I’m so excited that I’ve found your site, it gives me many ideas and inspiration but I too have encountered some problems with my home jewellery business.
Actually I have started making jewellery a few months ago with my best friend using mainly polymer clay.
The disadvantage is that it takes a lot of time to make the beads and then create a piece – since we’re working full time in our regular jobs, we struggle to make a collection.
To give you an idea, every week we create only one piece or not even one.
Another problem is that we want them flawless even the chains, toggles, clasps etc. that we use have to be of a very good quality.
That has as a result, to be even slower in our process and also to spend a lot of money in our supplies.
We have sold 5 (only) pieces so far but we have given a lot as presents to friends to promote our work.
One of our friends invited us to go to her workplace where 40 women work to show our pieces because they got really excited when they saw hers. That was really exciting – if we had enough pieces to actually go.
What can we do? Shall we wait until we have a complete collection of what we make with polymer clay?
Is it better to buy some ready made beads as well in order to complete a collection faster?
I really want to succeed in this because I know we are really good at it and we enjoy it a lot!
Any suggestions would be great! Thank you very much!
Love and light
Some speed tips for polymer clay
I understand what you mean about it taking so long to get a piece together, and a couple of things came to mind.
First, from the picture that you posted it looks like you are making highly polished round beads. You are probably sanding each one by hand and that is where you lose a lot of time.
My suggestion is to invest in either a variable speed rotery power tool (aka Dremmel) or a rock tumbler (not one of the toy level ones for kids though). That way you can make a batch of beads and either sand them with the rotery tool at a low speed steeing or tumble sand them in the rock tumbler with pieces of sandpaper lining the tumbler.
The tumble method takes longer per step, but since you are doing it in batches of up to 1/2 of the tumbler’s capacity then the time spent per bead is significantly less.
You can find a ton of information on the web on either of these methods. Oh. and these methods work on many shapes of beads, not just the round ones.
My second thought was to go ahead and take your friend up on the offer to show your work at her workplace. Take a sampling of your work and some loose beads in colors that you can reproduce. You might want to string the colors beads into a bracelet for you to wear there.
You let the people know that you are taking orders and that it will take say, 4 weeks before the item would be ready for delivery. A person would chose a style from your samples and a color from your color bracelet. Make sure that they know that the pieces are not mass produced and therefore there might be some varience from your samples. (And no, tumbling batches of beads doesn’t make it mass production)
Get their contact information (you don’t want to be sending messages through your friend) and that they get yours. If it looks like there is going to be a delay contact them and let them know. Most folks will be very understanding.
Depending on the price of your jewelry and your comfort level, you should consider asking for a non-refundable deposit of 1/4 to 1/2 the total for the order. That way if someone backs out you have gotten something for the time you spent making the ordered item(s), plus you get working capital in case you need to order more supplies.
Good luck in your venture and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. I have a contact page on my website.
Polymer Clay Eclectic
mixing media with polymer may save time
by: The Nimble Sprite
You asked if you should add some purchased beads to your designs to speed up the process. Personally, I think this is a great idea for several reasons. Yes, it will be quicker than making every single bead by hand. But, even more important, adding variety to your designs will liven them up and showcase your handmade pieces even more dramatically. Purchase interesting beads–or even bits and pieces from hardware stores–when you see them on clearance. Allow these to inspire you to create elements from clay that contrast or blend in terms of shape, color, texture. Speaking of texture–remember that not every bead must be smooth and shiny. Experiment with interesting textures to create contrast, variety, and save yourself sanding and polishing!
Faster with Price Options
by: Chula Productions
Hi Evi. You may want to make some pieces with one, three or five focal beads. This would cut down on your handcrafting time and provide your customers with price options. There are many options for stringing materials that you can use such as chain, leather, hemp, beading wire (Soft Flex Co.), satin cord and the list goes on. You can also knit ribbon yarns and/or make celtic knot cords.
I have learned over the years to design pieces I can make in a short amount of time. Since both of you still hold full time jobs you don’t want to over extend yourselves. The pieces that have more beads can be your “Limited Edition or One of a Kind Collections” and you can charge more. If you are open to options you’ll have a collection in no time. Best of Luck!
by: Line from Play Sculpt Live
First, the beads from your picture are very nice. I work in polymer clay myself and have managed to make a sizable collection over a period of 6 months. yes, some pieces are time-consuming and the worst of it is the sanding, for me anyway.
I agree that you should incorporate bought beads of glass or metal in your pieces, mixed-media jewelry is well received. Another way to shorten the time is to make pendants on chain, leather or silk. I find that those are the ones that sell the most. Most women like something not too big and simple, you know for everyday or for work. Mind you there are exceptions but so far the women I’ve come across like the pendant and simpler pieces over my more ornate ones. the tumbler idea works great for beads without protruding ends. there is always polymer work that doesn’t need sanding, like stamped and dry-painted pieces. For your group of women, I’d make about 10 pieces, call it your 2011 collection and take orders with deposit. Take all their names and send them pictures of new items as they come available. Etsy is a good way to have a shop without needing a big inventory and people can check out your stuff when they want.
Working with Polymer Clay
If you’re going to sand the beads, use wet/dry sandpaper found in the automotive stores.
It is better to wet sand the beads in a bucket filled with water and a small squirt of dish soap. This keeps the sandpaper from getting gummed up and will make your process go faster. It can even be done while watching TV.
Another thing to make things go faster is if you have kids or other family members around, have them help you warm and condition the clay. Well conditioned clay makes for quicker work. Many hands make for lighter work sometimes.
You might want to create some exclusive canes to include in your designs. That would literally put your name on every single piece.
Good luck and your work is very beautiful!
Thanks to all for your great polymer clay productivity tips! I’m learning a lot from this thread.
Very helpful tips 🙂
by: Fe Lebron (Girlie Ladybugs Co.™
I learn every day a little more about polymer clay techniques. There’s too much to learn…Thanks GOD for people like you so opened to share your stories and knowledge with the whole world 🙂