Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFYou can do it for love. You can do it for money. Whatever your motivation, you already have the hands-on design skills and materials in stock to add a gem of a new product line to your offerings: artisan jewelry. Rodrigo Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCF of West Palm Beach, Florida has built a reputation and successful add-on sales with beautiful wire-wrapped jewelry as shown in the photos here. When Varito isn’t selling flowers, this flower shop manager and artisan is designing artisan jewelry with some items going for as much as $500. Some designs have flowers added. Some are sold as jewelry. Which is evidence of the natural close relationship of jewelry and floral designs. Varito shares his tips and techniques for creating your own artisan jewelry using floral decorative accessories and selling them in your flower shop, online or at craft shows. In honor of his heritage, I've repeated some of his quotes in Spanish.
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFVarito specializes in wire-wrapped jewelry. The technique of wrapping wire around itself is one of the oldest techniques for making handmade jewelry. “Wrapping techniques are intriguing because they give awesome interest to the designs,” says Varito.
"Las intricadas tecnicas de Tejido en alambre dan un tremendo interés a los diseños" dice Varito.
Wire components, including decorative wire and findings (similar to wire, such as head-pins) are connected to one another using mechanical techniques with no soldering or heating of the wire. A wire is bent into a loop or other decorative shape and then wrapped around itself making the loop or decorative shape permanent. [rev_slider alias="shop-stock-1"]
Photos: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCF
Sketch or freeform?“When I am creating a jewelry design, I normally like to sketch it first to get a general idea of dimension, color, material and focal point,’ says Varito. This allows him to calculate in advance the gauge and length of wire needed for the design. Other times, Varito finds inspiration from the decorative element itself and creates the designs free-form. [rev_slider alias="shop-stock-2"]
Photos: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCF
Materials and technique“I may have a stone, glass bead or other material that I want to cover with wire to form the focal point of my design, using wire to complement, cover or hold the item in place,” he explains. With this option he can add or subtract materials as the design evolves.
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFVarito likes the flexibility of Oasis’ decorative wire when creating his jewelry forms. “I use a lot of Oasis wire products including flat wire, metallic wire, bouillon, etched, diamond, bead, mega and aluminum wires and I am experimenting with floral mesh,” he says.
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCF“For the wrapping technique no type of glue is needed to hold the elements together,” he explains. “Sometimes I do use floral adhesive, UGLU or other adhesives to hold fresh floral product or other elements such as brooches.”
What tools are needed?
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFVarito works with a variety of jeweler’s tools to create his designs. He regularly uses:
- Jewelry pliers like his flat, round, chain and bent chain nose pliers
- Nylon and step jaw pliers
- Side, wire and memory cutters
- A chasing hammer
- A wood block or stump, metal block, anvil or other flat and solid working surface
Selling the designs
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFWhile there isn’t a specific selling season for these designs, all major holidays are a good catalyst for increased sales. Building a market online through social media is an excellent way to promote the specialty products year-round. “Facebook is the main tool I use to market my product,” says Varito. “The trick is post an intriguing photo of the design taken from a good angle to create interest in potential buyers.” Local fairs are a great way to personally connect with potential customers for impulse buys or custom orders. “I also find sending small samples or gifts with a nice presentation letter, business card, website info, etc., is an effective way to promote my designs,” he continues.
Styles and prices vary
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFThe price range is determined by the time invested in each piece, the materials used in the design and even the market price of the area where the artisan is located. Price often reflects the individuality of each piece. “My customized jewelry pieces usually fall into the $45.00 to $500 plus price range,” says Varito. “The mass-produced items average $10 to $40.” “The biggest challenge is to create designs that people will like. Marketing or selling can be easy but it all depends on how attractive the wirework pieces are to potential customers.”
"El mayor desafío es crear diseños que gusten a la gente. Marketing o la venta pueden ser fáciles, pero todo depende de cuán atractivas sean las piezas de creadas para potenciales clientes".
“Mostly, the orders placed online are customized designs. This is the best as it gives you the freedom to create something extraordinary. I use my intuition as a floral designer to create these designs as well.” “It is common to get wrist corsage orders for prom and wedding, but those are typically more simple designs.”
Our love of jewelry is timeless
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFSociety’s love of jewelry is timeless. In existence 7000 years before Christ, through the Middle Ages and into the Modern Era, jewelry has been worn, collected and even used as currency for transactions. Through the centuries, wealthy classes often differentiated themselves by the jewels they wore. The term jewel has remained synonymous with societal wealth, power, rank and status. Whether you want to make and sell jewelry in your business depends on your inclination, available time and how much you believe it will differentiate you from your competition and increase profits. Varito hopes to expand his opportunities to travel and teach designers across the country in the art of wirework. He encourages other florists to “never lose the opportunity to try to start something new.”
What inspires Varito’s work?
Photo: Varito Vasquez AIFD, FSMD, FPCFArtisan jewelry is a worldwide tradition. Like any artistic field, trends evolve. He keeps a constant check on what traditional artisans are working on and is often inspired by those trends. “Sometimes a song, a poem, a quote, a celebrated word, a life situation, family, my personal up and downs inspires me the most,” shares Varito. “I usually get my inspirations between 11 pm to 3 am when everything is calm.” Could you inspire sales in your floral business by introducing artisan jewelry as a new product line?
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