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

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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
 
 
 

2011 Fashion Wars

2011 Fashion Wars

Sorry I haven’t been posting much but I’ve been very busy.  This time of year is when I have the most shows and with November approaching my season is winding down.  Just 4 more shows and then I’m done for the year and then it’s time to start preparing for the shows to begin again starting in February.

Anyway what I’ve been busy with is my very first fashion show.  I signed up to do a fashion show in August but that one had to be canceled when the organizer lost most of her models to Fashion Week here in Omaha.  She contacted me and asked if I would like to be involved with the Fall Fashion Wars and I agreed.  Here’s what that involved.  I was the only jewelry designer allowed in the show, I recieved a 1/4 page ad, and I had a booth for people to look at my other pieces.

Leading up to the show I continued to have sales and up until Monday of last week I was making changes to my runway pieces simply because a piece would sell and I would have to replace it.  Then last week; just 6 days before the show the organizer told me I would need to have some sort of skit going on during my 15 minutes on the runway!  Panic time.  I posted on a bunch of forums and got some really good advice and ideas.  All that turned out to be for nothing.  Yep what the organizer did instead was have music blarring and didn’t say a darn thing.  The girls just walked out and across the stage and showed off my jewelry to the photographers and other guests.  Next time I will know not to do anything for the show and just let the models show off the pieces.

Anyway with my daughter helping the two of us worked out a plan.  She would put the pieces on the girls and I would take them off.  Yeah right, best laid plans.  The girls just walked up and stood waiting for someone to remove the jewelry and most of the time it ended up being my daughter doing all of it.  I had carefully numbered each piece and put them in order in my trays so they would be in line with the MC but then since she wasn’t reading or saying anything we just forgot about that and put pieces on as the girls came back without minding the order.  Oh well another lesson learned.

I plan to try to get involved with Fashion Week here in Omaha next year, I’ve missed the spring application deadline because I was busy with this show and others but I have the date the fall application will be availabled on all my calendars so I’ll be ready.  I hope I will be chosed to be involved in the fall shows.  They take place in several locations over an entire week. 

What I learned from this show.  If you are doing a fashion show for the first time choose a smaller one.  You can make your mistakes with a smaller group and nobody notices, except maybe the fashion writers in the audience.  Let the models do their thing without you directing them.  I didn’t choose the piece for the model they simply got whatever was the next piece to wear without any problem.  Make sure your models have removed all their own jewelry including rings, except wedding rings.  Be sure you arrange the jewelry for the best display, I had models trying to arrange pieces after I had put them on because they thought it was on wrong, the piece is an asymmetrical piece with a chain on one side and chips on the other side and then smooth round beads; this model moved the piece so the chain was in the center.  I caught it just before she went out. Always have a helper to put the jewelry on the models and take it off.  At this show there were only 10 models and I had 40 pieces for the runway.  It was a busy 15 minutes.  Make sure you get all your jewelry back including the earrings.  I was always reminding the girls to take off the earrings. Wear what you make, don’t forget that at the end of the models you will be walking out on the runway and be introduced, you don’t want to be without something you made around your neck.  Most of all have fun and be flexible, I was supposed to be second and the designer before me hadn’t shown up 5 minutes before the show began so I was moved up to the #1 slot.  Thankfully I was ready.  Be sure you have your jewelry in trays to make it easy for you.  I had my jewelry on hangtags so that the earrings and necklaces were all together, simply remove the set from the hangtag.  After each piece is brought back to you don’t worry about putting the pieces back on the hangtag, you have after the show to work on that.  As long as you put all the parts back into your trays you can put the sets back together when you aren’t so busy. One last thing have a small table where you are putting the jewelry on behind the scenes so you can lay out the pieces ready to put them on the models.

  • Do have media packets, I had them even though no media took one.
  • Do display pieces if you have a table for you media packets and business cards.
  • Do display your business sign.
  • Do have anyone helping you dress similar and wear your jewelry.
  • Do have someone taking photos of the models with your pieces on.
  • Do talk, talk, talk, to everyone that gets close to you.
  • Do tell everyone you know that you are doing this.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell the organizer exactly what you expect and if possible how you want the models to walk the runway. In my case they could go around a fountain or along the front of the audience.  I chose in front of the audience.
  • Do have fun and relax, it turns out you are really in the hands of the models and if they know what they are having fun it’s all good.

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.

 

Back to Work!

It’s been awhile since I last posted any of my thoughts.  Sometimes I just get overwhelmed from the fatigue caused by MS and I end up just piddling all day in my studio not really doing anything.  Now I am feeling much better and ready to start blabbing again.

I was at a small Iowa city last weekend for the Atlanticfest and what a fantastic show it was.  I had no idea what to expect especially when I saw the size of the car show that was just a block away.  The good thing was that everyone had to walk past all of us to get to the car show.  Not a lot of people but they were spending money and really liked my items I had out.  I’ve even gotten customers calling the Chamber of Commerce to find out who the jewelry artist from Papillion, NE was.  Yep, that’s me.  How exciting.

Got a call yesterday canceling the fashion show.  They lost 6 models to another show so they had to cancel.  That’s okay the have Fashion Wars coming in October and I will be the only jewelry artist allowed to have a booth and again my pieces will be on the runway.  That’s 40 pieces of jewelry on the runway, in the fliers, in the print ads, and featured on their website.  All just fantastic.  Another piece of bad news is that The Shop Around the Corner will be closing on August 31st and I will have to go pick up my pieces from them.  That’s a shame because it’s a great little shop of all handmade items but they couldn’t keep it going.  I have only had my jewelry in their shop for a few weeks and have already sold two or three pieces.  Items in the Corning Center for Fine Arts continue to sell well but that should be coming to an end this fall.  Any ideas on how I can break into the local galleries that have the exact same artists in them and the artists never have to leave unless they want to.  I’ve been stopping in and visiting with the galleries but nothing seems to make a difference.

I just don’t understand why there isn’t a time frame for moving the arts in and out to refresh things and keep customers coming back to see new artists.  I also notice that the galleries have jewelry artists but for the most part they are silversmiths and I most definitely am a wire artist so all my items would not be the same as the artists already in the gallery.  Oh well I’ll keep pounding away at them and maybe I’ll finally get my foot in the door.

I have finally gotten all my inventory back in my shop on etsy, www.kljewelrydesigns.etsy.com and that took me a couple of months of taking photos and writing descriptions and pricing to get that into place.

I promise that next week I’ll have a free jewelry making tip and tutorial using my tip but for now remember that the best part of waking up is waking up!

Resin Jewelry

Resin cabochon with bronze and blue metallic paints mixed into the resin

I’ve been playing with some resin that I got and making some resin cabochons. Here’s the thing, when you go to buy resin be sure you read the box all the way so you don’t do what I did and pick up resin that turns white when it sets. Turns out it’s pretty cool to add paint to the resin and have that show through with the white but I was originally planning to make clear resin with scrapbook paper in it to see how it looked. Next time.

Do you have some old watches that don’t work? Why not try your hand at resin jewelry? You will need to take the watches completely apart so you have the gears and workings inside, purchase a base metal casting bracelet at your local craft store and clear resin. It’s as simple as that. Mix the resin according to the package directions, gently pour the resin down the craft stick into your bracelet casting until it is about 1/2 full; add your watch pieces, photos, or whatever you are adding and finish filling the casting level with the top of the metal frame.

Long rectangular cabochons of resin with blue metallic paint placed in the mold prior to adding the resin

All you resin to set until it is hard and your bracelet is done. A base metal casting bracelet is simply a common metal such as stainless steel or brass, it is formed into a simple shape such as a rectangle or square and linked together with a clasp. You can purchase these at about any craft store for very little.  If you got any resin over the top of the frames simply use an emery board to file away any extra resin.

I wouldn’t recommend you wear it all the time but a bracelet like this is usually not worn all the time anyway. This inexpensive bracelet should only cost you about $5 to make and is a super fun item to have.

These are a few of the cabochons I’ve made using resin cabochon molds that I purchased at my local craft stores and created using that darn resin that turns white as it cures. I’ll be getting the clear resin soon and trying my hand as other ideas I have rattling around in my brain.  I haven’t done any trimming but that is very simple by using a pair of scissors or a craft knife.  You can even use an emery board (my favorite file) to trim off any extra resin that got over the top of the mold. 

For now hope you have enjoyed this blog and learned that you can always try your hand at making something as easy as a resin and base metal bracelet. 

Kris

KL Jewelry Design April News

What I see from my customers…

Recently I did a survey to see what my customers wanted me to write about in my newsletters and the one person that completed my survey told me they would like to know jewelry trends and how to put things together. So here’s my attempt to respond to you and thanks for answering my survey.

According to the market big and chunky jewelry is in this year. Good to know I’ve been fashion forward all along even before it was in. On the whole according to the market I get my information from besides you guys, bright jeweler’s brass is the new gold this year because of the cost of purchasing gold. It is a great alternative to gold jewelry and gives you the look of gold without breaking the bank to get it. 

So far this year I am noticing that my customers are purchasing a lot more brass, silver, and copper jewelry. Not the usual antiqued brass like last year but brass that looks like gold. Is this because gold is so expensive? Maybe; I know purchasing gold filled wire is very expensive for me to purchase which means whatever I make out of it is much more expensive for you to buy from me. 

I know that a lot of women and men think that the only thing to buy when it come to buying jewelry is gold but that is such a limited view; of course that’s just my opinion; but keep reading and let me try to explain myself. 

When you only buy gold jewelry you are missing out on other fantastic metals such as sterling silver argentium silver, copper, colored artistic wire, silver plated colored artistic wire, brass wire, and aluminum wire. Each of these wires has their good qualities and their bad qualities and I try to use all of them when I am making my jewelry. 

I select the wire to compliment the stone. Some wire artists wrap the stone with the idea that the wire is the focus of the piece but I think the stone is still the focus when I am wrapping a stone or creating a ring. The wire is just a means to an end and should compliment the main show.

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