Pricing handmade jewelry has come up in conversation several times recently, so I thought it would be good to talk about it here.  Let's face it: setting the right price for your work is scary business.  You don't want to undervalue your work; you want it to be recognized for the time and expertise that goes into each piece made.  But, you also don't want to overvalue it so that those who love your jewelry can't afford to buy it.  Just thinking about it sends me screaming.  Not literally, but you get my point.

Even though it can be daunting, pricing is something every artist who wants to sell his or her work has to consider.  And before I continue, I'll be the first to say I'm no expert in this; I am learning as I go.  But if you're going to sell your work and run a profitable business, it's important to not only cover your costs but also ensure you are generating enough income from which to live (or whatever your goals are).  Costs to be considered are material costs, how much you'll charge for your time/labor, and overhead costs.  You also need to consider your profit percentage; this value is important so that you're not just breaking even!  There are wholesale vs. retail prices to consider if you will be displaying your work in a boutique, for example, that will sell your jewelry on your behalf.  Also, what will the market allow?  And while I don't think this plays a huge role, I believe there's a subjective aspect to pricing.  After considering the above, the prices you set have to feel right to you.

This thought process led me to look closer at my own formula for setting prices on jewelry.  I made some adjustments for the better; now my pricing feels right, too.  And I'll see how it goes...pricing isn't set in stone.  I believe it can change with the level of one's experience and what the market demands.  But it's good to set initial pricing at fair and reasonable values, for both the artist and the buyer, to begin with.

With that said, here's my newest creation: pretty sterling silver earrings with blue topaz cabochons and accenting silver granules (with a carefully considered price, I might add :)).

So, if you've read to the end of this post - thanks.  I have a treat for you: use coupon code SPOOKY for 15% off all jewelry purchases in my shop through 10-31-2011.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Christina

Recently I spent time with friends on a hike at Sope Creek Trail in Marietta, GA.  It was great to get outside and breathe in the fresh Fall air, even if only for a few hours.  The scenery was gorgeous with lots of sunshine, colorful leaves, a babbling creek and a beautiful lake.  One of the highlights was getting to see the ruins of a Civil War era paper mill that was burned by Union soldiers in 1864.  I was impressed the ruins had survived this long with the built-up surrounding areas.

A few pics. from the hike:

Fall color

Sope Creek

Part of the paper mill ruins. The shadows cast on the stone were dramatic.

One of the great things about living in north Georgia is that you don't have to drive far to find such serene, secluded places.  I really should take advantage of that more often.

So, being outdoors was just the inspiration I needed to finish another jewelry project.  I began working on these copper bangle bracelets in my metalsmithing class, but needed to finish the one in the middle to make a complete set I was happy with.  I love the contrast among the different textures!  These were made from a nice, thick gauge of copper wire, thicker than the one I showed you before.  A similar set can now be ordered in my shop.  I'm enjoying the beauty of copper, especially when given a patina and tumbled to a shine; it has a warmth to it.

I hope you enjoyed your weekend too, and have a great upcoming week!

Christina

Yesterday Chad and I spent time at a local Greek festival that occurs each October.  When I see signs displayed for it in the weeks prior, I know that Fall has arrived.  I love the smells and taste of the food, hearing the cheerful "Opa"s!, and listening to the music play.  It never fails to be bright, cool and breezy.  It is a slice of heaven.

In the past week I've been busy making new jewelry and rethinking the backdrops I previously used for photographing some of my pendants.  I kept looking at my photos and something wasn't quite right; my design sense told me the photos were too busy.  Sometimes, less is more.

So, the photo of my hammered ovals pendant went from this:

to this:

Aaaah, that's much better. :)  My photos will evolve over time, but I was starting to lose sleep over that one.

Today I added the first pair of earrings to my shop.  I love these earrings, so much that I made 2 pairs...one to keep (ha!) and one to sell.  I had no intention of keeping a pair, but when I saw how beautifully the first ones turned out, I couldn't sell them!  I laughed because that's a habit I don't want to start but knew I'd feel that way sooner or later.

Here's the pair that IS for sale:

Copper and Sterling Silver Half Disc Earrings

Did you notice my maker's mark on the back of the earrings?  I found a fellow Etsian who makes stamps/tools for metal and asked him to create a stamp for me.  (His stamps are art themselves!)  I love that I can easily mark my jewelry with the same signature I apply to my drawings and paintings.

This past week I made a few small strides in metalworking.  With each piece I make, I learn what works and what doesn't; hands-on experience is the best kind.  And while some of it may still be Greek to me, it's a language I plan to master.

Dear blog readers,

I can't tell you how happy I've been playing, I mean working, at creating my first jewelry pieces.  I've had the desire to work with precious metal for months, but had no idea how much I'd enjoy it.  I've had days where I've woken up early and gone to bed late, simply because my brain was on overdrive (ex. - I'm drafting this at midnight...way too late for me!).  I've been absorbing and applying as much information on jewelry making as humanly possible.  I love it.

I want to share with you my first original pendants.  As I made them I learned that even the simplest pieces in appearance still require quite a few steps from start to finish. These involved sawing, etching, soldering, pickling, stone-setting, adding texture, drilling, sanding, oxidizing, polishing, sizing chains and making clasps.  (Did you get all that?)  It took me longer to make these than it would for a very experienced jewelry artist, but I know I'll become more efficient with time.

Sterling silver, modern hammered ovals pendant.

Sterling silver, abstract hammered tree.

Tropical-leaf inspired copper pendant.

Sterling silver, abstract flower motif with amethyst cabochon.

Each of these pendants is now available for purchase in my shop. (Warning: wearing new jewelry, or the smile you see when giving jewelry, is addictive.)

Thanks for reading!

Christina

I'm in the middle of my second class in metalsmithing and recently we learned to forge bangle bracelets.  What started here as a simple, round copper wire turned into an organic, beautiful piece of jewelry.  Some of you have heard me describe the feeling I had when I used charcoal for the first time.  Well, when I hammered copper against a steel stake for the first time, I had that same feeling.  It is simply beautiful to see metal move underneath the weight of a hammer.  Here's a fun fact: when we measured the length of wire for cutting to ensure the bracelet would fit around our hands, we actually subtracted an inch from the finished measurement.  This was done because forging stretches the metal so much the missing inch gets added back into the length.  Interesting, right?  I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself.  I also learned that if you're not careful, it's possible to stretch the metal so much so that the bracelet no longer fits.  Fortunately that didn't happen this time, but it's good to keep in mind (check the fit as I go!).

I realized that it's been a month since I've drawn or painted.  I've spent most of my time caring for a sick pet (thankfully she's doing better), preparing for my last art show, and learning all I can about metalsmithing.  I miss drawing and I'm positive I'll come back to it, but I can't wait to add my first jewelry pieces to my art shop.  Soon.

In July my "Pear Bunch" charcoal drawing was purchased for use on season 3 of NBC's hit show Parenthood.  I was was so honored that my work caught their attention, and thrilled at the thought of my art being on TV!  I anxiously awaited the season premiere, which aired last Tuesday night the 13th.  I kept my eyes peeled, but didn't see my artwork among the fabulous pieces sprinkled throughout the Braverman house.  I was a little disappointed.  But honestly, and I hope I'm not biased, I fell in love with the show in spite of that.  The characters are endearing; love and respect are driving forces woven into the story lines.

Fast forward one week, last night, to episode 2.  I wasn't expecting it at all, but "Pear Bunch" made its grand debut in one of the opening scenes!  My husband and I had a good laugh because the scene was a slightly spicy one between Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham) and Mark Cyr (Jason Ritter). ;)  The drawing is located in the finished basement of Zeek Braverman's (Craig T. Nelson's) house.  Here's a screen cap taken from nbc.com:

It's a little shadowy in the screen cap, so in case you haven't seen it before, here's the drawing in full:

How cool is that?  Thank you to those who work on Parenthood for selecting my artwork.  It's so amazing to see my art in use and being enjoyed!  If you haven't seen Parenthood before, tune in.  It's on Tuesday nights at 10pm EST.   Who knows, maybe we'll even see "Pear Bunch" again.

It's been a few months since my first outdoor art show so I thought it was time for another one.  Having gone through the process once already, it was MUCH easier to get ready this time.  I had my checklist already formed and just needed to make a few edits.  I was already familiar with matting, framing and the supplies I'd need for the new artwork, so that went faster too.

Different from the first time, I'll be sharing my booth space with another vendor.  This is a plus so I don't have to haul around as many display panels, and it saves us both money.  The big question was: would I now be able to fit everything I need in one car?  And the answer is a big, fat yes!  I have one of those personal crossover/small SUV type vehicles, and while it won't accommodate my full set of panels, I learned today it will accommodate half of them, plus everything else I need to bring.  (I just hope I left room for myself.)

Chad and I were at Home Depot recently, not looking for anything particular for the show, when we passed by one of these rolling carts and a light bulb went off in his head.  We didn't have a rolling cart the first time, nor did we even think about getting one.  The great thing is that it holds 150 lbs. and collapses small and flat.  Moving all the panels and tent weights into the car was (almost) a breeze.  It is a blessing on wheels.

Tomorrow is sure to be gorgeous, mostly sunny and a hint of Fall in the air.  I'm excited to see the work of the other artists and will try my best not to covet, especially the handmade jewelry. ;)  If you feel like it, stop by and check it out!  The market will be at the Spruill Gallery from 10am - 4pm.  4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road  Atlanta, GA  30338.

Have a great weekend,

Christina

I couldn't wait to create one of the jewelry designs I had sketched on paper, and to use some techniques I hadn't tried before.

If you follow my art, you might recognize the organic pattern on this pendant inspired from "Tropical Whimsy".  I thought it would be a great piece for using the saw, and it was!  It was fun watching metal being cut away under the tiny blade.  I allowed the veins of the leaf to be etched (using an acid) by covering the rest of the pattern with a "resist", which protected those places from being etched.  Then I hand-brushed a patina in the recessed areas, leaving a contrast between them and the raised, shiny copper.  I attached a natural brass chain that I thought complemented the pendant well.

What do you think?

Picture taken in NYC July 2000

September 11th, 2001 was a day when I'll always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the terrible news.  A colleague and friend of mine walked into our office space and said a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers.  I was stunned.  In that same moment I noticed the look of horror on her face as realization hit that she had a loved one in NYC who was directly in harm's way.  It took what seemed like an eternity for her to reach him, but thankfully, thankfully, he was not hurt.

I remember not being able to focus on work.  Before I saw actual images of what happened, I played mental images in my head of what it must have looked like.  And for the innocent people who were inside the buildings...I couldn't even imagine.  I'll never forget the words of another colleague who entered the room and was apparently confused by the look on our faces.  "Why are you so distracted?  It's not like it happened right here in Atlanta."  I was in disbelief at his statement.  Looking back, I think the events of that morning hadn't sunk into his mind yet.  To be honest, I don't believe they had for me either.  Not on that day.  I didn't personally know anyone directly impacted by the terrorist attacks.  I was still in my early twenties and a little naive.  But over the past 10 years the truth has settled in: the cold, unfathomable truth.  It hurts to know that even today, there are many people feeling extreme loss, just as if 9/11 happened yesterday.

I want to tell those of you who experienced loss that day that I'm so, very sorry.  My heart is heavy for you.  I truly hope that you have begun to heal.  I also want to thank those of you (and your families) who put yourselves in danger to save and protect others.  In such ugly circumstances, that was a thing of beauty.

We remember.

Aside from my wedding ring, I've never been so proud to wear a piece of jewelry.  This ring was our final project completed in my summer metalsmithing class.  We learned how to size and form a ring from precious metal, set a cabochon stone using a bezel setting, and how to use a Flex Shaft (power tool!) to do some final sanding and polishing.

I loved the jasper stone the moment I saw it; I chose it for its reds and oranges that reminded me of Fall.  I also thought it was interesting to create a split ring band instead of a single one we most commonly associate with rings.  I adore this ring:  it's in high fashion and perfectly suited for me.  And the best part is, I made it.  I feel that satisfaction that comes with being pleased with the work of your hands....amazed that I am even capable of creating something so beautiful.  And the instructor of the class is fabulous.  She is excellent at communicating ideas and methods to beginners like me.

What could be even better?  Getting to create beautiful jewelry for someone else.  I gave the earrings I shared with you earlier as a gift to someone I love.  And I've already had a request to create a matching pendant (!).  It's early, so I'm cautious about saying this could be something I'd enjoy doing for the rest of my life.  But it feels that way.