Monday, March 31, 2008

Selling my wares

OK so I needed to make myself something to go a-marketing in because I wanted to be able to wear both the styles I pants, green sweater...what do you think? I am making some bobs this morning to complete the set. The bracelet is a little big for me, I did not get the idea until I crocheted it. I will have to make myslef another to fit. I am on my way down the coast of Maine and to Cambridge and surrounding areas. I have been told by several women that live down there that I need to go to Harvard Square so here I come! I am really hoping to get at least 3 accounts between Maine and Mass. My sweetie bought me a very nice black leather jewelers case to travel with, much nicer than plastic bags. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lampwork Score on Etsy

These are a few of photos of lampwork beads from Generations Lampwork at Angela and Cheryl are a mother and daughter team who spend their days on the torch creating outstanding lampwork beads. I have yet to meet them but we have had many discussions via e-mail and they are fabulous ladies. They know what great customer service is. They have gone above and beyond for me. I have had several bizarre requests for them and they have come through fabulously every time. Please check them out, they are really amazing artists and wonderful people. Like all of us in the art field they have had their share of difficulties competing with the mass produced "lampwork". There are lots of people out there who use these items in their designs and they can produce a lovely finished piece of jewelry. If you are looking for something a little different, if you are looking for stunning, and for superior craftsmanship for your designs look no further than

Cheap imports vs. Handcrafted

After reading this through please drop some feedback to the questions at the end of this post.

I decided to give this a try. Each day I am going to list one item at 1/2 price and change the item every day so that the item is on sale for one day only. I am hoping to encourage folks to stop by and see what is on sale for that day which will also keep people aware of what's new. The thing is that because of an agreement with the jewelry stores I deal with I have to list the retail price at my on line site. The crocheted items because I don't sell those to the jewelry store yet I can list at wholesale which I already do so those will not be included in the sales. For the bracelets like the one pictured I get on the average $25.00 and they take about an hour to do including stringing time. The basic bracelets are at $23.00 and they go up to $33.00 if they have some sort of spendy lampwork in them.
Some have asked me why I don't use commercial lampwork as my prices could be lower. I prefer to support other artisans knowing how difficult this market is with all the cheap imports available. Also, I want to give my clients the best product I can produce and something they are not going to see on anyone else at the next affair they attend. But it is difficult at best to compete with "made in..."Even on a very popular high end street in Boston the answer I got to most places I went is that they can get it imported a lot cheaper and still sell close to the same price and make 4-9 times their investment rather than just keystone. There are those out there who prefer better products such as the ones made by artisans here in the good old USA. It is just a matter of finding out how to get our goods out there to them. Jewelry is difficult to photograph well and pros cost over $100.00 per hour which at this point is too much for the likes of me! I sell very well when I can get it into the consumers hands, when they can see the quality of my work and materials I use. The jewelry store here in Waterville, Maine has purchased over $3500 from me since the middle of last October and she has sold all but a very few pieces so I know there are buyers out there for what I do. Generations Lampwork told me that she does not make much jewelry anymore because she has to compete with the cheap, mass manufactured imports. It really is a shame as she does exquisite work. I am sure the same is true with many in her field. Still, as I said there are those out there who would rather have something unique, original and handcrafted. Where are they and how do we show them our wares is the question. On line is good for some things but like I said getting good photos of jewelry is hard and it can be expensive.
I would like some feedback on these questions:
1. Would you rather have an item that was handcrafted and more unique or something less expensive that everyone can own?
2. For those who have purchased handcrafted jewelry online, what factors went into your decision to make the purchase on an item you have not actually held in your hand?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Poppy Jasper and Carnelian Creation

OK Here it is. This set is stunning. You know, I usually get one of these sets done on a day. I am in my studio at 8:00AM and wrap up for the day at 5:30PM. After supper I do my crocheted pieces in the living room while I watch a little TV with my sweetie. So in a full work day I can get everything done except the clasps because after I weave everything I put a drop or two of G-S Hypo on the knots and let them set overnight just to be sure everything is wrapped up good and tight. This set took my 3 days only because I was so amazed by the colors in each little nugget of the Poppy Jasper. To see it in person this set is just gorgeous. I have put it on line although I am not really sure I want to sell this one. I told myself I would give it 5 days and see what happens. Then, it's mine! I have yet to keep a set I have made. I keep telling myself I will and then someone wants it so I part with it.
I am so grateful to be able to so this for work. I left my full time "day job" to pursue this passion. I began this line of work in a rather odd way. I knit hand made, felted bags and thought it would be fun if I put some beaded embellishments on them so I picked up some craft store beads and such. I had some left over after a bag and thought I would see if I could produce a piece of jewelry. Now, I am the type of gal who likes to have matching earrings for every outfit so after I made the first pair I bought some more beads and was introduced to Swarovski crystals by a friend so I got some of those. Time went on and I came up with a design for a bracelet that I really loved. I took them to a jewelry store and the wonderful store owner bought some and suggested I look into doing this design with gems and pearls. That frightened me a little because of the cost involved but I gave it a try. This series is the result of that and I was hooked. Meanwhile he had gone to Hawaii where he winters. I took them to a local jewelry store and she bought them and has continued to purchase from me. She ran out twice the week before Christmas and all total she has purchased over $3200.00 of my designs since mid October of last year. When I went to see her 2 weeks ago she told me it had been really dead in the store and the only items she has sold are my creations! WOW! What a compliment that was, and she bought more. She sells them at a fairly high price, double what I get.
I am truly blessed to be able to do this. I guess I would say I am successful as I define it, although I still need to do a lot of marketing to be able to support myself. I have a passion for what I do and God has given me the talent it seems opportunity to do it. Things are getting a little tight now as far as money goes. With Summer coming and Bob opening for the season next month things should get better. I am really excited to be able to show him the results if his suggestions! Well, Off I go again to see what I can come up with next!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Slow but Steady

I expect to be able to finish that piece today. I started painting again yesterday, I have not taken out my brushes in a few years. I used to paint nearly every day then when I moved to Maine I stopped for some reason. I began with Sumi-e in 1985 under the direction of Claudia Suen in Hawaii. I continued with Chinese Brushpainting and also tried my hand at pen and ink, watercolor, pastels, etc. I did well at the pen and ink and Sumi, the rest well I dabbled every now and then I think just to prove to myself that I still couldn't do it. Anyway I seemed to have a natural talent for the Sumi. I sold many, taught in the public school system and at private galleries, and then stopped one day. So as I said in the beginning I have picked up my brushes again. To be truthful I ran out of wrapping paper, had some bags that I use for jewelry and thought it would be a good idea to slap some ink on them and see what happens. That is to come in a few days. For now I want to finish this piece of jewelry I have been working on. I am just in awe of the beauty in these stones. They have so many color variations in each one. It was hard to find the right pearls to go with them and I am not adding as many as usual because I don't want to detract from these jaspers. The carnelian I used was faceted and reflects the light so nicely. I love making jewelry. The colors, the sparkle, the different wonder it is taking me a while to do this piece. The first layer of the paintings are just about dry so I had better get on with my day. I need to get these done and the materials put up so I can continue this necklace

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Poppy Jasper Jewelry

I found these Poppy Japser chips when I was rearrangeing my studio yesterday. I didn't know I had them! The colors in these are so beautiful. If you look at them closely they are truly spectacular. Sometimes it really amazes me, the beauty of nature. So it gave me the inspiration I needed for my next piece. I know the colors are sort of Fall-ish but they are just too pretty to wait until then. I selected some faceted Carnelian and some other poppy 6mm and 8mm beads to go with it and I will of course put in the pearls and Swarovski crystals. I found a large faceted carnelian at a shop nearby to use for the center. I think this piece will be my best yet. Of course, it could be because I just love these colors. Earthtones are my favorite and I love working with them. This set will of course be in gold. I just might keep this one! I have said that before and always end up selling but to date I do not have one of my signature pieces of my own. I do plan on making 2 bracelets with this one so maybe I can just keep one of those. I usually only make one set; necklace, bracelet, and a couple pair of earrings then it is on to the next color scheme. So in the shower with me then onto this beautiful project!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In need of marketing tips

This is another one of those beautiful shells made by Generations Lampwork at The remainder of the bracelet is made with pearls, Avenurtine, green Quartz, gold, and Swarovski crystals. This is my signature design and one that I have been quite successful with. The local jewelry store sells them like crazy and has been steady with the sales since I began my account with them last October but I need a few more stores like this one. I enjoy making these although each piece takes me about an hour and a half. I love to do one of a kind items. The jewelry store marketing is a little difficult as they seem to want to have items that can be reordered. I can't or I guess won't make copies. I can use the same gems and other materials but each one comes out different, even if I try. As a result I have not found my niche but will keep trying. I enjoy the process very much and I think that is the important thing. A small sample of my desings can be seen at I welcome any tips anyone has for marketing!! Please comment.

Monday, March 24, 2008


As you can see I am having a good time making these crocheted bracelets. In the ones you see here I have used some of those lampwork beads by Generations Lampwork . I special ordered these with holes slightly larger than normal so they work better with this series. The completed bracelets run in price between $23.00 and $33.00 just depending on the cost of the bead and materials. The orange one with a solid spiral of Swarovski crystals is at the higher end of the range. You can always go to or click on one of the photos to the left to see more. The ones similar to the first photo sell in the local jewelry store for $49.00 retail! I am hoping they will go when I do my tables too. Marketing is definately the down side of this business! I am no salesperson and I have a hard time "talking it up". I figure the work should sell itself. I know I should talk more about the materials, workmanship, etc and that is where I get stuck. I do use the best materials available, I don't want to worry about work coming back to me. I want people to love what they purchase and have it last a lifetime. I can talk about that. I just have a hard time selling the artist! Well, I have a couple of special orders I am working on so I had better get to it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

This is my favorite piece so far. It is made with a beautiful lampwork shell by Generations Lampwork and is the centerpiece around which I designed this piece. I just happened to have pearls to match the lampwork perfectly and the stick pearls really give this a rich, dramatic look. I use a lot of Swarovski crystal in my pieces, I just can't get enough of that wonderful sparkle they have. I used 14K gold filled wire to wrap this piece all up and for the earrings as well. It sold to the local jewelry store 2 hours after it was finished for quite a nice sum. I am really enjoying thsi coastal theme I am doing. I have some fun pieces with octopus, shells and soon to come I have a design idea for some lobsters. I live in Maine so it only makes sense to do something with a lobster. Don't forget to keep an eye on my Etsy site for more designs!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Crocheted Jewelry

I learned to crochet years ago when I was first married. I love it that I can combine 2 of my favorite activities in one and make these bracelets. When I learned I used the cheap E beads from the local craft store and that is certainly a good idea for anyone who wants to do them. It is easier to see how it all comes together that way. I have been crocheting for years and it still took a little getting used to. In addition I tend to knit and crochet very tight so I had to loosen up a bit.
Working with the gemstones all the time is wonderful but these provide a relaxing break and I don't have to think about it much. It has proven very valuable when I have one of those artists blocks that has me walking around my studio looking at gems and not able to decide. It seems to unclog my brain! It takes my mind out of the design mode and lets it wonder.
I guess I did not say before that I do sell my wares on line although most of my business is wholesale to fine jewelry stores. It is nice that they are getting with the program and supporting artisan created pieces instead of all that mass manufactured silver and gold. I am a member of Etsy but I am not so crazy about it as I once was. It was a good idea but has now gone "commercial" in a lot of ways. I prefer face to face anyway. I like to see the expression on one's face when they see a piece they just love and have to have. I donated a piece to MPBN recently and when I sent out the photos to people I know the response was pretty much the same..."it made me smile". Emotion. I love it when I can evoke a feeling from someone with my designs. I started to get all stressed out about what I was going to do for MPBN and then I decided to just have fun and do a whimsical piece. I had these two wonderful lampwork fish by Generations Lampwork so that was my inspiration for that was way too much fun! Well, off to work...You can see some of my designs at and please feel free to comment or ask questions!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Begnings

Welcome to my blog. I am fairly new to all this so please hang in there with me. My name is Dianne and I design and produce handcrafted gemstone and beaded jewelry. I know, so do a million other people. I think (and I have been told) that my designs are quite unique. I have been advised to have them professionally photographed for submission into various jewelry mags and such. I love what I do and they way I do it. I love the process and do not want to mass create. I really enjoy making one piece like no other. I guess I would not mind being published, but I am afraid that would take away from the spirit of it all. So at least for now I prefer to let those things come to me as they are meant to and not push the issue.
I have a little 12x10 studio at home where I can put on my Kenny G or other tunes and just create. My table is made from a 4x8 plywood and I have some old towels under a piece of cloth where I work so my gems are not rolling around. For shelves I have old bookcases and I have bulletin boards all over my walls for the gems so I can see what I have. So it is nothing fancy or elaborate but it works and it is comfortable. I know a lot of artists feel as though the surroundings in which one is inspired should have color and life and ta-da! I feel like those things get in the way when I am designing. I have some photos scattered kids, grand kids and my mom who passed away nearly 3 years ago now. I have this really goofy photo of her and it reminds me not to take all this too seriously. She was a very distinguished lady and this picture is so out of character it cracks me up every time I look at it.!
The only thing I want to change is the floor. When I pulled up a corner of the carpet to run my computer wires I found the most beautiful hardwood floor underneath. Needless to say the carpet is going this Spring!