Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How and Where to Sell Your Jewelry

One question that I’m asked a lot is if I “make money” selling my jewelry. Honestly? Not really. It’s a hobby gone awry and I’m desperately trying to clear out the supply I build up on a continuous basis and maybe fund the addiction.

I don’t give my jewelry away. (I mean, I give it as gifts but I don’t sell it for cheap). The supplies I use are top quality and are not cheap. I put a lot of time into them too but I really don’t factor time into my pricing. You wouldn’t sell a THING if you did.

Here are a few places I’ve sold and what my thoughts are about each venue.

Craft Fairs

Claudine & Max at the ExpoMany people sell at craft fairs. Many, many, many jewelry vendors sell at craft fairs. This is a tough place to sell. If you figure out the hours that you’re there, the money it took to reserve the space, the set up and take down, travel to/from, you’d need to bring in a pretty good haul to make it worth it. And, there’s tremendous competition. So far, for me, I’ve not found craft fairs all that worth it.


imageIt’s tough to sell online if you don’t have a great camera and some photography skills. I was using a point/shoot camera and just winging it and not really selling much. I upgraded my camera, got some advice, and within 24 hours of reshooting some jewelry had a slew of sales. People can’t pick it up and touch it—you’d better make sure your photos are great. I currently sell on ETSY.com. You can’t just list things and sit back though—you really need to work on marketing. You need good descriptions, good tags, and to get featured in treasuries.



I had a local business offer to sell my items in their spa. At first I thought it was a great deal. They took a large cut and I was left barely covering my costs. I pulled my stuff out since it wasn’t worth it. I’ve had others come to me asking if I wanted to sell in their stores and I’m considering it—but only limited inventory and for smaller percentage of sales. If they take a large cut I need to increase my price and then no one buys. Lose/lose. If you sell in shops, be sure and keep good track of your inventory. Keep a spreadsheet listing all the items, descriptions, and prices. Jewelry is very easy for someone to slip in a pocket.


One friend of mine loves my jewelry and is often buying from me. She has mentioned my jewelry to many people and that results in sales. Another person offered to sell my jewelry at school. She had been drooling over one of my bracelets and I said, “You sell my stuff and you can have that bracelet.”  Well, she’s currently sold more in the last few weeks then I’ve ever sold at craft fairs or online.

My local Hospital

Has vendors come in each day and sell at the hospital. You donate a portion of the proceeds to the hospital. I haven’t done this yet but I’m getting on the calendar. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Teaching Classes

IMG_2036I’ve been asked to teach classes. I teach on occasion now—at different libraries in Suffolk County. That works pretty well but that means I need to wait until the library wants to run a jewelry class and it often fills SO fast that my friends can’t get into the class. So what to do?

I’m thinking of starting in-home jewelry-making classes. I haven’t worked out the kinks yet (like, how could I actually make MONEY doing it) but I’m toying with ideas.

I am going to try it out, take it slow, see how it progresses and tweak my method as I go along.

I did a little brainstorming today with a friend. I’m thinking we do one 3-hour class in someone’s home. The host is free as a thank you. Each participant pays a set fee for the class and all materials are provided. People will prepay and get to pick out their crystal cIMG_2124olors in advance. I can’t have more than 10 and no less than 8 people (or it wouldn’t be worth it financially for either party. If I have less people I need to charge more per person).

What are your thoughts? Want to have a class in your home? Have you ever done this?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Working With Rivolis

IMG_3043I’ve never worked with Rivolis until recently. I saw several different patterns and Bead & Button kept saying, “we just can’t get enough of Rivolis.”  I will admit—they’re freaking GORGEOUS. However, kinda hate working with them (so far).

I bought some assorted sizes from my usual source, Artbeads.com. I bought them in Montana Sapphire (a new favorite color of mine.) I was at the Long Island Bead Festival recently and bought some more rivolis in a lighter blue for contrast.

The first pattern I tried was Bead & Button’s, Rivoli square dance. Figuring out the correct number of beads needed (even using the chart on the diagram) was tricky. Once I completed the bracelet I was in total awe.  However, I was concerned about the rivolis being secure.

Even though this is a little over-the-top in style, I wore it the other day. I was VERY upset when I saw one of the rivolis was missing from its’ cage. I had even modified the design adding an additional round of beads to hold it in place.

IMG_3041Last night I reached into a pot holder and felt some kind of pebble in there. Before I screamed at my kids, “Who was playing with my potholders?” the beautiful blue rivoli fell out. So now I have it; but I need to figure out a way to secure it. I’m thinking some jewelry glue. Any ideas?

A free project that you can download off Bead & Button’s site is called “Stones with corners.” Before I throw in the towel on rivolis, like I have with making homemade cheesecake, I’m going to try this pattern next. So far, the rivoli sections seem more secure. I’ll keep you posted!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tribute to Downton Abbey

Disclaimer: I want to thank Artbeads.com for providing me with the gorgeous crystals and seed beads to create this fantastic necklace.

IMG_2919I was asked by Artbeads.com to create something with the theme, ‘What’s Old is New Again.” I recently watched season 1 of Downton Abbey on Netflix. I am dying to see season 2—but in the interim I’ve been watching a ton of movies or TV series that feature the royals. It’s no surprise that the jewelry showcased blows my mind. The amount of detail and grandeur is amazing. (And now I’m hooked on Tudors!)

When I saw this pattern, Fit for a Queen, in my most recent copy of BeadAndButton.com’s magazine, “Right Angle Weave” I knew I just HAD to make it. It features pendants by Swarovski, xilion bicones, and tons of gorgeous seed beads. I finished the necklace with a really pretty antique S clasp.

My only issue with the pattern is that I think they miscounted the number of crystals. In the section regarding “Small Units” they say to substitute 3mms for the 4mms, 11s for the 8s, and 15s for 11s. If you do that, you’ll need another 75 3mm bicones. When I looked at the picture more closely (after running out of bicones) I noticed that it looks like instead of 4mms they are using the 8 seed beads. I really liked the look of more crystals so I ordered more bicones to finish the project.





What I used

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day

I’m participating in a “Make it For Mom” contest on Artbeads.com. My entry is not a bead weaving piece (which is not like me). But this is a bracelet that I really love because it features my three children and their birthstones (which happen to all go really well together).

If I win the contest, I would get a $250 gift card. Which is probably just enabling my heavy bead-habit. But I’d appreciate it anyway!! Please vote for me!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Do I Need to Get Started?

I teach weaving at various libraries on Long Island. The first thing people do when they show up to my class is start pulling out pliers. For weaving, it’s rare that you need them. I’m going to list out a few things that you must have and then a few things that would be cool to have.


Many weaving projects are no-needle-required. But most of the time you need needles and there are a TON to choose from. It’s really all about what you’re comfortable working with.

My favorite needle is by Beadalon. It’s flexible and has a large eye (easy for threading) that collapses when it goes through the beads. The only problem with needles in general is their color. They are EASY to lose. I think they should make them in really bright colors. I’m sure there are needles all over my house. I lose them a lot (don’t tell my husband).

Other needles go by length, stiffness, and size. If you’re working with small beads (11/0 and 15/0) you’ll want a skinny (fine) needle. I normally work with fine gauge needles but that means they’re also delicate and they don’t last too long. Needles are something that I buy all the time. Fortunately, they’re not that expensive.

Thread burner

Honestly, this isn’t something you need to buy right away. A really great pair of scissors works well too. But a thread burner is the way to  go if you’re going to a lot of detailed weaving.  A thread burner can get really really close to the beadwork and literally burns the thread. I know it sounds ridiculous, but once you’ve used one, you don’t want to go back to scissors.

Stringing Materials (Thread)

When reading directions you’ll see a lot of them call for NYMO or tell you to condition your thread. I am a fairly lazy person—conditioning thread sounds like a lot of work to me. I prefer to use Fireline. This stuff is SUPER strong. If you stitch with a lot of crystals, you’ll want to use a product like fireline. It’s a bonded material so the crystals are less likely to cut the thread as you’re stitching. Regular thread is not as strong and can break from crystals. Remember—crystals have sharp edges.

There are other threads that are nice too because they come in various colors which blends well with the beads. Fireline or Wildfire only come in white or black. So you’ll have to decide what works best. If your tension is good, often you don’t even see the thread.

Other Tools

IMG_2907When I work I use the lid of my storage bin and lay a piece of felt in it. I use that as my work space. I do a lot of beading while watching TV (on the train, on a plane, in hotel rooms, you name it). The storage bin holds my instructions and supplies and when I work I just use the top for my work surface. The felt keeps the beads from rolling around too much. But if they do roll off the felt they are caught in the lip of the lid.

Got any tips you can share?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Seed Beads Demystified

One of the things that I found so confusing was understanding the sizes of beads. What exactly is an 11/0? What’s a delica seed bead? What’s a good seed bead and when does it matter?

How Seed Beads are Sized

If I were to take my seed beads and line them all up one right after another, how many would it take to make that line add up to one inch? Therefore, the bigger the number, smaller the bead. So, when you see that a seed bead is a size 8/0 (can also just say “8) it’s a rather large seed bead (especially if you’re a weaver). I normally work with 11’s or 15’s. Those are quite small and if you don’t wear glasses now you will quite soon.

Types of Seed Beads

Delica is a very specific type of seed bead. It is cut very straight. Imagine taking a pipe and cutting it in half. That is the same idea with delica beads. Many weavers prefer them because when you’re doing a specific pattern the delicas will line up perfectly. I sometimes like delicas (for peyote it really comes out beautiful) but I also really like the “rounds” type of seed bead. There are also seed beads in hex, triangle, and square (cube) shapes.

Choosing a Bead

If you’re going to do an intricate design, you need a serious quality seed bead. If you buy junk, they will all be mismatched in size/shape and you’ll be really annoyed trying to work with them. Seed beads don’t have to cost a fortune (unless they’re gold lined etc). There are some really great seed beads out there by Miyuki and TOHO. I find the best deals for seed beads are online.

My Favorite Vendors

  • Artbeads.com
    A great place to shop. If your order goes over $10 (that’s easy for me to do) then it ships free. I LOVE free shipping. They frequently have coupons available if you spend over $40.
  • BeadinPath.com
    I really love their beads. They have a LOT of vintage and acrylic that you might not find anywhere else. My favorite thing about their seed beads is the packaging. They come in tubes. I love the tubes because it makes storage and viewing your loot of colors so much easier.

There are plenty of other vendors out there but I honestly just shop at these two. I think that if you really get into stitching/weaving, you’re going to find that online is the place to shop. You’ll save a tremendous amount of money and you’ll get consistently great quality beads.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Favorite Reads

Jewelry magazines and books are a lot like recipe books. Once you find a good one, you don’t like letting go, and you can keep them on the shelf forever.

I’ve checked out a LOT of books from my local library. Some have gorgeous pictures and really cool looking designs but the instructions BLOW. I’ve tried to do what they wanted and cannot follow them at all. I would consider myself an advanced weaver—I know most stitches and can design my own work as well.

Certain magazines are better than others too. Again, use your local library and see which appeal to you. If you really like them, then subscribe so you can keep them in your home.

Library tip: Libraries have to eventually get rid of old magazines—there’s only so much storage space. If you make nice with a librarian, they’ll hold the magazines aside and give them to you. Bead & Button is my favorite magazine and ordering just ONE pattern from an old issue is at least $3. So getting those old magazines is a real cost savings as well.

Magazines I’ve Enjoyed
(Many have great newsletters and free downloadable projects)

Books I Would Recommend:

What are your favorites?

Monday, May 2, 2011

How I Became Addicted to Bead Weaving

I am a crafty person. Always have been. And I have 3 kids who also like crafts, so it’s not uncommon for me to be at the local craft store Michaels. I walked in one day and they were having a make-it-and-take-it event.  The sparkly crystals caught my eye. I did the activity and then found myself buying jewelry supplies en masse.

I don’t have time (or patience) to take classes so I went to my local library and checked out every book available on beginning jewelry making. After stringing several anklets, bracelets, earrings, wrapped pearls, and necklaces I found that the jewelry magazines featured more detailed pieces that involved stitching (or weaving). I love detailed intricate type work so this really appealed to me.

In the beginning I found the directions VERY hard to follow (and my profession is writing technical directions). But, it’s a little like tax or legal documents, once you get the hang of the lingo, you can follow along. Most magazines feature how-to sections for basic stitches.

IMG_2882My first weaving piece was a daisy chain (shown here) using Swarovski crystalized pearls and jade chips for the leaves. You can do a lot with daisy chain and it’s not that difficult to master. I think I originally learned it in Girl Scouts. I recently taught my daughter, Belle, how to do the daisy chain and she’s 5 years old.

If you want to try bead weaving I would suggest you try some of the simpler stitches like cross weave (example shown here) and right angle weave. If you look in magazines like Bead & Button, you will find some designs that you can do.

Email me if you need some beading inspiration!