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.

 

Swirling Galaxy Ring

I was watching JTV this last Sunday and one of my favorite jewelry artists was on, Dale “Cougar” Armstrong.  She was showing off a new ring design she had created using square wire and some crystals.  I always love seeing what Dale comes up with and figuring out something a bit different to make it my own design.  So here goes another free tutorial for you as one of my blog readers or Facebook fan.

Swirling Galaxy Ring
Created by Kris Penney, Designer/Owner
KL Jewelry Design
Materials
6-6mm or smaller beads
3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire of your choice each piece 41/2″ long
1″ 20 gauge half round wire of your choice
 
Tools
Flat nose pliers
Round nose pliers
Flush cutters
Emery file
Ring mandrel
Rawhide or nylon hammer
Polishing cloth
Masking Tape
Fine tip marker
 
Step 1
Cut 3 pieces of 21 gauge square wire to 41/2″ in length.  Using the polishing cloth clean and straighten each piece.
 
Step 2
Tape the ends of the bundle of wires together and mark the center of the wire. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 3
With the 20 gauge half round wire and your flat nose pliers make a hook on one end.  The end of your hook should be at a slight angle so you have something to hold onto while you are wrapping the bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 4
With your non-dominate thumb hold the wrap wire just to one side of the mark on the bundle wires and with your dominate hand wrap the wire around the side of the bundle wires.  With your flat nose pliers press the wrap wire into place. 
 
 
 
 
Step 5
Continue doing this until you have three complete wraps on the outside of the bundle wires.  Be sure to start and end your wraps on the same side of the bundle wires, this is the inside of your bundle wires. 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 6
Trim the wires so they don’t hang out over the edges of your bundle wires and using your flat nose pliers press them into place.  Run your finger over the top to be sure there are no rough spots.  If there are edges you snag your finger on use an emery board to file the edges and smooth them down.
 
 
 
 
Step 7
Place the center of your bundle wires on the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your final ring size.  with the ring mandrel pressing against your table edge (I do this by putting the largest end of my mandrel against my stomach and the tip against the table and pushing into the table this holds the mandrel in place leaving my hands free to form the ring. 
 
 
 
Step 8
Holding onto the wires push or pull them around the ring mandrel 1/2 size smaller than your finished size so if you want a size 8 ring place your wires at 71/2 on the mandrel.  Continue shaping the wires around the mandrel until they meet at the center. 
 
 
 
 
Step 9
Start your swirl by moving both ends of your bundles tightly around each other. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Step 10
Continue with the swirl until you have gone all the way round and your wires are now all the way around the swirl.  Remove the tape.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 11
Fan the ends out as you see in the photo.  Try to get them as evenly spaced as you can going around the center swirl.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 12
Slip one of your beads onto any of the wires.  I am using 6 mm beads but in the photo with the red beads I used the largest size of seed beads (E bead) and got a much tighter swirl for those that don’t like “big” rings.
 
 
 
 
 
Step 13
At the very tip of your round nose pliers form a simple loop in the end of the wire.
 
 
 
 
 
 
This wire is just a little bit too long so trim the wire until you have 1/4″ sticking out past the bead.  Now form another loop.  Continue doing this until you get all your beads on and the wires looped.  Sometimes you will have a wire that is short but if you life the wire up from the center swirl you can slip your bead further down your wire and form the loop.  You want the beads as close to the center swirl as you can get them.
 
 
 
Step 14
Slip your ring back on your mandrel and if you need to use the rawhide of nylon hammer to gently tap the ring to shape it and get it to your finished size.  Your ring should have sprung out to the size you wanted after you did the first swirl.  I started at size 71/2 and ended at a size 8.
 
 
 
 
Now you can enjoy your finished ring.  When I have the ring done I put it on and gently press the swirls to smooth them out on my finger to get the ring to fit how I want.  When I am selling these I skip shaping the ring to my finger but be sure to let your customers know to do this.
 
Here are three samples of my Swirling Galaxy Ring

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