Sunday, December 28, 2014

How to incorporate my philosophy of jewelry making with building a line of jewelry

For those of you who have been reading my blog, first-thank you, and secondly, you know I've mentioned the Build A Line Challenge sponsored by B'sue Boutiques and the B'sue Creative Group on Facebook. I have a little over a week to write up a proposal for my line, which needs to be unique. If I want, the pieces in my line should be designed in a way that someone working with me could reproduce the pieces and have them look like I made them.

Here's where my struggle begins. I want to be successful, but my heart isn't in assembly line jewelry making. I like to think I put a part of myself into each piece I create. How do I build a line when I receive inspiration from the vintage pieces I collect and build my jewelry around those pieces? I've been thinking of my pieces that sell best and fall into the $20-$50 price range, which for some people can be impulse buys.

The more I think of these pieces, the closer I come to creating a proposal for my line. I'm excited about this opportunity, which will help me grow my business and challenge my thinking. However, I'm fairly new at this form of jewelry making and am just getting by, so the idea of having someone work for me seems like a pipe dream.

At least I have a bit longer to think on this.

Here are two of my newest pieces that I'm very fond of:

The top necklace, which I like to call The Blue and Gold Beauty sold within 24 hours of making it. I just posted the bottom necklace on Etsy today and it has received several favorites already. You can see it here

Yesterday I went through all my vintage jewelry. I set aside the signed pieces to sell and selected a few pieces to use in upcoming projects. The ideas are floating around in my mind.

Now that Christmas is behind me, I'll be blogging at least three times a week.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Figuring out what sells and why

First off, I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. The closer we get to Christmas, the busier my schedule becomes, including making and selling jewelry. I wish I had a magic formula to help me determine what sells best. 

I posted this piece of fan jewelry on Friday afternoon and within two hours it had sold:

On the other hand, the bracelet I posted here last week has received lots of attention in my Etsy shop, but no one has bought it:

Being a fan girl, or geek, I understand the draw to original fan jewelry. However, being a lover of all things vintage, I haven't figured out why the bracelet is still available, despite the number of times it's been favorited by Etsy shoppers.

I'm hoping this is one of the conundrums I will find answers to as I take part in the three month B'sue Build A Line Challenge. However, I must admit to having difficulty preparing for the beginning of the challenge. I need to figure out five items to create that would fit in a line of jewelry. Presumably these pieces could work together or simply be similar in style. 

The problem I'm having with this is how do I maintain my philosophy about my work and still meet the requirements of the challenge? I'll let you know when I have the answer. I feel so strongly about taking cast off vintage jewelry (and other interesting objects) and giving them new life. One of the thinking points in the challenge is could these designs be made by someone else, someone who works for me, assuming a boutique decided to pick up my work.

These are things I'm thinking about and working on a plan to create. There are already so many talented people in our B'sue group who have this down to a science. I know I shouldn't compare myself to them, but it's difficult not to.

There will be much more to come on this topic.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Waiting on Creativity...Oh, hey that works!

I received an order from B'sue Boutiques this week, my favorite supplier. My order included small blanks and bracelet blanks with which to create new and exciting pieces. I opened the box like a kid on Christmas morning and gazed longingly at my shiny new things, while ideas danced around in my mind. Until I took my new found goodies into my work space where the familiar, overwhelming doubt began to creep into my mind. Who was I trying to kid? I'm not a true jewelry artist/designer like some of my colleagues in the B'sue Creative Group. Some of them keep sketchbooks and design their pieces on paper, heck they can even draw, so what does that make me? 

This self-doubt is my unwelcome partner in my process. While existing with the doubt, I completed a few custom orders, made a Christmas present for a friend, created a pendant from a small brooch made in the 40's and stewed. After a while I took a bracelet blank out of my order. These blanks have five discs, or blanks, which small items can be attached to, plus the links and clasps are designed in the style of bracelets made from the 40's to 60's. 

I took the blank, plus plastic containers with all my vintage pieces, out into the living room and sat in front of the Christmas tree hoping inspiration would strike. I went through each container, which are divided by like items; rhinestones, pearls, colors, etc., searching for just the right combination to create a gorgeous bracelet. 

Eureka, we have five pieces that work! Relief, excitement, and a feeling of well-being rushed through me all at the same time. Self-doubt? Who, me? Never! Without a second glance, I took those pieces to my workspace (or studio, but my daughter thinks it's pretentious to call it a studio) and set to work. 

Here's the finished product:

It's already in my Etsy shop and has received quite a few favorites. More often than not, I'm finding this is my process, at least for now. 

In January I'll be participating in a three month long challenge with the B'sue Creative Group to design a line of jewelry. With the guidance and support of Brenda Sue Lansdowne, the B'sue Design Team, and my colleagues in the B'sue Creative Group, I'm hoping to find my way a bit more easily in this crazy, creative life. 

I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas and the art of jewelry, or why I've been distracted for two days!

In my experience the Christmas season begins as early as October for jewelry designers. It's certainly true for me. In my previous post I mentioned my philosophy about my work, taking vintage jewelry and giving it new life. I search for vintage jewelry pieces, especially those that may be broken or have missing stones and would ordinarily end up in someone's trash. One type of jewelry I seem to have an eye for and certainly enjoy creating is assemblage, which is also sometimes called collage work. How does this relate to Christmas, you may ask. I was fortunate to find quite a few of these misfit pieces and created two Christmas assemblage necklaces with them. These are statement pieces, they will grab people's attention. 

Here's what I'm describing:

Each piece on this necklace, including the crystals have been repurposed. The Santas and the angel in the middle were screwback earrings with broken parts. The holy and ivy were scatter pins, and so on. The challenge with this type of jewelry is finding the right buyer, someone who isn't intimidated to wear such a large piece. When I figure out the answer to that problem, I'll let you know.

I haven't made anything in the past two days since my daughter and I have been getting the house decorated for Christmas.  Now that the tree is up, filled with ornaments I've been giving my kids since they were born, as well as my own treasures, my attention returns to jewelry making. I'm focusing on smaller pieces that would make affordable and unique gifts. 

I'm forever grateful to the B'sue Design Team members who created Work Table Wednesday and Follow Up Friday. We show what we're working on for Work Table Wednesday, and are challenged to have something from our table finished by Friday. This has provided much incentive to me to create and complete each week. 

Here's my WTW (Work Table Wednesday) for today:

The bracelet blank at the bottom of the picture will become a unique piece of jewelry with orphan earrings adhered to each circle. The purple brooch in the middle will be attached to the brass stamping it's on to create a gorgeous, but simple necklace. I've had these butterflies on my table for two weeks, trying to decide what to do with them. This may be the week I figure it out, at least I have an idea percolating :)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Venturing into blogging, creating a new line of jewelry, and promoting my wares...oh my!

As I dip my toe into the waters of blogging, I'm filled with anticipation and a bit of trepidation. Over the next three months, I'll be creating a new line of jewelry and honing in on what makes my brand unique and special. Many thanks to Brenda Sue Landsdowne and her creative team at for issuing this exciting challenge!

I've been a jewelry designer on and off for about ten years. My early attempts were pretty, but not satisfying, creatively. I've been drawn to vintage jewelry since I was a girl playing dress up with my best friend at her grandmother's house, where there were lots of dance gowns from the '50s plus plenty of period jewelry. With the encouragement of the B'sue Creative Group on Facebook and B'sue's YouTube videos, I've taken my love of vintage jewelry and created my own brand of upcycled pieces. My philosophy is simple, take something old and discarded and give it new life.

As a part of all this change, I decided to make my business life a little more complicated and change the name of my business from Jewelry by Micheale (yawn) to The Vintage Gem. I'm hoping to make this as seamless a change as possible, except I'm already set up on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and have an Etsy shop-yikes! I'll keep you posted...