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

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.

Musings from Kris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the little things that bother me are:

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

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

Musings from Kris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Push down stitch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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