Thursday 28 February 2013

The Jewelled Web - February 2013

February hasn't been much warmer than January and snow has shown its face again, but signs of spring can be found in bulbs pushing through the earth - we may be over the worst of the winter, although it's too close to call yet...

spring bulbs
Here's a few jewellery finds from the web this month -

An utterly beautiful ring - wonderful colour and shape all combined. I would love to make something so organic and yet so finished.

A Folksy blog post about how to take photographs when the weather is dire - ever so handy for this time of year (okay, any time of year) in the UK!

I also found this post about taking photos by windows via the new Folksy Tumblr blog.

Also check out the Folksy Press Tumblr, just in case you spot something you made featured in a magazine!

From the Etsy blog, a post about turning your hobby into a business. It also has the sweetest knitting image ever!

A tutorial about how to create a plaster mould for making polymer jewellery

And another tutorial, this time on how to make brooches into pendants. Check this one out as well, which also utilises old earrings.

Fancy some fairytale ideas? Take a look at the tower jewellery created via an online class displayed here - it's like decoupage with metal!

Soft jewellery - a tutorial for a hand-crafted felted rose brooch.

And a few non-jewellery finds -

A reason to head to Shetland if, for some reason, you can't find any other - Shetland ponies in cardigans. Seriously.

Amazing photographs of melting snowflakes. Beautiful enough to make you wish it stayed cold. Well, nearly...

Created for Valentine's Day for perfect for any occasion - simple geometric printables for decorating notebooks.

If you're feeling more romantic than that, check this video out. If you're feeling too cynical for romance, then read this instead.

Hope your short month has been good. Please share any great links you've found in the comments!

Monday 25 February 2013

How to Photograph Handmade Jewellery - part 4

Here, at last, is part four of the How to Photograph Handmade Jewellery series. This post covers photographic styling, and where to find inspiration.

(If you fancy reading my previous posts on this topic then check out part one, part two, and part three through the links. You can also find them in my new Photography page, along with some other posts about photographing jewellery.)


Jewellery is made to be worn. So do give some thought to the idea of styling and photographing your jewellery on a model. A major advantage of using a model is that it gives the potential buyer a clear idea of how the jewellery will look when worn, and the way it hangs or lays. It’s also the easiest way to convey the actual size of a piece of jewellery. I guess if money is no object, the this is the way to style your jewellery...

I confess, I’ve not done this much and when I have attempted it, it’s never gone that well. The reason for this is probably that it’s better to find a friend to model for you while you take photos, than to try to be both model and photographer...

If you can't or would rather not use a model, then you can choose whether to lay your jewellery flat, to artfully arrange it over a prop, or to display it suspended, either on a visible hanger, or with some clear fishing-line or something like stretch magic - check out this tutorial if you fancy the invisible approach.

I tend to photograph my jewellery arranged over something in order to include some angles - I find laying it flat decreases how three dimensional it looks.

Styled with a prop...
and without

Whilst I’m increasingly experimenting with suspending jewellery for photographs, it can be quite time-consuming and frustrating to stop the dreaded swaying-in-the-slightest-breeze issue! Plus, getting things to dangle well when they’re hanging can be very awkward. Jewellery, when worn, tends to lean against something, either skin or clothing, and it very rarely lies static. Longer earrings often hang, to at least some extent, but the movement of an earring being worn, the sway as the wearer moves, is hard to capture in a photograph whilst also showing the earrings themselves clearly. I’m hoping that, with practice, my images of suspended earrings will improve.

Earrings suspended on wire...                                    and arranged flat on a prop.


Look at the internet and use it as a tool for inspiration. Trawl through Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, and any other online retailer you can find that ideally sells work similar to yours. Look at online retailers that sell only one jeweller’s work, and then at markets that sell a wide variety. Spend a while on Pinterest (you could start here) and Flickr.

A few inspiring pins from one of my Pinterest boards

Create a folder of photos that attract you, try and figure out why they do so, and then see if you can integrate some of what they’re doing into your own photos. Drop someone a polite email and ask them how they achieved a particular effect. People are normally flattered by such contact. Use the web as a source of inspiration because it is also your marketplace.

Also, look in print catalogues and magazines, and see how professionals chose to show the jewellery. Be aware though that printed media is not the same as digital media but see if you can find ideas that you can translate into your own images.

The Digital Difference

People have a variety of settings on their computers, phones, tablets. Different operating systems, browsers, and screen resolutions all affect how an image looks. The image you yourself see on the screen in front of you will almost certainly not look the same on another machine because of the variety of potential settings available and the end result of any given combination. With the increase in devices to view the internet on, the chances that someone is seeing your photo the way you do, has dramatically decreased.

All you can do is take the best image you can, and display the colours and textures as honestly as possible, but it's important to be aware of the potential problems this issue raises. I had a customer who was surprised at the colour of a bead on a necklace bought from me. To me, the image I was using of the bead looked to replicate it very well. But the customer may have viewed the necklace on a machine with very different settings.

If at all possible, look at your images on more than one computer, tablet, laptop or phone. In fact, use all devices you have access to, and borrow others if you can. Whilst it is impossible to make an image render correctly on every device, with every potential variation of display, the more you understand about the common differences, the more you can allow for them when taking your photographs, and editing those images.

I hope this was helpful - do let me know!


Part One on cameras and close-ups
Part Two on focus and lighting
Part Three on location, themes and backgrounds

Also, keep a look out for my forthcoming ebook covering in far more depth how to photograph handcrafted jewellery.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

A photography aside

I am aware I still have not finished my mini series on photographing jewellery (parts one, two and three are here if you fancy a look so far). It will be done. But I guess I've had some issues with it, including a couple of pretty unfulfilling spells both before Christmas, and now again this last couple of weeks, when I've been creating new work that needs photographing.

It's been like any advances I had made crumbled away a little and, apart from blaming my camera (which, admittedly, is literally beginning to fall apart slightly, as some of the plastic casing has broken off), and the light (although a poor excuse when ambient light is bouncing off snow), I was getting a little frustrated.

This feeling was only compounded by the fact I got a rather swish camera tripod for Christmas. Now, I'm the first to admit my increasingly basic point and shoot camera looks a little silly on top of this so, for now, it's not something you'll see me out and about with, pretending I'm a photographer. And I discovered quite rapidly that a large tripod isn't really the thing for small, intricate shots of jewellery, especially when you're working in quite limited space, with not great light. The portability I had when using my camera in my (occasionally shaky) hand was something that was greatly lacking with a tall, slightly ungainly tripod.


Then I saw this thread on the Folksy forums the other week, and followed a link in it to this product. A week later I was perusing the aisles of a well-known budget supermarket chain and discovered a similar item on sale. I didn't buy it. It would be silly, extravagant. I already had a tripod. Ignore the fact I couldn't make it do the job I wanted it to.

But I went back to same supermarket last week, and they had a few mini tripods left. So I bought one.

It was smaller than I'd imagined it would be when I got it out of the packaging (which, surprisingly for plastic sealed, did not involve a sharp pair of scissors or any swearing at all), and when I set it up with my camera on, I feared it was not only too small, but the weight of the camera would destroy its balance.

But, lo, it worked. I could get the camera in just the place I wanted, and, wiggling the extremely wiggleable yet very tough and stiff legs, I could get the balance just right. The camera held in place and did not crash down on the jewellery below it.


Well, I hope so. I've not taken many shots yet, waiting for the grey days to pass, and perhaps a bit of sunlight emerge. Let's face it, I'd take just not-grey at the moment.

Of course, I can't show you a photo of the tripod in action, because I need my camera to take the photos of the tripod... but here it is, without the camera, anyway. Hopefully, my saviour. Or at least, a contributor towards photography salvation.

I'll let you know how it goes...