Mar 222010

Spring: The time for flowers (among my favorite subjects for handpainted earthenware jewelry) and fairs. It seems arts and crafts selling venues proliferate in the spring like wildflowers in a burn area after a rain.

Bush Mallow is an early harbinger of Spring. It's a source of inspiration for some of my handpainted pendants (pictures coming soon!).

Bush Mallow is an early harbinger of Spring. It's a source of inspiration for some of my handpainted pendants (pictures coming soon!).

While wildflowers are abundant this year, I’ve heard that there may be fewer shows than usual, due to the poor economy. Nonetheless, in my quest to learn more about the marketing end of the jewelry-making biz, I scanned festival listings for nearby events featuring jewelry designers. I’m curious to see, of course, their creations, but also how they go about displaying them. It’s also a great way of meeting and networking with other artists. Recently, I drove out to Arcadia, CA to attend the Pink Parlour Festival. The annual event, which “completely caters to women of all ages,” offered handcrafted wares of all kinds. Of course, I was there for the jewelry, but that didn’t stop me from a few diversions here and there.

The festival was held  at the Santa Anita Race Track, at one end of the massive pavilion where bets are placed and drinks are served. When I arrived, a race was about to begin, so, as a former horse trainer, I naturally had to stop by the paddock to check out the thoroughbred lineup. I then followed them to the track to watch the race. I’m pleased to say that I still have an eye, and I picked the winner at first glance. It was exhilarating, but I was really there for jewelry, so off I went to the festival.

Another sign of Spring is the appearance of Nightshade.

Another sign of Spring is the appearance of Nightshade.

Have to say, it was a bit of a bummer to get hit with a $12 entry fee after paying $4 for parking and $5 to get through the track gates, but, hey, it was all in the name of research, so I coughed it up. Had to wonder if it might have been a deterrent for some potential customers, though. Cheaper just to grab a beer and watch the races. Also, the show seemed sort of geared toward a younger clientele, especially those with goth tastes. Nothing wrong with that, but  I wondered how that affected sales for the designers who didn’t feature spiders and skulls in their pieces.

I made the rounds and saw some wonderful designs and presentations from designers such as Regina Kalas (RKDesigns.com), whose deliciously delicate pieces were the first thing visitors saw on admittance. Kalas has been designing jewelry since, like, age 7, so the high level of quality seen in her pieces is no surprise. Other wonderful participants at the festival included Megan Goldkamp, Romi B Designs, Miss Ivy, Love Jane Jewelry, Jewels by JaNiNe, Ileana’s Designs, Made by Malcakes, Ilaments Jewelry and Opal Moon Designs. Designer Shannon McMullen, who was minding another artist’s booth, wasn’t actually showing any of her things, but we got to talking about networking and her efforts at organizing bead swaps. I checked out her Etsy site (creatrix.etsy.com) and found that she has some really lovely pieces. Go there.

This type of Phacelia, commonly known as Wild Canterbury Bells, is a favorite among wildflower hunters.

This type of Phacelia, commonly known as Wild Canterbury Bells, is a favorite among wildflower hunters.

As I wandered the show from necklace to bracelet I couldn’t help but notice the fragrance of orange and lavender wafting from the booth of Marin Natural Beauty (http://www.MarinNaturalBeauty.Etsy.com). Kimi Marin’s natural, vegan creams and bath bombs were enticing. But, alas, I had shot my wad of available cash gaining admittance, so I had to wait and place my order for one of her creams from home.

Aside from burning up the miles traveling to events, I struck gold with another tactic for improving my marketing knowhow: I just downloaded Rena Klingenberg’s  Ultimate Guide to Your Profitable Jewelry Booth onto my laptop. Klingenberg (http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com) always seems ready and willing to help other designers with truckloads of advice and tips, and this publication is no exception. I’m only a quarter of the way through it and already feel that I’ve learned much. If you’re trying to get started like I am, I highly recommend this book, her newsletter and frequent visits to her site. Oh, and don’t forget to stop beading for a moment now and then to step outside and smell the wildflowers.

Midnight Beader

Posted by Rebecca Stone on January 31, 2010
Jan 312010

All of Tucson must be simply abuzz (atwitter?) with the huge gem and jewelry show in full swing there. A relative newcomer on the scene, I have to admit I’ve never been to this three-week megashow. I can’t even imagine: the Pasadena and Santa Monica shows alone make my head spin, and the Tucson show is legendary for its size and scope. Besides the official venues, stories abound about people selling rocks out of their hotel rooms and out of their cars. Colored-stone.com, the site for, well, Colored Stone magazine, one of the Interweave publications, puts out a terrific show guide. Heck, just reading through it makes me want to hop in the car and drive east. Who knows, maybe I will.

In my last post, I mentioned meeting Mr. Khan, of MineGem. He kindly offered to take a few of my necklaces with him to AZ. I had a couple of them ready to go, but designed a few more with some of the stones I had purchased at the Pasadena show. Among my necklace designs: Ruby zoisite and silver, citrine and prehnite, appatite and moonstone, Peruvian opal and black onyx, garnet and emerald and serpentine with amethyst and freshwater pearl, and aquamarine and rhodocrosite. Most include Swarovski crystals. Boy, I pulled some late nighters there, finishing touches and all, to get them all ready and shipped on time. We’ll see… It seems that right now, folks are more into buying jewelry-making components, than the actual jewelry itself. But nothing ventured….

Can't get enough of that ruby zoisite. What a wonderful stone.

Can't get enough of that ruby zoisite. What a wonderful stone.

After the o’dark-thirty scramble to put all my pieces together, and standing in line at the post office, I rewarded myself with a walk in Bronson Park, here in Hollywood. No agates here, but after the rainstorms of the past week, I knew I could count on a small waterfall about a half-mile up the trail. Something about moving water soothes my soul.

I stayed there for a while, listening in relaxed oblivion. Near sunset, as I headed back down the trail to the car, I heard the beginnings of the nightly coyote call and response sessions, and walked past a marsh, alive with the sound of frogs. Los Angeles is certainly a crazy quilt of contradictions. Expanses of sagebrush-covered hills, a quiet grove of trees, a waterfall and stream, wildlife in action, and all just a few blocks from the star-studded pavement of Hollywood and a different type of wildlife.

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