Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unique Beadweavers on Etsy

Time to showcase a few more beadweaving artists - this time from Etsy!  I've picked these 6 jewelers for their unique beadweaving creations.  Awesome patterns, designs I haven't seen elsewhere (and I think I've seen a few...), and humor separate the following beaded jewelry from your everyday finds:

I hope you enjoyed this selection as much as I did.  Check out their shops (links above) for more awesome handmade creations!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Low-Cost Tips & Tricks for Photographing Jewelry

As a new mother and a graduate student, I don't have a lot of cash just waiting to be spent, but I do want to take good photographs, especially of my jewelry.  After a lot of searching, reading, and practicing, I've come up with this list of how to improve your jewelry photographs at very little to no cost.  You don't need a fancy camera, just some good light, a simple background, and some patience!

1.  Focus - I think this is the most important aspect of good photography.  You can edit* your photos to brighten them or remove dust from the background, but you can't edit in the details of a clear photograph.  If your photos are blurry, use a macro-mode for the closeup shots or step back from your jewelry until your camera is able to focus.  Take your photos at the highest resolution possible and you can edit them later to bring the jewelry "closer" without losing detail.  If you don't have a tripod, you can use a washer on a string to keep your camera more steady (visit for directions).

Royal Drops Earrings - unfocused photos look sloppy

Turquoise Loops Earrings - focused images add detail and class

2.  Lighting - Use natural light to avoid the yellow/blue tint from indoor lights.  Pick a window with good exposure on sunny days or go outside** on bright, cloudy days - this provides enough light to avoid dark photographs (one of my biggest problems) without overwhelming your jewelry in direct sunlight (which creates glares and shadows that dominate the photo and block the details of your jewelry).  If you want to show how the piece "glitters," try a penlight (it's what gemstone photographers use to make the stones shine) instead of direct sunlight.

Au Natural Earrings - details are lost in a dark photograph

Blue Agate Stack Earrings (sold) -
with the right lighting, details jump out

Some people prefer complete control over their setup and use a lightbox.  I could never get enough light to use this setup and it is more expensive.  There are several tutorials online to help you make your own for less, such as this one by Studio Lighting.  Another option is to use a scanner.  You can get really good details on your jewelry, but sometimes the lighting is a little funky.

Winter Lace Necklace (sold) - scanner image

3.  Background - Simpler is better.  The less clutter and action you have in the background, the more your jewelry will stand out.  This doesn't mean you have to use a black or white background; in fact, neutral tones of gray or tan would be better (and cheaper) because both light and dark jewelry shows up nicely.  If you are partial to black and white backgrounds, have both on hand.  Dark pieces will show up well on white, while light pieces will look nice on black.

Gothic Envy Necklace -
dark jewelry is hard to see on a dark background

Aspen Necklace - light jewelry is visible on a dark background

Think about texture, too, when choosing a background.  Velvet makes a lovely background, but you have to be careful of the smallest particles of dust showing up in your photographs.  Mirrors or shiny surfaces can make nice backgrounds, but they need to be very clean to make a nice photo.  I find soft, non-reflective surfaces such as handmade paper or leather make excellent backgrounds.  They are fairly cheap and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.  Stay away from anything too busy (bold patterns, bright contrasting colors, etc.) - it distracts from the jewelry.

Royal Hearts Necklace - a neutral, lightly textured background

Some people like the use of props in their photos but I'm not very good at using them so I generally stay away from props.  I've seen others use them to great effect, however.  Props should be visually appealing, but not distracting to the piece.  Your jewelry should be what stands out and shouldn't have to compete with busy props. Use the same rules as for backgrounds - props should be clean and simple.  Heavy texture such as silk flowers can overwhelm the jewelry too, but shallow texture such as seashells or driftwood can work very well.  If you are using a model**, keep hair neat and tucked away from the jewelry so the jewelry is on display clearly and have the model moisturize (it keeps the skin looking soft and clean, especially important for hand shots).

Carnelian Drop Earrings (sold) - simple props are best

Seashore Necklace - keep hair out of the picture

4.  Head-on Shots - This is especially important if you are selling your jewelry.  Show the entire piece in at least one photograph - including the clasp.  Other photos may be taken at oblique angles or show only part of the piece, but at least one photo should be head-on.  This angle usually captures the most details and shows off the piece the best to the customer - there is no confusion as to what is being shown and bought.

Pink Waves Necklace (sold) - Oblique angles can be artsy & fun...

...but head-on photos show off the entire piece for customer clarity

I have chosen to use my own photography because I didn't want to "show off" others poor photographs (I make plenty of my own!), although I know I can find better examples of great photography.  These are not perfect, but hopefully they get the ideas and tips across.  If you have other suggestions for photographing jewelry for less, I'd love to hear them! 

*Gnu Image Manipulation Program ( is an excellent open-source paint program.  It's free and has most of the same features as Adobe Photoshop.   

**Remember:  Customers want to feel like they are the first ones to wear a piece of jewelry.  Some people may be turned off if they see jewelry outside or on a model.  You can avoid both of these issues by photographing outside on a portable background (even a blanket) or using jewelry stands (try making a jewelry stand from a rolled bit of cardboard covered in cloth or paper).  Also, never model your earrings (this is unsanitary and why shops don't generally accept returns on them)!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tutorial: RAW Basics & Variations

There are many different types of beadweaving techniques.  One that I find myself using quite often is RAW, or Right Angle Weave.  It's easy and brings a piece together relatively quickly.  It's also very versatile.  Simply changing the bead shapes you use can give drastically different results!

Here are the basics (clicking on images will make them larger in a new tab/window):

And a few variations:

Finally I'm including a couple pieces that I created using RAW, to show how this weave can get a wide range of results!  I particularly like it for bracelets.  (Links below will take you to the store where the piece is available.)

Blue Waves (sold):

For some RAW eye candy, more techniques, and detailed projects, check out this book, available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble, or maybe your local public library.  I haven't done any of the projects, but I really enjoyed looking through this book!  It starts out with the basics and moves to much more advanced RAW techniques.

If you have any questions, please comment or email me.  I'd also love to know if this was helpful or not, or how I could improve the tutorial for next time.

Thanks for visiting and happy creating!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Beadweaving Artists from 1000 Markets

And now I present 6 more beadweavers from 1000 Markets, as promised.  These designs are more versatile and are perfect for everyday wear or a night out!  I love the creative use of color and design in these pieces especially - and hope you enjoy them too.

All of the artists shown here have many designs available in their shops - so check them out for more (links above).  There are also many other beadweaving artists on 1000 Markets, so don't feel I've shown you all there is to see!

I'll be featuring more artists with unique jewelry materials or styles in the future - but the next post will be a beadweaving tutorial, so come back because you might learn something fun!

*ndebele ropes are also known as tubular herringbone - fact from time2cre8

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beadweaving Artists on 1000 Markets

I love beadweaving, but it takes a lot of time.  My pieces are simple in comparison because I just don't have the patience for the type of work I've chosen to feature below.  Each piece takes hours of planning and beading.  And now for 6 very impressive, patient artists found on 1000 Markets! 

Each artist featured here has a variety of pieces and prices available in their shops (links above). These are only a few of the amazing beadweaving (and bead embroidering) artists on 1000 Markets.  There are many other styles available, so check back next post when I feature 6 more beadweavers from 1000 Markets whose work is just as lovely in slightly less extravagant styles!

And after that, I'll be featuring some beadweaving basics tutorials followed by project instructions!  Whoo, about time!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beadweaving Artists on DA

For my first post, I'd like to showcase some of the amazing beadweavers (and bead embroiderers) found on DeviantArt, for two reasons.  One, I personally love beadweaving and am constantly trying to improve my skills at it, and two, DeviantArt was one of the first websites I ever joined and I still love it there!

In no particular order, here are half a dozen talents:


If you like these designs, check the artists DeviantArt gallery for more (links above)!  Many times the artists has pieces or patterns for sale.  You can also find other beadweavers on DeviantArt, just search under >Artisan Crafts >Jewelry and then type "beadweaving" in the search bar on the main page.

Check back for more great artists and tutorials in the future!

Happy Creating,