Question 16: Recently you posted about hand making your own charms. Could you go into further detail.
Answer 16: I would LOVE to. Charms are one of the basic building blocks of my jewelry. I have used them in just about everything I make, and even thought I love metal charms I have always been frustrated with the lack of options.
Q. Wait. Lack of options? There's thousands heck tens of thousands of options for metal charms out there.
A. True. However to get the best price I have to order 200 or 1008 (weird number I know) of the same charm. Plus a lot of those options are within the same category i.e. you can find almost every flower out there in charm form. So I ended up with a much smaller selection that I would like.
Answer 16 Continued: So about 2 years ago I started making my own charms. I found this really cool artistic medium. When I first started making my own charms I would hand cut the shapes and stamp the picture. This gave me a good idea of how the finished product would look and how my customers would react to a hand-made charm. I was thrilled with the end result and my customers where quite happy as well. So I invested in a CAD system, the cheapest one I could find. Now 98% of my charms I cut out using my CAD system then I hand draw each and every picture onto the charms. The great thing is it's a bit cheaper to make my own charms the down side it has dubbed my work load (ugg). However I'm happy with the end results.
A. Computer-Aided Design. The original CAD systems did drawings, mostly for blue-prints and other technical things, but now there are CAD systems for all sorts of things. Mine cuts things out for me. (do you think I used the word things enough?) The cool thing about CAD.... (deleted do to length)
Q. (eyes glassed over) You do know I'm going to delete most of what you just said. I think my brains have turned to mush. (trying to push fingers through skull)
A. Sorry (dose not look sorry at all)
Question 17: Where do you get your pictures from?
Answer 17: Some pictures I will completely create from scratch. This is particularly true for the charms that have a definite shape (out line shape of the thing) like a wine glass, bunny, rainbow or cat. I will free hand in the lines to create shadow, shape, form and/or texture. A large portion of my charms are not outline shapes, but simple blanks like a tear drop, circle, tag, or Moroccan widow cutout. These charms I hand draw the pictures on. A few I will do a free-hand sketch, but for most of them I will trace a picture since this gives me a much more consistence end result. A lot of the art work is my own, but to be honest I just don't have the time to make all the pictures from scratch, so I find some artwork or photo that is close to what I want and then I will Photoshop the heck out of it. Since what I draw is really small I have to delete most of the detail and then draw lines and fill in to create negative space (a lot of the silhouettes started out as a picture). I learned this technique in art class when I was in collage, but it was not on the computer it was all by hand. My professors where all about the hands on experience. They would say things like “learn how to do it in real life, it will translate easily to Photoshop”. A few of the pictures I use where created by friends of mine “Hay while your just sitting there could you draw a horse for me?”. I just love talented friends. And some customers have sent pictures to me because they really wanted a particular thing. I still have to Photoshop these pictures, but not to the same degree. The on the rare occasion I will be browsing royalty free clip art online and find something that is perfect just the way it is, I just have to re-size it. Oh do I love these gems, the time savings, Joy. I do still stamp some of the pictures onto the charms, but it's a small portion. I think I hand make something around 2500 different charms and about 20 of them are stamped. I should mention I also make a few of my charms out of polymer clay. Oh one last thing about the charms. I draw everything in revers so I have gotten really good at mirror writing (writing backwards).
Below are a few different examples of the charms. The type of picture will be to the left.
Made from polymer clay. Each book is just a bit different, witch is kind of fun.
Question 18: What charms do you have to make the most of?
Answer 18: As you might imagine wine glasses, alcohol themed in general, cats, and dogs. Are all very popular. Also my Geek themes are really big.
Q. Geek Themed?
A. Oh yes Geek is big. Actually it was the need for my inner geek to come out that really lead me to hand-make my own charms in a big way, not just dabbling. As a jeweler it's next to impossible to find well made not crazy expensive geek charms. This translates to the customer. It's very hard to find well made, attractive geek themed jewelry at a reasonable price, though this is changing. Because geek is big.
Question 19: You said you have used charms since the beginning, but what do you use them for and what is the item that used up the most charms?
Answer 19: Everything and Funky Bracelets...
Q. Your doing it on purpose aren't you (glare)
A. (smirk) Yep
Question 20: Tell me about your Funky Bracelets why do you use most of your charms on them
Answer 20: I came up with my Funky Bracelets after visiting my brother in Seattle (he lived there at the time). We had gone to this cracked-out store called Archie McPhees and my now sister-in-law bought me these small plastic ninjas. When I got home having been inspired by my trip I made the first few funky bracelets, one of them had the ninjas. A few weeks latter I had a dream about wearing one of the bracelets as a necklace. I think I must have completely designed the adapter in my sleep, because it only took me... I usually say it only took me 5 minutes to make it, but that is probably an exaggeration I loose track of time when I'm creating. Anyway, so each Funky Bracelet is created around a theme and comes with an adapter so you can also ware it as a necklace. Each Funky Bracelet has 5 charms and 20 beads. They always have the same number of beads and charms so I can keep the price the same. Also they all have a name
Q. They each have a theme?
A. Yep. Some themes are normal(ish). Like wine, cats, dogs, shopping, but I also make bracelets that are inspired by movies, TV shows, books, fairy tails, geek, and things that make me laugh.
Q. Give me an example of one that makes you laugh, include the name.
A. “I Scream, You Scream, The Police Come It's Awkward” It has Ice Cream Cone's and Handcuffs and the beads are in sherbert colors.
Q. (snort) Really? That is funny. (giggle)
A. (smile) It's one of my favorites.
Q. You said books, movies, geek, fairy tails. Examples please
A. “Gone With the Wind” it has silhouettes and quotes and the beads are in red and white (since most of Scarlet's outfits in the movie had red or white in them, “Princess Bride” Inconceivable, As you Wish, Sword, Castle and done in mostly creams and crystal because she was a bride, yellow for Princess Buttercup and blue for his eyes (yes I do over think these things). Um... Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood, "Wizard of Oz" done all in green's for the emerald city, "I Don't Like I Obsess" this bracelet has charms to represent 5 different fandoms, I usually change the charms out to the persons particular taste, but to start it has 5 of my favorite fandoms represented, Puss In Boots, I just made Hansel and Gretel, “I Don't Believe in Humans” this bracelet was inspired by a sketch I saw. “Happy Endings Are For The Weak” done in greens and has 3 Witches/Queens an apple and “I do what I want” because the evil queen dose not get enough press, "Labyrinth" I made this one because a customer wanted it , liked it so much I had to make more and "Loki" . A lot of the ones listed are available on my website, I have a bunch more that are not and I can make just about anything someone wants. In some ways I find it easier to make a bracelet around a concrete theme, in other ways it's more challenging, but that is part of the fun too.
A customer asked me a question. YEA!
Q. "I have allergies to some metals. What are your bracelets metal components made of?"
A. This is a great question and one anyone that is sensitive should ask. I use a variety of metals copper, pewter, stainless steal, silver, brass, bronze, and some times base metal. I try VERY hard to make sure that all my components are nickle free and lead free. However since I don't have a way of testing the metals myself I have to rely on the company's that I order from to have accurate information. I am very confident that the Ear Wires I use are Surgical Stainless Steal since they are made by a US company. However not all of my components are made in the US and some country's have lax testing standards. I will say that I am sensitive and my assistant Tig (Tig is great she helps out with sales) is crazy sensitive and neither one of us has ever had a problem, and in the 15 years I have been in businesses I have only had to make one return because of sensitivity reasons. Hopefully this means that I'm doing a good job at finding materials that truly are nickle free and lead free.