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Thursday, January 29, 2009

How I organize my jewelry making process

So I was talking with some friends on a jewelry forum about how we organize our time in order to have lives AND make jewelry. It is hard. Here is what I posted as my response (with the addition of visuals):

I have come to accept that I will not find the "perfect" time (or circumstances) in which to create.

Sure, in an ideal world, I'm sitting at my work table with a cup of coffee and a sleeping dog at my feet while the kids are in school. But the reality is, the dog usually wants a walk, the kids need rides to hockey, my office job takes up about 10 hours out of every day, and coffee is usually drunk on the way to somewhere.

If I wait for ideal conditions, nothing gets designed, created, photo'd, or listed.

The only alternative is to do everything in "bits and pieces". The living room coffee table is my work bench. From there, I can get up and stir whatever's on the stove, watch tv with my kids, and continue to be part of the family in general while still working.

As I make each piece, I write on a piece of already printed-out paper how much the materials cost. This paper will follow the item into a ziploc bag. This is an accounting of the cost of the item, based on the materials used. This is infinitely easier if you have labels on each box or bag of components with the price per piece.

My sheet looks like this (before):

And here's an example of the paper that went into a bag with a necklace I made the other night (after):

I have a lot of "works in progress". But once a piece is completed, I put it in a box on the bookcase (in the same living room). Once a week (or so... you CAN'T make strict schedules without feeling like a loser 'cause you can't stick to them), I set up my photo stuff and shoot everything in that box.

Then I take the items over to the computer (with a good light) and edit the photos. Yes, I take the jewelry with me because I'm anal about getting the best representation I can when I show my listings.

From there, I write info about each piece (on paper already printed with the questions):

Lampwork Artist _______________________
PC Artist _______________________
Artist Location ____________________
Main bead size ________________________
Total Materials Cost _______________
Size _________________
Approx time to make _______________

Now I can remove the materials cost sheet and replace with this one. I'll refer to it to make my listing.

Next is listing. So now all these creations are in the second box (already photographed, ready for listing). I have all the info I need on the papers with each piece so I can list on the road if I have to (meaning, with my son's laptop while at a hockey practice).

I use a WORD template and all the info I need to put into the listing is highlighted, so I just go and fill in the highlighted areas and copy and past the template into wherever I'm listing (eBay, ArtFire, my site, etc).

Once listed, the creation goes into a third box (photo'd, listed, waiting to be sold and shipped) where they'll stay until they're sold.

Bottom line for me is that there is no perfect time... squeeze tasks in where and when you can. I have certain projects that are more mobile than other ones. If I take my kids to a hockey practice, I'll grab a WIP (work in progress) that is just wire-wrapping because those are more transportable. (And having people watch you work in a public area will get them interested in what you sell.)


  1. Hi Laura,

    You make such a good point - if you wait for the perfect time, it doesn't happen. I really like your accounting system for pricing and inventory. I'll have to use your tip! This is a great post, full of info and tips. It's exactly why I gave you the Kreativ award - your blog is inspirational!


  2. Oh, I like that idea, I am always writing and adding up my bead costs on scraps of paper..you are so organized!