Suddenly. In. Love. With. ROCKS!!!!!! Pictured above, from the top: fluorite, blue calcite, citrine (but suspiciously looks like calcite and am contacting dealer about this), raw garnets (!), amazonite and quartz points. Gemstones are MUCH cheaper by the strand, and ebay is a good bet for locating best pricing.
Big batch of Rocking Rings made yesterday, now being varnished to protect the gold leafing and patina work. As soon as they’re dry I’ll start listing. They are really and truly beautiful, if I do say so, and although chunky, very wearable. Earrings are coming next, can’t wait to play with these stones in that context. As always, larger photos up on flickr for your viewing pleasure.
I like to fool myself into thinking that anyone could possibly be interested in my creative process, the inner workings of my designing mind at the earliest stages of making things. Hence, WIP (work in progress). Everything here represents an idea in formulation, not remotely finished.
This is how it begins with earrings. Vast supplies in my studio. Many little things scattered on every available surface. One day the things… they start making their way toward one another as if by some poetic pull. At the top of the post, an Afghani coin finding with brilliant emerald glass, a gear with verdigris patina, an ancient crystal bead and a piece of industrial trash. Above, a newer finding paired with a Mexican milagro.
More Kuchi coins above (these are used in traditional costume including belly dance) with lovely glass rubies, being riveted to a pair of seriously rusted bottle caps scavenged from some American desert. Fiber may be added at some point.
How do these tiny objects — a old discarded button, an African Vaseline trade bead, a bumpy middle Eastern bead, a tiny verdigris sparrow — come together? Some ways might be: color, form, content, texture, juxtoposition of cultures and histories. Things that resonate as similar or opposite, or both. The rule of chance encounters. The joy for me is that I don’t think much about any of this.
Part of it is the trained eye, the practiced hand, designing for years, decades, a lifetime. Part of it might be something inaccessible; dreams, associations. Above, an ancient glass button, possibly 1920′s, likely European, paired with a Mexican heart milagro charm. A tiny visual poem begun, beauty, an adornment.
Making (and attempting to sell) wearable art is an incredibly multi-faceted endeavor. From the creative aspects of designing work that meets my vision to the artful execution of that work, to techy stuff like digital photography and building web pages, the skill-set required would seem daunting if I weren’t just smack in the midst of it daily.
Clothing is challenging to shoot and if there’s one thing to share with you, it’s this: Clothing photos are most effective when brought to life. I’m so lucky to have a beautiful muse living under my very roof.
Even in close-up to show detail, clothing is best photographed on a living being. The photo above was repinned quite a bit over on Pinterest.
I tend to prefer jewelry photos on a white seamless (just a large “press sheet” from my graphic design day job taped to the wall and draped down across a small table). Props can be an asset (or a terrible distraction); I choose mine pretty carefully. Just forget trying to photograph jewelry against black unless you have mad skills and a sophisticated set-up.
Vertical images can be a problem on Web sites, but occasionally it’s useful and fun to provide a wider context.
Once you’ve made something gorgeous and have set up a little photo area, remember that lighting really is everything. I shoot mostly in natural light, no flash, and unless I just can’t wait, in the morning when the sun is not shining into the studio and casting harsh, warm shadows. Correction (both lighting and color) is still always necessary in Photoshop. I prefer bright, cool whites and under the best circumstances in my decidedly unprofessional studio, I must color correct to minimize the warm yellow/red tones and I always must brighten and beef up contrast to get closer to the reality of the goods as they will be depicted onscreen. And it’s true what they say, monitors vary. Greatly. Mine is high end and callibrated but I actually have no idea what YOU are seeing.
Here is a very old thrifted hardback of A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote. A most beautiful story. When I saw this image in PhotoShop I decided I had to title the earrings Yonderways. Happy accident.
With necklaces and longer earrings, the challenge is to show the entire piece but also to capture some of the amazing work in the details. Nothing wrong with a little bead porn.
Then there’s textiles. Sigh. The Snow Dress is a LARGE object to show in very small Web images, so a range of shots is best, as above detailing the vintage lace and neon ribbon, and below in the glamourous model shot.
Photography is such a delight for me. Despite a lot of time studying the subject in college (pre digital, darkroom work, etc.), I still made/make a LOT of very bad photos in order to get to the better ones. The bottom line is this: I don’t believe you need a high-end camera (I use a relatively cheap, old Canon Powershot), nor is a fancy lighting booth required. You do need Photoshop and some basic skills there, so maybe that’s the stumbling block for so many people. Don’t fear the PhotoShop!
Thanks for reading this, and if you have any photography questions, please feel free to comment; I’ll try my best to help! I’ve thought about teaching a little seminar in my studio… maybe one day. Images by yours truly, model: Molly Bess, everything copyrighted but feel free to Pin!
A comment from the mom of the baby whose bracelet is pictured in the below post mentioned that she was considering making a shadowbox to contain the bracelet for display during the years prior to her daughter being able to wear it.
This jogged my memory of creating just such a box when I designed a wedding gift charm bracelet for a friend who I wasn’t sure would be able to wear the chunky bangly thing too often… but might want to display it in her home rather than keeping it in a jewelry box hidden away.
The photos aren’t great, but I hope you get the idea. The raw pine box was purchased inexpensively at Michael’s crafts store and has a glass front door. I stained the box and lined it with pretty craft papers, including a scrap from the actual printed wedding invite, installing two small nails on the back wall for hanging the bracelet.
I then added a few treasures to the bottom floor of the box, a miniature cake and some dried rose petals. I honestly can’t remember if I ever resolved creating a way to hang the box on a wall, or if I just left it as something to display on a shelf or tabletop (probably the latter). I had a moment’s thought to offer these custom boxes for sale along with my charm bracelets, but ultimately decided that the amount of work involved was just beyond what I could probably charge. It isn’t hard, and you CAN do it yourself! If you have any questions or want support with your own shadowbox project, drop me an email any old time! xoxo
I set up shop on Etsy in 2008, 4 years ago. Prior to that, I had been selling jewelry online at So Charmed for 7 years, opening the first incarnation of the site on my birthday, September 2001. For the first couple of years on Etsy my work made loads of treasuries and the coveted front page regularly. Sales were decent. Courtney Love discovered my work on Etsy, ordering enough jewelry in 2009 for me to consider myself “on the Love payroll” for several months. She was also sharing my work with some of her friends, such as Oliver Stone, and regaling me with stories of wearing her Robert Johnson pin in the recording studio for inspiration (she was working on her latest record at the time.)
All of this was wonderful. So wonderful in fact that I was inspired to open several additional shops, with breakout lines such as LaPatisserie (sweet little rings using cakes and vintage buttons).
And another shop, SewCharmed to sell vintage clothing and sewn items. There were at least 2 additional shops; a veritable Etsy empire, I thought.
For those of you who like numbers, all told, I made 500 sales +/- on Etsy in a 4-year period. Those numbers, however, are kind of meaningless in terms of how much income I realized via Etsy. It’s a much longer story for another time (or not), but suffice to say, that even at peak performance on Etsy–a few hundred sales per year, I was real real real glad I hadn’t quit my dayjob (despite Etsy’s then-constant promotion of just that very dream).
Etsy was brief for me. Around the time of my becoming rather discouraged with the site… decreased sales and an ever-growing presence of jewelry (when I checked this morning, there were 2,965,000+/- pieces listed on the site), with prices for jewelry lowering ridiculously (current average price of an Etsy sale: $15-$20 with 3.5% going to paypal and 3.5% to Etsy), with an insane number of resellers, ie, “handcrafters” selling cheap jewelry manufactured in factories (mostly China)… and a maddening number of copycat “artists” blatantly stealing every new idea that comes along, a site popped up on the internet humor scene to poke fun at all of this alleged glitter-huffing. Enter: Regretsy, where DIY meets WTF.
Somehow, I happened upon Regretsy from its very first post, and after overcoming my jealousy at not creating the site myself, I became one of its biggest fans. It is… hilarious. And mean. And hilarious. I exchanged a few emails with April Winchell, the cool, funnygirl founder of the site and was shortly after invited by her to create the divider page for the jewelry section of her upcoming book. Above is one of the images I created, below is the one she chose to publish. I was never sure if anyone got the little Jew joke I put in. I thought April would love that.
Then, with my increasing Etsy discouragement, I refreshed the design and blog of my site, rethinking what I wanted to make (and sell), and determining that with the limited hours (fulltime job, parenting, family, etc) that I have to pursue personal creativity and art (as opposed to my client-centered professional design work), I just couldn’t bring myself to focus on listing amongst nearly 3 million pieces of cheap jewelry in the closed retail wholesale world of Etsy (you have to have an account to shop there).
And please, don’t get me wrong: there is some real, amazing talent over on Etsy a few people I’ve seen make sales in the thousands or tens of thousands… deservedly. There is fantastic original jewelry, and many other wonderful handmade goods from soap to clothing. For supplies and vintage… Etsy still rocks, bigtime. (BTW, all of Etsy’s top sellers sell jewelry supplies… duh!) I still love the idea of Etsy and I still wish all of the vendors nothing but success in their making and sales.
My Etsy shops are empty(ing), as are so many other sellers’. Because it costs nothing to have a shop on Etsy, I’m not going to officially close them down; it was a lot of work setting them up and they contain online histories of work, sales, purchases, and customers that I wouldn’t want to lose. I reserve my right to change my mind about Etsy, should the admins find ways to truly support the hardworking, orignal artists that are paying their bills. So, no regrets.
PS: So what is the answer to successfully selling handmade goods? Shows? Brick ‘n mortar boutiques? Other sites like Dawanda? A best friend on the Barney’s buyer team? Sorry, haven’t found the answer yet! Will keep ya posted!
A question I try to occasionally ask myself: Must everything always be so complicated?
This morning I thought I’d answer that with a resounding nope.
I made the things pictured here and love them for their seemingly happy simplicity. The necklaces feature big wooden beads that are probably about 60 years old, there’s a geometric brass bead (40+ years old) with amazing patina, glass trade beads, ancient toys, copper chain, wire. Oops, wait, not sounding quite that simple!
Have had these ancient clicker toys around the studio for a long time; love how these turned out. You can still see the bug’s eyeballs through decades of rust. Well, at least they look simple.
So… mostly, yeah, simple. Right?
Uh, well, I don’t actually think so. Here’s the thing: One should never confuse simple with easy. Simple, it turns out, is actually effing complicated. Yep. Nope. I don’t know! And… whatever!
Biggie photos here: flickr. Hoping to post these for sale at so charmed early next week, holler if you have an urge before they hit the site.
My neighbor Katy and I don’t generally ask one another to borrow a cup of sugar or an egg. We have, however, been known to knock on the door inquiring after spare dressmaker’s dummies, scraps of fabric, books about fashion & sewing, or an opinion about a new creation.
Recently, Katy stopped by in a newly thrifted crisp white dress and asked if I had any accessories lying about that might take the look from prim to primitive.
With just about my entire jewelry stock currently on view at the Curiouser & Curiouser exhibition, I offered to whip something up, you know, custom.
Katy went off to China and I headed into my studio to create a special gypsy bangle stack, just for her.
Ingredients include a glittery Bollywood bangle, rust, vintage tattered sari ribbon from India, handmade clay beads, a quartz crystal point, MOP shell heart charm, vintage ruby charm, Indonesian glass, beach shell, wire, chain, and lots of prim-no-more goodness. It’s been a busy month so if you’re in need of a bangle stack and tired of waiting for them to appear over at So Charmed, just holla and I’ll get to making you you’re very own.
I announced this weeks ago on Facebook and then promptly forgot to post to the blog! DERP! Anyways, thanks to Molly for pulling a name out of the hat, and we do have a winner. It’s the lovely Jenna from Honey Bijoux. Been trying to email you, girl, so do get in touch with your address! Thanks to all who played, I loved each and every answer and will post a new giveaway soon. xoxo
Here’s another give-away guys, and please feel free to sing along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song while you review the rules, regulations, and photos herein.
If you hurry, you can be the 9 MILLIONTH person to view this video! I like Mr. Keidis’ sparkly lipgloss, don’t you?
So, this is a sweet romantic necklace from the personal collection of the artist (ie, my ENDLESS jewelry box), but it is time to find it a new home. Features a darling vintage love-knot charm (and I can’t find any more of these anywhere), creamy Czech glass pearl rosary beads, vintage cherry red Czech glass star bead, and tiniest brass skeleton key. The chain used is vintage and so delicate I frankly can’t figure out how I was able to work with it at all!
I’m going to leave the narrative for this one up to the new owner’s sense of poetry, memory, and meaning. How to enter? Leave a comment here answering the following question: If you could invite anyone living or dead to dinner, who would it be and why?
Entries will not be judged for content, anything goes. Deadline is Friday, May 18th, 6pm at which time my lovely daughter Molly will randomly draw a name from a hat. Have fun, good luck, and thanks for playing! Winner will be contacted and necklace will ship out next week.
Did I say something about no longer doing custom work? LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE. Pictured in this post, a custom mixed media necklace commissioned by a group of lovely midwestern ladies for a mutual friend who is beautiful forever. Happy Birthday, Amy.
Vintage silk sari fiber from India, wire, glass beads, vintage rhinestone chain and buttons. Hand forged clasp.
And a gorgeous vintage chandelier crystal focal. More of these pretty necklaces might just be available at So Charmed soon and large lucious photos are available for viewing on flickr.