Monday, October 28, 2013

Selling Handmade Jewelry: Charity Event

Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. While I used to love dressing up and collecting candy as a child, I'm no longer into that. We don't get many trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood so my husband and I usually stay indoors and hide out from the older kids who wander the streets spraying people with shaving cream.

This year, however, we actually got to celebrate. Our friend Christopher, who has an October birthday, LOVES Halloween -- especially the dressing-up part -- and hosted a costume party. As I said, I hadn't dressed up for years, but Jon and I wore the formal outfits that were made for us when we attended our friend's wedding in Nigeria last year. I had to admit; I enjoyed dressing up (even if my outfit technically wasn't a costume and it was fun to see what kinds of get-ups the other guests wore. No one was sprayed with shaving cream and everyone seemed to have a really great time.

This party wasn't just for Halloween, though; Christopher held it so that he could raise money for the school where he works, which is for children with cerebral palsy. He's very passionate about his job and wants to see his students have as many opportunities in life, as possible. By having this Halloween party, he managed to combine two of his loves in one event. Happily, he raised over $700 for the school, the money which will be used for computers, sports and arts equipment, etc. Woo hoo!

Christopher asked if I could donate a few of my jewelry pieces for the raffle and, of course, I agreed. I chose several of my wire wrapped pendants because these necklaces fit almost everyone and they're pretty popular among my customers. I was very pleased to see that they got many bids throughout the night! A few people complimented me on my work, which was nice, but more importantly, they helped raise money for this important cause. I didn't make a dime, but know what? Making these "sales" gave me even more satisfaction than usual. I'm glad that I was able to help out in some way, even if it was just from making a small contribution.

I'm so proud of Christopher for pulling off such a fun and spectacular party, and for managing to raise so much money. I'm sure that his students will appreciate his work. So thank you, Christopher, for including me in your event -- and for reminding me why Halloween can be such an enjoyable holiday.

Check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Abstract gold wire wrapped pendants

I just got a new shipment of 14 gauge gold wire -- which meant it was time to make some more abstract wire wrapped pendants!

These are always fun to make and I always try to come up with new shapes. It's hard because there are only so many ways to bend the wire, but I'm always up for a challenge. Out of these, my favorite is the bottom one, the spiral with the zig-zag top. I just really like how the spiral turned out, especially since it's difficult to curl the wire compared to thinner gauges.

The interesting thing about these wire wrapped necklaces is that I don't get many views on them. If you go to my Etsy page, you'll see that I typically have fewer than 40 views for each of these pieces, whereas my infinity ring has two-thousand something. However, almost all of these abstract pendants have sold. I guess the people who bother to click on them know exactly what they want? Last night, I actually made my quickest sale every, which was very cool. I listed that top pendant -- the "S"-shaped one -- then went to refresh the page and it was gone. I was wondering what happened to my listing ... and then saw that in the minute I'd posted it, I'd made a sale! Woo hoo! I wish that all of my sales went so quickly and smoothly, but this was a nice surprise.

Now that I think about it, the very first piece I sold in Etsy was one of these gold pendants. I think people like them because they're so simple and classic. That's why I like to make them. Sure, I'm learning different techniques like champleve enameling, but these pendants will stay in style forever.

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Silver wire wrapped, copper and enamel champleve earrings with Swarovski crystals

I really like making champleve pieces and as time goes on, I'm getting better at this technique. My most recent creation is this pair of earrings, which are copper, wire wrapped with silver and Swarovski crystals:

The beauty of champleve is that you create an inlaid design that shows off the metal against the enamel. My teacher remarked that these earrings really show a lot of metal, but I like that there's a such a wide "frame" around the enamel portions.

For the enamel, I applied stripes of purple and blue glass. One of my classmates said that it looks as if the copper has been inlaid with opals. That wasn't what I was going for -- I was just experimenting with colors -- but hey, I'm glad that they're pretty!

My one disappointment with these is that I wish they were a little more lightweight. I used 16 gauge copper so they're a bit bulky for my ears, but I know plenty of women who like sturdy statement earrings. And these definitely make a strong statement!

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Tales From The Craft Fair: October Edition

Yesterday, I sold my jewelry at the craft fair held at Temple Beth-El in Patchogue, NY. Well, "sold" is an understatement because I didn't do so well at this venue, which was a bummer.

I participated in this fair last year and did very well. They had a great crowd and I sold many pieces. I also ran into an old college friend. I got to see that friend again, which was nice, but the crowd was unfortunately lacking ... and the sales just didn't happen. I'm not sure why so few people showed up this time because it was held on the same weekend and the weather was beautiful; as always, these things are kind of a crap shoot.

One thing that I did notice is that people seemed to be intimidated by my higher-end pieces. When I did the art fair a few weeks ago, I made sure that my most complex pieces were prominently displayed. The strategy worked because I got a lot of attention and even managed to sell some of my most expensive items.

I did the same thing here, making sure that my stand-out jewelry was right in view of people when they entered the synagogue. I also made sure to include my enamel and wire wrapped hamsa pendant in that group -- after all, it is a Judaic necklace:

People did come by to see those pieces and many did admire the hamsa pendant, but they kind of flinched at my prices -- which honestly, aren't THAT high. I charge $40 for the hamsa, which is almost completely handmade. I explained that I cut out the shape myself from copper sheet metal and covered it with layers of enamel and silver foil... but many people just didn't seem to understand the labor involved. Others did understand and sort of nervously asked me how many hours I spent on a particular necklace. Then they'd be like, "Wow, that's a lot of work!" and not even ask for a price. I guess they figured that with that amount of labor, it would be too high for them? I don't know. If anything, I think I undercharge, but I want my pieces to be affordable. At these fairs, I generally have a range of items priced from $10-$50 or $60 and I give discounts when multiple items are purchased. I don't want to rip off people, but I don't want to rip off myself, either.

Anyway, though my sales didn't go as well as I'd hoped, I did meet a lot of interesting folks. One lady, decked out in orange Halloween gear, came by looking specifically for orange jewelry. I happened to have some orange earrings, but she wanted an orange necklace. Another lady chatted with me for a few minutes and told me about her friend who got ill from working with metal. Okay, then! And one man told me how he once made an enamel pendant during a high school field trip. The kids had a choice of activities in which they could participate and he chose jewelry making because he knew he'd be the only boy. HA! Several of the other jewelry vendors came over to say hello and a couple wanted to try their hands at wire work. One, who makes beautiful glass jewelry, wants me to give her private lessons in making wire pieces. Another asked if I'd sell her my wire earring frames wholesale so that she could attach her own beads to them. It was definitely flattering! I just wish that more people had actually bought stuff.

I'm not sure if I'll do this fair next year. It's a long commute for me and it's not worth it to spend the money on transportation if I don't make it back. I think I need to find more fairs in the city area. Meantime, I'm trying not to be too down. This has been a pretty good year for my jewelry businesses and I really love what I'm doing. Making jewelry makes ME happy and ultimately, that's what matters.

Check out my jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Copper wire wrapped enamel rainbow necklace

With practice, I'm getting better at making champleve enameled pieces. When I add the enamel to the grooves, it no longer overflows and the colors have become a lot less wonky. I now know that I need to add a base color (usually white or clear glass) in order for the top layers to come out right -- but I'm also getting the feel for how many coats to add so that the glass surface remains flush with the metal frame.

My latest creation, this copper and enamel rainbow pendant, was actually made as a test strip. When making enamel jewelry, you can never be 100 percent sure how a color will turn out after being fired in the kiln (you are depending on chemical reactions, after all), so we make test strips to get a feel for how colors will look. In this case, I laid out a layer of silver foil beneath the colored glass and wanted to see how the colors looked against the silver. Good thing I did the test because the pink turned yellow and the yellow turned orange! As my teacher pointed out, "cool colors" like purple and blue look great with silver beneath, but for "warm colors," like reds and yellows and pinks, you need gold foil.

Anyway, I liked the rainbow stripe design, especially with the shimmery silver beneath, so I decided to turn this test strip into a necklace. It's simple, but very colorful and I think that the silver undertone adds a complexity to the different hues. I especially like how it looks in the sun when you can see the sparkle in the foil.

I'm always experimenting with projects and have many that don't turn out well -- but sometimes I end up with a happy accident!

To purchase my jewelry, head to Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Wire wrapped jewelry designs: wire wrapped ankle bracelets

I've gotten several requests for ankle bracelets at craft fairs, but I'd yet to make them. I've never actually owned or even worn an anklet and wasn't sure how long they should be, what styles work best for that type of jewelry, etc.

However, I recently received a very specific custom order for an ankle bracelet where the customer asked me to turn two of my wire wrapped designs into anklets. She gave me her measurements ... and voila! I made two wire wrapped ankle bracelets (and yes, that's my ugly foot in the pictures):

I've never thought that ankle bracelets would be comfortable, but they really didn't feel uncomfortable when I tried them on. They didn't rub against my leg or feel too tight against my ankle. I guess they're a lot like wearing bracelets ... only they're not quite as visible. I don't know about you, but I usually don't look at people's feet unless they're wearing an eye-catching pair of shoes. I guess anklets are meant to be more intimate? My friend Lani adores them and hardly ever takes hers off; I'm sure she has more ideas about this thought.

I have a craft fair coming up this weekend and think I might make a couple more pairs of anklets. It can't hurt to have some more since they seem to be so popular. Maybe I'll get into wearing them, too...

To purchase my jewellery, head to Naomi's Designs or MayaGirl Creations.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Swimming Upstream" copper wire wrapped, turquoise and enamel champleve necklace

I finally finished my latest champleve creation! This one, I call "Swimming Upstream" since it has an abstract fish design that I made from silver cloisonne wire:

I actually began this project last June. After sawing out a rectangle of 16 gauge copper sheet metal, I "burned" a depression into it using acid (a process I recommend NOT doing unless you've been taught and have proper safety supplies). After, I filled the large groove with silver foil and then a few layers of white base enamel. Full disclosure: I burned the enamel a couple of times, which I why I had to add several coats.

Once it came time to lay down the cloisonne wire, I played around with some shapes and came up with this simple, abstract fish design. I liked the way that each fish fit into the next, creating a little pattern. I also love the ocean, so I liked the idea of creating something that had a nautical motif. I used aqua, nitric blue, purple and gem green enamels to create those oceanic colors; the silver foil provides a bit of a shimmery effect, so it looks like the water is rippling behind the fish.

After the pendant was finally completed, I set to work on the chain. I wanted to offset the copper "frame" on the pendant, so I alternated the turquoise bead links with little 18-gauge wire wrapped copper "shell" spirals." I didn't want to make the chain design too complicated because I wanted the pendant to take center stage -- but I think that the wire wrapped design complements the fish.

I have a couple of other champleve enamel pieces that I'm working on, so stay tuned! Meantime, check out my jewelry at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations.