Jewelry Making

As I am sitting in my jewelry studio thinking about how much work I need to do to be ready for the first show of the year on the 4th of July, a store that wants to sell my jewelry opening on the 5th of July and another store that wants me to have my jewelry there to sell during their busy season Sept-Oct, said to my husband that anyone that thinks making jewelry is a walk in the park should really spend some time doing it.

First you have to purchase the beads and all the other supplies you will need to make the jewelry. Sometimes that means shopping online other times you have to travel to find the beads and if you’re lucky you can shop your local bead stores. Then you have to put everything together.

For some of us that means hours spent looking online at photos for design ideas, purchasing tutorials to teach us how to make something or pouring through jewelry making magazines and books. I admit I do all these things but I am also lucky that I don’t have to see a photo or read a tutorial to be able to look at a strand of beads and know what to make with them.  Often when I’m bead shopping you will see me standing in front of the wall of beads rubbing a strand between my fingers.  When I do this I’m thinking of all the beads I have in my studio and what I will make with these beads in my hands.  I’ve always been that way.  When I sewed all the time I could see a pattern and know what I wanted to make it out of.

Now after you have all your supplies, and your design you get to do the fun thing and put it together.  Seems easy right, well what if you don’t have enough of a bead and you can’t get it anymore? That’s when you have to start thinking do I add chain, do I make a chain, what can I add to it to make it long enough?

Once you have your piece all done what are you going to do?  Are you simply making it for yourself?  If so then you are done without too much work, but if you do like I do and sell online, sell at craft and art shows, sell in art galleries, and sell in stores and craft malls then you have a bunch more work to do.

The first thing I do when I’ve made a piece is add the piece to my inventory using a spreadsheet.  On this spreadsheet I have the inventory number of every single piece of jewelry I have in my inventory, the name of the item such as Lapis Necklace, Earrings, and Pendant Set, the description of the piece, the number of pieces I have, and finally the price.

When it comes to doing the inventory tracking that part is easy but let me tell you trying to think of a descriptive way of saying pretty over and over again without always just saying pretty is a lot of work.  For this I have read tutorials on how to write a good description, the best descriptive words, and any number of things you can find online to help you.  I spend a lot of time researching the stone that is used and try to educate my customer with the history of the stone, such as, did you know that Lapis Lazuli was the stone that Cleopatra crushed and used as her blue eye shadow?  Little things like that make your customers remember you.  After you get all that work done, and it can take days to do this if you have a lot of inventory you just produced, then you have to photograph them.

Now to be honest I wish I had my photograph equipment set up all the time and all I had to do was snap the photos but I don’t.  Currently I am redoing my studio and it is a mess with one work bench in place, one or two more I need to get and a table that I have been using to make jewelry on that needs to leave the room.  So I take out my handy portable light box, set up my lights, set up my display items, set up my camera and then I’m almost ready to take photos.  But I still need to make sure my camera is set properly for lighting and exposure.  Whew, now I can take photos.

So I have to put the necklace on a bust, add the earrings, and shoot at least three photos of each set.  I take one of the entire set, one of just the earrings, and one of the pendant or a close up of the stone.  Sometimes I have to take more photos because I want to show the details in the stone.  Then after I have all the photos done I have to download them into my editing software.  I use lightroom and it is fantastic.  For how to use it I found a great series of videos on YouTube detailing how to do different things.  The same person does videos for other photo editing software. Now I will spend days at times taking photos and editing them especially when I am gearing up for shows, store sales, and switching out pieces for sale from one season to the next.

Once I have all the photos, all the inventory numbers assigned, all the descriptions written, all the prices done I have to put every set on a hang tag with my company name and location at the top of it and then add a price tag.  I like to use the round double tag so that on the front I put the price and on the back I put the inventory number.  I shorten the number from KLJDS1 to S1 indicating that this is set number 1 on my inventory listing.

As I said I have inventory that I take to shows to sell, list online at Etsy.com, have inventory for sale at craft malls, centers for fine art, and during the fall at craft barns on pumpkin farms.  One page in my workbook has all the items at the fine art center, one for the craft malls, one for the craft barns, and then one with all the inventory online.  Each location has their own page and inventory listing.  What I sell online I also sell at shows.

After I have all that other work done I’m finally ready to start listing items online.  This is pretty simple you upload the photos, answer all the questions about the item, add the name, put it in categories, and copy and paste the description you wrote into the listing you have to come up with all the tag lines so your item will appear when people search for something similar.  This is the step that is the most challenging because there are millions of other people doing the same thing and only so many words.  Be clever and think about what you would use to describe your piece if you were searching for something like it. I used to sell at about 10 different online stores but really I only had one that actually sold anything and I found that it was just so much work to make sure I had everything listed on every site and that I removed it from every site that I closed all the other stores and just went with Etsy.

Now after you’ve done all that work and you are selling at shows don’t forget to remove from your online store any items you sold at the show.  However you choose to sell your jewelry do keep a detailed inventory of all your item.  BMPro is an excellent database that you create by adding all your parts and then using that database to build your inventory as you make the pieces.  You can add photos of the parts, photos of the pieces, track where it is placed, i.e. craft mall, who it sells to, etc.  It will even help you with pricing your jewelry, adding your tax rate, and telling you your profit per piece.  I have this software but since I spent years using spreadsheets to track grant activities when I worked full-time I find spreadsheets to work for me.  Anyway don’t forget to make sure you keep track of your sales for your yearly taxes both personal and business.  In my inventory workbook I have one tab for active inventory, one for sales per year, one for each location I have inventory at, items that were removed from inventory and redesigned, and one for items that were donated.  I have a spreadsheet for each year that lists the inventory number, name, description, inventory amount, and price for every item that sold that year and is I sold it or if one of the places I have selling my jewelry sold it.

Remember to have fun and good luck.

Kris Penney
KL Jewelry Design
kljewelrydesigns@q.com
www.kljewelrydesign.etsy.com

Hot Days of Summer

This summer I decided to take the plunge into learning how to do two things. First because I have so many seed beads I decided to start doing some bead weaving. I first learned how to make a Russian Spiral Rope. The lesson was to do a bracelet but since I just haven’t found that bracelets sell very well I made it into a necklace. It was challenging to get the spiral started but once I got it started it was a breeze and so simple to tote around a couple of tubes of seed beads, silk thread, wire cutters and a needle. I could do it while I was watching tv or sitting in bed in the evening. Super simple to work with and a big change from wire work that requires pliers, cutters, gemstones, and maybe a bunch of other stuff. So here is the picture of what I made. The earrings are the same seed beads on silk thread that I sewed onto a silver tone sieve and glued to sterling silver posts.

 

My next try at bead weaving was the right angle weave with two needles.  I made a ton of beaded beads and put them into a bunch of different necklace designs and a few pairs of earrings.  Check out KL Jewelry Design to see all of them.  Oh I made some stretchy rings that I sell in my booths at arts and crafts shows for only $1.  The stretchy rings are listed online because they are so inexpensive it would actually cost me to list them so check out my booths around the Omaha and Lincoln, NE, Council Bluffs, Atlantic, and Clarinda, IA, or Sioux Falls, SD to see all the rings, and I have a bunch.

Now the next bead weaving experiment was to learn how to do a spiral rope.  So again it was for a bracelet but I made it into a necklace.  That’s easy peasy to do because you just keep on going until you get the length you want.  So the spiral rope necklace has multi-color metallic seed beads, Peridot seed beads that are line in silver, and clear seed beads.  This was a lot easier to make.  Maybe that was because I already knew how to do the Russian spiral but I picked it up in no time.  I used three different sizes of seed beads so it has texture with the Peridot color being the focal of the necklace.

 

Well that’s all I’ve gotten done on learning bead weaving but I’ll be making a bunch more this winter when the shows are over for the season.

After working with the seed beads and silk thread I  decided to try my hand at making wire rings.  I know, I already do that but I have never made rings with faceted gemstones in prong settings.  I bought a parcel of mixed sizes of faceted gemstones; I looked over two different tutorials and while both of the teachers got the design from a ring that was created in the 40’s they each took a different way of teaching.  I made one ring following each teacher’s instructions and then tweaked it to work best for me.  By the end I found it really easy to make and get the stones to be secure and not wiggle around at all.  I have all these rings listed at KL Jewelry Design to see them all.

 

So now you know what I’ve been doing this summer to avoid being outside in the heat and humidity that is so famous in Nebraska.  Tell me what you think of my latest adventures in jewelry making.

Oh, in my spare time I’ve been being trained by our new German Shorthaired Pointer, Hank.  Unfortunately our male, Chance began limping on his front leg and after a number of trips to the vet, x-rays, a trip to a specialist and more x-rays, we found out it was bone cancer and had to have him put to sleep.  We knew we would get another dog for our female pointer, Pepper, so we contacted the Central Plains German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue and adopted Hank.  Chance and Pepper came from the Rocky Mountain German Shorthaired Pointer Rescue so it was an easy choice.  Anyway, Hank was born on February 13, 2011 to a litter of 14.  Yikes, the breeder ended up with 7 of them left and Hank spent the first 6 months of his life on the end of a chain.  He was adopted by a family that ended up having to move and couldn’t take him so he was returned.  Then he was adopted and the lady couldn’t deal with his anxiety so he was returned.  I guess the third time is a charm because he is in his forever home.  He is a handful and gets me up around 5am every single day but he’s so happy and so is Pepper that I put up with it and just deal with it every day.  He does have to be in the kennel when I leave the house because he does have anxiety when I leave but other than the battle to keep Pepper out of the kennel while I’m trying to get Hank in the kennel we don’t have any problems with him.  I’ll tell you more as the summer goes on.

Thanks for reading and following my blog and have a great summer.

Almost the end of the year for KL Jewelry Design

With the end of the shopping season coming to an end this Saturday at Papillion LaVista South High School Fall Arts and Crafts Show, I have to admit it has been an up and down year, mostly down in sales.  I had a few really good shows and festivals but mostly I crossed them off the list to skip for a few years.  There are just so many crafters out there making jewelry.  I honestly think that people think it is a piece of cake and any monkey can do it.

I have to agree with some of the things I’ve seen.  If you can buy or take notes from a magazine on jewelry making you go to the hobby store and pick up the exact same items and put them together in the exact same way then you copied a piece of jewelry, but what most of us do is use the magazines as an inspiration for a new design. 

Here’s how I work: I browse the jewelry and art jewelry magazines and books looking mostly for the latest trends in jewelry in order to keep up with the fashion desires of my customers.  Then I look at the different ways things are put together but again I am mostly looking for a new technique to use in making jewelry.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a design that I loved so much that I made it exactly the same way with the same type of materials.  All of my pieces that I offer for sale or that I keep for myself are my own original designs and combinations.

Retro Fun Set

Retro Fun Set

What I find the most rewarding is when I combine materials and colors that you just don’t think of putting together.  For instance, I have a piece named Retro Fun.  It is a necklace and bracelet set but what is unique about it is that I put lime green and AB (aurora borealis) finished teal colored seed beads with some lampwork beads that are simply blue and green with a little black detailing.  You probably wouldn’t think to put lime green and teal together but they work and look fantastic with the simple lampwork beads. This set is available for just $25.

Another way I work is when I’m out shopping at bead shops.  I normally don’t have a specific type of bead I’m looking for I’m just shopping for what catches my eye.  Sometimes when I see a strand of beads I know exactly what to make with them.  I say they are talking to me and yes I do spend time standing in front of the beads “petting” them waiting for them to tell me what they want to be.  That might sound strange but for those of us that create things this is pretty common that what we are using we say is speaking to us.  Maybe that’s why people think artists are crazy or insane, you decide. 
 
Anyway, when I was shopping in Kansas City a couple of months ago I found a strand of stick pearls.  I had never seen them before and had never seen any designs made with them but these were a beautiful peacock color and I picked them up right away, and they were the last strand.  My daughter was with me and said “What are you going to do with those?” and I just said these are a collar laying

Freshwater Stick Pearls

around your neck.  I have to find some little pearls that match to finish out the back of it.  I made that necklace and earrings set and the next day at a festival they were gone.  Since then I see hundreds of others making the same design selling them online but yesterday I just sold the 3rd set of stick pearls I have made.  This time it sold to a woman who when I started to explain to her they were real pearls she told me she knows.  She purchased a necklace exactly like the one I was selling for $300, mine sells for $55 and even though she already had that same design she bought it anyway.  I will be making my last set of stick pearls this week.  These are a beautiful cream color and the earrings will be slightly different but still dangling like the ones in the photo. 

 
But other times I purchase the beads with absolutely no idea what to make with them.  It could be I bought them because I love that stone, I liked the color, or maybe I had made something else with that material that was very popular like this rainforest jasper set.   These beads I purchased from a fellow artist that ran into trouble and was in the process of liquidating all of her supplies and they were such a good deal and I loved the colors in the stone I had to get them.  They sat in one of my drawers for a few months with me taking

Rainforest Jasper Set

them out and looking at them with no ideas coming to mind until I found the same stone in round beads.  Then inspiration hit and I made a necklace out of the larger Russian cross beads separated by the round beads but this left me with more of the Russian cross beads leftover to put back in a drawer.  When this set sold within a couple of shows, and the summer was ending I knew women would be looking for these colors so the next time I put this set together instead of  round rainforest jasper beads I chose a rather odd color of green freshwater pearls.  These freshwater pearls blend right in with the colors of the rainforest jasper beads and is for sale for just $35.

 
I have a story for everything I make.  I try to entertain my customers and educate them about the piece of jewelry they are purchasing with what the stone is, where is comes from, and sometimes I know what that stone is supposed to help you with like love or money or protection.  For the most part I find people are interested in knowing about the stones and appreciate learning about the jewelry.  Visit my shop at KL Jewelry Design at Etsy.com or  KL Jewelry Design at Bonanza.com.
 
Now it’s time to get to work.  Hope you have enjoyed learning how I work and shop to your heart’s content. 
Kris
 
 
 

KL Jewelry Design’s Jewel School Contest Entry

Please visit JTV  to vote on my entry in the Jewel School Contest.  This is a photo of the piece I entered.  Thanks.

 

Learning a New Ring

Have you ever been working on a design and you have books, tutorials, and videos with the design in it with different people telling you how to make it and they are all wrong? Well that’s what I was seeing with the Classic Cabochon Ring or the ring designed by Tom Phelan years ago. I’m sure somewhere along the path of translation from Mr. Phelan’s ring design to other jeweler’s interpretation of his design.

Here’s what I found out. Most of the time if you are making this ring in a size 5 or 6 with an 18 x 13 mm cabochon it comes out perfect with the stone just above your wraps on the shank but if you use the same size stone and try to make it in a 9 or larger you end up with the stone sitting a long ways from the wraps and to fix it so the stone is closer to the wraps your ring just looked bad. A lot of people make the ring this way. It’s not wrong it just doesn’t look right to me.

So I went on a quest to find someone that had the same opinion of the ring design as I did and I found him. Rickie at Wire Creations. He figured out how to make the adjustment in the wraps according to the size of the stone. No matter what size you want the ring to be you use the same spacing and start the ring at the same place on your mandrel. Now I could tell you how to do all that but since I bought the tutorial from Rickie and he doesn’t supply it to you as a pdf but instead as an exe file and in order to look at it you have to use the password he supplies you with. And I do mean you have to use the password every time you look at it so you will need to go to his website, Wire Creations and purchase the tutorial for the Cabochon Ring.

Anyway I had finally found someone that explained the ring to me and I actually understood what he was saying. I also purchased his Dome Ring tutorial.

Here are some photos of some of the rings I made from his tutorial. I worked on that Dome ring over and over again in brass wire because I just couldn’t get it right. I didn’t have a problem with this really simple but great looking ring I just messed it up over and over again when I would make the crossing wraps on the top. I finally figured out that I needed to line the first and inside wire that I cross with the mark on the shank of the ring that marks the center of the wires. Once I did that, and it came to me in the middle of the night, I made the ring with ease and it looks like Rickie’s ring.

I bought some big marquise cut crystals with the thought of making some rings with them but they have just sat in my drawers until today. This picture shows you what I came up with. I started with the classic cabochon ring and then crossed two wires across the stone and tucked them under. It was super simple and super quick to make. What do you think of the blue crystal ring I’m wearing on my pinky? Not really a pinky ring but I can’t get it on a different finger.

Next to the marquise ring is my cabochon ring following Rickie’s directions. Comes out perfect every time.

The copper ring is from a tutorial I found on making a ring from a copper pipe. I wanted to give this a try and so I went to the hardware store and bought two sizes of pipe, bought an Imp cutter, a small tool used to cut smaller diameter pipes. I decided how wide to make the ring and got to work with the cutter. Cut like butter and all I had to do was file the edges smooth. Trouble is you are limited to the size pipe you have.

The last ring I was just playing with a piece of 18 gauge round silver wire and where the ends meet at the bottom of the shank I simply wrapped the ends of the wire around the shank and filed the edges smooth and made the two bends at the top.

I always like to get other’s opinions of my work so let me know what you think of these five rings.

Kris.

Check out this scrapbooking site. Fantastic
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Musings from Kris

This weekend I picked up my Kobo eReader to look at an e-book on wire work.  Not anything unusual there.  I looked at the cover of my Kobo like I always do and it said it was powered off; I turned it on and let it do its thing while did something else.  I picked up my Kobo and guess what.  The screen had cracked and you could see ob ad and that was it.  Drat!!  I’m always careful with the Kobo to prevent it from having this exact same thing from happening.  I always kept it in the case even when I was uploading items to it or charging it.

All I could think about was now I only had my desktop computer to view my ebooks and tutorials.  Double drat! I picked up my droid phone and started researching another eReader.  Some of the items I was looking for were:

  1. a color screen
  2. touch screen
  3. reads pdf or epub
  4. larger screen
  5. color screen, did I say that before?  I can’t stress how important this was to me since I do chain maille and some well most of the lessons show different color rings
  6. internet would be nice
  7. easy to charge
  8. easy to figure out
  9. easy to use

Those were the list of what I was looking for.  Number one was the color.  Like I said a lot of ebooks on chainmaille show the pattern using different colors of rings to you can follow what they are doing.  Anyway in case you didn’t know it there are hundreds of ereaders and thousands of reviews for each one.

I narrowed my choices down by my list of wants and then by ease of use.  What I came up with was the new Kobo touch, the Pandigital Novel 7″, and the Cruz.  I compared them side by side and the Kobo touch was quickly eliminated because it is still black and white and it was a preorder so it hasn’t been released yet.  Then I dug into the PDN white and the Cruz and eliminated the Cruz leaving just the PDN white.

I got my PDN white at Radio Shack for just $119 that’s a great sale price since it’s usually $199.  What I like about my PDN white is:

  1. color screen
  2. touch screen
  3. external SD card slot
  4. charger included
  5. USB cable included
  6. plug and play not a lot of setup to start using
  7. easy to transfer files from my computer to my PDN
  8. android system like my phone
  9. android apps can be used on the PDN

Some of the little things that bother me are:

  1. it is heavy compared to other eReaders
  2. loads some files slowly
  3. I have so far found that three pdf files do not work. The photos are not loaded with the pdf.  This will take some research to fix this.
  4. it lost the internet connection last night and I had to reinstall it today
  5. no stores locally sell a hard case for the PDN white so I have to order it
  6. no stores locally sell the screen covers for the PDN white so I have to order them

That’s not much to be cons for this machine.  It is first and foremost an eReader but also works like a tablet with all the apps, office programs, internet and everything else it does that I haven’t even begun to use.  Oh yes you can also watch videos, listen to music, get your email, and upload photos and themes to personalize your Pandigital Novel 7″.  Love this and highly recommend getting it.

Musings from Kris

This week I went out shopping at my local bead stores because I wanted to do some wire work with Artistic wire.

A while ago I bought the Lazee Daizee viking knit tool kit and it came with copper wire. I haven’t played around much with it but I will be today.

What I wanted to talk about today was the Wyr Knittr. I read a ton of really bad reviews about this tool but when I came across it in one of the stores I picked it up to give it a try. I found the little instructions that came with the tool easy to read but the photos are not much help and I happen to be one of those people who rarely reads the instructions because I look at the pictures. If I can’t figure it out by the photos then I read.

Anyway I ended up going to their website and they have much better instructions for using the Wyr Knittr.

The first time I tried to use it the stitches just wrapped around the hooks. I searched the website and found this information and thought yep that’s what I’m doing wrong.

Q. My knitted wire gets bunched up around the top of the Knittr! What am I doing wrong? (This happens only if you have a Wyr Knittr with one clip.) Mine came with three but I was only using one.
A1. Pull down gently but firmly on the nose of the clip that’s holding the wire more often.
A2. The weighted clip may not be hanging freely. Be sure that it does not rest on the table and there is weight on the wire coming out of the machine.
A3. The stitches being knitted are not falling below the latches. Make sure you push EACH STITCH below the latch (see close-up of instructions) or the wire will not knit properly.
A4. It could be that your wire broke around the needles while you were knitting. Look down the tube to see if this has happened and, if so it would be best to just start again.
A5. If you are using 28-gauge wire, you will need to pull down a bit more often since this wire is thicker and less resilient.

Okay so thanks that makes a little more sense, but when I tried it I found that the stitch on the hook didn’t drop below the clasp so I had to find out about that and what to do.  Here’s what I found out, if it doesn’t go below you clasp on your hook you have to push it down.  No other solution for that problem and I had to push it down on every single stitch.

Push down stitch

I started using the Wyr Knittr but I quickly found that holding the wire in one hand and not putting tension on it, turning the handle with the other while holding onto the Wyr Knittr, pushing down each stitch and making sure I didn’t bump the weights and cause them to fall off was just too much to do.  I don’t know about you but I was only born with two hands and even though all moms learn how to multi-task and do things that used to take two hands with only one because the other is holding the child, I still couldn’t do all this.

So when my husband, Steve, got home from work I told him about what problems I was having and the looked around my studio work bench and said, “If you have a dowel that will fit the spool of wire you could put the dowel in your vise and drop the spool on that.  Then you wouldn’t have to hold the wire and your hands would be free.”  Genius, I knew there was a reason why I’ve kept him around for 32 years.

This morning when I got to my studio I got out one of my dowels and put it in the vise, dropped the spool of wire on it and just looked at it and the Wyr Knittr.  I was thinking okay I don’t have to hold the wire but I still have to turn the handle, push the stitch down, hold the Wyr Knittr, and not bump the weights causing them to fall off.  Still too many things with only two hands. 

I have figured out what to do with it and here is what I did.  I got out the clamp I use to hold my rotary cutter when I am making jump rings, placed my vise on one side of my bench and the Wyr Knittr on the other side; I angled the Wyr Knittr so that the handle was free to rotate and the wire could drop through the center without restriction.  Now all I had to do was guide the wire with one hand and turn the handle with the other.  As I said before with every stitch I had to push the stitch down but found I simply turned the handle, pushed the stitch down, and turned the handle.  While I would rather that I didn’t have to push the stitch down each time I found it was easy and quick to do.

I did have  a problem of the wire breaking.  I was using the wire that came with the Wyr Knittr and the only thing I found on their website was that it breaks when you are using too thin of a wire.  What I did was when it broke at the beginning I just kept going and cut it off when I finished, but when it broke in the middle I had to quit and I ended up with a shorter piece than I wanted.  Since I work a lot with wire I know that sometime I’ll need a smaller piece of this and I will get it out of my scraps and use it so it’s not a waste.

Now it was just like it should be and I was free to stuff beads into the mesh or coil it or do just about anything with it.  I decided to draw it down using my Lazee Daizee Viking Knit draw plate.  I pulled the mesh through the draw plate drawing it through a smaller and smaller hole.  I ended up with a slightly longer piece of mesh than I started with but what was the best is that is looks like a chain.  It’s very flexible and just beautiful.  I can’t wait to use this tool with all the colors of 30 gauge wire I have and see what it looks like.

For what it’s worth I would recommend this tool.  It’s so much easier than actually knitting wire in the round and what you end up with is so versatile you are sure to come up with thousands of ideas for your designs.

Here are some photos of my Wyr Knittr set up and the mesh I ended up with.

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Musings from Kris

Learn how to make this necklace for free!

 Fields of Green Necklace

 Click on this link if you need a pdf reader.

 http://get.adobe.com/reader/

Check out my Facebook page to see photos of the latest designs. Soon the new pieces will be at http://www.kljewelrydesigns.etsy.com so please do heart me in Etsy and friend me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001263081321

KL Jewelry Designs’s First Jewelry Giveaway!

Read my post about my giveaway for your chance to win. http://eepurl.com/Gv2H

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