Tag Archives: Christmas

Our jewellery making christmas list!

With christmas just around the corner we asked some of our staff what is on their jewellery making christmas list!

 

Jessica Rose – Founder

london-jewellery-school-blog-tutor-christmas-list-aquamarine-faceted-beads

Source etsy: https://www.etsy.com/market/aquamarine_beads

‘Gemstones! I love working with gemstone beads, particularly citrine, blue topaz, aquamarine …’

 

Anna Campbell – Tutor

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Source: http://www.metalclay.co.uk/jooltool/

Jool Tool and metal clay bead builders

‘After a visit to Metal Clay last month I am definitely coveting the Jool Tool, a polishing machine that I got to see in action! I would also like some of the metal clay bead builders in my christmas stocking! They are special moulds for metal clay to make Pandora-style beads in different shapes.’

 

Karen Young – Marketing Coordinator

london-jewellery-school-blog-tutor-xmas-wishlist-karen-young-fretz-hammer

Source: http://www.fretzdesign.com/pt-17-fretz-hammer-pendant.html

Fretz Hammer Pendant

‘This is on my xmas wishlist! It is a really cute replica Fretz hammer pendant. I love my Fretz Hammers so would be nice to have a mini one to wear’

 

Helen Walls – Tutor

 

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Source: https://www.hswalsh.com/categories/combination-rolling-mills

 

Durston Rolling Mill

‘I love recycling my silver (and gold when it’s about) so it makes a sound investment for rolling out sheet and wire as well as texturing sheet’

 

Penny Akester – Tutor

 

london-jewellery-school-blog-tutor-christmas-wish-penny-akester-sievert-torch

Source: http://www.cooksongold.com/Jewellery-Tools/Sievert-Professional-Torch-Kit-prcode-999-AKZ1

 

Annealing pan and Sievert torch
‘An Annealing pan and Sievert torch (with a dedicated ‘hearth’ area in my workshop) – so that I can work on larger scale pieces and do more ‘home’ casting – I love experimenting with casting and making larger pieces and now I’m not working from home (in a block of flats with rather fussy neighbours) I can have a gas canister and full torch set-up – yay!
 
Mostly – just for me – a special treat – a Knew Concept saw – totally unnecessary, as I already have a fixed saw frame (my favourite), an adjustable one, and an extra deep one for cutting out big sections when a standard frame won’t reach, but this would be a real luxury treat gift – I keep hearing how lovely they are to work with, and maybe it will be so lovely to cut shapes out with, that it will save me the huge cost of the saw, in the reduction in broken saw blades? (I doubt it though!!) ;)’

 

Annie Mason – Tutor

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Source: http://www.cooksongold.com/Jewellery-Tools/-Range=Mandrels/-Size=0/-Type=0/-Brand=0/-Font=0/&prdsearch=y

 

‘Disc cutters and a large bangle mandrel!’

 

What’s on your list? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

Christmas Opening Hours!

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Make a note in your diaries of our Christmas Opening Hours!  

We will be closed from 5pm on Friday 23rd December and will reopen on Wednesday 4th January at 9am inclusive to allow our hard working staff team and tutors to have a good rest over Christmas ready for a jam-packed 2017!  All emails and voicemails will be picked up when we get back on 4th January!

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And don’t forget – the last postal date for kits and gift vouchers will be by 5pm on 22nd December (although we will still be able to provide electronic gift vouchers on the 23rd for you to print out at home).

Have a great week! x

 

 

10 wirework christmas decorations to inspire you

This Christmas tutor Anna Campbell has been inspired to make her own wirework Christmas decorations. Have a look at some of these fabulous ideas:

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Wire christmas ornament hangers via WireExpressions

 

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Holly decoration via Earth Balance Craft

 

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Celtic tree ornament via Nicholas and Felice

 

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Christmas globe via Eni Fenyvesl

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Christmas wreath via Louise Goodchild Designs

 

 

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Beaded angels via Dotty Beads

 

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Swarovski snowflake via Rosie Willett Designs

 

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Wire christmas tree wall hanging via Better Homes and Gardens

 

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Beaded star and tree via Minimalisti

 

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Snowman via wiremajigs

 

Are you inspired to take one of our one day wirework jewellery classes? We have a couple of places left for December classes and have classes scheduled into 2017

Beginners wire weaving

Beginners wire wrapping

Wire jewellery with Linda Jones

 

Do share your creations with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Author: Anna Campbell

LJG Guest Blogger - Anna Campbell of Campbell Hall Designs

 

The ‘C’ Word (Part 2)

 

'C' Word! (1)

So Part 1 of this blog talked about how you can start to prepare in advance for the Christmas Period and start building your inventory early.

Part 2 will look at how you can preserve your all important time for revenue generating activities by improving your productivity and reducing your admin. So how can you do this?

5. PLAN YOUR PROMO & OFFERS

A. CREATE YOUR MARKETING CALENDAR

I am a big advocate of planning your marketing and social media in advance, but it is even more critical you do this for the Christmas period so that you aren’t frantically worrying about what to post and when to post when you have a million other things to do. Get a big calendar and plot out the big events (remember Black Friday and Cyber Monday as these are great events for sales), and your special offers to coax people into buying.

For example, I offered Free Shipping (Special Delivery) for any purchases in November and a free polishing and finishing kit in December plus free gift wrapping. Some people offer free up-sell items such as stud earrings.  You may also offer early bird discounts for ordering early.   I essentially had what I wanted to post on social media plotted out including my newsletters (high level content at the very least) well in advance so I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to post on the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on any given day.

B. CREATE ALL YOUR COPY, GRAPHICS AND IMAGES IN ADVANCE

Once you have plotted out what you want to post, spend some time drafting compelling copy (you will always need to review and tweak just before you post but that takes minute) and creating images in advance using the likes of Canva (they even do an app for the iPhone!) or Picmonkey.

I blocked out a couple of days in September to take festive pictures of my jewellery and taking behind the scenes shots so that I had everything prepared in advance. Of course I left a little space to add in impromptu photos of Christmas fairs, custom pieces and work in progress, but I had 80% of my content planned in advance.

Then every Sunday I blocked out time to schedule the week ahead and I blocked out an hour each day to respond to comments and engage with my customers and followers. Time blocking really helped me make the most out of my time and meant that I could focus on social media time on engaging with people rather than writing and posting content.

C. DECIDE ON YOUR KEY DATES (INCLUDING LAST ORDER DATES!)

It is essential that you decide on the key dates for your business including last order date for custom pieces, last order date from your regular collections and when your shop will be closed to orders for the Christmas period. Then you know what the boundaries are and you can communicate these to your customers well in advance.

6. DECIDE ON YOUR PROCESSES

You have ordered your supplies and built your inventory, but there is another way you can streamline your work and that is by planning your processes or manufacturing operations in advance (can you tell I used to work in operations 😉 !?).

1. YOUR WORK SCHEDULE

Planning out your weekly work schedule can really help you organise your working week and working day. I tend to spend the first hour of every day responding to emails and spending time on social media.
Then I have dedicated workbench slots or days.

I like to batch together similar tasks such as soldering on cufflink backs or ear pins and do multiples of each task. I usually end up have 1 day of manufacturing (soldering, piercing, etc) and another day each week for polishing finishing and stone setting.

I then have a posting and packing day where pieces go to the assay office and post office) each week.

You have to be a little bit flexible, but by blocking out time for different tasks and doing what you can in bulk means you are usually more productive overall.

2. YOUR PROCESSES

Don’t make the mistake of wasting precious time trying to remember how to make each piece. Spend some time jotting down the process you follow to make and produce each piece of jewellery. It doesn’t need to be fancy – even a handwritten page in a notebook is fine – you can always work to having typed instructions later. Key information to include is:

A. Materials and dimensions – this way you can look up the dimensions and what the piece is made of (components and raw materials) and you can check your inventory and/ or start making the piece straight away without having to faff around measuring samples etc (or order the right materials and not forget anything!).

B. Time to make the piece including any parts that can be batch produced in advance

C. Step by step instructions on how to make the piece (include drawings or photographs if it helps) so each piece is as similar as possible.

D. Important notes such as alternate suppliers and any other relevant notes.

Also think about your order process end to end – I have a massive planner that is dedicate to my business and when an order comes through I enter the order in the calendar and add the piece to my workflow and diarise when I will make the piece (hopefully using pre-fabricated components), when I will assemble, polish and finish the piece (including setting any stones) and when the item is due to ship. I usually aim to do this well in advance of the maximum shipping date including in my listing so no order ever gets the stage where I am rushing to finish it in time.  I have set up all of my email templates in advance too including ato-responder emails as part of the purchase and dispatch process.

I also have 3 trays for papers – 1 for invoices for supplies or tools ordered, 1 for in progress orders and 1 for completed orders. This means I can easily file all my paper work at the end of each week without having sort through it carefully as I am doing this as I go. I put these papers in monthly folders which helps with my accounting each month – one of the first things to slip when things get busy!

3. OUTSOURCE WHAT YOU CAN?

You may want to look at any aspects of the process that you can outsource. For example, if pieces are being cast you may want to ask the caster to remove the sprue for you. Or get your pieces polished by a polisher. Or get a stonesetter to set your stones.

Find out the cost of this work and then establish if there are any processes you can get done more cheaply (or quickly) than if you were to do it yourself and try a few test pieces to see what the quality is like.

Even some help packing parcels a couple of hours a week or looking after your social media can be a big help. It can be a big leap mentally to do this (I really struggled with it) but at the end of the day your jewellery is still handmade, you have still designed it and done most of the work (certainly each piece has been quality checked by your hands) so it is worthwhile considering doing so that you can focus on the parts of the jewellery making process you are best at and enjoy doing particularly is your brand is taking off and you need to free up capacity to stay on top of your orders.

You never know, one day you may even hire bench jewellers to work for you so it is something you might need to get your head around sooner or later! The main thing I would emphasise is that if you do as much as you can in advance will really take some of the stress out of this busy time and make the Christmas period more enjoyable (and scalable!).

Do let us know of any tips and tricks you have learned to survive the Christmas period in the comments below!

 

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

The ‘C’ Word!

 

London-Jewellery-School-Blog-Jewellery-Business-Advice-The-'C'-Word!-Preparing-for-the-christmas-season

London Jeweller, Karen Young talks about the dreaded ‘C’ word and how to survive the Christmas Rush in this 2-part blog series!

Yes, I said it! The ‘C’ word – Christmas! It is no understatement to say that Christmas is the busiest time of the year for jewellers. It gets to December 25th and most of us want to collapse with exhaustion as all the orders are finally cleared and you have been working round the clock to get those very special handmade gifts to customers before the big day!

And I hate to say it, but the quiet summer months are the perfect time to start preparing and planning the last quarter of the year so that those crazy 3 months run like clockwork, and you can focus the majority of your precious time on making and fulfilling customer orders, and taking part in Christmas fairs which pay dividends well into the next year.

So what can you do to make the Christmas rush more manageable, and survive the chaos? Having one Christmas period under my belt now and having learned lots first time around I thought I would share the top tips I have learned the hard way!

START PLANNING NOW!

You cannot start planning too early for Christmas – I know some jewellers who start planning for this as soon as Valentines and Mothers day are over. I find however that orders really tail off over the summer period as people are on holiday (as are you!), and big events weddings are in full swing and so I like to dedicate August to planning and preparing and starting to build my supplies and inventory. So where to start?

1. BOOK YOUR CHRISTMAS FAIRS

One of the nicest parts of the Christmas period is taking part in fairs and getting in front of your customers (particularly if you mainly sell online). But the deadline dates for most Christmas fairs such as Crafty Fox and Spirit of Christmas Fairs are very early and you may even find that some of the application deadlines are soon or have even passed so don’t delay – get your applications in NOW!

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london-jewellery-school-blog-crafty-fox-logo

2. START BUILDING INVENTORY

The beauty of handmade jewellery is that you lovingly handcraft your work and and each piece touches the hands of the maker/ designer.  However, making each and every piece from scratch when the order comes in can really push you to the limit during the busy period and you just don’t want the stress of having to continually order supplies and potentially run out. To keep the stress levels down I highly recommend that you start to do the following:

          A. PLAN YOUR CHRISTMAS RANGE

Start designing your Christmas range as early as possible – even if it is updating the colours of an existing design or creating a few key pieces you will be promoting on the run up to Christmas. These should include your statement pieces to grab people’s attention, your bread and butter pieces such as pendants and rings and your up-sell items such as earrings. Pay close attention to what supplies you will need and start to build your supply of these items to make sure you will be able to order additional supplies if you need to (or use limited supplies to your advantage by labelling items ‘special edition’.

          B. ORDER YOUR SUPPLIES

You have to watch your cash-flow, as it is easy to get excited and overspend, but there are some things you can do to generate some extra cash to allow you to build your inventory:

a. Have a pre-summer sale – sell off end of line pieces or excess stock

b. Host a de-stash sale on relevant Facebook groups or even eBay – you can sell off beads, excess supplies and tools you don’t use to generate some extra cash.

London-Jewellery-School-Bead-Stockpile

       

c. Sell your scrap!

You can even do what I did last year and sell your scrap silver – I made about £400 by selling my scrap to Cookson Gold which paid for my extra stock alone and the extra tools and consumables I needed.

When ordering Christmas supplies for my business, I will look at what I use the most frequently (for example I mainly use 0.8mm silver sheet, 0.8mm wire, 4.5mm tubing) and I will start to order extra with every order so that I create a stockpile. This way I don’t have a massive single outlay and I can spread the cost over several months.

I will also start to build my inventory of my most popular gemstones, beads and pearls (IJL in September is a great way to do this – I normally do the bulk of my gemstone buying at this event). You also get greater discounts when you buy in bulk (check out Ward Gemstones who offer great discounts when you bulk buy) so do try and save some money each month that will enable you to bulk buy when it counts!

Also, don’t forget to order all other supplies such as packaging, padded envelopes and all your parcel inserts such as business cards, social media cards etc! I nearly ran out of necklace boxes last year and had a scary 3 weeks until my new boxes arrived so make sure you have plenty!

You may want to source back up suppliers too just in case an all important material is out of stock with your usual supplier!

3. PREP AS MUCH IN ADVANCE AS YOU CAN

Although it would be lovely to make everything from scratch as the order comes in, this just isn’t feasible in the busy Christmas rush. You need to start prepping as much as you can in advance!

For example, I prep all my blanks for my tag necklaces, cuff bangles and rings in advance so that they have smooth edges and are nice and polished, holes drilled and are essentially ready to stamp.  I also create a stock pile of my most popular charms and handmade earring findings etc, so that when an order comes in, all I need to do is stamp the names, words or phrases the customer has asked for, assemble the piece/ solder jump rings closed, polish and finish the piece and then pack and send it on its way.

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If you get your work cast in silver start consider getting moulds made and your most popular pieces cast well in advance so that you have a supply of each piece where you simply need to remove the sprue, add any jump rings, settings or findings and polish and finish.

I texture sheets of silver on the rolling mill and cut out multiples of my most popular shapes so that they are in a semi-finished state, and I solder on findings and settings but leave them unset so that I only have to set the appropriate stone or pearl when the order comes through.

london-jewellery-school-blog-wax-carving-rough castings

Rough castings ready to be de-sprued, polished and finished.

This one is a biggie – I get as much as I can hallmarked in advance (I mainly work in silver and gold so you don’t need to worry about this if you work with other materials)! Things like adding stones or stamping names don’t impact the hallmark (you just can’t solder any additional metals to a piece once it is hallmarked), so I send off a massive package of almost finished ring blanks, necklaces, earrings and bangles to be hallmarked as I find this process is the one that takes the longest (approximately a week or even more on the run up to Christmas). I put each one in a little ziplock bag so all the components of the piece are kept together.

It is a bigger outlay at once but the cost per item to hallmark goes down with the more pieces you hallmark (particularly if you use the standard service) so I find it really makes a difference to my profit if I do this particular process in bulk. You can’t anticipate every eventuality or combination of order so I recommend focusing on your highest volume pieces first, but prepping your ‘component parts’ is a great way of shortening your turn around time significantly meaning less stress for you and happy customers as you can ship quickly.

4. TIDY AND ORGANISE YOUR WORKSPACE

I was so guilty of this last year! I was so busy that my workspace ended up in quite a state and I am sure that I wasted so much precious time trying to find things! So do take the time to sort out and organise your workspace in August or September, and give all your tools and supplies a home!
This year I have put all my components in labelled ziplock bags and in alphabetised sections in an expandable folder. It meant I could always find what I was looking for and could easily see when I was getting low in stock! I also recommend taking 15-20 mins at the end of each day to clear your workspace so that it is ready for the next day and put all your tools and supplies back in the correct place. This will save you heaps of time during the chaos, I promise!

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In part 2 of this blog series I will talk about planning your Christmas marketing and PR and nailing your processes to make everything run like clockwork (most of the time :-)).  Let us know if you have any tips for surviving the Christmas period in the comments below!

Author: Karen Young

London Jewellery School Blog_Karen Young Bio

A jewellery maker’s Christmas list

Is your ideal Christmas list made up of crafting goodies?

We’ve been asking our students what they might want for Christmas this year.

Tools and equipment seem top of the list:

  • Some want a new pliers set – you can never have too many
  • For the wire wrappers it might be a set of very good flush cutters
  • Or you might be setting up a silversmithing studio at home so all contributions of kit was going to be welcome.

One great suggestion was a selection of semi-precious stones or beads – even better in a caddy. It is a lovely idea, opening up a little treasure chest of shiny jewels on Christmas morning.

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Then there were the thing you really, really want.

More time to make. We all want more making time/longer days to “make all the things”. One present many people would appreciate could be a voucher from family promising you some undisturbed making time. Or perhaps someone could book you some bench days when you can experiment with your ideas.

Other people want a new skill so they can create the piece they really want. So another item for the Christmas list might well be a class or workshop or a gift voucher for one. It is a gift that keeps giving because you will be happier with projects and able to take on more challenging ones.

Why not leave this blog open on your computer or tablet screen as a big hint.

Please share your jewellery making gift ideas in the comments

What’s on your Christmas list? Jewellery books to ask Santa for

Sometimes, when Christmas comes around and you are asked what you want it is hard to say. Here are a few jewellery books tutor Anna Campbell recommends for your Christmas list.

I have a shelf full of jewellery books that I love to flick through for inspiration. For me, books are a perfect Christmas gift. I’ve looked at books focusing on specific jewellery making techniques and have featured some by our talented staff.

Silversmithing

silver jewellery books

Silversmithing for jewelry makers by Elizabeth Bone. A fantastic resource written by one of our talented tutors

 

silver jewellery books

Behind the brooch by Lorena Angulo. I love this book. Lorena Angulo has compiled images of brooches made in many different media but focuses on innovative ways to design the back of the brooch.

 

silver jewellery books

Stonesetting for contemporary jewellery makers by Melissa Hunt. Another book by a tutor, invaluable if you want to learn more about different methods of stone setting

 

Beading and wire jewellery

beading jewellery book

Bead and wire fashion jewellery by Jessica Rose. Written by our director Jess, this book provides ideas, mood boards and step by step tutorials

 

wire woven jewellery book

Timeless wire weaving by Lisa Barth. I have been fortunate to attend a masterclass with Lisa and her book is well written and clear with some beautiful ideas

 

beaded jewellery book

Stringing and linking jewelry workshop by Sian Hamilton. Editor of Making Jewellery magazine Sian Hamilton has curated some tutorials that have been featured in the magazine. It’s great to see these collected into themed books

 

Metal clay

metal clay jewellery book

Magical metal clay jewellery by Sue Heaser. An excellent resource for beginners with metal clay

 

metal clay jewellery book

Metal clay jewelry workshop by Sian Hamilton. Part of the series mentioned above edited by Sian Hamilton

 

metal clay jewellery book

Metal clay fusion by Gordon Uyehara. A more advanced metal clay book with really inspiring ideas

Which jewellery books do you recommend? Let us know your favourites on our  Facebook page or on Twitter.

Anna Campbell is a tutor at the London Jewellery School and runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs.

Christmas sale: 25% off all remaining 2014 classes

jewellery classes london

Yes, it’s true – we are having a massive sale on all our remaining classes for 2014.

If you book and take a London Jewellery School class in December 2014, we will give you 25% off the price if you quote offer code 02121401 when you book.

So whether you are thinking of making Christmas presents, want to get yourself an early gift or just need a break from the festive hurly-burly this is the time to take a class.

Classes available in silver, metal clay, beading, polymer clay, resin, pearl knotting and wood jewellery plus much more…

Check out our December timetable for details.

 

New project: Make a felt bead necklace

Do you have some time off over Christmas and are looking for some jewellery making inspiration?

Take a look at our projects page. There are lots of step-by-step projects for you to try out including a new addition on making this felt bead necklace.

necklace2 (1 of 1)

Designed by tutor Emma Ashworth – here in LJS colours – it is a chance to try out a new technique and material, as well as create a funky statement piece. One in reds and greens could make a great Christmas necklace.

Happy making and Happy Christmas.

Christmas jewellery making competition

Halloween and Bonfire Night are over so the High Street is entering full Christmas mode and jewellery makers everywhere are thinking about gifts – whether to sell or family and friends.

So the only possible theme for this months competition is Christmas jewellery. What jewellery have you made that is inspired by Christmas?

The prize is a £132 LJS voucher enough to attend one of a wide choice of one-day workshops.

Send your pictures, along with details of any facebook, twitter, website, etc, you’d like shared, to press@londonjewelleryschool.co.uk by 2 December.