Storytelling with Shape in Jewelry Design

All the elements of design tend to have certain connotations to makers and viewers. Shape is no different. Rectilinear geometric shapes, for example, often create a feeling of something artificial, man-made, architectural, or structural. Some people may consider these shapes more masculine, intellectual, planned, thoughtful, or contrived. They may seem aloof, rigid, distant, stable, dependable. Such shapes may feel conservative—even the slang term “square” means out of step with the times. Continue reading

More on Figure/Ground in Jewelry Design

Being clear about which shapes or group of shapes is the subject or focus of a jewelry piece helps you direct the viewer’s attention to where you want it. If the visual weight of the figure (focal point) and the ground (background) are equal—in area, contrast, color, or texture–the eye can’t tell what the “subject” is.

You’ve probably seen the classic visual exercise used to help people see the relationship between the subject and background in a work. Continue reading

Retailing Artisan Jewelry at Shows

Naturally when you think of marketing your production line you have to figure out how to reach that market. You can get your jewelry directly to the wearer by selling it to her (or him) directly, through retail sales. You might also wholesale your work–sell to an intermediary who marks it up and then presents it to potential buyers. You can even do both. Whatever choices you make are going to affect the venues at which you sell your product, the support materials you need, the price point, and even may affect the product itself. Let’s look at retailing first.

Most jewelry makers start their careers by selling directly to friends, family members co-workers—the people who will wear their jewelry. When you want to step it up, you’ll want to move on to one—or several—of the venues open to retails sales of handmade craft jewelry. And there are lots of them. They include online venues, such as your own website or a marketplace such as Etsy, or face-to-face venues, such as home parties, street fairs, pop-up boutiques, co-op galleries, charity shows. But some of the most popular places to sell artisan jewelry are local, regional, or national art and craft fairs.

Retail shows are great places to sell production work. People who attend shows are usually open to being engaged by the unusual or whimsical. They are looking for something special, something that “speaks” to them. In addition, customers at shows are often predisposed to buy something. Because show visitors usually buy on impulse, you have a better chance of making a sale if your appealing product has an affordable price tag. And affordable and appealing is exactly what your production artisan jewelry should be.

Don’t leave your one-of-a-kind pieces at home, however. While your production line provides steady sales, you might find yourself selling your more expensive, one-of-a-kind pieces as well simply because you are on hand to explain your work and make a personal connection to the customers.

Unique or limited edition work sells best when the customer can talk directly to the artist. Customers at art and craft fairs want to hear your story. It is what makes your jewelry personal to them.

As you tell your story, and explain why the work is unique, you begin building rapport with the buyer. This builds trust–which makes shows a great place to take custom orders, too.

Retailing at shows involves expenses and planning. First, you have to forecast how much work you’ll need to take with you and invest in the cost of materials. There will also be the costs of travel—gas or airfare, hotels, and food, if you’re going far. You’ll need cases, signage and lighting. You’ll want insurance if you have concerns about theft. There are booth fees and commission fees to the show sponsor. Many shows are held outside so there is always the chance of being rained out, or unseasonably hot weather.

But selling retail can be exciting. You get to talk directly to people who love your work enough to buy it. It’s also a great way to get feedback on the work—what customers like or don’t like, what sells and doesn’t sell and to what audiences. All information you need to alter, improve or target your work more closely to your audience.

Positive and Negative Shapes in Jewelry Design

Shapes in design are never seen alone. They are always seen in relationship to the shapes or the area around them. This is because, at its simplest level, the mind sees everything as either/or. It puts whatever it sees into one of two general categories: this/that, friend/foe, dark/light, good/bad, edible/inedible, important/unimportant, and so on. Continue reading

Shape in Jewelry Design

Two terms describe the dimensionality of elements in jewelry: shape and form. Shape refers to the outline of a flat, two-dimensional area; form refers to the volume of space occupied by three-dimensional objects. Continue reading

Use Line to Create Meaning in Jewelry Design

Depending on the type of line you use in a jewelry design, its thickness, and direction, you can invest the piece with meaning. It can affect the impact your piece has on viewers and whether they continue to look at your work or walk away. Continue reading

Thinking about Branding

Branding. The buzzword of the 21st century.

The time to start thinking about your brand is the moment you start planning your production line. Brand decisions affect everything–from the type of jewelry you make to the materials and techniques you use, to your Facebook page, to the clothes you wear to show off or complement your jewelry. Having your brand clearly in mind can save you going down unprofitable, confusing, or time-consuming side paths.

Branding is all about recognition. It not only lets customers immediate identify your product but associate it with the tangible and intangible characteristics of that product: quality of materials and workmanship, design idea, price point, audience, cachet, dependability, and even the personality of the manufacturer. Brands live or die on their ability to deliver on those expectations consistently. Continue reading

Lines and Gesture in Jewelry Design

Do you draw conclusions about your friends, family members, doctors, or first grade teachers from their handwriting: neat, repressed, artistic, bold and so on? In the same way, the line gesture in your work tells its own story. Continue reading