Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Completed Rainy Day Projects

My rainy day projects are complete. Lucky for me it is still raining so I have a good excuse to sit down and bead some more.

I still need to work on my photos. This time I learned:
  • Every speck of dust shows
  • Every wrinkle shows
  • Beads must be properly positioned
  • Square pictures are hard when your pieces are long

I also think I need to buy a tripod so I don’t photograph my own shadow or blur my pictures because my hand is moving.

Here is the completed Baroque and Brass bracelet:
Baroque and Brass completed bracelet

Here is a piece named Basic Onyx. The large 30 mm x 20mm faceted onyx bead is bezeled in silver, matte black and red AB delicas- it is reversible.
Basic Onyx, Matte Black Side
Basic Onyx, closeup of red side
Close up of bead cap on Basic Onyx necklace

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rainy Days…

Are really great days to find an old Doris Day* movie, pull out the beads, and be creative.

Since February I have been working on Prom Project pieces and had to put aside two other works in progress. 

Here is my current work space: 

I bought the inset brass sliders about a year ago with no plan- I just thought they were lovely.  My local bead store has had strands of these really great antique cut brass beads- I bought those a few months ago with no plan.  The round stones are I don’t know how many years old.  Serendipity happens when you have a large bead stash and buy things because they are pretty in and of themselves.  A large bead stash doesn’t have all the treasure you need; I had to make a bead store run when I discovered I didn’t have a clasp.

Here is a close up of the piece itself:

* I really like old Doris Day movies.  When I bead I want something that doesn’t require my eyes, or much attention to follow the dialogue and old Doris Day movies fit the bill.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Chance of Bling

Chartruese Glass Pearl and Crystal Necklace for Donation to the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads
Matching Earrings by KJ's Beadacious Beads

The Prom Project is a local event in which girls are given the opportunity to pick out dresses and accessories, such as shoes, bags, and jewelry.  I told Beadaholics, the local meet up group of beaders, that I would be collecting donations of jewelry for the Prom Project and encouraged them to give.   The generosity of the community has been overwhelming.  Local beaders made 73 pieces of jewelry valued at $1,935.00 and collected another 56 pieces of jewelry valued at $517.00 for a total value of $2,452.00.

Earrings with Hand Hammered Silver Plate Ear Wires to match Ivory and Gold Luster Pearl Necklace by KJ's Beadacious Beads
Ivory and Gold Luster Pearl and Crystal Woven Necklace for Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads
In addition to benefiting the girls, this has been a real benefit for the local beading community.  Local stores have donated time, space, and raw materials, a gift that is much appreciated and will be remembered.  A local jeweler donated 41 pairs of earrings and 8 rings- an unexpected boost.  Friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances have offered jewelry they no longer wear, gently worn dresses that they no longer have occasion to wear, and money in support of the Prom Project. 

Pink Glass Pearl and Crystal Necklace joined with simple loops for Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads
Pink Glass Pearl and Crystal with Hand Hammered Ear Wires to match donation for the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads
There is no doubt the girls attending the Prom Project will benefit, but so does the beading community.  I had a few friends over for a trunk show- the theme was Bling in Progress.  During the trunk show we made jewelry with plenty of bling for the prom project and displayed our usual line for visitors.

Blue Glass Pearl and Crystal Necklace with bead woven focal for
donation to the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads
Hand Hammered Hoops with Blue Glass Pearls and Crystals
to match the Prom Project Necklace donation by KJ's Beadacious Beads
This was also a great opportunity for local beaders to network.  The project gave us a lead-in to talk about our artistry and then show it off.  We also met local retailers who we might some day approach for sales of our jewelry.  The organizers of the Prom Project are well placed members of the community and this was an opportunity to demonstrate our talent.  Finally, this was an occasion for local beaders to do something that might be a bit different than their usual line or work with different materials.

Purple Glass Pearl and Purple Crystal woven focals necklace for
donation to the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads

Hand Hammered hoops with Purple Glass Pearls and Crystals to match necklace
donation for the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads

The Prom Project was a Win-Win for everyone.

Gray Glass Pearl and Crystal focal with pearl and crystal strands for
donation to the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads

I have pictured in this post most of the donations I made for the Prom Project.  Most because it seems I accidentally deleted some photos of matching earrings for a few pieces.  Please go to We Make Pretty Things for pictures of some of the pieces made by my friends.

Soft Red Glass Pearl and Crystal woven necklace  for donation to the Prom Project by KJ's Beadacious Beads

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lori Anderson Giveaway from Auntie's Beads

Since you can never have to many seed beads, follow this link: Seed Bead Giveaway of Auntie's Beads for a chance to win seed beads.  All you have to do is leave a comment. 

For an additional chance, blog about it. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shopping Again

I went to the Intergalactic Bead Show on March 12th. It was packed with shoppers.

As soon as I walked through the door I found Silver in Style, the vendor I had come to buy from. I attended this show for the specific purpose of buying sterling clasps and sterling charms if I could find them. I have previously bought from Silver in Style and although I have a few pieces left from my previous purchase, most of my supply was exhausted.

My pocketbook would have been better off if I would have called it a day right then.

Indian Creek beads has the best collection of turquoise, which I always crave but never buy. Indian Creek also has a table of $2.00 18 inch strands of stone and beads glass as well as strands of Czech crystals, including 2 and 3 mm bicones which are perfect for seed beading. Most of the strands of crystal beads are $2.00 but I sprung for a couple of $3.00 strands. It only makes sense to stock up on the basics at that price.

On the Rocks is a new vendor to me. She had seed beads, kits, tools, and supplies. She also had size 13 Charlottes. These were rare enough to entice me. I bought hanks in galvanized metals and two colored hanks. The galvanized hanks will probably be used regularly, but I love the colored hanks. The light colored hank is a bone color and the red is a deep dark maroon.

Last year I bought from The Rabbit Hutch for the first time.  I have a few bracelets left in stock, but I have sold a few too.  My other buys make sense to my beading habits, this purchase was a indulgence.  Photos never do justice, but the colors are fabulous.  My buyers all want black and white;  I think they are really saying they want neutrals.  I love the bone and brown pillow beads with silver speckles.  How could these fail to appeal to the neutral shopper?  The round graduated beads are not neutral, they are spring colors: purple, green, and white.   Blue beads always grab my attention.  I had a customer tell me she had no blue in her wardrobe- I pointed out she was wearing blue jeans and sold her the bracelet she had in hand.  The larger blue pillow beads are a beautiful sky blue with gold highlights in the transparent end.  These have such depth.  The other set of blue pillow beads are a frosted blue with gold and chocolate highlights. 

I buy spooled copper wire from Cherry Tree Beads- another practical purchase.  That didn’t stop me from eyeing the stones.  I walked away after my wire purchase.  I couldn’t, however, walk out the door without purchasing a strand of jasper.  These are large beads, measuring 30 mm by 40 mm.  

I can’t wait to start using these beads. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Window Shopping Shows

One of my goals is to show my jewelry at juried shows.

I can find these shows thanks to Lori Anderson who recommended Sunshine Artists magazine. This magazine includes lists of upcoming shows and reviews of recent shows. Reviews include attendance figures, fees to exhibitors, reviews of promoters’ services and advertising, and anecdotal evidence of how much money the exhibitors made.

As a result of this subscription I found the Craftsman Classic shows which consistently rank in the top 100 shows in the country. Yesterday I attended the Craftsman Classic in Columbia SC.

My first impression was good: plenty of cars in the parking lot, ample staff to get me through the front door, and patrons not only carrying bags but pushing wheeled carts in anticipation of buying.

By my count there were 253 exhibitors of which 41 were jewelry artists. The majority of those jewelry artists worked with metal- silversmiths and goldsmiths, wire wrappers, and two who specialized in coin jewelry. There were a few artists with strands of beads, one specialized in pearls, another was a lampwork artist who had completed pieces. Many of the jewelry artists had pendants: dichroic glass, silver bells (these were really nice thimble sized bells), and themed pendants. There were two artists who took a naturalist approach- one had fun and feminine dried lacquered flowers with gold or silver highlights and another had jewelry based on butterflies. There was a lot of variety in the jewelry artists and the promoters should be credited for this achievement.

I spoke with most of the jewelry artists. They all had nothing but praise for the promoters. One artist has done this show for 15 years and has a lot of repeat customers. When I ventured to ask artists told me they did well financially at the Craftsman Classic. I was unable to speak with some of the artists because their booths were filled with customers.

I have no doubt that my work is up to the standards I saw at this show. Since my passion is seed beads I also have no doubt that I could stand out from the other artists.

What I lack to exhibit in juried shows is a booth. I need curtains to frame my booth, lights, tables with adjustable heights, and countless other small items. I need to think more about my overall presentation.

Most of the jewelry artists at the show had their tables pushed to the aisle and stood enclosed behind them. Many of these same artists had their jewelry in glass cases. Plenty of my pieces would be at home in a glass case. Yet, I saw those glass cases as a barrier to interacting with the customer.

My current booth set up is eclectic: busts of various colors and materials, an earring rack made of wrought iron framed by patinaed wood, bracelets tacked in a black frame propped on an easel, variations in height achieved by props that differ from each other in material and color. I like the direction my booth is going, yet it belies some of the high end pieces I display. I have heard the advice many times: do not undercut your finest pieces by also selling inexpensive pieces. I think the same advice is applicable to presentation. If your presentation is not high end your jewelry will be perceived as having lesser value.

I am still processing all that I saw yesterday. I have to decide what I want to achieve, and what is the next step on this journey. Mostly, I have to think about my display. (Oh, and how to take better photos, how to process them, accepting credit cards, etc… the business of selling art is very different from creating art.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Not My First Dance

When I started this blog I subtitled it Adventures in Marketing because I thought I would share as I learn.

What I want to share today is what I have done up until now. I have been making and selling beaded jewelry here and there for decades.

My first sales were to family and friends. My mother, grandmother, and aunts have always oohed and aahed over my creations and they will always be my first and best supporters. Friends have watched me create and than purchased pieces they were particularly taken by over the years. Those “sales” are sometimes gifts and at a reduced wholesale price.

My next venue was as a street vendor- no license, no plan, just a cloth set out on the ground, and no profit. Although it sounds bleak it affirmed my skills as an artist; total strangers stopped and not only looked at my creations but bought my jewelry.

I branched out in the early 1990’s to a local gallery. (The picture accompanying this post is from that show and looking every bit its age.) Although being able to place my work in a gallery was an affirmation of my artistry it was not a monetary success. At the time I blamed the lack of sales on a lack of understanding in the community. Since I work mainly with seed beads the potential customers did not see past the materials, i.e. glass beads and thread, to the value of the art itself. Craft fairs were not overrun by jewelry artists. Craft shops were of two varieties: fabric shops and hobby shops. Etsy did not exist. I was ahead of my time and not a successful leader. My lack of professionalism, beyond my art, also contributed to my lack of sales. Nonetheless, I consider my gallery experience an accomplishment.

A decade after my failed gallery experience I began selling to co-workers. This was almost all word of mouth. Even though these were my best sales this was far from professional. Nothing was priced or labeled. Nothing was displayed. It was, however, just the push I needed to begin looking at other venues.

The next obvious step was craft fairs. It is here that I finally began to develop my presentation- display and tags. Most craft fairs, however, are not a good venue for jewelry. The most important lesson I learned is that there are a lot of talented jewelry artists and my work had better stand out.

Recently I have been learning what I can about marketing. I have a group of friends who I meet with to discuss marketing. I read blogs that offer marketing tips:
• Cat at Olive bites;
• Lori Anderson at Pretty Things;
• Lorelei Eurto at Lorelei’s Blog;
• Luann Udell at Luann Udell;
• Alyson Stanfield at Art Biz Blog;
• Harriete Estel Berman at Ask Harriet;

And too many others to name. I follow these blogs not just for what they say explicitly about marketing but also for what I can learn from example.

This is not my first dance and not my last and hopefully as I go along I will stumble less.