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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Perfect Last Minute Gift!

   Hostess gift, teachers, welcome to the neighborhood, new driver.... I could make an endless list of gift needs that you don't always remember until the last minute. When you're an artist people expect you to show up with some creative, cool thingy you made. Here's a great idea for a personal gift that you can make in under 15 minutes for no money!

   Keychains!! Everyone needs one, you can make them very personal by using charms, favorite colors or themes. We all have that enormous stash of beads and fillers that seems to be taking over the work space. Also, these can be made into lanyards just as easily for use as a badge holder.

   Quickie tip of the day! Go forth and be creative!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beauty on a Budget

  Anyone who knows my work, knows that its going to be filled with a lot of STUFF. I love lots of components, I also love artisan made lampwork. There is just something wonderful about a hand formed bit of colorful glass. The problem is of course that finding those amazing beads at an affordable price can be a daunting task. How do you make an amazing piece of jewelry without the cost breaking your budget? I want my jewelry to be affordable but if I have to spend $10 or more on each bead the sales price is going to be  $200 or more, I'm not really comfortable with that. I don't really know a lot of people who can afford to spend that kind of money on a bracelet. Having a market that small makes it hard to earn a living. So unless you're making art just for the sake of art - read on! There are lots of ways to make a great looking piece without you or your customer going broke.

    Using a mix of expensive with carefully chosen less expensive beads is one answer. Both bracelets pictured used less than $30 worth of materials. One set of $20 beads combined with lots of things like dyed jade and glass beads - a simple cast pewter toggle, all go together to make a great looking piece. Using a couple of beads from a set that I paid $45 and only the bar half of an $8 toggle and again, adding the rest of the components from less expensive or bulk purchases made a great piece for not a ton of money.
   You can manage to make some pretty spectacular pieces without using any artisan made beads as well. The key is to not use components that are going to tarnish, chip, peel or fade. For example, I love silver but the price has gone through the roof in the last couple years. So, I use silver filled or cast pewter or a combination of both. Glass beads are another great option, they come in thousands of shapes and colors and can be purchased in bulk for even better prices. Just stick with good quality!!
   Learn to make your own components - jumprings are an item that I need in every project and the cost can add up so I make my own. It's a simple process, you can make them in just the right size for your project and - even better - you can make them in pretty much any color! You can also make your own clasps and toggles. There is an immense satisfaction in knowing that you created all the pieces for your work.
   Everything you make doesn't have to be filled with expensive components to be market worthy. You're creative! Dig through that stash of beads and see what can be re-purposed into something unique, a bead with a hole can be the toggle by simply forming the bar half.

   And of course, buying in bulk is a great savings. I love to go to bead shows because I can buy chain by the foot, beads on 12"-16" strands, silver charms, toggles, crystal, pressed glass and a million other items for a fraction of the cost of retail.  Bead shows are also a great place for networking, meeting the artists who make what you love and working out ways to help each other by promoting each others work!

   Another little secret - trolling the internet sites for the best deals is worth your time too! Sometimes when an artist is just getting started their work will be priced at a discount while they try to build a customer base, an artist might be having a clearance sale or maybe they're trying a new type of material and testing the market.  Stick with artists you love, its good to build  relationship, promote each others work!

   By being as creative with your purchasing choices as you are with your jewelry you can have the best of both worlds! Go - make something beautiful!!

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