Visibility

If you are trying to sell your work and/or make a name for yourself in the jewelry community, there are many things you can do to increase sales. One important step is to simply get your work – and yourself – seen. In this post, we’ll look at a few ways to increase your visibility!

• Wear it! As simple as this sounds, wearing your own jewelry creations is a great way to increase your visibility. Think about how many people you interact with every day. You may receive some comments on your piece, and feedback is a useful tool to keep in your mental toolbox.

• Approach galleries and shops about showing your work. Ask about their policies and how to submit your work for consideration.

• Enter contests. Watch your favorite web sites, blogs, organizations, and businesses for calls for entry in contests and design challenges. If a specific theme or set of materials is required, this can also be a fun way to challenge yourself to branch into new designs and mediums. Right now Lark Crafts has an open call for their Showcase 500 Necklaces book. (By the way, we have their 500 Bracelets and 500 Plastic Jewelry Designs in stock and can order others in the series on request!)

• Join a local metals guild or other art or craft organization. Here in Seattle, the Seattle Metals Guild holds lectures, symposiums, contests, parties, and other events where you can network with your creative community.

• Attend conferences. Did you make it to the SNAG conference this year? I didn’t, but I sure wished I could have been there! If you’re able to attend large conferences like the one sponsored by the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG), I highly recommend going. You will learn so much and meet so many creative people from across the globe, it will make your head spin!

• Volunteer to help with an event, whether local or major. It’s a good way to get to know others in the organization, and sometimes you can get a reduced (or even free) admission if you help run the event.

• Look for meet-ups and events in your area. If you can’t find one, start one yourself! Try Meetup.com for gatherings that interest you. They don’t necessarily have to be jewelry related. Getting to know folks with different interests can broaden your social and professional circles and give you more opportunity to talk about what you do.

• As Leah mentioned in The Care and Feeding of Customers, social media is a great way to show your work to customers and other artists.

• Blog! Share your creative process, ideas, reviews, and photos of your work on your own blog. Post regularly so your fans will stay engaged and want to come back and read more.

• Web site or online store. Have a graphic designer create a professional site that fits your personality and the style of your work. If this is out of your price range, there are free and low-cost options for creating an online portfolio, such as Behance, Etsy, and Artfire.

I hope some of these ideas will help you make connections and build a fan base of customers and fellow artists. Increase your visibility and develop your professional and social networks and watch your business grow!

Check back later in the week for more tips on professionalism!
-Lani Dearmin
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Caring For Your Tools

Jewelry Wire CuttersSo you’ve decided to invest in some jewelry making tools. Hooray! A world of creativity is opening to you. But how do you take care of your tools to keep them in good condition for years to come?

    • One easy way to help maintain your tools is to use the right tool for the job. For example, using wire cutters for a thicker gauge of wire than they are rated for can reduce the life of the tool significantly.
    • It’s important to keep steel tools dry. Water plus steel equals rust! Wipe down tools with cloth or paper towels if you detect any moisture on them.
    • Next time you purchase a product and find a silica gel pack in the packaging, don’t throw it away! Instead, throw the pack into a drawer or toolbox where tools are stored. It will absorb moisture within the enclosed space and help keep tools from rusting.
    • If there are certain hammers you rarely use, or if you need to put them in storage for a long time, protect the hammer faces with petroleum jelly, wax, or oil. This will help keep rust away.
    • Keep hammer faces that you use directly on your jewelry piece free of pits and marks. You can sand and polish hammers before the first use and as needed in the future. In his book The Complete Metalsmith, Tim McCreight recommends a stiff muslin buff with an abrasive compound such as White Diamond for polishing hammers and stakes. A smooth, polished hammer face prevents marks from transferring onto your piece.
Chasing Hammer
    • Use separate hammers or mallets for striking steel tools such as chasing punches. The hardened steel is likely to mar the hammer face, so it’s best not to use your best planishing hammer for stamping.
    • Always lubricate burs, drills and saw blades when using them on metal.
    • Files are made to work in one direction. Sawing back and forth with your file will cause it to wear down more quickly. Push the file forward against the metal, then lift it on the return stroke.
    • Files can also be damaged if they are allowed to rub together. Instead of throwing them together in a drawer, create a way to separate them. This might be a partitioned holder on your bench, or perhaps a magnetic strip on the wall.
    • Keep files clean by brushing them with a file cleaner after each use. This will keep metal particles from building up and eventually damaging the file surface.
    • Motorized machines such as flexshafts should be oiled periodically to keep moving parts in good condition. Follow manufacturer recommendations regarding how often a lubricant should be applied and the type of oil or grease to use.

I hope these tips help you keep your tools in good shape as you build up your workshop. You might want to check out this article for some other ideas on tool care and safety, too!

-Lani Dearmin

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

It’s Inspiration Week here at Seattle Findings! I for one am very interested in hearing about all the places where we can find inspiration for our jewelry designs.
Are you like me, inspired by the natural world? Or do urban or industrial settings spark your imagination? Do you get ideas from pictures in books? What about visiting museums and galleries? Do you follow other artists’ new work or study the great masters of the past? Or are you a fashionista with your finger on the pulse of the newest trends in fashion?
I’ll make you a deal. I’ll tell you about my inspiration and creative process on one student piece if you leave a comment about what inspires you.
It was January, and my husband and I were visiting Olympic National Park. On a trail in the Hoh Rainforest, we came across a herd of 20 to 30 elk in the woods. We all looked at each other, the elk and the humans. Some of the animals were resting in the undergrowth, regarding us with cautious eyes. Others were walking slowly among the trees like drifting spirits of the forest. It was quite a profound experience.
I wanted to honor this experience with a piece of jewelry in my North Seattle Community College class. I thought the great antlers of the elk would translate well to the chain and linkage assignment. In preparation, I went to Woodland Park Zoo and took pictures and video of the captive elk. How did they move? What did their faces look like from different angles? At home, I looked for pictures online. By the time I started sawing the copper sheet, I felt I had a good understanding of the animal I was depicting.
When I look back at this piece, I see things I might do differently now that I know more chasing and repousse techniques, and maybe I’d finish it with a patina next time. But I’ll always remember the inspiration and how I chose to honor it. Lucky for me, there’s no end to the variations I could create on this subject. That’s one wonderful thing about art — one piece can inspire the next, and the next, in a long and winding path from that first whatever-it-was that inspired you to begin with.
Okay, your turn! Where have you found inspiration?
-Lani Dearmin

Hi-yo, Silver!

It’s “Juneuary” in Seattle again! June is off to a cloudy and rainy start. Good thing there are so many creative things to be made indoors. They say every cloud has a silver lining, and I can sure see a lot of clouds out the window. What better time to talk about working with silver?

Students often ask about the difference between sterling silver and fine silver. Here’s a little about both types and some pros and cons of each as they pertain to jewelry making.
Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver metal. It’s also referred to as .999 silver. Fine silver is softer and more malleable than sterling. This may be a pro or a con, depending on your application. I like to use fine silver bezel wire to set cabochons because it is easy to push the bezel around the stone and burnish it smooth.

One fun way to experiment with fine silver is to design with Precious Metal Clay. Silver PMC works like clay and can be fired with a torch or kiln to create fine silver pieces.
Fine silver can be fused without using solder, and it doesn’t blacken when heated to fusing or soldering temperatures.
The main con of working with fine silver is that it can be more fragile because it is more easily bent, dented, or broken.

Sterling silver is an alloy of silver and copper. The silver content is 92.5%, and sterling is often referred to as .925 silver. The small amount of copper in the mix makes the metal harder and stronger than fine silver, yet it retains the beautiful look of silver. Sterling is strong enough to be used in earwires and other jewelry components such as clasps, where fine silver is usually too soft.

Whether you prefer to fabricate your pieces from sterling sheet metal and wire or cast your designs with sterling casting grain, there’s a form of sterling silver to fit your project. And don’t forget the sterling silver chains and findings to complete your jewelry creations!

On the con side, the copper content of sterling will cause it to tarnish over time, but you can always polish it up again. It will also blacken during soldering due to oxidation. You can reduce firescale by coating your piece with flux during soldering. Oxidation that does occur can be removed with picking and polishing after soldering.

Have fun experimenting with fine silver and sterling silver and find what works best for your applications. We’d love to hear how your projects turn out!
-Lani Dearmin

Organizing Your Workspace

 

Keeping all your tools and supplies organized at your bench or workspace can be a challenge. All those drill bits, burs, hammers, saw blades, bits of sheet metal, wire, beads, and stones! I spoke to professional organizer Linda Deppa for some tips on keeping it all under control. Give these ideas a try and see how they work for you!

First, keep the things you use most frequently within arm’s reach. If you have to go far to put your tools away, you’ll be more likely to skip it and leave them in a pile on your bench! A small tool organizer can keep things together on your bench top without taking up a lot of space. Racks or drawers right next to your bench are great for storing tools nearby.

Second, maximize your vertical space. This may mean installing some shelving on your walls. I have a bookshelf right next to my bench. Not only are my reference books easy to grab — and easy to put away — but I can keep stackable storage containers of stones, beads, and components together within easy reach.
Third, Linda recommends storing like with like. For example, organizing stones by color and then by size in your containers can help you find them quickly and be ready to get to work sooner.
What organizational tips do you have? Feel free to leave comments and let us know what works for you!

Special thanks to Linda Deppa of Uncluttered Professional Organizing for the organizational tips!

-Lani Dearmin

Students Welcome

The first time I walked into Seattle Findings Jewelry Supplies & Tools, I was a jewelry student in need of a few basic supplies. I remember looking around the store, feeling both curious and overwhelmed by the variety of supplies and tools of mysterious function. As a student, everything was new and exciting. I looked forward to learning how to use all of these tools and materials in my classes, and now I knew exactly where to go when it was time to start building my home studio.

Even though I felt a little shy about asking questions because I was a beginner, I found the staff at Seattle Findings to be super friendly and helpful. They were just as happy to help a bewildered student as to find an item for a seasoned jeweler. Friendliness goes a long way in my book.

Time passed, and I learned more about all those tools, materials, and techniques. And at some point it hit me that Seattle Findings would be a pretty cool place to work. Luckily, I had the opportunity to find out that it was true – it IS a cool place to work. The people are just as friendly as my first impression implied. We have a lot of fun in the store and enjoy talking to our regular customers and new visitors alike. It’s fascinating to hear what projects artists, hobbyists, and jewelers are working on. But I must admit that I most love seeing students come into the store. I recognize that wide-eyed look of curiosity and excitement that often appears on their faces when they walk through the door. Their enthusiasm can be contagious, and it’s so rewarding to help them begin this journey into a world of creativity!


About me:
LaniMy name is Lani Dearmin and I’m excited to be a part of the new blog team here at Seattle Findings! I am a student of metalsmithing and jewelry making, having taken classes in North Seattle Community College’s jewelry design program and workshops at Danaca Design. I continue to take classes whenever I can. I love hearing about our customers’ projects and plans. What are YOU working on? I’m looking forward to sharing project ideas, bench tips, store and industry news, and all kinds of good stuff with our readers. Let’s get our creative on!