Jewelry makers are artists, going beyond craftspeople if you do it well. I don’t do budget stuff to unload at the local farmer’s market or online. Because I make jewelry, fashion and fine, I need to attend craft fairs to sell my wares. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to go on making more. It takes funding, particularly for precious gems and gemstones, not to mention the real gold and silver chains and fasteners. I believe in quality all the way. I want my pieces to last a lifetime. As such, they make wonderful gifts. Many women buy them for their own use, of course, because I have to admit, they are pretty wonderful. I have pride in my work. Inspiration is all around and lately my sales have been good. So I am off to another craft fair, this time a few miles away. I am going to take a friend as I often do for company. However, this time I have more plans up my sleeve. We can go tubing nearby to take a break from the three-day event. The weather is sublime and we both crave time out of doors. Plus, I would like to gather some small twigs from the river to make a display for my latest necklaces. But it is the tubing that really draws me. I can borrow a good towable tube from my brother who is a frequent visitor to the site. He is somewhat of an expert and told me all the ins and outs of the best tube that he'd learnt by reading https://www.inflatableslife.net/best-towable-tubes-for-boating/. I never knew that it made a difference, but it does. It has to inflate properly and stay taut for support. It has to be resistant to rocks and not rip open at the slightest provocation. He deflates it and keeps it in the garage next to the air compressor. He will take care of everything before we leave. I can’t wait to get out and experience the thrill of moving water as I am pulled behind a small boat. Report: the craft fair and the tubing were fantastic and it was a weekend of fun and frolic. We met some fabulous people with whom we spent the whole day. The plus is that I sold a bracelet at the fair that had been around for a while because the price was up there. I had used sapphires in different colors and they cost a pretty penny. But they are so gorgeous. It appealed to one woman and I got a good return. All it takes is the right fair and the perfect client. I was so jazzed that I suggested to my friend that we go tubing again the next day. Of course, she was happy to oblige. I returned the tube to my brother without regret, knowing that it had enjoyed its time outdoors in the water and that we would soon meet again.
If you love to make jewelry, you know you have to sell it or you won’t have the funds to keep going. It is part of having this hobby or profession. You can only give away so many pieces to family and friends. My mother’s jewelry box is quite full. She has resorted to hanging my necklaces on little hooks on the closet wall. She wears them all and professes to love each and every one, but frankly she already has a good assortment. There comes a time when you search for craft shows. You start online, but you must supplement with one-on-one selling. The combination will help you earn a good living. It takes a while to learn about renting the right booth in a good location, near the entrance, of course. You have to make a big artistic sign and acquire some quality stands to display your wares. Plexiglas boxes are great for this purpose. I was told by a fellow jewelry artist to always include a portable mirror so customers can try things on. It doesn’t hurt to make a table cover out of nice fabric to set off the array of products. I love how people exchange ideas at gem shows and jewelry fairs. It isn’t as competitive as you might think since many booths in a row attract buyers. Plus, our work is most often quite different. Some of us like antique beads and fasteners and others prefer a very modern style. Since I am now into being a public vendor, I plan to attend as many of these craft shows as I can within driving radius. The only drawback is the booth rental cost. Here is where I can give some handy advice for those of you in the same boat—i.e., on a budget. After speaking with one of the event organizers, I found out that I could get a discount if I put up posters in a one-mile radius with a focus on regional business. While some store owners agreed to put flyers in the window or on the counter, in other cases I found walls and telephone poles. I only had to walk around for an hour to find ideal locations. In seconds, one by one the posters found a home. It went fast because I had the smarts to take a portable staple gun with which to attach the flyers fast and easy. No plug in necessary. It was a manual unit from https://www.stapleslinger.com/the-best-staple-gun-reviews/ that didn’t even need a battery. Because it was strong and well made, a quick pressing was all that was needed to get a sturdy staple. Only someone pulling it down would make it come off. I wouldn’t mind that if it meant they were saving it to remember to come on opening day. Meanwhile, my trusty staple gun did its job and I saved a lot on the booth rental for that particular fair. I am going to ask about doing the same thing for each and every future event.
Jewelry and gems are my passion and I share it by giving handmade gifts made of very special beads. I look far and wide for the unusual so I can combine them creatively for a novel look. I am always delighted if I get a good reaction and I customize these bestowals to achieve the right effect. I work with my understanding of the recipient’s personality and basic style. Adornments are always a matter of taste so I hope to zero in on the right offering that will complement a friend’s lifestyle. What is common to everyone is a love of jewelry as a form of self-expression. This is what makes it an art like painting, ceramics, sculpture, wood carving or metal work. Recently it gave me particular pleasure to make something for a sick friend. I thought it would cheer her up and to make it even more special, I decided to put a necklace together in her house so she could watch and even participate. I brought a bunch of beads and spacers so she could pick and choose the arrangement that suited her best. It would be a fun communal project. I hadn’t done this before so little did I know what would happen. She had a cold and was feeling okay except that now and then she would sneeze a really big one. As you can imagine, because she was near the groupings of beads, they went flying everywhere including the floor. Because it is wood, they started rolling into little nooks and crannies. I couldn’t begin to pick them up. Bending over was not great for my back. I should have stayed in bed today! As sick as she was, her brain was functioning and she remembered that she had a great little inexpensive vacuum tucked away in the hall closet. It would be perfect for gathering the loose items and we could open it and retrieve them all at once. Brilliant! The problem was that the beads were everywhere and as tiny as they were in many cases, we missed some. Nevertheless, the task was accomplished but at the last minute, I heard a grinding noise. Some beads got stuck in the motor because her inner bag was torn and they wreaked havoc with it until it stopped. The vacuum was dead. We sighed with regret. Fortunately it was a cheap model from The Clean Home and the loss wasn’t significant in monetary terms. She showed me that a new vacuum wouldn’t cause a huge dent in her pocketbook and while I offered to pay for the new one, she refused. She would happily accept the finished necklace, which was exquisite, as payment enough. The order was placed and the new budget vacuum would arrive in two days. The Internet is amazing about delivery. The good part of the story apart from the machine’s demise was that all of the beads had been found intact, except for the few mangled by the motor. So my bead working goes on.
I assembled my jewelry making toolbox as I went along. I would start to make something, realize I didn’t have what I needed or wanted, and would have to go to the store and pick it up. As my skills have gotten better and I’ve added to my collection of tools, this happens less and less often. So, I thought I’d share with you all the things that I use with the most frequency to maybe spare you a couple of trips to the store like I had to make. Wire cutters. These babies let you cut most types of stringing and beading wire (not memory wire, I’ll get to that in a minute) and can cut eye or headpins. Get a separate memory wire cutter if you use memory wire. You’re going to dent and damage your regular cutters if you attempt to cut memory wire with it, so it will be cheaper in the long run just to get a separate tool for them. Pliers. Pliers are going to end up being your go-to tool when you’re making jewelry. Your best bet is to have two—one to help you hold the wire and the other to do the shaping. There’s a couple of different types that jewelry makers use, so I’ll give you a quick rundown of what type you might need and what you’d do with it. Round nose pliers are shaped perfectly to loop wire. The smaller the tip, the smaller the spaces you can get into and the more intricate the design you can make. Chain nose pliers are another good purchase. They can help you grip your work and hold it steady when you need it, straighten loops or make right angle bends, close crimp covers and make flat crimping, and they can also open jump rings. Just don’t get the kind that has ridges inside, as it could make indentations on your wire. Another good type of pliers to have are flat nose pliers. Remember earlier when I said that typically, you will need two sets of pliers? Well, the flat nose pliers are the ones you’ll use to hold the wire while you do work with the other. Some people I know also swear by split ring pliers, but I have a cheaper alternative. I’ll get into that below. Tweezers. Some beads are just small. Tweezers can really help you get a grip on them. You can also use tweezers if you use string or chain and it gets tangled. Tweezers with a flat edges will allow you to get into tight spaces or if you’re making a design with a flat back. Crimp Tool. This can also be called crimping pliers. These are essential if you are working with crimp beads or tubes, and to secure clasps on the end of wire. You can also use them to crimp wire in between beads to keep them in place. I didn’t have one of these early on and figured I could just gently hit a crimp tube with a craft hammer. That went about as well as you would expect. Ruler or measuring tape. Aside from dropping your work and all the beads coming off, there isn’t much worse than completing a project only to find out it is the wrong size. Having a ruler handy will ensure you have what you need to make the piece you want. One last pro tip: I recommend working in a well-lit area, over a tray or a bead mat to catch any dropped beads before they bounce away. Hope this list helps! If there’s anything you think I forgot, add it in the comments!
I am an artist, what you might also call an artisan. I make jewelry, searching for new ideas and materials with great passion. I have yet to find a woman who doesn’t like some type of adornment. Some go for glitz which is not my taste. You won’t find rhinestones in my necklaces. Others like hand-made perfection, the kind you get at a craft fair. This is the way I sell to the public. Every town has one, perhaps on Sunday in the local fair or adjacent to the farmer’s market. I think my name, Opal, is most fitting, the gemstone of October and one of the most beautiful with its translucent glow. Most of the time, everything goes well with no hassle. Occasionally it rains or there is construction in the street preventing clients from parking within walking distance. People expect convenience or they won’t come. It varies on holidays although around Christmas, things really pick up. Such are the trials and tribulations of a jewelry vendor. I don’t have much to complain about as business is good. Everyone is looking for a gift or a personal treat. It is never a hard sell if your work is attractive. I bring a nice assortment to meet a variety of tastes. I did have a major hitch last week. I noticed that my fold up tent, the one I use to shade myself on sunny days, had been damaged in transit. There was no way to prepare it properly on the spot. I would need professional help. I put it away in my van and began to search for a solution. As I was loading it, I noticed my beach umbrella rolled up neatly at one end. It was one that I'd bought from https://www.justbeachthings.com/best-beach-umbrella-reviews/. Perfect, I thought. This will do in a pinch. I use a long craft table to display my wares and the next trick was to prop up the umbrella over it so that it wouldn’t fall over. I had some duct tape in my glove compartment and found that to work perfectly to attach one item to the other. I prayed that it would hold for the duration of the fair, and it did. The next time in the park, the tent was back in action and all was well with the world. I am glad I had the smarts to act quickly or I would have lost some good sales for the day. People were amused, however, by the umbrella and made comments. It drew customers and perhaps I should bring it back. Or since it isn't the most attractive looking item, I could get a new one, even larger in size. No one else has this as a signature statement or form of branding, so it could be part of my new image. I could even put a drawing of a colorful beach umbrella on my business cards with necklaces hanging from it.
I’m named after my birthstone, the Opal. I’ve always considered it lucky that I wasn’t born a month later—as much as I like November's birthstone – Citrine – I don’t think it would have been nearly as nice of a name! It is so hard to tell at this point if I like birthstones because I am named after one, or if it is simply a byproduct of me loving jewelry so much, but I am a big fan of birthstone jewelry. So I wanted to talk a little about the different stones: January’s birthstone is the garnet. They can be similar to rubies in color, but the name garnet even comes from an Old English word meaning “dark red”. The gemstone for those born in February is the amethyst. Because of their purple color, it was a popular stone for royal jewelry—there are even amethyst in the British Crown Jewels! March has the Aquamarine for a birthstone, which can range in color from very pale blue to a gorgeous shade of deep aqua. It has an almost literal name, with aqua meaning water and marine being the sea. My mom was born in April, and she’s told me she always felt a little cheated, as her birthstone is the diamond. I can see her point: rings featuring her birthstone look like engagement rings. Diamonds are also incredibly strong, considered the hardest substance found on the entire planet! Emeralds are the birthstone for May, and signify the new life brought on by April rains. Because they take forever to form and are difficult to mine, they are very valuable and very expensive. Green is supposedly one of the “easiest” colors on our eyes, which means that we really like looking at emeralds! Pearls, the birthstone for June, can come from freshwater or saltwater, be naturally occurring or cultivated intentionally. Pearls are symbolic of elegance and class, and pearl necklaces are passed down through generations or given as gifts for special occasions (like weddings) in women’s lives. The ruby is up next, for those born in July. These bright red stones are considered to be a precious stone, and is often heat-treated to achieve the perfect hue. Red is such a power color, and it looks amazing in white jewelry surrounded by diamonds! Peridot, also known as olivine, is a yellow-green stone that does sort of look like olive oil. A byproduct of extreme heat from volcanoes, August’s birthstone is a symbol of vitality. It also is purported to be a connection to nature. September has a brilliant deep blue birthstone, the sapphire. Its name comes from the Greek word “sapheiros,” which literally means precious stone. It’s so beautiful that many royals opt for it as an engagement ring. Next is my favorite stone, October’s beautiful Opal! These lovely stones are so unique in their ability to display a kaleidoscope of colors. It’s like having a stone of every color in one beautiful package. They are often designated as a white or black opal, which is the base color. Moving into November, we see Citrine’s warm autumn hues. Ranging in colors from yellow to a deep amber, this stone perfectly represents the fall season. Last but not least is the blue topaz stone representing December. This is one gemstone where the paler the color, the more pure and desirable it actually is! To me, it looks like the sky on a bright winter day. So there you have it, my take on birthstones. What month were you born in? Do you like the stone that your birthday falls under? Let me know in the comments!
I love statement pieces. It doesn’t matter if it is a necklace, earrings, a bracelet, a ring, or even a hairpiece. I love the feel of putting one on, how confident it makes me, how attention grabbing they are. Statement pieces can make an outfit look polished, elevate a closet staple, or make a woman feel like a million bucks. If you get the right piece, it can do all three! The problem with statement pieces is that they don’t always transition well to everyday wear. Those long, gorgeous pendant earrings don’t quite look right in the office. Your attention-grabbing necklace that makes every plunging neckline look amazing rarely has the same effect on t-shirts. That sparkly bracelet snags on every sweater you wear. And, as much as I wish it were otherwise, that tiara you wore on your wedding day just isn’t something you can wear as you go about a regular day. Many of these beautiful pieces go unworn because it can be hard to fit them into your regular daily life. So the other night, I found myself looking through my jewelry collection and thinking about how many of these items I save for special occasions or specific outfits. That kind of bummed me out. I got to thinking about how I can’t possibly be the only woman who has a whole box full of stuff that is too special for everyday but too beautiful not to wear. Then it hit me: what if there were jewelry sets specifically for this purpose? A necklace, say, that was a statement piece, and then a similar one that was more adaptable to everyday wear? A set of flashy and gorgeous earrings that were perfect for date night, and then you could maybe detach the dangling part to transition them to something acceptable for office wear? Or even a gorgeous center stone ring that had another ring you could stack on it to elevate it to a statement piece when you felt like it? Ooooh, the possibilities, ladies! I decided to try the necklaces first, since they seemed the easiest. My plan was to come up with a gorgeous statement necklace, and then figure out a way to adapt and tone down the piece while making it look similar enough to see that they were related. I spent a lot of time in the bead section, but I finally found what I wanted. I got some Jade Burma beads for both pieces and worked a couple of crystal stones with a nice gemstone cut into a pendant for the statement necklace. I made it longer than the everyday wear piece, and gave it a sturdier clasp to support the weight of the pendant. For the more “everyday” piece, I added crystal beads in corresponding colors to the Burma beads instead. This way, it had the same color palette and feel but was more practical. They were both pretty, and that was encouraging. I think I am going to make a few more and see how they do at the next craft show. I’ve laid out some drawings for the earrings. I didn’t see quite what I wanted the last time I was at the craft store, so I am afraid I’ll have to buy some things online. I don’t like to do it—I would much rather see and feel what I’m buying, but sometimes it is just unavoidable. The selection online is really hard to beat.
So you want to make a piece of jewelry for yourself, huh? That’s wonderful! My first tip is going to be something that should be obvious but you might not consider: don’t be too ambitious. I mean, make something simple, like a classic single strand beaded necklace or some simple earrings first. Get a feel for where your talents lie and your natural skills. I highly recommend taking a class or two before you start working on your own, but at the very least read a book at your local library or watch some youtube videos first. There are lots of different techniques out there, from metal stamping, to beading, to intricate wire work. Think about what types of jewelry you like. Look at bead stores online or visit craft stores and see what inspires you. Then you’ll have a direction to go in and it will also give you an idea of what tools you are going to need. Jewelry making requires quite a few tools, most of which are pliers! Learn some basic techniques before you start. The first thing you need to figure out is how to make a jump ring. A jump ring is one of those little circles with the small opening that you see on just about every single piece of jewelry you own. They attach charms and pendants, you can use them to make chains, and they can be used as clasps. There are great videos and websites out there to guide you in this process, as it is a little too long to write up here and it’s better with visuals. Another helpful thing to learn is how to make a wire loop. Keep practicing, and you’ll get it down pretty well. This is a perfect skill to have if you want to make pendants, charms, or drop earrings. Next, before you make your jewelry, do not forget to measure! Make sure that you know how long you want the finished piece, and cut your materials accordingly. If you don’t know the proper length, you can find charts online, or you can measure some of your own pieces that you like the fit or length of. I also can’t stress enough the idea of finishing your pieces. If you’re using any metal or wire, be sure to finish the edges so they aren’t sharp or raw looking, and polish any visible metal surfaces (stones, too, for that matter). This will really make your piece go from looking homemade to a quality handmade piece. Lastly, remember that you’re learning. Be patient with yourself and keep trying. The first piece you make is probably not going to look as pretty as you hoped it would. That’s OK. Try again. The next piece you make will look better. The more you practice, the better things will look. Eventually you will start to be proud of your craft, and you’ll laugh at how hard something like a wire loop felt!
I am always nervous before a craft fair – will anybody even stop by my booth? What if they do stop by but think my work is worthless? Will I walk away without selling anything? Will anybody even attend? What if it is outside and it rains? There are always so many doubts and questions. I assume that anything and everything is going to go wrong. Being able to think of them all might be my superpower.
I headed out to a local fair today, feeling cautious but optimistic. I figured I had a couple of things going for me. I had seen lots of advertising for this particular fair, so I was at least confident that there would be some people in attendance. And it was indoors, which meant that I did not have to worry about rain keeping people away or the wind knocking down my displays. Both were good things. See? I was right before when I said I was optimistic!
I got there around the same time as many of the other vendors, and we were all bustling around setting up our tables in no time. On one side of me was a woman selling scented candles, and on the other side was a man selling honey made by his own bees. I often buy from the people around me, and I was quite excited by the prospects of picking something from my neighbors!
People started coming in, first in dribs and drabs and then in a stream. Lots of visitors at the beginning, mostly just lookers, which I understand. It’s a big fair, and people don’t want to buy something and then feel like they missed out on something better. I was just secretly hoping that there wasn’t anything better so that they would come back. There was a lull and I really started to worry that I was wasting my time.
And some of them did come back, and then I started noticing new people coming by again. I’m always surprised when people want to buy something I made. But I was able to sell several pairs of earrings, five necklaces, and four bracelets. The most popular thing I sold this time was my enamel pins, which surprised me. I sold out of those for the first time ever!
Everybody that came to the booth was incredibly nice. Many were excited about the pieces they saw and especially the ones they bought. It was a really good feeling. I felt like I wasn’t just selling jewelry, I was also making friends!
I made a nice amount of money, too, even after paying my vendor fee. Of course, I’m going to turn around and put all that money right back into beads and wire and vendor fees. Such is the life of a (part-time) jewelry maker!