Tuesday, October 6, 2020

5 Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask About Handmade Jewelry

I remember when I first started exploring the possibilities of handmade jewelry. Like a lot of people, I was used to buying my jewelry from a department store, where there were many copies of the same design, probably machine-made, and you could easily tell which designs were popular based on how many were left on the shelf. With handmade jewelry, however, it was harder to tell which pieces were going to be "in", because a lot of handmade jewelry is unique and one-of-a-kind. Why should I buy handmade?, I wondered. What's the difference? I was too hesitant to ask any of the jewelry artists at the craft fairs, though, for fear of offense, and stuck to Googling and figuring stuff out on my own.

If you're like me and have the same questions, lucky you! I came up with five questions that I had when I got serious about buying jewelry and making jewelry, and I answer them the best I can with my own experience and knowledge. :)

Does the quality differ from machine-made jewelry?

Since handmade jewelry is made individually or in small batches, I'd say yes - in a good way. As both a buyer and a maker, I find that handmade jewelry is often of higher quality because it receives more individual attention than something made on an assembly line.

Why buy handmade? Why is it better than machine-made?
Well, the question of whether handmade is better than machine-made or not is up for debate. I have some machine-made pieces that I adore and wear often. However, I prefer handmade due to the close relationship it has to the maker. With a handmade piece, someone designed and crafted it, and if my experience is anything to go by, they probably put a lot of time and effort into it. Undoubtedly, work goes into machine-made pieces, but...I dunno. I just feel like the maker has a closer relationship to their handmade pieces than someone in a factory does to the pieces that they make, and that relationship is part of why I, personally, prefer handmade. With handmade, you can often get the piece customized, tailored to fit you and your tastes, or personalized with engravings or stamps.

Isn't handmade more expensive?
Sometimes. At the risk of sounding glib, it really depends on the piece. Remember, though, that you're not just buying the piece - you're paying for the artistry and expertise that made it, the time that went into sourcing the materials and learning the technique, let alone the material and labor cost. Some consider jewelry to be art, where they're also buying the emotional connection that they feel to the piece.

Why should I buy your jewelry when I can make it myself?
Great question! I wondered something similar, years ago, when I realized that I could learn how to make my own pieces. I fully encourage people to get creative and hands-on, as a maker - but as a seller, I also remind people that when you buy one of my pieces, you don't have to spend all the time learning the techniques and the tricks and the trial-and-errors - I already did all that for you. ;) When you buy a piece of my jewelry, you're paying for twenty years (so far) of experience.

What's the difference between fine/fashion/costume jewelry?
This really could be its own post, honestly. In short, fine jewelry is the fancy stuff - the precious gemstones, the fine metals, and solid workmanship, with the price tag to match. Costume jewelry is often inexpensive materials made quickly, and may not be the highest quality - but it doesn't cost much to buy. Fashion jewelry, however, is kind of a bridge between the two: it usually has the craftsmanship of the fine jewelry, with less expensive materials (semi-precious stones and glass beads, with silver-filled or gold-filled metal, or more common metals like copper). Actually, I believe "bridge jewelry" is another term for fashion jewelry. This is what I make - I appreciate the artisanal qualities of fine jewelry, and the wearability of costume jewelry, so I seek to "bridge" the gap with my own pieces.

I hope you find this useful! Do you have any questions about handmade jewelry, fashion jewelry, or anything along those lines? Drop your question in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer it!

Catch you on the flip side,

Saturday, April 4, 2020


Hey, everyone! What interesting times we find ourselves in, eh? I was talking with another parent (at a distance, of course), and she mentioned that we're living in a historic event right now - some day, this outbreak will be in history books and kids will learn about it in school. Kind of blew my mind, to be honest.

Almost as mind-blowing to me is the fact that there's this hashtag going around for #coronacrafting. I get it - most of us are stuck at home, and crafting is something to do - but that there's a hashtag for it... I really shouldn't be surprised at this, since practically everything gets hashtagged nowadays; I guess I'm just showing my age, haha. It's a great way to check in on other crafters and see what they're up to, though! There's bound to be some amazing art coming out of this event, and I can't wait to see it.

So, on that note, here's what I have been #coronacrafting lately:

Shooting star earrings by bokbok jewelry

A coloring page I've been working on.
Notice the tasteful detailing and use of color in the cat toot.

A whole mess of earrings by bokbok jewelry

What have you made lately? Share it with other artists on social media (using #coronacrafting, if you'd like) and let's craft together!

Thanks for reading! Here's a bonus meme I found on Facebook:

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Guest Room Remodel: Floors

Hi, all! So, I mentioned previously that I moved to an old house recently. This house was in great shape, but I really wanted to update the decor. To that end, I thought I'd start with the guest room! 

The room had some very strongly salmon-colored walls, a stained and dirty area rug, and all the cool woodwork was painted over. Was it lead paint? Who knows! (I do plan to test it for lead before doing anything with it.) All in all, I thought that getting the floors in order first would be my best bet. A quick sanding, maybe stain, and some varnish, and they should be good to go! 

The first thing I had to do was get rid of the area rug. I want to have the floor in there be all wood with a couple of throw rugs on either side of the guest bed, because it'll be easier to not have to vacuum - run a dust mop along the floor once a week or so, beat the rugs as needed, and I should be set! 

Well, once I got the rug out of there, I found the center of the floor had not been varnished like the perimeter had. It appeared to be untreated wood, and there were some water stains, and many paint splatters. No wonder the previous owners had thrown a rug down! The planks weren't even the same size in the center as the planks around the sides, and there was no pattern to it like there was around the perimeter. We don't really have the budget currently to redo the floor completely, so I had to make this work.

Tools and safety info: I always use a respirator if I'm doing anything with the potential for dust or fumes. I always use earplugs when using any sort of power tool. Safety glasses are another must-have. For this project, I probably should have had full-blown goggles (with a tight seal all around your eyes), but I had safety glasses, so I used those - the dust still blew up and around the sides, though I did have less dust in my eyes than I would have with no glasses. 

Lastly, I have this disc sander that I found, brand new, at a garage sale back in Oregon. It is my only power sander, and worked great for touching up the floors in our last house before we sold it. I knew it'd take a while to do a whole room - which it did - but I got it done. And wow, what a difference it made!


...and after sanding.

As you can see, the paint splatters are no more. Most of the water stains came up, too, and the wood looks less weathered. Sanding the perimeter was a little tougher because as the varnish there heated up from the friction of the sander, it gummed up my sandpaper disc a bit, so I had to take frequent breaks to let everything cool down. There's got to be an easier way - probably a stripper of some sort - but I did not do any sort of research beforehand. I just kind of jumped in, and it worked out pretty well this time! 

There were some spots where the center planks looked like they had chunks missing. I patched those with some wood filler.

The last step was to put a nice, thick layer of polyurethane over it. It's longer-lasting than wax, and will hold up to wear-and-tear such as people walking on it. I got the oil-based, which adds a warm glow to the wood.

Here's where I started, and the final result! 


So, were there some things I could have done differently? Absolutely. I mentioned the varnish stripper before - I'm sure that's a thing that exists. I also mentioned that I wished I had actual safety goggles instead of just glasses; glasses helped, but goggles would have been better. I also definitely could have used a pair of knee/shin pads; being down on all fours for several days' worth of sanding was a little rough, and I wound up with bruises up and down both legs. Even easier would have been to rent one of those big sanders I see on the house-flipping shows. Oh well, now I know for next time! :) 

The next remodel project I plan to do in the guest room involves the walls. I want to remove the wallpaper and repaint the walls. Lead testing swabs are coming in the mail, in case there's paint under the wallpaper - I'd like to know what I'm dealing with! I'm still working on my color scheme - probably something in the blue-to-gray family, though I'll have to play around with some paint chips and see what looks good. 

Have you remodeled part of your house? How'd it go? Tell me about it in the comments!

See you next time,

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

BokBok Update! (Sept. 2019)

Hi everyone!

Boy, it's been a while again, hasn't it? There's a very good reason for that - we moved across country! I'm out of Oregon for what feels like the first time in my life, and settled into a fabulous Victorian house in Pennsylvania. The Victorian era is one of my favorite time periods - the literature, the motifs, the architecture - and I am so glad to be the proud owner of a piece of that history.

I have my own space now for my work, instead of sharing a room with my husband's office, and I have been updating my store to get it into shape for some new pieces. This has been very time-consuming, but it's something that needed to happen!

The closing down of Tictail was ...eh, not a big blow to my shop, per se, but it's been a change. I hadn't updated my Zibbet shop in the time that I was on Tictail, because that's where I was focusing my efforts. I'm back on Zibbet now, though, and wow! There have been a lot of changes since I was last active there! Zibbet's new sales channel management looks like a game-changer to me, for the world of e-commerce. I can't wait to get my shop updated and check out the rest of what Zibbet offers.

Speaking of updating my online store, I have some super-cute pieces to list once I get the photos finished. Here's a sneak-peek:


Adorbs, right? I made matching sets of necklaces and earrings with these ceramic critter beads, and I'm figuring out a bracelet design, too.

And speaking of adorable, we have a new member of our family...

Blogger, meet Tulip! She's a sweet pittie mix that we adopted from the Erie Humane Society. Our fur-baby, Tank, passed away a month before we moved, so once we got settled in to the new house, we just had to get a new dog. Our cat doesn't much like her yet, but it's just a matter of time and patience with him - he hates everyone at first, haha.

Well, I have no idea if I still have anyone following the blog, since it's been almost a year since I last posted (whoops), so if you're out there, give me a holler in the comments!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Craft Fair Time!

Hi, everyone! It's that time of year again - school's back in session, the weather is cooling down, and people are looking ahead to the holiday season. For me, it's all of those, plus it's my busy time, when I attend the bulk of my craft shows!

My first-ever booth set-up.

So, here's what's coming up on the calendar for BokBok Jewelry:

Oct. 13-14:
13th Street Nursery's Fall Festival
Salem, OR
Sat. 10-6 and Sun. 10-4

Nov. 3:
Bethany MOPS Bazaar at Bethany Baptist Church
Salem, OR
Sat. 9-4

I'm still on the hunt for shows to fill up some more weekends before now and Christmas, so if you know of any more craft fairs or bazaars that could use a handmade jewelry artist, let me know!

Hope to see you at the shows! :)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

DIY Display Risers

Hi, everyone! I was getting ready for another round of craft fairs - the one I just did was for the Fourth of July Festival in Monmouth, Oregon on July 3-4 - when I thought y'all might like to see what I was working on to prepare!

This was my first two-day show (that I can remember) and my second outdoor show. I learned at my first outdoor show that my foamcore risers, which work great indoors, are prone to flying when outside. Whoops!

Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive husband, and he helped me build a wooden set of risers based on this pin from Pinterest. It came together pretty easily - I am a novice when it comes to power tools, but I got this cut out and put together myself. My husband double-checked my measurements for me, and he helped hold wood while I was cutting, and that was it. :)

I couldn't find a source, unfortunately.
The original pin linked to some very unrelated site. :(

Tools Used:
Circular saw
Electric drill/driver
Carpenter's square
Yardstick or measuring tape
Wood glue

One 4'x4' piece of 1/2" plywood
Two 3/4" square dowels, 3' long
24 screws (1" long)

I measured the area I wanted the risers to cover on my table, as well as how high I wanted them to go, then sketched out a rough plan for the supports. I wound up drawing a 24"x18" rectangle with the zig-zag stair pattern through it. The spaces where the steps will go are 6" wide and 6" apart (height-wise). Here's a couple photos of the sketches to show y'all what I'm talking about:

Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the piece in progress. I was in such a rush to get it done! I'll describe it the best I can...

Step One was to mark out, on the plywood, where I wanted to cut out the big rectangle.

Then I cut it out. I used the circular saw for this.

Next, I centered my circular saw blade above where I wanted to do the tricky "staircase" cuts. I lifted the blade a bit, got it going, then lowered it. This cut a nice little slit where I needed it. The two halves of my staircase supports were still connected at the end, so I used the jigsaw to finish the cuts - I just inserted the blade into the cuts from the circular saw, and cut through the last inch or so on each end of the cuts. Worked like a charm!

Fourthly, I took a look at my leftover plywood for cutting out the steps. I had a nice piece that was 24" by about 36" that I could get by following one of the earlier cuts from the staircases, and I decided that'd work great for the steps. I only needed three steps, but that gave me four, which was great because you never know when you need a spare.

So, my steps were 6" deep by about 36" wide. I measured the big chunk I had just cut off, quartered it off into steps 6" deep, then made my cuts with the circular saw.

Then I took the dowels, marked them off every five inches, and cut them. These would be the supports under the steps that go on the staircases to hold everything together.

I sanded down all the edges to minimize splinters, then started measuring. My cuts were not the straightest (pretty darn close, though), so I used the carpenter's square to measure from a clean edge to where I wanted the outer edge of my staircase to go, then used the square again to mark two straight lines across the bottom of both ends of the steps. My plywood was 1/2" wide, so the lines were about 1/2" wide (erring a bit on the side of being too wide, so that they'd actually fit on the staircases).

Next, I placed a piece of the dowel on the underside of a step, lining it up with the line I had marked earlier, and clamped it into place on both ends.

Then, I pre-drilled holes where the screws were to go, starting with the dowel and going down through the step (two holes total, per dowel). In hindsight, I should have slapped some painter's tape or masking tape on the step to prevent splintering. Live and learn!

I then removed the clamps, slapped some wood glue on the dowel between the holes, and lined everything back up. If I had glued where the holes were in the dowel, I wouldn't have been able to line them up with the holes in the step. Once it was in place, I clamped the dowel again, then flipped the step over and screwed it to the dowel from the top side of the step. I repeated that for a total of twelve times - four dowels per step, for three steps.

Once that was all done and dried, I stained every edge I could reach. I didn't get between the dowels very well, but they're hidden by the staircase anyway, so it all worked out. I haven't made the time to seal the risers yet, but that would be the next step. You can stain them whatever shade you want, or paint them, or leave them plain - it's up to you - but I would definitely seal them.

Here's the finished product:

And here's it in action at the Fourth of July Festival:

Skill-wise, this was a fairly easy project, but it was definitely time-consuming. Totally worth it, though.

Have you built your own crafty project before? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Jewelry Care

Hi, everyone! It's the first day of summer, and you know what that means - weather permitting, it's the season for barbecues, sunbathing, beach trips, and all-around fun in the sun!

With all that fun, though, you need to take care of your jewelry. Nothing wrecks the beautiful shine on jewelry quicker than sweat, lotion, and water (especially lotion, hoo boy).

So, here are some common threats to your jewelry that you'll find in summer, and what to do about it:

1. Sweat
It's kind of gross, but let's face it: pretty much everyone sweats. The salt and moisture can wreak havoc on the finish of jewelry.

2. Salt Water and Pool Water
It's best to just avoid wearing jewelry in the ocean or the pool if at all possible. The water can leave a scummy-looking residue, and some pool chemicals can actually wear down the finish. Additionally, sand at the beach can, well, sand down your jewelry, leaving it dull. Sand can also get wedged into stone settings, loosening them and leaving it easier for the stone to fall out.

3. Sunscreen and Lotions
Just like sweat and water, sunscreen and lotions can also leave a film on your jewelry, dulling the shine.

4. Sun
Yep, the sun! Some stones, like amethyst, are sun-sensitive and will change color after exposure. Stones that have been dyed or treated can fade in the sun, too.

5. Heat
Heat, too, can affect stones in jewelry. Stones can crack when going rapidly from hot to cold, like going from the hot tub to the pool. Heat can also make metals soft, and may deform wire wraps, chain, or metal bands. Story time: way back when my husband and I got married, before I knew some of this stuff, we used to wear our wedding bands in the hot tub. Both of ours are now so deformed from knocking them on the doorway on the way back in that they're basically unwearable. Learn from our fail! :)

So, what are you supposed to do? Me, I wear my jewelry in the summer (except for into the ocean or pool), try to prevent issues when I can, and take care of it afterward.

Take your jewelry off when applying sunscreen, and wash your hands afterward before putting your jewelry on. Try to avoid wearing your jewelry in pools or on the beach. When you're done wearing it for the day, wipe down your jewelry with a soft, slightly damp cloth. Store your pieces in a dry, clean, relatively dark location. Jewelry boxes with felt or some other cloth lining and dividers are best - they keep the jewelry from knocking against each other and forming scratches.

Hope this helps! :)

Have any tips or disaster stories you'd like to share? Leave a comment and tell me about it!