Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How Does Jewelry Make You Feel About You?

Hi! How are you? Well, I'm not really asking about your health, although I do hope you are well; however, I am asking how you feel about yourself. Today's world is filled with challenges and circumstances that your grandparents, yes, even your parents could never imagine and yet, you face new challenges every day. What does this have to do with jewelry you ask?

To overcome those daily challenges and live each day to its fullest, it's imperative to take inventory of how you feel about YOU. Let's do a little evaluating together, shall we?

1. Are you a copy of your mother, or do you strive to be your own unique person?

2. Do you choose the path less traveled, or do you follow the trendsetters you find on the Internet or in magazines?

3. Would you rather be classically understated and conservative in your style, or are you flamboyant and a risk taker?

4. Do you use jewelry to accessorize what you wear or do you plan your outfit around the jewelry you design?

What did you learn about yourself in these few questions? Now, in perspective, however you answered them, you can be sure that every piece of jewelry you wear tells a story about you.

I have always personally felt that a woman's (or a man's) confidence and unique character are her greatest assets. When you have self-confidence, it doesn't matter that you may be carrying a few extra pounds, or that you have a blemish or that you're having a bad hair day. Each of us have days when we aren't on top of the world. But what is important is that you can feel good about yourself in any situation. You know who you are inside and that the love you feel for yourself brings out an inner beauty for the world to see.

Now, back to the point of this story, when it comes to your choice in jewelry, each piece you wear tells something about you. Here are some ideas that could boost your confidence and individuality:

 *Wear jewelry that makes a statement about who you are and matches your personality, not that of some untouchable Hollywood actress. If you are feeling regal, why not make a necklace that enhances your mood and lets you stand out from the crowd like our Nobility Necklace?

 *Find pieces that support a cause you believe in. As an example, Antelope Beads offers Kazuri Ceramic Beads that are certified as Fair Trade and help provide disadvantaged women of Kenya a way to better themselves and support their families. See the Kazuri Ceramic Beads we have on the website.

 *Wear jewelry that has meaning for you such as a friendship bracelet or a charm or pendant that connects to a symbol of your faith or a childhood memory. Maybe as a child, you danced in a field of flowers that our pretty Butterfly Wing Pendant could represent.

 *Make your own. To let your true personality, individuality and creativity shine, make pieces that you design. When someone comments on how pretty your necklace is, just think how proud you will be when you say, "Thank you. I made it!" We have tutorials that can help you make all your creative ideas come to life, no matter what your experience level. Watch and Learn Here!

Whether you realize it or not, every piece of jewelry you own has a story behind it. How does jewelry make you feel about You?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Finding the Parts of the Whole

I'd like to talk with you a little bit about findings - parts of the whole. Have you ever wondered why the jewelry-making hardware that connect elements together is bunched into a group called 'findings'?

In the days when people who made jewelry had to rely on their own ingenuity to make all the components for each of their creations, a project required its maker to hammer out pieces of precious metal or draw out twisted stretches for wire. Being unsure of themselves, as well as inexperienced in their art, they would often use more metal than actually needed. These leftovers were saved to become part of another piece. The next time the artist designed a piece that needed a closing or a connection, he would rummage through his collection of scraps to find exactly what he needed. These collections of scraps and pieces eventually came to be known as findings.

Today, pre-made findings are a huge part of the jewelry making supply business. Lobster claws, magnetic clasps, toggles and s-hooks are the clasps and fasteners that hold your pieces together and make them easier to take on and off.

  • Eye pins - great for making custom links to form chains: Thread beads and a charm on an eye pin, leaving about a quarter inch to form a loop at the open end with round nose pliers. Repeat the process until you have enough to link together and form a necklace the length you want.

  • Head pins - great for forming charms or pendants: Thread beads, leaving about a quarter inch to form a loop at the open end, again using round nose pliers. Add your charm to a chain as a pendant or to an eye pin link, like the one described in the previous paragraph, or, duplicate your pendant for earring embellishments.

  • Jump Rings - the basic connectors in jewelry making. Use them to link eye and head pin loops to each other or to chain, join different styles of chain and add extenders, endings and clasps.

NOTE when using jump rings: They connect and hold everything together, right? So you want them to remain strong. Do not pull a ring apart from side to side, causing a weak and distorted, sometimes cracked portion of the ring. Instead, grasp each side and gently pull one side toward you and push the other away from you and open it just enough to add it to your project. Then reverse that motion to close it.

  • Endings - the finishing touches to your project. Crimp beads and tubes close a strand of beads. Cones are used for multi-strand projects and hide the knots. End crimps and crimp coils are used with a dot of glue for the ends of leather or ribbon cording for a place to add a closure.

This list, of course, does not cover all findings available, by any means. For more information about all kinds of findings available, go to AntelopeBeads.com  and browse our pages. Don't forget to familiarize yourself with the many types of findings and the correct tools to use with them and, as you get more sure of your efforts and more creative with your designs, the findings will themselves add to the beauty of your creations. Maybe you'll even create some of your own.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Jewelry in a Man's World

Many of the traditional lines between men’s and women’s fashion are becoming blurred, and it is no surprise that the same holds true for jewelry. "Jewelers’ Keystone Circular" proposes that this is true  especially for younger people, for whom some of the basic gender constructs no longer apply.

Many of today's men would agree that they want to avoid being over adorned. Jewelry for men, as with women, should be an extension of a man’s style and self-image, likely worn on a daily basis. That having been said, men can readily stack and pair necklaces and bracelets, combining chain, leather, and beaded designs in a variety of combinations of simple to bold or colors and textures.

And yet there still seems to be some basic criteria for successful men’s jewelry designs:

Simple Designs – Just a strand of leather, possibly textured, with an interesting clasp may be the perfect combination for a winning bracelet design. The Plain and Simple Bracelet  is a perfect sample of this concept. However, there are several different ways to branch out from this point:

  • This Bolted Anchor Flat Leather Bracelet employs a double wrap, or strand design. It  is still quite simple but the double strand adds a bit more interest. 

  • Add a focal component. The Gray Granite Bracelet uses very simple PVC cord with sophisticated ceramic accents.

  • Add one or more coordinating strands of leather for a bit more interest. Use several different types and colors of flat and round leather in a basic cuff design, such as with the Montana Code Bracelet . Or, use a mix of leathers for a more dimensional look as with the Cayden’s Cog Bracelet

  • Beaded bracelets are also on trend for men. The use of natural materials, such as wood, are a great starting point for designing men’s bracelets. The Eye of the Leopard Bracelet,  uses Robles wood and beautifully crafted ceramic beads for a winning combination. Just remember to keep it simple!

Bold and Substantial Designs - For a more venturous look, select larger leather sizes and clasps. The Regaliz leather cords are perfect in this regard, used alone or with simple embellishments, such as with the Black Elegance Bracelet

 Leathers can also be combined to create a substantial look as with the Greek Tryst Bracelet. Our Rustic Cuff Bracelet makes use of a larger focal to achieve a bold look.

Color - Although there are exceptions, most men’s jewelry is created using neutrals or subtle and muted colors and basic metal components. Designs can be a single color like our Lacuna Jet Bracelet or a blend of colors and textures as in the Brass Wrap Bracelet.

Necklaces - We've basically been talking about bracelets regarding men's accessories, but many men like to wear something around their neck as well. Whether to make a statement, show an affiliation or accessorize a personal style, necklace designs can be as simple as a strand of substantial chain, using, as an example, our Oval Link Chain, which comes in black and gunmetal as well as more traditional finishes; or a strand of leather or suede with a simple focal, such as in the very attractively designed Palmwood Necklace. There are as many possibilities as there are personalities. Experiment with more intricate or flamboyant designs, depending on the guy who will wear it.

Unisex Jewelry - Undoubtedly, many men’s jewelry designs will appeal to both sexes. This is not surprising, since men’s designs are based on some pretty basic, universal principles. This is also a result of some “blurring” of the lines between genders, as we discussed above. Of course, some designs can be modified with respect to size and color to create both men’s and women’s versions of the same design. The Missing Pieces Bracelets  and the Chic and Sleek Bracelets are great examples of this concept.

If you are a man who makes his own, or someone who creates jewelry for a man, don't be afraid to try new and different techniques and ways to wear your finished pieces. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this subject.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Make a Plan That Works for You!

What kind of creating system do you have? No matter where you are on the expertise level - pro, amateur or beginner- if you make jewelry, then you follow some kind of a procedure.

Yes, at times you pick up a piece of wire and start twisting and adding beads or you put a length of leather through a gorgeous slider you just found and, with a clasp...voila! You have a pretty one-of-a-kind bracelet that you didn't plan at all.

But there is almost always a series of steps that leads you to the final, finished product, especially if it is a deliberate and purposeful effort. Of course, depending on your personal style, your routine is fashioned by the way you work and that in itself will ensure the finished product is original and unique to your inspiration, imagination and talent. In my opinion, these are the four steps in the creative process that, in my experience, are fairly common.

Step 1 - Make a Plan. Get inspired. Whether it be by the person who'll receive your creation as a gift and what they like, or a cause that captures your interest or a memory from your childhood, you can be inspired by the tiniest speck to the universe around us. Will it be simple or extravagant? What elements and colors will most represent what you want it to say? How much time do you want to invest? Then devise a plan to pull all that creative thought into a tangible piece of jewelry.

Step 2 - Put It on Paper (literally or figuratively). This step will let you see your design. Sketch it on paper or use one of the available computer programs and bring your ideas together so you can see an image of your final piece. It doesn't matter how you draw it as long as you understand it, but the more detail you add in this step, the less chance there will be for design hiccups when you are doing the actual work. Here is where you can move elements and focal points, re-position beads or change the style or types of closures, etc. This would also be a good time to make a list of all the materials you will need for your design. If you are using a pendant, decide how you will attach it. How many beads do you plan to use and what lengths of chain will you need? The more information you list now, the more efficiently your work will go.

Step 3 - Prepare and Organize. This is when to get yourself, your tools and supplies organized. Believe me, there is nothing worse than holding a tiny chain link in the perfect position and then realizing you don't have a crimp. Your surroundings are important when planning a successful project, too. Set aside a block of time when you will not be disturbed, someplace without a lot of distractions. Light an aromatic candle, turn on some music you like and put yourself in a calm and assertive mind set to work. Especially if you are making jewelry as a business, this is an important step to promote productivity in any way that works for you.

Step 4 - Just Do It! Be guided by your plan and your original inspiration. Refer to your design, but remember, you can alter it as needed while doing the actual work. If it's a time-consuming project, take an occasional break to avoid cramps or tired-induced frustration. Take pictures, especially if you are in business or you're going to sell your pieces online. Shots of the different phases of your system will tell the story of the finished piece and stories sell product. Pictures of your finished pieces are a must for your portfolio, which every designer should have.

And most importantly, enjoy the process!

So, what do you think? Do you have a similar system or a different procedure altogether? I would love to hear your story. Anything you offer can help your jewelry-making colleagues and is appreciated by all of us.

If you need inspiration, Antelope Beads has a variety of suggestions and how-to's on the website. Browse through our samples to find ideas to make, remarks from the designer and a list of components.
Click Here!

Thanks, Everyone! I'm glad you're on our team.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box

"The most important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them." – Sir William Bragg

Recently, one of our designers said to me, "Today I made a new design... I have never done one like this before, but I was trying to think outside the box!". That, along with the above quote, is so closely related to making jewelry that I thought I would share some thoughts with you.

The saying "think outside the box" originated in the 60's, and since then has been used as a successful marketing catch phrase for a variety of merchandising campaigns, almost to the point of becoming cliché. But when you relate it to your own personal creative instincts, it may very well be a beneficial reminder of just how important your imagination is to you.

It's often a constant challenge to create new and exciting pieces when you are designing your own jewelry. If you're in business, you know that the competition can be overwhelming, so it’s imperative to stand out from the crowd, possibly by spotlighting an original, one-of-a-kind item to catch the eye of a potential customer.

As referenced in the quote by Sir William Bragg, there are seldom new elements, as with facts, to use to make your design unique. A wide variety of chain, leather, fabric, sliders, pendants and closures is available, but not much that isn't being used by every other jewelry designer on the face of the earth. So what do you do?

Say, for example, you want to make a necklace to add to your online inventory. The first basic step is to look for inspiration anywhere you can find it. Once you have an idea in mind, then analyze it a while. Look with your mind's eye at all angles, in reverse, changing colors and maybe even twisting elements into new shapes. Is a necklace always a necklace, or can it morph into a bracelet like our Eucalyptus Etude Convertible Necklace/Bracelet?
Check out how to make this beauty here: Eucalyptus Etude Convertible Necklace/Bracelet
And remember that you can always use different styles and colors of chain, findings and beads that will fit better into your or your gift recipient’s lifestyle.

Believe in yourself! Never be afraid to let your imagination out of the box.

Find fresh, innovative and trending ideas on our Facebook page...and while you’re there, please like it.  facebook.com/AntelopeBeads

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Incredible Chain

Chain! Long and chunky, short and delicate in a menagerie of sizes, textures and colors, chain is unimaginably versatile and incredibly timeless. Antelope Beads has just added a huge new inventory of chain styles and finishes, and you’re going to love all the creative possibilities it offers!

Chain always has been and will be in the forefront of the jewelry fashion world. Here are some takeaways from the 2017- 2018 jewelry trends we’ve reviewed:

Vogue’s report on jewelry runway trends shows, among other styles, a focus on bold, statement designs. Our new multi-circle chain is a perfect way to achieve this look, worn by itself or doubled or even tripled, and, of course, embellished in any number of ways. The Lavish Links necklace shows just one of endless possibilities!

Chandelier and chain/metal based focal earrings are also on trend. Making statement earrings can be as simple as attaching an interesting chain to an ear wire. Take a look at our Rotating Rings Earrings or Chain Cascade Earrings for some inspiration! Tassels are still very much in style, and chain is a great way to create instant tassels for both earrings and necklaces. For instance, these On the Fringe Earrings make use of our Figaro Triple Strand Chain. This basic design is so flexible! Try mixing chain with different finishes, adding additional chain sections, or trimming the chain to different lengths!

Of course, leather and chain always work wonderfully together! Our Mix It Up Bracelet makes use of a variety of leather sizes and colors as well as different chain styles to achieve a unisex design. With just a little thought you can conceive any number of combinations, each of which renders a completely different look!

Chain is perfect for delicate and minimalist designs as well. Just couple a delicate chain, like our 2mm Rolo Chain or Oval Link Chain, with one of our designer components or your favorite charm and you have a minimalist creation.  Our Dorabeth Mixed Metal Trio is an example of endless possibilities.

 Feeling romantic? Check out our Golden Garden Necklace – perfect for a special occasion and easy to modify to incorporate a variety of colors.

Check out our amazing collection of chain, in a myriad of finishes at AntelopeBeads.com and create your own style!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Is Jewelry Making Right For You?

Making jewelry is a fun hobby for many and for others, both women and men, it is a profitable business venture. With the right tools and an assortment of supplies, people make pieces inspired by what they see in the fashion magazines, design and create from their own ideas and imagination or look to sites like Antelope Beads to get ideas and instructions.

Jewelry has been a form of self expression almost since the beginning of time. Early humans wrapped themselves with plants or in animal skins and then picked up one of the bones, a rock, a shell, or a flower and added it to their 'outfit', either as a closure or an adornment. As people learned to use tools, jewelry became more elaborate, made from whatever element, metal, gem or compound that was popular at the time. 

When you make a piece of jewelry to give as a gift, I personally feel you are giving a piece of yourself to that person. You created something, even if you use a pattern, with your time and effort, and embellished it from your own creativity, making it special for someone special in your life. It is unique and one-of-a-kind, just like the person you're giving it to. 

Jewelry making can be good for your mind and body...therapeutic in a manner of speaking. It is an exercise in concentration, which can clear the mind and relieve stress. Using your hands in conjunction with your mind and imagination can lower tension levels and work out anxieties. If you form or join a group or a class to make jewelry, you reap the benefits of support from like-minded people.

And finally, making jewelry is an excellent way to create an extra stream of income. If you are serious about your craft and work to get good at it, there are numerous ways to sell your jewelry pieces.
  • Find local craft fairs or jewelry shows and rent a booth for a small fee. 
  • Your local jewelry store or jewelry making supplier might consider selling your items on consignment. 
  • Sell you creations on eBay or Etsy. 
  • You may also want to consider making custom pieces for people with their own creative ideas, but who don't want to actually make it.
Whatever you decide, make sure you have a variety of pieces made and ready to go because people love handmade and unique jewelry. 

Jewelry making can be fun, healthy and profitable. Here are links to some ideas that may inspire and motivate you:

  1. All Angles Swarovski Designer Component Necklace

  2. Chrysanthemum Claycult Ceramic Earrings

  3. Butterfly Garden Regaliz Cotton Cord Bracelet