Johan’s wood-inlay rings first caught my eye on the etsy frontpage months ago, and every couple of weeks one of his new pieces pops up on my news feed. I’m eternally impressed with the beautiful consistency and high quality of his pieces. Enjoy as he answers a few questions about his art and his business.
Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I love to create things others admire, it is a wonderful feeling, a high.
It helps that I have an inquisitive mind and I am never afraid of starting/making something that others are not willing to try.
I made my 1st ever ring when I was about 12 years old. I took a nut (as in the counterpart to a bolt) that was big enough for my finger to fit through, shaped it with a metal file into a signet ring. I never did wear it. I just had the inquisitive mind to do it.
How did you learn your craft?
I have a “can do” attitude. I believe those that talk about it never succeed, only those that actually do it will succeed.
I did a lot of reading and watching videos on the Internet. I made some rings and found it was easy enough if you know the material you are working with and how it will react when you work it.I have also received some formal jewelry manufacturing training, stone setting and casting rings, mainly for engagement rings with intricate settings.
How has your work evolved?
When I started selling on Etsy I started with a natural wood ring as no one else was doing it at the time. I made the hole with a little hand drill, filed the rest with a hand file, sanded and waxed it. I was pleasantly surprised that it sold in about 3 days. I thought that this was too easy to make money with so I made a lot of wood rings. A few months later I purchased a wood lathe to make the rings faster. A few months later I bought a very small bench metal lathe to make Titanium inlayed with Wood rings. This helped make the rings stronger as wood rings do break easily.
Things happened fairly quickly from there. To date I have purchased 3 big metal lathes and a big metal milling machine, not to mention all the Jewelry tools and equipment.
Now I can custom make any ring the client requests: Platinum, Gold, Palladium, Silver, Titanium, Meteorite, Damascus, Mokume Gane, setting of Diamonds and Gemstones.
What is your greatest challenge?
I have a Patent Pending ring I designed and manufacture out of Titanium. It is called the “Interchangeable Inlay Ring System”, some call it a “Hybrid Ring” [above].
You buy one ring and many inlays. You open up the ring and replace the inlay with another inlay. With this system you will have a new ring every time you exchange/replace the inlay. Some buy up to 10 different inlays, that is 10 new rings.
With a normal inlay ring you are stuck with what you have and it usually costs hundreds of dollars. If something would break with a normal ring you have to throw it away, if it is a wood inlay, the wood inlay can break or if it gets wet it will eventually break as well.
With my system you need only make a new inlay, replace the old inlay with the new inlay. Your ring is back to normal within days, at a fraction of the cost of a totally new inlay ring.
My new patented inlay system solves many problems. I have many clients return and order new inlays from me.
My current challenge is doing the same with Platinum, Gold, Palladium and Silver rings. It is very difficult but I will get it to work.
What inspires you?
A great challenge. If I cannot do it at first I will try and try again until solved. I love to design and develop new rings. To date I have designed 3 rings, 1 of them is Patent Pending. It is a great feeling to know that a ring exists because of you.
It is such a great feeling when people congratulate you on your new ring design.
What advice do you have for people looking to take up a new art form?
Read up about it. If it interests you and you want to give it a try, DO IT. Don’t keep on thinking about it. Get some training if it is affordable and you have the time.
With practice you will get better and conquer it. Everyone starts as a novice!
How does one care for a wood and metal jewelry piece?
Because it is updated with new info I suggest read the FAQ on my website www.jewelrybyjohan.com
Tell us about your etsy business.
I started making and selling rings on Etsy in June 2008. My beginner mistakes include not taking good photos. When I started taking good photos my sales picked up drastically.
Etsy is my full time job. The amount of orders forced me to make it my full time job. My turnaround time has been between 4 and 6 weeks the last 2 years. It is currently 6 weeks because of the wedding season.
Where can readers find your work?
My rings can be found on my website www.jewelrybyjohan.com. I wish I have the time to show my rings in galleries, I have been asked many times. If I get my backlog worked down to 3 days—it is currently 6 weeks because of the wedding season—I will consider sending my rings to galleries.
What advice do you have for new etsians?
My clients are King. I only provide the best service to my clients. Help them whenever you can, even if they are wrong. A disgruntled client has a negative impact on your business. Returning clients and word of mouth advertising are about 30% of all my sales.
Invest in a good camera and only use good photos in your listings. My sales picked up a lot when I started listing with good photos. At first I used a camera with bad close-up, it made the items look small and distant. My new camera shows good close-ups and you can see all the detail.
Make use of all the tags/keys available to you when you list a new item. Think like a client and enter tags that will get your items listed on the first page of search results. Search Etsy forums, they share lots of info on tags and search results.
Search for listings similar to yours, how does yours compare to theirs, look at the keywords, price, tags, description, how far up on the search did they appear, etc. Later on you will be the person others search for and want to copy. You have to keep one step ahead of your competitors, be a leader not a follower.