Getting Ready to Roll

When I was first getting my studio put together I knew that a rolling mill was a must have for my design style. I was planning to pattern sheet and wire, reduce metal thicknesses,roll wire, and create graduated wire. And having my own rolling mill would give me the opportunity to do some fold forming and of course to create sheet from ingots that I’ve made from my scrap.But what a big commitment to make! I knew that I wanted a tool that would last a lifetime,or maybe longer. After doing a lot of research, I decided that a 120 millimeter combination with reduction gear would work perfectly in my studio. For what I needed the choices quickly narrowed down to only two, a Cavallin or a Durston rolling mill.

The Cavallin Rolling Mill is made in Italy, the Durston in England. Both of them are well-regarded and have been in business for many, many years. The Cavallin had pulled out of the US market for a few years ago but is back,stronger than ever.

I checked with several metalsmithing friends who have their own rolling mills. Two of them were kind enough to let me come into their Studios to play with both a Durston and Cavallin Mill.

I arrived with annealed metals, Copper and silver sheet, to my friend’s Studio. Her Durston is a beautiful machine. I easily rolled my 20 gauge silver down to a 24 gauge. And, she had some pattern papers that we ran the copper through with. All in all we had a lot of fun and the Durston is a terrific Mill. I was almost sold on the Durston at that exact moment, but I had already set up a time with the other friend to take a look at their Cavallin. A few days later I went to his Studio. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did.

Once again, I brought annealed metals, 20 gauge copper and 20 gauge sterling silver sheets to run through his machine. Because I was trying to compare the Cavallin and the Durston, I did everything that I had done before. I rolled the sterling silver down to a 24 gauge. I found it easier to do with the Cavallin mill. It was a true pleasure to work with and seemed a natural fit in my hands. My Durston friend had given me some of the patterned paper that we had used on her mill. I used this again on the copper sheet that I brought with excellent results.

After my Durston VS Cavallin test I came to the conclusion that both the Durston and the Cavallin are versatile, excellent quality Rolling Mills. They both offer excellent customer support, especially now that the Cavallin is represented in the United States again. The Cavallin simply felt “better” to me.

So, as you can probably tell by now, I ended up purchasing a Cavallin Rolling Mill for myself. I could not be happier with how much this has improved my work. I can’t imagine not having one at hand. The rolling mill in my studio makes my life so much easier, not to mention it saves me a lot of time! Time I can use to drink coffee and work on metals.

Precious Gemstones

Talented artisans often make fine jewelry to sell at online or brick-and-mortar stores. Specialists create expensive bracelets, earrings and necklaces from rare gemstones including emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Jewelry designers fasten gemstones in attractive settings made of precious metals such as silver, platinum and gold. Many individuals study jewelry making at universities or training schools. Both women and men enjoy wearing jewelry items such as wedding rings. Depending on its style, a jewelry item might be appropriate for everyday wear or special occasions. Anyone interested in being a professional jewelry maker can contact schools about learning this art.
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“Home of the Rainbows” Rainbow Fluorite

A semi-precious gemstone, Rainbow Fluorite is famous for its beautiful bands of color, often seen side by side creating a stunning striped look. These bands, called zones are most often seen in purple and green. Less commonly seen are yellow, pink, reddish-orange, blue, black, brown or colorless stones. Because of the colors and its beauty, Rainbow Fluorite (also called fluorspar) is often called “the most colorful mineral in the word.”

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Revisiting Failure

When I first started soldering, I knew that it would be a breeze. After all you are just sticking two pieces of metal together right? Well guess what! Just heating up the metal with a torch does not necessarily work and I burnt every one of my fingers in the process too! Both my project and I were a mess! I was frustrated and decided that I would “never” learn how to solder. Soldering was tossed by the wayside and I concentrated on other aspects of jewelry making.

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Better Living Through Your Flex Shaft!

Better Living Through Your Flex Shaft!
My Flexshaft changed my life! Well okay, maybe not my “life”, but definitely my bench life! I reach for it more than any other item on my bench.
For those of you not familiar with a Flexshaft, it is a system that consists of a motor ( most often one that hangs ) and has a long drive shaft connected to it, a foot pedal, and a handpiece. The foot pedal runs the motor, like a gas pedal. The motor turns the drive shaft, which is locked into the handpiece on the other end. The handpiece can be used with literally thousands of different attachments. Next to a jewelers bench they are one of the most recognizable items linked to the profession. They are also often one of the most misunderstood tools, many seem to think that it is only for drilling!

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Meet the Guest Bloggers!

Richard Paille

My jewelry career began in 1970. Following college and a tour in the US Army I opened a retail jewelry studio in Seattle called “Dick Paille Handcrafted Jewelry” and began classes with the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) studying diamonds, colored stones and gem identification.

Richard PailleIn 1972 I moved to a new location in Seattle and opened a larger store, Dick Paille Jewelry. I worked long hours “at the bench” in the store’s manufacturing shop, managed employees, wrote & published a newsletter, met with sales reps, worked with customers and attended trade shows several times each year. Six day work weeks were typical. The 70’s were demanding but rewarding years in my early career where I learned the retail jewelry business.

In 1980 I sold the store following an inner call to design jewelry for a national market selling my work at shows across the US, in retail jewelry stores and Galleries.

In 1991 a new opportunity arose and I became involved in Black Pearl farming in the Cook Islands starting the business, “South Pacific Pearls International.” That was an exciting period with many trips to the South Pacific & Australia where we filmed several documentaries on pearl farming and opal mining.

In 2008 I decided to travel less and find ways to share my career experiences with others. I started a jewelry making school, Learn2MakeJewelry which is my focus today. Teaching has brought new rewards, renewed energy and excitement to my 42 years in jewelry. I also consult on jewelry matters and speak to groups on various jewelry related subjects

-Amelia Upton

Put the WOW in your Jewelry Photos

Now your jewelry is done, and it looks great! So you take a quick picture, post it and your jewelry will sell itself…..right? Well maybe. People often find that taking pictures of their art is far more difficult then they first imagined. To really impact your sales you will need to post good, clear pictures of your work. Good images of your jewelry areal so very valuable for your business cards, flyers, brochures, and any other marketing pieces you make.

Your photographs will need proper lighting, sharpness, exposure, and in the case of gemstones, some sparkle. Achieving these goals can be challenging but doesn’t need to be overwhelming. To me one of the most important aspects of great photos is lighting. Most jewelry is highly reflective. Light bounces off in all directions. It can create “hot spots”, unwanted shiny spots that are difficult to remove, and it can keep details of your work in shadow. Lighting is one of the trickiest but most important factors in jewelry photography. Soft, diffused lighting works best for jewelry shots.

You have probably already discovered that the on-camera flash does not lead to good jewelry photos. Not only is the flash too bright at such a close distance, but they are usually in the wrong position to actually light up the jewelry properly. Using a light box or photo tent will help guard against glare and get your lighting just right. Now the commercial light boxes and tents can be quite expensive, but you can easily make your own quick, cheap photo tent or light box for taking better jewelry photos from everyday items. Take a piece of white translucent fabric and devise a way to hang them between your lights and your jewelry. A sheet, some nylon even on old white T-shirt all work well. You can also use a large plastic container and direct the light through the top or sides. Natural light is by far the best light that you can use, but artificial light also works very well. When using artificial light for your jewelry photos, you’ll get the best results with some sort of natural daylight bulbs.

The other critical and challenging element in jewelry photography is getting sharp, close up photos that show your designs beauty in sharp detail. To really get close and sharp you need a macro lens on your camera. Next you need to set your cameras depth-of-field in your camera. Your camera should be set to manual mode so that the smallest aperture setting can be selected. For consumer cameras use F8.0, for professional camera use F16.0. This allows you to focus on the entire piece of jewelry, rather than only parts of it. I also highly recommend you to mount your camera to a Tripod to get the sharpest photographs possible. If you hold the camera with your hands, no matter how steady you are, the camera will move slightly and your photos will have blur.

Now some of the tech stuff is out of the way let’s get down to the fun part, setting up your shots! No matter how technically perfect the shots are it needs YOUR touch to be creative. You will want a non competing background. HINT: Scrapbook paper, lots of amazing designs. Move your pieces around to see what is most pleasing to the eye, watch the line of the necklace when it’s laid out. Angle your ring to show off the lines. You can have a bracelet, ring, or other piece stand up dramatically with no visible support by using a little bees wax under the jewelry to hold it in the position you want. You can then move the digital camera on its tripod to whatever angle will give you the best shot of the jewelry. You can also suspend an item by fishing line to get that floating look. Getting someone to model your jewelry is also a great way to show it off. You may also want to have pictures of your jewelry being worn by someone. The pictures don’t have to be a big production. Some of the most elegant jewelry photos are taken outside in nature, among the elements.

Now that you have some great shots, you may need to do a little photo editing to crop, resize, and adjust your shots. Don’t have Photoshop? Not to worry I often use a free, easy photo editor called Gimp 2.6. (Get the free Gimp download.) Relax and have fun with your images, practice, practice, practice . Soon your images will have the same WOW factor that your pieces have!

-Leah Alden Jaswal

Everybody’s Doing It

socialSocial Media is now part of almost everyone’s life. It now plays a big role in how people interact with each other. Community is everything and people enjoy being part of a business that brands themselves proactively. If you’re reading this and you don’t have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, stop right now and go get started on both! Facebook now has nearly 400 Million active users! It is now the size of the country of Germany, and is adding over 1/2 Million new users per day! Twitter is not as big but is also growing fast.But don’t stop at Facebook and Twitter, Google +, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a blog will also help get you out in front of your audience, your customers! Once you get your pages and tweets and blogs going it is important to keep up with them. Yes it can seem like a lot of work, but isn’t the time you put into your creations a lot of work? If you post in your blog regularly, you can auto update both Facebook and Twitter from your blog posts. Remember a highly effective social media strategy can take just 20 minutes a day. Offer incentives, post new ideas, whatever expresses you and your jewelry. NOTE: Please,please you cannot, must not hard sell directly or blatantly spam your follows, or they will unfollow you quickly! delete
Social media allows you to create and maintain meaningful and personal relationships with customers and potential customers in ways that other avenues don’t. By remaining active on social media, you make yourself part of a community, which encourages people to take interest in your business, and hopefully convert this interest into sales. Social media does not have to be wildly over complicated. Just concentrate on offering value, incentives, and interacting. The rest will follow!
-Leah Alden Jaswal

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