The theme on Creative Bead Chat this year is “Creative Journey.” It’s about telling the stories of how we became jewelry artists. And the stories of the artisan components we use in our jewelry designs, why we chose them, and how they inspire us.
We challenged CBC readers and members of the CBC group on Facebook to show us how they took artisan components and used them to create art jewelry. We received over two dozen entries that included earrings, bracelets and necklaces in a variety of styles and techniques. The artisan components used included lampwork glass beads, ceramic connectors and pendants, and distressed and enameled metal charms and clasps.
CBC Admin Choice Winning Designs
The CBC admin selected jewelry designs that best showcased the artisan components. It was not an easy decision. The diversity of styles, techniques, and components used made comparison challenging. In the end, we selected the jewelry designs that best told the stories of the component and the supporting elements.
Artisan Focal: Orange You Sweet by Marlene Quigley
Artisan Bead: Sunrise by Heidi Williams
Artisan Clasp: A Princess Story by Betsy Groff Boyko
These three winners will each receive a free CBC Directory Page, a Meet the Maker Interview, and a Gift Pack of Artisan Components. The gift packs include artisan components by Sheila Davis, Billie Hackett, Cathleen Zaring, Linda Younkman, Val Garber, and Bay Moon Design.
The prize packages for the three admin choice winners include beads and focals from various artisans.
Popular Vote Winning Design
The CBC readers voted for their favorite art jewelry designs by commenting on the entries. The design with the most fan comments was:
Jeanne by Janine Lucas
Janine will receive a jewelry tool kit to use in making even more awesome art jewelry.
Random Winning Designs
We used Random.org to select winning designs in each of the three categories. Each of these winners will receive a free CBC Directory Page.
Artisan Focal: Lynn Ferro
Artisan Bead: Kristi Bowman
Artisan Clasp: Lynn Carling
Random Fan Winner
We also used Random.org to choose a winner from among those who left comments on the designs. The randomly chosen winner, who will receive a jewelry tool kit is:
Component Artisan Winners
The top 3 “most chosen” component designers used in the challenge will receive a free “Directory Page” here on the website as well as a featured “Meet the Maker” interview.
Michelle McCarthy, Firefly Design Studio
Julie DeFeo, Julie DeFeo Designs
Julie Wong Sontag, UgliBeads
Honorable Mention: Petra Carpreau, Scortched Earth.
I love to celebrate my birthday by treating myself to nice things. I usually have a “spa” day where I get a facial and massage. I also buy myself presents. Because I’m worth it. Oh, and also, I don’t just celebrate my birthday on the actual day. I celebrate all month long. My birthmonth celebration takes place from April 1st to the 30th each year.
This year I treated myself to a little artisan bead-buying binge as part of the birthmonth festivities. I love artisan beads, and who knows better than I which ones I want? I have to say, I was very very very good to me this year. I shouldn’t have. But, oh, well, thank me very much, I’m too kind. Look at what I gave me.
Ceramic beads and components from Gaea . Some from her shop on Etsy and others won at the Ceramic Art Bead Market group on Facebook.
These ceramic beads and components from Gaea will make their way into some one-of-a-kind statement pieces. I love the way she turns everyday objects like a telephone or a classic truck into whimsical focals for jewelry. You can find more like this in her shop on Etsy, or you can try to win some of her unique pieces at the Ceramic Art Bead Market (CABM, for short) auctions on Facebook.
Whimsical woodland critters sculpted in polymer clay by Rejetta Sellers of Jetta Bug Jewelry on Etsy. There are bunnies, mice, birds of all kinds, a fox, a feather, and a hedgehog.
Speaking of whimsical, Rejetta Sellers has a magical way of turning polymer clay into delightful woodland critters with just the right touch of realism. You can find her hand-carved and painted components at Jetta Bug Jewelry on Etsy. You really need to visit her shop to see her photos, which show these itty bead sculptures in better detail than my photos. Oh, wait, I might have bought them all. Technically, these were added to my collection before birthmonth. What’s a holiday in March I can use as an excuse for having bought them?
These ceramic beads by Jennifer Davies-Reazor were won in the Ceramic Art Bead Market group on Facebook. Except for the top two, which were gifts from the artist.
Jennifer Davies-Reazor has a way with animals and ceramics. I’m not yet sure how I will use the fox, killer whale, and raven pendants, but I knew I had to have them when they were up for auction in the CABM. You can find Jennifer’s components on the CABM and in her shop on Etsy. I saw she was working on more ravens. I’ll be haunting her shop in hopes of nabbing another. That will make it easier to part with one in a jewelry design for my shop.
These adorable woodland critters by Terri DelSignore are ceramic. I won the fox set at auction on Ceramic Art Bead Market, but lost out on the owl because bidding times were so close. Terri very generously made me my own owl.
Another ceramic artist who has a way with critters is Terri DelSignore. I discovered her work at the CABM. Something about her style reminds me of my home in Arizona. I’m pretty sure that fox and owl will remain in my personal collection, even after I incorporate them into jewelry. I see a bracelet and a necklace in my future. You can find Terri’s components at the CABM on Facebook and in her Esty shop, Artisticaos.
I am starting my own rabbit warren with these ceramic and copper hares from Thea Elements. And I have a view of the water.
I am somewhat addicted to these lunar hares by Lesley Watt. In addition to the ceramic ones pictured, which I won on CABM, and the copper ones I bought from her Etsy shop, I custom ordered a baker’s dozen more. That’s 13 more ceramic wabbits. They’re on their way across the pond right now. It’s the spirals. I can’t resist the spirals. She’s also put spirals into turtles, owls, butterflies, and foxes. Some of those are on their way to me as well. Oh, and how awesome is that “view of the water” pendant?
Swirls, rustic swirls, and spirals galore. All in ceramic, by Marsha Neal-Minutella. That’s not even the whole collection. I forgot to include all the porcelain from another box.
While we’re on the subject of spirals I cannot resist, Marsha Neal-Minutella has me hooked on her rustic ceramic spiral components. Especially the chocolate stoneware. Yummy. Some of these I bought from her Etsy shop, some I won at CABM, and others were gifts from the artist. I forgot that I had another handful in porcelain, in a different storage box, and they didn’t make it for the photo shoot. But they are every bit as dreamy as these.
Did I mention how generous artisan component makers are? Not always, but very often, they include an extra bead or three with your order. I never expect it, and it is always a very very pleasant surprise. And one more reason I enjoy supporting them with my business.
These components from Scorched Earth are made from ceramic, but they look like bits of bark and wood and things.
In case you hadn’t noticed by now, I love rustic components. And organic shapes and colors. Which is why pretty much everything in Petra Capreau’s Etsy shop, Scorched Earth, is on my wish list. I’m not even kidding. I treated myself to a few sets of earring components, and Petra generously added a few other bits and drops. I think the next gift-giving occasion I can use as an excuse to treat myself to more would be summer solstice.
About half of these ceramic components are from Suburban Girl Studio shop on Etsy, and the rest were won on CABM (or gifts from the artist). More yummy chocolate stoneware. And oh, that root beer glaze on the ammonites. Delish.
Until recently, I didn’t know that ceramic clays came in flavors. And then I learned about chocolate stoneware. Which Diana Ptaszynski frosts with just the right touches of glaze, to let the beauty of the clay show through. And then there’s that root beer glaze, which makes me want to lick those ammonite drops. What? There’s nothing wrong with that. You can find Diana’s yummy components on CABM and in her Etsy shop, Suburban Girl Studio.
A gorgeous mix of bright and earthy colors in lampwork glass beads from Sue Kenedy. Some look like candy and others like mosaic stone.
No collection of yummy beads could be complete without some “chicklets” from Susan Kennedy. Chicklets are those tab-shaped beads with flowers stamped in them. I have a pair in cinnamon and a set of bright citrus fruits. And then I added some other shapes and colors to my collection because Sue was having a sale for her birthday this month. You can find Sue’s delicious lampwork beads in her Etsy shop.
Luscious lampwork glass beads by Genea Crivello-Knable on Etsy. I adore the frosted finish, which makes them look like either sea glass or sand-blasted stone.
Another lampwork artist who helped make birthmonth a blast was Genea Crivello-Knable. Or I might have bought these beauties a few weeks before then, when she was having sale. I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter. These are mine, all mine. The ones with her cute tags on them were chosen to go together in a necklace. Maybe a bracelet. The others, in the lower right corner, were gifts from Genea. You can find her fabulous lampwork beads in her Etsy shop.
These ceramic beads from Majoyoal were won on CABM. Except the top two, which were gifts from the artist. I won a few more of her components but they were in the mail (from Spain) during the photo shoot.
Another ceramic artist I discovered thanks to the CABM is Mari Carmen Rodriguez Martinez. She uses these incredible spicy looking glaze combinations in all my favorite earth tones. She also makes bright cheery color combinations. And fun organic shapes. You can find her components at CABM and in her shop, Majoyoal, at the Artisan Component Marketplace.
Buying these ceramic components from Starry Road Studio was a total adrenalin rush. If you’ve participated in one of her shop updates, you know what I mean. You have to be quick.
Most of these ceramic components from Starry Road Studio were impulse buys. As in, see it, click the buy button, and rush to check out before they disappear from your cart. No time to study the colors or think “do I really need this?” I don’t regret a single purchase. Her auctions on CABM go about the same way. If the artist, Karen Totten, had a brick and mortar store and announced a shop update, people would be camping outside the door, lined up around the block, for days in advance. Me included. I have a couple more of those bear totems on order. Can’t wait to meet them.
This is my full collection of artisan beads, made from ceramic, glass, and polymer clay. Plus a couple of copper bunnies. I didn’t share close ups of all of them. But you might be able to spot work from some of your other favorite artisans.
I didn’t share photos of my entire artisan component collection – just the ones I bought recently. I also have treasured beads and focals from Donna Millard, Grubbi Ceramics, Tree Wings Studio, Sweet Birch Designs, Captured Moments, Numinosity, Glass Bead Art, BeadFreaky, Summer Wind Art, and Bead Lovelies. So far, all my artisan components fit in these four plastic storage containers. That likely won’t be the case once the mail from across the pond is delivered. All in all, it was a very happy birthmonth, and I would like to thank me, and the artisans, for making it so special.
As you can see, I have a problem with artisan jewelry components. I’m not ashamed to admit it. My problem very clearly is that I may never have enough time to come up with jewelry designs worthy of all this rustic, whimsical, swirly, spiraling, spicy, chocolate-root beery, fruity chicklet, frosted beady goodness.
Do you have an artisan bead problem? Who are your favorite artisans? What design elements do you find irresistible and which artisan’s components do you hoard?
Why should you resist the temptation to sell your beginner jewelry pieces? Whether you started making jewelry as a hobby or with a business plan, the question of when you should start selling your finished work is important. Why is it important? Once you transition from hobby to artisan you want a certain level of quality associated with your good name. Right? Tell me I’m right.
One of my first wire-weaving attempts. It’s supposed to be a pagoda. And it’s definitely not suitable for sale.
It’s easy to jump the gun on this one, especially if you’re low on funds or are trying to make a living off your jewelry sales. Or you’re just enthusiastic about getting started. There can be a strong temptation to get your stuff out there for sale as quickly as you can finish making it. (more…)
Original art by Alyssa Ravenwood on DeviantArt.
If you are a jewelry designer or jewelry component artisan, you’ve probably struggled with how much to charge for your time. And I could be wrong, but more often than not, you were probably more concerned about charging too much than too little. And if that’s the case, you are not alone. I’m pretty sure artists and craftspeople of every genre, media, and style tend to undervalue their work. They’re not called starving artists for nothin’.
There are many books and articles about how to calculate the price of handmade jewelry and components. They mostly offer variations on a formula that takes into account the cost of materials and supplies, labor, and profit or overhead. This post is not about what formula to use. It’s about getting real about how much your time is worth. And realizing the time you’ve invested in a piece is about more than just how long it took you to make or assemble it.
Let’s begin with how much your time is worth. I’m going to use a sports analogy for comparison because …why not. Being good at a sport requires both skill and talent. The skill comes from a combination of training and practice. The talent is innate.
Theoretically, anyone can learn how to play football. But, to be good at the game requires practice in the actual sport. It also usually involves participating in related activities like strength, endurance, and flexibility training as well as studying playbooks, etc.
To be more than good, to be a star athlete bringing home the big bucks, is where the talent comes in. Some people are just inherently better than the rest of us at some things. They can jump higher, run faster, have better hand-eye coordination, etc.
So, bringing the analogy back to jewelry (put down your beer nuts and giant rubber fingers): can anyone learn how to string beads, weave wire, forge metal, fuse glass, etc.? Probably. But the point is, you did learn. You spent time in a class, watching videos, studying tutorials, etc. and know things that are not common knowledge. Then, you spent countless hours practicing and perfecting your techniques until you mastered them. Not many people can pick up a torch and create artisan lampwork beads. Or grab some wire and weave it into a complex pattern.Or cut and solder and hammer and bend metal to their will.
As for artistic talent, not everyone has an eye for color combinations that sing or can put together seemingly random bits and pieces to create wearable art worthy of a gallery. Some jewelry designers and component makers have not only honed their skills to the highest level, their vision, or voice, is unique and beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Something the rest of us admire and aspire to.
And then there’s the fact that many (most?) artisan jewelry designers are independent business owners. So our time is spent doing things we may forget to track and charge for like taking and editing photos of our work, writing product descriptions, purchasing supplies used to create our art, packing and shipping, customer service, social media marketing, accounting, managing web content and SEO, and more. If you had to pay someone else to do these things, they would expect more than minimum wage. And so should you.
I did a little searching for average annual salaries for some of the things independent jewelry artisans do as part of running a business. These are quotes for average annual salaries from indeed.com, which I also converted to an hourly wage. (And I assume there are fringe benefits, like paid vacation and employer contribution to health insurance, on top of these salaries.)
copywriter = $57K ($27.40/hr)
copy editor = $48K ($23.08/hr)
social media marketing = $59K ($28.37/hr)
product photographer = $42K ($20.19/hr)
graphic designer = $51K ($24.52/hr)
manager of SEO = $107K ($51.44/hr)
director of marketing = $102K ($49.04/hr)
web content manager = $77K ($37.02/hr)
bookkeeper = $39K ($18.75/hr)
shipping manager = $39K ($18.75/hr)
purchasing manager = $72K ($34.62/hr)
customer service manager = $64K ($30.77/hr)
As you can see, none of those salaries are below minimum wage, which is currently $7.25/hr federally, and up to a buck or two more in some states. I’m not suggesting we use these figures to determine how much to charge for our time spent marketing, photographing, shipping, etc. Or that we could all qualify for positions at these salaries. I merely wanted to illustrate my point that much of what we do as independent artisans is skilled labor, worthy of substantially more than minimum wage.
And how much does a jewelry designer make per year according to this site? Would you believe $102,000 per year? Granted, the people offering jobs in this salary range are probably expecting candidates with degrees in art or design, in addition to talent, skill and experience. And hey, I’ll bet some of you have exactly that kind of degree. And I know many of you have that kind of talent and skill because I see it every day on the Creative Bead Chat group page on Facebook.
Do I think we should all be charging the hourly equivalent of that $102K annual salary (which is $49.04/hour, by the way)? No. My point is, corporate jewelry designers with talent, skill, and experience aren’t expected to work for minimum wage. They are offered a wage commensurate with their abilities. And they get paid – well – for their ideas.
And that brings me to my next soapbox: intellectual property. And how too many artists place too little value on their innate talent and vision. What is intellectual property? According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (emphasis added by me), “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP is protected in law by, for example, patents, copyright and trademarks, which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.”
How much is a jewelry artisan’s intellectual property worth? That depends on the artist, but it’s got to be more than minimum wage. If we as artists don’t place a fair value on our creative ideas, who will? And remember that your intellectual property includes not only your original finished designs, but also your photos and your copy (the product descriptions you write, your blog, the content on your website).
Are you still concerned that if you pay yourself a fair wage for your skill and ideas, your work won’t sell because your prices will be too high? Have people told you that you should factor in “what the market will bear” and to compare your prices to others making similar things? That could work to some degree and with two important caveats.
First, what do they mean by “the market?” Are you trying to sell handmade artisan jewelry to mass-produced big box store shoppers? That’s not your market. That’s not even your competition. Find the right market for your product and you will find people willing to pay fair value for your work. There should absolutely be a significant price point difference between mass-produced and artisan-made. I don’t care how “similar” lay people think the two pieces look. That’s where we explain how different they are and why what we’re offering is worth the price.
Second, comparison to others only works if (a) you’re comparing apples to apples and (b) everyone is appropriately valuing their time, expertise, talent, and intellectual property. It only takes one “bad apple” under-pricing their artisan work to spoil buyers into thinking everyone’s prices should be that low and adversely affect the entire art community.
As I’ve said when I’ve been up on this particular soap box before, whether you’re selling your work for profit or not, price it fairly. And fair means putting the appropriate value on handmade artisan work. If you truly don’t need the money, either don’t charge at all for your pieces, or donate the proceeds to your favorite charity. And if you truly think you need to offer lower price points to your customers, do it by finding ways to save on supplies and expenses. Don’t sell your ideas, your time, and your talent short.
I hope this post has encouraged you to think seriously about how much not just your time, but your talent, your skill, and your ideas are worth. And maybe it has been the reality check you needed to set a fair price on your artisan jewelry and components. Go forth and recalculate your prices, find the right market, and stand your ground. And while you’re at it, get comfortable telling your customers, your friends and family, and other artists, why artisan-made is worth more than mass-produced. I’m not saying you should be defensive about your prices. I’m saying let’s educate the masses, ourselves included, and redefine the value of artisan-quality goods.
I’d love to hear about your experiences, or struggles, figuring out how to price your work and finding the right market for what your artisan jewelry and components are worth.