Monday, May 29, 2017

Coast Chimes: More than Wind Chimes

Suncathcer, Freestanding, Kaleidoscope
Freestanding Kaleidoscope Suncathcer
Available for $57 at Coast Chimes

Coast Chimes is more than unique handcrafted art wind chimes. Not everyone enjoys wind chimes, even when they are beautiful and produce a gentle, soothing sound. So Coast Chimes also specializes is many styles of hanging and freestanding suncatchers.

The freestanding artist-made beach glass style of suncatcher pictured above is awesome on a sunny windowsill. When the sun shines through the glass, you are treated to a kaleidoscope of color!

Visit Coast Chimes and see all the amazing suncatchers and wind chimes!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Glass and Copper Wind Chime, Coast Chimes

Glass and copper art wind chime, handcrafted by Coast Chimes
Glass and Copper Wind Chime Coast Chimes

With warm weather finally here, I am back to increasing my glass collection, and I have some recent absolutely gorgeous pieces. The wind chime pictured above is a prime example of that!

I have a lot of knock-out cobalt blue glass, some super greens, and the golden above.

It is wonderful to have lots more selection to choose from as I assemble my wind chimes and suncatchers.

Some people are fearful of glass wind chimes, thinking they may be fragile. My glass is thick, and actually very strong. I have a few wind chimes that I made 20 years ago that have been hanging outside year round, through wind, snow, rain, sun, and they still look just as amazing as the day I made them.

To see all my wind chimes and suncatchers, visit my website: Coast Chimes

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New Wind Chimes, Freestanding

Freestanding wind chime with a natural Pacific beach stone base, glass, copper
Freestanding Double Wind Chime
Natural Pacific Beach Stone Base
Glass and Copper
Find it at Coast Chimes

Even after over 20 years of making unique high-quality creations for the home and garden, it amazes me what I come up with. Look at this wind chime!

I love using natural materials, and beach stones are right at the top of the list. They make such an excellent base for freestanding wind chimes. The only drawback is that they are obviously very heavy for shipping-- but that is not much of a problem for my customer, since I pay most of the postage (all my works ship for a flat $10 charge to the customer, even when the actual postage is closer to $100).

This type of wind chime is ideal for placing on a deck or patio, or, even better, bury the stone part way in your rock garden. So beautiful! It is not bothered at all by snow, rain, sun or wind. Simply enjoy it!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Kaleidoscope Sea Glass Wind Chimes with Five Copper Chimes

Handcrafted kaleidoscope wind chime with five copper chimes, Coast Chimes
Handcrafted Kaleidoscope Wind Chime
Five Copper Chimes
Beach Stone Clapper
Coast Chimes

When the sun shines through the glass in this wind chime, you are treated to a kaleidoscope of colour. Beautiful!

I have been making my kaleidoscope wind chimes for about 20 years, and they are popular. In fact, I better learn to keep a better eye on my stock, as the last week an order came in, and I found out I had none left!

Fortunately, I had a good supply of the small artist-made sea glass pieces to fill the box, and also the copper chimes already made— those chimes are extremely labour intensive, and so it would have been quite some time before having more in stock, if I did not have some of them already made. I could put together the box kaleidoscope sections in not too much time, so I fulfilled the order, and have a few extras back in stock. You can find them in the Kaleidoscope section of my website: Coast Chime Kaleidoscope Wind Chimes.

I noticed that I am also starting to run short on the copper section; the actual chimes. So that is the next priority. They are the most beautiful sets of chimes, but they do take an awfully long time to make. Cutting and drilling the roundels, making all the hardware (copper hooks and rings), fetching and cutting the copper, double sanding / brushing and treating the copper... so many steps. But worth it, as the final result is in one word: awesome!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Natural Pacific Driftwood and Beach Stone Wind Chimes

Natural Pacific beach stone and driftwood wind chime with five large copper chimes.
Natural Pacific Driftwood Wind Chime
Beach Stone
5 Large Copper Chimes

I've started putting together some cool new wind chimes with the beach stones and driftwood from my recent beach combing working holiday to the west coast of Vancouver Island and Washington State. These are such wonderful materials! The stones are so nicely rounded and shaped; the driftwood hard and smooth.

You can find these new works, and plenty of older wonderful ones too, on my website by going to the Beach Stone pages and the Driftwood pages.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wild West Coast, Olympic Peninsula Beach Combing

Olympic Peninsula beach
Olympic Peninsula, Wild West Coast, Beach Combing Paradise

I started 25 years ago making wind chimes and sun catchers from sea glass and copper. I still make them from those materials, but I now use a lot of beach stone and driftwood too.

I used to think that our local Sunshine Coast beaches were perhaps the best in the world for beach stones, and okay for driftwood. Last year I discovered that some beaches along the open west coast are far superior for these materials. I just got back from yet another wonderful week of beach combing in this area, and this time I took plenty of stones and wood back home with me.

I can't wait to get started on a fresh collection of wild west coast wind chimes, using these materials.

Visit my website to see the sort of works I do using natural materials: 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Olympic Peninsula, Beautiful, Beautiful Area

Olympic Peninsula, March 2016
Olympic Peninsula, March 2016

Last year at this time I quickly passed through the Olympic Peninsula.I was amazed by the beauty. I was also so impressed by the beach stones and driftwood (I use both to make wind chimes). I took a little of my beach combing finds home with me last year, and immediately regretted both not spending more time on the Peninsula, and also not taking home more raw materials.

So I went back.

The Olympic Peninsula truly is one of the most awesome areas I have ever explored. And it definitely has some of the finest beach stones and driftwood I have ever enjoyed discovering. This year, I took home plenty for my work, and I am so excited to soon start making things. You can see the types of things I make with these materials on my website: Coast Chimes.

Nine days of hiking, fine resorts, beach combing was not enough. I probably have to go back next year!

Friday, March 04, 2016

Bird Feeder Deluxe Handcrafted Wind Chime

Deluxe handcrafted cedar and copper bird feeder wind chime by Coast Chimes
Handcrafted Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Every year I make 5 or 6 bird feeder wind chimes. I look forward to making them (I usually sell out well before the end of the year). I just finished this years crop-- and I am exceptionally proud of them.

I love the design: so simple, so perfect. The 4 sided top actually started out, years ago, as a desktop lamp! I used to make pretty much the same design, fill the box with sea glass, and have a light bulb and nice shade on the top (no bird perches on that one, though!). It was cool lamp, but eventually I got a bit hesitant about shipping out electrical things, since I'm not a licensed electrician. That lamp design turned into this bird feeder.

Every year I have had months to mull over the design, and while the basic form is wonderful I always make small changes for the better. Most of these have to do with strength. This years batch is without a doubt the best ever-- the lid is more secure, there is more strength everywhere: extremely solid. And extremely beautiful!

You can find them in on my website here: bird feeder wind chime

Or in my Etsy store here: bird feeder wind chime

Or on Amazon here: bird feeder wind chime

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Winterlude 2016

Mountain goat ice sculpture, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 2016
Mountain Goat Ice Sculpture
Ottawa Ontario Canada
Winterlude 2016

Absolutely amazing what artists are able to accomplish with ice, as I discovered during this past weekend during a trip to Ottawa Ontario. Despite the unusually warm temperatures, coming from the Pacific Coast it seemed plenty cold enough to me, and it was cold enough for most of the ice sculptures to remain more-or-less intact. The one that most impressed me was this one of mountain goats. Just beautiful!

We went to Ottawa not for the sculptures or other Winterlude festivities, but because my wife has always wanted to skate on the Rideau Canal. A few days before leaving for Ottawa, the canal was open. As soon as we booked the tickets, they had to close it. It remained closed for the entire weekend. On the day following our return to BC, it opened. Such is life.

For me, it was still awesome to visit a wintery place (we have had zero snow here on the Sunshine Coast this winter). It was so much fun to walk around in the cold, snow lightly falling. A visit over the bridge to Gatineau was very special as well. It was a treat to be able to use my rusty French.

My only regret is that I wish I had known that Ottawa has Uber. We used taxis, and I must say the experience was universally awful. The drivers never knew how to get to where we wanted to go (although these were always major destinations in a small city), they hardly spoke English or French, they were often borderline rude. From now on, wherever I travel, I will certainly remember to check and see if Uber is available.

Friday, January 22, 2016

From Raw Cedar to Gorgeous Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Rough cut Pacific Cedar, 2 X 6 boards, soon to be a bird feeder, Coast Chimes
Rough Cut 2 X 6 Cedar Boards
Soon to be a Beautiful Bird Feeder Wind Chime

Beautiful Red Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder, Coast Chimes
Red Cedar and Copper Bird Feeder Wind Chime
Coast Chimes

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

Crafter vs Artist

Red, purple, clear glass kaleidoscope wind chime with copper chime by Coast Chimes
Colorful Cedar Framed Glass
Five Copper Chimes
Available at Coast Chimes
Pictured above is one of my new wind chimes-- very bright and colorful! Eye-catching! When the sunlight shines through the glass, you are treated to a kaleidoscope of color.

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

Natural Beauty of Sunshine Coast BC Inspires Wind Chime Artist Coast Chimes

Rounded beach stones along the shore of the Pacific, Gibsons BC Canada
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.

Snowy mountains across from Gibsons, BC, Sunshine Coast
Snowy Mountains
Seen From Gibsons BC Canada

Saturday, January 09, 2016

New Website: Coast Chimes

Screen shot of part of the homepage of Coast Chimes new website
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

Sunshine Coast, BC, Gibsons

View of Coastal snow covered mountains, Gibsons, BC, Canada
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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Natural Beach Stone Wind Chime

Natural Beach Stone Wind Chime by Coast Chimes
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).