Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tag, you're it! Custom Jewelry Tags

"Every job is a self portrait of the person who did it ...
Autograph your work with excellence.” 
~Vince Lombardi 
Before I designed jewelry I was a collector of costume jewelry. That is all that I could afford, and I didn't realize that there were other options. I recall having a piece of Monet jewelry that seemed to cost a lot to me at the time, and it had this little tag near the clasp. It was identified by that brand tag forever and made it more special in my eyes.

When I started designing jewelry of my own, I knew that I wanted to somehow sign my work. After all, artists sign their paintings and we have all seen the Antiques Roadshow where a patron has a signed copy of an artwork that is worth thousands that they didn't even realize that they had. Early on, the pieces that I made were definitely not worthy of the moniker of 'art,' and they certainly didn't include art beads, but that didn't stop me from dreaming that one day my signature might be worth something!

I am glad that I had the foresight to think of this back in 2006. It was actually one of the first branding moves that I made, long before I decided on copper boxes and chocolate satin ribbon with my company name and skeleton key logo hot foil stamped on it. As I am prone to do, I did a lot of research before deciding on what was right for me. In fact, one of my very first posts on Art Bead Scene back in 2009 was about this very thing. There are many options out there for signing your work.

{the Tesori Trovati skeleton key logo stamp}
At the time I paid around $150 for a custom stamp to be cast of my exact skeleton key logo from Microstamp. This was way before there was an explosion of metal design stamps out there, and now I see that there are plenty of skeleton key design stamps that I could use, but I am pretty happy with the one that I had created just for me. Because I am the only one that has it.

Along with that, I purchased bulk packages of little oval tags, also from Microstamp, in sterling silver, gold filled, brass and copper. This size above is 6x9mm. I find that I gravitated to the copper and silver ones the most, as that matches the metal tones that I used more frequently and I have recently made the decision to stick to copper since that became a signature metal tone for me early on. I can also use this to stamp the back of a metal piece instead of a tag, an added bonus.

Beaducation offers such a huge variety of metal design stamps that you might be able to find something that could brand your work from their stable of popular designs rather than having something custom made. Then you just need to find the little tags to stamp them on and you are set!
{TagMate System from Infinity Stamps}

I did a lot of research on Infinity Stamps. They have a really nice tool called the TagMate System that you use to steady the stamp so that you get a true impression each time. I can tell you that I have baggies of little tags that I ruined because I stamped too light, too heavy, or got a ghost image from an overeager double blow with the hammer. Eventually, I picked up a dead blow hammer and got the hang of it so I don't make those mistakes any more. The price was considerably higher, but the main reason I didn't go with this is because at the time they only had a limited supply of sizes of the tags that fit their tool and they didn't offer them in copper, which was my favorite, or brass. However, I see that they now carry a much larger variety of metals, like brass and copper and shapes, like hearts and ovals and rectangles. They also offer stamps perfect for clay, like polymer and precious metal so that if you use those materials you can sign your work as well. If I didn't already have a stamp, I would surely look closer at this product now.

{cast pewter tags from Charm Factory}

You could also have a custom engraved sig tag created for you all ready to go from Charm Factory. Since they offer engraving rather than stamping it is supposed to be quicker and more precise. They also offer a cast pewter option that is less expensive (see above). I also liked that option and might consider it in the future.

{the cutest little sig tags ever created by Mamacita Beadworks for Lorelei Eurto Jewelry}

Lorelei Eurto came up with a clever idea to sign her artisan pieces. She commissioned an artist named D'Arsie Manzella of Mamcita Beadworks to create a custom tag with a cute little owl on it and the initials "L E" for her name. That is so very beautiful!

{see how that cute little tag adds to the charm of this Lorelei Eurto bracelet?}

Since this is a bit more special and more pricey route to go, they might not show up in every piece that Lorelei makes, just the most artistically inspired, but I love how this is also an art bead with Lorelei's favorite owl motif that can play into the whole design.

{Andrew Thornton's unique signature - I would love to own a piece of his jewelry with this special tag!}
And I just stumbled across a blog post by my friend Andrew Thornton with little bronze tags that he made with his own signature for a jewelry line he was working on. I love the way these turned out and the color of the metal. If you work in PMC this would be an obvious option.

What other things could you do to make signature tags? These options above might not work for everyone, and can be an added cost that some are just not willing nor able to take on. There must be some other ideas from you clever people out there.

I work a lot in polymer clay now, and it is wonderful stuff. I think that it would be possible to make some tiny wafer-thin tags in a variety of colors that could easily be added to your work. You can even use products to patina the clay and make it look like precious metal, like the new Swellegant line created for Christi Friesen that works on all sorts of surfaces from metal to paper to clay. You can get these from Christi direct or from B'Sue's Boutiques. Can't wait to try them! But it all comes back to branding, and maybe if you can't brand each piece of jewelry, start with your packaging with paper tags and stamps and stickers to make your work stand our from the rest.

Okay, so just by signing your work in some way doesn't make it art, but it is a step in the right direction. Why? Because artists who care about their work, who see the value in it, and who believe that the piece is done will add their signature. Imagine finding a Miriam Haskell signed piece of costume jewelry, or Louis Comfort Tiffany. The value of a signature is not to be overlooked and who knows? Yours might be worth something someday!

Your turn...
Do you sign your work? How do you do it? 
If you don't sign your work, would you consider it? What method appeals to you?
What else can you do to raise the level of your creativity from just making pretty to creating art? 

Erin Prais-Hintz invites you to go on a journey of inspiration at her blog Treasures Found :: Inspiration is Everywhere. You can view a gallery of her work at http://www.tesoritrovati.com/ or purchase her new line of 'Simple Truths' in her Etsy shop.


Elaine said...

Since my "specialty" is polymer clay canework I've made a variety of name and logo canes for myself over the years.

These days I occasionally tuck one little slice bead in by the clasp that has a small ER or a double wave symbol (for aquarius). These tend to only go on the larger pieces.

I still have miles of the cane I did of my ENTIRE NAME. It worked but wasn't lovely.

Kathleen Lange Klik said...

Great post Erin!! I have been working on creating a signature tag for my jewelry. I bought a leaf stamp from Beaducation, but would like to get a custom design. You have given me a lot of great options to think about-thank you!

Cynthia said...

This is such an important post, I'm sharing it on my blog! I think your custom stamp solution is ideal, and easy. I'd be reluctant to purchase a stock stamp, no matter how unusual, as it can be used by copy-cats or anyone.
Years ago I had custom tags cast with my company logo and used them on everything. I could have them plated in any finish I desired and did. I also recommend an in-line tag, one with holes on both ends, as I know that unscrupulous boutiques will sometimes cut your tag off and 'private label' the jewelry as their own if they are worried customers may start shopping directly with you. When you use an in-line tag you can put it in the design between the clasp and the body of the necklace or bracelet.

Thanks for sharing these great ideas!

Andrew Thornton said...

Oh, thank you for mentioning my little tag! I use mine very sparingly and only on special pieces of jewelry. I call it my "signature line".

Deborah said...

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

roman liberty said...

i really love the key

Lori Anderson said...

Antiques Roadshow is an apt description -- Stephanie Sersich talks about that very show when she wrote her book and included info about her tags. I'm not 100% sure, but I think Green Girl Studios made them for her? They're lovely! And I've received yours, and they look fantastic! I just have no idea what I would put on a tag for me?

sandi m said...

I decided a long time ago to 'tag' my pieces. But since I couldn't decide on artwork I had the stamp made with my initials. It is from Microstamp and I love it. It feels like I'm stamping on butter; you get a great impression without pounding the hammer unlike when using some of the commercial design stamps

I use sterling tags but also improvise by cutting out small copper or brass sheet squares, use a design stamp and then my initial stamp. These are free form and fun to incorporate in my design.

I find that customers are impressed when they see your pieces with your own custom tag.

Great post Erin!

APolymerPenchant said...

So many great options to consider! It's such a timely post for me as I try to get my own brand rolling out into the world. One more thing to bear in mind while designing my brand. Since I work n polymer clay I was leaning toward some sort of cane version possibly. What I like most about that is being able to adjust the size for the application. So much to think about - it's probably high time to start a real list!

Malin de Koning said...

Great post Erin! I don't have a signature tag. Yet. But I actually very early in my jewelry making career had this idea for a type of thing that would sign my pieces. I did some research at the time, but never went all the way, since I didn't know if the jewelry making would take on. I'd forgotten all about it. Until now. Thanks for reminding me. I shall definitely look into that again. All of the tags you have shown here look awesome. And thanks for all the practical tips. One day I might have my own tag. :-)

Sherri said...

Erin, what a great idea-I love this post!!

Andrea said...

Wonderful, creative ideas and a great resource guide.

Gaea said...

Great post! I love the idea of being able to "sign" your work! Every artist should!

Raida said...

I've thought of doing this but haven't found a tag I've liked enough to invest in. Thanks for the resources, I'm definately going to look into a custom stamp. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so muh for posting about how to sign your work. I had decided this would be my next step after this round of fairs/holidays, etc. Great advice and suggestions!

Janet Bocciardi said...

Nice post! One of the first things I did was to not only have my logo designed that I could use on my website, packaging, etc., but also to get a metal stamp made to go along with. All my jewelry except earrings goes out with my special stamp designed by my cousin who is a graphics and font artist. It makes me happy every time I stamp and add it to my creation. It sort of is my stamp of approval to go out the door.

nancy john said...

Many women like to wear Custom Design Jewelry

Amelia said...

With this idea, you could really be a great custom jeweler, you know that? I bet that if you were able to make stamps small enough, you could really put them to good use in a more precious way! Like engagement rings and things, no?

Tragus jewelry said...

this jewlery tags information is very helful for me and for this

dhiyan said...

Well written and helpful. I sell handmade jewelry with a romantic touch, French flair on etsy, and found the tips to be vital. Marketing is so important! Thanks!
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Susan Lloyd said...

thanks for taking the time to talk to me. i definately going to check out what you referenced. thank you

Shaniqua17 said...

The tag jewelry is so pretty. It has a really nice earthy feel to it, which I like. I'm not a fan of very gaudy pieces and I like metals. Tagging looks like it could be a lot of fun! It looks like I need to become a custom jeweler for myself so I can have all the tagged jewelry I want. Thanks for the post and information, it was very helpful!

Meghan said...

These are some great options to standard engraving that I hadn't thought of. Thanks so much!!

Joyce said...

Photos are great. Very informative post indeed. Thanks a lot.

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Thedoris Jackson said...

I like your engraving designs are really good.
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