Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jewelry making

Usually the difference between American and and English spellings doesn't affect me much. I wrote in American all through college and my tutors seemed indifferent about it. Of course, of all the things I could pick up as a hobby just before moving here, I had to choose something that's spelled quite a bit differently in English English. I'd call it jewelry, but the locals call it jewellery. My Blogger spellcheck even underlined that last one.

Before I left the US, I looked around for a self supporting hobby and got into chain maille jewelry. It was a skill that wasn't too unlike knitting and crocheting, in that it required a lot of hand strength and good eyesight. I'm not brilliant at it, but I can close rings well enough that it's hard to find the seam to open them again and the rings are flat once I'm done working them.

It also reminds me of knitting and crochet because there are a lot of simple forms that can be made into simple designs. When I get my camera cable and my computer, I'll post some pictures of what I'm talking about. Again, I'm no genius, but I think I've hit upon a few ideas that I hope will appeal. I've got some family getting married this year and I've offered to do their wedding jewelry. Doing their custom orders is a good way to learn new skills and experiment with different styles.

As soon as I got to the UK, I started searching for suppliers and wholesalers. What I found was that quite often, even factoring in import taxes, it was still cheaper to buy from the US. I don't know why this is, really. More competition, perhaps? Anyway, I've ordered some materials and scavenged around on Etsy for surplus supplies that other local crafters are selling off, and this'll be what I make my first pieces out of that I'll try to sell (er, not the best use of prepositional phrases there... sorry.) I've also been trawling the internet for tutorials and buying e-books. I read a bunch of books back in the US too. Now, I know book learning isn't the normal way to learn. Most people sign up for a class, but it's the way I learn. I got a cheap sample of colored wire from a local company and I'll be using that to practice new wire wrapping techniques. They'll be funny colors, but I don't mind because they'll also be defective in a whole bunch of other ways. I'll keep practicing until I get used to the various techniques I'm trying to learn.

I've also been researching sales outlets and I'm working on two. A friend of mine took me around a bunch of little boutiques in London that sell items by local artisans, and I've been researching Etsy like crazy, looking at what shops are selling and which shops are selling and what the price ranges are. I'll definitely put items up on Etsy, and I'll also see about selling to a boutique.

The thing about starting up any new venture is that they rarely ever make money right off. It takes time, months if not years, so my goal here is to set up the best business model I can and see if I can get it to work. I've got three years here in the UK when I'll be a stay-at-home mom, so that seems like a good window. Wish me luck!


  1. I have a friend on Facebook...wife of a mission friend...she does jewelry. Her business has really taken off...she does colored wire stuff. I'll send you a message with her etsy page. Abbie

  2. Thanks for the link! Yeah, her business really has taken off; she's got a ton of sales. Her stuff's really nice - much more whimsical than what I come up with.