Daily Wire Tip: Making Wire Jewelry While Selling It

By on March 2, 2011
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip

Question:

What is your opinion on creating jewelry while at a show? I’ve had some people say they love to see it being made, and others say I shouldn’t have “all that mess” out. Me, I try to keep the “mess” put away, all I have out are the stone, wire, and tools that I am currently using.

-Lorinda in Smithfield, Utah

Answer:

Well Lorinda, there are pros and cons to making jewelry at your booth – mostly pros! To share my experience and reasoning: when I began participating in shows, my dream was to have someone else there to take care of selling, while I just worked making jewelry as part of my display. Even though the people I had working with me knew about my work, stones, etc, I spent so much time answering questions that I couldn’t do any serious work! However, every item I made with folks watching sold, the crowd observing me drew more people to my booth, and I took a lot of custom orders (paid in full to be delivered or shipped to them within 3 weeks after the show). Personally, I have found that I sell more of my work without continuously creating during a show.

Now, to balance working and selling, I prepare and bring items that I can work on “in my sleep.” This way people can still enjoy the demonstrations, and I can carry on a detailed conversation at the same time. For example, I will have a bunch of rings made without wrapped shanks, and will wrap them during the show. I also prep several wire bundles for all-wire bangles that I can wrap while conversing, and people love to watch while I mindlessly braid beads into the Woven Beaded Bracelet (also prepped ahead of time).

Woven Beaded Bracelet

Overall, in my opinion having your tools, some wire and a few supplies (like loose cabs) on a small table in your booth is a Good Thing! When folks ask about the wire, “No solder or glue? How does it stay together?” you can just pick up a coil and say, “It all begins here.” Mystify, Educate, and Create your customers!

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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21 Comments

  1. avatar

    Barbara

    March 3, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Be prepared to constantly be asked, after people watch you working, “Do you make these yourself?” I get it all the time. But it also lends credence to the answer, “Yes, I do.” At shows, yes, I take a few things I can mindlessly work on, but also a selection of jump rings, chain and ALWAYS my tools so that I can adjust a new purchase on the spot. That often clinches the sale right there if something is too long or short.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      March 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

      You are so correct Barbara. Being able to adjust pieces for a customer is a definite ‘plus’!

  2. avatar

    mary

    March 3, 2011 at 8:48 am

    I share Dale’s opinion on working on things at shows. People are fascinated by watching others create first hand. I always have an area set up so I can work at a show and people get the opportunity to watch and ask questions. It does help make sales as well.

  3. avatar

    Brandi

    March 3, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Insightful post. Thanks Dale, and thanks Lorinda for posing this question.

  4. avatar

    DeLane

    March 3, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Great Question and response! I must agree with Dale’s comments that it is very difficult to sell and demo. If you have someone who can be there and sell, even if you do have to answer questions, you are in a better poistion to “educate” by demos, plus make the sales.

  5. avatar

    Susannah St. Clair

    March 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Nicely said Dale!!! Your suggestion of how you do it, is the perfect way. :)

  6. avatar

    Tami Brewer

    March 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I make alot of Chainmaile jewelry and I have found the I will sell a piece to someone that claims “that won’t fit me, I have such big wrists or big ankles” or “such small wrist or ankles” and when I pull out my tools and say since I make it I can alter it to fit you just give me a few minutes. Most will stand there and watch me make the changes and some will say I’ll be back.

  7. avatar

    Renee

    March 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I am always working on bracelets or earring while I am in my booth and not busy. I did a count on what has sold for tax purposed and found that the copper/niobium bracelet that I make in my booth has sold more than any other style.

  8. avatar

    jake

    March 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    i share Dale’s dream of creating while having someone do my selling for me, since i am not a salesperson and not very good at selling myself. However, i find that even if i am working a show alone, if i am not working on anything i have very little interest – people assume my jewellery is ‘buy and sell’. When they see me working on it, then it sinks in and they say “you MAKE all this?!” That’s usually all it takes to get my confidence up enough to start to really sell my pieces. Also as Dale mentions, the custom orders come flooding in when people see you can do just about anything with wire and a few tools!

    One word of caution, though… make sure you are not so involved in your work that you don’t notice people at your display! It’s sad, but if you are distracted, items will go missing, or customers will walk away because you look too busy to talk to them. The secret is in the happy medium.

    i did have someone make mention of the mess i had one day, so i simply smiled and said ‘isn’t it amazing that a mess like this turns into a piece like this?’ and hold up an elaborate pendant or something. That’s usually enough to stop that kind of comment :)

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      March 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      Cool Jake – I love your reply : )

  9. avatar

    Lady Mockingbird

    March 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Oh, I definitely make things while in my booth at shows. It has always lent creedence to the claim that I make all the items there. I bring a rolling travel kit about the size of a piece of carry on luggage, it stands upright, has a top compartment with a lid that holds my tools in elastic straps, a tray under the lid which I use for those items I’m always grabbing for on top, including a flocked bead board. The front of the bottom comparment zippers off and reveals room for 5 or six compartmented bead, stone and findings trays. Side zippered pouches hold my large ziplock bags of coiled wire.

    It is basically a mini-workshop on wheels and goes with me everywhere. Having it along clinched a number of deals for me. To include one customer who was looking for a specific color stone for earrings. I was able to design and make them on the spot for her. She was absolutely delighted with the extra special customer service.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      March 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      Awesome Lady Mockingbird – thanks for the advice!

    • avatar

      Kathy

      February 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      I would love to have more info on your traveling workshop. Brand name, where you got it, etc. It sounds exactly like what I need.

  10. avatar

    Out of Hand in Nevada

    March 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I have to tell you about the wire artist I saw working the French Market in New Orleans just prior to the devastation of Katrina. He had a young woman in his booth to tend to customers while he made bracelets and rings. He was a great showman and included great flourishes with his pliers as he worked. As he added a few beads and seemed to “magically” produce the finish product, people lined up three deep to buy his wares. He was actually making fairly simple pieces, but his style and personality won the day.

    Three months later, Katrina washed away the market and half the city. I have often thought about him and wondered if he is back in the market impressing the crowds. I hope he is.

    • avatar

      dalecgr

      March 4, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Hi ‘Out of Hand’, I know exactly the man you speak of! I have a ring he made for me back in the 1990’s. (But that day he didn’t have anyone working with him.) He was so much fun to watch!

  11. avatar

    Jim

    February 16, 2012 at 7:18 am

    While my wife was painting, I hated going to shows with her because I couldn’t just sit there; so our first big show with both painting and jewelry I took materials to work on – I was so busy working I never got to leave the booth and people were buying the pieces before I had even finished them. The next weekend I nearly cleared my table the first day and had to run out and buy materials @ retail just to have something available for the second day – and all this because people saw that I actually made this jewelry. Another show had an international customer pick up a chainmaille bracelet and wanted five of the same (I had two on the table); I said to stop back and when she did, I had five new ones all made up for her in the sizes she wanted. I’ve actually been given special consideration during jurying (and booth location) because I demonstrate my work at shows. As for the mess, I work at a counter-height table but keep my materials and tools at a smaller table behind so it’s not where people can see. They can come right up to my counter table and watch me work and ask me questions, and it gives me an opportunity to up-sell, as well.

  12. avatar

    Lynn

    February 16, 2012 at 11:28 am

    I, too, work on things at my shows; I started doing it because I don’t sit still very well! :) I have found that I often sell things I’ve made while sitting there – even when no one was there to watch, and I finished the piece and put it out. Some odd kind of attracting energy to those pieces, I guess!

  13. avatar

    Cairenn

    February 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I often like to take a small table and work out front. It helps with wire work and with seed bead work. It is the connection that folks make with you, the artist that helps.

  14. avatar

    Margo

    July 11, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Thank you Lorinda for posting your question. All the advice has been timely and very helpful because I will soon be participating as a vendor in an art and craft festival…my first attempt after a few home jewelry shows… so I definitely will be nervous. Fortunately I will have a beading buddy with me so I was thinking of making earrings which for me is the easiest thing to work on.

  15. avatar

    Sandy

    September 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    We don’t sell jewelry (yet) but did leather at a couple Renaissance Faires. Mostly, my husband worked on leather pieces and I sold. Our biggest competitors were importers; you bet letting customers see things made “right before their eyes” was a selling point!
    We had a permanent booth, so the “mess” problem (with leather, there’s a mess! think about the dyes!) was contained by having a 12″ board mounted as a barrier at the front of the workbench/counter – also kept kids from cutting themselves on the tools, or tools from walking off.

  16. avatar

    David

    February 4, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    I mostly make a variety of earrings. I plan to have materials available to make pairs by request. Maybe have a bowl of beads and wires and let the customer tell me how they want them designed and then agree on a price.

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