Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creating a Jewelry Bead Kit

When you purchase that neat package with a beautiful photo of the beading project of your desire, did you ever think how that all came together? All of the beads are lined up in marked packets ready for you to play with. The instructions are numbered and sequenced for you to follow to completion and, ultimately, you putting on a piece of jewelry to show off to your world. It is quite an adventure to bring that self-contained entity, the Jewelry Bead Kit, together and I am going to share with you how I go about the process.

How does it start?
It all, of course, starts with the actual jewelry piece. In my life, there is jewelry being made all of the time. In fact, there are several projects going on at once. I make all of my jewelry with the best beads and findings to produce a quality piece for sale at a show or in a boutique or gallery. I don't make any of this jewelry for the singular purpose of being a jewelry bead kit. There are always other inspirations at work when the original piece is made. Then once I've finished a piece, I wear it out for a test drive, and either a comment is made or when I look at this particular piece in the mirror it will strike me that it will be a great beading project.

Asking the hard questions.
At this point I really look at the necklace or bracelet with a critical eye and ask myself a few questions. Will the techniques in this piece be doable by the average beader? Are these colors too bright or should I calm them down? Are there too many techniques? Is this piece of jewelry truly unique? Are these beads or components readily available? Are these beads or components in a price range that will make the kit affordable? Thinking in this way, the necklace or bracelet will be re-made using more affordable or more readily available beads, possibly a simpler technique, and a slightly different color pallet.

Finding the best beads at the best price.
While I am re-making the piece, I'm already shopping for beads. I always look to find the best price available so the end kit will be the best price for you. I go to large bead shows and try to keep up with what is available. Over time I've gotten to know a few bead vendors that I trust and can depend on. I will go online and I dig deep, past the first few pages of a Goggle search and look and look to find the best prices. I may end up opening a new account for that good price. I'll make a small order and if that experience is good I'll know I can depend on this vendor.

Writing, rewriting, editing, and testing.
In reality, writing the instructions is the most time-consuming task in making a kit. Most of the kits I have produced are fairly complex with lots of steps. As I am writing, I'm thinking about whether an illustration or a photo will communicate the concept or steps the best. I will be working on the verbiage and the illustrations at the same time; to me they go hand in hand. I teach at a bead store here in St. Louis, so I am fortunate to be able to test my instructions on my students. Believe me when I say, they will let me know if it isn't working. I really listen to my students and am grateful for their input. This work on the instructions may take six months. Yes, that long. I always test my instructions in the real world and it's not like that will happen on a speedy time frame. It's all good. I think this makes it a better product and when it does get out in the world, the bugs are worked out for the most part.

"The" photograph.
By this time I may have made the sample piece four times and it's time to take the beauty shot. I set the jewelry up in an environment, flat on a table or possibly hanging. These photos will be used in many places and in different ways, so I try to anticipate all of that and take tons of pictures. They will be in the instructions, online in my website and on, maybe in a blog or as part of an article, as well, so the piece is turned about every direction to be able to give the information needed.

Now it is the moment of truth, you are at a show and you are debuting this awesome kit. The people start stopping and looking at your kits. They touch, they feel, they make comments and ask questions. And, yeah, they buy one. After all of the effort it is so rewarding the someone really will hand you their credit card and make that purchase. They no doubt are clueless what has gone on before their being able to walk away with that kit in the cute little shopping bag, and you know what? That's O.K. So you see, it is quite an adventure creating a Jewelry Bead Kit and getting it to market, but always fun in the process.

The kit in the photos is my most recent addition to my line of Jewelry Beading Kits. You can find it online at