Many jewelry-makers have a desire to share their work with others by selling their pieces online, at shows, or in shops. This is the logical next step for many beaders, but getting started is more than half the battle. For those of you who are interested in taking this leap, developing your design personality and building collections will make you more marketable and make your displays more appealing to potential buyers.
If you are a beginner who has just started your jewelry-making journey, trying a bit of this and that by watching tutorials is the best way to find out where you are naturally gifted. After making a few of these and a few of those, your jewelry collection starts to look a bit disorderly. No piece relates to another. Anyone looking at your current collection may not even be able to tell that it was all made by the same person. To the right are some of my own pieces from the past couple years. Although they may be pieces of which I am proud, they don’t have much in common.
Narrow your focus onto one theme or technique and explore it fully. A theme can be anything that gives your work continuity. Here are some examples of themes I consider when working on a collection:
- Technique or Process
- Materials used
- Colors, textures, or patterns
- Telling a story
Consider how you can narrow your focus in one or several of these themes to create 10-20 pieces. The photo below represents this particular set of themes:
- Technique: Bead embroidery
- Materials: Seed beads, metal bangle, and UltraSuede
- Colors/Textures/Patterns: I developed a pattern that I named “Origami” and used it for all three bangles. I changed the colors, but drew from a narrow selection of colors for continuity within the collection.
Another collection I’ve been working on is focused on the use of Czech Daggers and Rizos. If you find a particular bead shape you love working with, explore all the ways to use it. The collection I have developed around Daggers is shown above. This collection exhibits my love of bead weaving and my current interest in the exploration of the drop shape, like Daggers and Rizos.
When you are ready to zero in on what will be the theme or trademark of your collection, you must first decide what will be the limiting factors. These are the themes that will be represented in each piece, hence making the collection. Then, acquire the materials you need in sufficient quantities to make 10-20 pieces. Anything less than 10 pieces may not be enough to display as a collection.
Collections don’t need to stifle your creativity . Although you are setting boundaries, explore all your options within those boundaries. For example, take the same themes and apply them to earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. You also don’t need to create all 10-20 pieces one after the other. You may want to bounce back and forth between a couple collections so that you don’t get bored.
Set a goal for completing the collection. Decide on a number of pieces that will be in your collection, or at least how many pieces you need before you can consider it ready to present to your audience, and then set a date by which you’d like to have them complete. It could be the date of a craft fair, the launch of your new site, or just a date in the future you feel will give you enough time to complete your pieces. Telling a friend, especially a fellow jewelry-maker or artisan, about your goal will hold you accountable. Offer to work together with a friend on their goals, too. Join a beading group or find a mentor. The best advice and encouragement comes from people who are tackling the same goals as yourself or have more experience in an area where you want to grow.
Seeing your collection grow is very rewarding! You’ll become more proficient in your area of focus, have a homogenous display that is easy for customers to shop, and give each individual piece elevated importance. All these things translate to more sales. 🙂
As you develop your own collections, share your work on Beading & Jewelry Making (hosted by PotomacBeads.com). I look forward to seeing what you create!