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.

Bracelets and Merlot

Posted by Rebecca Stone on January 6, 2010
Jan 062010

When you’re dealing with seed beads and intricate designs, especially in poor light, a glass of good Merlot (Shiraz or whatever you have on hand — I’m no snob) can go a long way toward keeping the situation under control. Last night I burned the oil way past midnight, playing around with a couple of bracelet designs. One is a sterling chain with hand-wrapped crystal and garnet bangles and the other features strung crystals and stones fringed with delicate loops of crystal seed beads. Next project: necklace featuring Oregon opal. It’s such a delicate stone, it’s easy to crack while wrapping, so I must proceed with caution. But it offers really pretty shades of sky blue with interesting inclusions of golds, creams and black. Can’t wait to pour myself a glass and start in.

Despite turning in late, I got up this morning to, once again, hit the beach at low tide. Got lucky: Misty rain and relatively calm conditions permitted me to climb around the rocks to the cove. I didn’t chance staying too long, but while there, I found some good-sized agates (some nice banded ones) and some interesting jaspers. Also, engaged in a little spelunking. Nothing too serious, but the cove is laced with shallow sea caves that featured symphonies of dripping water to accompany my contemplations of the gravel. It would all be very Zen-like if it weren’t for the fact that you sort of feel under the gun to hurry up, get your booty and get out of there before the tide or the weather turns.

There are usually a couple of small waterfalls in my little area, but with the rains, these had swelled and branched into multiple liquid crystal cascades, which resolved into rushing creeks and rivulets that carved the sand into small canyons before merging with the waves. Magical. Weather permitting, I’m taking my camera on my next foray. Stay tuned.

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