Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Still on hold?

I have a dozen or so pieces polished, stones set, and ready to go.
So what's the hold up?
Pictures. Photographs. This is painful to admit. I love photography, I've been told for a long time that I'm good at it, and yet I can't seem to get a decent picture of a ring or a pair of earrings.

I'm told I need a lightbox, which is fine and seems easy enough, but then I still need to buy different lights for it. Right now I really need to work with what I have, but I'm starting to feel like it's not possible to get a decent picture.
Everything I've read reiterates that the photograph is key. And, of course it is. No one in their right mind is going to give you money for a piece when the photograph is terrible.

So that's the hold up.
I did discover an interesting backdrop in the indoor herb garden. I figured that light would be the best of all we had in the house, and it was interesting. My best photo was from that little session. I did take some other decent ones wearing the jewelry, but I don't exactly have model hands (I have hands that get torn apart by metal and barn work, not to mention nails bitten down to the quick and cuticles that go as soon as there's no more nail) and the pictures aren't that appealing to look at.
Perhaps in the future if I tweak it a bit it can be my unique twist on jewelry photography. Getting a decent shot of a ring sitting on basil is a bit tricky, though.
And now for the photo examples. I won't just tell you how bad I am, I'll show you!
The one that turned out the best:

This is one I'd consider "decent"...minus my ugly hands.

And this is what the majority of it looked like:
Please note that these are unedited and I haven't cropped. Ideally, I'd crop in to show the detail on the ring. The last one may not look SO bad small and uncropped...but any larger and you can really see just how much I suck.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Not too much of an update.

My goal for this blog is to include at least one picture per post. Thus far I'm not doing very well.

Aside from that, though, I have plans for a couple of old pieces that need some work. One ring I've been planning on inlaying myrtle wood for about 5 years. The other is a plain, medium-width band that has a flattened top and told me it wanted a stone and some silver added on. It's funny how some old pieces are coming to my attention now; before this I had mostly given up on them as attempts that didn't quite make the cut. However, I LOVE recycling my materials and hate wasting metal. I think it adds a nice challenge to the work and something different if I make myself use up my scraps. That's kind of how the cuff bracelets came along and they seem to be popular with several people who have seen them (pictured above).

I plan on listing some pieces by the end of this weekend, even if they are not new. This includes the cuff bracelet above. I am so excited about the etsy community and I really hope that when I get things going I can become more involved; maybe even join a street team.
Lastly, silver tubing has so many uses! Bezels, bales, (bails? I have seen both used quite a bit, but I can't figure out which is the correct spelling), making circle cut outs, etc. I am going to have fun with this material.

Friday, November 7, 2008

grinding away

I have been spending the few hours of free time here and there finishing my recently cast pieces. It's a long, arduous process, made even more so by my lack of equipment. I am definitely missing the grinder and the dremel I had at my disposal in college. I'm slowly building up the calluses as well as slowly destroying my recently manicured nails. I'm not giving up on them yet, though!

The most exciting bit of news is that I'm getting a torch set up sooner than I thought! When my order arrives and I have solder boards I will have a small space in my dad's garage for my work bench. This means adding stones to the rings I created with that intention as well as the pendants, and fabricating work! As much as I like casting, I've been feeling extremely limited lately working only in wax. It's a much different mindset to create a sculpture by taking away rather than building up. I like building better. I could never be a stone carver...my mind just can't plan ahead like that.

There are still a lot of things I want to make, not limited to:

1. Wide variety of stacking rings
2. " " bracelets
3. More organic bezels, bezels that are part of the piece instead of just sitting on top of it
4. Bezel set faceted stones using SS tubing
5. soft square rings
6. Incorporating textiles
7. Incorporating copper
8. Earrings! Post earrings, hoop earrings, ear wire earrings. This is more for the business side of things than anything else...as I know that most people like earrings and they are something I could potentially sell relatively cheaply and make fairly easily. Watch me eat my words as I try for hours to solder earring posts on.

Right now I want to play with simple and small and fun. That is likely because the majority of the pieces I'm working on finishing right now are big and bold and I'm recognizing that big and bold is not for most. Before I can really work small, however, these nails need to be significantly shorter. :P

Monday, November 3, 2008


I finally ordered my supplies from Rio Grande. Unfortunately prices have gone up significantly since my last catalog (2004, I believe), so my birthday money did not quite stretch as far as I had hoped. But it should be enough to get going with the finishing steps. A polishing kit is on its way, along with steel shot cleaner for round 2. Pickling Acid for cleaning after any torch work, though I still need a crockpot to put it in! I also ordered a few things for stone settings, including some new itty bitty cabachons (3mm - carnelian, citrine, jade) and a burnisher to set them.

I also got a few soldering boards. My dad has a torch that I am crossing my fingers has enough power to heat up the rings I want to put the stones on!

My copper tongs and burnisher are on back order, however, so that's too bad. I can't use the pickle without the tongs, so hopefully it won't be long.

Last thing on the list is a strainer for the shot and I will be good to go.

I have so much that I want to make right now and so many ideas from magazines and other jewelry makers that I need to start DOING. I have drawn designs and saved all sorts of pictures on the computer to the point that I don't think I can process anymore until I get some of them out...need to make room!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Casts and Magazines.

Well, my cast pieces arrived yesterday! Of course, they are all ugly and white and need a lot of filing/sanding/polishing, but now I can get going on that. I will try to remember to take pictures as I finish them to show a bit of the process. The pile of rings I photographed today are just some of the pieces that came back...and unfortunately point and shoot cameras hate me so that is the only picture that came out in focus.

I have 3 or 4 pieces I'm considering making molds from, though I'm still undecided. The far right and far left are being considered for just that.

The polisher will (hopefully) be ordered today...I keep forgetting/putting it off. I have my hands full with getting the pieces ready to go IN the polisher at the moment, so waiting another week or so won't delay much.

I will put all the finished pieces (sans the ones to be sent back out for molds) on etsy. I am actually hoping a few don't sell until I buy a torch and can add stones to them. If they DO sell before I have that chance, I suppose I can't complain too much.
I am looking to subscribe to a jewelry magazine. I like that they offer projects so I can teach myself something new and they are full of new techniques and inspiration if I get stuck. I picked one up at JoAnn Fabrics of all places, called "Art Jewelry." Overall I've really been impressed with it: business articles, interviews with jewelers, a few different projects to try out, and they have metal clay how-tos as well (something I have the materials to get started with, but haven't yet tried).
The other I'm considering is Lapidary Journal, now called "Jewelry Artist." This was one we had a lot of back issues of in college and I remember liking what it had to offer. It too had projects, interviews, various articles, etc. I think they will both have valuable information, I'm just not sure which will be more beneficial/interesting to me.
And speaking of metal clay...I'm finding out all sorts of interesting things about it. I can actually set stones into the clay before firing, for example. Not all stones can withstand the heat of the kiln, but it opens up a lot of opportunities none the less!

Friday, October 24, 2008

spread the word

it's official...




Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oh, the name.

Yesterday I decided that Cholula would indeed be the name to go with. I panicked slightly when I thought of the possibility that someone had already registered this name on etsy. Then I found out that I had reason to be panicked, as someone has in fact registered as cholula already. Sad face.

So, onto plan b, which is deciding on what to add in addition to cholula so I can still have it in the name somewhere.

I was, and still stubbornly am, stuck on having one word. One single word and that word was to be cholula.

cholulajewelry is the likely candidate, which I am slowly (albeit grudgingly) accepting. I also thought of possibilities such as:
cholulaand (this would give me the freedom to include my photography and other little things I make)
ohcholula (some friends of mine used to sing "Cecelia" to their dog, using the dog's name instead. I started doing this with "cholula" because I am really cool. "Oh Cholula, you're breakin' my heart...")

Ultimately, if I really want this to just be called "cholula," I should go with cholulajewelry. I know this, but again, I am stubborn. And somehow feel that if I'm stubborn about it long enough it will change and I can have that name.

Tomorrow is the cut off date, and cholulajewelry will likely be registered.

I'm off to get ready for a fancy dinner at a fancy French restaurant; let's hope that my lovely waxes will return to me tomorrow!

Monday, October 20, 2008


I am briefing myself on etsy policies, tips for sellers, how to prepare yourself for craft shows, etc. There is SO much in the business aspect of all of this it's overwhelming. I'm reading all of this and instantly worrying that I'm going to be that awful seller that people don't like dealing with. Not because I want to be, but I'm so busy that making it to the post office more than once a week won't be possible. Answering questions and emails can only be done at night, and that's only if it stays to a reasonable number. What if I can't stay on top of things?

I mean, hopefully this will lead to being one of TWO main jobs (instead of one of four, which it currently is...), but there will likely be a lot of time until that can happen.

Pricing has been on the back of my mind as well. I've been told to do cost of materials + an hourly wage I think I deserve. I don't really keep track of how much time I spend on each piece, especially with the waxes. I should probably start logging my hours, regardless, since that was part of my business plan for myself.

I kind of price based on the complexity of the piece, the stones that are in it, and somewhat randomly. I mean, by randomly I don't have a set formula I use. If something was more challenging but didn't take a lot of time do I price it cheaper? I've spent a lot of time looking online and at places like etsy...prices for sterling silver pieces are all over the place. I'm looking at a middle-ground, but perhaps a little on the higher end of that ground. I suppose if things aren't selling I'll need to re-evaluate and price accordingly. I do want my prices to be fair and affordable, but I don't want to cheapen all of the time and effort I've put into the pieces either.

If I end up sending out pieces to make molds from, the "copies" will obviously be priced cheaper than my one-of-a-kind work. The bulk of my interest lies in unique pieces, however, as when I finish I piece I generally want to be done with it and move onto the next thing. I do recognize that if I'm to make this the bulk of my income and try to get into galleries and such I need to have molds of at least some pieces.

I have been on a pendant kick lately, of which I need to take pictures of. I'm not so sure about the two I'm working on and they may end up getting hacked up and melted down to become something else. There are endless options with wax but it's really hard for me to think in terms of carving something out...rather than building something up. I worry about how the soft wax will ship so I've been hesitant in using that, though there are some ideas floating around.

Another thing I need to look into is PMC design. I've had my PMC kit for awhile though, just never used it. I always get kind of stuck when thinking about what to do with the stuff. It's also very intimidating to me...as I'm worried I'll play with the clay too much and it will get hard and I'll be forced to fire something ugly. I keep telling myself to start simple, but I think more important than that I have to have a very specific design before I begin.

Lastly - the title! I have been thinking about this for awhile, now, but I wasn't sure how it would work. Cholula is one of my horse's names, but I also think it would be a lovely name for my jewelry. I just got a "Go for it!" from someone who has been helping me out with the name issue (THANKS!) and that may have been the push I needed to settle on it.

I'm giving myself a few days to make the final decision, but Thursday will be the big day. The more I think of it the more I like Cholula.

I am trying to keep the length of these posts to a minimum, but it's hard when there's so much going on in these initial stages. Just try to bear with me.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I actually have a little to update on, though not much.

First of all, yes I know the header to the blog is atrocious. Shortly after I started it I decided I needed a jewelry picture up there. Unfortunately for me, blogspot seems to think the text should go over it and only be grey. I soon found out that it is NOT user-friendly if you want to change any of their layouts. It can be done, but with my knowledge (read: 0) of website design it would take me longer than I have patience for.

I just want you to know that I don't intend on leaving it like that forever, but at the moment it's not really a top priority.

What is? The name!

I agonize over what to order in a restaurant because I fear disappointment. Will item A really make me happier than item B? Will this restaurant make item A correctly, the way I expect it to taste? Will I regret my decision and long for item A if I order B?

It takes me no less than 15 minutes to make a what-to-eat-for-lunch decision, and that is minimum.
HOW, pray tell, am I supposed to make such a huge decision as this? I mean, this has to be something I'm happy with forever, I can't decide in 5 years I was just kidding and now my business is called something totally different!

The most logical route would be to go with my name in some form. I don't really want to take that route, however. "Jessi Sawyer Jewelry" is boring. "Jessica Rose Jewelry" is also boring. Boring makes me sad.

Sad as it may be, boring could end up the only option, as I am giving myself until the end of next week. If I can't think of anything more suitable by Thursday I am making an etsy account regardless.

Lastly, my casts should be shipping out on Monday! I have no idea if I will see them Wednesday or later. I will also be ordering my polisher and other materials that it needs to work, buying a crock pot so I have a pickle, and possibly some stones this weekend. A torch will be in my next installment.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Post numbah one

I have been thinking about doing this for awhile, and after half-assed starting a few other blogs I thought I'd give it a shot. The worst thing to happen is I don't update, right?

I am going to hopefully log all of my adventures (with pictures!) in starting up my own jewelry business. From gathering equipment, setting up shop, figuring out where to sell, figuring out this tax ID crap (??!), to eventually attempting to turn this into a lucrative little business...hopefully sooner rather than later. I'm sick of working dead-end part time jobs that I hate and until I figure out what to do with my life/graduate school/the universe I may as well do something I enjoy to support myself and my ponies.

So, that's the motivation behind this. I also quite enjoy making it and working with my hands. While it's not my favorite medium to work in it is fun.

What is currently happening:

1. I need to come up with a name for this business. This is tricky, as I want something catchy and cute but not TOO cute, something that is relevant to me, and something that probably does not involve my name.

2. Because of my lack of equipment I am currently focusing on lost wax casting. My first waxes have successfully arrived in Rhode Island and are being turned into sterling silver as I write this. Most were rings but I am starting to try to make some pendants as well. Eventually I will do bracelets and some small-scale sculpture.

3. Getting this tax ID/small business stuff figured out. I don't really know how any of that works.

And that's about all for now. I need to order materials to finish the casts when they come back (polisher and such) as I may have a venue to sell at the end of the month!