Organic is Naturally Good

We often hear the word “organic”…what does it mean?  Natural, not processed.  Usually we hear that word about food or crops.

I’ve recently read it in a beading pattern book, describing man-made beads as “organic” and the finished patterns would have a more “organic” look than if machine-made or die-cast beads were used.   The “organic” look is good for retro or boho jewelry styles.  It doesn’t mean the finished product will be sloppy, it just means the beads will not always nestle as closely together as they would if they were machine-made or die-cast.

The word “organic” is also used in online marketing to describe human clicks versus robotic clicks.  So when you read something online about “all organic” traffic, that’s a good thing.

Now back to beads, machine-made beads such as Czech SuperDuo 2-hole beads, and Miyuki Delica seedbeads will produce designs with uniformity.

Non-machine made 2-hole twin beads, and lower quality rocaille seedbeads (not Miyuki Delica) will produce more “organic” designs with some obvious non-uniformities if you look closely.  Beadweavers are always looking closely as we create, and trying to use beads of approximately the same sizes when working with rocailles, or at least try to keep the work symmetrical.

That doesn’t mean the jewelry will look bad if some beads are a fraction of a millimeter different, the finished product will just look slightly more casual because of the compilation of the fraction of millimeter differences in dozens or hundreds of beads, not as slick as a design made completely from all uniformly sized beads.

Beading is a worldwide endeavor, not just among the artists, but among the actual bead makers.  Some of the most recognizable brands are from Austria (Swarovski), Czech Republic (Jablonex and Preciosa), and Japan (Miyuki).

Competition is also an issue among bead makers.  Swarovski uses a certain facet design on it’s crystals that’s different than the facet design by other lead-crystal makers, so buyers can be able to know they’re getting Swarovski and not some other brand.

Lead crystal contains 35% liquid lead mixed into the liquid glass, then when hardened, the crystals reflect full prism colors.

Glass does not reflect full prismatic color when held up to light, not even if coated with aurora-borealis coating.

Clear aurora-borealis is one of the most popular bead colors, maybe THE most popular.  Aurora-borealis creates an iridescent rainbow effect on the surface of the bead, but still does not compare to the sparkle of lead-crystal.

There are lots of other bead-coatings which give beads the effect of stone flecks, or gold/silver flecks, or different colors of iridescence, or an aged antiqued look.

“Iris” coating gives a multi-color metallic effect, people love the “iris” coated beads, they look like oil-slick rainbow colors, there are usually 3 or 4 different color variations in one “color” of iris coated beads.  Such as if you get Purple Iris, there will usually be purple, gold, dark blue, and possibly burgundy, all with a metallic sheen.  Used all together, they look great.  If you’re a bead-sorter, you can sort out several colors by buying one color of iris coated beads.

If you’re using man-made beads and not machine-made, using beads with a coating such as “iris” will most likely bring more audience appreciation to  your “organic” designs.

Thanks for reading, I hope all your online traffic is organic! 🙂

Sincerely, Kathleen VanBeekom

Something pinteresting happened…

I’ve gained more Pinterest followers in the last few days since I started this blog! 🙂

My passion for making jewelry caused me to make a list recently of the genres I’m most interested in, and it turned into a long list.

Then I asked myself some questions:

1. If I am able to create things for at least another 20 years, depending on eyesight and manual dexterity, how many different subjects of craft-making could I become expert at?

2. If I were the queen, how many personal jewelry makers in different genres would I like to have creating wearable art for me?

Okay, question one, I learn things very quickly, so if I can become very good at something within 3 months or sooner, I can well-learn 80 new things in 20 years.

Question two, we’re ALL the queen, and we can learn anything by watching Youtube and creating our own stuff!  You may think you’re a king, but if you become obsessed with creating jewelry, you have an inner “queen”!  There are lots of male jewelry makers out there who are great at it AND write books about it 🙂

I found out…

There are handmade “components” which are parts made by experts who sell those parts to people who are not experts.  For example, we can buy beaded peyote tubes, clay beads, glass lampwork beads, beaded squares, and beaded beads made by artists, and then create earrings, necklaces, etcetera, without the hassle of miniscule beadwork under a lighted magnifier, without making clay canes and slicing them, without doing glass-making with a blowtorch!  Wow.

I wonder if there are “finishers” for people who DO know how to make their own components but aren’t good at finishing the ends of the jewelry and adding clasps?  Hmmm….there’s a thought.

Actually, here’s a well-reviewed book I saw on Amazon about finishing jewelry: 200 Beading Tips, Techniques

Sometimes I see necklaces and realize I can make earrings from some of the smaller design areas of the necklace, that’s sometimes easier than making some of the earring patterns.   Lots of ideas occur from looking at things, Pinterest is a great place to get tons of ideas on many subjects, not just jewelry and wearable art.

Some people think the world is on Facebook, only about half the world is on Facebook…when the world sees Pinterest, they become completely absorbed in it because it’s so over-the-top visually stunning, there are billions of handmade items that are so expertly crafted in fine detail, that only human beings created by God could make all that greatness!

Thanks again for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy looking at handmade wearable art and find some things that fascinate you!

Sincerely, Kathleen VanBeekom

Goal-Chain-Deadline

You’ve probably seen chain maille (or chain mail) many times, it’s legendary since the days of medieval knights.   Now there are many colors of jumprings.

Chain maille makers are very adept at using pliers in both hands to open and close jumprings very quickly, sort of like Edward Scissorhands, only with pliers!

Some chain maille necklaces look better than crystal beadwoven necklaces, in my opinion.   Although beads and crystals can be added onto the jumprings, or ribbon woven through.

I once bought a book of designs for chain maille, and decided it wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I did memorize one very easy earring design.  I resold the book online approximately a week after I’d purchased it, someone bought it very quickly!   Either we know we want to do something or not do it, looking at numerous directions and videos made me realize I’d rather continue being a beadweaver!

Recently, I have used pliers in both hands to open & close a few rings to apply clasps on the ends of beaded jewelry, so over time, the thought of having pliers in both hands doesn’t seem so impossible…

The thought of ONLY doing chain maille for a prolonged amount of time is not what I want to do.

A few years ago I read an article about a woman who won a wearable-art designing contest that was announced a year in advance, so she immediately started planning and working on her design, using the entire year to create it…

She made a chain maille cloak in 3 colors of small jumprings that repeated in numerous cascading rows throughout the cape.  Each jumpring was connected to 4 surrounding jumprings, and the rows of colors blended into each other.

She made a careful plan and used the entire year to gradually work toward her goal, and she won.

Some people may think, well…opening and closing and connecting jumprings every day for a year?  That sounds too simple.  It’s not.  She most likely had to plan the color work on graph paper and also use pliers in both hands, and make sure each jumpring was connected to all surrounding jumprings.

She knew the deadline, made a solid plan, and divided her work into the days of an entire year.   Motivation, plan, and most importantly, longterm stick-to-it-ive-ness!  Wow!

Even something that may seem dull or daunting to other people, may be your major goal, and only you can make yourself to stick to it if the end result is important to you.

No matter how big a book is, no matter how many designs are shown to you, if you only learn one thing and utilize it, then you’ve learned something!  I’ve also had other jewelry design books, one of them had hundreds of pages and photos, and I learned a few small things I really liked, even though most of the book didn’t captivate my attention.

Find out what you like, what you have a strong passion to do, and become great at it on a daily basis!

Thanks for reading!

~Kathleen VanBeekom

Multi Strand Efforts

Maybe you’ve never heard of Kumihimo…it’s the art of Japanese braiding using a sort of funnel called a marudai.   Numerous different strands are woven in an organized way from the top and create a tightly formed braid that’s emitted from the bottom.

Do you remember the early 1970’s when macrame’ plant-holders and natural-color hemp jewelry were popular?  Now micro-macrame’ is a big thing in jewelry, some of the weaves contain as many as 30 thin strands in a variety of colors, all braided together to create fantastic accessories.

Those art forms may seem difficult to people who’ve never tried them (including me!), or don’t have the passion for creating fiber arts.

The same goes for people who’ve never tried internet marketing promotions, or don’t have the desire to do it or learn about it.

Either you want to, or you don’t…and if you DO, you stick with it UNTIL.   We know what comes after “until”…UNTIL you’re successful at it.   Your success is your own personal determination of how much success you want, a little or a lot or expert level.  Don’t let other people tell you you’re not successful if you’ve “only” earned $5 online or “only” just started creating wearable art offline.  Some people become very good at things within a short time, within weeks of consistency there’s a difference between knowing nothing and knowing enough to be very impressive.

The key word is Consistency.

You probably HAVE heard of multi-stream income, and creating a funnel of prospects, right?

Visualize your numerous different traffic sources and promotional efforts as individual strands being braided into one strong cord to create an income funnel.

Think of it as Promohimo…and instead of weaving strands of fiber down thru a marudai, you’re weaving safelists, traffic exchanges, classified ads, blogs, social networking into your prospect funnel.

Can you more easily visualize your promotional efforts as different strands of thin fiber, well-organized promotional efforts, funneling into your list-building so all your traffic sources combine to create a strong cord?

There’s a learning curve with internet marketing AND with wearable art, consistency is the key, and adding more strands (streams of traffic) into your work, AND being very organized.

I was looking for a book on micro-macrame’ at an offline book store, one of the nationwide well-known book stores, and I could only find one book about it, among hundreds of books for knitting/crochet.

There are lots of books about it on Amazon, so either the offline store was sold out (doubt it) or never had more than one book about it in the first place.  Why?  It’s a hot newer technique that’s become extremely popular in a short time and the offline book store probably didn’t realize people would be looking for books about it.  Just like online marketing is a hot dynamic technique that no offline bookstore has books about.  There ARE books about marketing on the internet, but they don’t get into the nitty-gritty daily everythingness and how quickly it changes.

Why look in an offline book store?  I wanted to see the entire inner book before buying it, thank goodness I found ONE book to look at so I could determine whether or not I want to approach micro-macrame’ and I decided “ummm….don’t think so!”

I don’t blame people who quit internet marketing quickly after starting, some things are just very detailed and there are no books that actually reflect the day-to-day dynamics of it.  My best advice is to stay organized, consistent, and visualize your goal of a strong cord of prospects/sales emitting from your multi-strand promotional efforts.

Create your own daily PROMOHIMO!

by Kathleen VanBeekom

Evergreen Activities

Online, there’s an expression…”evergreen”…that usually refers to products and services.

What does evergreen mean?  It means something that never goes out of style.  Activities can also be evergreen, such as creating, selling, earning.  Everyone has engaged in these activities since the beginning of mankind, whether we realize we’re doing it or not, we are.

Evergreen products: Beads, jewelry, fashion accessories.

Evergreen services: Offering quality, beauty, satisfaction.  Satisfaction is a service? Of course it is, THAT is what people REALLY buy!

Evergreen activities: Creating, displaying, selling, earning.

There are many online venues to sell handmade jewelry, such as Etsy, Artfire, Ebay, Facebook store, Amazon, or your own site.

Offline selling can either be done individually or thru consignment shops.

When consigning offline, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the shop’s current  stock, and have some idea of what the clientele is interested in buying.

I’ve sold online and offline, and I don’t recommend consignment shops unless you’re satisfied with the commission/profit-margin.  Most consignment shops are 60/40, which means you’ll only get 40% of the selling price, which is usually set by the store owner, not by you.

Two consignment shops I’ve contacted set necklace prices at only a maximum of  $9 and $12, so a 40% commission at those shops would be only $3.60 and $4.80.  The only way to make a good profit margin would be to create single-strand items containing lowcost beads.

If you put in a lot of time and expensive beads and components, you definitely don’t want to share your profits.  Selling online is your best choice, especially at venues such as Etsy or Artfire, which dominantly  feature handmade items that are appreciated by other artists who know the time and skill it takes to make sellable creations.

More about sellability and knowing your clientele base:

Several years ago, the owner of a consignment shop told me bright colors sometimes  don’t sell quickly.  She said the best color choices for her clientele were clear, pastels, metallics, black, or dark browns.  She told me the only colors that sell well are blue and teal.
“Clear” is an extremely popular bead color, also sometimes just called “crystal” as a color name.

Of course, bright colors sell best prior to certain holidays, such as red and pink for Valentine’s Day, and green for St. Patrick’s Day,  bright candy colors for Easter, and orange for Halloween.

Different climates sometimes determine what colors people choose, warmer climate dwellers seem to like brighter colors all year round.

Sometimes you’ll also find people who have a favorite color or combination and they’ll buy a lot of what they like.

Different stringing materials:

Some people do beadweaving with beading thread and beading needles, and other people use monofilament and weave by hand, which is a little slower but takes less preparation and no likelihood of shredding the prior weave work with more needle-passes.  Stringing materials for beadweaving need to be thin enough to pass through a less-than-one-millimeter in diameter hole numerous times.

If you make single-strand items, your stringing material should be chosen by how heavy your project will be, such as if you use large clay, glass, or stone beads, you probably want to use heavy jewelry wire.

When selling online, you need very clear photos of your items, and descriptions which usually include lengths in metric if you’re selling worldwide.

Thanks for reading more of the microcosms of handmade jewelry!  Stay tuned for more JoolryTalk.

By Kathleen VanBeekom

Since Dragons Are Extinct…

Anyone who keeps up with the current handmade jewelry scene knows that dragon skin is the “IN” thing!  We all know dragons are difficult to find anywhere 😉 so making anything from dragon skin is difficult, actually impossible…UNLESS..using super-duo beads in peyote stitch to imitate dragon skin!

Super-duo beads are the reason I recently became re-involved with beadweaving.  Super-duo beads are slightly larger than a grain of rice, 5 millimeters long by 2 millimeters wide, with two holes on the long side.  These beads nestle together when woven in peyote stitch, forming a smooth tight weave with a scaly pattern, resembling some sort of reptilian skin…Dragon Skin!

The main problem of handmade jewelry makers using super-duo beads is…sometimes there are blocked holes.  Oh no!  Super-duo beads have 2 holes, less than a millimeter in diameter, and when doing peyote beadweaving stitch to create dragon skin, we sometimes don’t realize the second hole in a bead is blocked until we try to string thru it later in the weave…and by that time, we have to unstring part of our work to replace the bead if we can’t unblock the hole by poking it with a small sharp object.  Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be a hole where there should be one, sort of like a one-eyed bead 😦 Unstringing a beadwoven project to replace a bead, and then getting back to where we were before…is a royal pain and a waste of time!

What to do?  Check each bead while weaving, it’s helpful to use a lighted magnifier for beadworking and that makes it easy to check each bead for double hole clearance before stringing each one.  If you don’t have a lighted magnifier, you’ll need to hold each bead up to the nearest light source and see if light shines thru both holes, or get a helper to do that for you before starting a project.  A helper?  Like a kid or grandkid!

I’ve found it easier to hold my work up vertically while doing double-needle (or no-needle double-strand by hand) peyote with super-duo beads, stringing one bead on both threads, and then two beads (one on each thread) and repeating, until the first row is done.  It goes quickly that way when starting a long row.

I used to avoid “ugly” colors such as some shades of green, but nowadays with the popularity of dragon skin projects, colors such as olivine picasso are flying off the shelves of bead stores and bead sites!

“Olivine” is easy to figure out, that’s an olive green color.  What’s “picasso”?  Well, not just an old famous painter, “picasso” is an effect applied to glass beads to create specks of stone coloration.  So if a beader makes  “dragon skin” in the color “olivine picasso” that would be peyote stitched beadwork from super-duo beads in olive color flecked with stone effect.

Peyote stitch beadweaving is a Native American weave, now known worldwide and used by beaders to make small intricately designed earrings and tubes, and three-dimensional beadwork, and also used to make large areas of beadwork, large enough to make purses and clothing.

Now you know which beads, which stitch, and which colors are best for making dragon skin, since dragons are extinct!

Some beaders actually create beaded dragons from super-duo beads.

Be careful about showing this blog post to your wife, she may become very interested in beading and turn into a “dragon lady!”

by Kathleen VanBeekom