Friday, 26 February 2016

Personal Business Disciplines!


"Today, I've hit a wall!"

I know that all of you out there will resonate with this, especially
if you are desperately plugging away at running your own businesses!
I guess I hit this wall at 100 miles an hour every year and just when
I see nothing but darkness, a tiny crack of light appears and that
light beams stronger and stronger as the year progresses to Christmas
... which is always the highlight of my sales time!

Instead of writing a tutorial, I thought I would relay some of my
personal challenges this year, in the hope that this could also help
some of YOU!

I've been self-employed and running my small scale, home jewellery
business for over 20 years now.  I've created metal jewellery ranges in
sterling silver and base metals for galleries and shops. I've employed
an agent to sell them.  I've mass-produced ranges by photo-etching
and casting. I've designed for mass-production in the Far East. I've
specialised in wedding jewellery and accessories, selling to shops.
I've contributed my designs to craft magazines in the U.S. and U.K.
I've designed the Whammer hammer distributed by Beadsmith.
I demonstrate on Create and Craft TV for Beads Direct (and I shall 
shamelessly plug that my next show is on 30th March at 9am!) .
I have 9 published project books and 3 instructional DVD's, I demonstrate
my craft at Bead Fairs and run half and one day classes from my workshop
and I try and keep true to where my heart leads me ...

(Above is my latest book, published by Search Press)

What I am trying to say is, that I have been plugging away at finding
ways of keeping going (meaning: financially afloat) with my passion
for wire art and jewellery making and from the 'outside looking in', it
most probably looks like it is a doddle! However, every year (and I'm
sure a lot of you will relate to this), especially around January
and February time, I hit that wall of doom and the question is: "can I
continue to survive from my craft?" (whilst the bills are pilling up
around me!).  If you've hit that wall too, let me give you some support
as I begin to resurface and build myself up again ...

YES - you can live off your craft, but your income isn't guaranteed on a
regular basis and it definitely will never make you a millionaire (except in
jump rings!). However, it does give you something that money can't buy:
self-fulfillment and freedom.

The benefit of doing something you love as a job, is that you KNOW why
you are doing it and that means you are more likely to overcome the
challenges you face, because you are emotionally involved in a very deep-
rooted way. Your drive and enthusiasm will more than likely keep you
engaged and self-motivated!

My personal motto is: PERSEVERANCE PAYS!

One of the most important things is to have a PLAN.  Visualize what
sort of business you want; what you want to achieve; who you want to
be. You don't need a complete business forecasting schedule, but an
outline and a focus to get you started will help guide you through the
actions and steps you need to initially take.  There's no point being too
rigid about this plan, as it is essential to have the ability to be flexible, to
change and tweak things as you get going, so that when you encounter
obstacles, or when things don't materialize, you don't give up straightaway,
but take the view that every negative will make you stronger and better!
This doesn't mean you've got it wrong, or you've failed, it might just be that
you were in the wrong place, with the wrong people. Or, that you still need
to expand your skills. Maybe you've still got a bit to learn, you're not quite
ready ... everything is a work in progress. Learn from it!

10 years ago, I tried to get my first book published 3 years before 
it actually was!  It was only when I had completely given up, that a 
publisher spotted me demonstrating at a craft show and asked if I would 
like to publish my first book: Creating Wire and Beaded Jewellery.  
And when that happened, I was really pleased (in retrospect) that it hadn't 
happened 3 years earlier, as I had gained MORE experience, expertise 
and knowledge to add to my book and consequent publications. 
It happened EXACTLY when I was ready! 

I often get asked, what happens if you get stuck with creativity
- go blank - where do you go for inspiration? If you are reading this
and just beginning on your 'journey', then I would recommend that you
start a Pinterest board or a physical scrapbook, which you can go to for
ideas.  You could even create a Mood Board. For this: get a large sheet of
paper (or card) and create a collage of images, words and any personal
inspiration that 'speaks to you' and stick it down with the words:
NEW BUSINESS written at the centre.  Looking at that and the process
of creating it, will hopefully re-ignite an inner awareness of what you want
to ultimately achieve. I've also found that going down
'Memory Lane' can be useful. Step back to your childhood, find the
simplicity and joy that you loved then and take an aspect of that and turn it
into a new idea!  Creativity is like jogging. If you do it every day, you'll get
better at it with practice.

Keeping abreast and in touch with your market and industry is also
essential. If something is selling well, it means there is a market.
You don't have to try and re-invent the wheel! Obviously, you should
never copy directly, but we all subconsciously re-use ideas we've seen,
adding our own unique stamp or individual style to set it out above
the rest.

You also have to be prepared to work long hours - that's what
will help build your business.  Everyone who is successful has usually
grafted very hard to get to that platform, even though their current success
makes it look like it was effortless!

You might think you haven't got the time. You might think that you're
too old to get started, but that shouldn't stop you if you have passion for
what you want to do! For a start, you don't have to do EVERYTHING!
Just concentrate on your best skills and expertise and delegate the rest to
other experts. Spreading yourself too thin can ultimately cause cracks.
Never be frightened to get help from other people so that you can evolve
to be the best version of yourself! If you can't do it on our own, collaborate
with others who have the same passion. I'm sure you've heard it said that
"two heads are better than one" or, "if you can't beat them, join them"!

Something else, I highly recommend is to keep learning. Do
courses, watch 'You Tube' tutorials, read project books and magazines.
Learn new techniques and stretch and challenge yourself to evolve
with your craft. If you invest in yourself, you are investing in your
business! This is where I might mention that a 'hands on' class is possibly
the best way to get a springboard to creative inspiration. Now, here comes
my commercial break: Have you heard of the London Jewellery School?
Well, look them up if you haven't and 'yes', I am doing a very special one
day workshop there on March 3rd! Please DO come and join me!

And if you miss out on your space there, my website:
has details of the workshops I run in Kent, tailor-made to suit
your individual skills and needs.

(Above: my website designed by SHE CODES WEB DESIGN).

So, if you have had a dark lull like me at the beginning of this year and
thought you were never going to come up to surface! And that it was time
to go back to getting a 'proper job' again - let me give you this seed-bead
of hope:

When you're living from passion, you will be more 
fulfilled, happy and healthy (but sadly, not that 
wealthy!) as there is no time to be ill, angry and 
unhappy as you're doing something you love all day! 
(At least, that's the theory!!).


Tuesday, 2 February 2016


February is that time of year that all crafty makers are
thinking about 'heart' motifs to incorporate into their
designs!  Even if you don't want to make a piece of
jewellery or home decor, it's always nice to attach a wire
heart to the front of a card for a loved one, or friend!

I have created hundreds of styles of hearts over the years
and for this tutorial, I thought a decoration, rather than a 
piece of jewellery would be fun and different ... however, 
all the elements and techniques are there for you to pick 
apart and choose how YOU would like to be inspired by it ...

1.  I've chosen to use 0.9mm black steel wire, as I wanted
a rustic feel to the frame, however 0.8mm silver plate will
do just as well for a completely different look.  Decide on
the scale of your frame and then, working from a spool, 
wrap the wire around creating about 5  rough circles
(less for a thinner and more for a chunkier frame). 
Cut the wire from the spool, leaving a long tail ...

2.  Use the long tail of wire to wrap around the circles
of wire.  Don't worry about being too neat, that's half
the 'rustic' charm of the piece! To create the heart shape,
place the tips of your chain nosed pliers at the edge
of the circle and push down to make an indent.

3. Using your fingers and pliers, continue shaping
and molding the wires until you are satisfied with 
the overall heart frame.

4.  Place the 'heart' on a steel block and Whammer the 
frame until it is work hardened and flattened.

5. Choose beads or semi-precious chips, to decorate the 
top of the frame and bind these on with a fine wire, such
as 0.4mm.  (I used Rose Quartz chip beads and pearls,
only because they are synonymous with 'lurve' as
Barry White will warble!). 

6.  Keep binding the entire frame with beads, 
and cut off any spare wire and neaten the ends.

7. Optional: to make a small inner heart to suspend
within your frame - cut approx. 4" of 0.5-0.6mm wire.
Place your round nosed pliers at the centre and cross
the wires over on each side (it's what I would classify
as a 'flying bird' shape).

8. To form the side 'shoulders' of the frame: 
place your round nosed pliers on each side (near the
central loop) and bring the wires around until they 
meet together to form the base tip.

9. Thread each of the wire ends with small seed beads
of your choice, pushing them right up to the central

10. Once you finished threading beads on each side,
wrap one wire around the other to secure, leaving a 
projecting stem. Using the tips of your chain nosed pliers, 
twist the central loop 90 degrees.

11. With the tips of your chain nosed pliers, pull the
central loop upright, to the top of the frame - this might 
misshape the heart, so just spend a little time re-adjusting 
it again.  Thread a chosen bead onto the projecting end 
(I used a Rose Quartz chip) and create a head pin to secure it.

12. Attach and suspend the smaller beaded heart into the 
centre of the larger frame and if desired, connect a further
bead to the very end (of the larger frame) for extra 
embellishment and movement.

I have chosen to create a little 'heart hanger', 
but you could use this idea to create a pendant, 
a card decoration, or even set it within a box frame ...

And finally, may I just add, that where there is a 
HEART ... there is ART!