How to get started designing original jewelry

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Rosemama1 wrote
on Dec 26, 2014 2:12 PM

So, I've been around beads all of my life. My Dad is from West African. He and my Mother import African beads, baskets and textiles but I've only been beading for four years. I love following patterns and the craft of bead weaving. I have to say I get great satisfaction when I finish a project. However as of late, there has been a deep longing and pull to begin designing my own original jewelry. My husband has literally spent thousands of dollars on beads, findings, threads of every sort, looms, books and computers. You name it I have it . The problem is I don't really know where to start as far as coming up with my own designs and seeing them come to fruition. How do I know If I am ready for such a step? Do I need to go to school to do it? Then, There is the question of actually selling. Do I need to make a portfolio or brochure of some sort? Please can someone help me? I would love to make some progress in this area so that my husband can see that I have gotten somewhere with this and be proud and realize that his investment has not gone to waist! Can someone please share with me and point me in the right direction? Maybe help get me off to a running start. Thank you in advance for any advice!!



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Posts 18
on Dec 26, 2014 4:57 PM

I think that the ability to design, whether it be inspired or not is just by doing. Even some of the best artists I have heard have done some of their best work has come without any inspiration at all, they just did something even when they did not feel it. I would say just start and as you work, you may begin to see something you didn't see before you began. Also, I would think about colors that you like, and materials that you like,and go from there. You can look to nature, geometric, industrial, what ever you like. Fashion, or trendy or one of a kind. There are also programs you can buy that can help aid in design. As far as selling, I would really be sure of any business licenses etc, you may need to take care of before you start to sell. It is different for different states, if you live in the US, don't really know about other countries, but best to check that out. How will you sell? online? in a market place? these thngs matter, so once you decide what you want to do, you can ask someone from that particular selling place how they did it. I know that selling just online you don't  really need a portfolio, just nice products. There are classes in many types of jewelry making, as well as the business end of jewelry selling. How creative are you, and how much do you already know. ou may know more than you thing, to get started. I would write out a business plan, after you decide what you will make and sell. It couldn't hurt. I wish I had done it, as I did start one late, but would have been helpful in the beginning. I hope some of these ideas will help! :)


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D.M.Z wrote
on Dec 27, 2014 1:42 AM

Amenia, since you have a wide selection of beads, books, tools and skills.............. my suggestion to you is to get a plain school type notebook and start jotting down ideas. Like I'll be talking to someone about fish, so maybe I have an instant flash of an idea and sketch a fish.........then what can the fish be doing............  If you feel the need to take a class or two, take something like color education. Get to know people near you who bead because they will do things that will put some color scheme or project idea in your mind. 

Sometimes an idea sits in my notebook for what seems like ages then I find it again and the time is right and more ideas flow through my brain and I sketch more, write down colors and go with it. It also helps you to remember things you made and sold too. I look at some of the adventurous things I made and now I wonder how I had the nerve to tackle them.........but I was brave and worked through them. I hate it when I look at an idea and know I made it and don't have much written down about it. I found that out by trial and error. Just got a bracelet for repair and had to sit down and really search to remember how I made it, would have saved time had I written down more details.

Selling is up to you, where you are, what you want, etc. I sell to people who know what I do and see something and like it and buy it. I used to sell other products in person and on the net, now I have people who seek me out and that suits me as I am now retired. DMZ

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Rosemama1 wrote
on Dec 29, 2014 6:23 PM

Dear clct2015,

Thank you for your reply! I have not designed any original designs as of yet. As I stated earlier. I have done several replicated designs from other designers.  Also, my parents are the ones who have the African beads and they usually attend the Tuscon gem & mineral show each year as vendors. You are welcomed to look them up if you like. Sissoko African Imports. Here is a piece I did from the cover of this month issue of Bead & Button called " The Flower Path". Designed by Ora Shai and beaded by me. I tried to put my own spin on it. TH

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HomeStrung wrote
on Jan 15, 2015 8:39 PM


Sounds like you have everything you need except just a little more courage to just start doing it. Like most things you may not absolutely love your first few attempts, but there is probably someone out in your world who would love it. Make sure your skill level is the best you are capable of doing. The actual designing with colors, combinations, etc will come with a little practice.  The other thing is be prepared to take it apart and start over, sometimes multiple times.  After over two decades of designing I still only hit it the way I want on the first try about one in  six projects.

When I am working with a new designer, my biggest concern is her skill or workmanship.  When it comes to jewelry, it can be a very individual thing. There will alwaybs be some who like and some who don't like.

Most of all have fun!




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