business


Photo courtesy of Kiva

There are so many desperate needs in the world today and like most people, I want to help.  The magnitude of some of the problems is almost beyond comprehension.  It is easy to become overwhelmed or to feel as though the contribution I can make is too small, it won’t make a difference.  I was feeling that way earlier today and then I saw Nora Leon’s blog and this quote:

“I can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

It helped me remember that small things matter.  I’ve assembled kits for women in Rebecca Sower’s Haiti by Hand group.  I’ll work on an instruction sheet showing them how to make the earrings as soon as I can get someone to photograph my hands.  Since we don’t speak the same language, I figure showing them is the best way.  My goal is to finish the kits and get a box to her next week.  I need to go to a craft store to get some small hand tools for the women.

I made a Kiva loan to the woman entrepreneur pictured above.  She is running a beauty parlor and needs help getting supplies.  Her name is Titilayo Ajakaye and she is from Nigeria.

Through Hope International, I purchased a hair dryer for a woman in the Dominican Republic, also running a beauty parlor.

Small things.  Done with love.  And they matter.

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Cover Flow

I am a new Mac user.  I’ve spent years using PC’s and recently made the switch to a Mac.  There is a definite learning curve, but I’m doing well with the adjustment and the support folks at Apple have been great.  I have also found a lot of answers to questions in people’s blogs and other online content.  One of the things I really like about the Mac (and there are a few) is Finder – the application that allows you to see your files and folders.  It has a few options for how you can look at them and one gorgeous option is cover flow.  It’s just like on an iPod and I was so excited seeing my jewelry photos in cover flow.  This is a screen shot of the folder that contains bracelet photos for 2009.  They look awesome and I’m getting this Mac thing down.

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Shell Donut with Red AdventurineI try to think ahead a few months when planning the jewelry I will be working on (in a general sense) and ordering beads and other components.  For the remainder of this year, I have a schedule I adhere to (mostly) when it comes to restocking the stores that carry my jewelry.  I am also planning one show this fall thus far – Hampton’s Bay Days – a large festival in Hampton, VA in September.  I also start thinking about fall and the holidays, planning for adequate levels of inventory and any trunk shows or other events I might participate in.

I have also begun to incorporate some of the contests and calls for entries that tend to occur annually as I have a goal of entering more of these events as a way to continue growing as an artist.  As artisans and craftspeople, we have to don many hats.  I know I prefer keeping the creative hat on, but sometimes the business and planning hats are necessary to keep my jewelry business running smoothly.  I’ll get back to the fun stuff soon enough.

LightingProper lighting makes a huge difference when it comes to photographing jewelry.  This prior post shows the same bracelet photographed with poor lighting and then again with much better lighting.  In the past, I photographed my jewelry primarily for historical purposes so I had a record of the things I had made.  I took the photographs using regular household lighting and a flash.  That was adequate at the time because I sold most items in stores where customers saw the actual item.  So, it didn’t really matter how the photograph looked.

Once I began Internet sales and blogging, I knew I had to take better photographs because a potential customer would have to make a decision based on the photograph, not the actual piece of jewelry.  I made initial improvements by taking photographs outside.  Shooting in strong sunlight produced harsh shadows so I tried shooting in shade.  I got it to work if I was in the shade but close to the bright sunlight.  I got great results when the lighting was exactly right.  However, there were factors at play that I couldn’t control – weather and how light changed in different seasons.  So, I knew I had to take it indoors.

I searched the Internet and ended up purchasing a light tent and lamps designed specifically for the purpose of photographing jewelry and other small items.  It made a world of difference and has been totally worth the investment.  I’ve seen Internet articles on how to make a light box and I know people who have done so with good results as well.  The best thing about resolving the lighting issue (aside from not having jewelry blow away in the wind or looking with despair at a forecast calling for seven straight days of rain) is the freedom it gives you to then focus on the composition of the shot, not the technical aspects.

when it comes to jewelry photography.  The funny thing is, back when I was taking bad photos, I didn’t even know they were bad.  I took them to have historical documentation of my work.  I’m glad I have them especially because I can see growth through the years.  But, back to the pictures…

Here is a bracelet I re-photographed.  I am very happy with the result.  I think the bracelet comes to life and think the rich colors of the bracelet and background complement each other nicely.

 lizabracelet

This is a really bad photos of the same bracelet.  I didn’t have the lighting right.  I didn’t know how to get a sense of dimension.  I don’t know what I was thinking with the crumpled paper bag thing.  I have worked a lot of things out since then.

red-3-strand2

Photography is not my field of study and I have huge respect for those who do it well.  I didn’t pay much attention before, but now, when I flip through magazines and catalogs, I think about the photographers, stylists, editors, and other people it takes to get great looking product shots.  They do it so well and make it look effortless.

tc1A day or so ago, I took jewelry to the gallery shop at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center to restock and freshen the items I have there.  I spent some time talking with the shop manager and our conversation turned to the economy and its impact on the arts.  I’ve had similar discussions with others about the same topic and whether it be the visual or performing arts, money is a problem right now.  Gallery shops provide an income source for many non-profit arts organizations.  They are a great resource and an excellent place to find gifts for others or treats for ourselves while supporting the arts at the same time.

This necklace is one of the pieces I placed in the gallery shop.  It features an exquisite Tuareg cross accented by glass and crystal beads.  The necklace is named Amani.

The past few weeks have been busy ones.  I’ve been working hard to prepare new pieces for the three stores that carry Bead Dreamer jewelry, making sure each has a nice quantity of interesting, beautiful, and unique pieces.  The owners and staff at each store have always been so kind and helpful to me and I appreciate each and every one of them.  I also appreciate every customer who has purchased Bead Dreamer jewelry, whether it’s someone who has purchased one pair of earrings or a long-term customer with a collection of my work .  To all, I say thank you.

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