Monday, January 20, 2014

Put Your Jewelry on a Pedestal, Here's How


Do you need a quick jewelry display to feature one of  your most excellent pieces? If you only need one, this can be finished in an hour, tops.

My jewelry is currently in a juried gallery show in St. Charles, IL, Molten Glass and Metal Show, running January 11 through February 15, 2014. For that show, they requested display items, to best show off your work. I've always bought commercially available jewelry display items and then recovered them with a taupe faux suede fabric. This created  a distinctive look, yet understated to show the jewelry off .

The bracelet displays I had been using were a half round that displayed two or three bracelets comfortably. For this show I thought is would be nice to showcase the bracelets and brooches that I was sending individually. What to do . . . ? I thought it would be interesting to have cylinder pedestals at different heights. The local sources I visited didn't have what I had in mind. I did remember, however, that I had seen round gift boxes at the "dollar store". I got two heights and got busy covering them with my signature fabric.

First I made a pattern. Really I did my measurements and cut directly into the fabric. For you I have made a pattern that you can copy onto paper and adapt to your specific measurements.
Tool List: 

  • Scissors, Ruler, Tape Measure, Exacto Knife, Pen, Pencil

Supply List


  • Round Box
  • 1 Yard of Fabric, probably much less. If you are covering one box, a scrap will be large enough.
  • Spray Glue - 3M General Purpose
  • Card Board - 1mm thick
Cut the long fabric strip, cut 1/2 inch "V" notches on one side of the long length and straight slit notches 1/2 inch deep in on the opposite side. Spray back side of the fabric and the exterior of the box with spray glue, and roll the box carefully the length of the fabric. Match the bottom of the box to the "V" notch side of the fabric. Now slowly and carefully fold the "V" notch tabs onto the bottom, and the straight slit notches into the interior of the box. 

Turn the covered box bottom side up. This will now be the top of the display cylinder. We will now create a cover for what was the bottom of the box. Using the box as your pattern, draw around the box onto the 1mm card board. Cut the card board circle out. Draw around the card board circle onto the back of your chosen fabric. Free hand draw another line 1/2 inch from the line you just draw around the box. Cut the fabric circle out. Cut 1/2 inch straight slit notches about a half inch apart all the way around the fabric circle.
Spray glue on the back of the fabric circle and the card board circle. Carefully position the card board circle into the center of the fabric circle, and glue down. Fold notched tabs over to the back of the card board, one at a time. Glue to the top of the jewelry display.

For those of you that have done this type of fabric covering, this brief how to will have you on your way. I want to give you detailed instruction, and have written a four page PDF file for those of you that need a little more information. In the download there are loads of photos and step by step instructions from start to completion. You can purchase the PDF download at my Etsy Shop or on my 1 Bead Weaver web site.   

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Buy Handmade, It's about soul . . .

It's time to talk turkey about handmade. Do you even think about handmade? I hope, as you are heading out into the craziness of  the Thanksgiving weekend shopping, you will give what I am saying here one moments pause. Hopefully, giving just the right gift or possessing clothing, jewelry or art that an individual has thought about, designed, and created has meaning to you. Buying handmade means quality, thought, mindfulness, creativity, and the great joy of making infused into an art object. I think we need to think about the years of study, training, experimentation, mistakes, and remakes that happened before the creator is able to present you with their amazing offerings. By giving a gift with a story, you add value for the giver and receiver.


I am a artist/maker. I am passionate about people understanding how they are spending their money and the value they gain by thinking larger than owning more. Thinking about the quality of what they purchase, how long it will last, and the deep joy it will give them, perhaps for a life time. You may not have as much stuff by buying handmade, but what you do have, will last longer, be well made, and serve our earth by being made locally. As "they" say it is a win win for everyone.One-of-a-kind items or short run items are truly special in this world of mass production.

Actually think about what the chain of events are when you buy at a big box store. The creator of that item works in an office at a cooperate head quarters. Many people approve or disapprove that item. It is tested, rearranged, watered down and homogenized. Then a prototype is made. This prototype then goes to three or four possible manufactures outside of the United States, that boasts cheap labor, to get a bid on making
that product. Possibly the cheapest bid is accepted. More adjustments are made to the product to make it easier to manufacture on an assembly line. The colors of the day are imposed on that product, the cheapest raw materials are used, and it goes to production. Thousands and thousands of that product are made, and put into a shipping container until the container is full.The shipping container is then transported to the docks at that foreign location, where it may be warehoused for months. Then that product makes the journey over the ocean, taking weeks and using a great amount of fuel, to a US port. The container goes to a distribution center, more fuel, operated by the cooperation and distributed to all of their big box stores. Oh, by the way, more fuel. You see this product on an end cap at the big box store, you like the price more that the product, and you buy it. Will you have that product in six months? Will that product be front and center in your life in six months, or will it be riding the bottom of a drawer or  your closet forgotten until cleaning day three years from now, when you through it away or hopefully donate it to a charity. We all need to think about what we spend our hard earned dollars on and who it supports. I am aware parts of the production stream I have described have been left out, are not accurate, and I am US bias. I'm trying to make a point about how far the original design is from the creator of that design.

Support the artisan directly. Your support provides financial freedom, gives the artisan control over their own destiny, gives their life a purpose, and results in their being able to do what they love. Possibly develop a relationship with this person. Know the story of how your purchase traveled directly from the maker to you,
with no middle person. This is, of coarse, supporting small business. If nothing else, that artisan can buy a few more supplies to make their next creation, but at best it helps that business owner pay their mortgage, light bill or buy health insurance. Too many artisans have lived their entire creative lives without health insurance. Your purchase doesn't meet the profit margin a board of directors has set, but supports the creator, the artisan.

Get out to all of the art and craft fairs.Go to galleries. Be the first one of your friends to discover a new designer. And, yes, you can afford it. Think about all of the "things" that you afford; premium cable channels, the newest cell phone, that pair of shoes you just had to have.. Could you really afford them? If you want something enough, somehow you afford it. Talk to the artist, perhaps they will create a payment plan for you to purchase that coveted item that is just out of your budget. I've done this a few times and enjoy that art in my home because of it.

My best holiday season, is one in which I don't ever visit a mall with the loud holiday music, florescent lighting, and the two mile walk to where my car is parked. It will be my wildest hope that I can influence one person to hesitate before buying at the mall. Giving handmade, shows more care or concern for the person you are giving to, and for yourself. You spent time at the art or craft fair, online perusing the handmade offerings, and talking to the maker directly or via e-mail.. You may have asked for adjustments in size or color that tailored the gift to the receiver. In the end the item is precious for your loved one, and a loving act on your part. Isn't it time to rethink, Black Friday? I am grateful today for the makers out there. They are the soul of our culture.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Life's a bead of roses, how the cuff was made.


Just finished a bracelet cuff yesterday evening that was almost a year in the making. I've been working on this cuff off and on, between many other projects. I was inspired to show the process this bracelet went through. As with many projects for me, it started with the beads. I had made some pendant necklaces and statement rings with these beads. They were perfect to make a beaded bead, that results in a bead that looks similar to a magnolia or a wild rose. So late last year I ordered more of these beads online, to continue making the pendants and rings, adding some new colors. My order arrived and I order the wrong size. I try to be careful about size, but I slipped up this time. As it turned out it was a happy mistake. I thought about sending the beads back, but one evening sat down and made a beaded bead with one color, and then another, and another. After a couple of weeks there was a pile of beautiful beaded beads with sparkly crystal centers.


I played around with the beaded beads and laid them out in different ways. At a point it became obvious, I was making a cuff. This meant I had to make more beaded beads. Now, how to bring it all together and close the cuff. Most people do not realize there is a lot of engineering involved in making some jewelry. The piece must have movement, be comfortable, and still be beautiful. Out came the sketch book to play around with some possibilities.

From my sketches I created a platform spanning a wide hook. On the platform, I was intending to add Sterling Silver flowers with a rivet at the center. These flowers would mimic the beaded bead flowers. The wide hook would mate with a squared "D" at the other end of the cuff. Once I had soldered the platform in place on the hook, I added the two Sterling Silver flowers with a rivet in the center of the flower.I left just enough space between flower and platform so the flowers will spin. I love doing things like that with my jewelry designs. It's a little surprise for the wearer, and, of coarse, me having some fun.

Next I created the beaded beads attached to the hook. As I made the beaded bead, I including the bar the platform sits on, and the wire that all of the beaded beads would be strung on crossing the length of the cuff. This was tricky, to say the least. At the other end I did the same and included the "D" and string wire, as I created the beaded beads. This bracelet cuff was not a bed of roses to make, but turned out fabulous. Now there is a "Bed of Roses", made of fun petal shaped beads, Swarovski crystals, and two spinning Sterling Silver flowers.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Fall Jewelry Making Classes


This is an exciting time and a very challenging time of year at Kathryn Bowman Studio. Creating new jewelry making classes is always what is going on around here in July. I just met the deadline earlier in the month for fall into winter jewelry classes at Lady Bug Beads, the bead store I teach at here in the St. Louis area. Their new schedule runs from October to January. All of those classes will be available for signup on August 23rd online and at Lady Bug Bead's 10th Anniversary Celebration. Wow, can't believe I have taught for Lady Bug for ten years. "How time flies, when your having fun?", as the saying goes.

My Lady Bug classes are three popular repeats and three new classes. The popular repeats are: Bead Rope Crochet, Wire Findings, and the Morphing Plum Blossom. I only offer Bead Rope Crochet about once a year. It is the most challenging thing that I teach, and not everyone is up to how much work it is, and that's fine. The Wire Findings class is an action packed three hours of hands on making. Being able to make your own wire connections, hooks, and earwires, is an essential for any dedicated jewelry maker. And, of coarse, the plum blossom and it's many variations is an ever popular class and loads of fun. That fun isn't just in class but goes home with you to make beaded beads that you can adapt to your own jewelry designs. The new classes are; Dagger Down Earrings, Squares and Super Duo Cuff, and Three Metal Medallion Pendant and Toggle.
Dagger Down Earrings
Squares & Super Duo Cuff
Medallion Necklace with Toggle

  •  The Dagger Down Earring pushes the plum blossom beaded bead in a new direction and I wanted to share that with my students. Very fun! 
  • Squares and Super Duo Cuff is for the advanced student that has been doing square stitch with beads for a while, but wants to push it to a new level. By including Super Duo beads in the mix, it will have the student dancing a new step and seeing how well they are paying attention with each stitch. This cuff is definitely my greatest accomplishment recently in "how can you really, really challenge yourself," arena. I have to admit I had a few frustrating moments and restarts, before I got it to work. Come join me and be challenged.
  • The Three Metal Medallion Pendant and Toggle has a little bit of everything for the metal worker. You will be sawing, piercing, filing, riveting, wire wrapping, and, of coarse, including a few beads. I like it hanging long, but the student may choose to have it hang higher, and that will all depend on your taste and what you want to do.
All in all, a good line up of classes at Lady Bug Beads, including students just beginning through advanced. Don't forget to see the other instructors offerings for the fall and winter. There are some really talented ladies teaching classes at Lady Bug Beads, and you don't want to miss out.

That deadline being met, I'm on to the next. I will be teaching for a weekend at Bead Boutique, October 5 and 6. Still getting that all set up times and costs, but the classes are coming together nicely. Saturday morning we will make a metal pendant, using basic metalsmithing techniques. In the afternoon on Saturday we will learn how to make the Plum Blossom beaded bead and as many variations as we can fit in. Sunday afternoon we will make the Dagger Down Earring, which is the Plum Blossom beaded bead in it's newest form. This will be my first excursion out of town to teach at a bead store. I'm really looking forward to meeting Kansas City beaders and see what they are doing with beads.

Through all of what I have just been telling you about developing classes, I am really working on the class proposals for Bead and Button Show 2014. Morphing Plum Blossom, Dagger Down Earrings, Squares and Super Duo Cuff, and the Three Metal Medallion Pendant and Toggle are in the proposal line up. Believe it or
Plum Gold, Flower Petal Necklace
not I have ten more ideas that I am working on for proposals. I am working on all of the ten simultaneously, for some reason. I may have a bright idea or finding a solution to a problem in one project, while steadily working along on another proposal project that is more predictable. Now, whether all ten will make it in the final cut, depends on a lot. The technique has to be interesting to a wide variety of jewelry makers and skill levels. With bead projects I have to consider bead availability, because for each class at Bead and Button I will make a kit for each student. An obscure bead may really make a design, but I have to be able to repeat that same design at least 12 times for the number of students I have in class. Oh, and what if I do that same class twice, times that by two. I'm not going to do any metal classes that include etching metal for 2014. It is someone else's turn to teach metal etching. Teaching how to etch involves a lot of equipment that has to be moved around almost daily, while I am at the week long show, and I've decided to streamline those many moves and cutting out etching was going to be essential to making the moves easier. I really had a lot more fun at the 2013 Bead and Button Show than I had in a long time. This was mostly due to a lighter schedule, and a break in the middle of the week to catch our breath. It was so much fun to get out in Milwaukee and be a tourist. With this in mind, I may teach a little more for 2014, but I will definitely take a break in the middle of the week.

Check out my fall into winter schedule. There are a few times set aside at my home studio you might be interested in. You will need to e-mail me at, 1kathrynbowman@gmail.com to get anything set up at my home studio. I like to screen who's coming to the house, please understand. Hope to see a few of you in class. Until then, happy jewelry making.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bead & Button Show, The Annual Report

My teaching assistant, Meghan Copper, said on the drive home, "it's an experience." It always is. This is the eighth Bead & Button Show I have been to and the sixth that I have taught at. And it is still an experience. It's hard to explain to anyone, or prepare anyone in advance. If you make jewelry, you have to experience the Bead and Button Show once in your life time. This year I taught fewer classes than I have in the past. I have always taught everyday of the week, that I am in Milwaukee. This has created a grueling marathon of an experience. I must say, I enjoyed the lighter teaching load. We actually had more time to shop and really see all of the new products and innovations the world of jewelry making comes up with each year and to see the city of Milwaukee. Yes, we even did side trips.

Delta Center, Milwaukee, WI
After a beautiful drive from St. Louis to Milwaukee, the week started with getting a mountain of tools and supplies into the Delta Center, where the show is held. It was actually rather painless. There was virtually no one in this huge convention center as we loaded in about 5 p.m. on Saturday. Fortunately, I had done it before, but I could tell Meghan was having some doubts. We ended up having to cross a very large exhibition hall in the dark, with only tiny red exit lights on the opposite side, to guide our way to the doors we needed to go through to get to our class room/home for the next three days. It was a bit spooky, but we persevered. With all of our equipment parked where it needed to be, we headed to our hotel and dinner.

About four years ago, I discover that I could really save on hotel cost by not staying downtown Milwaukee. Ten minutes drive north of downtown Milwaukee is Glendale, WI. I have found the hotels cost half of what the downtown hotels are charging and free WIFI. In Glendale there is a Mall with great shops, lots of restaurants, and a more relaxed safe atmosphere than downtown. This is a great option for those that travel to the Bead & Button Show by car. I understand the conveniences of being able to walk through the sky-walks to class or show from the downtown Hyatt Regency or Hilton Hotels. It no doubt works better for most show attendees, especially for those that fly in. I have found the Glendale hotels an easier option for me.
Early Sunday morning, June 2nd, we were back at the Delta Center setting up for a day of class. We got the tools out, kits for sale ready, and each student's place set with bench pin, instructions, etching kit, and a bag of treats and goodies.The day went by quickly, as we guided all of our students through making the Three Metal Articulated Bracelet. Monday we taught the Ginkgo In Motion Necklace and on Tuesday we taught the Articulated Bracelet for a second time. Everyone of the students worked so hard. They were focused and ready to learn everything they could in the short time we spent together. All of these classes are packed with various metalsmithing skills, so the student experiences and does a lot. By the end of Tuesday we were a bit dazed from three long days of teaching, talking, and sharing stories with a very interesting group of students. We were ready for a good nights sleep, without the need to get going so early, and into high gear right away.

All we HAD to do on Wednesday was in the evening, Meet the Teachers. We eat a late breakfast and
Crowd rushes in at Meet the Teachers Event.
headed to the American Science and Surplus Store. I had been hearing about this place for a couple of years and had never had the time to visit. It was most amusing. This store buys up surplus anything with a lot of camping, science, and art supplies on our visit. That could change tomorrow though, as it is what every they are able to find at surplus. After the surplus store, we made a quick stop at the Delta Center to set up the display for the Meet the Teachers Event. By then we were getting hungry and headed over to the Milwaukee Public Market. We looked at all of the beautiful food on display and there were mounds of it, made our selections, and had a nice lunch. Feeling nicely satisfied we headed off for a stroll around the Third Ward district. This is an area of Milwaukee filled with boutiques, eateries, and galleries. Just up our alley when it comes to interests, so it wasn't hard to wile away the afternoon. By 7:30 we were back at the Delta Center for an evening of meeting new jewelry makers, chatting with old friends, and enjoying banter with our fellow teacher neighbors.

Pabst Mansion
Thursday was another goof off day. I'm feeling really spoiled by now. This day we got serious about being tourists and went to see the Pabst Mansion. Very nice. Well worth the visit. Beautiful carvings every direction that one turns, amazing attention to detail in every way in each room both by the artisans that created the mansion and the amazing restoration. It is a nice peek into a time of, no holds bared, decoration dating around 1900. After our tour, we decided to head back to the Third Ward and hangout until shopping opened at 4 p.m. at the
Just a sampling of the tools.
Bead & Button Show. As always, the shopping was fabulous and all things in great abundance on the show floor. Meghan and I took off in different directions to satisfy our different interests. Meghan spent most of the evening laboring over the perfect cabochons to purchase. I passed by where she was a couple of times, as I shopped around. She was starting to feel a little guilty that she should pay some rent to the vendor, she had been there for so long. It was an evening about tools for me, and Meghan did finally narrow down to a few stones she would bring home. I must say, she made some excellent choices.

Bead Dreams Contest - Wire
Bead Dreams Contest - Objects
Oriental rug made with seed beads.
Bead Dreams Contest - Finished Jewelry
Friday would be our last day at the show. I had a three hour class at 5 p.m. called Toggles By You. The day started off slow, then over to the Delta Center for some more shopping, and then high energy teaching through the evening. We spent considerable time looking at the amazing work by the artists that enter the Bead Dreams contest. This work is always over the top and so inspiring. Then a few more purchases were made as we reviewed what we had seen the evening before. We had a nearly full class that evening. There was a lot to get done during class to make three different toggles, with a different skill attached to each one. It was impressive to have most everyone get finished and everyone seemed to be having fun as they worked away. After class we pulled everything out of the Delta Center (there is a pack horse aspect to this part of the event), and headed for the hotel.

It's always a good feeling to head home. I've done so much traveling in my life and the feeling about going home never changes. We had an uneventful drive home, and got to St. Charles around 6 p.m. It was a great trip. Really enjoyed the pace, my students were interesting and ready to learn, and made a few good buys on the show floor. Meghan was an excellent help. She was intuitive about seeing what needed to be done, and was great at filling in a part that I may had forgotten with a description or aspect to a skill. Really helpful. Now it is time to create new classes for 2014. This is always a creative and challenging time. What will I come up with? What are you interested in learning?