prices on any of my works. My customers save, and I still make a little more. Win win.

The downside of the low Canadian dollar is that many things are starting to cost more here. A lot more. Last trip to the grocery store I saw rather small sad looking cauliflower for $7.95.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Beautiful Gibsons BC, Canada

Rainbow over the Pacific Ocean, Gibsons, BC, Canada
Lovely Light and A Rainbow, Near Gibsons, BC, Canada
People often ask me where I get the inspiration for my wind chimes and sun catchers. I think I could just show them this picture I took yesterday afternoon. Truly, I am fortunate to live in such a beautiful place.

This picture is snapped with an iPod touch, just a few steps down the street from my house. There was just one thing wrong with the afternoon— the tide was a foot too high and we all got wet feet walking to town! No one minded, as it was all just too beautiful to even notice.

These are the beaches where I collect the beach stones and driftwood that play such a significant role in the making of my wind chimes and sun catchers. I am grateful for the light, the scenery, and for the raw materials. Having traveled to so many different places, I know that it is not always possible to just pick up neat raw materials. You can see how I use beach stones and driftwood by visiting my website: Coast Chimes

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wind Chimes: Natural Beach Stone with Handcrafted Antiqued Brass Chimes

Natural Pacific Beach Stone Wind Chimes by Coast Chimes
Natural Pacific Beach Stone Wind Chime $65
by Coast Chimes

25 plus years ago when I started making wind chimes, I used only glass and copper. Over the years I have added new materials to my inventory, especially local natural things, like driftwood and beach stone.

What I find interesting is that while the glass looks its best when the sun is shining (sun catchers), the beach stone and driftwood looks best when wet from rain. If you have ever walked along a Pacific beach shoreline as the tide goes out, you will know what I mean. The stones when wet show dark and their features, like speckles or lines, become more intense. So I have wind chimes for the sun and wind chimes for those cloudy wet days. Actually, they all look great all the time, just even more beautiful at certain times!

Something else interesting: if you have walked a Pacific beach you might think I can just go and pick up buckets of stones--  a short task. Not true. Depending on my needs, I have to go to the right beach and spend a long time walking about, choosing the stones that call out. I know the best beach for the small rounded stones I use for the clappers of my large copper wind chimes, another beach is the best for the larger rounded stones used in chimes like the one pictured above, and yet another beach for even larger beach stones I use as bases for freestanding works. Over the years, I have learned where to go for what I need.

When I finally get my stones back to my workshop, I spend time selecting those that fit together nicely, before proceeding to drill. Stone is a lot harder than glass, and so drilling the holes is a lengthy process, and also hard on my diamond bits. I can cut many holes through glass with a single diamond bit, but stone wears them out fast, so it's more expensive to work with stone.

I love beach stones, and more and more customers seem to share my enthusiasm. You can see all the different things I use beach stones for at my website: Coast Chimes. You can find the beach stone chime pictured above here: Beach Stone Chime

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Advertising a New Website

Screenshot of Coast Chimes Website page
My New Website: Coast Chimes
With the launch of each new website, I always run a little advertising campaign to help get it going. The launch of my newest version is no exception.

I don't recall it being very challenging to set up a campaign with my first several websites . But this appears to be an area (along with online selling in general) which has not gotten easier, or cheaper, with time.

With the new Coast Chimes Shopify site, I thought I would go in to Adsense, click a few buttons, fill in a couple of lines, and advertise. Ha, ha, ha.... nope. Not really.

It is true that I could get a very basic add with a bunch of keywords up and running quite quickly, but the number of various options / screens was, to say the lease, overwhelming. I didn't have any idea what many of them even meant.  I decided to give Google Adsense a phone call to consult with an expert, for free, as offered in an email sent from Adsense.

The first phone call lasted about a half hour. A very nice and knowledgeable service representative went over a whole lot, and we decided it would be best to pause my current campaign and arrange an appointment with a higher level technician, so that I could maybe get some images into my ads.

I knew a little about what would be needed, so I started looking at my old Google Merchant account prior to consulting with this next expert. Wow. What a tedious, multi-tasking sort of chore that is! I fooled around, but in the end decided to wait for the expert's phone call.

When I talked with the expert, he got me to share my screen with him, and led me through many, many steps. The job took over an hour. Now there will be a few days until the team approves my set up!

Then it will be back to the expert, to finish the process of integrating my images with my ads.

Then back to the initial contact, to help with the keywords and bidding amounts etc. etc.

All this, just to get a little ad campaign going. I had no idea. Truly, I think it is quite amazing any ads appear on Google!

From what I saw before pausing my initial ads, this is likely to be far too expensive for me to use anyway! Those clicks cost so much money!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Glass and Copper Wind Chime, the Start

Glass and copper wind chime by Coast Chimes, large copper chimes
Large Glass and Copper Wind Chime, Coast Chimes
I made my first glass and copper wind chime, quite similar to the one pictured above, and listed it on eBay about 25 years ago. eBay was new, and no one had ever seen a wind chime like this before. I listed it at .99 cents, and the bidding went crazy. It ended up somewhere north of $250, and I knew I was onto something. Shortly after, the second glass and copper wind chime I made and listed repeated the bidding frenzy, and I really knew I was onto something. In the following years things have not always been so easy. It does turn out that nothing stays the same, and this is especially true concerning the internet! With all the improvements in technology, how funny that selling something like my wind chimes has actually become much, much more challenging. I am so pleased that back when I started out it was actually simple to sell something like my wind chimes on line. Anyone starting now would be in for a much more difficult task.

The inspiration for my first glass and copper wind chime came from a customer. At the time, I was selling some single pieces of beach-style glass, with a little copper work. This woman emailed and asked if I could make her a wind chime out of my glass. I told her that would not work-- the glass would break. A little later it came to me that I could use glass for a top section, with chimes hanging beneath the glass.

Now, so many years later, I have numerous designs (and still thinking of new ones!), and also work with beach stone and driftwood. Indeed, one of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to take a long hike along the beach, looking for materials and dreaming up new ideas.

Eventually eBay went to the dogs, at least for high-end quality handcrafted works like my wind chimes. Etsy came into play just at the right time, and continues fairly strong, despite occasional bumps. My first website, made about 20 years ago and unbelievably rough, has gone through many transformations, and last week was reborn as a Shopify store: Coast Chimes

Friday, December 04, 2015

Handmade at Amazon Blues

Handmade at amazon blues image
I have the Handmade at Amazon Blues
I was so excited to receive an invitation for Handmade at Amazon. Amazon promised millions of potential customers and a strictly handmade site. A dream come true!

I believed Amazon had the expertise, the capital, the client base to do an absolutely brilliant job. My only concern was whether I would have enough time to fill orders and still make things!

Yep, I was one happy thrilled fan of Handmade at Amazon... before it opened.

Several months post launch not so much.

What happened?

First, let me stress that there are apparently many crafters and artists currently experiencing success on Handmade at Amazon. You can read their glee on various forums, and I am happy for them. However there are also many who are becoming disillusioned. Like me.

I don't know why some are so successful while others suffer utter failure, and for a few reasons I am not willing to take any more time to figure it out. Here's why.

I am dumbfounded that one of five primary categories while listing,  'Outdoor and Patio,' does not appear on amy of the main shopping menus. Since this is the category I list in, I believe this is a primary reason my listings are not seen. Invisible. My stats are dismal: far worse than any other site I have ever participated in, including my own little website.

I invested considerable time attempting to improve my visibility, all for naught. Also, creating or editing a listing is painful on Handmade: nightmarish listing templates. I have been on a dozen different sites, and this is by far the most terrible listing and editing experience yet.

Even worse— my pictures show up desaturated; they look awful. I found others were experiencing this too. After emails and phone calls to Handmade at Amazon support, a very nice, knowledgable support person phoned. She acknowledged that my pictures look worse than on other sites where I use the identical images, but she said after talking with Amazon engineers there is nothing Amazon plans to do to improve this issue. For handmade, pictures are what sell. Bad pictures mean low sales, no matter how many people see your work, and even more so when almost no one is seeing the work. Most disheartening.

Finally, the corporate atmosphere (all business, no soul) seems stifling. Something is missing here, from an artist point of view. You are encouraged not to get in touch with customers, you must answer question (even if your shop is on holiday mode) within 24 hours or face penalties, you must ship by the promised time, no excuse,  you must accept all returns (with the exception of custom orders) and pay for the return shipping if you sell internationally (even if the customer just changes their mind). That's all great for the customer, and I always do whatever I can to please my customers, but on Amazon it seems there is always a threat hanging over the seller's head. Of more concern is the way Amazon has 'trained' their customers: a quick look, buy with one click understanding that you can return whatever with no problem, expect your order to arrive instantly. It sounds like some sellers are 'enjoying' numerous returns.

So it turns out that the Handmade at Amazon has not lived up to my high expectations... not even close. Most distressing are the images showing poorly,  the lack of traffic, and the atmosphere.

I do want to say something very positive about Handmade at Amazon:  They have wonderful 24/7 email and telephone seller support. I have never had to wait more than a short time for an email response, and most often I get a telephone call from a knowledgeable pleasant support person. First rate. If only the site was that good!

Another good thing is some of the positive  spin off effects the entire experience has had, benefiting indirectly my Etsy store and my Coast Chimes website. More about that soon.

Although deeply disappointed I am not giving up. A few sales trickle in from those who do somehow manage to stumble across my listings. And I know Amazon is still tinkering. Who knows? Maybe they will fix it. I hope so.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Coast Chimes New Website

Coast Chimes new website
Screen Shot From a Page of

I'm excited to announce the launch of my new website: Coast Chimes. This site has all of my stock on it, is easy to navigate, and has an excellent shopping cart. I built it using Shopify, and I can not say enough nice things about this platform.

Since I have not blogged in a very long time, there is some catching up to do. In the near future I want to go back in time just a little, because I should write about Handmade at Amazon first, then changes at Etsy, and finally the new website. All these subjects will be covered in the coming days.

But for today, I must get back to putting the finishing 'behind the scenes' touches on my new website.

I will leave you with a celebration discount code for 25% off purchases on Coast Chimes, good from December 2 - 16, 2015. Just put this is the coupon code box: NEWWEBSITE