My photography and jewelry making journey. Please visit the Vintage Cravens blog for new product releases, outfit posts, shop updates, etc.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Splash of Color for All Jeweled in White?

Photos Courtesy of Color Bakery, Miss Folly, Eye Poetry Photography*

I've started making pieces for my new All Jeweled in White line and have used some of my favorite props for photographing them. I just wanted to do something a little different to make my new line pop. Some of my favorite props for VintageCravens include antique books, silver trays with heavy patina and classic white to show true color. This is my first piece in my new All Jeweled in White featuring a vintage French filigree stamping, glass pearls and crystals. My favorite background in this group is the antique songbook, but the filigree seems to blend in. The silver tray adds a touch of mystery, but again, the piece doesn't stand apart well from the background. White is always a nice choice for jewelry and what I consistently use for my vintage/antique pieces. As I said earlier, I just want something a little different to make this line pop.

All Jeweled in White, French Filigree Necklace & Earring Set

I woke up this morning and remembered this beautiful painting I saw by Heinrich Vogeler. 'Verk√ľndigung an die Hirten,' or 'Annunciation to the Shepherds,' was painted in 1902. I love the blue in the angel's wings, the scene itself and have always related to the shepherds in Jesus birth story. Notice anything else in this painting? I did. The sparkling pearl white snow and Jesus' shining crystal star!

Photo Courtesy of Wiki Commons

I began doing some digging and realized Robin's egg blue was a staple of the Art Nouveau color palette. Inspired by the photos of the Paris doorway and peacock poster above, I began pulling together examples of this beautiful color with white and fell in love. I decided to have a look around our home and pull some of my favorite pieces, old and new, out and hold one of my All Jeweled in White Birds pieces against them. I really like how my Grandma's Roseville pottery planter looks and decided to mix up a batch of acrylic paint to find the right mix.

A Peek at a Piece from All Jeweled in White, Birds Against Grandma's Planter

I'm really happy with the colorway I was able to mix with some blue, green and black paint I had on hand. Mark has cut a board for me and I'll be working on this today. Stay tuned to see how this turns out as a potential photo background for All Jeweled in White!

Happy Saturday!

* Color Bakery Les Paons I Art Nouveau Peacock poster available here, Eye Poetry Photography Paris Door fine art print available here.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Build a Line Challenge 2016 - The Journey Begins

Photography of Chihuly Glass Works by Chris Cravens 

As you can readily see by my intro photo, I adore color. Why in the world did I choose white as a theme for my new jewelry line??? I am honored to be a participant in B'Sue Boutique's 2016 Build a Line Challenge (BALC). The BALC is a three-month intensive study I'm sharing with 36 students in which each of us will develop a cohesive line. Each month, we will be presenting blog hops (today is the first, the following dates are February 26 and April 1) with a final reveal of our entire line in the last one. Thus far, my experience in BALC 2016 has been a blessing for not only my jewelry business, but in my life as a whole. For the very first time, I began to look at the work of my hands as 'art' instead of 'just stuff I make.' While I am fairly new to the idea of putting a piece of jewelry together, I have been working with my hands for a very long time in various media such as photography, fiber, and even creating documents for my job as a business analyst.

Finding My Style

Favorite Pieces in My Personal Antique Jewelry Collection

Having a limited amount of jewelry I have actually made, I began looking for things that spoke to me from my own collection of vintage/antique jewelry. As I went through this exercise, I began to notice I am drawn to deep, rich colors and patterns frequently found in nature evidenced by my selection of favorite pieces. Clockwise from the top left: an Art Nouveau era belt buckle featuring blue glass cabochons set in acorns and leaves, an Art Deco era blown glass necklace, an Art Deco era butterfly wing brooch by Thomas Mott and, finally, an Edwardian era brooch featuring amethysts and pearls. Out of these, my absolute favorite is the Thomas Mott pin because the artist captured a fairy-tale like forest with such precision. It makes me feel as though I am able to step through the rock crystal covering and take a journey there.  

A Collection of My Craft

For the very first time, I took an objective look at several things I have made over the last year or two and it hit me: I have an artistic voice that is all my own. I am definitely influenced by lines and color such as those found in Victorian era movements like Art Nouveau, Impressionism and Aestheticism. This is no surprise to me as I have a long love of the outdoors and just being outside to admire God's handiwork.  

My BALC 2016 Theme - All Jeweled in White

Prior to beginning BALC 2016, each student was required to select a theme within which to develop our line. With my love of deep color and comfort level of working with it, this particular BALC is an extra challenge for me. Why? Because the theme I selected for this year is 'All Jeweled in White!' White can be done in so many beautiful ways - crisp and modern, cottage chic and beachy styles are great examples I'm fond of. My style? I think of an Edwardian-era store with deep ivory plaster walls, rich wood counters and a gilt cash register. Glossy champagne pearls, dark patinas and complex designs will bring this feeling to my new line. All Jeweled in White is contemporary line with a nod to the past to compliment VintageCravens authentic vintage and antique jewelry.

Where It All Comes Together - My Workshopish Studio

I've been busy in my workshopish studio as this line is beginning to come together. I'm thrilled to see where the next couple of months will take me as we continue on the journey and look forward to watching my classmates grow on their journey as well. I've included links to their blogs below and highly recommend checking them out.

Oh Happy Day!

BALC 2016 Blog Hop

Be sure to visit the talented students in the BALC 2016 class. I am amazed at the amount of work these talented ladies have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jewelry Photography: Choosing Backgrounds

Photographing jewelry can be as much of an artistic journey as making the pieces themselves. There are many things to take into consideration when styling backgrounds for photographs.
  • Is there a brand identity on my website I need to convey in my photographs?
  • Will the people viewing my photographs be using a large screen or on their phone?
  • Is there a mood I want to convey with my photos?
  • Are there things I can include with my jewelry to enhance it or help a customer understand things about the piece like what looks would it go with or how big is it?
  • And the list goes on...

On a Clean Background

Here, I've photographed a single necklace on three backgrounds as an example of how different backgrounds with the exact same piece and similar camera angle can completely change things. Using 'clean' backgrounds (i.e. without distinct patterns or props) is an opportunity to showcase the fine detail in a piece of jewelry without distraction.

  • Mood: What do you think of when you look at the white background versus the dark shimmery grey? How about the neutral parchment-like version in the middle? For me, the white background is clean and fresh, like a summery day while the deep grey is mysterious and sexy. The parchment makes me think vintage or Bohemian - that this necklace would look terrific with a lacy blouse and faded jeans. 

  • Color: When selling jewelry online, helping a customer 'see' the colors in your pieces is so important to a successful transaction. When looking closely at the detailed beads and pendant in my examples, the colors are consistent across the backgrounds. However, at a quick glance (much like a customer would do as they skim through photographs), the colors can look very different when viewed as a whole with the background. For example, the white background in conjunction with the brightly colored beads make them look more pastel-like while the deep grey makes them appear richer. When I list products online, I like to include at least one photograph on a contrasting background to help catch a customer's eye and encourage them take a closer look. 

  • Brand Identity: When making decisions about your business as a whole, consistent use of backgrounds in your 'first glance' photography can bring a cohesive look to your online shop, to your marketing materials, blog, etc. If you decide to sell on a platform such as Etsy or eBay where you have limited control over your shop's landing page, your photographs are critical to making your shop feel, well, like your shop! For example, on my VintageCravens Etsy shop, I like to use a plain white background for all of my cover shots to bring many styles of vintage and antique jewelry together. However, on my VintageCravensToo Etsy shop, I am currently in the process of testing a variety of backgrounds to decide what showcases my personal style of jewelry I make. I went through the same process with VintageCravens over the span of about a year until I landed on what I liked best. Hopefully this gives you hope PLUS a dose of reality that brand identity can take time to establish (unless you decide to work with a marketing service to help you with these things). 

With Props

Including props in photographs can increase the confidence level of customers shopping online for a piece of jewelry. Showing them how a piece looks when worn or with common items can give a sense of scale in addition to providing education on how the jewelry can complement fashion styles. In this collage, I've taken my necklace and put it in three different settings.

  • On a Model or Mannequin: Using a beautiful model can serve multiple purposes for your jewelry. Firstly, it will provide a solid example of the scale of your piece. Beyond this, a model or mannequin can be dressed to complement your jewelry. For example, I like this particular necklace for a casual look, so I dressed my mannequin in a jean jacket and lacy tank top. It suggests a more relaxed style. 

  • With a Common Object: Using an object like a cell phone, spoon or purse can also provide a sense of scale. In my example, I used a vintage suede purse with zippers for a close up shot. Not only does this showcase the piece's scale, it also gives it a Bohemian vibe. I'm seeing this necklace going to a festival with my sweet vintage suede bag here! 

  • Lifted on Something: Using items to lift portions of jewelry is a terrific way to add movement to your pieces and draw the eye. In my example, I've used an antique butter paddle resting under my necklace. This helps give a sense of depth to the piece and shows the lightness of the wires the beads are mounted on. 

One of my favorite parts of running VintageCravens is the time I get to spend behind my camera. I hope some of the things I've learned through the years can help you build your skills as well and I would love to hear YOUR ideas on how to use backgrounds and props. What say you? 

Have a wonderful day!

Photo credits: Cover sketch by Annalise Nicole (learn more about her)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Workshop or Studio?

I really don't know the answer to my rhetorical question, but what I DO know is I love this space for making all kinds of things and running VintageCravens. I started my business on a small desk with some rollaway Rubbermaid cabinets stowed in the closet while the kids were home.

Now that we are empty nesters, I am bittersweet about taking over my ste-daughter's room. Sad to know she is grown and gone, but overwhelmed at having a space all to myself again.

In my workshopish studio, I have a sweet area set up for photo shoots, a collection of ingeniously used 'old furniture, boxes and the like' for storage, and, my favorite part? A mid-century drafting table from the day when my husband's company moved 90% of them out in favor of AutoCAD.

What about you? Do you have a favorite spot where your imagination runs wild?