Share The Love – Valentine’s Inspiration

Share The Love – Valentine’s Inspiration

Be inspired by Artisan created Valentine’s Jewelry and Component designs.

If you find something you like, you can click on the image to go to their Instagram page and comment or review their profile for more info or many will be adding their info in the comments below.  Also, you can share an image to your favorite social site by hovering over the picture: Dk Blue = Facebook, Lt Blue = Twitter and Red = Pinterest.

If interested in adding your work, please scroll to the bottom for the details!  Enjoy!

  • Sweet heart earrings  bohostyle bohemian handcrafted handmadeatamazon bandanagirl heartearringshellip
  • Unexpected Heart Donut  bobbiejwilsoncomproductunexpectedheartdonut handmade fusedglass cbcvd
  • Pretty pink and ivory pearl memory wire bracelet with pinkhellip
  • Sweethearts Forever! Fabricated from copper sheet Argentium wire and lotshellip
  • AztecaDesignsBoutique hearts hoops argentiumsilver simplyher forher giftideas giftwrapped sweetheart valentinehellip
  • bandanagirl silverjewelry heartjewelry moonstone A sweet new design! cbcvd
  • First wave of Heart pairs 30 to start will behellip
  • Amber and Dumorterite Sterling Bracelet httpwwwomisilveretsycom cbcvd valentines handmade
Want your Valentine’s items included??  

Excited to share our first INSTAGRAM #hashtag slide show.  If you have a relevant Valentine’s component or jewelry design you would like to be included follow these directions:

  • Go to your INSTAGRAM App and click the Camera Icon
  • Upload a “Valentine’s relevent component, jewelry design or collage. Could be a selfie shot of you or another wearing your design too.  (Remember Instagram uses a “square image”)
  • In the “Add a Caption” Add a description, business name, website link (while it won’t be a live URL, folks can copy and paste to find you)  add any #hashtags you want, but you
  • MUST*** add our CBC # to be auto included in our slideshow.  #cbcvd
  • Click OK…then SHARE.
  • You may also edit a previous Instagram post to add the #cbcvd
  • Check back in an hour to see your product shine!
  • Please limit to maximum of 15 images
  • In comments below: You may add your Instagram Name, Business Name, Website URL  and any other pertinent info you want include.  Please create one Comment for all info.  This way folks can find you easier! Comments must be approved so you may not see them until someone has time to do so.

We hope you’ll share our page with all your friends to inspire them for Valentine’s…It’s all about the love!  Let’s share each others beautiful jewelry and component designs.  Just maybe we’ll all get a little love and find some great new Artisans to connect with! Any ideas for other Instagram feeds?  It’s a great tool and seen by a huge audience!  Let’s build our businesses!

Valentine’s Jewelry Shopping Guide

Valentine’s Jewelry Shopping Guide


It’s that time of the year again!  Please shop our Handmade Artisans stores for a truly meaningful gift.  Wonderful jewelry ideas for your all your sweeties this Valentine’s day!
To view the artist or visit their stores, please hover over or click the image. 


Findings in Focus :: An Interview with Michelle Mach

Findings in Focus :: An Interview with Michelle Mach


I recently reviewed Michelle MUF_COV300ach’s new book, Unusual Findings, in the latest issue of Bead Chat Magazine. I did really enjoy the designs and challenge to my own, sometimes conventional opinions about how findings ‘should’ be used.

I decided to see if Michelle might be up for a few questions so that we could all learn a bit more about what inspired her book, and why findings exactly? So of course I jumped right to it asking her ‘why a book on findings?’

“I’ve always been fascinated by findings,” Michelle tells me. “As an editor I saw over and over how the wrong clasp could torpedo a strong design and a fabulous one could elevate a ho-hum one.  Findings have tremendous power, but they don’t always get the same attention from designs as beads and pendants do.” That certainly spoke to me immediately. I am an admitted hoarder, and yes I do have a rather large stash of very pretty findings of which my most prized are my box slide clasps. I can’t bear to have them end up at the back of the neck … and so they sit.

Poet Laureate: is a necklace in Unexpected Findings that uses jump rings to attach two metal components and head pins to wire wrap pearls to the center of brass flowers.  It also shows how you can take one finding (such as a filigree link or connector) and by bending it, you can create a different finding (such as a pendant bail).

Poet Laureate: shown in Unexpected Findings uses jump rings to attach two metal components and head pins to wire wrap pearls to the center of brass flowers. It also shows how you can take one finding (such as a filigree link or connector) and by bending it, you create a different finding (such as a pendant bail).

But then Michelle said something that really got me thinking. “It always surprises me when I ask designers about a finding that doesn’t quite fit the piece and they’ll say that they used it because they had it lying around.  It’s admirable to want to use up materials your stash, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a strong design.”

Ok, raise your hand. Who’s done this exact thing? I know I have, and actually my worst offense is earwires. I have a thing about making earrings. It isn’t so much designing the first earring; it is copying the second that I truly hate. I know hate is a strong word, but I like to design … not copy. And I inevitably don’t quite match it up to exactly the same wire wrap look, or length. So by the time I reach for the earwires I am truly quite done with the pattern. And thus, my snap decision of their design being close enough. For some great inspiration on earwires, Melinda Orr just did a great article on why you should consider designing your own. Perhaps I should start with creating the findings first for a change!

Silver Linings: shown in Unexpected Findings uses bead caps to form umbrella charms.  I've attached them to the clouds with spring-ring clasps, making it possible for you to change out the umbrella charms on a whim.

Silver Linings: shown in Unexpected Findings uses bead caps to form umbrella charms. I’ve attached them to the clouds with spring-ring clasps, making it possible for you to change out the umbrella charms on a whim.

Alright, so now we know why Michelle decided to write about findings, but why a whole book on the topic? Michelle writes for a broad array of magazines, why not just an article? “I’ve been publishing my designs in jewelry magazines since 2007.  Many magazines have specific themes and color palettes which challenge my creativity.  They also let me explore new techniques or experiment with new types of beads.  In contrast, writing a book gives you a chance to take one topic and delve deeply into it.  There are so many more findings on the market than there were five years ago that it seemed the perfect time to research them.  Plus, I’ve learned a lot about jewelry making over the years that I wanted to share with a wider audience.”

I asked Michelle about her inspiration, and mention a quote from her book where she notes making earrings with ring shanks. Ring shanks? I confessed to her the thought would never have crossed my mind. But Michelle seems to be one of those truly inspired designers who look at the world and the possibility of how she can create from what is simply sitting there in front of her.

“I believe that inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes I’ll be inspired by a specific bead or finding; other times inspiration will come from an outside source such as vibrant pillow at a home decor store. I especially like creating jewelry based on a book I’ve recently read or a movie I’ve seen. In many areas of my life, I look at objects (burnt out light bulbs, empty thread spools) and ask, how else could I use this? So it’s only natural that I do the same thing with jewelry findings.”

The Reveille necklace featuring copper cones as dangles was first published in the Winter 2007 issue of Stringing.  This was one of my first publications and the one I mention in the introduction to my book, Unexpected Findings.

Reveille: featuring copper cones as dangles first published in Stringing Winter 2007. This was one of my first publications, and I mention it in the introduction to my book, Unexpected Findings.

Ok so let’s ask the obvious question, aren’t findings a more expensive route to go when thinking about materials for designs? “For the book, I did a lot of sketching to try out different ways to use findings.  I wanted to use findings that were common and easy to find, but I also wanted to keep a budget in mind.  It would have been easy to make elaborate designs using findings — such as a necklace chain made entirely of pendant bails — but it’s just not practical for most designers to buy 100 bails at $5 each to make a necklace. When I was writing the book proposal, I looked at individual findings and brainstormed as many ideas for each one that I could.  When I had 100 ideas, I thought that I had enough to approach a publisher.” And that is what you will find in her book is a plethora of ideas to jump start your creative juices when trying to push your own design inspiration.

In my mind at this point I am imagining Michelle’s studio to look a bit like a ‘tinkerer’s workshop’ with bits and pieces tucked away in every crevice. And so I ask her ‘true confessions, what does your bead table look like?’

“I have an old kitchen table in the basement where I do some of my work.  It’s usually cluttered and I often find myself working on a tiny corner that I’ve cleared off.  It’s hard to get everything put away completely because just looking at my beads and findings gives me new ideas that I want to try immediately.  I also do some design work on the sofa in front of the TV.  It’s comfortable, but it does mean that I’m constantly pulling jump rings out of the cushions!  I try to keep that area of the house cleaner than the basement, but if I’m on a deadline, all bets are off!”

At this point, I’m really starting to get a sense that I would love to spend an afternoon beading with Michelle. With all her jump rings in her cushions, and my rainbow of dropped beads in mine I think we could mix it up pretty famously.

Michelle also gave a shout out to a charity that she donates beads to, “I periodically clear out some of my old beads and send them to the Denver Refugee Women’s Craft Initiative

Breathe necklace: an example of jewelry that showcases my love of words.  Appeared in Creative Jewelry 2011.

Breathe: an example of jewelry that showcases my love of words. Appeared in Creative Jewelry 2011.

My next burning question was to ask how Michelle chose her selected designers in her book. It is always a mystery to me how to ‘get connected’ and be one of those people that publishers reach out to. “I spent a lot of time online finding potential designers.  I looked for ones that I thought could be innovative, work within specific guidelines (limited techniques, specific materials), meet short deadlines, write clear instructions, and take constructive criticism and make revisions to their projects if necessary.  It was a pretty tall order and I was thrilled with how they all met the challenge.  I wanted the designers to have a strong sense of their own style, but at the same time, I wanted a collection of projects that meshed well together.  The publisher had suggestions for designers, too, so it was definitely a collaborative process to make the final list.”

When I asked Michelle if there are places she visits to recharge her inspiration; she simply said “there are too many to count!” But then went on to say, “I belong to a bunch of groups on Facebook such as B’Sue Boutiques Creative Group and Creative Bead Chat, so I always have a good flow of creative designs to admire in my feed.  I’m editing a wire jewelry book right now that I find very inspiring. The designer’s doing things with wire I’ve never seen before.” She couldn’t tell us anything more about the book, only to look for it in 2015.

One last question before I finished up my interview. I took a peek at Michelle’s Etsy site to see what her pervasive style was, and not surprisingly words were an important design element. Yep, words. Clearly writing and expressing yourself through words is pretty important to Michelle. “I’ve always loved to write and considered myself a writer long before I discovered jewelry design.  (I’ve had essays and other short pieces published in more than a dozen anthologies.)  Words have a lot of power.  I gravitate towards bead artists such as Heather Wynn, Diane Hawkey, and Erin Prais-Hintz who use words on their bead and pendant designs.  Even if I don’t show words in my designs, my best ones tell some kind of story.  I’m like many designers in that while I may experiment a lot, at the end of the day, I always circle back to making the kind of jewelry that I myself would wear.”

Well said Michelle, well said. Make jewelry that you, yourself would love to wear. The rest will fall into place.

Jewelry Style Identity Crisis

Jewelry Style Identity Crisis


Have you ever had an identity crisis about your jewelry style? If you were asked to describe your jewelry design style in one word, could you do it? Or, are you like me? Searching for your style identity.

I don’t mean I am searching for what kind of jewelry to make. I mean, I don’t know what to call it. I can describe the materials and the techniques I use. Which happen to be many and varied, much like my sources of inspiration. But I have been stumped in my search for which style basket to put my designs into. Even if I were to give myself more than one basket, assuming I have several styles, I would still have trouble assigning some things to the proper basket. And “miscellaneous” is probably not a style of jewelry.

Why bother? Why not just make what I like to create and not stress over what style it is? Search engines. I sell on-line and until I “make it big” (so big people search for my jewelry by my business name) I have to put my listings into baskets for the search engine bots and spiders. Search engines like labels. Or, more specifically, descriptive key words. As in the words people type into the search box when looking for something. People searching the internet for jewelry to buy are likely using some style labels, possibly materials (like a certain gemstone), and probably less frequently, techniques.

You’d think it would be easy to do an internet search for a style name and get a definition. I haven’t found any such glossary of jewelry style terms. So, I click over to the image results for the same search term, hoping to see some obvious kind of unifying “defining” elements. Not so much. Just as an example, search for “southwestern necklace” and scroll through the image or shopping results. Can you quickly put your finger on one or two things they all have in common? Other than being necklaces, that is. And which are not common to some other styles? Like the use of beads or semi-precious gemstones.

"southwestern necklace" image search results

Here’s an example of image search results using “southwestern necklace” as the keyword.

I have found some pages that define style eras, like Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Victorian, Edwardian, etc. But an era is not a style per se and there can be many styles within an era.  There are some bits and pieces of definition-ish information about fashion styles (or trends) in general. Although those are typically about clothing or home decor, I suppose I could extrapolate from there to my jewelry. Even then, some of those style descriptions are far too subjective to really help me.

I’ve tried searching for things like “style glossary” and “define fashion terms” and various permutations of “style” “fashion” “jewelry” “define” “terms” “glossary”. None of them were what I needed. Clearly, I don’t even know what question to ask to get the answer I need. It felt like being a child asking an adult how a word is spelled and being told to look it up in the dictionary. If you don’t know what letter it starts with, how the heck can you look it up?!

Someone recently posted a link to this description of the style tags on Etsy in a Facebook jewelry artists group. It was compiled by someone in one of the forums who says they spent hours searching the internet, presumably one term at a time. It’s still not the definitive list I’m seeking, but it helps. A little. Part of the problem is there can be overlap across styles, or fusion and blending of styles. Or even style drift where one style evolves into something else. Where is the point at which it breaks off and becomes a new style on its own versus the new definition of that style?

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the question of defining my jewelry style. For example, I found this blog post by another jewelry designer during one of my futile internet searches for a jewelry style glossary. The comments are along the lines of the conversations I’ve had with friends about defining my style. When I asked my Facebook fans what they thought my style was, some said “eclectic” which is a catch-all word I’ve been using since the beginning. Others suggested I not try to label it.  That was my original approach, in which I avoided categorizing my jewelry’s style. My reasoning was:  I didn’t want to influence someone’s decision to purchase by putting a label they don’t like on a piece they might otherwise have loved. People can be funny that way.

But here’s the problem. If I don’t define my style with some labels, the search engines won’t know how to categorize it either. Those pesky bots like labels. I know there are customers out there who are interested in buying my jewelry. Or at least, they would be if they knew about it. So, what words would they type into the search bar if they were looking for jewelry that looks like what I make? I don’t have the resources to conduct a market survey. So, I turn yet again to the internet, source of all useless useful information, for help.

I search for the word or words I think describe the style of one of my necklaces and compare the results to what I have in front of me. That’s not any kind of scientific or systematic way to go about this. But when you’re having an identity crisis, one thing you do is compare yourself to others, right?

I think some of my jewelry is southwestern. I’m from Arizona, so I think I have some idea what that style looks like. And yet, in that image search for “southwestern jewelry” I don’t see anything that looks like my necklace. But I do see a wide range of styles, some of which I probably wouldn’t consider southwestern at all. And some I could put in a “Native American” basket rather than southwestern.

southwestern bolo-tie sytle necklace

I might consider this necklace of mine southwestern, but it doesn’t look like anything in the image search results for that term.

If you do your own search for style terms, you’re also likely to turn up links to various Pinterest boards where people have collected images of jewelry they think is modern, southwestern, eclectic, etc. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of diversity among those boards. The same words mean rather different things to different people. For example, some people lump Native American and southwestern jewelry together. Some people group all things turquoise under that “southwestern” label, although I’ve seen turquoise used in what I would consider many different jewelry styles.

It’s probably not a bad thing that I don’t find something that looks exactly like my jewelry when I search for other “southwestern” designs. That hopefully means my designs are somewhat unique. Unless it means I am completely off target with my style label. Or maybe it just means I need to do better with SEO for my listings, so they will get the attention of the bots and spiders and rank higher in the search.

When searching for “fashion style terms” in hopes someone somewhere had compiled the definitive list of things like “boho” versus “gypsy” and “steampunk” versus “goth,” I found this “Words to Use” tool. It has long lists of adjectives, verbs, and nouns to use in describing your jewelry. It even has a “words to avoid” tab. But what I find most fun is the phrases tab. It’s like Mad-Libs for jewelry. Just string a few of these phrases together, inserting adjectives, verbs, and nouns from the other pages, and …Voila! Your item description is written. (Not that I would actually recommend you do that.)

definition of eclectic

My design style, and philosophy, defined.

As much fun as that site is, it doesn’t solve my jewelry identity crisis. I still don’t know the difference between boho and gypsy. Or boho and boho chic? Rustic or organic? Where’s the line between steampunk and goth? When is a necklace a “statement” and what makes earrings “modern” or “retro?”

For now, I’m sticking with “eclectic” overall for my style. It fits, by definition. And then I season it with a little “boho,” a dash of “southwestern” and a pinch of “vintage-inspired.” Just don’t ask me what they mean to anyone other than me.

If anyone knows of a jewelry style glossary to help me solve my identity crisis, please leave a link in the comments. I’d also love to hear from others having their own style identity crisis. Or those of you who have “found yourselves” and how you did it.  And while you’re at it, can someone explain the difference between boho and boho chic? Please.

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