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Finding A Job Which Utilizes Your Jewelry Making Experience: Some Expected and Some Unexpected Possibilities

Posted by learntobead on July 18, 2021

Warren Feld

Warren FeldJust now·9 min read

Finding A Job Which Utilizes Your Jewelry Making Experience

There are actually many career pathways for people who have backgrounds in jewelry making and bead working. Besides the obvious pathways of making jewelry to sell, or teaching jewelry making, there are still many job and career opportunities for you.

You may have to do a little more leg work, and a little more tree-shaking. Don’t assume, however, when the linear pathway is blocked, that all pathways are blocked. They are not.

Some types of jobs/careers which might use your talents….

There are a lot of private companies, nonprofit agencies, government agencies, and foundations and philanthropic agencies that work with disadvantaged groups, and need people to provide technical assistance to these groups. These groups might be inner city. They might be rural. They might be overseas.

Very often, projects these businesses and organizations work on have a craft-angle to them. They may need people to teach crafts, to teach people to transfer their craft skills into marketable skills, or to assist people in applying for loans to start up businesses, usually small loans and usually things associated with selling crafts.

Banks

Banks have found it profitable to make “micro-loans”. These loans are very small amounts, and usually given to women in developing countries, to help them leverage their skills — often craft skills — to make a business out of them. Banks need personnel to

o Develop loan forms, documentation and procedures

o Find opportunities for making these loans

o Working with people to teach them how to apply for these loans

o Working with people to teach them how to be more accountable with loan moneys

o Working with people to teach them how to translate their craft skills into marketable skills (called transfer of technology). Often this means helping them find resources to get materials, make choices about materials and what would be most cost-effective, and how to market their products

o Working with people to find markets for, and otherwise promote, their products

o Helping people form cooperatives so that they can buy materials more cheaply, and sell and market their products cooperatively

Government and International Agencies

Government and International Agencies need people to….

o Determine where — what communities, what demographics — they can most likely leverage local talents to better people’s lives. Crafts, particularly beading and jewelry making, provide very useful talents around which to leverage

o Evaluate local technologies — and these include all craft technologies — in terms of readiness and/or capability for cost-effective technology transfer

o Do some community organizing to make local people aware of governmental assistance (or other assistance), and to help them complete applications for this assistance

o Evaluate these kinds of programs to determine success, and make recommendations about how to increase these successes

o Document craft technologies, particularly among native, tribal, or isolated groups that are in danger of becoming extinct

o Similarly, to create ways to preserve craft technologies which are in danger of becoming extinct, or which became extinct a long time ago, and which be restored. A good example is how South Korea restored the art of celadon pottery making, or China’s work at preserving Yixing Tea Pot making.

Military

Military Agencies do similar things as governmental ones, except from a slightly different perspective. They want to know, in an anthropological sense, how people value different local technologies — including craft technologies –, and which ones can military and related civilian advisors assist the locals with, to improve their economy and security.

Philanthropy

Philanthropic Foundations have many missions. One mission is to improve and secure the health, welfare, and social economy of particular areas or population groups. Crafts are one way of accomplishing this, particularly if working with disadvantaged populations or areas.

Crafts are things people do all the time, that are attractive as products (and services if you are teaching), improve the quality of life, and form the roots of good businesses — especially start-ups.

Another mission of Philanthropic organizations is to pre-test different strategies for social and economic development. Again crafts, and beads especially, can form the basis of many strategies for business development, empowerment of minorities and women, assistance for the elderly, technology transfer, and the like.

Philanthropic organizations need people who can…

o Develop grants, rules and applications

o Find community organizations to apply for these grants

o Evaluate the success of grants

o Work with academics and consultant experts to generate experimental ideas to be tested through grants

o Work with local, state and national government agencies to find cost-sharing ways of testing out these “ideas”

o In similar way, find and negotiate public-private partnerships towards this end

Information Technology and Website Development

Information technology and website development companies, with Google a prime example, are in the business of translating reality into tables of data that can easily be accessed and assessed. These types of companies need people who can

o Translate craft terms and activities into categories for which data can be consistently collected, organized, stored and analyzed

o Work with museums and galleries which buy, own, exhibit, store or display crafts, to develop ways to collect and categorize routine data on these collections and their importance to different types of people and groups

o Sell the use of these craft-specific databases to companies or individuals that will use them

o Work with craft magazines, museums, schools, galleries and the like to help standardize some of the terminologies and valuations associated with various crafts, to make it easier to collect and sort data about them

o Assist craft artists in development of websites

o Assist craft artists in marketing their websites, especially through social media sites

o Develop blogs

o Develop advertising and marketing materials

o Develop packaging and branding materials

o Digitize images of craft items

Museums, Galleries and Libraries

Museums, Galleries and Libraries employ craft artists to…

o Catalog and digitize collections

o Document quality of items

o Restore aged or otherwise damaged pieces

o Write brochures and promotional materials

o Organize exhibits

o Raise funds for exhibits

o Advocate for funds among government agencies and philanthropic groups

o Organize a “crafts” section where none has existed before

o Promote fine crafts

o Organize a craft show to raise money and/or awareness

Many museums, galleries and libraries have tons of things in storage that have only loosely been documented, and need much more documentation and organization.

Non-Profit Groups, Agencies and Institutions

Non-Profit Groups employ all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds. They always need help with many fund-raising or program-targeting things. Your craft knowledge can play a very useful role here.

For example, take your local breast cancer society. Think of all the kinds of craft-type things you can make, and for which they can sell, to raise money. You could organize a craft brain trust among your friends, and turn out item after item with breast cancer awareness themes and colors. Or you could scour the internet for breast cancer awareness craft items, and make them work for you. And you could repeat this success for many other local nonprofit groups.

One of my friends went to the Atlanta Gift Show, and identified vendors that had products that could easily be adapted for breast cancer awareness. She worked out with each one what the minimum orders would be, how much lead time would be needed between placing an order and receiving the merchandise, and price. Then she went to local breast cancer groups and presented them with the options. She added 15% to the prices as her commission. These organizations fund raise all the time, and are in major need of new things to sell and promote. My friend had to lay out very little money — basically the cost of a trip to Atlanta, some phone calls and paperwork — and generated a very lucrative business for herself.

I remember spending some time in Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York City. This hospital specializes in cancer treatment. I was observing patient activities. One of these activities involved volunteers pushing a cart around with various craft activities for patients to do.

Most of the patients in the rooms in the Ward I was on could barely move their bodies, arms and hands. They were very medicated, and had many needles and IV’s stuck into them during their stay. All the craft projects on these carts required considerable manual dexterity — knitting, beading with seed beads, crocheting. The volunteers would cheerily come into the room, announce themselves, and ask if the patient wanted any of these fun crafts to do. The patients would shake their heads No, and grunt. The patients could barely move. And the volunteers left the room, unconcerned.

I took a trip to FAO Schwartz — the toy store — and came back with sets of interlocking building blocks. The blocks were made from different colors of plastic. They were different shapes. A patient could easily hold one or two pieces in their hands without requiring much manual dexterity. The pieces fit together easily by interlocking two pieces, where a slot had been cut out in each. These were a big hit on the Ward. They allowed creativity, without much manual dexterity. The pieces were large enough, that the patient could manipulate them with their hands, and not worry about losing any, if they dropped to the floor.

In hospitals and health care settings, I’ve helped create programs to assist occupational therapists with improving manual dexterity with the elderly, therapists with improving attention spans with children, conducting memory agility tests with patients, and many more programs, utilizing crafts materials and technics.

There are plenty of social and community problems to solve, many different kinds of businesses and organizations responsible for solving these problems, and many solutions which require crafts — materials or technologies which are workable, do-able, saleable, and implementable. There most likely won’t be advertised positions for these kinds of things. But you would be surprised how easy it can be to create your own job opportunities and ones which utilize your craft experiences and knowledge.

When Approaching These Potential Employers and Consultants, Be Sure To…

1. Be able to clearly define how your craft knowledge/experience can help your prospective employer solve some of her/his (NOT YOUR) problematic situations.

2. Research prospective employers, their websites and marketing materials. Identify the key words and buzz words in their materials. Be sure to include these in your written and oral presentations to them.

3. Approach the prospective employer by phone or in person first. Then follow-up with a resume and cover letter. Don’t assume that, because you can make the intellectual link between job and solution, that the employer will see this link when reading a resume. You’ll probably have to educate the employer a bit. This really doesn’t take much effort.

4. Cite examples of what kinds of things you can do. If you can identify other programs or individuals with success stories, do so.

5. If you make your “job search” also a “mission to educate people about crafts”, you’ll be surprised how much energy and excitement you bring to the job interview situation.

_______________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork KITS.

Add your name to my email list.

_____________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, creativity, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, wire and metal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Saying Good-bye! To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage

Posted by learntobead on July 14, 2021

Canyon Sunrise, Necklace by Warren Feld, 2008

One of the most difficult things I have to do as a designer is say Good-Bye! to my pieces. I make something. I put it out there for sale. Someone buys it. I will probably never see it again. Yes, I can make another one, but that’s not the same thing. That’s not the point.

I submitted the necklace piece pictured above to a Swarovski Create Your Style Contest in 2008. The theme was be naturally inspired. My inspiration was this sunrise image of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon at sunrise

I was selected as a Finalist. I was invited to their offices in New York City to attend the awards ceremony. I was so excited.

I had poured my all into this piece. Hours upon hours upon hours perfecting the stitching. Experimenting with using the stitching in a 3-dimensional way. Creating a curvature along the upper sides where normally it would be a sharp edge. Selecting a 5-color scheme and figuring out how to create sharper boundaries between colors when using Swarovski crystal beads. Varying the shape, size and type of beads used within the stitch. Designing a clasp assembly which I hoped looked like a mirror of the rising sun. None of these were easy tasks. Because the fully completed piece took about 100 hours to do and contained over $1500 worth of parts, I did all this experimentation and trial and error using 3″ long samples.

I had to send off my piece to New York prior to the ceremony. And from there, my piece would be flown to Innsbruck, Austria to reside in their Swarovski Museum.

I was proud. Got the big head and paraded it around. Shared my news widely, of course.

But when the day came to pack my piece up, … not a good day.

This day actually dragged on for a week.

First, I started with one jewelry box to place the piece in. Not satisfied. So another box. Not satisfied. And another box. Still not satisfied. I combed my jewelry packaging catalogs, and found 3 more choices I thought would work. I ordered these and had them shipped overnight.

Success. One of the three was perfect.

Next, I had to put this jewelry box into a larger shipping box. Easy to find a box. But my stupid brain could not come to grips with how I wanted to place the jewelry box into the shipping box. How much filler would I need? What type — paper, styrofoam, bubble wrap. Normally, I do not have difficulty making these kinds of choices. But not this time.

I would line the shipping box, sit the jewelry box in one direction, then stop. I would remove the jewelry box, change how I lined the shipping box, replace the jewelry box in another direction, then stop. I would remove the jewelry box, again decide differently how it was to lay in the shipping box, then try to line the box, cover the jewelry box, add some paper work, and seal the shipping box. Plastic tape or paper tape? Another delay while I decided.

I did not want to let go of my beautifully designed piece of jewelry. I let my next choice create a particularly high barrier. Which shipper?

The postal service was less expensive, but less reliable.

UPS was very expensive, more reliable, but what if they weren’t? It was going to New York City. How does any shipper reliability ship to New York City?

FedEx? Maybe, but I was not familiar enough with them.

Insure the package? For how much?

Certified? Signature required?

I struggled considerably over each choice. And I never struggle over these kinds of choices.

Well, at this point, my piece was in its jewelry box. My jewelry box was in its shipping box. My shipping box was sealed. I took my jewelry cum jewelry box cum sealed shipping box to UPS. The clerk had to pull it out of my hand.

And there it went.

Good-bye!

Don’t worry, it arrived safely.

I traveled to New York City for the ceremony. There was champagne and hor d’oeuvres. There were the other finalists mostly from America, but from other parts of the world, as well. There was even the Brazilian consulate general there to represent an artist from Brazil. We were all packed in the very, very bright and sparkly offices of Swarovski.

There was my piece. My Canyon Sunrise. Sitting pretty among the other pieces. Reassuring it was still there. It was in good company. I enjoyed listening to the comments of people as they admired it. I learned a lot from speaking and sharing with the other jewelry designers.

Canyon Sunrise won 4th place.

And, I had a chance to say Good-bye! one more time.

When I returned home, I immediately went to work on recreating my piece, but this time with another challenge. I took the same 5 colors I used in the original piece, and shifted the proportions around. I did not add a pendant drop in the center, nor did I recreate the elaborate clasp assembly in the back. But I had a physical piece — a cousin — to put on display with my other jewelry pieces. I could show people more than a photograph of the original piece. This was very satisfying. I was ready to move on to other projects.

Canyon Twilight, necklace by Warren Feld, 2008

Relinquishing Your Jewelry Design To Others: A Rite of Passage

One of the most emotionally difficult things designers do is saying Good-bye! to their designs as they hand them over to their client or otherwise expose their work publicly. The designer has contributed so much thinking and has spent so much time (and sometimes so much money) to the project that it is like ripping away an integral part of your being.

This is the moment where you want to maintain the conversation and engage with your audience, but look at this from a different perspective. Your relationship with your design is evolving and you need to evolve with it. Its innate intimacy is shifting away from you and getting taken over by someone else.

But you still have needs here. You want that client to ask you to design something else for them. You want the client to share your design with others, expanding your audience, your potential clients, your validation and legitimacy as a designer. And you want to prepare yourself emotionally to take on the next project.

Relinquishing control over your design is a rite of passage. At the heart of this rite of passage are shared understandings and how they must shift in content and perspective. Rites of passage are ceremonies of sorts. Marking the passage from one status to another. There are three stages:

(1) Separation

You pass your design to others. You become an orphan. You have made a sacrifice and want something emotionally powerful and equal to happen to you in return. Things feel incomplete or missing. There is a void wanting to be fulfilled. You realize you are no longer sure about and confident in the shared understandings under which you had been operating .

(2) Transition (a betwixt and between)

There is a separation, a journey, a sacrifice. The designer is somewhat removed from the object or project, but not fully. The shared understandings constructed around the original project become fuzzy. Something to be questioned. Wondering whether to hold on to them or let go. Pondering what to do next. Playing out in your head different variations in or changes to these shared understandings. Attempting to assess the implications and consequences for any change.

These original shared understandings must undergo some type of symbolic ritual death if the designer is to move on. Leverage the experience. Start again. As simple as putting all the project papers in a box to be filed away. Or having a launch party. Or deleting files and images on a computer. Or accepting payment. Or getting a compliment. Or having a closure-meeting with the client to review the process after it has been completed.

(3) Reincorporation

The designer redefines him- or her-self vis-à-vis the designed object or project. The designer acquires new knowledge and new shared understandings. There is some reaffirmation. Triumph. This usually involves a new resolve, confidence and strategy for starting new projects, attracting new clients, and seeking wider acceptance of that designer’s skills and fluency in design.

The designer has passed through the rite of passage. The jewelry or other designed object or project has been relinquished. The designer is ready to start again.

But as a designer, you will always be managing shared understandings. These most likely will have shifted or changed after the design is gone. And new ones will have to be constructed as you take on new assignments.

_______________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork KITS.

Add your name to my email list.

_____________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, wire and metal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT:How Am I Going To Control The Flow Of Money In My Jewelry Design Business?

Posted by learntobead on June 10, 2021

Abstract:

Financial management includes all the things you need to do in order to determine your Return On Investment (ROI).   It mostly involves a system of data collection, monitoring and analysis methods employed by any successful business.   This system relates risks to rewards.    Activities in this kind of system include things such as general accounting and bookkeeping, inventory management, and record keeping.    These include things you do to establish and maintain formal relationships with employees, independent contractors and suppliers.    These include things you do to secure your money, such as with banks, financial institutions, and even such things as crowd-funding online.     This is a lot of numbers and activities, and often, when we look at why people fail in business, it is often because of a generalized fear of getting in control of all this.   Successful business people and successful businesses need to foster a culture which promotes a growth mindset.    Simply this is a culture where you have permission and encouragement and confidence to take risks.    

A Focus On Your Return On Investment (ROI)

You put a lot of time, effort and resources into designing pieces of jewelry and building up your business.    This all has a cost to you in time, money, and even relationships.    You want a Return On Investment (ROI).    You want to see some benefits that exceed your costs.   Joy, happiness, contentment, money, security, less stress, more opportunities and more challenging opportunities to be creative, more fulfilling relationships.  

When you take your creative endeavors and turn them into a business, the core focus primarily rests on increasing your returns on investments (ROI’s) through smartly and strategically managing your finances.   You want to set into place various management structures and routine data collection procedures to assist you in managing risk and maximizing rewards.   You want to minimize the effects of uncertainty on your business.

Sometimes, creative people think that some people are born to take risks, manage them and live with them, and others are not.   This is not true.    Having a business sense is not something innate or genetic.   It’s something that is learned over time, often with a lot of trial and error, many failures, but key successes, as well.   There is no reason, if this is something you want to do, to shy away from thinking about or attempting to monetize your jewelry as a business.  

Towards this end, you want to get a good handle on such things as:

  1. Understanding risk and reward
  2. Tracking your costs and revenues
  3. Tracking your inventory
  4. Other record keeping
  5. Employees and Independent Contractors
  6. Banking, Insurance and Credit Card Processing
  7. Getting Terms
  8. Getting Paid
  9. Crowd-funding
  10. Fostering a Growth Mind-set


a) ROI: Understanding Risk and Reward

It is important to understand risk and reward, and how to manage these.    Part of managing these is putting into place systems which collect necessary data – primarily about costs and revenues – and evaluating the data and its desired impact on everything you are trying to achieve in your business.  Anyone can do this.   But jewelry designers who foster a growth mind-set are often better at managing risk and reward.

What Is Risk and What Is Reward

Risks and rewards are gambles.   They are probabilities.   Chances.    They help define the likelihood for determining whether what happens next will hurt you or help you.

Risk is the likelihood that you will lose either or both tangible rewards (money) and intangible rewards (success, happiness).    

Rewards are the profits, again tangible (money) or intangible (success, happiness), you receive from taking risks.   

Usually, the greater the risks you take, the greater the rewards earned.  But this is not a guarantee.    Losses can occur, usually resulting from the failures to properly manage the relationship between risks and rewards.

Risk management is important in every business because without it, that business cannot clarify what goals it needs to set, and what steps it needs to take towards meeting those goals.   There are more things to do on a day-to-day basis than you could possibly do and get done.    Risk management helps you narrow down the tasks to those most likely to have the greatest rewards. 

Risks and Rewards must be managed in a deliberate, rational, and day-by-day way.   Routinely.   With fore-thought and organization.    This means collecting data.   This means analyzing data.    This means closely looking at risk and evaluating whether it makes sense, or not, to continue doing what you are doing, or what you want to be doing.    Is it sufficiently rewarding or profitable?    What is the opportunity cost?   That is, you could be expending the same amount of resources (time, motivation, money) doing something else that might have a greater return.

Any business is fraught with risk.   If it were easy to start a business, everyone would do it.    But it is not.    Again, it requires routinely collecting and evaluating data.     It takes you out of that creative mode and way of thinking, and plops you down into a very different administrative one.    In order to sell a piece of jewelry, you have to begin to deal with things like marketing and promotion, production, distribution, inventory management, investments in tools, parts, displays and equipment.   You need to closely track all your costs and all your revenues.    It means taking chances you might lose money or fail.   This is scary.   

When managing risks, it is important to remember:

  1. Don’t confuse Risk with Fear.    Fear keeps you from doing things.   Risk aids you in asserting some control over uncertainty.
  2. Simply be aware that both Risks and Rewards exist.     Where there are greater rewards, there are usually also greater risks.
  3. Yes, risks are risky, but should not be reckless.
  4. Make decisions based on the relationship of risks to rewards.   It is not the number of pieces of jewelry you make.   Rather it is the average return you get from each piece of jewelry you make, given the costs and investments you made in order to finish that piece of jewelry and sell it.   This type of information will clue you into such things as what might happen if you too aggressively seek rewards, or too timidly accept risks.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Diversify the types of jewelry you make, designs you do, parts you use, markets you seek to exploit.
  6. Keep things simple.   There is a lot of data, systems and subsystems of information to manage.   Things which help keep things simple:  
  7. standardization of forms, collection procedures, the ways data are organized
  8. use of summary indicators like totals, averages, means, mediums, rates, trends
  9. routines developed for procedures and administration

How Do You Measure Risk and Reward

As a jewelry designer, you will be measuring risks and rewards in a few different ways.

  1. Measuring Risk and Reward: General accounting
  2. Measuring Risk and Reward: Financial Management
  3. Measuring Risk and Reward: Inventory Management
  4. Measuring Risk and Reward: Pricing
  5. Measuring Risk and Reward: Impression Management

1) Measuring Risk and Reward: General Accounting

You will set up a General Ledger (G/L) to track your revenues and expenses, and liabilities and assets.    This is like setting up a giant table or spreadsheet.    You enter every piece of information into this table or spreadsheet that represents some kind of expenditure to you or some kind of revenue received.     Below I go into more detail about setting up a General Ledger.

2) Measuring Risk and Reward: Financial Management

Here you try to reduce things you do to a series of rates and trend-lines.     It is NOT the number or dollar amounts of your sales.   Instead, it is your rate of sales.   Your rates of inventory reduction and replenishment.     Your accumulated debt to earnings.    Breakeven analysis.   Trends in gross profit and net profit.

For some rates, management means maintaining a constant velocity or turn in the rate.     For example, if you need to sell a minimum of 6 pieces of jewelry each week to breakeven, are you able to maintain at least this rate every week in the year?   If not, for those times in the year where the velocity of this rate might slow down, what else can you do instead to maintain your business at least at the breakeven point?   

For other rates, management means maintaining an upward trend or trajectory, even though some weeks the data may decline.    Especially when you first get started in business, your gross profit and net profit might be low or even negative numbers.    The trend line is more important than the specific monthly numbers.

Leverage.  A related concept in financial management is leverage.  This is the degree you leverage someone else’s money to make money for yourself.    You might be paying for some of your inventory, equipment, furnishings or other business expenses using a credit card or relying on a bank loan or leasing where you do not have to front all the costs all at once.    You might be listing your jewelry on someone else’s website or marketplace where they are paying internet and website maintenance costs.     You might be co-marketing your jewelry with someone else who sells a product which can be integrated with yours where you thus are sharing the costs.   You might be buying inventory on terms, say NET 30, where you do not have to pay for the inventory for 30 days.   You might maintain bare minimums of inventory items, where you depend on your suppliers to provide just-in-time shipments, thus having your suppliers foot the bill for a lot of storage costs.

In each case, someone else has made investments in things that either you do not have to, or you do not have to all at once.     Sometimes, you pay for some of these over time.   Othertimes, the synergistic effects create payments for all parties above and beyond what each could do on their own.     All of this is called leverage.    

We have to monitor leverage, as well, to be sure the rewards we get do not exceed the risk we undertake to get those rewards.   

3) Measuring Risk and Reward: Inventory Management

There are three important things to understand about inventory up front:

  1. Inventory is a placeholder for money.     You paid for your inventory, and you get that money back when you sell it.
  2. As a jewelry maker and designer, you will have a bi-furcated inventory, a) an inventory of finished pieces ready for sale, and b) an inventory of parts and pieces of jewelry not ready for sale.
  3. An inventory of digitized files and applications.

Holding inventory ties up a lot of money.    This money is in the form of parts, perhaps restricting and constricting you in what colors, styles, materials, components and the like you will be able to use when designing a piece of jewelry.    Too much or too little of inventory – or the right inventory for the moment – can break your business.

This all means that inventory is something that needs to be monitored and managed.   Your goal is to minimize the cost of holding inventory.     This involves figuring out ways to know when it is time to replenish inventory, change out and update inventory, or buy more materials to manufacture inventory.   After all, you want to prevent these kinds of things from happening…

  • Lose sales
  • Hurt cash flow
  • Buy too many things which don’t and won’t sell
  • Create storage problems, including prevention of deterioration, such as plated finishes which fade over time
  • Needing cash, but it’s all tied up in inventory – you can’t eat beads
  • Reduce your profitability
  • Reduce your resiliency – that is, an ability to adapt to fashion, style, demand and culture changes
  • Losing that balance between efforts directed at inventory management with efforts required for general administration, marketing and promotion

4) Measuring Risk and Reward: Pricing

The price you set for each piece of jewelry has to be based on all the costs you incur.   Not just the costs of the parts.   Not just the time you put in.    All the costs.    These include, parts, labor and what is called overhead.   Overhead is everything else:  electricity, heat, rent, business travel, wear and tear on tools and equipment, and the like.     It is not cost-effective to have to track each and every one of these overhead costs separately, so we typically estimate them using a formula.    From a management standpoint, this formula needs to make sense and come close to its approximation.    It has to be defensible.

5) Measuring Risk and Reward: Impression Management

Much of what we do these days is digital.   We promote and sell our pieces on line.   This might be directly through a website.   It might be through social media.   It might be through an auction site.

In the digital world we track and manage impressions (often referred to as eyeballs).    Measures of risk in the digital world include concepts like Costs Per Click (CPC), Costs Per Impression (typically 1,000 impressions)(CPI), Adds To Cart (ATC), Cost Per Add To Cart (CATC), conversion rate (relates number of visitors to visitors who actually buy something), costs to maintain current conversion rate, and so forth.

Given the velocity or trends in these rates, and the returns on investments for you (such as costs of maintaining a website, marketing and promotion, supporting an inventory, handling money and credit cards, costs of shipping), you ask yourself questions about your various business and marketing strategies, your user experiences, and user impressions.    What is it costing you to persuade people to take a look and to buy?

Some of these analytics will be provided to you in stats packages you can integrate with your site.   Others will involve collecting data yourself, and analyzing them, usually in spreadsheets you create.

Next, you need to translate your understanding of risks and rewards into systems of data collection and analysis, beginning with the basics of tracking the flow of money in terms of costs and revenues.

b) ROI: Tracking Your Costs and Revenues

You set up an accounting General Ledger to track revenues and expenses, and assets and liabilities.   Your goal here is to adequately account for your expenses and revenues, and your liabilities and assets.

What are business revenues?
Business revenues include all the money coming into your business, including payments for products and services, interest on bank accounts and investments, rent you charge others to use your space or equipment, royalties you get from intellectual property.

What are business expenses?  
Business expenses are ANYTHING THAT HAVE TO DO WITH OR RELATE TO OR CONTRIBUTE TO MAKING A PROFIT.  

You might want to secure copies of IRS publications that define each business expense and how it should be accounted for.

What are business assets?
Business assets are the current values of your physical property, from desks to chairs to computers to printers to major software packages.    These are things which depreciate, that is, lose value over time.

A key asset is your inventory.    If you are selling finished jewelry, your inventory will include all your works-in-progress as well as your finished pieces.    For some jewelry businesses, it might become a little confusing to differentiate between your supply of parts and your jewelry, especially if you only assemble pieces after orders are made.    On a yearly basis, the IRS only lets you deduct the costs associated with finished jewelry pieces sold.    The rest of the inventory is treated like it is cash.   You will need to decide what exactly you call inventory and what other supplies you call supplies.   (See COST OF SALES section below).

What are business liabilities?
These are things the business owes money on, from short term net-30-day payments to suppliers to long term credit card bills and bank loans and leases.

BUSINESS USE OF A HOME:  Many jewelry designers work out of their homes.    While these expenses are red-flagged by the IRS, tax courts have consistently ruled that Congress intended to be very liberal and kind to these expenses.  

You would compute the proportion of “business use” space in your home relative to your home’s total space.   This space could be a whole room or part of a room.    This space must only be devoted to business, not personal use.   Based on this proportion, you allocate your mortgage or rent, your heating, A/C, water, sewer, and other maintenance costs to your business expenses.  

Example:   Your home is 1000 sq ft.   The room you use for your business is 100 sq ft.   So your business “use” expenses would be 10% of your rent/mortgage, 10% of your utilities, 10% of you lawn maintenance, 10% of repairs, etc.

For some expenses, you cannot use the straightforward proportion percentage.  If you use a computer, it is a better idea to have a separate one that you use for business, than for personal.  If you use one for both, you have to maintain a use log, and, based on “time the machine is used for business vs. personal”, you allocate the costs and depreciation of the machine to your business.   Telephone costs are allocated based on the proportion of business calls to all calls each month.

Don’t be shy about what to call a legitimate business expense at your home.   Picture a real store.   If they have to mow the lawn, you would have to mow the lawn at your home.   If 10% of your home were devoted to business, then 10% of your lawn mowing expenses would also qualify.   Home repairs, fixing the roof, mortgage, insurance and the like would be legitimate.   At the same time, if you have little income, do not declare these expenses with the sole purpose of gaming your tax liability.  

SETTING UP A GENERAL LEDGER (G/L):  

When you are just starting, you can set up a spreadsheet to track your expenses and revenues or even use a ledger book bought at a local office supplies store.    Or you can purchase some inexpensive software apps.    Many accounting apps have been moving to a “rent” rather than “purchase” model, where you pay a monthly fee to use their apps.   

With a General Ledger, you are basically creating a giant table for the year.   The rows are the days of the month.   The columns are your revenue and expense categories.     You also build in some summary formulas, such as the total Revenue for each month.

There are single-entry accounting systems and double-entry accounting systems.   If you are just getting started and using a ledger book or spreadsheet, using a single-entry system where you record revenues and expenses only is fine.    If you are using an accounting application, these typically are set up as a double-entry accounting system.    Here, part of the ledger accounts for revenues and expenses and the other part of the accounting system will duplicate this information in the form of assets and liabilities.    When you are making $6,000 – 10,000 per year in sales, you will want to graduate to the double-entry system.    It is a straightforward step to evolve a single-entry to a double-entry system.

IN A SINGLE-ENTRY ACCOUNTING SYSTEM, you set up a spreadsheet, and track each of all your revenues and all your business expenses.   The rows are days of the month and the columns are your various revenue and expense accounts.  Each different revenue and cost is referred to as an account (or line item).     All together, these accounts get assigned unique ID codes, and get organized into a Chart of Accounts.   Each revenue or expense entry gets tagged with a specific ID code, and entered into a General Ledger (of Accounts).

Picture your G/L as a very large table.    Again, the columns of the spreadsheet are these revenue and expense accounts.   The rows are the days of the month.   You should compute subtotals for each column at least once a month.   If your business is a busy one, you should compute subtotals for each column weekly.   You should also keep a running subtotal of year-to-date information.

 Revenue-SalesRevenue- ClassesConsumable SuppliesTelephoneRent
1/1/180.00 12.00  
1/2/1863.0035.006.00  
1/3/1842.00    
1/4/18190.00 29.00  
1/31/1843.00  150.00750.00
Jan Totals338.0035.0047.00150.00750.00
Jan Avg67.60 (/5)7.00 (/5)9.40 (/5)4.84 (/31)24.19 (/31)

What Accounts and How Many Accounts Do I Need?

You set up a sufficient number of accounts in order to satisfy two sometimes competing needs.    You should be able to glance over your general ledger each month and come away with some good understandings of how your revenues and costs relate to your business strategies and programs.   This is called good financial management.    If you have too many accounts, financially managing them becomes more and more difficult.

You also want to anticipate issues of IRS auditing.    You want clear categories, and maybe more categories than is easily managed from a financial standpoint.   The IRS will suggest specific categories.  You are not required to use them.    You can use some of them, all of them or none of them.    For example, I use one category I call OCCUPANCY, where the IRS has separate categories for INSURANCE, UTILITIES, MAINTENANCE.

  Examples of Accounts
a) Revenue (sales, rents, royalties, teaching)
b) Cost of Sales (special packaging, shipping inventory to you, commissions)
c) Employee (wages, benefits, federal taxes, state taxes)
d) Other Expenses (supplies, travel, marketing, fees, shipping things to others)
f) Assets (Cash, Inventory, Bank Accounts, fixed like computer or table)
g) Liabilities (Credit card debt, bank loan; money you owe your suppliers)
   

REVENUE ACCOUNTS
The IRS has one revenue account.    From a financial management standpoint, I like to have several revenue accounts.      I like to be able to look at the numbers (and the rates of change) and be able to figure out if any of my revenue-generating strategies is working well or not.

COST OF SALES

This is the most confusing part of the general ledger, because you have to make some rules and be clear about what you are calling “Supplies-Jewelry Making” and what you are calling “Inventory”.   

As a Jewelry Making business, you wear many hats – you are the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer.   The tax laws are written in a way that assume you are one or the other – not all three at the same time.

At this point in the ledger, you can calculate the first of two Magic Numbers – Gross Profit.   If using a spreadsheet, you can put the formula into one of the cells of the table.

 MAGIC NUMBER (Gross Profit):
Your REVENUE minus COST OF SALES equals GROSS PROFIT.
 

If your GROSS PROFIT divided by your REVENUE is greater than .50,
then you’re doing well.

With the Magic Numbers, you have some easy to access and interpret information to help you financially manage your business.    You look at month-to-month and year-over-year trends.    When you first get started, some of these Magic Numbers might be on the not-so-good-looking-side, but again, pay attention to trends.

EMPLOYEE EXPENSES
(These are the minimum number of employee line items you will need to be able to fill out all the Federal, State and Local payroll tax related forms.   You can always add more categories than those stated here.)   

If you have employees, it may make sense to pay for a payroll service, that both cuts the checks and does your quarterly and annual payroll taxes.

EXPENSE ACCOUNTS

Your expense accounts are how you track what happens when you spend money.

Sometimes it gets a little confusing how to enter credit card expenses into your general ledger.

Now you are positioned to calculate the next Magic NumberNet Profit.

MAGIC NUMBER (Net Profit):  
Your REVENUE minus COST OF SALES minus EMPLOYEE EXPENSES minus all other EXPENSES equals your NET PROFIT.
 

You want this to be a positive number.   However, for your first year or two, it might be negative.   Again, it’s most useful to look at trends.

NOTE: There is NO IRS rule that says you have to show a profit in 3 of the last 5 years, or any rule about the frequency of profit.    As long as you a trying to run a business as best you can, even if you are failing miserably, there are no consequences for showing continued losses.

In a double-entry system, the other part of the general ledger will account for

a) ASSETS
b) LIABILITIES

Example:   You buy $10.00 of beads.    

Debit Inventory by +10.00Credit Cash by -10.00
(increases inventory total by 10.00)(decreases your cash by 10.00)
  
  

Assets are things you own and have value for your business.

ASSETS 501    INVENTORY   (See discussions of inventory above)
502     PREPAID EXPENSES
503     PEOPLE WHO OWE YOU MONEY
504     NON-COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
505     COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
506     FURNITURE
507     ACCUMULATED DEPRECIATION  

Liabilities are things you owe to others, which until these are paid off, decrease the value of your business.

LIABILITIES
601     PAYROLLTAXES      
602     OTHER TAXES
603     SALES TAXES COLLECTED
604     GIFT CERTIFICATES OUTSTANDING
605     NOTES PAYABLE – BANK
606     CREDIT CARD #1
607     CREDIT CARD #2  

You now have in place a system for gathering information about money costs and money revenues. You need to expand this system to gather even more detail, specifically about your inventory.

c) ROI: Inventory Management

The Kinds Of Things You Want To Be Doing
In Inventory Management

Monitoring and managing inventory involve several interrelated activities.     These activities will place time and cost burdens on you.    Luckily, much of this can be computerized.     There is inventory management software available, some of it specialized for jewelry.      If you are selling things online, your shopping cart system will accommodate a lot of this.

These activities include:

  1. Par Levels
  2. Storing and Tracking FIRST IN, FIRST OUT
  3. Supplier Relationships
  4. Resiliency
  5. Auditing
  6. Prioritizing
  7. Forecasting
  8. Timing

To the extent that you can systemize all this, relying on a central, computerized database, the more efficient and effective you will be.    Ask yourself, as well, whether your inventory management system will grow with you as you continue to develop and expand your business.  You always want to have the right stuff, in the right place, at the right time, at the right cost.

  1. Inventory Management: Establish Par Levels

What is the minimum inventory needed on hand at all times?  For example, when doing craft and art shows, you will need to have 4x the amount of inventory from what you want to sell (thus, $1000.00 of inventory to sell $250.00 of merchandise).

Do you have a tickle system signaling times to reorder?

What have you based your par levels on?   Sales rate?    Time it takes to acquire items?

If demand changes, do you have strategies for adjusting your par levels?

Do you need to maintain any samples of your work which never get sold, but are used for displays, promotions, or photography?

Do you need to have finished pieces on hand, or will you make pieces to order on demand?

  • Inventory Management: Storing and Tracking your FIRST IN, FIRST OUT (FIFO)

You want your oldest stock to get sold first.   

Are your things stored and displayed to meet this principle?
Do you have adequate storage space?    Containers?

What is it costing to you maintain your desired storage levels?

When stock doesn’t sell within a reasonable time, what are your plans?   Deconstruct finished pieces and re-use the parts?   Discount or write-off dead parts inventory?

  • Inventory Management: Maintain strong relationships and communication with your suppliers

What is it about some suppliers that you like, or that you dislike?

Will they accept returns?

Can they handle special orders?

If something is not currently available, can they tell you when it will be in stock again?

Will they work with you to waive minimums?

Do you have back-up suppliers in case your primary supplier can’t come through?

  • Inventory Management: Maintaining Resiliency and Doing Contingency Planning

You need to actively and continually do What If Analysis.    

What if…

  • An item becomes especially popular?
  • You run out of cash?
  • Storage becomes an issue?
  • Your tracking and data system somehow goes awry?
  • Parts become unavailable or are discontinued?
  • Parts or merchandise are damaged or spoiled?
  • Customer wants, needs, demands, desires or shopping behaviors change?
  • Other unforeseen circumstances?

Do you have any part of your inventory set aside for use in case of an emergency?

  • Inventory Management: Auditing your inventory on a regular basis.

Auditing will include a mix of big, scheduled activities and some spot checking.  Auditing means establishing a baseline.    It means identifying current inventory challenges.    It means evaluating your current procedures and data systems, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Inventory Management: Prioritizing Inventory by Value.

Some value might have to do with how much something contributes to revenue and profitability.     Items with higher mark-ups would get more attention.

Some value might have to do with the rate of turnover.   Items more popular and sell faster would get more attention.

For management purposes, it might be useful to establish 3 groups of value.  Group A might represent things contributing 50% of value.   Group B might represent things contributing 35% of value.  Group C might represent things contributing 15% of value.

  • Inventory Management: Forecasting.

You want to be in a position where you can predict future demand, perhaps over the next year or two.   You want to be able to define seasonality fluctuations.     You want to anticipate the impacts of any upcoming promotions or advertising.      Much of forecasting involves tracking your orders/sales and relating this back to inventory.

  • Inventory Management: Timing.

What time issues/management would be associated with maintaining the lowest inventory possible to meet your demand.    Here you tried to understand if you can shift the costs of storage and securing supplies over to your suppliers.     Customers these days often demand immediate satisfaction, so shifting some costs to supplies may be problematic for you.

The systems you have built to track, maintain and analyze your money flows and your inventory are sustained by a whole set of receipts and administrivia related to banking, insurance, credit card processing, travel, and working with employees and independent contractors.

d) ROI: Other Record Keeping

You want to keep all your receipts together for each calendar year.     You do NOT want to keep all your receipts stored in a shoe box.    File your receipts, say in an accordion file, organized alphabetically by company.

If part of the transactions listed on any receipt are personal and some are business, then circle the business related ones and write something like “business” next to these.

If you did not get a receipt for something business related, write out your own receipt, with the date, purpose, description, and amount.

You must store these receipts (and your other business documentation) for 10 years.   Some places list 7 years, but you will need to store these for 10 years.

Don’t rely on paying an accountant to sort through all your receipts in order to calculate your tax liabilities each year.   The cost of this would be prohibitive.    You yourself need to do that kind of leg-work, and being very organized will help you do this efficiently and effectively.

You probably will also be generating these kinds of forms and documents in the course of doing business, and you need to maintain files of back up copies:

  • Purchase orders
  • Invoices
  • Packing slips
  • Order sheets / line forms
  • Catalogs
  • Checkbooks, and copies of checks written or check requisition forms with check numbers of checks written documented
  • State, local and federal tax documents
  • Leases / rental agreements for property and equipment
  • Account numbers and agreements with each of your suppliers and creditors
  • Travel logs
  • General Ledger entry forms

TRAVEL LOG

All your business travel is deductible, but the IRS has different rules for how you handle various business expenses.   So, you keep separate accounts of


– Auto expenses (gas, depreciation, mileage, car maintenance and repairs);

NOTE: On your income taxes, you can use either a standard mileage rate or actual expenses allocated.   You pick which method of expense tracking you want to use.   You have to use the same method all year.    You can, if you want, change the method from one year to the next.


– Meals while traveling;
– Lodging while traveling;


NOTE:  Within any calendar year, you can only use one way to calculate these expenses.   You can change from year to year.   Either use Per diem (IRS maintains allowable food and lodging rates for every city in the US) or Actual expenses (whatever you spend).


– Ticketed travel (plane, boat, railroad, taxi, limo, ferry);
– Other travel expenses (newspaper, shoe-shine, gym).

NOTE:  IRS RULE:  You should be able to live your life on the road the same way you live your life at home.   If you have a personal trainer come to your home 3 times a week, then you can have a personal trainer come to your hotel 3 times a week, and this would be a legitimate Travel-Other expense.    If you don’t, it’s not.    If you purchase the New York Times each day at home, you can purchase it while away, and declare this as a legitimate Travel-Other expense.   If you don’t, it’s not.

Keep a travel log in all your cars, and record:
DATE, BEGIN MILEAGE, END MILEAGE, subtract to get TOTAL MILEAGE. 
Write down the business purpose of each trip.  

For example, if you’re in business selling beaded jewelry, you can deduct all your mileage for all your trips to any bead or craft store, any bead society meeting, any bead-related or jewelry-making classes, any trip to a museum to see jewelry on display, any trip to a store to do research on jewelry, check out the competition, mail bills at the post office, go to the bank to make a deposit, and the like.

BUSINESS CARDS 
A must!

LOGO
This can simply be how you print the name of your business – font choice, layout, positioning of words.  Or it can be a fancy image.

There are Logo-Maker apps online that you can try.

Once you get your logo, you will want to place it on all your forms, documents, marketing materials, and online webpages.    


You will want to trademark your logo.

e) ROI: Employees and Independent Contractors

Sometimes you need to work with help.    You might hire part-time or full-time employees outright.   You might pay someone on commission or per piece where that person works as an independent contractor rather than an employee.    You might barter and trade teaching someone some skills in exchange for some work, like hiring an unpaid intern or apprentice.

In these situations, you will need to anticipate if, after paying someone, and with employees also paying additional taxes, you can still make a profit.

Some forms to pay attention to:

With hired employees:
forms W-4 (when hired)
forms W-2 and W-3 (annually)

With independent contractors:
forms W-9 (before contract gets implemented)
forms 1099-MISC and 1096 (annually)

f) ROI: Banking, Insurance and Credit Card Processing

BANKING

BANK ACCOUNT:  It is better to have a separate bank account for your business than for personal.   If you use a personal bank account for your business, it is a good idea to have your bank-checks printed up in the business-check size.    If you are a solo proprietorship, you would print your name on the checks, and under your name, you would print your doing business name as (DBA), as in: 

Janet Jackson

DBA Retro Jewelry Designs.

If you have employees, it is useful, from a financial management standpoint, to have a separate business bank account that is dedicated to all payroll expenses (salaries and taxes).

Whether you are using a personal or business banking account, be sure to print your checks using the Business Check format.    On your business checks, it is a good idea to have checks with your business name on it.  You can either open a Business Checking Account, or have your business name printed on your Personal Checking Account checks.   If printed on your personal checks, then again, you list your own name (which is your official business name) on the check, and under your name, you list “DBA, Your Business Name”, where DBA stands for Doing Business As.

INSURANCE

At some point, you will need to purchase business insurance to cover liability and theft or loss of property (inventory and equipment) issues and medical issues (you or an employee getting hurt in the context of the job).    In most places, running a business out of your home violates local zoning codes.  You may not qualify for a company’s business insurance package if you are violating these laws.

REMEMBER: When working with any insurance agent, that agent is professionally obligated to report any violation of the law, including these zoning laws, to the authorities.    This is true, even if your insurance agent is your sister!

So, when you discuss insurance with your insurance agent, you will need to pose your questions as “What If?” questions – “What If I were to start a business in my home” — rather than indicate you already have or absolutely intend to locate a business in your home.  

USE OF A CREDIT CARD:  It is a better idea to use a separate credit card for your business than for your personal uses.  If you do use one card for both personal and business, be sure to mark all original charged invoices as to which use they refer to.

CREDIT CARD PROCESSING

Whatever location your business is in – home, storefront, craftshow – you will need to be able to take credit cards.    Very few customers use cash nowadays.
You will need to be able to accept a lot of different credit cards:   Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express.    Ideally, you want to use a processing company that lets you accept all these cards.

You will need to be able to swipe a card, insert a card to have its chip read, as well as manually enter a card number without the card present.    You might need to be able to let someone touch their phone to your credit card machine to do the transaction.

You may want to open a credit card processing merchant account.   Or you might use a company that doesn’t require you having your own merchant account.   In this case, you would be using that company’s shared account.     Some prominent companies which do shared accounts include PayPal and Square and GoPayment and Stripe.    With the internet, competition for credit card services has gotten so fierce, that many of the rates and combined costs have been converging.    Using a company with shared accounts will reduce the various certification and reporting requirements associated with having you own account. 

Check your options online and do some serious comparisons here.    Comparisons will not be straightforward because different companies which offer credit card processing services make their money in different ways.    They will be inexpensive on some things, and more expensive on others.   Some companies make money by leasing equipment.  Others by charging you a fee for each sale (per transaction fee).  Others by charging you a rate per dollar volume of each sale (discount rate).   

Sometimes you can get used/rebuilt equipment very cheaply on line.    But how cards are processed can change frequently, sometimes necessitating the purchasing of new equipment.

If you are locked into a multi-year lease on equipment or on credit card processing through a particular company, you will be liable for the expense through the end of the contract, even if you close your business before then.    No-contract options are very appealing.    One-year contracts are OK.   Three-year contracts start to get risky, but may be an appealing option, given their whole package.

It is a good idea to check whether the credit card processing company has credit card scanning attachments that connect to your phone or tablet or operate with Wi-Fi.   This is especially important if you are doing sales off site, like at a craft show.

Data systems are in place. Procedures are in place. Basic business relationships are in place. Now you need to create mechanisms to secure all this, that is, to secure the in-flows and out-flows of money so that you are taking the risks you want to take and achieving the rewards you believe you should get in return. These mechanisms include formal and informal arrangements and contracts, such as getting terms, getting paid, and crowd funding your business.

g) ROI: Getting Terms

Whenever possible, I suggest trying to get net terms with your suppliers.    Net terms is a form of trade credit.    Instead of paying upfront for your supplies, your suppliers will give you some predetermined period of time to pay for these goods.    You get your supplies right away without having to pay until an agreed-upon future date.

Usually, you would get Net 30 terms, meaning you would pay within 30 days.   Sometimes, if you have not paid within the terms set, you might get assessed a penalty fee.

To apply for net terms with any supplier, you would submit a Credit Sheet.

CREDIT SHEET

You will want to prepare a Credit Sheet which lists the following information.   You give this sheet to businesses where you want to apply for terms.   When you buy things from businesses, you can pay cash (sometimes check or credit card) – this is considered Pre-Payment.   You can pay COD (cash on delivery), but there is usually an extra COD charge tacked on.   Or you can pay on terms or “on account”, usually signified as Net 30 or Net 10, where you would have 30 or 10 days to pay your bill.   If you don’t pay within that time, the business may take away your privilege to buy on terms, or charge you a late fee.


h) ROI: Getting Paid

Getting paid for your work can range from the straight-forward to the nightmare.    If you are doing a lot of custom work, your clients will probably pay you in increments, say 50% up front, and 50% upon completion.   If you are doing a lot of consignment, the shops may pay for anything of yours that sells perhaps quarterly.   If you are selling wholesale to other retailers, you might have extended them terms, say Net 30, where you expect to get paid at the end of the term period.

For each piece sold, or for several pieces sold at the same time, you will be generating some kind of invoice.    Each month, you might also be following up with your customers with a statement form, showing what has been paid, and what still needs to be paid.

INVOICE or STATEMENT FORMS (2-part forms – one for you and one for your customer).   You can get a blank pad at a local stationery store, or have these pre-printed with your business name, address and phone.

i) ROI: Crowd-Funding

Crowd-funding is when you seek funding from angel investors, government grants, loans or crowdfunding campaigns online, like with Kickstarter, to fund your creative pursuits.    Crowd-funding creates financing opportunities.     You might be looking to start a line of jewelry and mass produce and distribute it.   You might be looking to franchise your business.    You might have a product idea that you believe has great market potential.   Jewelry products can be costume, semi-precious stones and metals (bridge jewelry), or fine jewelry.   

Other crowd-funding platforms include Indiegogo and Ivylish.   These provide a great opportunity for upcoming and small jewelry businesses who have an especially marketable idea.   Each site has rules, requirements and fees.   It is important to research what types of jewelry projects are most successful and least successful on each site.

The most popular crowd-funding campaigns offer a reward to the backers.    This could be in the form of product, money, or an opportunity to participate in an event.   

Crowd-funding gives the designer an opportunity to pre-test his or her ideas and how the market will respond to these ideas.    

Some pointers:

  • Pitches with video presentations work best
  • Have clear and concise goals; any potential backer should be very clear about the parameters of your project and what their money should be going towards
  • You want your audience to be able to visualize your project; show them in images what you have done before, and what you hope to do with this project; make them want it
  • Reach out to your inner circle first, and evidence of their backing will legitimize and validate you and your project as you reach out to the larger market; enlist them as deputized marketers, asking them to spread the word, increasing your visibility and exposure, through their own social media connections
  • Name your donation levels in a clever and tied-in way; you might point out that they could donate the price of a coffee or price of a cab fare to make it easier to understand how to donate to your campaign
  • It helps to offer samples of your work or promotional items like stickers, posters, autographs, even T-shirts with your products branding on these
  • The campaign will be a commitment of time and energy; you will always be hustling; no time to sit back and watch
  • Keep your backers up-to-date with posts, newsletters, whatever
  • If your donations slow down to a trickle, try a new approach to your marketing
  • Remember, many campaigns reach their final goal in the eleventh hour

Accounting, bookkeeping, inventory management, record keeping, business relationships with financial institutions and suppliers are in place. You still won’t be able to achieve that sweet spot between risk and reward without the appropriate business growth mind-set. In the creative marketplace, where your success relies on both your artistic/design, as well as your business, acumen, this can be difficult for you. But it can be done. With that right mind-set.

j) ROI: What Does It Mean To Foster A Growth Mind-Set

Failure is uncomfortable.  Disconcerting.    Too often, we do everything we can to keep ourselves out of situations where we might fail.   We focus on what could go wrong, instead of what could go right.   We think we don’t have the abilities to do the task.    We get paralyzed.   We do nothing.    Or we keep repeating ourselves, producing the same-ole, same-ole, whether there is a continued market for these items, or not.   Or we begin to visualize any risk as insurmountable, way bigger than it really is.

But allowing any fear of failure to become some kind of insurmountable wall works against us.   If we are trying to make a go of it by selling our jewelry, we can’t build these kinds of walls.   Successful business people and successful businesses need to foster a culture which promotes a growth mindset.    Simply, a growth mindset is a culture where you have permission and encouragement and confidence to take risks.    

Risks are OK because they bring rewards.   Rewards allow the business to maintain itself, sustain itself, grow and expand.    Failures are OK, as well, as long as they become learning experiences.    Doubt and self-doubt are OK only if they are used to trigger reflection and new ideas to overcome them.   Not having the skills requisite for the moment is OK because we are all capable of continual learning.   Temporary setbacks are OK because you have had them before and overcame them.

Carol Dweck wrote the seminal book on growth mindsets called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006), with a series of related books to follow.    People have either a growth-mindset or a fixed-mindset.   

Those with a growth-mindset believe their abilities are developed through continual learning and hard work.   They are more willing to experiment and try new things, and see failures as opportunities rather than set backs.   

Those with a fixed-mindset believe that abilities are innate – you’re born with talents or not.    They seek out opportunities where specific talents, rather than effort, leads to success.   They prefer to repeat tasks and apply skills they are already familiar with.

Developing a growth mindset means such things as…

  1. Understanding the power of “Not Yet”.
  2. Setting learning and continual learning goals
  3. Being deliberate and constantly challenging yourself
  4. Asking for honest feedback and criticism
  5. Always reflecting on and being very metacognitive about your thoughts and actions, successes and failures
  6. Recognizing if you are stuck in a fixed-mindset, and acknowledging your weaknesses
  7. Focusing on the process, and less-so on the result
  8. Getting comfortable with self-affirmation, rather than needing the affirmation and approval of others

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FOOTNOTES

Campbell, Casandra.   What Is Inventory Management? How To Track Stock For Your Ecommerce Business, Inventory Management, 6/19/20.
As referenced in:
Inventory Management

Caramela, Sammi, 10 Essential Tips For Effective Inventory Management, Business News Daily, 4/15/2020.
As referenced in:
https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10613-effective-inventory-management.html

Dweck, Carol.  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, 2006

Fundbox.com.  Trade Credit: Everything you need to know about net terms for your business.  n.d.
As referenced in:
https://fundbox.com/resources/guides/trade-credit/

Shah, Vyom.   Crowdfunding the Jewelry business, 11/27/14.
As reference in:
https://betterdiamondinitiative.org/crowdfunding-the-jewelry-business/

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, creativity, design management, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, professional development | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NAMING YOUR BUSINESS A Video Tutorial By Warren Feld

Posted by learntobead on April 26, 2021

SCHOOL HOME PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com

CLASS HOME PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/p/naming-your-business

FREE PREVIEW PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/courses/naming-your-business/lectures/22712033

It really is difficult to pick a business name.

Your choice of name can make your business the talk of the town, or doom it to obscurity.

Coming up with that great name for your business takes a little work, some organization, some thinking, some getting opinions from several other people, and some reality-testing.

Some of you may be selling pieces of jewelry to your friends and acquaintances.   Others may be selling at craft shows or home shows, or selling wholesale or consignment in stores.  Some of you may be planning to go into business but haven’t gone very far yet.  And some of you may have store fronts or online businesses through which you sell your jewelry.

Whatever your jewelry making business, the basic goals, strategies and steps for naming your business are the same. You want a business name that

  • Works for you
  • That your customers can relate to
  • And that makes your business a success

What is important are:

…how your business name looks and sounds

…how your customers recognize and respond to your business name, and

…how appealing it is today, but also how adaptable it is over time, as you grow or change your business

In this video tutorial, I go step by step, in great detail.  We cover a lot of ground together to get you thinking and critically evaluating your options for naming your business

In this video tutorial, these lessons work for all jewelry making businesses, whether you have already gotten started in your business, or are still in the “I’m thinking about starting a business” stage.

We will be examining the pros and cons of different types of business names. We will be doing some self-marketing analysis. We will rehearse a best strategy for brainstorming and for filtering.

We also are going to review other critical business and marketing tasks which you can do, given the research work you have done generating a business name. These include,

  • registering your business, trademarks, copyrights
  • creating a tag line
  • working on an elevator pitch
  • naming your jewelry and jewelry lines
  • writing short descriptions of your business, as well as a short story to use with your marketing plans.

This class includes 14 video modules (over 2 hours of materials), plus 11 practice exercises, and a downloadable handout summarize all the materials in this course. 

FREE PREVIEW PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/courses/naming-your-business/lectures/22712033

Warren Feld
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, creativity, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, wire and metal, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

COMPONENT DESIGN SYSTEM: Building Both Efficiency As Well As Effectiveness Into Your Jewelry Designs

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2021

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Abstract

 Jewelry designers do not necessarily think of efficiencies when organizing and arranging their designs. They primarily focus their thinking and energies on how to effectively and successfully go from one end to the other. But the next question becomes: Is this efficient, as well as effective? Could the same piece be done just as well in less time? With less effort? Component Based Design is a process of building a piece of jewelry in pieces, sections or segments. A component is a something well-defined that feels like a whole unto itself. It can be a form. It can be a shape. It can be an object. It can be a set of steps or procedures. It has these kinds of characteristics: modularity, replaceability, portability and re-usability. Component Based Design unifies the design process and reduces variability in the numbers and types of choices we have to make as designers. It helps us tackle Design Debt. Design Debt refers to all the inefficiencies in the design process which add more time and effort to what you are trying to accomplish. This article finishes with discussion about how to create a Component Based Design System for jewelry designers.

 

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Can Jewelry Designs Be Both Effective And Efficient?

Jewelry designers do not necessarily think of efficiency when organizing and arranging their designs. They ponder how to go from one end to the other, focusing their efforts on achieving an effective level of satisfaction and appeal. They think a lot about the use and placement of colors, textures and patterns. They figure out ways to attach a clasp. They jump from selecting design components to arranging them. And in this sense, visually, they tend to see their designs as a Gestalt - that is, they appreciate and evaluate their satisfaction with the piece as a whole. That piece as a whole should evoke a greater satisfaction, sense of finish and success moreso than the individual parts. And in general, that’s the way it should be. Designers want to be effective as designers. This is what effectiveness is about.

But the next question becomes is this efficient, as well as effective? Could the same piece have been done just as well in less time? With less effort? With less thought about design elements and their arrangement? With less investment in all the beads and other pieces which eventually become finished pieces of jewelry? Is this a piece which could be created over and over again for multiple clients and larger productions? Could we be just as creative and just as effective by building in more efficiency into the process of design? Would adding an intervening step - that is, using design components to build components and then using components to build compositions - be smarter?

Re-thinking the design process in terms of components and component design systems provides one intriguing set of answers. Approaching design as a Component Based Design System is an especially good option for designers to incorporate, and for those designers who want to build their designing into a profitable business. Even if you are not headed in a business direction, thinking of design in terms of components and component systems offers a whole new way of creative thinking and design possibilities.


What Is A Component?

A component is a something well-defined that feels like a whole unto itself. It can be a form. It can be a shape. It can be an object. It can be a set of steps or procedures. It has these kinds of characteristics:

· Modularity
· Replaceability
· Portability
· Re-usability
· Functionality encapsulated within the component’s design
· Is minimally dependent on the use or presence of other components
· Anticipates its implementation
· Intended to interface and interact with other components
· Not context specific
· Can be combined with other components to create new possibilities


If we think of a piece of jewelry as an architectural object, then it would be made up of a set of components which in some way conform to one another and interact with one another in a common, predictable way. The designer would create sets of components. Then any finished composition and design would be assembled from these components.
Components will range in complexity. In general, the more complex the component, the more limited its applications. The more re-usable your components are, the easier they are to design with. The more re-usable your components are, the easier it will be to scale your projects larger or smaller, longer or shorter, more volume or less volume. Components allow you to take something apart which isn’t selling or no longer useful, and re-use all the parts.


What Is Component Based Design?

Component Based Design is a process of building a piece of jewelry in pieces, sections or segments.
These pieces are combinations of design elements.

These combinations of design elements become a set of smaller, manageable parts, which themselves are assembled into a piece of jewelry.

Systems of re-usable design components will allow any number of design possibilities. A component based design system provides a commonality within a visual language.

Instead of focusing on designing a particular product, the designer concentrates on creating a design system. The designer’s principal responsibility in the formation of style is to create meaningful forms. These forms are more than shapes. These forms contain the essential elements which contribute to the jewelry’s aesthetic and functional structure and composition. Some forms will be able to stand on their own; others, may be dependent on the presence and organization of others.

Component Based Design Systems enable the designer to build better products faster by making design re-usable. Re-usability allows designs to more easily be adapted to different body types, context-requirements, and/or scales.
Component Based Design Systems require clear documentation for each component, and a set of rules or standards for their use and assembly. Standards govern the purpose, style, and usage of these components. Documentation and standards help the designer avoid situations where you find yourself reinventing the wheel, so to speak. It helps the designer deal with such things as backlog, adapting different versions of a particular design, and concurrently managing both short-term and long-term goals and aspirations. It allows the designer to spend more time and focus on the trickier and more difficult part of coming up with designs specific or unique to each client.


How Is Component Design Helpful For Jewelry Designers?

Component Design allows for the designer to…
– Design consistently
– Prototype faster
– Iterate more quickly
– Improve usability

Design consistently. Standardized components used consistently and repetitively create a more predictable outcome. Standardized components also allow designers to spend less time focused on style, and more time developing a better user-experience and client outcome.

Prototype faster. Working within a coherent design system allows you to more quickly and easily organize your work flows. It allows you to experiment over and over again with the amount of prototypes and variants. Working with and within a design system should also provider greater and faster insights into design dilemmas and solutions.
Iterate more quickly. Design systems reduce the effort in design, from having to try out myriad colors, patterns, textures, scales and other design elements, to only having to try out a few components in the design system.

Improve usability. Should reduce inconsistent, unworkable or illogical combinations of things within any composition. In return, this should increase client satisfaction when wearing any piece of jewelry so created.


Design Systems Do Not Limit Creativity Or Design

Creating a design system does not limit or restrain the designer. In fact, it opens up more possibilities, more easily attainable. Design systems will also allow pieces to be easily customized and adapted to different situations. Design systems take away a lot of the worry about what to do next.

Design systems do not limit creativity. They offer a different way of allowing the designer to assert their creativity. The designer is still free to experiment, evolve, play, adapt. Design systems improve efficiency; they save time. Design systems do not constrain, restrain or otherwise limit the designer to work and think and speak and play as a designer.
Design systems can evolve and adapt to changes in styles and fashions. In fact, these systems trigger insights more easily apparent, as to how things need to change. After all, a change in one component will automatically define what changes need to be made in all other components it will interface and interact with.

Component based design systems are not one-shot, one-time deals. They are never complete. The work to create and maintain and improve them is ongoing. These systems are living. But because a change in one component will trigger changes in others, the effort it takes to maintain and grow these system can be many times less than what happens when the designer does not rely on such a system.




Design Debt: Something Serious Which Needs To Be Managed

In more jargoned, but eye-opening, language, Component Based Design Systems reduce what is called Design Debt.
Design Debt refers to all the inefficiencies in your design process which adds more time and effort to what you are trying to accomplish, as you are designing any piece of jewelry. Design Debt continues to accumulate and increase as a project matures over time. Even after the designer has relinquished the project to the client, Design Debt will continue to accumulate if the designer fails to deal with it head on.

Design Debt includes things like…
– Taking too much time to meet your goals
– Having to do too much research or experimentation when figuring out how to proceed
– Spending too much time thinking how to make a particular piece of jewelry unique or special for a certain client

Design Debt also includes all the good design concepts or solutions you skipped in order to complete your project on time. Design Debt includes all the additional time and effort you will have to make, should you have a backlog of projects which keep accumulating and accumulating as you are trying to finish the particular project you are now working on.

Some designers might approach the ever-accumulating Design Debt by cutting corners or relinquishing the project to the client prematurely. The designer might settle for a lower fee or less profitability. The designer might find that negative word-of-mouth is building too quickly with unsatisfied clients or demanding business stakeholders.

There are many sources of Design Debt, some very tangible, others less so. Examples of these sources of Design Debt include…

· The designer relies on an overabundance of non-reusable materials, or too much variation in inventory, or, inconsistent styles and conventions, all difficult to maintain

· The designer might start a project with assumptions, rather than research

· The designer might not have sufficient time or budget to implement each choice and step with care

· The designer might not have a full understanding of how each design element, form and component should best be arranged and interact within a particular composition

· The designer might be working with a partner or assistant, with incomplete information passing hands, as each works on the project

· The designer might not have a chance to test a design before its implementation or sale

· The designer might not get the opportunity to find out what happens with a particular piece after it has left the studio and the client wears it

· The designer might not have in place any formal or informal time and procedure for reflection and evaluation, in order to understand how various choices led to good or bad designs, or whether there is an improvement or degradation in the designer’s brand due to good or bad performance

· The designer might rely on published patterns without the wherewithal to adapt or customize them, or otherwise approach unfamiliar situations


Ultimately, Design Debt is measured in how satisfied our clients are with the products we design, and how that satisfaction affects what is referred to as contagion - the spread of word of mouth and its positive or negative impacts on our brand and reputation. Over time, Design Debt accumulates and becomes a great burden on any designer and design business.



Component Based Design Systems Help Us Tackle Design Debt

Anything which unifies the design process and reduces variability in the numbers and types of choices we make as designers will help us tackle Design Debt. That is what Component Based Design Systems are all about.
Component Based Design allows the designer to deal with a smaller number of pieces and variables at any one time.
Component Based Design leverages previous thinking and exploring, reducing the number of tasks which have to be done for each subsequent piece of jewelry.

And Component Based Design allows the designer to more easily and directly relate any kind of feedback to specific project design choices.



Creating A Component Based Design System

A Component Based Design System has…
· Visual elements
· Modular elements
· Standards
· A voice and tone
· A relationship to client needs

 

Your Component Based Design System can either be
(a) decoupled from any specific project, which is effective for establishing a brand identity, or
(b) coupled to a specific project, which is more effective for developing a line of jewelry made up of individual pieces.

 

Creating a Component Based Design System involves Six Key Task-Activities, which are…
(1) Conducting Visual Audit of Current Designs / Inventory
(2) Determining Your Voice and Tone / Brand Identity
(3) Designing A Component / Modular Elements
(4) Creating Component Based Design System(s) / Library of Documentation and Standards
(5) Defining Rules of Scale / Size, Volume, Distribution and Placement
(6) Relating To Customer Needs / Shared Understandings

 


(1) Visual Audit of Current Designs / Inventory


You will need to carefully review the visual elements you use in your current jewelry design practice.
You want to create a visual design language of discernable design elements, shapes, forms and components you are using now.

You will in effect be creating two inventories:
· First, a Visual Inventory of design elements which are visual features, and
· Second, a Functional Inventory of those beads, findings, shapes, forms and/or other component parts which are functional and interface with the wearer, such as clasp assemblies or things which allow a piece to move, drape and flow, or things which make a piece of jewelry adjustable, or things which allow a piece of jewelry to maintain a shape or position.


For each discernable set of design elements, (such as, color, pattern, shape, form, movement, dimensionality) or completely formed component, you would generate a description based on auditing the following design elements:
a. color, finish, pattern, texture
 b. point, line, plane, shape, form, theme (typology)
 c. sizing and spacing and scale (2–4 sets of standards of utilization; or by body type)
 d. movement and dimensionality
 e. canvas (stringing materials; foundation)
 f. principles of composition, construction, manipulation; layouts
 g. support systems (allows movement, drape and flow), structural systems (allows maintaining shapes or positions) and other functional elements
 h. plans, guidelines, icons


Your inventories can be a simple check-list, or more narrative descriptions.

By creating a 2-layer Inventory of Design, you will be able to visualize the possible design components and patterns you might have at your disposal, as well as quantify what you are working with. Cataloging these details puts you in a better management/control position. This makes visible many of the consequences of your choices and selections in terms of managing Design Debt.

After you have finished creating your initial Inventory, review it. Identify where inconsistencies are. What things are must-haves? What things are superfluous?

Then look for things which go together or will be used together. Develop a simple system of categories to group things into. Keep the number of categories short. Examples of categories might include Patterns, Templates, Themes, User Interface, Foundations, Center Pieces, Color Palettes, Linkability.



(2) Determine Your Voice and Tone / Brand Identity


You want your parts, components and groupings of components, when used in the design of a piece of jewelry, to give the impression of you as a designer and/or your business’s personality.

Look at your inventory and ask yourself: What are the more emotional, intangible qualities these seem to evoke? Do they evoke things, not only about my design sense today, but about what I aspire to be as a designer? How do I want my clients to respond to my pieces?

There should be a high level of coherence within your groupings of components. They should express a voice and tone, either of your entire brand, or of a particular line of jewelry you have created.

If there is not a high level of coherence, determine why not. What adjustments do you need to make in your inventory to achieve this?

 


(3) Design A Component / Modular Elements


Begin to take your visual inventory and re-imagine it as one or more collections of components.

Types of components to think about:
– Re-usable
– Repeatable
– Build-upon / Connectible / Linkable
– Scale-able
– Evolvable over time
– Has necessary function
– Has necessary shape, form or theme
– Can easily interface with customer as the jewelry is worn

Some components will be modular and self-contained, thus not dependent on the presence of other components. Some components will be compositional in that they fit or coordinate well with others. Some components will be generic, thus usable in many different kinds of situations. And some components will be flexible because they can be tweaked and made to work in a variety of situations.

Now, actually begin to develop components. Towards this end, start with developing one component.

1st: List the key design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, shape, movement, dimensionality, and the like. These are the particular design elements you want associated with your core brand identity.
2nd: Define the smallest re-usable parts, such as beads, bead clusters, connectable links, stringing material and the like.
3rd: Scale up and define a complete component
4th: Scale up and define a composition consisting of several arranged components
5th: Fully layout the piece of jewelry, which will consist of one or more components and one or more compositions.


As you develop components, you will always need to keep in mind two things:
a) How you want the component to behave within your piece, and
b) How you want the component to interface with the client wearing the jewelry



CHAIN LINK COMPONENTS
 A Simplified Example of Component Design
G-CLEF COMPONENT

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I have a basic component I call a G-Clef Component. It is a simple chain link which is very connectable to other things. I use this as a simple example of a Component Based Design System.

I use this in several ways. I can use these as links in a standard chain. I can easily adapt two of these links to function as a hook and eye clasp. I can add beads between each link. I can use this as the basis for creating a pendant center piece. I can use this for earring dangles.

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The general infinity shape and reference to music (I’m based in Nashville, Tennessee - ”Music City USA”) are easily incorporated into several lines of my jewelry, though there is one particular line of jewelry totally focused on this link component.

My documentation for this component is as follows:

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Two Other Examples Of Jewelry Designed Based On Components

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(4) Component Based Design Systems / Library of Documentation and Standards

Your design system is much more than a pattern library. It is a collection of re-usable components which can be assembled together in any number of ways, and used to clearly signal and cement the identify of your brand as a whole, or of a particular line of jewelry you have developed.

As such, the system has meaning. It has structure. It embodies a system of concepts relevant to and representative of you as a designer and your design business or avocation. It is resilient.

Towards this end, to build in these meanings and intentions and expectations, you will develop a set of standards. Adhering to standards is how we manage and maintain consistency with how these meanings / intensions / expectations are expressed within any piece of jewelry we create. Following the standards is how we influence our clients to consistently come to share these understandings. Standards remove a lot of the arbitrariness in our design decisions. These standards should be put in writing, and be part of your documentation library.
Regardless of what materials, tools and techniques specific to your jewelry design practice, a successful design system will follow a core set of standards developed by you. These standards will inform you how components should be designed and how they should be organized within any composition.

These standards will focus on the following:

Brand touch points. What design elements or their arrangements evoke immediate associations with your jewelry designs?

Consistent client experience. What design elements, components or their arrangements result in a consistent client experience? When your client buys your jewelry and wears it, how does the client feel? How does the client want others to react, and does the client in fact get these reactions? When you client wears your jewelry, what needs, wants and desires does s/he want to be fulfilled, and how successful has your jewelry been towards this end? How do you maintain consistency in construction, functionality and durability of your pieces?

Coherent collection. To what extent do all the pieces in your collection similarly represent your brand and result in a similar, consistent client experience?

Naming conventions. What names should we give to our components, our pieces of jewelry, our lines of jewelry, our business and brand identity as a whole? How will these names resonate with our clients? Which names do you want to be universal, and which iconic?

Emphasis. What aspects of your jewelry do you want the client to focus on? Which aspects of your jewelry are most likely to trigger a conversation between you and the client, and between the client and that person’s various audiences? Is that the conversation about your jewelry you want people to have?

Utility. What is each component, and how should you use it? What rules should you follow for building modular, composable, generic and flexible components? For linking and connecting them? How do you manage modifying any one component?

Potential. What determines if a component is to have a high potential value? Does the component have great commonality in use and/or re-use? Does the component have great business potential, whether or not it can be commonly used? Does the component have great potential in creating patterns or textures or shapes or forms or themes? Is the component technically feasible to create? Can this component be created within a certain timeframe, if there are time constraints? Does this component have the potential to excite others?

 


Codify, thus standardize, how components are described and detailed. Include information about basic design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, finishes. Give your component a name. Describe how you can adjust for scale - making something larger, smaller, with more volume, with less volume. Elaborate on any assembly considerations. Also anticipate in writing any situational or contingency requirements. Provide insights into how this component fits in with other components, or becomes the core component from which additional components might be fashioned. Write some notes about how the component is consistent with the standards for your brand / jewelry lines which you have developed. Last, take a picture of your component and include this image in your database.

 

 


(5) Scale / Size, Volume, Distribution and Placement


Scalability has to do with size and volume, and your strategies for adapting your component to different scales. You might think about a larger version for a necklace and a smaller version for a bracelet. You might think of modifying the component to increase its volume for use as a center piece pendant.

Scalability in jewelry will also refer to the ease of placing or distributing variations in size and/or volume.

Scalability begins with taking a modular approach to your jewelry design work. Additionally, your component must express some characteristics which are both generic as well as flexible. You want your components to be able to grow and shrink with the content of your pieces. I like to develop both a larger and a smaller version of each component, which I get very specific on and document. This usually gives me enough information should I still want to change size or volume.

 


(6) Relate To Customer Needs / Shared Understandings


For any design, it is a long journey from idea to implementation. This journey involves different people at different times along the way. The designer’s ability to solve what is, in effect, a complex problem or puzzle becomes a performance of sorts, where the designer ferrets out in various ways - deliberate or otherwise - what the end users will perceive as making sense, having value and eliciting a desire powerful enough to motivate them to wear a piece of jewelry, buy it, utilize it, exhibit it or collect it. The designer, however, wants one more critical thing to result from this performance - recognition and validation of all the creative and managerial choices he or she made during the design process.

People will not use a design if their agendas and understandings do not converge in some way. They will interact with the designer to answer the question: Do You Know What I Know? If they get a sense, even figure out, that the answer is Yes, they share understandings! - they then become willing to collaborate (or at least become complicit) with the designer and the developing design.

A Component Based Design System forces the designer to incorporate these shared understandings into the development and organization of components. Component choices must be justified according to a set of standards. This set of standards relates design choices to how the client will perceive and respond to your brand identity or the identity you want any line of jewelry to reflect. A Component Design System creates tight guidance and boundaries, increasing not only the efficiency of your operation, but your effectiveness at developing jewelry which is consistent, coherent, user-friendly, user-desirable, and contagious.

Re-orienting your design practice towards a Component Based Design System may seem daunting, at first. But it gets easier and faster as the system grows and evolves. It is well worth the effort.


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FOOTNOTES

Elliott, Gavin. “Design Debt: How to Identify Design Debt, Measure It and Overcome It.” 5/7/20. As referenced in:
 https://medium.com/@gavinelliott/design-debt-f8026795cc1c


Fanguy, Will. “A Comprehensive Guide To Design Systems.” 6/24/19. As referenced in:
 https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/guide-to-design-systems/


Feld, Warren. “Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements,” Medium.com, (2020).
As referenced in:
https://warren-29626.medium.com/jewelry-design-composition-playing-with-building-blocks-called-design-elements-d2df696551d8


Koschei, Jordan. “How To Tackle Design Debt.” 4/19/17. As referenced in:
 https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/tackle-design-debt/


Mazur, Michal. “What Is Design Debt and Why You Should Treat It Seriously.” 8/12/18. As referenced in:
https://uxdesign.cc/what-is-design-debt-and-why-you-should-treat-it-seriously-4366d33d3c89#:~:text=In%20simple%20terms%2C%20design%20debt,the%20users%20will%20make%20do
Suarez, Marco, with Jina Anne, Katie Sylor-Miller, Diana Mounter, and Roy Stanfield. Design Systems Handbook. DesignBetter.Co by InVision.


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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design
Backward Design is Forward Thinking
How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business
Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?
Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them
Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?
RESILIENCY: Do You Have The Most Important Skill Every Designer Must Have?
PART 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN DESIGN

______________________
I hope you found this article useful.


Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).
Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Add your name to my email list.
Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

WHEN RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE TO SELL YOUR JEWELRY:  6 Things To Be Sure To Do Which Will Improve…

Posted by learntobead on March 11, 2021

The Trunk Show

The women were so excited about the jewelry. Trying it on. Adjusting it to see if they could wear it a different way. Changing up the silhouettes. Pretending they were wearing different outfits to visualize what the pieces would look like. It was a very versatile line of jewelry, and all the women noticed that very quickly. They could wear necklaces as bracelets. Combine bracelets into necklaces. Take one bracelet, add it to a necklace, and create a longer piece. They could purchase different pendant drops, all as add-ons as they wished or none at all. And the drops easily converted into earrings. Imagine that! And the awe and glee and elation and animation — yes, these women were more than happy to have found this jewelry designer and her custom pieces.

I was there that day. In the store. At this one-day trunk show. I saw it all. These women were purchasing almost every last piece. It was the right aesthetic. Contemporary but conservative as well. An individualized look but not outlandish. Easy to wear. Easy to adapt. Easy to visualize what it would look like with different outfits and in different situations.

The jewelry designer was very attentive. She demonstrated the flexibility of each piece in the line. She, at first, asked the women individually a lot about themselves and how they liked to wear jewelry. Then she subtly shifted the conversation a bit so they were talking about themselves and how they would want to wear her jewelry.

At one point, I slowly looked around this upscale clothing, accessories and jewelry store. There were seven store associates standing around. Standing around. A glazed look on their faces. The enthusiasm and energy before them somehow foreign. After the trunk show, when the designer was no longer there, they would be the ones to represent her and her jewelry.

They stood there with blank faces. As if watching a movie they found uninteresting. None of them stepped in. None of them stepped up. Even though the jewelry designer was mobbed with seven or eight women at any one time. They obviously were unable to empathize with the crowd. They had no clue how to sell the pieces because these were pieces of jewelry they didn’t wear themselves. They were somewhat clueless about how to suggest how these store guests could put things together in a stylish, wearable way.

At the end of the day, the jewelry designer was very happy with her sales. But it hit her. Her jewelry would remain at this store for the next several months. But she would not. She would be leaving that day. And she was worried. She thought that over the 10 hours, her purpose was not only to sell to customers, but her purpose was also to model for the sales staff the smart ways for working with these customers and selling her product.

Had the store associates been reliable deputized partners with the jewelry designer that day, all would have made many more customers happy, and made a lot of money and commissions for store, sales staff and designer. Going forward, the designer now had doubts.

Jewelry Designers Often Have To Rely On Others,
 The Designers’ Success Relies On Their Whims

Most jewelry designers do not own their own shops. They rely on other people to sell their stuff. They might put their jewelry in a clothing, accessories or jewelry store on consignment. They might be represented by a gallery or sales representative, with their jewelry spread out in many stores. They might package their jewelry into trunk shows or pick boxes where they send out their jewelry to various stores. These other venues can pick and choose and sell what they want, then return the rest.

The success of sales becomes the whim of who sells it. Their understanding of the designs. Whether they like the pieces or not. Their motivations to keep things clean, neat and displayed well. If they can see themselves or their friends or spouses wearing these. Their sense of style, knowing what things might work well together with what fashions. How well they communicate with their customers. Perhaps even IF they communicate with their customers. If they follow-up with their customers.

Designers Must Take The Lead In Preparing Others To Sell Their Jewelry

The designer must play a leadership role here. The designer as leader must effectively influence, persuade, train and convince whoever will be selling their jewelry how to sell it. As best as possible, the designer must build shared understandings about the product with those who will sell it.

Passive assumptions won’t work here. The designer cannot assume that store owners and their sales staff, because they supposedly want to show a profit, will be good at their jobs. More likely, they are not — particularly when it comes to selling someone else’s stuff. The consequences of poor salesmanship are virtually invisible until many months, even years, later. That’s too late to wait.

To add to the difficulties, the opportunities in terms of time, resources, and follow-up are very limited. The designer may get just one shot to build shared understandings and accomplish several goals. Ideally this should happen in person. Often, it is not. Often it is reduced to shared emails, some printed materials, and some phone calls.

Six Key Shared Understandings

There are six key understandings which the designer must influence others to share. These include,

1. The Key Product Details

2. The Primary Product Benefits

3. The Smart Ways To Use The Products To Build Customer Relationships

4. What Rewards The Sales Staff Should Expect For Themselves, Based On Their Performance

5. At All Times, How To Maintain The Optimum Inventory and Product Mix

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

1. The Key Product Details

Think of every line of jewelry as its own culture with a group or tribal identity. Which three to six words or simple phrases encapsulate what that identify is all about? What were the key, primary design choices made which give this line of jewelry its character and resonance? How would anyone know that any piece of jewelry was a part of that group or tribe?

These key words or details might relate to materials and techniques. They might reference fashion, style and taste. They might be things about the designer or about jewelry design in general. There will be lots and lots of details which can be conveyed, but the list of details will need to be severely culled.

People have what is called finite rationality. They can only handle and remember between 4 and 10 pieces of information at a time, with 7 pieces of information usually the upper limit for most people.

Don’t confuse the sales staff. Don’t let them confuse the customers. Limit that descriptive words you use when explaining your jewelry, your design choices, and your design goals. Keep these descriptors simple, un-jargoned, devoid of business babble and clichés.

Keep repeating these 3 to 6 things. Repeat them in ways you want the sales staff to learn them, understand them, and be able to repeat these 3 to 6 things to their customers when you are not around.

2. The Primary Product Benefits

It is not the features of your jewelry that result in sales; it is the benefits people perceive the jewelry will provide for them. People do not focus on what the product is. They focus on what the product means to them.

People buy things to solve problems. These problems might relate to needs and wants. They might relate to achieving status and position. They might resolve emotional desires.

What problems for the potential customer does your jewelry solve? Think carefully about this. Make lists.

Then reflect awhile on how you think your jewelry solves these problems for your customers better than any of your competitors. What are your competitive advantages?

Convey to store owners and sales staff the results of your thinking and synthesis. You do not only want to list for them what customer problems your jewelry solves for them. You do not want your explanation divorced from the actual selling situation. You are not presenting an academic assessment; you want to present a marketing assessment. You want to convey how your jewelry resolves customer problems better than anyone else. This is a little more difficult to do and get the words out, and requires some practice.

And, again, remember that people have finite rationality. Don’t talk about everything. Focus on the couple of primary competitive advantages your line of jewelry has.

As best as possible, make your benefits concrete and specific. Think of which benefits would most readily stick in people’s minds.

3. The Smart Ways To Use The Products To Build Customer Relationships

Any sale is an interaction based on communication. The sale is not the only result. The building of a relationship also results. Too often sales staff performance is rated based on number of sales, and too rarely rated on building relationships. But it is in the building of relationships where we get those repeat sales and bigger sales and broader sales and better word of mouth and more new customers and, you get the idea.

Ideally, if you get the chance, like in the trunk show described above, you can model these relationship building behaviors in front of the sales staff. You can demonstrate how you elicit customer needs, wants and problems to be solved, and how you gain their awareness and trust in how your jewelry will meet these in an advantageous way. If there are other types of products in the store, you can demonstrate how to co-market, such as your jewelry with the store’s clothing.

Absent the in-person approach, you can provide ideas in periodic emails. You might do some simple one-sided-page images and short descriptive content. You might create a fun video that you can share.

You can also work with store staff in developing customer lists detailing the who, how to contact them, the what they bought, the dates, the follow-up sales, customer preferences, any descriptive information about the customer to help future sales.

To help guarantee that sales staff keep these lists and fill them out completely, you can ask to see them periodically to review. You can encourage sales staff to communicate with customers pre-, during, and –post sales. Based on your review, you can suggest specific items in the line that each customer might like to see, and possibly buy. Even though you are not physically present, you can still show how building relationships can generate sales and profits.

4. What Rewards The Sales Staff Should Expect For Themselves, 
 Based On Their Performance

It is helpful if you not only generate commissions and sales for the store, but also some kind of reward for the sales staff each time they sell one of your pieces. Show you recognize their efforts and appreciate them. If sales staff get paid no matter what they do, they may not give your line of jewelry the attention and promotion it deserves.

Besides some reward, perhaps a thank you note, or giving either a monetary extra commission or a piece of your jewelry, you most likely also want to reward the sales staff’ customer follow-ups, without actual sales, such as sending thank you notes or calling them when you send new pieces to the store.

5. At All Times, How To Maintain The Optimum Inventory and Product Mix

Do not assume that the store will maintain the optimum inventory and product mix of your jewelry at all times. There will always be other companies, other designers and other product opportunities competing for any store’s attention. So you will need to step in and capture that attention on a regular basis.

Create an easily update-able plan for the store that details the ideal mix of product — types of jewelry, price points, color, finishes and textures.

Reduce this to a simple product inventory sheet to give the store.

Contact the store periodically to update the inventory, compare to your plan, and make inventory suggestions accordingly.

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

You need to get feedback routinely, say at least every 3 to 6 months. You need regular feedback on your jewelry, on the sales process, on other things you can do to help sales staff become better at selling your jewelry.

If your jewelry is not turning at least twice a year, the particular store is probably not right for you. It might be the inattentiveness of the sales staff. It might be a lack of fit with the store’s customer base. But, if you are not getting a minimum of 2 turns a year, this location is not working either for you or the store.

You might formalize requests for quarterly results. You might call the store or any of its sales staff periodically to get information feedback. You might send a questionnaire to customers who have previously purchased your jewelry.

It helps the feedback process along when you provide rewards. This might be in the form of refreshments, such us sending an evaluation form with a box of cookies. This might take the form of adding some free pieces of jewelry to be sold, or one-time discount on purchases.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

James, Geoffrey. 6 Ways to Persuade Customers to Buy. Inc.com, 2020.

As referenced in:

https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/6-ways-to-convince-customers-to-buy.html

McLeod, Saul. “Short Term Memory,” Simply Psychology, 2009.

As referenced in:
 https://www.simplypsychology.org/short-term-memory.html#:~:text=The%20Magic%20number%207%20(plus,it%20the%20magic%20number%207

Sales Motivation: 18 Tips To Keep Your Salespeople Happy.
 As referenced in:

https://www.pipedrive.com/en/blog/sales-motivation-tips

_____________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 4: Set Realistic Goals

The Competition: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

___________________________________

I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, jewelry design, jewelry making, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIALS: So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer

Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2020

 


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!

Making and designing jewelry is fun, awesome, challenging and rewarding.  You enter a world full of inspiration, creativity, color, texture, construction, beauty and appeal.  With your jewelry, you impact the lives of many people as they go about their day, attend special events, or interact with friends, acquaintances and strangers.

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this piece of jewelry is right for them.

Your success as a designer is the result of all these choices you make.   Our courses are here to help you learn and apply key insights about materials, techniques and the jewelry design process when making these kinds of choices.  We also introduce you to things you need to know when trying to conquer the creative marketplace.

Empower yourself to become fluent, flexible and original in jewelry design.

Enroll now.

Begin with our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. For newbies just getting started, or experienced designers as a great refresher.

 


Everything People Wished They Had Known
Before They Started Beading and Making Jewelry!

We require all our students to take our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS class first, before taking any of our other classes.

I have created an updated, extended version of this class online, which you can register for.    The class is divided into 18 short video tutorials on such topics of seed and delica beads, metal beads, clasps, stringing materials, adhesives, miscellaneous findings, and the like.   There is a downloadable handout that accompanies each video segment.

19 lesson modules.   This class is $30.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

16 Important Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows!

In this SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS… video tutorial class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…

…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You

…Determine a Set Realistic Goals Right For You

…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis

…Best Ways to Develop Your Applications and Apply

…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring

…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

 

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  You can make a lot of money. You meet new people. You have new adventures.  And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

19 lesson modules.  This class is $45.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

Learn An Easy-To-Use Pricing Formula
and Some Marketing Tips
Especially Relevant for Jewelry Designers!

 

This PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY course is about one key to success: SMART PRICING!

 

I share with you my knowledge, experiences and insights about…

(1) Why Jewelry Sells

(2) Three alternative pricing formulas used by jewelry makers and the jewelry industry

(3) A simple, mathematical formula for pricing your jewelry which I developed and prefer to use

(4) How to break down this mathematical pricing formula intoa series of easy to implement steps

 

Then, we practice applying the formula to some different pieces of jewelry.

At the end of the course, I discuss the differences among retail, wholesale and consignment.

I briefly discuss several key business strategies which are very related to pricing.

And I offer some final words of advice.

11 lesson modules.  This class is $35.00.
You can find it online and register here.

 


Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Resources, wire and metal, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS: Knowing What To Know

Posted by learntobead on December 31, 2019

 

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS

Knowing What To Know

by Warren Feld

Abstract:

There are no perfect jewelry making materials for every project.   Selecting materials is about making smart, strategic choices.    This means relating your materials choices to your design and marketing goals.   It also frequently means having to make tradeoffs and judgment calls between aesthetics and functionality.   Materials differ in quality and value.   They differ in their sensorial effects on people.   They differ in how people perceive them.  They differ in the associational and emotional connections which they evoke.   They differ in their functional efficiency and effectiveness to lend pieces an ability to retain a shape, while at the same time, an ability to move, drape and flow.    They differ in cost and durability.  Last, materials may have different relationships with the designer, wearer or viewer depending on how they are intended to be used, and the situational or cultural contexts.

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS:
Knowing What To Know

The materials I use are alive

The world of jewelry design and the materials used can be complex, especially for jewelry designers just starting out in their careers. The novice, but also the more experienced designer, as well, often run up against some terms and properties of materials they have not dealt with before. Materials affect the appeal of the piece.    They affect its structural
integrity.   They affect the cost.   They affect how people view, sense, desire and understand the piece.

You Would Be Very Aware Of…

If you want to gain an understanding of materials, you would be very aware of where they come from, how they are described, sold and marketed.   You would be very aware of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, when they are useful and when they are not, and what happens to them when they age.   You would be very aware of what country the material is made or found in, how the material is manufactured, synthesized or gotten at, if it is modified or changed in any way, and how it comes to market.   You would be very aware if the product is sold at different levels of quality, even if this is not differentiated on the product’s label.   It is also important to be very aware how any of these aspects of the material have changed over time, or might change over time in the future.

You would be very aware that there is no such thing as the perfect material.   There are only better materials, given your situation and goals.   There is no perfect bead for every situation.   No perfect clasp.  No perfect stringing material. Every choice you make as a jewelry designer will require some tradeoffs and judgment calls.   The more you understand the quality of the materials in the pieces you are working with are made of, and the clearer you are about your design goals, and if you are selling things, your marketing goals, as well, the more prepared you will be to make these kinds of choices.

You would be very aware that materials have different values and life spans, and this must relate to your project goals.   You would not want to use metalized plastic beads, for example, in a piece you call an heirloom bracelet.   Metalized plastic beads are a metal shell around a milky white plastic bead.   The shell will chip easily.   On the other hand, when doing fashion jewelry, these very inexpensive beads, and which have a short life-span, would be perfect.    Not only are they cheap, but because they are cheap, there are lots and lots of designs and shapes and textures.   

If your goal is to create more investment quality pieces, then you would not want to buy lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed (that is, if not cooled down correctly, they will fracture and break easily).    You would buy appropriately annealed ones, but which are considerably more expensive.    This may affect the look of your pieces.     For an inexpensive, fashion oriented piece, your necklace made up entirely of lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed might be very affordable.    It would have that great handmade, artisan look.  It might sell for only $60.00.    With more investment quality lampwork beads, however, you might just use one, or perhaps three lampwork beads, and
have a lot of cord showing, or a lot of filler beads, to keep the piece
affordable.    This would be a very different design look and style.    If the
necklace was made up of all quality lampwork beads, — to have the same look and style as its inexpensive cousin — it might have to retail for $600-800.00.

Again, for an investment quality piece, you would want to use crystal beads manufactured in Austria or the Czech Republic, and not ones manufactured elsewhere.    And you would not let yourself be fooled when the front of the package says “Austrian Crystal” when the back says “Made In China”.    Crystal beads made in China are not as bright, there are more production issues and flaws in the beads, and the holes are often drilled off-center when compared to their “Made In Austria” counterparts.   But crystal beads more appropriate for that investment quality piece might be overkill for a fashion piece where you want to add a pop of brightness without a lot of additional cost.

You would want to be very aware of the treatments of beads and metals.     Some things are radiated, heated, reconstituted, partly synthesized, lacquered or dyed.    Sometimes this is a good thing and these treatments enhance the quality of materials in appearance and durability.   Othertimes this is a bad thing, negatively affecting the quality of materials.  

You would be very aware that many of the materials you use are described in ways that do not provide you with sufficient information to make a choice.    Take the material gold-filled. The definition of gold-filled is that the material is a measurable layer of real gold fused to brass, sometimes copper.   But the legal definition does not tell you how thick the gold has to be over the brass for the material to be called gold-filled.    So in the market, some gold-filled has very little gold and will lose its gold very quickly, and other gold-filled has a thicker layer and will keep its gold, its shine and its shape for decades.    

Or sterling silver.  Sterling silver is supposed to be 92.5% silver (marked .925).    The alloy, that is the remaining 7.5%, is supposed to contain, by law, a lot of copper. However, many manufacturers substitute some nickel for the copper to keep the cost down.   This makes the sterling silver less expensive, yes, but it also makes it more brittle.   It is the difference between being able to open and close the loop on an ear wire, off of which to hang the dangle, many, many times or only two or three times before the wire loop breaks. 

Lots of sterling silver items get marked .925.   And in jewelry making, many of the pieces we use are so small, there is no .925 stamp on them.     Besides a change of what is in the alloy affecting the usefulness and value, many other things happen in the marketplace, as well.    Many sterling silver items have been cast.   What frequently happens is that some of the silver is lost in the casting process, so it is no longer at 92.5%.   Manufacturers are supposed to make note of this, but many just stamp .925 on these items.   Some shops label items as sterling silver, but in reality, are selling you pieces that are nickel.    And some places will sell you something silver plated, and put sterling silver .925 tag which is marked .925 on it off the clasp.    The tag is sterling; the jewelry is not.   I’ve seen some major craft stores and some major jewelry stores sell metalized plastic jewelry and jewelry components and label it .925.

Flexible, nylon coated cable wires are one of the primary types of stringing materials.    The measure of cable wire strength is called tensile strength.   This has to do with what the wires are made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is.   What makes the wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the wire.   As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wire untwists and immediately breaks.  You will not see tensile strength referenced on the labels of these products. The information that is referenced (number of strands, wire thickness) gives you some information needed to make a choice, but insufficient to make an actual choice.   Even when they list the number of strands, this doesn’t give you enough factual information to depend on.   One brand’s high-end, 7-strand is stronger and more supple than that same brand’s 49-strand middle range product.    This same brand’s middle range 49-strand product is stronger and more supple than another brand’s high end 49-strand product.

You would also be very aware that you cannot assume that there is consistency and uniformity for any given product.   There are many production issues that arise in the manufacture of glass beads, for example.   Some beads are perfect.   Some have flaws.  These flaws might include some flat surfaces when everything should be rounded.   The color not going all the way through.   Holes drilled off-centered.    Bead sizes and hole sizes inconsistent from bead to bead. Some bead holes that are especially sharp.    Some beads which have coated coloration which is poorly applied and chips off quickly.    In clothing, these beads with flaws would be labeled irregulars, but they are not so labeled in beads.    Some companies specialize in selling you perfect manufactured glass beads; other companies specialize in selling you the irregulars.    They don’t advertise that fact.    Either quality looks the same when you buy it; they just don’t hold up the same in close examination or from wear.

You would be aware that fabricated and stamped metal pieces are more durable than cast metal pieces, but a lot more expensive, and with a smaller palette of designs for the artist.    You would be aware that the measure of pound strength on any label is the weakest piece of information to grab onto.   The law only defines how pound strength should be measured.    Since most products are manufactured abroad, little care is taken to guarantee the validity of this information.   

You would be aware that there are a lot of things to know about the materials used in jewelry design.

It Is All About Choices

Materials play a significant role in jewelry design.   You need to relate and justify the choices you make about selecting and using materials to your design goals (and your marketing goals, as well).    Sometimes your choices are preformulated and planned; othertimes, these choices are spontaneous and emerge within your process of design.   But these are all choices to be made, with inevitable impacts and consequences.

It is through the characteristics and qualities of the materials that the designer comes to keenly and fully appreciate values, intents, desires, and understandings associated with any design.

It is also through the most effective presentation specific to the materials that the designer experiences the piece to its best advantage and potential.     The effectiveness results from the designer’s ability to maximize the strengths of each material, while minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.

It is a useful exercise, as well, to attempt to simplify the materials and reflect upon whether the piece feels more satisfying and successful, or less so.    One key goal of any designer is to reach a point of parsimony where enough is enough.

Appreciation of materials, their selection, use and arrangement lead the designer to see, feel, think and listen to the visual poetry laid out before them.    Jewelry is more than functional adornment.    It resonates.   Materials contribute to this.   This appreciation allows the artist to share inspiration and intent with other audiences, the wearer and viewer included.   The materials influence the artist in discovery, expression, invention, re-invention, and originality.   They become part of the human experience in jewelry design.


For example, you might be in a situation having decide whether to purchase an $80.00 strand of 6mm round garnet beads, or a $28.00 strand of these same beads. 

In that $80.00 strand, all the beads actually measure 6mm.    They are all perfectly round.   The holes are drilled well, and drilled through the center.    There are no chips at the hole.   There is good coloration, and the coloration from bead to bead is very consistent.

In that $28.00 strand, none of the beads measure 6mm.    They are a bit smaller, perhaps 5.5mm.    The beads from bead to bead on the strand are not consistent.   Sizes are approximate, not exact.   Several beads on the strand are not perfectly round.   Some have flat surfaces on them.   There are many chips at the hole, suggesting that they are not drilled well.    Some are drilled off-center. The coloration is good from afar, but a close exam reveals that some beads are less desirable than others.

This situation doesn’t present an easy choice, however.    If you are making fashion jewelry, the less expensive strand might be the best choice.    Fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time.   It is not an investment.   It is a look.    These beads are less expensive.   In this context, the flaws, in this case, may not be so much as a flaw, as more a variation.    The variations might enhance the fashion piece, adding a sense of fun, surprise and funkiness.    The poorly drilled holes might mean that these beads will crack and break from wear, but given that fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time, this is a non-issue.

If you are making a more investment quality piece, the more expensive garnet beads might be the better choice.   They have more value, resulting from the higher quality.    The consistency in quality results in a more classic, timeless look.    These beads will last a long time.    Here, the inconsistencies in the less expensive strand of beads definitely would be viewed as flaws, not variations.

Types of Materials

One of the most fundamental and practical aspects of jewelry design is the importance of the materials.    The choices jewelry designers make when selecting materials influence the form, content and movement of their pieces.     Every material brings something special to the creative process and the finished jewelry pieces.    The material influences, not only the designer, but the wearer and viewer themselves, how they perceive it, the values they place on it, and the extent they desire it.

The types of materials jewelry designers might choose are only limited by the imagination of the designer, and that designer’s budget.     I have compiled a short listing of the more prevalent materials used in jewelry design.    I distinguish those materials called

Stringing Materials

which are used to form the canvas of our jewelry,

from those materials called

Aesthetic Materials

which form the primary visual vocabulary and expressiveness of the piece, but also may contribute some functionality,

from those materials called

Functional Materials

which solely or primarily have practical value, but only sometimes, most likely inadvertently, add to the aesthetic expression of the piece.

STRINGING MATERIALS
(The Canvas)

The canvas is the part of the piece of jewelry onto which things are placed.     The canvas is usually some kind of stringing material, and the things placed on it typically are beads and charms.    The canvas supports the piece, its shaping and its silhouette.  It may or may not be visible in the piece.    But the canvas can be anything, including fabric and ribbon, wire mesh, chains, and the like.   It can be like a string, or it can be like a flat sheet.

The designer selects the canvas or stringing material based on a vision of the structure of the piece, including both its supportive requirements as well as its appearance-related qualities.     The particular selection will also impact the durability of the structure.    Sometimes the selection of canvas takes on a symbolic meaning, such as using hemp in friendship bracelets or antiwar jewelry, or using leather in biker jewelry.

(  (1)Beading thread:    Typically shaped like a typewriter ribbon, made from bonded nylon.   It is something we wax before using it. Materials are strung onto thread using a beading needle.    The thread is attached to the clasp assembly by tying knots.   Glue should never be applied to these knots.   If the beading thread is twisted, rather than bonded, it will break very easily.

Structure:   Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows very easily.   Provides little resistance to the weight of materials placed on it

Durability:   Very durable when waxed, unless the holes of beads are very sharp

 


(2) Cable thread:    This is a material where threads are braided together and encased in a nylon sheathing.    Used similarly as beading thread.   You use a needle.   Waxing is optional, but strongly suggested. You tie knots to the clasp assembly.  Glue should never be applied to these knots.   Cable thread sold in bead stores is non-biodegradable.    That sold in fishing stores or fishing departments is biodegradable.

Structure:  Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows easily, but
not as easily as with beading thread.

Durability: Very durable, but the nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.    Waxing will protect the nylon sheathing.

 


(3) Bead cord, hemp, knotting cord:   This is a material where threads or
fibers are braided or twisted together so that they look pretty.     This cord
is used when you want the stringing material to show, such as putting knots
between beads, or where you have a cluster of beads, then the cord showing, another cluster of beads, the cord showing, and so forth.   You use this material to macramé, knot, braid, knit, and crochet.    You do not wax this material.   That would make it look ugly.    The primary purpose is to make your piece look attractive when the stringing material is to show.    Bead cord may be nylon or silk.    You use silk with real pearls, but, I suggest using the nylon with other materials.    You will need a needle, usually a collapsible eye or big eye needle.   You tie knots to secure the cord to a clasp assembly. You minimize the use of glue applied to knots, but you usually need to apply glue to the final knot.

Structure:  Piece is a little stiffer than with bead thread or cable
thread, but still feels supple.    Will drape well, but respond imperfectly to
the movement of the body.

Durability:  Silk naturally deteriorates in 3-5 years; nylon does not.   Bead cord made from other natural materials will also deteriorate over a relatively short period of time.

 


(4) Cable Wires:  This flexible stringing material consists of wires braided together and encased in nylon.    The strength comes from the ability of the nylon sheathing to keep the twist in the wires.   If the nylon sheathing is compromised in any way, the wires will immediately untwist and the cable will break at that point.     The wire is stiff enough to be its own needle.   You use crimp beads to secure the cable wire to a clasp assembly because it is more difficult to tie a secure knot with the cable wire. A crushed crimp adds a more pleasing appearance than tying a knot, but it adds risk.   A crushed crimp is like razor blade, always trying to saw right through the cable when the jewelry is worn.

Structure: Piece will be stiff, and never take the shape of the body.  Piece will typically rotate in the opposite direction from the movement of the body or arm it rests on.

Durability:  Very durable.   The nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.  Usually crimp beads are used to secure the clasp, and these increase the risk the cable will break at the crimp, when compared to the durability of tying a knot.

 

(5) Stretchy Cords, like elastic string,
gossamer floss, elastic cord:
  These materials are not particularly durable and lose their elasticity over time.    People like these because they hate clasps, and you don’t use clasps with these.    You secure these by tying knots, and putting glue (any glue except superglue) on the knots.  Be sure
to coat the bottom of the knot, as well as the top of the knot.  Elastic
cord is fabric covered around an elastic thong or floss.

Structure:  Piece will stretch and return back to its original shape and size.

Durability:   Material deteriorates and loses both its integrity as well as its memory over time, especially if left exposed to the air, or worn frequently.   The round elastic string is the most durable among the stretchy cords.   The floss is the least durable.

 


(6) Thicker cords like leather, waxed
cotton, ultra suede lace, rubber thong, and rat tail (satin cord):
  These cords are stiff enough to be their own needle.   You usually need special jewelry findings, such as crimp ends, end caps, or cones with larger interior openings, to prepare the ends of the thicker cord, so that you can attach a clasp assembly.   Some are glued on; some crimped.

Structure: Similar to bead cord, but little stiffer.

Durability:  Some cords, like leather, dry out over time and crack.    Other cords, like waxed cotton and ultra suede, last a very long time.    The rat tail tends to shred.

 


(7) Hard Wire:  Hard wire is not a stringing wire, per se.   You can use it to make a chain or bead-chain.   You can use it to make shapes, like clasps and ear wires.   You can bundle it so that it might be stiff enough to retain the shape of a bracelet or cuff.    You can weave it or knit it to create patterns and textures.   You create loops and rings to attach hard wire to a clasp assembly.

Structure: Wire stiffness comes as dead soft, half hard and hard.   You determine, given how much manipulation of the wire you plan on doing, how stiff you want the wire to be when you begin your project, so that it will hold and retain its shape.    Each time you manipulate the wire, it becomes stiffer and stiffer and stiffer, until it becomes brittle and breaks.

Durability: Very durable.   Wire 18 gauge or thicker has little risk of losing its shape, distorting, breaking, opening up or pulling apart.    As you get thinner, the risk increases dramatically.    Dead soft wire requires a lot more  manipulation until it can hold its shape, than half hard or hard hard wire.

     (8) Chain:Wire is bent into links of various shapes and sizes, and
these are interlinked together into a chain.   Sometimes the links are soldered closed.   Usually they are not.   You can string things onto the chain.   You can use the chain as part of the clasp assembly, often to make the size adjustable.    You can use the chain as a design element throughout your piece.

Structure: Thinner chains will be less able to keep their shape.

Durability: Chains can be very durable, particularly ones that have soldered links, wider links, and/or links created from thicker gauge wires.

(9) Ribbon, fabric:These wider cords are sometimes used as a stringing
material.    They are secured at each end with ribbon or bar clamps, which then form either side of your clasp assembly.

Structure:   Usually, these don’t by themselves support a shape.

Durability:  More aesthetic than functional

 

(10) Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, Stiff Felt, Ultra suede sheet, Paper, Card Board, Poster Board, Rolled Out Polymer or Metal Clay, Brass Cuff Blank:The canvas or stringing material does not have to be a narrow cord.   It can be a wide, flat surface, off of which to bead, glue, stitch, embroider, carve, or sculpt.   This  type of canvas needs to have some amount of stiffness to hold a shape, but not too much that the jewelry made with it feels uncomfortable, or does not move naturally with the person.

Structure:   If you were creating a pendant, you might want your
canvas o be a little stiffer than if you were creating a bracelet.

Durability:   Average durability

(11) Fused Glass:Sometimes the flat canvas is a piece of
glass.    Other pieces of glass are fused onto this, using a kiln, in order to create a pattern or image.  

 Structure:   Rigid shape.

Durability:  Same as any other piece of glass.

 

(12) Metal Sheet and Wire:Sometimes we fabricate a piece of
jewelry, either using soldering, stamping, molding, casting, 3-D printing, or cold connections.    Part of the sheet and/or wire becomes our canvas or stringing material.

Structure:  These are very reliable materials for creating and maintaining
shapes.

Durability:   Soldered and stamped pieces are much more durable than molded or cast ones.    3-D printed materials would be used with casting.    Cold connections could be used with any technique.

 

 

 

AESTHETIC MATERIALS

The canvas either passes through various aesthetic materials, or these are applied to the canvas or attached off the canvas in some way.    These aesthetic materials are used for the yoke, the clasp assembly, the frame, the focal point, the center piece, the strap, and the bail.    

Aesthetic Materials are expressive.   They are part of the visual vocabulary and grammar of the jewelry.    While some play functional roles, as well, they are usually selected for their expressive powers.     Some materials evoke sensory  or symbolic responses, as well.    A touch, a feel, a color sense, sometimes a smell, which extends beyond its factual elements.

Any type of material can be selected to use as an aesthetic material.    It can be something very specific, or a found object, or some kind of combobulation of things.  

Aesthetic Materials we see often include,

·
    Glass, Fused glass, lampwork glass, blown glass

        Metals and Plated Metals

·      Fibers

       Natural (gemstones, wood, bone, horn)

       Synthetic (plastic)

      Polymer and Precious Metal Clay

     Ceramic, Porcelain, Clay, Raku

      Paper, lacquered paper

      Oxidizers, Patinas, Paints, Fabric Dyes and Paints, Stains, Metal Paints and  Rouges

      Platings, Coatings

     Enameling

 

These aesthetic materials can be selected for their qualities of

(a) Appeal

(b) Functionality

(c) Sensations or symbolism extending beyond the physical and decorative bases underlying these materials

Aesthetic Materials: Appeal

The idea of appeal is a broad concept.    It is sometimes universal.   But often subjective. 

There are many variables underlying the ideas of appeal and beauty.    These include things like,


Clarity, translucence, opacity

      –Hardness, brittleness, softness, suppleness

      –Malleability

      –Luminescence, brightness, reflectiveness, refraction

      –Color, color combinations, intensity, value

      –Weight, lightness, heaviness, volume, density

      –Perceived value, worth, rarity

      –Cut, faceting, smoothness, carving, sculpting

      –Shapes

      –Direction, pointer, focal points, markings, striations, inclusions

 

Aesthetic Materials: Functionality

Some materials function better than others in certain situations.    For example, sterling silver is very malleable, nickel is more brittle.    Bending, shaping, coiling, weaving sterling silver requires much less effort, and with this, can lead to more artistic and design success, than using nickel or other wire material that is stiffer and harder than sterling.

Another example:   Using needle and thread as your stringing material is very time consuming.   It is awkward using needle and thread.   You have to wax it.   You want to pass through each bead a minimum of three times.    Using a cable wire, instead, lets you go much faster.    The cable wire is a self needle.   You don’t wax it.   You only have to go through each bead once.    If you are selling your pieces, it is virtually impossible to get your labor out of a needle and thread project.    You almost have to use a cable wire, if you don’t want to commit yourself to a life of slave labor.

 

Aesthetic Materials:  Sensations and Symbolism

Materials have sensory and symbolic powers which extend beyond the materials themselves.   Obviously, this can be very subjective.    It might have psychological roots, sociological roots and/or cultural roots.   

Things may feel warm, cold, soft, rough, oily, weighty.    Things may represent romance, power, membership, religiosity, status.

Vanderbilt University’s colors are gold and black, so using those colors in the Nashville, TN area might evoke a different emotional response than when used elsewhere.    And here’s that very-difficult-to-design-with University of Tennessee orange, again, in the Nashville area will evoke a very different response than elsewhere.

Materials like amber and bone and crystal are things people like to touch, not just look at.    The sensation extends beyond the visual grammar.

 

 

 

FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS

These materials are used in practical terms.   They help things hold together.   They help pieces stay in place.   They help make pieces adjustable in size.   They help polish, finish things off, assist materials through stages in their processing and development. They may be used to prevent or retard a change in color, such as a lacquer finish or rhodium plating over sterling to prevent tarnishing.  They help capture a form or shape.     They are not a part of the visual and expressive vocabulary and grammar of the piece.   Nor are they any kind of canvas.   

Functional Materials which are more prominent include,

·
Adhesives

      ·Solders

      ·Pickling, Flux

      ·Molding compounds

      ·Bead release

      ·Fixatives (like Krylon, lacquering, special platings, waxes, other things which create a protective barrier over something else).

 

It is especially important to know a lot about adhesives.   Many people reach for a tube of Superglue for everything.   Superglue has few uses in jewelry design.     This glue dries like glass, so the bond is like a piece of glass.    When the jewelry moves, the bond shatters like glass, and the bond looks like a broken piece of glass.   All jewelry moves when worn, so not a good choice.

Another glue many people reach for is hot glue.    This glue melts at body temperature, so not a wise choice for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.  

The best glue to use is jeweler’s glue.    Two brands are E6000 and Beacon 527.   Basically the same glue, but the former is thick and the latter is runny.    These glues take 10 minutes to set, so you can move things around for 10 minutes.   At about 20 minutes, the consistency is like rubber cement and you can use your finger or a tweezers to take off any excess glue.   Both glues take 24 hours to dry hard.    They dry clear and remain clear over time.    The bond does not expand.

If using fabric, particularly silk  (ribbon, bead cord, thread), you want to use a cement, rather than a glue.     Glues work by forming a collar around an object, then tighten up as the water or other solvent evaporates.    Cements work by adhering to each individual fiber.    Glue on fabric, as opposed to cement, will lose its grip, so to speak.   With silk, I suggest either G-S Hypo Fabric Cement, or any fabric glue.

Before using a glue, you want to know the characteristics of the bond, once dried.    These include things like,

– hardness

– whether dries clear, or yellows

– whether yellows with age

– whether it expands or not when it dries

– what materials it is most useful for

– whether you have to prepare the material’s surface before using

– how long it takes to fully set

– how easy it is to wipe away and remove any excess glue

– whether where-ever you purchase the particular brand of glue, such as at a craft store or discount store or bead store, that this brand of glue is the same quality product

– how long the glue will last in its container before hardening or drying out

Besides the importance of knowing the types of materials, it is also important to know the properties of materials.     These include (a) mechanical properties, (b) physical properties, and (c) chemical properties.

 

Mechanical Properties

Mechanical properties describe how a material reacts to an applied force.   These include,

·
Strength:   It’s ability not to break under stress or strain

·
Hardness:  How easily it can be scratched, faceted, carved, sculpted, cut, sand blasted

·
Elasticity:   The ability to regain its shape after a stress has been applied to it

·
Plasticity and Malleability:   How much force it takes to make a material permanently deform without breaking

·
Stiffness and Brittleness:  At some point, these materials will be so brittle, they will not bend, and will just break in response to force.    Wire materials, for example, get stiffer and more brittle, the more they are worked, such as from twisting, pulling, hammering, coiling and the like.    Crystal is much more brittle than glass, so it more likely to break from movement or other force.

·
Fatigue:   When the material fails, after repeated wear and use

·
Impact Strength:   how much a material can withstand an impact

·
Abrasion Resistance:   When two materials rub against each other, what is the resistance before one or both break

·
Creep: the slow movement of a material over time

 

Physical Properties

Physical properties
describe the inherent nature of the material.    Some more important ones
related to materials used in jewelry include:

·
Density:   mass and volume

·
Porosity: the quality of being full of tiny holes;
these might hold in something, like a perfume oil, or that something might
easily leach out through washing or sweating, like a dye or lead

·
Water
absorption, permeability and solubility

·
Softening and
Compression:
   how
material holds up under different conditions

·
Resistance to
Heat and Fire

·
Resistance to
Cold

·
Resistance to
a number of cycles of sharp temperature variations without failing

·
Changing form
from solid to liquid to gas

 

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties refer to how well the material holds up when exposed to chemicals.   These chemicals may be in the air.    They may be present in cosmetics, perfumes or hair sprays.   They may be present in a person’s sweat.    These include,


Corrosion

·    Melting, Dissolving, Removing

·
Etching

·
Colorizing, Oxidizing, Patinas

·
Platings

·
Bonding, Adherring

·
Biodegrading

 

We have looked at types of materials and their properties.   Now we need to understand how materials help establish the viability, finish and success of jewelry.   Here, our materials selection process begins to incorporate some value judgments.

 

 

Materials Help Establish
the Viability, Finish and Success of The Jewelry

Jewelry has character and personality.    People intuitively or consciously recognize when it is finished, that is, when the addition or subtraction of any one design element would make the piece seem less satisfying or desirable. Jewelry is judged as successful, to the extent it can maintain its shape while concurrently feeling comfortable, and moving, draping and flowing with the person, as the person wears the jewelry and moves with it on.

Every piece of jewelry has its artistic and individual character due to the many facets from which it is constructed.    Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials are three of these facets.   Mechanical, Physical and Chemical Properties add some additional facets.    These among other additional material choices determine both what can be made, as well as the character of what is made.

Material selection in jewelry design is not only about choosing the most attractive, or most obvious, or most affordable, or most durable materials available.    Designers also choose materials for their sensual sensations, like warmth, their formal appearance, like classical, their functional practicality, like a clamp, or their geo-locality, like using materials found locally.   

The material selection process is complex.    It is influenced by many preconditions, choices made, and considerations to accommodate.    Too often, however, designers focus mainly on the visual aspects of the materials, and not enough on other factors.    In order to make well-considered and smart choices about materials, jewelry designers need a lot more information.    They need information about the entirety of the material, as created or constructed, as visually impactful, as functionally helpful, as perceptually and cognitively understood and as symbolically relevant for designer, wearer and viewer.

 

Selecting
Materials Is A Complicated Process

MATERIAL

(type and
property)


stringing

– aesthetic

– functional


mechanical

– physical

– chemical

JEWELRY
MAKING

 


production process

– assembly, fabrication, construction

– finishing

– accommodating temporal issues

– cost

EXPERIENCE

 


sensorial

– perception

– association and symbolism

– emotion and resonance

CONTEXT

 


of use

– physical

– historical and geographic

– socio-cultural and psychological

PERSPECTIVE

– artist

– wearer

– viewer

– seller, buyer, exhibiter, collector, student, teacher

Stringing,  Aesthetic, and sometimes, Functional Materials, coupled with their various Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, help to:

      (1)Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

      (2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

      (3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

      (4)Provide character and visual appeal

      (5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

      (6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

      (7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

      (8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

      (9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

      (10) Determine the budget for the piece

      (11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

      (12) Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

 

 

 

(1) Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

Jewelry making materials signify structural significance.    This may relate to the physical properties of the materials, such as hardness, brittleness, softness, pliability, porousness, and this list can go on and on.   This may relate to the shapes of the materials, and the placement and interaction of the shapes within the piece, or the final silhouette.    The same may be said for size, weight and volume.    This may relate to the stability of the material or its color or finish over time.

The choices and arrangement of materials within a piece of jewelry determines its structure.     Structure means shape and material integrity.     Shape in jewelry may refer to the silhouette of the piece as a whole, or to individual shapes which occupy one or more sections of our finished piece of jewelry.    It may refer to the positioning of positive and negatives areas within the piece.   When we refer to structure and shape and material, we imply structural integrity, and the degree we are able to maintain any shape, color or finish while the jewelry is worn over some period of time.

Example 1:   We may create a bracelet using Austrian crystal beads strung on a beading thread.   We achieve a high visual quality, at least initially.    But these beads will cut through the threads when the bracelet is worn, thus ending with a very low structural stability.

Example 2:  Sometimes a clam-shell bead tip is used to finish off each end of bead cord, when that is the stringing material.   The bead cord, at its end, is tied into a knot, which sits inside the clam-shell, the cord coming out a hole in the bottom of the clam shell.    We do not want the knot to work itself loose and slip through the hole.   So we glue it.   If we use a jeweler’s glue, like E6000 or Beacon 527, these glues dry like rubber.    With these glues, the knot can actually contort and work itself through the hole.    If we use a glue like Superglue or G-S Hypo Cement,
the knot will remain stiff and not be able to slip through the hole.   However, the stiff knot reduces what is called
support.   It reduces the piece’s jointedness, or ability to respond to stress and strain, thus an ability to best move, drape and flow.     An alternative to glue is to thread an 11/0 seed bead, passing through the bead twice, before bringing the cord through the hole.   This is secure.  No glue is used as all.    Full support is preserved.

Example 3:  How long a metal plated finish lasts depends partly on the metal underneath it, and if it bonds to that metal.    Metal plating bonds well to brass, so it lasts a long time before it fades away.   Metal plating does not bond at all to aluminum, so it quickly chips off.

 

(2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

Jewelry making materials enhance or impede support or jointedness.    The selection and placement of materials, their density, weight, shape, and the like may enable the jewelry to take the shape of the body and move with the body, or not.  

Things strung on beading thread will always take the shape of the body and move with the body; things strung on cable wire will not.     But the designer has at their disposal several jewelry design tricks in construction which will make the cable wire function closer to needle and thread.

Example 1: A bracelet made up of very large beads, that when encircling the wrist, create a very stiff circle, with much strain and stress on each bead, on the stringing material and on the clasp assembly.    If the designer reworks the piece, to include small round spacer beads between each very large bead, the designer, in effect, has added what is called a rotator support system. Each very large bead can freely respond to stresses and strain which result from adjusting to the body and its movement by rotating and pivoting around the spacer bead.

Example 2:  People usually pick a clasp after they have designed their piece.   They look for something that will make do, perhaps easier to get on and off, and hopefully have some match to the piece.   A clasp, however, should be understood as more than a clasp.   It should be understood as a clasp assembly, which is a type of support system.
S-clasps are very attractive and a S-clasp design can always be found that feels an organic extension of the jewelry.   An S-clasp needs a soldered ring off of each arm, and, if stringing on cable wire, a loop in the wire where it connects to the soldered ring.      The crimp is never pushed all the way up to the clasp or ring.    Each ring or loop is a support system, so our S-clasp needs 4 support systems in this case, to function correctly.   With 4 supports on the S-clasp in a necklace, the clasp will always remain on the back of the neck, no matter how the person moves.   Without 4 supports, it will not, and the necklace will keep turning around. 

 

(3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

The designer must coordinate the selection of Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials, and their inherent Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, so that they work in harmony with a particular technique used to assemble, weave, or otherwise secure them together in a finished piece of jewelry.

Conversely, the technique might dictate which materials will work best, and which will not.    Bead weaving works with thread or cable thread, but not as easily with elastic string or cable wire.

There was a time when the materials used in any one piece were restricted to a few.   Today any material can be used, as well as any combination of materials, without losing any appeal or value or desire.

Examples:  A Czech glass bead with a hole size of .8mm would not slip a leather cord with a diameter of 1.5mm.    It would be very difficult to create a loomed piece with beads of widely varying sizes.     If mixing metals (say, silver, gold and brass) in a fabricated and soldered bracelet, care must be taken in the soldering strategy because each metal melts at a different temperature.   You could not begin a wire weaving project using hard hard-wire.    We may select cable wire for our canvas. This would not be a suitable stringing material if the technique we wanted to apply was bead weaving.

 

(4)Provide character and visual appeal

The surface of a material has many characteristics which the jewelry designer leverages within the finished piece.    Light might reflect off this surface, such as with opaque glass or shiny metal.   Light might be brought into and below the surface before reflected back, such as with many gemstones and opalescent glass.  Light might refract through the piece at different angles, even creating a prism effect.

The surface might be a solid color.   It might be a mix of colors.    It might be matte.   It may have inclusions or markings.    It may have fired on coloration effects.   There may be tonal differences.    There may be pattern or textural differences.    It may have movement.   It may have depth.

Example:   It is often difficult to mix gemstone beads with glass beads.   However, if you use glass beads which have a translucent quality to them, this glass mimics the relationship of light reflecting
back to the eye with that of the gemstones.    The finished piece will feel
harmonious.

 

(5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

Jewelry and its design and materials used can be iconic.   

Jewelry can relate the symbolic value of the piece to certain historical themes and ideas, or to specific functions.

Jewelry can be used to preserve, conserve or restore certain cultural or historical values.    The material(s) selected may glorify these.    Their availability may be closely tied to the time and place.   Their use within a piece may be socially subscribed.

Our understanding of how jewelry relates to these contexts can be used to document how jewelry and its design has evolved and spread.

Name an historical period, and you can visualize many of the materials used and design sense.    Roman. Victorian.    Prehistoric.   Modern.    

Name a socio-cultural context.     Religious.   Wedding.   Military.    American Southwest.   Any rite of passage.

Example 1:   Pearl knotted jewelry is very strongly associated with silk bead cord, pearl clasps, and bead tips.   It is also very associated with Victorian jewelry.   It would be difficult to substitute other materials and pieces, such as a different kind of clasp, or not knotting between beads, without the piece losing its appeal.

Example 2:  A rosary is made as a bead chain, with a certain number of beads, often a certain size and material of bead, with a Y-shaped connector at its center.   The rosary assists the wearer
in prayer and religiosity.   It’s specific design and use of materials
differentiates Catholicism from other religions.

 

(6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

Jewelry is art only as it is worn.    Its aesthetic elements must tightly coordinate with its functional ones, if the piece is to maintain its shape and silhouette, and move with the person, without distorting, feeling uncomfortable or breaking.    Thus, its quality and durability are dependent upon how the designer successfully maneuvers the tradeoffs required between function and appeal.    A good part of this success stems from how materials are selected, combined and arranged.

Jewelry and its design preserve the aesthetic qualities, without disrupting and losing focus of the practical ones.

Example:   The clasp assembly on a piece of jewelry can be very organic, feeling an integral part of the piece.    Or it can be very disruptive and annoying, as if it were a last choice and consideration, and the designer found a clasp that would make do.   For an S-clasp to function appropriately, it needs at least one soldered ring off of the arm on each side
of the clasp.    This will force the clasp assembly to take up more space and
volume in the piece.   This too might end up detracting from the overall appeal of the piece.

 

(7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

Materials may be selected, combined and arranged into forms and themes so that they represent larger meanings and concepts.    Often this comes down to color, shape, placement, and arrangement.   The materials bring out the theme or concept in the design.

Example:    You create a piece of jewelry with a blue color scheme, using 4 shades of blue.    If the piece is to be worn, say, going clubbing in the evening, you might select 4 shades of blue (metallic blue iris, montana blue, blue quartz, cornflower) which vary in intensity. That means, varying how bright or dull they are by selecting tones with more or less underlying black, gray or white.    If the piece is to be worn, say, at work during the day, you might select 4 shades of blue (cobalt, sapphire, light sapphire, ultralight sapphire) which vary in value.    That means, varying how light or dark they are by selecting tones that are basically the same, but some
are lighter or darker than others.

 

(8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

Materials may be strongly associated with a particular geography or location.    Lapis is strongly associated with Afghanistan.     Paint Rock with Tennessee.   

Example:  A necklace by a Tennessee designer made entirely with lampwork beads made by Tennessee artisans.

 

(9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

Jewelry can only be judged successful at the boundary between jewelry and the body.   It must be able to conform to the body’s shape.   It must be able to comfortably move, drape and flow as the person moves and shifts positions.

Materials selection might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a given type of jewelry.    Or it might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a certain body shape or size or placement.

Example:   Very heavy beads used in earrings can make them uncomfortable.    Creating a 4” earring dangle on a 4” head pin is not quite as a good a strategy as making a 4” earring dangle chain using eye pins.    Think about what happens to the former vs. the latter when the wearer bends her head, then returns to the upright position.

 

(10) Determine the budget for the piece

The total expenditure incurred while designing a piece of jewelry might be, to a large extent, determined by the materials used.     A designer often selects the material type based on a budget for the project.     [Techniques can also have a big impact on the cost, particularly when accounting for the time it takes to design and construct a piece of jewelry.]

Example:  A necklace made entirely of lapis lazuli beads might retail for $150.00.    A similar necklace made entirely of lapis color glass beads might retail for $25.00.    Both would look similar and take the same time to make.    

 

(11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

The choice of materials affects the quality of the elements.     Within a given project budget, and within a particular design goal, the quality of the materials may limit the number of similar pieces to be made, or the complexity or elaborateness of the design of any one piece.

Example:   A stretchy bracelet made with lava beads might retail for $15.00.    The materials – elastic string, lava beads, glue – are readily available and inexpensive.    The designer could easily make 50 of these to sell, and stay within a reasonable budget.    Change the materials to cable wire, crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, crimp cover, black onyx beads, toggle clasp, and the investment in parts is considerably more.   We have more materials and more expensive materials.   This bracelet might have to retail for  $45.00.    Staying within the same budget framework, the designer would only be able to make 16 of these.

 

(12)Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

Every material has two over-arching qualities.   The obvious is its physical properties and physicality.    Let’s call this materialistic.   It is something that is measurable.   In the realm of the mystic, it is ordinary or profane.

But the material also has qualities that extend beyond this.   They can be sensory.   They can be symbolic.    They can be psychological.   They can be contextual.     Let’s call this non-materialistic.   It is something that is non-measurable.  In the realm of the mystic, it is extraordinary and sacred.

Both properties must be considered when designing a piece of jewelry.    They have equal importance, when selecting, placing and arranging materials and design elements within a piece.

Example:    Take a Chakra bracelet strung on cable wire with a clasp.      The beads used are gemstones.   Each gemstone has spiritual and healing properties.   Each gemstone has a coloration, and each different coloration, too, is associated with certain spiritual and healing properties.    Moreover, every individual has their own unique needs
for which set of gemstones and which assortment of colorations are best and most  appropriate.   This can get even more complicated in that each situation and context may have its own requirements.     The person may end up needing several Chakra bracelets for different occasions.     The designer could have used glass or acrylic beads, instead, which have less non-materialistic value, and might be less durable over time.    The designer could have strung the beads on elastic string without using a clasp, again, less non-materialistic value and durability.

 

 

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Selecting materials involves a complicated set of choices, some tangible, some intangible, some personal, some in anticipation of the perceptions of others.

Some lessons learned…

      1.You can use any material you want when designing jewelry

      2.Material selection is a complicated decision making process

      3.No material is perfect for every project

      4.Don’t assume you know what you know

      5.Be skeptical

      6.Always ask questions

      7.Select materials on both their aesthetic as well as functional properties

      8.Don’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics

      9.Anticipate what might happen to your materials over time as the jewelry is worn

      10.Anticipate how your various audiences will respond to your selections of materials

      11.Work within a budget

      12.Match the quality of material to your design (and marketing) goals

 

 

 

 

Warren Feld,
Jewelry Designer

 

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to pearl knotting, micro-macrame, wire
working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

In 2000, Warren founded The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts (CBJA) as the educational program
for Be Dazzled Beads-Land of Odds.     The program approaches education from a Design Perspective.

There is a strong focus on skills development.   There is a major emphasis on
teaching how to make better choices when selecting beads, other parts and
stringing materials, and how to bring these altogether into a beautiful, yet
functional, piece of jewelry.   There are requirements for sequencing classes –
that is, taking classes in a developmental order.  

Theory is tightly wedded to applications throughout the program, from beginner to
advanced classes.    Since jewelry, unlike painting and sculpture, must
interrelate aesthetics, function and context, much attention is paid to how
such relationships should influence the designer.    Jewelry Design is seen as
an authentic performance task.    As such, the student explores ideas about
artistic intent, shared understandings among all audiences, and developing
evidence in design sufficient for determining whether a piece is finished and
successful.     The design educational program is envisioned as preparing the
student towards gaining a disciplinary literacy in design — one that begins
with how to decode the expressive attributes associated with Design Elements to
a fluency in the management of Principles of Composition, Construction and
Manipulation, as well as the systems management of the design process itself. 

Warrenleads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He
works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well
as those with more experience. 

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books, including
Perlen Posie (“Gwynian Ropes Bracelet”,
No. 21, 2014), Showcase 500 Beaded
Jewelry (“Little Tapestries: Ghindia”, Lark Publications, 2012). One piece
(“Canyon Sunrise”), which won 4th place in Swarovski’s Naturally
Inspired Competition
(2008), is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck,
Austria.   His work has been written up in The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry
Design
(Margie Deeb, Lark Publications, 2014). He has been a faculty member
at CraftArtEdu.com, developing video tutorials.   

He has been selected as an instructor for the Bead & Button Show, June, 2019,
teaching 3 pieces – Japanese Garden Bracelet, Etruscan Square Stitch Bracelet,
and ColorBlock Bracelet.    In March 2020, Warren will be leading a
travel-enrichment program on Celebrity Cruise Lines, centered on jewelry
making, beginning with a cruise from Miami to Cozumel and Key West.

Personal style: multi-method, intricate color play, adaptive of traditions to
contemporary design, experimental.

Warren is currently working on a book tentatively titled:  SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEWELRY
DESIGNER… Merging Your Voice With Form.

Owner, Be Dazzled Beads in Nashville, and Land of Odds (www.landofodds.com). 

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest,
where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear
response for resisting anything Ugly.    He has also sponsored All Dolled Up: Beaded
Art Doll Competition and The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition.

Instructor, Bead & Button Show, Milwaukee, WI, 2019

Workshop Leader, Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises, Celebrity Cruise Line,
2019-2020

 

 

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

     (1) WASTIELS, Lisa and WOUTERS, Ine.  Material Considerations in Architectural Design: A Study of the Aspects Identified by Architects for Selecting Materials.   July, 2008.

As referenced in:

http://shura.shu.ac.uk/511/1/fulltext.pdf

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

So You Want To Do Craft Shows… A Free Video Tutorial For You

Posted by learntobead on November 30, 2018


SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…

A Free Video Tutorial for You
by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads
www.landofodds.com

PREVIEW

View the full video tutorial online (1 hour and 45 minutes). Found on top of home page of Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…
…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You
…Set Realistic Goals
…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis
…Best to Develop Your Applications and Apply
…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring
…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  
You can make a lot of money. 
You meet new people. 
You have new adventures.  
And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

 

Jewelry design is a life lived with wearable art.

My name is Warren Feld.
And I am here to share some of my life experiences and insights with you about beading and jewelry making.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.

It is very important for anyone thinking about selling at craft shows, festivals, markets or similar settings to be smart about it.
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

 

Many years ago, I started my business with my partner Jayden, by doing flea markets and craft shows. Eventually, our business evolved into one store, then a second store, and an online business. But you never forget your roots.

You can learn a lot of good business tricks and find out about a lot of good resources if,… And that’s a big, “IF”! you know what you are doing. All too often, jewelry designers who want to do craft shows, have not done their homework. They have not researched and evaluated which shows to do, and which not to do. They have not figured out how best to set up their booths and displays. They are clueless about what inventory to make, and to bring, and how to price it. They are unprepared to promote, to market and to sell.

I developed this online tutorial to help prepare you for doing this kind of craft show homework.

I discuss:
– What information you need to gather
– How to set personal and business goals
– How to find, evaluate and select craftshows
– How best to promote and operate your business at these craftshows

In fact, I go over 16 lessons I learned for successfully doing craftshows.

There are two groups of lessons.

First, I discuss lessons about finding and selecting craft shows, and determining how well your business will fit in.

In the second group of lessons, I discuss how to promote and operate your business at these craft shows.

Last, I offer some final advice.

At the end of the tutorial, I have a list of resources for you to explore in more detail.

You will find the full 1 hour and 45 minute tutorial
at the top of the Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads website.



And yes, One More Thing…

We are so Excited to offer an Awesome, fun Enrichment-Travel opportunity!

Find out more about our YOUR WORLD OF JEWELRY MAKING CRUISE!

Join us, Miami – Cozumel, Mexico – Key West, Florida, an unforgettable, 5-nights, February 29th thru March 5th, 2020

Jewelry Making Classes, Skills Development, Design Seminars, Fun Get-Togethers and Mixers
Unwind, Make New Friends, Learn New Skills

Sponsored by Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads, Be Well Travel, and Celebrity Cruise Lines

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, cruises, enrichment travel, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Resources, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

DESIGNER CONNECT: Tony Perrin of Lock & Key

Posted by learntobead on July 5, 2018

designerConnect-banner.jpg

DESIGNER CONNECT

Following The Bead

Be Dazzled Beads is a community of Creatives. Some people use our beads to make jewelry. Some to do mosaics. Some to adorn and embellish costumes. Some to enhance things like wine classes or drapes or mirrors or sweaters or cross stitch patterns. Some to embellish paintings or sculptures. Some actually use our beads in science experiments.
To us, all Creatives are Designers. That is, they make artistic and functional choices about how to incorporate the types of supplies we sell into personal visions. Some design for themselves. Some design for friends and family. Some design as a business.
It is not as much fun to work alone or isolated when you realize you are part of the larger Be Dazzled, Land of Odds and Nashville communities. We can learn a lot of insights from each other. We can support each other. It’s all about Connection!

DESIGNER CONNECT PROFILE

Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

Founder and Designer, Lock & Key (www.lockandkeydesign.com)

tony perrin Tony: “I feel lucky. Blessed. Is the world easy? No. I have multiple jobs. I am part of the gig economy. I am trying to succeed in a world that favors large businesses. But I am working creatively. Finding my groove. There are a lot of sleepless nights. It’s not easy to be a Professional-Creative. But I would not change things for the world.”

STARTING OUT

Tony: “I have memories of always being surrounded by the arts.”

Tony comes from a family that was very arts-oriented, and very supportive of him pursuing the arts and crafts — wherever it took him. His mom was a watercolorwatercolorist and oil painter. His father was a small business owner as well as a photographer. His dad’s dad sculpted for Lockheed, and even was a street dancer. He had a great uncle in New York who had a jewelry business, and Tony remembers, even at age 5 or 6, his uncle was always making jewelry for everyone in the family.

Starting out with gymnastics, Tony graduated to dancing (because his older sister danced). As a dancer, he had to teach himself to sew for costumes as his Mom was much better with a glue gun then a needle. He remembers his family always making things — food, pastry, lapidary, painting. He has fond memories of always being surrounded by art and creativity.

A family friend — Frank — taught him how to bead weave the summer he was ten. That Summer Frank and his wife exposed Tony to the artisan craft as well lapidary, jewelry festivals and much more.

As many designers are, Tony is self taught. tony2.jpg

Warren: “Do you think now, with all the creative things you are doing, that you, in some respects are re-creating your childhood?”

Tony: “Oh, for sure! I would say that’s part of a goal I have. I swore I would never be a teacher, but kids gravitate towards me like a moth to a flame. I realized it is because I am ‘5’. Kids get me, which should be the other way around. I am young at heart. I think trying to retain that naivete, that sort of blissful ignorance, especially as a Creative, just allows you to be a little more free with your aspirations. All of a sudden you grow up. It’s like Peter Pan. You lose that sense of innocence and exploration.”

Tony grew up in Los Angeles, spent some time pursuing a career in fashion in New York City. He moved back to Los Angeles for a few years. And then he came to Nashville with his wife who is a singer-songwriter. Today Tony wears several hats: Jewelry Designer, Dance Educator, Choreographer, Costume Designer, Jewelry Design Educator.

Tony: “Growing Up, I always thought I had to do one of these things, or the other. Before I moved to Nashville, jewelry making was just a hobby. When I moved here, one of my goals was how do I interweave all of the creative aspects that make me whole. I think a lot of creatives are creative in more than one discipline, as well. So I’m just trying to figure out how to make it one — one happy world.”

KEEPING GOING

tony3.jpg

Tony: “It’s been a curvy road.”

Warren:“Today, how would you describe what your jewelry making is like today?”

Tony:“I describe Lock & Key as a modern interpretation honoring an artisan craft. I am doing something that is ancient in terms of its art, as a form of communication and expression. The loom that I use is about 80 years old at this point, so it’s touched many different hands and many different stories. It’s definitely art jewelry. I describe what I do as boho eclecticism. Tribal influences, so I say it is international in feel. One of the main feedbacks I get is that it is fashion, but not trendy.”

Tony continues by describing his core consumer.

Tony:“My core consumer is 40+. Is a woman who appreciates artisan product, as well as pieces which make them feel modern with a sense of timeless appeal.”

Warren:“So, that first day you decided to become a business. What was that like?”

Tony’s first piece, done around 1998, was a custom piece. He was asked to design a piece for the head designer at Betsey Johnson, a New York fashion designer of clothes and accessories. It was a loomed piece, 1 1/2″ wide choker with multi-colored skulls in it and dangling feathers. He was excited, to say the least. He shared the story about making this one piece, which inspired other people to ask him to design a piece. People responded to his authenticity, and then it became all about the product.

When Tony moved to Nashville, he decided to focus on jewelry. It was part, what was he going to do to make a living? Part, honoring his childhood mentor who had made the Indian jewelry. Part passion about his loom, and gradually adding precious metal clay to the mix of media he relied on for his jewelry designs.

Tony:“And I still love it. Exhausted. Up until 3am getting production ready. Fingers chewed up by my drill bits. But I absolutely still love it!

CREATIVE PROCESS

In describing a typical piece, Tony begins with multi-media. This includes some loom bead weaving. He incorporates ball and chain. He likes to use a lot of color and texture, and mix matte and glossy. People respond well to his color sensibility. He uses many square shaped beads with round beads. With the beadwork, he includes a piece of metal, like a sculpted metal clay piece, either an integral part of the piece, or as a pendant. He often includes semi-precious stones. He likes to mix metal finishes. “Silver and Gold is the same conversation as Navy and Black. If it is well-balanced, it makes it very versatile.”

tony1.jpg

Tony mentions that, to understand his creative process, you have to go back to his goal of trying to meld together all his creative worlds. His creative process is not a linear process.

He cites as an example a very successful pair of earrings he designed which are precious metal clay based. But they were flowers, which is very specific seasonal iconography. When he started thinking about what he wanted to do the next season, he thought about how he could adapt these earrings. He mentioned that a lot of his pieces and his bead weaving have an almost art deco or art nouveau feeling to them. At the time, there was an Egyptian revival style that was prominent because of a world wide tour of Egyptian antiquities.

He reflected on his artistic style and the current revival trend, and asked himself: This was a successful piece. I’m thinking business here. How do I creatively then come up with the next version of it? So for the Fall holiday he explored hieroglyphics and lotus flower motifs. And for the following Spring, he thought about incorporating the scarab and other Egyptian touches.

Tony: “Things started to trend in High Fashion — snakes, beetles, insects, and bees. I have a scarab beetle tattooed on my back that is about 14″ long, the whole width of my back. It’s an icon that is important to me. It symbolizes the sun god Ra. It represents newness and renewal, and I have chronic back pain, so it was interconnected. It started from something that was authentic and meaningful for me, and which started to become a trend years after I had gotten my tattoo. I introduced this sculpt and coupled it with beadwork. People responded to it. Then I started thinking how to tie this all up from a business perspective. If we’re just creating ‘pretty’, who cares? You have to be able to speak to an audience.”

Tony discussed that jewelry artists have to be able to synergize the Business-Creative Mind. Both worlds need to be respected. It’s a hard business, he agrees. Artists have to monetize their creative output and still remain authentic to themselves.

Frequently, he asks himself: Do I need to break up with my design? It is OK, he indicated, to say Yes! His scarab beetle was a good idea, but some reality testing was in order. Was it too early before the trend? Would it be marketable?

On a second business level, Tony poses the question: Can I stand behind my product? Can the store that sells his pieces be able to stand behind his products?

A third major consideration is whether he has successfully differentiated his products from the mass market. That is one reason he incorporates glass seed beads and Czech beads within his work. Glass beads allow him to inject colors, where more mass market pieces are mostly metal and look very machine made.

MOVING ALONG

Tony reflects daily how art jewelry, as opposed to jewelry mass produced overseas, will be accepted by the general public.

Tony: “Art Jewelry is a term I use a lot in my marketing. At an apparel show, where people are used to mass produced jewelry, it’s starting to change in perception and openness to my product.”

Warren:“Is the world helping you change people’s perceptions, or do you feel you are out there alone doing this?”

Tony:“It will be four years in September since I started pursuing jewelry as a business. In my microworld, there has always been acceptance. My wife is very accepting, but at first was hesitant. I said, Let’s look at this year by year and see what happens. She gets it now.”

tony4.jpg

Warren:“And in the broader world?”

Tony:“In the macro level, I think it’s interesting. I think if you look at the culture today, with technology and oversaturation and what is happening in mass market production, and fast fashion, which is down-trending, I think you’re having baby boomers that are looking for nostalgia in terms of smaller, handmade jewelry.”

He sees that consumer demand for artisan jewelry is on the rise, but there are still nagging questions whether you can make a viable business out of it. Can you make enough product? Can you do it efficiently? Can you transition from a one person designer business to having staff make the pieces, as well? Meeting business goals gets more complicated if you are not going to produce your jewelry overseas.

One of his biggest challenges coming up is to create sufficient infrastructure — studio space, supplies and personnel — to be able to easily kick out 30 pieces of 20 styles on demand.

MARKETING

Tony is natural marketer, so I asked him what kinds of things he does to reach his target audience. The extent of things he does can provide a lot of ideas and insights for all of us.

Tony:“I always try to make marketing creative so I still enjoy it.”

Things Tony Does…
– trunk shows at boutiques

– pop-up shows

– collaborates with fashion designers and creates evening events with them

– collaborates with sculptors, painters, and ceramic artists to do a joint show, say in a donated gallery space

– always thinking about marketing ideas which merge his interests in dance, photography, jewelry and sculpture

– for people who have bought, or even collect, his jewelry, he sends snail-mail postcards, hand-written notes, email blasts, and personal emails

– posts images with captions on instagram

– follows other people’s instagram sites with whom he feels some kind of fit or opportunity

– sometimes buys ads, but has not seen a risk/reward balance from purchased ads

– puts himself in situations where he can meet people, shake their hands, and talk with them

– develops relationships and works at maintaining them

– plays the “6-degrees of separation” game, identifying among his network of friends and relationships, who they know, who those people know, who those people of those people know, and so forth, to search for opportunities

– develops different strategies for returning customers as opposed to new customers

– visibly creates understanding that he sticks behind his products, and will immediately fix something if it breaks

– works with “influencers” — people who, usually in return for some free jewelry, will promote your products and show images of people wearing your products in social media sites

– looks for examples of “market-disrupters” — people who disrupt the market to be noticed — that he can be inspired by

– always carries samples with him

FUTURE PLANNING

Tony is a planner. He’s developed a clear vision for the future. Some of the things he wants to accomplish over the next 3 years include,

– maintaining a 60% year-over-year rate of growth

– grow from a more regional line to a national one

– focus on his infrastructure — studio space, materials and personnel — to keep production, shipping/receiving, website and marketing all on track

The big questions before him: How does he meet demand that he has created for his jewelry? How does he enhance his brand? How does he grow his ability to distribute his products?

He wants to contine to be flexible, given the instability of our economy. He wants to maintain his constant rate of sales so his business can sustain itself. He sees, perhaps, his line represented in a showroom. Perhaps he can gain more presence in museum shops.

Tony:“I have a lot of jobs right now and it would be great to have one focus. Or add a couple hours to the day.”

FINAL WORDS

Tony: “The true test of a good designer is an ability to sell it.”

Tony: “If I don’t get that gut feeling that my piece is going to be successful, it’s time to move on.”

Tony has had to create the opportunities himself. This has involved a lot of reflection, reality testing and planning. He has created a business plan framework with year over year goals for design, production, and distribution.

Tony:“In today’s world, you always have to be creating your own rules to stay on your feet. There is wide competition. Email inundation. I like the challenge but it’s exhausting.”

Tony: “Whether or not these jewelry artists work professionally, they need patrons, and that sometimes is even more important than being an artist.”

Tony wishes there was more of a connected jewelry designer/artist community in Nashville. It is still very fragmented. He finds that politics gets in the way of creative collaboration.

Tony:“There’s room at the table for everyone.”

He wants to call artists attention to the Arts and Business Council of Nashville, as well as their Periscope program. There are opportunities for networking, expanded contacts, a support system of creatives and their ideas, developing business skills and confidence.

Jewelry designers in Nashville still need a more functional, consistent support system, particularly to thread the business-needle better. Help to find studio space. Getting a small business loan. Finding an angel investor. Connecting to mentors. This is all important, and we need more organized systems to make these kinds of things easier, smoother and more reliable.

WHERE TO FIND TONY’S JEWELRY

Tony has taken a shot-gun approach to getting his jewelry out there. He does a little direct retail through an e-commerce site. He finds that this is a great billboard for him, but not a great selling outlet. He does art and craft festivals. He likes to focus on juried or well-curated shows in particular.

He wholesales his products to stores. Sometimes this involves cold-calling on stores, with product in hand. But he also does wholesale markets, like the Atlanta Gift and Apparel Market. In 2017, he did 2 shows there; in 2018, he plans on doing 4 shows. His pieces currently are in 28 stores in the United States and the Virgin Islands. He is looking at other wholesale markets. He is exploring options to lock in with a jewelry rep or a jewelry show room.

You may find Tony’s jewelry locally at:

Two Old Hippies (the Gulch)

401 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Stacey Rhodes Boutique (Brentwood)

144 Franklin Rd Suite A, Brentwood, TN 37027

T. Nesbitt & Co. (Franklin)

2nd Ave N, Franklin, TN 37064

Kitty (East Nashville)

521 Gallatin Ave #2, Nashville, TN 37206

Tony has an eye out to find his ideal studio-showroom. He pictures it full of natural light. Small and intimate. A low wall separating the front from the studio. Inspirational and calming. A sancturary.

Find Tony online at www.lockandkeydesign.com









bedazzled-storeshot1.jpg

Visit BE DAZZLED BEADS online to view our classes, jewelry clinics, mini-lessons, and jewelry design discussion seminars!

Shop with us online at Land of Odds

Talk with us about Custom Jewelry Design
and Jewelry Repairs

Visit us in Nashville

718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123

Nashville, TN 37204

615-292-0610
(across from 100 Oaks Mall where the Applebees Restaurant is)

 

Posted in business of craft, design management, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY DESIGN: A Managed Process

Posted by learntobead on January 4, 2018

 

“Jewelry is art, but only art as it is worn.”

That’s a powerful idea, — “as it is worn” — but, when making jewelry, we somewhat ignore it.    We bury it somewhere in the back of our brains, so it doesn’t get in the way of what we are trying to do.   We relegate it to a phrase on the last page of a book we have promised ourselves to read sometime, so it doesn’t put any road blocks in front of our process of creation.

We like to follow steps, and are thrilled when a lot of the thinking has been done for us.  We like to make beautiful things.   But, we do not want to have to make a lot of choices.    We don’t want anything to disrupt our creative process.

We do not want to worry about and think about and agonize over jewelry “as it is to be worn.”    Let’s not deal with those movement, architectural, engineering, context, interpersonal and behavioral stuff.    We just want to make things.

To most artisans, making jewelry should never be work.   It should always be fun.

Making jewelry should be putting a lot of things on a table in front of you, and going for it.

Making jewelry just is.   It is not something we have to worry about managing.

It is easy to make, copy or mimic jewelry someone else has designed, either through kits or through imitation.

Making jewelry is doing.   Not thinking.

Creating.  Not managing.

We prefer to make jewelry distinct from any context in which it might be worn or sold.    We don’t want someone looking over our shoulder, while we create.   We don’t want to adjust any design choice we make because the client won’t like it, or, perhaps, it is out of fashion or color-shaded with colors not everyone likes.    Perhaps our design choices at-the-moment do not fit with the necessities associated with how we need to market our wares to sell them.  Our pieces might somehow be off-brand.

All too often, we avoid having to think about the difficult choices and tradeoffs we need to make, when searching for balance.  That is balance among aesthetics, functionality, context, materials and technique.    And balance between our needs as designers and the wearer’s needs, as well.   So, too, we shy aware from making any extra effort to please “others” or “them”. Even though this hardly makes sense if we want these “others” or “them” to wear our jewelry or buy our jewelry creations.

Everything comes down to a series of difficult choices.   We are resistant to making many of them.   So we ignore them.   We pretend they are choices better left to other people, though never fully sure who those other people are.     We yearn to be artists, but resign ourselves to be craftspersons.    We dabble with art, but avoid design.

We hate to make trade-offs between art and function; that is, allow something to be a little less beautiful so that it won’t break or not drape and move well when worn.    We hate to make things in colors or silhouettes we don’t like.    We hate to make the same design over and over again, even though it might be popular or sell well.

But make these kinds of choices we must!    Your jewelry is a reflection of the sum of these choices.    It is a reflection of you.    You as an artist.  You as a crafter.   You as architect and engineer.   You as social scientist.   You as a business person.   You as a designer.

So, the more we can anticipate what kinds of choices we need to make, and the more experience we have to successfully manage and maneuver within these choices, the more enjoyable and successful our jewelry designs become … and the more satisfying for the people for whom we make them.

 

JEWELRY DESIGN IS A MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Designers who are able to re-interpret the steps she or he go through and see them in “process” terms, that is, with organization and purpose, have the advantage.

There are many different kinds of choices to be made, but they are interdependent and connected.    Recognizing interdependency and connectedness makes it easier to learn about, visualize and execute these choices as part of an organized, deliberate and managed jewelry design process.

I am going to get on my soap box here.    We tend to teach students to very mechanically follow a series of steps.    We need, instead, to teach them “Process”.   Strategy.   Insight.   Connectedness.    Contingency.   Dependency.    Construction.    Context.    Problem-Solving.   Consequences.

Good jewelry design must answer questions and teach practitioners about managing the processes of anticipating the audience, selecting materials, implementing techniques, and constructing the piece from one end to the other.     Again, this is not a mechanical process.    Often, it is not a linear step-by-step pathway.    There is a lot of iteration – that is, the next choice made will limit some things and make more relevant other things which are to happen next.

A “process” is something to be managed, from beginning to end, as the designer’s knowledge, techniques and skills are put to the test.   That test could be very small-scale and simple, such as creating a piece of jewelry to give to someone as a gift.    Or creating a visual for a customer.    Or when you need to know the costs.   Or, that test could be very large-scale and more complex, such as convincing a sales agent to represent your jewelry in their showroom.

Better Jewelry Designers smartly manage their design processes at the boundary between jewelry and person.    It is at this boundary where all the interdependencies of all the various types of choices we designers make are clearest and have the most consequence.

 

WELL-DESIGNED JEWELRY MUST BE MANAGED
AT THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN JEWELRY AND PERSON

What exactly does it mean to “manage design at the boundary between jewelry and person?”  What kinds of things happen at that boundary?

A person breathes.   She moves.    She sits at a desk, perhaps fidgeting with her jewelry.     She might make sudden turns.    She gracefully transitions from one space to another.    She has shape, actually many shapes.

Her jewelry serves many purposes.    It signifies her as someone or something.     It expresses her feelings.   Or status.   Or future intentions.   Or past history.   It ties her to people and places, events and times.    It suggests power, or lack thereof.    It hides faults, and amplifies strengths.    It implies whether she fits with the situation.

Jewelry attracts.     It attracts seekers of the wearer’s attention.    It wards off denigrators.   It orients people to the world around them.    It tells them a story with enough symbol, clue and information to allow people to decide whether to flee or approach, run away or walk toward, hide or shine.

Jewelry has a feel and sparkle to it.    It reminds us that we are real.    It empowers a sensuality and a sexuality.    It elevates our esteem.     Sometimes uncomfortable or scratchy.   Sometimes not.    Sometimes reflective of our moods.  Othertimes not.

Jewelry is a shared experience.      It helps similar people find one another.   It signals what level of respect will be demanded.    It entices.   It repels.    It offers themes both desirable and otherwise.

Jewelry has shape, form and mechanics.    All the components must self-adjust to forces of movement, yet at the same time, not lose shape or form or maneuverability.    If a piece is designed to visually display in a particular way, forces cannot be allowed to disrupt its presentation.    Jewelry should take the shape of the body and move with the body.    It should not make a mockery of the body, or resist the body as it wants to express itself.

Jewelry defines a silhouette.    It draws a line on the body, often demarcating what to look at and what to look away from.    What to touch, and what to avoid.    What is important, and what is less so.

 

Managing here at the boundary between jewelry and person means understanding what wearing jewelry involves and is all about.     There is an especially high level of clarity at this boundary because it is here where the implications of any choice matters.

The choice of stringing material anticipates durability, movement, drape.    The choices of color and shape and silhouette anticipate aesthetics, tensions between light and shadow, context, the viewer’s needs or personality or preferences at the moment.    The choice of technique anticipates how best to coordinate choices about materials with purpose and objective.    The choice of price determines marketability, and where it’s out there, and whether it’s out there.

You choose Fireline cable thread and this choice means your piece will be stiffer, might hold a shape better, might resist the abrasion of beads, but also might mean less comfort or adaptability.

You choose cable wire and this choice means that your piece might not lay right or comfortably.    A necklace will be more likely to turn around on the neck.      It might make the wearer look clownish.    At the same time, it might make the stringing process go more quickly.  Efficiency translates into less money charged, and perhaps more sales.

You choose to mix opaque glass with gemstone beads, mixing media which do not necessarily interact with the eye and brain in the same way.   This may make interacting with the piece seem more like work or annoying.

The ends of your wirework will not keep from bending or unraveling, so you solder them.     Visually this disrupts the dance you achieve with wire bending and cheapens it.

You choose gray-toned beads to intersperse among your brightly colored ones.    The grays pick up the colors around them, adding vibrancy and resonance to your piece.    The gaps of light between each bead more easily fade away as the brain is tricked into filling them in with color.

You mix metalized plastic beads in with your Austrian crystal beads.    In a fortnight, the finish has chipped off all the plastic beads.

You construct a loom bracelet, flat, lacking depth or a sense of movement.    Your piece may be seen as pretty, but out of step with contemporary ideas of fashion, style, and design.

If we pretend our management choices here do not matter, we fool ourselves into thinking we are greater artists and designers than we really are.

 

JEWELRY DESIGN MANAGEMENT:
BUILDING A STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION FOR THINKING THROUGH DESIGN

Design management is multi-faceted.   We intuitively know that proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.     So let’s properly prepare.   This means…

  • PROJECT
    Defining what I do as a “Project To Be Managed” — My Project is seen as a “system”, not merely a set of steps. The “system” encompasses everything it takes that enables creativity and leads it to success.   These include things related to art, architecture, engineering, management, behavioral and context analysis, problem-solving, and innovation.    For some designers, these also include things related to business, marketing, branding, selling and cost-accounting.
  • INSPIRATION
    Documenting, through image, writing or both, the kinds of things that are inspiring me and influencing my design
  • PURPOSE
    Elaborating on the purpose or mission of my Project – why am I doing this Project as it applies to me, and as it applies to others?
  • SITUATION
    Measuring the context and situation as these will/might/could impact my Project
  • STRATEGY
    Developing a strategy for designing my piece — outlining everything that needs to come together to successfully work through my Project from beginning to end
  • SKILLS
    Verifying, Learning or Re-Learning the necessary techniques and skills
  • SUPPLIES
    Securing my supply chain to get all our materials, tools and supplies needed when I need them
  • CONSTRUCTION
    Applying design principles of composition, form and structure. Paying careful attention to building in architectural pre-requisites, particularly those involved with support, jointedness and movement.
  • SHOWCASE
    Introducing my Jewelry Design to a wider audience. This might involve sharing, show-casing, or marketing and selling
  • REPLICATION
    Anticipating all that it will take to replicate the piece, if it is not a one-off, especially if I am developing kits or selling my pieces
  • REFLECTION
    Evaluating whether I could repeat this or a similar Project with any greater efficiency or effectiveness – The better jewelry artist is one who is more reflective.

 

 

DESIGN THINKING

Designing jewelry demands that we both do and think.    Create and manage.    Experience and reflect.

The better Jewelry Designer sees any Project as a system of things, activities and outcomes.     These are interconnected and mutually dependent.    Things are sometimes linear, but most often iterative – a lot of back and forth and readjustments.

The better Jewelry Designer is very reflective.     She or he thinks about every detail, plays mental exercises of what-if analyses, monitors and evaluates all throughout the Project’s management.     She or he thinks through the implications of each choice made.    The Designer does not blindly follow a set of instructions without questioning them.

At the end of the day, your jewelry is the result of the decisions you made.

Something to think about.

 

 

HOW DO WE TEACH JEWELRY DESIGN THINKING
AS A MANAGEMENT PROCESS

We should teach students to design jewelry, not craft it.    Rather than have students merely follow a set of steps, we need to do what is called “Guided Thinking”.

For example, we might encourage students to construct and feel and touch similar pieces made with different materials, beads and techniques, and have them tell us what differences they perceive.   We should guide them in thinking through the implications for these differences.     When teaching a stitch, I typically have students make samples using two different beads – say a cylinder bead and a seed bead, and try two different stringing materials, say Fireline and Nymo threads.

We also should guide them in thinking through all the management and control issues they were experiencing.    Very often beginning students have difficulty finding a comfortable way to hold their pieces while working them.    I let them work a little on a project, stop them, and then ask them to explain what was difficult and what was not.     I suggest some alternative solutions – but do not impose a one-best-way – and have them try these solutions.    Then we discuss them, fine-tuning our thinking.

I link our developing discussions to some goals.    We want good thread management for a bead woven piece.    We want the beads to lay correctly within the piece.    We want the piece to feel fluid.    We return to Guided Thinking.     I summarize all the choices we have made in order to begin the project:   type of bead, size of bead, shape of bead, type of thread, strategy for holding the piece while working it, strategy for bringing the new bead to the work in progress.    I ask the students what ideas are emerging in their minds about how to bring all they have done so far together.

At this point, I usually would interject a Mini-Lesson, where I demonstrate, given the discussions, the smarter way to begin the Project.     In the Mini-Lesson, I “Think Aloud” so that my students can see and hear how I am approaching our Project.

And then I continue with Guided Thinking as we work through various sections of the Project towards completion.      Whatever we do – select materials, select and apply techniques, set goals, anticipate how we want the Project to end up – is shown as resulting from a managed process of thinking through our design.

In “Guided Thinking”, I would prompt my students to try to explain what is/is not going on, what is/is not working as desired, where the student hopes to end up, what seems to be enhancing/impeding getting there.

With guidance, demonstration and repetition, it is my hope that such thinking becomes a series of Thinking Routines my students resort to when starting a new project.    As students develop and internalize more Thinking Routines, they develop greater Fluency with design.

And that should be our primary goal as teachers:   developing our students’ Fluency with design.

 

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

PRICING STRATEGIES

Posted by learntobead on August 1, 2014

PRICING STRATEGIES

Question:  How do you go about figuring how to price your jewelry?

 

template-pic1-whats-the-price

I teach a class on how to best price your jewelry, and I have posted a video tutorial on the CraftArtEdu.com website.
http://craftartedu.com/warren-feld-pricing-and-selling-your-jewelry-with-warren-feld

 

There are different kinds of pricing strategies.

(1) One type of pricing strategy is called “Keystoning”.

Keystoning is where you multiply your costs by 2, to arrive at your price.

 

If your costs were $10.00, then your price would be $20.00.

In the Jewelry Industry, you will hear a lot about Triple Keystoning.

Here you multiply your costs by 3. To arrive at your price.

So, if your costs were $10.00, then your price would be $30.00.

 

Keystoning works well if you are a boutique or gift store buying finished jewelry.    You would double (keystone) or triple (triple keystone) the costs of each finished piece.    Keystoning, as a pricing strategy, works well when you are dealing with finished goods.    The price is simply a multiple of the cost of the Parts.  Keystoning assumes that Labor and Overhead costs have already been factored into the cost of the jewelry.

Keystoning is a little more awkward to use, when dealing with manufacturing goods, like most jewelry designers do.    Keystoning tends to over-account for the cost of the Parts, but under-account for the costs of your Labor.

Keystoning works well for jewelry stores.    Keystoning does not work as well for jewelry designers.

 

 

(2) A second type of pricing strategy is called “What The Market Will Bear”

Here, based on your gut feelings, you would set the price at the highest price you think someone might pay for your piece.

You will see this strategy employed in a lot of tourist areas.   Businesses in tourist areas usually pay very high rental rates.   They are often dependent on making their money in a very defined seasonal timeframe.   They assume they will they will never see these customers again.

What happens with a What-The-Market-Will-Bear strategy…

At the point of sale, the customer goes away happy and the business goes away happy.   However, when the customer goes home,  and they show their purchase to their friends or family, or shop around, they begin to realize they overpaid.    So, over the medium and long term, the customer is no longer happy.   An unhappy customer can spread bad word of mouth.   While that particular customer may never revisit that tourist area.   They might convince their friends and families, who may plan a visit, to avoid that particular shop.

 

 

(3) The third type of strategy is called “Fair Value”.

This is what I teach in my class, and is detailed in my video tutorial. ‘.

A Fair Price is set, using a formula.   This formula requires that the artist manage all the types of costs she or he confronts, when setting a price.   These costs include,

COST OF PARTS (P)
LABOR (L)
OVERHEAD (O)

Overhead costs include things like rent, electricity, wear and tear on tools and equipment, telephone, travel – basically everything else associated with making and selling your jewelry.

 

The basic formula:

MINIMUM FAIR PRICE = (2 times P) + L + O
MAXIMUM FAIR PRICE = 1.5 times the Minimum Fair Price
You gather cost information on your Parts and your Labor.    You estimate the Overhead costs based on percentage of your Labor and Parts costs.
This gives you a range of fair prices from which to choose.

With a Fair Price, you may not get the highest amount you possibly can get, but you will get an amount that more than covers your costs, and leaves some money left over to spend on yourself, or re-invest in your business.

With a Fair Price, when you sell that piece of jewelry, both you and your customer go away happy.

And both of you stay happy.

 

Posted in business of craft | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Promotional Discount – 4/24 and 4/25 only – Business of Craft Video Tutorials

Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2014

PROMOTIONAL DISCOUNT
Two Business of Craft Tutorials
Thurs 4/24 and Fri 4/25 only

I enjoy teaching about the business of craft.     Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned many insights about creating, marketing and selling jewelry.     Two of my video tutorials – “SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS” and “PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY” are available on the http://www.CraftArtEdu.com website.

 

CraftArtEdu.com is running a two-day – THURS, 4/24 and FRI, 4/25 only — special discount on these video tutorials, which you might take advantage of.  I’ve appended their promotional announcement below.

 

Warren

 

 

 

Ah, summer. It’s a time for county fairs, music and craft festivals! If you’ve ever considered selling your jewelry or other handmade items in local shows and venues, you know it’s a significant investment of both your time and money.  In this email, you’ll find two classes from Warren Feld that can help you avoid some costly mistakes and find success! Warren has over 20 years of selling experience – and he shares his hard-won lessons with you. We’re also featuring a few classes with projects that just might be fun to make and sell! All classes are at Super Deals (through Friday!) Enjoy! Donna Kato Founder, CraftArtEdu.com

So You Want to Do Craft Shows  with Warren Feld

You can make good money… IF you know what you’re doing. Warren shares his years of valuable experience and business expertise in the form of sixteen in-depth, approachable lessons so you can maximize your chances of success!  Jam-packed with practical, actionable information, Warren’s lessons cover everything involved in running a successful and profitable show including how to:

  • find, evaluate and select craft shows that are right for your work
  • set realistic goals, build a budget and calculate your break-even point
  • determine the amount and type of inventory you should bring
  • price your work and deal with “hagglers”
  • set up your booth for success, including design, layout and merchandising tips
  • handle cash, credit cards and deter shoplifters
  • and so much more.. this class is almost two hours long!

Warren includes lots of advice and helpful resource links, too. All you need to provide is a pencil, some paper, a calculator and your enthusiasm for running a successful, profitable craft show! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class All Levels | $30 | $24 through Friday!

Pricing and Selling Your Jewelry  with Warren Feld

Can you make money by selling your jewelry? Yes, you can! Warren has years of experience selling jewelry at craft fairs, flea markets, on consignment, in galleries and eventually in his own store and online. In this class, he shares words of advice and everything he knows about the essential key to success: Smart Pricing! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class! All Levels | $15 | $12 through Friday!“This class is worth its weight in gold. The information is presented in a clear and thorough manner. Warren shares his extensive knowledge in a very easy to understand format.” ~ Mary C

Add To Cart! These Bargains End Friday!Special Prices on These Classes Expire Midnight CT, Friday, April 25, 2014

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Selling Through Online Craft Marketplaces

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2013

SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS
AT CRAFT MARKETPLACES ONLINE

etsy-website

I recently posted an article I had read about selling on Etsy (http://www.today.com/money/etsy-nomics-lets-sellers-stitch-together-living-new-pattern-2D11591368) .    There was a big response, so I thought I’d do a little more research.     I have been selling online with my own websites for almost 20 years now, but have not had much experience with selling through these online marketplaces.

I have found that many people get frustrated with these sites, in that sales can be minimal, or the numbers of people they are competing with seems daunting.  But I have found these same people not doing all the necessary “good business” tasks, such as some intensive and persistent marketing of their wares, and smart photo and text detail for their pieces.

Question:  WHAT KINDS OF EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD, and WHAT KINDS OF TIPS CAN YOU OFFER?

 

 

Here’s some of the things I have found.

First, there are many, many online marketplaces to choose from.   Some let you set up your own website, and others show your merchandise as part of a larger marketplace.  Each has pros and cons.    Perhaps one lesson is:
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

My list of these sites include:

Etsy
Zibbet
Artfire
overstock.com/mainstreet revolution
tophatter (an auction site)
Ebay (an auction site)
storeny
luulla
bigcartel
meylah
madeitmyself
handmadeartists
createinventandsell
thecraftstar
rubylane
dawanda
copious
1000markets
silkfair
ecrafter
supermarkethq
goodsmiths
freecraftfair
folksy
notmassproduced
market.poppytalkhandmade
jewelrywonder
ave21
jewelspan
artflock
bonanza
lilyshop
icraft.ca (Canada)
shophandmade

The PROS for any site:
– low commission on sales
– good traffic
– ease of setting up your shop
– having a lot of control over how your shop looks; how customizable it is
– no monthly fees
– web host does a lot of promotion
– site has a good search function
– site has good statistics, and lets you easily track traffic and what has sold, at what price point, and when, for both of your specific merchandise, as well as for all merchants with similar merchandise

 

The CONS for any site:
– high commissions and/or fees
– when site is too big, may be difficult to get noticed
– host limits how you list and present your items
– host restricts your contact with your customers

 

Other types of questions to ask:

– Does site handle the billing and payments for you?
– What kind of marketing does the site do?
– Is it relatively easy to set up your site and keep it updated?
– Are there are limitations on the numbers of items you might list at one time?
– Are there any limitations on the number or size of photos you can include on your site?
– How and where will your items appear in a search listing on the host’s site?
– What payment methods/options are allowed?
– Does the site restrict items to “Handmade” only, and how is “Handmade” defined?   You do not want to compete with cheap, imported, machine made jewelry.
– How easy is it to contact customer service?  Do they provide a lot of easy-to-follow tutorials for setting up and managing your site?

Different types of fees that might be assessed:
1. Listing fee
2. Sales commissions, usually as a percent of sale
3. Renewal fees (when listings are time limited)
4. Monthly site maintenance fees

 

Some Tips and Advice:

(1) Your items should be different enough from others to set you apart, and get you remembered
(2) If your items are similar to others, you might consider competing on price
(3) Do NOT depend on the host to promote your site; you must actively – that means, almost every day – do things to promote your site.
(4) Don’t just list your items and let them sit there
(5) Excellent photos are a must
(6) Treat your online shop as a business, not a hobby
(7) Categorize and label your jewelry and jewelry lines; picture the words someone might type into a search bar in order to find this jewelry, and use those as key words in your labeling
(8) Let your passion shine

Many, many people you will be competing with do not necessarily have good business sense, particularly when it comes to pricing their jewelry.    People, in general, tend to underprice their pieces.   They go out of business quickly.   But while they’re in business, you are competing with them, and often you find it hard to compete on price.

This is a given.  That means you have to spend more energy on marketing your competitive advantages, in order to justify the prices you need to charge, in order to stay in business.   Some of this will come down to better presentation – more facts and great detailed images about your jewelry, and  more details about the how your jewelry will benefit your customer.   Better presentation equals more trust; more trust should translate into more sales.   Some more competitive advantages: your jewelry is better made; it uses better materials; your line of jewelry is broader; you have better customer care policies; your style is more unique; your jewelry supports as “cause”.

And many, many more people you will be competing with have very good business sense.    There are over 6 million items of jewelry on sale on Etsy at any one time – many by sharp, savvy artists.   To get seen, heard and responded to takes emphasizing your competitive advantages, as well as persistent, broadly targeted marketing.

 

Posted in business of craft | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED YOU AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER?

Posted by learntobead on August 26, 2013

 

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED YOU AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER?

tech-3-d-print

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.     And, as jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

How has technology affected what we do as designers?

How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?

Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?

How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
given the rise of
-the internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-blogs, facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram
-new technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

What has happened to your local bead stores?

What has happened to bead magazines?

If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free?    How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?

If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online?   How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?

If you make part of your living doing a arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

 

tech-3-d-print2

 

The authors in this NYT article pose the questions raised by several prominent authors and scholars:

Are we in danger of losing the “race against the machine?” (M.I.T. scholars Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)

Are we becoming enslaved to our “robot overlords,?” (journalist Kevin Drum warned in Mother Jones)

Do “smart machines” threaten us with “long-term misery?” (economists Jeffrey D. Sachs and Laurence J. Kotlikoff)

Have we reached “the end of labor?” (Noah Smith in The Atlantic)

 

tech-crystal-clay

 

 

Let me paraphrase these a bit in terms more specific to jewelry design and beadwork.

Does the reach of technology, through such vehicles as the Internet, make things so productive and efficient, that we no longer need so many people making jewelry, or teaching jewelry  making, or marketing businesses / products or selling the parts to make jewelry?

If we do not need so many people to design / teach / market / or sell, and there happen to be a lot of people doing this anyway, does this necessarily make the relative worth and price for any of these activities “$zero”?

Does all this technological efficiency diminish the act of “creativity”?   Now so many things can be standardized that everything – even the manufacture of complex pieces of jewelry through 3-D technology – can be reduced to a set of how-to instructions – mere recipes?

Has this technology reduced the need for bead magazines, and bead stores, and traditional classes?

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, technology has made jewelry design, and good jewelry design, more and more accessible to more and more people.

It has opened up a myriad of possibilities for people to explore their creative selves.

It has let jewelry designers reach a broader audience with their wares, their knowledge and their endeavors.

With new materials and technologies have come many new possibilities for creating jewelry.

It has made it easier for more people to get into the various jewelry design-related businesses.

It has made it easier to stay current and learn.

It has made it easier to meet and learn with fellow jewelry designers.

It has made it easier to mine big data, identify the most relevant target customers, and to market to them in very specific, cost-effective ways.

It has made it easier for retail outlets to find the merchandise they need to sell.

 

tech-internet

 

 

Some quick observations from my own professional life:

–          We have an elaborate curriculum of classes that we teach.   However, many of the beginning classes are becoming obsolete, in the sense that students can find similar classes on YouTube, in bead magazines, and throughout the internet, now for free.    The issue for us is how to adapt, given that one of our goals is still to charge money for these classes, and make money.   And a concurrent goal is to offer the student a learning opportunity worth the price paid.

–          Each year, we used to have 1 or 2 national level instructors do workshops at our store.    But it has become difficult to attract students.    There are so many projects easily available – including from these national-level instructors – that students started to indicate that their interests in these workshops had diminished.   They could do these same or similar projects on their own.

–          When we opened our store in 1991, there were few places for people to acquire what we sell.    Now there are almost 100 million places for people to go.    It is obvious that most of our in-store customers purchase more of their supplies online or through catalogs than they do in the store.

–          We used to do craft shows a long time ago.    But the cost of travel got very expensive, and, with the internet, people had more opportunity to find what we sold without going to the craft shows.

–          It used to be that the crux of our advertising dollars were spent with bead magazines.   No longer.   Bead magazines get a very small part of our advertising dollars.    I can remember when all our customers read the bead magazines to get all their information.   Now very few do.   Most have organized themselves into small groups in various social media sites.   To get your marketing message across, you have to spend a lot of time doing this online, and you can no longer market with a “broad brush”.   That is, it has become ever-more-difficult to reach people.

–          Our online business – Land of Odds – has been in existence since 1995.   It has gone through 6 technology upgrades/re-designs since then.    The e-commerce and website design technology moves and evolves so incredibly fast.   Personally this constant updating has been grueling. The site needs more re-design, but my motivation to learn and cope with yet another computer language and new sets of tasks has diminished.   Land of Odds was a pioneering online business.  But the very large bead companies have gotten their acts together online, and are much better capitalized to expand their operations.

Technology has been a dauntingly mixed bag for us.   On the negative side, the rapid advance and spread of technology has overwhelmed the various activities we do.   On the positive side, it has forced us to become ever more creative and ever more efficient in what we do.    It forces us to constantly re-define who we are and what we want to do.   And it forces us to constantly re-define how we do things.

What do you think?

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