Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jewelry Update

I started a few new series within my existing jewelry design series, both evocative and one a little harder to design than others. You'll see a few more common themes in my new creations, a few of which have not come into my shop yet, including gorgeous czech glass buttons and chandelier glass. (Coming soon: fantasy in silver, bright and tasty colors with contemporary lines, somewhat creepy mourning cameos, winter designs.)

My jewelry items are wonderful for one-of-a-kind gift items, especially in the fall and winter months. And I've been working on commissioned items as well, so if you have an idea you think I can tackle, let me know. There's still some time for Halloween jewelry in the spirit of the season or for your costume.

One of the new series that I love and would like to expand on is the Cathedral series under the Elysia series, which integrates filigree wrapping and bright czech glass buttons that remind me of rose windows. I've actually had these buttons for over a year, fighting with glue to make them work with the filigree, but they just didn't work because they were too big and the filigree wasn't flat (less surface area to glue). I was ecstatic when I realized that I could wrap the filigree around them for a solid hold that would display the buttons beautifully. As soon as I have the capital, I hope to expand on the Cathedral series beyond the six pieces I have now. Basically, my Cathedral series and some of the other filigree-wrapped items are what I've been wanting to make since the beginning.

The second series I've begun is the Apocalypse series under the Bountiful Winepress. I figure I might as well take my fear by the horns and make something beautiful and dark with it. I'm not entirely positive where I'm going with it, but I've got a good start with the Apocalypse at Sunset necklace (below) and The Beast Falls necklace.

Below are some of my new Cathedral pieces and gothic and Halloween pieces from the last wave of jewelry.

Apocalypse at Sunset necklace

Bitten Pretty vampire chandelier necklace

Black Widow Bite button necklace

Witching Hour chandelier necklace

Autumnal Beauty chandelier necklace

All Hallows Eve Dark Moon filigree necklace

Cathedral Rose Window I emerald iridescent filigree wrap necklace

Esmeralda necklace (smaller version here: Esme necklace)

Oval Cupola Cathedral Rose Window II button filigree wrap necklace

Cathedral at Dawn vintage glass filigree wrap necklace

All is Vanity peacock filigree wrap necklace

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reaching a Goal

It has been my albeit casual goal to sell at least one item a week for one year. For Etsy, it seemed a not unattainable goal, a sign of relatively good business, so it was a good number to shoot for. Naturally, I would like to be selling better than that, but since I sell more as a hobbyist than as a businesswoman, I'm continue with moderate success.

My first shop,, failed in this respect, even though I'm not entirely sure why. I think that the ice cream sundae jewelry was inventive and cute, but it just did not catch on. So I eventually moved nicer designs to a new shop to let a more refined creativity run wild. At, I finally managed to hit my stride. I've only been there ten months rather than my goal of one year, but I have already sold 52 items in my shop. Some items have been sold outside of the store, but others have been traded, so I figure it evens out.

I'm sure some people are asking how I did it because they want to manage it, too. The truth is, I'm not sure. I can list things I think may have contributed, but I don't have any hard evidence for any of it. It's entirely possible that the success is based as much on luck as skill. Anyway, here's the informal list:

1) Selection: My second shop did not really take off until I had almost or over a hundred items in my store. The key for me was variety - not necessarily something of everything, which would leave the store so eclectic you wouldn't be able to put a finger on what it was for. More like letting my imagination run wild within a broad category. My design series opened up whole avenues of artistic direction, but my personal preferences managed to keep even the wackiest idea cohesive.

2) Solid Photography: I know that I'm not the best photographer on Etsy, not by a long shot. I probably start shooting too late in the day, although I am partial to shadows. And sometimes the focus is in the wrong place or not sharp enough, but the thing I try to bring to each photo is enough clarity to see the jewelry in its truest form. My photography is unforgiving. If my jewelry still looks good, it goes into the store. I've had to put jewelry in the reject pile (i.e. my own jewelry box) because it didn't photograph well, even if the flaws aren't noticed in real life.

3) Style Cohesion: This draws from the previous two in that there has to be an underlying sense that these jewelry pieces are yours. When people see it, they have to have a sense of what the rest of the shop is like. And part of a way to do this, especially when you're as artistically restless as I am, is to stage your items similarly. Not the same - variety is the spice of life, and people don't want to see the same thing over and over again. I personally have established props. Sometimes these props change. For instance, I started out with one silver teapot, moved to another, then moved back to the original because I liked it more. I started out with one silver cup and moved to another one, then found the one I liked. I've stuck with that one. I started out with two books to shoot on instead of one. I used to keep my angles within the confines of my black velvet backdrop, but now I'm enjoying breaking the illusion a bit and getting some of the rest of the surroundings in as well. But it's all the same place, the same props, the same atmosphere. It's all mine.

And once that cohesion starts to come apart, sometimes you have to create another shop. That's what led to my second shop in the first place: I had nicer things that just didn't mesh with the cuter and even younger-themed items in my shop. And now that I'm learning how to wrap and weave wire more artistically, I may have to create another shop. The new wire-wrapped and wire-woven pieces just don't seem to fit as well with the rest of my things, and they're out of the average price range. So you need to be willing to branch out and acknowledge when something just doesn't fit.

4) Networking: I'm one of those people who doesn't like to impose my entrepreneurial spirit on others. I can do it pretty well on Twitter because it doesn't take up too much time and space. I'm getting better at being more open about it on Facebook, in part because many of the things that I share on Facebook I'm genuinely excited about as a person - a jewelry artist and not just a jewelry seller. And now that I've started wearing more and more of my jewelry that I make for myself, more people are asking about where I get it, whether I made it, and whether they can see what I make. Now that's a relative term, "more," but it's still accurate. A friend of mine has bought several jewelry pieces; a coworker bought a pair of earrings; my mother has also bought several pieces. I also give some out as gifts to friends and relatives (I keep to my gift budget, as if I were buying them the gift rather than making it).

Part of it is that I make stuff I would love to wear myself, so I know there's a market for it, for at least one person. :) You do need to be willing to tell people about it when they ask. I pass on the link to my shop without shame, which is a lot for someone who easily feels like they've crossed the boundaries of politeness. And you do need to be willing to use social media. I'm not positive how much Twitter helped, although it's probably helped provide some exposure and interaction with other artists, but I'm fairly certain that Livejournal and Facebook have made a difference, in part because people get involved in the process and the creativity behind the jewelry making.

You'll notice that I don't have a marketing plan or statistics. I don't look at fashion magazines or see what's popular or not. I go by what I myself like and want, sometimes inspired by things I see, and sometimes inspired by things I just imagine. Hell, sometimes I just sit in front of my beads and findings and just let myself go crazy without a plan. Since jewelry making is therapeutic for me, I figure that I'm getting something out of it no matter what, and anything might capture someone's interest.

Don't take my business advice. Seriously. If what I run is a business, then I suck at it. But I think I manage a nice little corner shop, my little niche of the handmade market, and I love sending out my things every week to other people who will enjoy them.

Friday, February 19, 2010


So I have some very cool news regarding my jewelry-making that I'm finally able to share:

One of my necklaces is going to be in a movie! My From the Shadows Gargoyle Guardian gothic necklace is going to be in the movie Beyond the Farthest Star. According to the costume designer who purchased the necklace today, it's not just a costume piece but a major plot point. An adopted teen with a gothic fashion sense meets her biological father, who is interested in coming back into her life. He gets her the necklace because he thinks it's something she'll like, and she ends up wearing it for about half the movie. Family-friendly movie that might end up as just a DVD release, sure. But I'm damn tickled at the whole situation!

The costume designer also said that she found several possible designs on eBay and other stores, but she liked mine best, and the director pointed at it and said it was perfect for what they were going for. She'll keep me apprised of what's going on and whether there will be a screening. They're shooting in Dallas, and part of the contract for shooting somewhere is that you have to purchase a certain percentage of props and costumes and stuff like that in-state. So the fact that the necklace she wanted was in Texas, and close to Dallas, that was just a bonus.

I'm beyond thrilled. :D

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What I've Been Up To

Photobucket What I've been doing lately still isn't breaking a lot of the mold. Mostly, I'm honing the basics, especially wrapping briolettes. The "Absinthe Drops" to the left are larger briolettes made from glass, while the "Somewhere Beyond the Sea" earrings to the right are much smaller briolettes made from blue chalcedony. I'm working my way up until I'm comfortable with nicer stones and possibly nicer wire. PhotobucketI still work with silver plate and brass because I don't trust myself with sterling or gold. However, at least as far as basic wrapping goes, I'm really beginning to trust my hand and the process.

From basic briolette wrapping, I want to try coiling and wire weaving, and general wire sculpture in the jewelry arena. I've started a bit of it with the "Baroness" necklace to the left, the spiral wire wrapping. I'm actually really proud of that one - it's definitely a step up. It took some work with my brass wire before I understood the concept. I'm doing this mostly self-taught, by looking at other people's finished products and watching the path of the wire. At some point, I'm either going to need to buy tutorials or start experimenting on my own. I hope that the experimentation works. At the very least, wire wrapping and wire weaving is my back-up for my glue. I haven't been very pleased with all the attempts I've made to find a dependable glue, especially since, in some cases, soldering isn't an option. PhotobucketOf course, I don't put anything in my shop that I haven't made sure is adhered, but I've had other things that I haven't been able to put into the shop because it just hasn't worked. Wire wrapping can help by holding things together even more, so I may use it and glue together sometimes in order to make some really solid pieces. But I need to trust my wire sculpting skills first. Unfortunately, the cheap crafting wire you get at big craft stores is half hard, which means that it isn't as malleable or as easy to hammer. It makes knowing whether I've got a technique down hard to determine because I don't know how much easier it will be when working with dead soft material.

PhotobucketAnother thing that's keeping me from honing my wire-wrapping skill is the need for perfection. It's very frustrating, knowing that practice makes perfect, but that of course it's not going to be perfect when I try. I know it's a stupid, self-defeating way of thinking, but I can't help it. I had planned to try a three-base wire woven bracelet, but I keep putting it off, so I think I'll try a two-base wire woven donut bead bail first, then maybe a teardrop coil pair of earrings. I also want to try some hoop earrings, but I don't have the right oxidized brass wire for that right now. I need 20g, and I only have 21g. It makes a difference. I may try it with the 21g in case it works. Or maybe I can come up with a play on 18g plus 21g. PhotobucketNot sure how I'm going to manage it yet. I'm still building designs in my mind. I get frustrated when what's in my mind can't make it to my hands. I think it's the curse of the creative, though, not always being able to duplicate the mind's eye.

In the meantime, the best way to get through the worry is to do something new with what I already know. I recently received some awesome Czech glass beads with really unique finish and color, such as the "Creme Brulee and Apple Pie Dessert" cluster earrings to the right above. I also took a risk with some of my old filigree I didn't know what to do with and tried oxidizing it with fire. I half expected it to melt. Instead, I got this wonderful oil slick rainbow that's subtle in certain lights and filigrees but is occasionally bright in others. I call them my Rainbow Connection subseries within the Elysia design series. PhotobucketThe Elysia series, easily my favorite because I get to play around in the fantasy world, or the magical or mystical side of things, has really grown. There's almost more jewelry in the Elysia section than my Dulce section, which acts as a catch-all for items that don't fit into any of my other sections.

The Elysia series inspired me to search for new components, including the new Czech glass beads and the recent gemstone package I received. It'll also receive the bulk of my wire-wrapping items once I get a handle on that and get the series off the ground. Or maybe I'll create a whole new series for that ... that's still up in the air. In any case, in addition to items that are simply inspired by the fantastic, there are items with charms of fantastic creatures and goddesses. Already, there's a leviathan (to the right), a hippocampus, Melusine, a mermaid (with more on the way), and several large butterflies. Coming soon, I have two types of gryphons, more dragons, a creepy fairy, a dark angel, Ceres, a fantastic tiger, and as I said, some more mermaids. PhotobucketIt's not quite steampunk, but I still love it. Really indulges in my love of mythology and fairy tales.

And oh my goth, I've got some new things for my Bountiful Winepress gothic romance/vampire series, including this little guy on the left, my "Guardian" vampire bat necklace and different vampire bat medallion as well. I haven't received very much in the way of new deep red components, but I'm still working on that. And what I have received are two fangs for a pair of earrings. I'm really looking forward to that.

So, conclusion: Working on wire wrapping and weaving, and in the meantime, working delightedly with what I have and what I can do. December was my best month ever, and January has proved to be a pretty solid month for me, too. I have over 170 items in my shop right now, which is ... to tell you the truth, it's a bit much. But the important thing is that I have new things going in as much as possible.

Shop Link: