Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The next week...

I'm leaving this morning for Philadelphia where I will be one of the Managers (Jewelry & Suppliers Manager) running the Buyers Market of American Craft Show. I'll get home next Tuesday.
I'll do my best to post but I'm not sure how much time I'll have.
The show is going to be fantastic! I'm very excited!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Night

Tonight I sketched a picture upside down. I'm working through my drawing book and it was teaching you to see better by not really knowing what you were drawing. It really did help to have the image I was copying upside down.

Then I played with my signature/initials/trademark.

In the next week....

I'll be leaving for a 3 week trip through Europe! I'm very excited! My wonderful, great, fantastic fiance decided we should go on a crazy trip before he starts working. Two weeks of the trip is a cruise and we're getting their early and staying a little longer. Here is a link to a map showing you all the places we'll be going. Paris, Munich, Venice, Athens, Ephesus, Istanbul, Mykonos, Naples, Rome, Florence, Pisa, Marseille, and Barcelona! I will surely have so much to blog about during and after our trip!

Saturday sketching

I sketched for a little while Saturday before going to a roller derby game! I'm working on this idea of incorporating string into what i make. An outer frame with holes for the string to be woven in.
I wasn't able to sketch on Sunday, shame on me I know! I spent a majority of my weekend at a good friends house where we cooked, napped, watched TV, and laughed. It was nice.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday night, no sketching

I laid down t take a nap Friday night and didn't wake up until Saturday. So sadly I have no sketch to show you.
Though I obviously needed the sleep. It's so important to get plenty of sleep or you just can't get anything accomplished. It always amazes me how much I can accomplish in a day when I take time to get 8 hours of sleep and relax every once in a while. I can achieve so much more by taking proper care of myself!
I'll sketch more today and post it later!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday Sketching

I watched some TV last night at a Friends house and saw a cool cake competition where the theme was Dr. Suess. A quick sketch I did tonight reminded me of the animated off center quality of the Dr. Suess books.
(For those of you that don't know I don't have TV, so it's rather exciting to have a relaxing night of it!)

Wednesday Sketching

I sketched a friends dog last night very quickly!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday night sketch

I was only able to sketch a little bit tonight. Working with my filigree jump ring look over pearls and what not.
I spent a great deal of my evening working on applications. I filled out an application for the Saul Bell Design Awards, cross your fingers for me! The people that are in charge of this award and Rio Grande are fantastic! I've been to the last two Saul Bell Design Award Dinners and I've had so much fun talking to everyone! It's also fun to see the award winning pieces in person!

Monday Night Sketch

I didn't get to sketch much last night but when I did I was working with some of the swirly wind shapes I used to make my 'Reflection' necklace.
Last night I attended a Women's Jewelry Association Meeting. It's a really neat organization that gets women (and men) together that work in the jewelry industry. There are jewelry artists, designers, appraisers, jewelry sales people, jewelry photographers, and magazine editors. It's quite a diverse group of people who have so much knowledge to share! Check it out!
We are trying to start a WJA Chapter in the Baltimore / DC area, let me know if you want to join!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Sketch

My little sister gave me a bag of different art mediums. I used China Marker, which is a type of charcoal pencil.
I felt a great deal more inspired and excited yesterday drawing all the flowers in my mom's yard. It seems as though I really need to be drawing actual things and not just doodling and daydreaming.

Saturday Sketch

I spent the night at my parents house last night. My Mom has beautiful gardens with millions of flowers. Some of her favorites are night blooming flowers. They open as the sun goes down. This is one of them, a moon flower.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sketching as Promised!

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art lies in knowing which ones to keep"
I read that quote today and I really love it. So today I was sketching homes with removable roofs! Not sure why but that's what clicked today!

Good luck at Artscape!

I just wanted to give a shout and say good luck to some of the girls I know that will be selling at Artscape! Stop by their booth and buy some of their gorgeous jewelry!
The Broken Plate
Megan Auman

Sorry I won't be there girls!
Artscape is going on in Baltimore MD this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Great Quote!

I was reading an article in one of the many jewelry magazines I receive and read this:
'It's the consistent application of successful business principles that determines a company's success.'
The quote really stuck with me and I like that with the proper planning you can really make you're company successful. It's not some willy nilly shot in the dark.
When I was still in High School my Dad helped me write a business plan so I could apply for a Merchant Account the process credit cards. We planned everything, I had about 25 pages. The bank was so impressed, they had never seen a better business plan.
I am always one to keep a to-do list and a goal list. It really helps me buckle down and focus on what I want to achieve!

Thursday Sketches

I was sketching/doodling while on the phone in the dark. So nothing is too precise. After doodling for a while I drew the image below and was really impressed with myself.

I just quickly sketched the vase after the one in red you see on the left. I was excited to see that I was really in drawing mode!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sketching for today!

Here's a snippet of today's sketching. Just so you know I wander around my sketch book like a lost explorer trying to find the page that I'll really connect with.

On this sketch are a spider and a lady bug (lady bug is way too cute, don't want that!)

Something I love!

I just got a present to myself in the mail. I ordered these gorgeous hair barrettes from Leather Jewelry. They are handmade and dyed leather hair barrettes that look like flowers. The images on the website don't do them justice. I own 3 and gave a fourth one as a present to a good friend. I really can't say much other than I LOVE THEM! (and I'm sure I'll be buying more!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Evening Sketching

Here is some of what I worked on this evening. I'm trying to design jewelry that is also a spider. My friend, Bridgett, loved spiders in jewelry so I took it as a homework assignment to try and design a real piece of jewelry. Right now is the more preliminary sketching. I love the green spider with the shading and how the legs on one side are doing different things, it's reacting to it's environment. I will work on these spiders a great deal more and try to develop some real spine tingling jewelry!

Feeling Overwhelmed!

I keep a long to do list. I'm one of those anal people that needs to write everything down that need be accomplished and what not.
I've felt very overwhelmed lately. My to-do list is long and I don't feel like I'm really getting anything done and worse I'm not working on jewelry much. I have been trying to make myself sit and sketch but I find it hard to do that. I love sketching but it's like exercise, you want to but you don't and you put it off.
Well as a promise to myself and you for the next two weeks I need to post every day images of what I'm sketching. Then maybe after two weeks I'll really be into the routine of it.
One of my many goals has been to improve my drawing abilities. So hopefully this promise on my blog will be the initiative that I need!
Stay tuned!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Jewelry I made last summer

Since I haven't been able to make as much jewelry this year I wanted to start by showing you some earrings I made last year. These are made completely out of 20 gauge straight wire. I make every jump ring and solder them all together. They are also 3-dimensional.

Next I made a pendat out of thicker wire in the same 3-dimensional form with 3 of the earrings pieces inside that move. There is a lot of careful structural soldering that goes on with this piece! It is very fun to play with and watch things move around inside!

Booth Customer Service

With my current full time work I'm able to attend lots of art shows all over the east coast. It's amazing much effort people put into their business, and their jewelry designs, and their booth set up and then they sit in the back of their booth and read! Are you kidding me!
I don't mean to shout but all that time and effort and love that goes into your business and you decide to catch up on your reading when it's time to sell? If you don't stand up and sell you're work honey no one will. People have a tendency to veer away from artists if they're sitting down, or reading, or slumped over their display. Stand up straight, smile and be courteous to the customers. They admire you the artist for your work and don't want to hear a sob story. Take that passion you use to make your designs and use it to sell the designs!
Here is my suggestion for helpful tips on selling at craft shows, you can order many great Cd's from Bruce Baker on the subjects of Booth Construction, Marketing, Sales, Slide Presentations, Customer Service, Visual Merchandising, Trends that affect the Craft/Gift Business and Jewelry Display. (I highly recommend his Cd's!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fantastic Customer Service!

I was blown away by the customer service my fiance and I received at a mall store recently! We were at the Men's Wearhouse in the White Marsh Mall (MD) and wow! For a while several men were assisting us in matching ties to shirts. Then they fitted him in a couple suits, tried out some shoes, and belts and so on. I know this is their job but they were fantastic!
You may think this has nothing to do with art of jewelry but it does. Customer service is sooo important, people want to be taken care of. Thus the reason I shop online so much, I bought a new backpack recently at a store and nearly put it back on the shelf because I was ignored for so long and then cut in front of by an employee without so much as a word from either employee. Or the 4 others standing around not doing anything.
Men's Wearhouse was just great! I wish they had a clothing store like that for women! Remember to always pay attention to your customers and really listen to what they have to say!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's Not Because I'm Beautiful

My sister Kelly (in bright blue, 2nd from left) and her friends at her Solo Exhibition.

'It's Not Because I'm Beautiful' is the title of my sister's recent Solo Exhibition at TruSpace in Savannah Georgia. You can go to Kelly's website and click on Bird Series to see what she showed at her Solo Exhibition.

I had the challenge of making her jewelry to wear to her show. I wanted to make something that went along with the exhibit. I ended up making a feather out of several gauges of silver wire. It was quite a challenge, I studied real feathers and sketched but it really didn't come together until I just sat down and tried to make it.
Once it was made I really wasn't impressed with myself I wished I had done much better. In my mind I had envisioned a necklace with many feathers sticking out in lots of directions. I just didn't have that kind of time or supplies to make that for her. She ended up loving the necklace and now that she wears it all the time I love seeing it on her!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Attending the Saul Bell Design Awards

Last month I had the honor of attending the Saul Bell Design Award Dinner. While JCK and Couture are going on in Las Vegas there are many great events happening everywhere! One of them is the Saul Bell Design Awards. I was able to meet many of the 2008 winners and talk to them about jewelry making! I plan on applying this year and would love to attend as a winner. (one of my dreams/goals). If you haven't already check out the webpage of the Awards and look at all the images of the winners designs, very inspirational! (go to winners, and click on past winners to see lots more)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

High end jewelry doing well!

I just read an article that confirms what I've been saying for months. It seems as though the high end jewelers (gold/precious stones) are doing well and seem unaffected by the economy! Seeing as the rich people that are able to buy from them are still rich. The article is in a magazine I receive, National Jeweler, and mentions a designer I've met several times and love Paula Crevoshay. Check out her website, she is such an inspiration.
One of my many goals is to primarily work in gold and learn how to set stones and add them to my jewelry creations. Now I just need to find a backer to support my buying gold to get things moving!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Studio

I thought I would share a picture of my studio. I just emailed to the Orchid Bench Exchange where you can view jewelry artists benches from around the world!
My bench is located in my parents barn. My father turns wood so I have to keep everything covered with old sheets when I'm not working. I use an oxygen propane micro torch which I love! To the left is the bench I solder on with my hand tools and pickle pot. Straight ahead is my storage cabinet where keep some supplies and lots of tools. To the left is my hydraulic press my grandfather built, my anvil, doming blocks, and broken polishing wheel.
Tools really get me going! I think my favorite store to walk into is Home Depot, they may not be jewelry tools for the most part but you gotta love the oil/grass/plastic smell. Smells like exciting projects!

Advertising! Do it!

It truly amazes me at times how often people tell me they don't advertise or they didn't have time or didn't have money for it.
If you don't advertise how will people ever know where to find you?
Right now since my jewelry business is on the side I don't advertise. I just had my sister redesign my business card (look below) and now she's working on my website and my jewelry images (thanks Kelly!). Once I start my business up full time I will definitely be advertising.

My focus will be on advertising to jewelry stores, galleries, gift shops, and art galleries. I hope to focus mainly on selling wholesale. I'd like to do just a few shows a year and stay at my studio rather than travel all the time like you have to with retail shows.

I've been shown some great ways to find galleries:
Resources on our websites:
(with this one, you'll have to do a state-by-state search)

Resources on other artists' websites:
(click on each state to get a list of galleries)

Also, check other artists' websites to see if they include a gallery list many of them do with complete contact information.

It takes time to build up your wholesale buyer list but it's definitely worth working on a little bit each day.
You also need to think about what kind of database you would like to put this information in. Another thing I must research.

While your at a wholesale show or a retail show you can always have a prize drawing. Put out a nice bowl or container for people to put their business cards in. At the end of the show you will draw a winner and that person will win the piece of jewelry you displayed as the prize. Yes you gave away a piece of jewelry but wow did you expand that mailing list!

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Vision Boards

So I said I would post Images of my Vision Boards and here they are:

The one with the black frame is the first one I made, about a year and a half ago. I have images of people smiling, Haystack in Maine (great classes), friends, happy couples, a nice sketch jewelry design, a picture of a cast piece of jewelry, a picture of me juggling (something I love!), tropical birds (I want one), books, a brain with a light bulb inside (study more!). All of these things are things I wanted, goals I work towards.
This is the second one I've made (about 6 months ago) and has the wood tone frame. Mainly I put images of jewelry and art that inspire me, right now I'm really trying hard to focus on reading my jewelry books and sketching. I also have an image of a pig in the middle, I would eventually love to have a pet pig and an image of a tropical bird (want one of those too). I have the Saul Bell Design Awards on there because I want to win that competition. I put an image of Ellen DeGeneres on there because every time you see her show she is so passionate and in the moment enjoying and loving what she does. I want to be that way in my life.

I have achieved quite a few of these things and I truly believe the Vision Boards have really helped me!

The Secret

I try to be positive and upbeat every day. It's not always possible but one thing that has really helped me is the movie, The Secret. I cannot say enough about how helpful this DVD has been in my life. It keeps me motivated and driven to succeed.
From this movie I have created a 'vision board.' I cut pictures out of magazines symbolizing all of my goals and put them on a board. That way everyday I can look at it and my goals are right there in color! I've made two of these boards so far and they are some of my most prized possessions. Many of my goals have to do with having my own jewelry business and being more creative!
This evening I'll try to post pictures of my 'vision boards' so you really know what I'm talking about!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pricing your creations, wholesale and retail

So I've been doing a lot of research on pricing my jewelry and I have decided it will take a couple years of being in business full time to really figure it out.
Right now I know this is the equation for a wholesale price:

3 x materials + labor = wholesale price

wholesale price x 2 = retail price (normally this seems right, can change)

So your materials are what you use to make that exact piece of jewelry, wire, solder, and stones.
Labor is what you want to be paid an hour. Now this is where it gets hard. Say your work 50 weeks out of the year, 40 hours a week (ha ha, I'm sure we all work more than that!), that's 2,000 hours a year.
But that 2,000 hours is not just spent on making jewelry. You have a lot of selling costs, show fees, traveling, meals, advertising, professional photography, brochures, business cards, mailings, worth of your time while selling, website and/or blog, and so on.
So you have to take into account the extra time you will be working but not necessarily making jewelry.
So say you want to be paid $30 an hour, you might need to up that to $45 in your equation to cover the extra time spent on all other aspects of business.
You also need to add in studio costs somewhere: rent, office supplies, phones, utilities, insurance, losses, professional fees, publications, memberships, cleaning, new product design time, shipping, oh yes and tools!
I've read that it is good to add up all the studio costs and divide that by the 2,000 hours and add it into your wholesale equation. The problem is right now I'd have to estimate those things. I don't actually own/rent a studio.
So all in all pricing is something that must be worked on over time and studied. Reading up on economics can't hurt! I feel like I'm chasing my tail thinking about all this!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Inspiration from the simplest of supplies!

My sister, Kelly Heck, who takes my photographs is rebuilding my website! I love her!
She asked me to look at websites and find features I liked for my new website. While looking for features I liked I came across this website by artist Jen Stark who makes unbelievable sculptures out of colored paper. I love the sculpture on her home page and how it comes out of the white background and pops!
Sometimes I get so caught up in precious metals and stones that I forget how beautiful the simple things in life really are! Focusing on alterative materials rather than what your field is accostumed to using can really open doors. Another artist that I love comes to mind, Melanie Bilenker, who uses hair to make intricate, delicate drawings in resin. I hope I can open my mind and my eyes enough to see the materials around me that would otherwise go unused and left on the wayside.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hourly Rate

I've been reading a lot lately about how much to charge an hour as an artist. Pricing is very difficult especially when you need to set a wholesale and a retail price. While reading my daily newsletter from Ganoksin last night I came across this post from David Geller who produces a pricing guide for jewelry repair.

What is your hourly rate?
From: "David Geller"
Overall, with interruptions and such, you should be charging about $100 to $125 an hour for your time. Many charge more, start there.
David Geller

I was taken aback by this amount. I would never have thought to charge that much an hour. I'm going to take a look at his pricing guide and do some more research. I know on my website the prices aren't quite right and I'm working on a spreadsheet to make calculating my prices much easier. When I've figured out more I'll let you know!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Found Object Inspiration - Reflection

Last month while hiking the NCR trail in MD I found a small rectangular bicycle reflector. It's a yellow reflector with black plastic around the edges. I picked it up and took home excited about the possibilities it could hold.

Around the same time I found out Lark Books had a call for entries out for two books: 500 Plastic Jewelry and Fantastic Plastic. I decided to design a necklace around the plastic bicycle reflector I had found and then enter it into both of these books.

The piece I made titled 'Reflection' will be shown in the Peace & Politics Exhibit to be held at the Buyers Market of American Craft Show August 2-4 2008.

Here is my statement about 'Reflection':

This piece asks us to reflect on the topsy-turvy state of our economy and our lives in these turbulent times. Reflection symbolically represents the financial woes rising prices place on modern artists through its replacement of precious stones with golden beads and a yellow bicycle reflector and the juxtaposition of plastic and pearls. Visually, the wild wisps of the black Plexiglas provide a stark representation of the winds of change driving us in unpredictable directions.
Photographed by: Kelly Heck Photography

Reminiscing about Haystack

Going through my mail I cam across a newsletter from Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Two summer ago I attended a two-week class there taught by Keith Lewis on 'Chasing over air'. He was a fantastic teacher and the technique he taught us really opened my eyes. We learned a chasing technique that does not use metal tools nor does it use pitch. It'd clean, fast, and leaves no metal tool marks in your metal.

Haystack is located on Deer Isle in Maine. It is the most beautiful setting in which to make your art. I highly recommend if you get the chance taking a class at Haystack. Here are the two pieces I made while I was there.
While you are at Haystack all they want you to do is explore and make your art.