As I‘ve said before, we love going through new bead shipments… at least for the first day. After the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th days, unpacking can become tedious, but odly exciting at the same time. Often as Allie and I are unpacking and photographing new shipments, Allie will suddently grab a strand of beads, run over to her bead board, grab some wire, leather, or silver spacers, and start creating. “I have an idea and don’t want to forget it” she will say.
Of course, as Allie and others are unpacking, checking off against the order sheet, and distributing for shipments to each of our stores, I am often photographing each new item as it comes out of the box. Some months this means thousands of new pictures, each of which must be edited, saved, filed, and resized for various future uses (signage, order sheets, website, etc.). Although my focus has always been business, I’ve always enjoyed and dabbled in photography. Having spent quite a bit of time around a darkroom when I was younger, I must say that the advances in digital photography are both amazing an useful! Over the years, we have photographed nearly every one of the 50,000+ items that have been sold in our stores. Obviously, this has forced me to become quite efficient at doing so, even if we have several thousand photos waiting for editing at any given time.
Because many of our customers have jewelry design businesses of their own, we are often asked “how can I make my jewelry photos better”? To answer that, we created the Potomac Bead Company Photography Tutorial to help anyone with an interest in photographing jewelry, beads, or other small detailed items in an affordable and efficient way. While this is by no means the only way of taking photographs, perhaps you will find it useful!
My workday usually consists of serving customers, making class schedules, managing employees, keeping the store clean, labeling products, and teaching classes. Every day an awed customer says to me, “You’re so lucky to sit around and make jewelry all day!” and I laugh inside because it seems that’s always the last thing on my mind! Although it is part of my job to create jewelry, I’m too distracted by the more urgent tasks. But today I took some time to stretch my creative muscle, and boy was it tight! I truly love to create interesting and beautiful pieces with the products we carry, but I don’t dedicate enough time to it. So I am resolving to spend more time diving into new ideas for ways to use the products in our stores…and to just have fun! I know this will help to keep me interested in my customers’ projects and personally knowledgeable about what to do with the products we supply. I’m so thankful to have a work environment that is so creativity-friendly!
April 4th was the Mechanicsburg, PA location’s Grand Opening Celebration. It was great to see lots of new customers that we anxiously awaiting to come to the store. An amazing thing to witness was the degree to which the customers varied in age, beading experience, and what they use beads and findings to produce. We had a great opportunity to speak with many of them about their beading past and their excitement about their beading future with the Potomac Bead Company. It dawned on me that although there was such a variety in people, every one gets equally excited about beads. It is always fun to interact with children, excited to string their very first stretchy bracelet, agonizing over which beads to choose but most adults in a bead store are just as excited as the eight year old standing next to them. Bead stores really are more like toy stores for creative, crafty people of all ages.
During the busy events of the day, I did manage to have time to sit down and demonstrate some wire working techniques that we offer to customers in the form of classes. Many people look at wire as too hard or difficult but I tried to convey that wire is the next logical step to basic stringing. There is so much that can be done with wire to enhance jewelry. More then any other class, I believe the Introduction to Wire Working is the stepping stone into a whole new world of jewelry making. After the class, I always suggest that people buy a package of 20G wire copper wire and play at home with their tools to see what wonderful things they can create. Often people are stunned by how easy wire working is once they have learned the basics. I also advanced from the basics of wire working and demonstrated cabochon wrapping using 20G square wire as well as 20G half round wire. Showing how to wrap cabs answers the inevitable question “what do I do if the stone or pendant does not have a hole.” Hopefully everyone enjoyed all the demonstrations on Saturday which varied from seed beading, to dichroic glass, to chain maille and so on.
Mechanicsburg’s opening was a huge success and I am anxiously waiting for the Phoenixville location to open at the end of this month.