This class is the result of 28 years in the trade, one form or another, and lots of tough experiences.
The good news is: I learned how to build a line back in the 90's, and eventually I sold it to about 500 store accounts. At one time, the line had 300 pieces. We could never fit them all in a catalog....but this is the cover of the last one we produced in the late 90's.
B'sue Boutiques was originally a little heart's-ease, cute line of gift jewelry that was designed by me and made by myself and 7 artisan helpers....in my basement. It was not a lovely work area, as it is now:
It was really quite rough and I think the way we endured it was that we really loved what we did, and we loved each other. All of us were friends, and a number of the girls who worked with me were Latinas, and it was from them that I really developed my love of their language. I taught them how to make jewelry, and they taught me to speak Spanish....well. I just wish I had some photos of that old workshop to show you. We all fit in there with plenty of space. It was well planned....but so busy, we never thought to take any pictures.
I loved that line of jewelry. One of my favorite things to make was this little pin on one of the pages of that catalog.
PN-38 was our best seller, because you could have it your way, engraved your way, and embellished your way. If you bought 12, we would give you 13....lagniappe. I always have given a little something extra.
The prep was quick and I did all the engraving. Then we would take the orders and make a master for the week, and then check stock because we always tried to have the best sellers made ahead to some extent.
From the master we would see what we didn't have, or what was custom, and get cracking. Each knew what little bits should be put on which theme. All the tiny charms and accents were kept in individual bins for quick finding! And those pearl buttons....we had serious poundage of them. We had them in big boxes all over the place, and we used A LOT of them. They were plentiful; I would advertise in the antiques papers Wanted To Buy and I got all I could ever want, for 6.00 a pound!
That would never happen now!
The challenge was to make those brooches in 15 minutes. Not long ago, I challenged myself to see if I could still do it neatly:
YES! I still can. AND, in under fifteen minutes.
When I planned the 2016 master challenge class, I decided that I would build a line along with the class based on my old line, maybe a reprise of it.
BUT THEN....I thought, no. Not quite. While I may make a few similar pieces, I eventually realized it would be better to do one one just a bit inspired by what I had done over 20 years ago.....and bring it up to speed with some of the tricks I've learned since then.
So: I am still in the planning stages! I do have a theme, though....and a plan of attack. It's been so much fun mapping out this little journey! Here you see my little black worktable that I keep back in my office. (NOTE TO SELF: get a white one! If I want to take pictures on it, they just really don't come out very well!)
You can see my notes there at the top left. Yes, I'm calling my line Sugar Shop (Jewelry).
And I am working on the "Chocolate Frosting" section:
As you can see, I am using Chocolate Brass, which at this time we do not regularly carry at B'sue Boutiques When we did, the sales of it were lukewarm even though I felt I had a better version of it than the other popular chocolate brass lines out on the marketplace, and our prices were certainly more reasonable.
I always loved it though.
Doesn't it just look yummy like a can of frosting? This piece isn't finished yet, though....
You can see I am playing with names....we used to nickname that dark brown finish, Choxie. But I don't think I can really use that on a website, as I think Target used to have a line of chocolates you could buy with that name. But as you can see, it is REALLY chocolate, like deep milk chocolate. Or a can of frosting!
So I am toying with the idea....do I change the chocolate brass up? Do I distress it? Do I add a tiny bit of color? What color?
At this time I am leaning toward Patina color Gilder's Paste....and other little colored bits on the work. Maybe give it the feeling of chocolate frosting with sprinkles!
I tried photographing it on several backgrounds to see what might make it pop.....or make ME pop!
Here again are the parts I am fiddling with now:
Things could change. Until we meet again on this subject at our second hop, which is February 26th....I may have new parts or change this all up.
Sugar Shop Jewelry, however, will remain my theme.
Sugar Shop Jewelry will be a name under the B'sue Boutiques umbrella. And under it, will come various categories:
Box of Chocolates
Coffee with Cream
....or something like that.
I won't get all of those sub-lines done by the end of this class, but in each line I'd like to have 5-10 key pieces that could be reproduced easily. Vanilla Frosting will be shabby whites. Party Cake will be jewelry to wear to a party! Wedding Cake will be wedding jewelry, Coffee with Cream might be some less fussy casual looks or maybe something literal---coffee and tea charms and motifs on the pieces!
Box of Chocolates will be just like Forest Gump's....you never know what you're gonna get. That is where I will put statement pieces and one-off's that will not be reproduced.
I am still thinking about ideas for a line using our silver.....It will come.
As we go along in the hop, I will let you know more about my plans for my new line, going forward.
It's been a great month! We've built collages of past work and stood back to take a hard look and determine if our styles spoke one voice, and if not, what we could do to tighten up and become more cohesive. We have also talked about our style and identifying----or better still, DISCOVERING our customer! Who is she? WHERE is she?
We've talked about whether our lines are gift lines or fashion lines, or do they straddle both, go either way?
And we've discussed design styles of the past....for inspiration and knowledge! We have talked about famous designers like Chanel, Haskell and Schiaparelli....and the differences between them. We have spoken of Renaissance and Gothic Revival jewelry, Victorian, Edwardian, Civil War style (mid-Victorian), Edwardian, Arts and Crafts Period Jewelry, Jugenstil, Bauhaus, Victorian Revival, Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. We've learned a lot, and many have commented that this part of the class was fun!
The next few weeks will be just as challenging, but for now, why not bring your coffee and come hop with me through the class members' blogs? Here are the participants: