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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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

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

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
Scrapbook Layout Ideas

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

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

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