Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Book review - How to create your own jewelry line by Emilie Shapiro

Author Emilie Shapiro sells her jewellery at boutiques, museums and several big-name retailers under her brand ‘Emilie Shapiro Contemporary Metals’ but she started out creating one-off pieces for friends and family as so many of us do! In teaching thousands of students over the years in jewellery production, Shapiro identified a lack of resources to help students to create their own jewellery line. She formulated a business course that provided guidance on everything from designing a coherent collection to marketing it to retailers. This book is an extension of this popular course.

As the cover suggests, the book covers everything you need to turn a home crafting business into a successful jewellery brand —design, production, finance, marketing and retail. Starting at the beginning, it discusses the various options available in setting up a company (probably more useful for US-based readers) as well as providing some really great tips on choosing the right business name and logo. Picking a name that is “versatile and simple, and that people will remember” might seem obvious but as Emilie points out it’s also important to choose a logo that will “look great printed on a large sign that is 2 feet wide, yet will still look clear printed on packaging that is 2 inches wide”. Deciding on light and dark versions will also give you ultimate flexibility later.

The book goes on to cover all aspects of designing with your brand and production in mind. As Shapiro points out, a different approach is required for many designers. In creating your own jewellery line, the focus is on efficiency over creativity, particularly in designing a collection. She suggests that you “aim to design ten pieces for your first collection. As time goes on, redesign pieces to make them more functional and saleable, edit out pieces  that do not sell and add pieces by expanding on what worked.” It all sounds a little cold and soulless for me but that’s the difference between creating on a small scale and creating for retail I guess!

If you can’t quite see yourself pairing back your designs for the retail market and aren’t sure whether you are ready to sacrifice your creativity for the sake of a successful jewellery business you might be thinking that this book is not for you. However, there are some wonderful tips and ideas from Shapiro that you could take advantage of, however you create and sell your jewellery. For example, creating artists’ cards and product line sheets are fantastic ideas and ones I will certainly be trying when I prepare my next collection of jewellery for a retail environment. There is also a whole section on pricing your jewellery —something most of us find tricky to say the least.

Further chapters cover marketing your jewellery line and how and where to sell your pieces. However, probably the most interesting chapter for anyone seriously considering growing their business to the level that Emilie has achieved, is the chapter entitled ‘Insider guidance from industry professionals’. I found lots of little titbits of information here that I will bear in mind when I next approach a gallery or shop with my work.

Overall, this book is a good read with lots of useful hints and information for any jewellery maker. I would say that creators of metal jewellery would find the chapter on producing a collection of particular interest as it covers everything from tools to detailed techniques but there is certainly food for thought for all of us.

We have a copy of ‘How to create your own jewelry line’ to give away to one lucky winner.Comment on this post to be entered into the draw. We will pick a winner at random on Friday 9th September after midday. Look out for our Facebook post for a second chance to enter and for the announcement of the winner.

‘How to create your own jewelry line’ by Emilie Shapiro, published by Lark (£19.99 available from www.gmcgroup.com)
ISBN 978-1-4547-0933-6

Monday, 22 August 2016

Display Inspiration Series:3: You've been framed!

Upcycle dated photo frames into custom earring stands

I always see lots of old photo frames in charity shops. They are often made from dark wood and sometimes are without glass. They can be picked up from as little as 50p and, with a bit of work, can be transformed into pretty earring frames.
Keep you eyes open for lace tablecloths in charity shops too. They might have tea stains but that doesn't matter if you are going to be cutting them into pieces!

You will need:

Wooden photo frame
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (White and Henrietta)
Annie Sloan wax
Soft cloth
Lace tablecloth
Staple gun and staples
Washi tape

Step by step...

1. Remove the glass and backboard from your photo frame (if they have them). Lightly sand to roughen the surface.

2. Apply a little candle wax to areas of the frame. This will give the paint a flaky finish by preventing the paint from adhering properly to the waxed area.I wanted some dark areas to show through the finished paint but you can paint the frame with white chalk paint first before applying the wax if you want a lighter overall finish.

3. Paint the frame with a layer of white chalk paint and leave to dry.

4. Apply wax to the frame and leave to dry. Once dry, buff with a soft cloth.

5. Paint the frame with pink chalk paint and leave to dry. Apply more wax and buff once dry.

6. Using fine sandpaper, gently sand areas of the frame to give a distressed effect. Where the candle wax was applied, the paint should have a flakiness which you can encourage with the sandpaper for an even more distressed finish.

7. Once you are happy with the finish, apply one more layer of wax to protect.

8. Cut a piece of lace tablecloth slightly larger than the frame. Staple one edge to the back of the frame then stretch the lace taught and staple the opposite edge. Repeat with the other two sides.

9. Trim any excess material from around the edges of the frame and secure any raw edges by adding a washi tape border.

10. Load your frame with earrings!

For more ideas: