Saturday, 28 May 2011

A - Z of How to Make and Sell Handmade Silver Jewellery

Letter E
  • Process 
The controlled corrosion of a surface using acids to create decorative or textured patterns.
The acid eats away at the metal until it is removed from the acid and rinsed.  Areas of the metal not to be etched are covered with a stop-out in the for of a varnish, a black bitumen-based liquid or a mixture of beeswax, bitumen and rosin. As the acid sometimes eats in to the edges of the work, despite the stop-out then it's important to ensure that there is extra metal around the pattern which has been scribed into the work, so that this can be pierced away later.  Anneal, pickle and rinse and clean thoroughly - the lines made with the scribe will now be visible. Paint stop-out up to the lines and along all the edges (or alternatively paint the stop-out and allow to dry, then scratch the design into the stop-out).
Immerse the piece into the nitric acid/water solution (4:1 of water to nitric acid). The etch will occur quicker if the acid is warm.
Rinse well when the required depth is achieved - keep checking by brushing with a feather whilst raising from the acid.
Remove the stop-out with white spirit.
  • Tools
Etching Bath
Refer to letter A - for details of the acid bath used for pickling.
"I use a slow cooker which has worked perfectly for me to do this job.  I use one for etching and one for the safety pickle salts.  The cost of these 2 units from a local cooking shop - less than £20 each!"

  • Selling
  • Selling your handmade silver jewellery / Selling your handmade jewellery / selling your handmade goods
When exhibiting your work it's important to have 'show pieces' which are unlikely to sell as well as a selection of jewellery which is more likely to sell to recoup the costs of exhibiting your work.  With exhibition venues costing anything from £50 - £2500 it's naturally key to cover your costs!
Think about the venue that you're attending - is it a venue which will attract trade buyers or galleries or mostly customers? Arrange your exhibition stand to play mostly to the attendees.
Many times I've heard the phrase that it was a 'good day' when the seller covered their exhibition fee.  I personally disagree with this if no further business is forthcoming.  How many people should be satisfied with working for £0 and selling their jewellery for £0 - because this is what it amounts to!  Surely, a good day should be when the cost of the goods, the exhibition fee, expenses to and from the exhibition AND have been paid for the hours that you've spent manning the exhibition are covered?
Analyse the exhibition and really see if it was commercially viable before considering doing it again.
A lot of sellers are happy that their business cards have been taken - just how many follow ups are received?  Do you question where the caller has obtained your details?  If not, how do you know the call asking for a certain item of jewellery has stemmed from the exhibition?  Again, if no follow ups are received - then that's more expense because it's highly likely that business cards were taken and then thrown in the bin as soon as the customer got home.... and you have to order more business cards!
In summary - realistically cost out how much the exhibition has cost you - estimate an hourly rate of pay that you'd be happy to work for.  Calculate the cost of materials sold and then work out whether you should apply to participate in the exhibition again in the future.

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