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

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
 
 
 

One Step Crimper

One Step Crimping
So I purchased the one step crimping tool after reading about it and seeing it in magazines. I purchased this not because I find crimping to be a pain but really there was so much talk about how great it is that I had to find out for myself.

First of all there are no instructions with the one step crimping tool except a couple of photos on the package showing how to place the crimp in the top and squeeze the bottom levers.

The one step crimping tool has three handles; the top one is short and used to hold the crimp in place while the two larger handles are used to squeeze the crimp closed. Sounds easy right? That’s what I thought too.

At first when I used this tool I had a heck of a time keeping the crimp in place on my wire so that it was next to my beads and clasp. Several times I got so frustrated I reached for my usual crimping pliers and finished the piece as usual.

Sometimes I would get the one step crimper to work but the crimp was loose and my wire came out causing me to waste the crimp and use my standard crimpers again. Other times I couldn’t even get the large crimping handles to work.

I thought boy was this a waste of time and money; why is everyone just raving about this tool? So I turned to the internet to find some more instructions on this tool. What I found was that I was making it very hard on myself and I learned by watching a video on how to use them the correct way to use this tool. Like my dad always said, “If all else fails read the destructions.” Another thing he would say to me is “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up” but that’s another story.

So here I will try to write out some instructions to help you use the one step crimper.

1. The small lever on the top is used to hold your crimp in place. Push down on the small lever with you hand holding the top large lever and the small lever and place your crimp in the groove. Center the crimp.
2. Let go of the small lever and move down to the two larger levers. Squeeze these together and allow the one step crimper to do its thing.
3. Once you have done step 2 move back up to the small lever and squeeze it and the top large lever. This releases your crimp and resets the one step crimper.

That’s it! After I watched that video from Rio Grande I really felt stupid for not being able to work the tool. The first time I got the tool to work after watching the video the crimp was not tight and the wire came undone. I tried again, this time making sure my crimp was centered under the small handle and the one step crimper worked like a charm. My crimp was nice and tight, exactly where I wanted it to be and smooth.

My biggest concern with this tool was what the crimp would look like when I used it. Did it make my crimp flat like I had used a flat nose pliers to press the crimp in place or was it going to look similar to what my crimps look like when I use my crimping pliers. Turns out this tool sort of rounds the crimp tube and while it is bigger than my crimps are when I use my crimping pliers, the edges of the crimp tube is smooth to the touch. So whether you use your standard crimping pliers or the One Step Crimper is up to you but to me it’s worth the price to make crimping one step instead of two or three steps using the standard crimping pliers. Chances are that I will reach for my standard crimpers out of habit but eventually I am determined to make the switch and put my standard crimpers in my show tool box for good.

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

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