In the beginning of November, I started my first foray into retail. One of my work friends, Sarah, had been telling me about a shop at Covent Garden Market in London, Ontario called ‘Collected Works.’ Her mother, Denise had been working there part-time, but was enjoying it so much that she switched to being a full-time shop assistant. Sarah told me that this could be great a venue for me, and asked her mother to speak to the owner, Karen Wells about whether she would be interested in carrying some of my art and jewellery. Karen reviewed my Etsy shop and said that she would be interested on a commission basis.
Since I used to live in London, I knew where Covent Garden Market was located – although I missed the underground parking entrance on my first drive-by. I wished I had shopped there more when I was a local, as the shops are filled with a combination of tasty foods and one-of-a-kind gifts – a unique combination high-end farmer’s market and art gallery gift shop!
I met with Denise (Sarah’s mom) and she gave me a great tour of ‘Collected Works’ – I couldn’t believe the variety of merchandise that was for sale! Almost everything was hand-made by artisans across Canada ranging from home décor items (pottery, vintage frames, blown glass, and pillows), gifts for baby (slippers, outfits and toys) to fashion accessories (hats, scarfs, leather purses and jewellery). The displays themselves were works of art! Everything looked so great – I felt extremely privileged to be included with artists that had actual agents representing them!
This past weekend, Sarah went home to London to visit her family, and she was able to take some photos of the shop, including pics of my encaustic paintings on display. In November, I had dropped off some of my ‘mini-encaustics’ and also my domino pendants and scrabble tile pendants.
At one point, Denise said that my pendants were ‘selling like hotcakes!’ She also said that my collages with the tea bags were popular as well – a fun gift to buy a tea connoisseur.
And while I’m happy with both my encaustic paintings and my game piece pendants, I really wanted to create something new – something that captured the sparkle that is found in my encaustic mosaics. I love the marbling effect that comes from the encaustic paint colours melting together. Plus, the addition of metal leaf (gold or silver) with a sprinkle of glitter really makes the mosaics shine.
After some experimentation (a subject for a future ‘how to’ article), I was able to create my unique encaustic jewellery line. I also learned about using a photo lightbox to take better product photos (helps to create a uniform lighting, and no harsh highlights/shadows). I’m still using my point’n’shoot Canon with the macro setting, but I want to learn how to use our digital SLR camera properly (better focus adjustment).
Making the encaustic jewellery became very quickly addictive! I created pendants with chains, dangle earrings, stud earrings, brooches, scarf pins, rings and even cufflinks! In silver and antique bronze! After making all of this shiny bounty, I needed to be able to package the pieces individually so ‘Collected Works’ would be able to easily display them for sale. Also, I wanted to be able to provide a little ‘blurb’ about my creative process and be able re-direct buyers to my website so they could find out more about me if interested.
After much trial and error with my printer, I was able to make individual jewellery cards, with the appropriate cut-outs for each type of jewellery. My extremely supportive husband, Dave, helped me with both the design of the cut-out templates as well as putting each item into its own package. This would have taken me all night (and buckets of tears of frustration) on my own – so I owe my hubby big time!
I was amazed at how professional the packaging made my jewellery look – fantastic! I packed up all the new encaustic jewellery pieces into a box for Sarah to drop off at ‘Collect Works’ for me and now I just cross my fingers that the Christmas shoppers buy them for that special person on their list!