As many of you here know, I have been designing jewelry for a long time. I remember back to my high school years when a friend of mine got a job at Beadazzled. They taught her to make jewelry and she, in turn, taught me. We made so many pairs of “Hippy Earrings”, we probably had a pair for each day of the month. By the way, Hippy Earrings are what we now call Chandelier Earrings and were made with earthy colored beads, now they are made with a whole range of products and accepted worldwide.
So how did I get back into the jewelry design business?
Well, I was looking for a unique way to wear my badge at work. I was famous for losing them or forgetting to hook them to my clothing, so I thought a cool necklace would be a good lanyard. I knew enough to know I could string some beads together to make it, so I went on the hunt for beads. I went to Joann’s, Hancock Fabrics and picked up some beads. When I got them home, I was not really satisfied so I put it aside for a week or so. Then I was in a Goodwill store and found a bag of old jewelry just sitting on the counter and asked the clerk how much? She told me it was mostly junk and to just take it, but I insisted on paying her and we agreed on $5.00. I took that bag of jewelry home and started going through it and was amazed at the individual beads I could take, add to other beads, to create a totally unique lanyard, so I finally did. I made my lanyard and when I wore it to work, people wanted one too but I knew I did not have enough of that stash to accommodate everyone so I told them to let me look around.
By the way, I have older ladies in the Hamptons that send me their old junk jewelry and will take jewelry no longer wanted from anyone. Jewelry can be re-fashioned into a new piece that you can call unique as well.
Right around that time I happened to take a business trip back to our offices in McClean and was talking to one of my employees and she told me there was a Beadazzled in the Tyson’s Corner Mall. Well Juanita and I made a trip over there on our lunch hour and I just walked around and marveled at all the beads in their little cups, vials hanging on the walls, charms, stretch cords, beading wire, you name it, it was there. That is when I got hooked.
Quite frankly I had thought beading stores went by the by long before that but I was thrilled to learn they had not. And you can believe that an hour or two spent wandering around a bead shop and touching all the baubles is no stretch for someone hooked on beads. I have a niece who likes to make jewelry and her mother asked us, how can you spend so much time in such a little shop? We just looked at each other, smiled and said, “It’s easy”.
I started buying books and looking up bead stores on the Internet. I knew all the bead stores in McClean and San Mateo and Berkeley before long and was buying at all of them. My friends, co-workers and family were starting to ask, could I make this? Could I make that? How much would you charge to make (fill in the blank) for me? I started pouring over the internet and found Mail Order Bead Warehouses and promptly started buying from them.
I have to add here that I had actually very seldom bought over the internet or mail order but knowing the deals I could get on bulk, I quickly changed my mind. I also have never taken a class. Everything I know has been self taught but I have to thank all the people who are so generous with their time to help others and am more than happy to do the same. It is funny, in this market you very seldom find people who are not willing to share.
Over the years I hosted jewelry parties for co-workers and friends, gave jewelry lessons as parties for young girls and basically sold by word of mouth. I must say that the parents who booked me for jewelry parties were very satisfied to know I was entertaining and teaching the girls at the same time and I never once was paid what I actually asked for, it was always more.
When we moved back to California from Nevada, I decided to try an online store. I knew from previous experience that hosting your own site was very expensive so decided to try the eBay way. I went through their training classes and had some success but it was very hard to get attention in a sea of thousands of sellers, not to mention there were items for sale that people wanted more than just jewelry. I closed down my shop and let it rest for awhile, but it kept nagging me.
I was on Facebook one night and was talking to several ladies about a picture of a piece I made and they talked me into opening a shop. So many people had recommended Etsy to me but still I held back. Then one night we were all in conversation again and were talking about names. My cousin said, “How about Blue Licorice?” Something about the name just hit me and in the next couple of days I had business cards, plans for photography to coordinate, and just went out and built the shop on Etsy. I am almost at the end of my first year and while I am not making a fortune, I am satisfied with all the new customers I have gained. I don’t want to be a production line anyway.
One thing I have learned along the way is to try new things. When people ask if you can do this or that, don’t outright say no, look into it. Some things you know are going to be cost prohibitive like buying a kiln for making glass beads, but in the future? It certainly is an idea, besides if you don’t look beyond your current capabilities, you will never learn something new. I have learned so many ways of looking at design, teaching myself new methods and always keeping an open mind to new things. I even have friends I consult regularly who advise me on color, one friend in particular, Sharon, that constantly helps me to think outside the box when it comes to color and design. I also have a friend, Ellen, who has taught me how to use the color wheel when deciding on complimentary colors.
Their ideas have led to unique color combinations that I find really work but I might not have thought of myself. In the past, I was intent on building a supply, now I look for the “one of a kind”, “unique” or just plain old complementary items. I look to different mediums for design ideas and I use components and findings in ways they were not originally meant to be used. I work with clay, chainmaille, wire wrapping, off-loom weaving (although I do have a loom) and for now not very much straight stringing. I have found so many resources on the internet and have joined many groups to keep in touch with new ideas and inspirations. I use flowers, pictures, nature and many other things to inspire new designs.
It has been a long journey, but I find that I am content where I am now. I don’t have to make a lot of pieces in one month and can spend time on quality rather than quantity and that is a good feeling. So you can see what I am talking about when I talk about inspiration, I am adding some pics below to demonstrate just that. I hope you enjoyed this departure from my usual serious writings. It is funny, I usually struggle for days, going from MS Word to posting an almost finished product here and tonight I was able to write at least the body of the post in about 40 minutes. It usually takes me days. Below are some examples of how and what design consists of and the finished piece.
These jump rings:
Was inspired from this flower and a bit of alcohol tinting of sea glass beads:
Led to my version of the same bracelet:
Here is an example of wire wrapping which I started teaching myself this year:
And, last but never least, here is an example of off loom weaving, I am hooked for sure on this medium. It is called a Russian Spiral and is very popular and very advanced as far as design goes in Eastern Europe. I may never be as creative or as detailed as they are, but it will not be for lack of trying. This is an example of a spiral I did for a customer then took a pic halfway through to be sure she approved, she did and says it “sparkles in the sun”. And those pink marks? They are residue from my adventures tinting sea glass beads:
I hope you have enjoyed this from my little corner of the world in my little craft room. I certainly enjoyed writing the post and sharing my art medium.