If I Had Only Known

20 02 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, I got into the jewelry design business completely and totally by accident.  I didn’t take a class, just jumped in with both feet and started messing around and figuring things out for myself. 

Almost immediately, I took my hobby into a business.  Looking back, there are so many things I wish I’d known:

1)  Beads will take over your life

 Do not fight this.  So from the start, get a huge storage system in place.  It will be full sooner than you know.  The quicker you allocate studio space, the quicker you’ll be able to find things when you need them — and know what you have so you don’t keep buying the same supply over and over again!

2)  Take some classes early on. 

I don’t know how long it was before I learned how to make a perfect wrapped loop, but at first, I had no idea how.  And it showed.

dream-2a13)  Explore different mediums

Right now, I’m a stringing/wire work jewelry designer.  I know traditional metalsmithing and lampwork bead making, but I’ve gotten so involved with keeping inventory up for the shows I do that I don’t have much time to look into other things, or hone new skills.  If I’d started exploring new mediums sooner, who knows what I’d be making now … altered art?  Woven wire?  PMC?.  It also would have helped me figure out what direction I wanted to go with my jewelry — what did I want my primary market to be?  I didn’t allow myself enough experimentation time before starting to sell.

4)  If you’re going to sell your work, use the best beads you can afford. 

I should have been pickier when I first started selling my work.  I cringe now at what I was using.  This doesn’t mean you have to start with AAA London Blue Topaz, but if you’re going to be serious about selling, be serious about your beads.

5)  Get a handle on your pricing structure right away. 

I quickly learned that my retail prices weren’t going to support a wholesale after-the-storm-2business.  I also learned that because I started with such cheap beads, it was a little difficult for my customers to get used to prices once I discovered beauties like handmade glass.  (Another good reason to make sure you’re happy with your craft before you start selling it!)  Additionally, decide right away if you’re going after the wholesale or retail market.  Each one has its own peculiarities, and it’s often a good idea to choose one or the other.


I feel pretty lucky that five years later, things have turned out as well as they have.  But it sure would have made a difference if I knew then what I know now.


Lori Anderson sells her jewelry at craft shows  and on www.lorianderson.net, taking time to write on her blog, www.prettythingsblog.com.  She creates in her studio in Easton, MD.


Overcoming Artistic Block

20 12 2008

This year was a hectic one for me.  I participated in over 16 shows (most of them 3 days long), wrote tutorials, taught classes, volunteered nearly every day at my son’s school, fought some major illnesses — it’s no wonder I’m tired!

I also make nearly half my income in the last three months of the year, so every single day (and most of the night) I’m making jewelry,  selling jewelry, or shipping jewelry.  If I thought I was tired before, I’m even more so during those crazy days, and the inevitable happens — I get major artistic block.  

This kind of artistic block starts with my never, ever wanting to see another bead or piece of wire again.  My work bench, for the first time all year, gathers dust.  I find myself with loads of time and I have to actually think about how to fill it. 

It’s lovely!

This annual artistic block doesn’t frighten me, though.  I know that in about a month, I’ll be right back at it, preparing for another year.  But right now, I’m enjoying things I didn’t have time for before — knitting, reading a book in the local coffee shop, taking my son to museums, and on occasion, playing a video game.  A month later, my brain will have been rested and rejuvenated, and I’ll venture back to the bead cabinet.

(And oh yeah.  I take this time to really clean my house from top to bottom.  Running your own business really makes dusting and organizing seem less important!)

I think it’s important to embrace artistic block.  Often it’s not a lack of ideas, but an abundance of ideas — so many ideas that your brain throws up its hands and cries, “Enough already!”  So rather than fight it or worry about it, take the time to do something else.  Just like an athlete resting in the off-season, an artist needs to rest.

Really!  Go on.  Put your feet up.  And I’ll see you next month.

Fame, Fortune, and Reality – Lori Anderson

23 08 2008

This is a timely subject to be assigned, as I just got interviewed by Fire Mountain Gems.  They said they wanted to include me in their “Jewelry Artist Success Story” section of their web site.

I’ve been interviewed before, by blog owners and once by the newspaper, but it never fails to knock my socks off in surprise.  The reality is, I am so busy pushing myself that I doubt I’ll ever classify myself as a success.  There are soooo many things left to do!  But it’s still such a wonderful pat on the back to get recognition, and it’s always an honor.

Some of my favorite pats-on-the-back come from being “sighted”.  While shopping at a bead show, twice I’ve had someone ask, “Aren’t you Lori Anderson?”.  They said they recognized me from magazine tutorials or remembering me from a show.  That was really cool. 

One time my work got recognized and it was a hoot.  A woman said, “That looks like something from Lori Anderson” and I said, “I *am* Lori Anderson”.  That tickled me to no end.

The reality, though, is these little “rock star moments” never make me think “cool, I’ve made it”.  Rather, they push me to keep progressing with my work, to keep submitting things to magazines despite the fear of rejection, to keep tweaking and improving and updating.  I also never forget the reason I got into the jewelry design business — to be able to stay home with my child, and be involved to the fullest with his life.

Fame and fortune are fleeting.  Being hugged and told “I love you, mommy” are forever.

Studio – Lori Anderson

20 07 2008

Some of my friends have the most beautiful studios imaginable — one even has one so amazing that a magazine wants to cover it as a feature article.  

Me, my studio is my kitchen table. 

I have a five-year old son and a wonderfully supportive husband, and we spend our time in the family room.  The family room/eating area/kitchen all are one big room, so it was second nature to set up shop right in the middle of it.  That way, I could design and make while still being with my family.

Want to take a tour?

Here’s a bit of the table, in its normal state of chaos:

 Messy Studio

My fuel: 


My beads are stored right behind my chair, in a Collectors Cabinet — very handy! 


I also have an office — it used to the formal living room, which we never used as such.  I do all my computer/web work here, as well as take photos, manage shipping, and all that behind-the-scenes stuff that takes up TOO MUCH TIME.

So we have the computer desk — notice the photos on the screen, waiting to be uploaded to the web site, a stack of postcards to be mailed to customers, the huge pile of receipts waiting to be entered into QuickBooks…..


Then we have the photo “studio” — the big bowls hold bags of jewelry waiting to be snapped….


And then a bookshelf full of bead catalogs, a calender to record events, a postage scale, and a trash can that never seems to be empty ….


And there you have my studio!  We’re working on making my glass and metal studio, which is separate from the house, a bit more hospitable – an air conditioning unit is a MUST this time of year!  But I really like my studio being in my house.  I don’t miss out on family time, and I can work on something without having to drive to another studio.  It’s a mess, but it’s home.

Color Me All Over the Place — Lisa Liddy

10 06 2008

When it comes to choosing colors for jewelry, I admit it—I am all over the place. I buy beads and pearls and other supplies in the colors that I like first. Then I look around at what is HOT for the season (might seem a backward approach but I get where I need to be eventually). Usually there is some overlap (always a good thing!). And I’m always looking at the classics and neutrals.

If I’m wearing it this summer, it’s likely to be fuschia, orange, hot pink and black. Somehow my summer casual wardrobe (6 months of wear in AZ!) ended up in those color combos. I call it “accidental coordination”. My sub-conscious knew more than I did when I was out looking for clothes! This bracelet is actually my daughter’s but if she doesn’t start wearing it soon, I’ll reclaim it!

I’m a sucker for black and white in jewelry, too. It always sells and no one seems to think you can have too many pieces in that color scheme! And I’ve also gotten hooked on pale pink and brown like in this ring. I call these “Sex and the City” colors!

As I’ve gotten more years behind me in the business, I’ve tended to avoid most holiday, seasonal colors (with the exception of a very few red, green, and white pieces) in favor of more marketable year-round colors. And in the “rules are made to be broken” category, I’m working on a red, white, blue bracelet—but that is really more for another blogging project than to sell. I have some great ideas in holiday color schemes, but I find my style of jewelry doesn’t sell easily when wearing time is limited.

All shades of purple appeal to me and to my buyers. It’s such a comforting color palette for me too. When I am having a creative drought, I pull out my purple stash and start to relax and let things flow.

Another combination that always makes me feel good are “watermelon” shades: pinks, greens, reds… Especially for summer but I make Melonhead Joolz year-round thanks to generous beadmaker friends.

Eventually, I’m going to get my office repainted in soothing shades of teal and mauvey plum. I have had the paint chips picked out for a year but if you’ve been in my office, you’d know what an ordeal it will be to paint.

I told you I’m all over the place with colors! I’ve thought about sorting all my handmade glass beads by color, but I’m half afraid where I saw “gaps” in the color wheel, I’d feel the need to fill in and that would be a bad thing!

I really can’t imagine life without all the colors of the rainbow in beads!

www.joolzbylisa.com     www.lisaliddy.wordpress.com

More on Motivation – Lisa Liddy

10 03 2008

I have procrastinated on this topic as it frustrates me as often as it excites me. And hoped that someone else would jump in with another topic! Since no one is going to save me, I’ll lead with another look at Motivation.Designing jewelry is something I kind of fell into. It was a way to hang onto a shred of sanity during an incredibly difficult time a few years ago. It relaxed me. And then people wanted to buy what I made (which meant I could buy more beads and silver and pearls…without feeling too guilty!) and that was satisfying as well as motivating. Sometimes.But real life gets in the way more times than not and things don’t happen at a pace that you would like. I’ve always worked best under pressure…deadline-driven is how my other business has to operate and I’m much more productive when there are hard deadlines. Like many artists, though, the thrill of having someone want your work is often as motivational as the monetary result. It pushes me to step out of my box more and reach for new ideas. However, sales of jewelry aren’t exactly “needs” in the economic scheme of things, so when sales are slow, the motivation to create new things slows for me as well. It should work the opposite and I’m working to change that mindset.Something else I’m trying to jumpstart the motivation is to incorporate some “new” activities into my day and week. Instead of feeling like any free time from the book design business should be spent on the Joolz business, I’ve been looking into crocheting again. And dabbling into felting beads. I love yarns and wools (ironic since it is too darn hot for most of those materials most of the year in Arizona), and I’m looking more at the fun fibers for my play time. We’ll see where that goes.fiberheart1.jpg