Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
|Rough Cut 2 X 6 Cedar Boards|
Soon to be a Beautiful Bird Feeder Wind Chime
|Red Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder Wind Chime|
My four sided deluxe cedar bird feeder wind chime is always popular. But despite being on the expensive side, they are not very profitable for me: they use a lot of expensive materials, and even more time.
I start with raw rough cedar, as pictured in the first image above. You can imagine how many saw it takes to make the finished feeder!
Every year I make 4 - 5 of feeders, all at the same time, as it is a little more efficient to build a few all at once. It is enjoyable to build something this complex and where great attention must be paid to exact measurements. I'm proud of them! But when I am done for the year, I am done. No matter if they sell out early in the year, or later, I don't build more for that year. The reason for this is that there is only one fairly slow part of the year (February and part of March), and after that, there simply is not enough free time to build these properly.
It always feels good when I have a few in stock. This year, with luck, they will probably be back on my website mid-February.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
|Colorful Cedar Framed Glass|
Five Copper Chimes
Available at Coast Chimes
I've often pondered about the difference between a crafter and an artist, and I think I have it figured it out. I know some potters who are excellent crafters; but in my book they are not artist. They make gorgeous well made plates, cups, tea pots etc., and they paint with their glaze artistic squiggles. But they are content for years and years to do the same thing: same color of glaze, same squiggles, same cups. I don't believe an artist could ever do this: they would go mad.
An artist has a deep need to do something different; to experiment, to turn the world sideways, to play.
That is where something like the ruby red and soft purple glass comes in, as featured in the wind chime above. It's not turning my world upside down, and my customers can likely accept, perhaps even like it as something different from my usual. But changing colors does satisfy my need to not always do the same thing over, and over and...
I consider myself an artist rather than a crafter. Not for me the same pot, the same glaze, the same squiggle. It does not really matter, as I have nothing against crafters, and I know some excellent ones. But I do find the difference interesting, and I do wonder how someone can do the same plate with the same glaze over and over.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
|Round Smooth Beach Stone Flow|
Sunshine Coast, BC, Canada
One thing is certain: The Sunshine Coast, BC, is all about natural beauty. I've lived here for 25 years, and still get wowed by the beauty almost everyday.
The longer I live here, the more grateful I am, as I realize how this natural beauty influences my work as an artist. Not only do I use the natural resources, such as rounded smooth beach stones and driftwood in my wind chime designs, but I know my love of rounded edges and sea glass comes directly from hikes along the shore and through the woods. Nature knows a thing or two about design, and all I have to do is look closely and try to get some of the elements I see in the natural world into my own designs.
You can see how the naturally Pacific Coast beauty has influenced my work by checking out my website. Probably the Beach Stone section or Driftwood section would be a great place to start.
Saturday, January 09, 2016
|Coast Chimes: New Website|
WWW. Coast Chimes
I've made half a dozen different websites for Coast Chimes, starting back 20 years ago. They have ranged from okay to not very good. The further back in time you go, the more easily one could get away with a sloppy website, as at the start people did not expect much! These days, you better have a pretty decent website if you hope to sell.
Today you need to go beyond just okay. You have a fraction of a second to grab the attention of the new visitor, a visitor with a very critical eye, or their finger hits the back button and goodbye potential customer.
Even without any prior website building experience, I believe any artist-crafter could build a fairly decent looking website using Shopify without too many headaches. Taking that website beyond the basic shop to where I feel a website needs to be in today's competitive world will be more challenging.
After my basic shop was up, I felt like I hit a wall. I had ideas I wanted to implement, but the supporting documentation for Shopify was frankly scary complex, and I was scared of really messing up my website.
I approached several experts for hire. Prices were far steeper than I had hoped they would be (in the thousands was not unusual). Also, very few provided a clear vision of what they hoped to accomplish for my site. Why would I hire them if they had no vision? Do they do the same site for a seller of imported plastic toys as for an artist?
So I got thinking, and decided the first thing I should do is figure out exactly what I wanted for my site. That way, I could tell the experts what I needed, and they could tell me if they could do it, and how much it would cost. This seemed a much better approach than my initial: 'my site is a mess, how much to fix it?'.
However, after figuring out what I wanted for my site, I realized that maybe, just maybe, I could tackle this thing myself. So defining what was needed helped enormously. A logo was number one, as everyone says this is extremely important. They also say it is a big deal, and a job for a professional. This can cost in the hundreds, easily. Wanting everything as simple and clean as possible for my own site, I did my own simple and clean logo. It took me 15 minutes. I doubt it is up to professional standards, but I think it looks fine.
The biggest challenge was to arrange all my stock into different collections, and make clickable buttons (rather than visitors having to scroll through 12 pages of mixed stock). I decided on 9 categories, and got busy reading how to make collections in the Shopify help section. It seemed overwhelmingly complex, but once I got going, following each step in the instructions as I went along, it turned out to be not too bad after all. Then I just made small buttons from pictures I already had handy (a picture of driftwood, for example, for my driftwood section), figured out how to place these on my homepage using a grid, and made links. Not bad at all.
Could someone with zero website building experience accomplish this? Probably, given enough patience, asking for help on forums, being bold and trying. I would say the written instructions make things sound a lot harder than the reality, which is often the case with technical things.
So instead of spending a thousand dollars or more, I got to learn some cool things, I got the satisfaction of doing it myself, and, most importantly, I got a much better looking website that I am proud of and happy with.
Saturday, January 02, 2016
|View of Snow Covered Coastal Mountains|
From Gibsons, BC, Sunshine Coast, Canada
Most of my yearly sales are online, and about half of those sales are for Christmas: pre-Christmas is a very busy time for Coast Chimes. So I didn't much mind that the skies were grey, the clouds dumping rain during November and early December. But what a treat to have those skies clear and the local mountains snow dusted for this quieter, post-Christmas period! Most of the packing and shipping is done, and I have time to head out, take long walks, and enjoy the scenery.
I walk along the beach, and dream up new ideas for the weeks ahead, when I plan to devote time to creating new works to replenish my stock.
I see these mountains, this ocean, the beach, the trees, and feel so grateful to live here. Of course, I am also pleased to be able to retrieve many fine natural resources from the shoreline-- the stones, the driftwood, the sea glass. From this nature I get my inspiration and lots of my materials. What a pleasure!
Sunday, December 27, 2015
|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
|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 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
|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
|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
|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.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
|My New Website: Coast Chimes|
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
|Large Glass and Copper Wind Chime, Coast Chimes|
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
|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.
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
|Screen Shot From a Page of CoastChimes.com|
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
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
|Natural Pacific Beach Stones Wind Chime|
It is really nice having these beautiful natural materials available from local beaches: driftwood, beach stones, and sometimes glass. While the materials are free, it does take time to find good things. But I seldom object to a long walk along the beach!
I discovered during the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, when so many people visited my studio, that it was not clear to them that I make pretty much every component of my creations. No, I do not buy mass produced chimes from distant lands for pennies! I use raw brass and copper for my chimes, and they are very labour intensive to produce-- there are so many steps! But the results are worth it. Also, I never skimp on the materials that I do buy. For example, instead of using something like cheap fishing line for my chimes, I use, for the small ones, 49 strand nylon coated stainless steel with sterling silver crimps: that's quality! For my large copper chimes, all the chimes are hung with handmade copper rings-- those will never break.
The beach stone chime pictured above is available on my website at Coast Chimes (and it's a great deal, at only $75.00).
Friday, November 14, 2014
|Kaleidoscope Glass and Copper Handcrafted Wind Chime|
Ever since we moved to our new house, I have struggled— really struggled —with taking decent pictures of my works. Now, after more than a year, I discovered that morning light coming through the semi-transparent metal fence, with the ocean far down below, makes for a very interesting background. How could this possibly take me over a year to discover? I don't know-- I am just happy to have found it.
As soon as I realized how much better the pictures could look, I spent a week retaking almost all my art work. Thats over one hundred items! You can see the updated images on my website, at Coast Chimes.com. I'm very proud of my designs, and now I am a little proud of my pictures.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
|Banner Signs at my Home for the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl|
|Tree Ornaments for sale for the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, Coast Chimes|
Sunshine Coast Art Crawl
Between moving into the new house, getting the workshop organized, figuring out how to photograph my creations at this new location, and, not least, enjoying summer walking to the beautiful beach and warm ocean steps from our house, I just never had time to give this blog any attention. Maybe now that it is dark, wet, and cold, I can do more.
I just participated, for the first time, in the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl. This is a three day event, and boy, way it busy! On the Sunshine Coast, there were 141 galleries participating, 320 artists, and 21,000 studio visits. Coast Chimes attracted a great deal of attention. People seemed to enjoy seeing a bit of our new house (it is different!), the garden, and my work. It is a funny thing that I have been making wind chimes and suncatchers for 23 years, but almost all of them have been sent to the USA, through my online sales. I believe more have gone to Europe and Australia than to Canada. Since prior to the art crawl I did zero local promoting, there was a lot of fun in seeing people discover that someone is doing something really unique here on the Sunshine Coast. I was very happy with the sales.
It was even more fun to hear what people had to say, face to face, about my work. Yes, I enjoy praise! I think I deserve a bit of praise, too, having invested so many years exploring, learning, designing. I am very proud of my creations.
Oh! I also gave my website a major facelift. Based in large part on what reviewers at Peek (free, online, video reviews for websites-- an excellent service), I listened to what several people had to say, and fixed what they found troubling. Please visit Coast Chimes, and see for yourself. I think it is way better, so thank you Peek!
Monday, August 04, 2014
|Ten 2 X 6 Rough Raw Cedar Boards|
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
|Cobalt Blue Glass with Copper Art Wind Chime, with Beach Pebbles|
Few people have any idea of the process for making even one of my more basic wind chimes, such as the one pictured above.
Every single component, from the glass to the chimes, is totally handcrafted.
I find the rough glass, carve it, process it, drill it. I order bulk long tubes from New Brunswick for the small chimes, cut them, polish them, treat them to an antiqued finish, and polish again. I go to the beach and hunt for suitable beach stones, drill them, mount them. I bend copper wire and solder it for the glass, and to make the chime holder, and to thread the stones. Also to make the copper hanging hook. Then there are photographs to be taken. Listings on the various internet sites.
When it sells, packing is an art in itself: getting the bought item promptly to the customer in great shape.
My customers may not generally know just how much goes into their purchase, but I do know that they are very appreciative, judging from the emails and feedback I receive. And I appreciate that, more than anything.
Friday, July 25, 2014
|Another view of the back yard, with the semi-transparent perforated sheet metal fence, and the raised garden beds, all designed by Coast Chimes artist Tim Kline|
Friday, May 09, 2014
Thursday, May 01, 2014
|Cobalt Blue Glass with Copper Handcrafted Wind ChimeView at|
The picture taking struggle continues — the never ending story! However, I am happier these recent days than I have been in a long time, regarding taking pictures. We finally have our new fence, and a very fine fence it is! It is my own design, and features perforated metal and cedar. This creates an unusual effect, as the fence is slightly transparent! That makes an excellent backdrop for my pictures.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
|Natural Beach Stones Wind Chime|
|Detail Image of the Beach Stones|