Attracted to the natural beauty of freshwater pearls, I design pieces that are elegant and timeless, yet incorporate my unique touch. My style can best be described as “kicked up classic.” By starting with the best quality components available, my pieces are also durable and lasting.
While helping a friend start her jewelry business ten years ago, I discovered the joy of using fine motor skills to create beautiful objects. I began by making bookmarks and wine charms out of memory wire, pearls and semi-precious stones. Then Buffalo Fleece and Outerwear, a local store in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, asked me to create Buffalo-themed key chains and zipper pulls and then jewelry for their store. Through this project, I discovered my true passion, and Bliss Designs was born.
Since that time, I have created thousands of pieces of jewelry — from classy freshwater pearl necklaces to funky earrings. Through my Buffalo, New York-based business, I have the opportunity to help customers discover beaded jewelry that expresses their personality and tastes. I also help them select individual, custom-made gifts, such as bridal party sets. This is a true joy.
You can find my jewelry at several gift shops, such as The Museum Store in the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College, September’s Bride in Holland, MI, Enjoy the Journey Art Gallery in West Seneca, NY, anatomy in downtown Buffalo and local art shows. You also can contact me for custom pieces. If I have the materials on hand, I could complete custom work within a week, within 2 if I need to order specific size or color pearls.
I have served on the board of Artists in Buffalo Inc since 2008, am a partner with Urban Artisans since 2008, and with Bliss & Bejewelled Benefit Bazaars since 2004. We’ve raised more than $50,000 for local charities, such as Gilda’s Club WNY, Child & Family Services Haven House, Hospice Buffalo and more.
I believe jewelry is more than an accessory; it’s an expression of a woman’s inner self. Let me help you find yours with my beautiful creations.
Designer Spotlight: Anne Bliss
A BRIEF STORY OF WHAT YOU DO AND WHY YOU DO IT.
I quit my job as a Customs Broker/office manager to stay home when our first child was born. I started Bliss Designs when our oldest was 9, part time, with a plan of 2-3 art shows a year.It has grown since then.
I’m sure my reasons are common: I wanted flexibility, the ability to work from home around the kid’s schedules, a creative outlet and some adult conversation. Now that our son is off to college and our daughter is almost a teen, I have much more time and am ready to get to the next level.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO JEWELRY DESIGN?
While helping a friend start her jewelry business eight years ago, I discovered the joy of using fine motor skills to create beautiful objects. I began by making bookmarks and wine charms out of memory wire, pearls and semi-precious stones. Then Buffalo Fleece and Outerwear, a local store in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, asked me to create Buffalo-themed key chains and zipper pulls and then jewelry for their store. Through this project, I discovered my true passion, and Bliss Designs was born.
WHAT MAKES YOUR COLLECTION UNIQUE?
I wanted to create a new line and started playing with resin. I had purchased some copper bezels and they were fun. Then my husband wondered why I didn’t use the copper pipe that he has laying around from remodeling our 1896 home. I patiently explained why that wouldn’t work, and then realized I had an exciting challenge! It took a few months of trial and error but I finally figured it out.
I’ve had outstanding feedback and sales from my line of recycled copper plumbing pipe pendants filled with resin and freshwater pearls.
WHAT ARE YOUR INSPIRATIONS?
I love to work with beautiful pearls. Seriously! have you looked into a good quality pearl lately? They seem almost alive with depth & colors.
I also love copper. It’s a natural material that can change color in interesting ways.
HOW ARE YOU MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE?
I have been able to use my jewelry business to help raise and donate over $53000.00 to local Buffalo charities since 2004 by co-producing “Bliss & Bejewelled Benefit Bazaars”, craft shows where the artists donate 20% of sales.
WHAT’S SOMETHING UNUSUAL ABOUT YOU THAT MAKES YOU “YOU”?
I’m curious. I always love learning new things.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST STRUGGLE IN RUNNING YOUR JEWELRY BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS? OR WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS IN RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS LIKE A BUSINESS?
I do very well in my local market from art shows and boutique sales and would like to reach a larger audience and sell more online or have wholesale accounts out of this area.
9 questions from Stephanie, an editor with Jones Publishing:
1) Your full name. Where do you live?
Anne Bliss. Buffalo. NY.
2) Were you educated as an artist? Did you study jewelry making or some other crafts? If so, where? If not, where did you learn?
No formal artistic education. However, I was always creative, since my mother taught me how to make Barbie clothes when I was a child. I would sew, knit, crochet or cross stitch. Every year I made about 30 Christmas gifts for family. In 2002, a friend started a jewelry business and asked several playgroup moms to help her to get ready for her first big show. I’d always loved pearls, and when I saw her buy strands of them, along with so many pretty semi-precious beads, I decided to make fancy wine charms for everyone that Christmas. I used pearl covered ring memory wire with a semi-precious stone dangle. I was having so much fun that I decided to make more. I had my first show in the spring of 2003. When an order for 100 strands of pearls came in, I was in hooked. It didn’t take long to transition from making wine charms, and then napkin rings, to jewelry. My friend was a mentor. I learned by helping her with her business, and then I started my CraftsReport subscription. I learned so much about running my own business from your magazine. I also subscribed to a few jewelry making magazines and fine-tuned my technique over the years. My brand focus on pearls is the net result.
3) How would you describe this up-cycled jewelry? Who is its intended audience?
I title the collection Bliss Cu – Bliss for the pearls, which is my focus, and the Cu to distinguish this collection as copper rather than my usual sterling silver. I think it’s kind of funky, while still appealing to those who, like me, love pearls and want a more casual way to wear them. My ideal customer is someone who appreciates hand crafted, loves art and wants to stand out from the crowd. She is from 35 – 50 years old and of medium income – wanting to spend more than costume but who doesn’t want to wear high end on a daily basis.
4) Do you have a mission or an artistic philosophy? Please share with us?
I love the way that my jewelry business gives me the opportunity to participate in the larger artistic community.
I thrilled to be able to use what I do to raise money for charities that I care about. I donate regularly to many charity auctions, and have participated in, helped organize, and run many charity art shows, where we have many artists donate 20% of gross sales to a particular charity. Another jeweler (Mary Czajkowski of Bejewelled) and I put together several of these and raised over $50,000. When is the artists are able to donate over $1000 to a charity that they truly care about, it’s a very special and beautiful thing.
I am also on the board of Artists in Buffalo, Inc, and share the responsibility of organizing an annual Holiday Open Studios and Galleries weekend. http://www.artistsinbuffalo.org/
5) Are you married? Does your spouse and/or your kids help out with your artwork?
John and I have been married for 24 years – and we are still blissful! We have 2 beautiful children. Zach is 19 and just finished his second year studying astrophysics at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario Canada, and Zena, who will be starting high school this coming September.
Zach has worked art festivals with me. Zena hasn’t done much work for me yet. Both support what I do and help out around the house when I’m working a deadline.
My husband is the inspiration for my copper line. I’ll explain that in #9. He is also a hobby woodworker, and has built many display items and workroom furniture. If I can draw a picture, he can make it.
6) How do you decide what types of jewelry to create? You do necklaces and also earrings, bracelets? Anything else?
The necklaces and earrings were easy to figure out, and so they were first. I have in the past, and am still having, a difficult time with deciding on a design for bracelets. The design that I love the most is too labor intensive to be sold at a price that matches the other pieces. I do sell some that are like a charm bracelet; with the copper chain and a small dangle. I feel that the single dangle is lonely, but to add more would drive up the price too high. I’ve also created it as a watch style, with the chain attached on either side. I’m still waiting to be inspired to make just the right design.
When I was refining my technique, I put all my imperfect pieces on key chains. They sold REALLY well! But now that I’ve perfected it, I don’t think they would sell at $50/piece, so I’ve stopped offering it.
It’s a constant balance to come up with what will sell and at what price point, and can I do that at a profit.
7) If no one had ever seen your work before, how would you describe it?
It’s a little window into the beauty of natural elements. A slice of cleaned up recycled copper pipe is a frame for freshwater pearls that are locked in clear resin.
8) Why should a retailer want to order your jewelry? What distinguishes your designs from others?
My jewelry fits in best with galleries, eco-friendly stores, and women’s clothing boutiques.
I know everyone says this, but I feel like my jewelry really is unique. Beautiful, casual, a touch of fancy with an eco-friendly twist.
It shows best when hanging. Customers can’t help but touch them. Then they feel that it has weight but is not too heavy. That it looks heavy is my number one complaint. They are surprised when they touch it and see that it isn’t heavy at all, and in fact weighs less than a single strand of pearls.
My goal is to shift to mostly wholesale, other than one or two local art festivals to test out new products and find out what people respond to.
9) Anything you want to add? (How did you decide to use plumbing material and freshwater pearls. Such a unique combo.)
Coming up with this design was an evolution! I started with wanting to work with resin. Resin is more casual, so I thought I’d use a less expensive metal than the sterling, but couldn’t go all the way to base metal. I want to make a product that will be heirloom quality. I decided on copper, ordered some pre-made bezel pendants and started to play. I loved what I came up with, and when I showed them to my husband, he said “why are you BUYING copper when I have so much of it in the basement?”
We live in a large 1896 Victorian that we bought in 1999 and have been fixing up ever since. In 2000, we had gutted the kitchen and moved everything around, so all that copper pipe was just gathering dust in the basement. We had also re-done a bathroom (I only use freshwater pipe, fyi) and had changed out the heating system from copper pipe/hot water to forced air. I asked him, what could I do with pipe? I need a base for the resin to sit in, the pipe wouldn’t work!
Then my brain started spinning and I was obsessed with figuring it out. It took several months, and I had to learn how to use power tools for the first time. Finding the right way to keep the resin in a frame instead of a bezel was a particular challenge.I changed from 2 part resin to UV curing resin when I couldn’t get rid of all the teeny tiny bubbles and the pearls moved around during the time that it took to set. Did you know that copper warms up and expands when put under UV light? That posed another challenge, as the copper would pop up and resin would leak out.
I have a short video showing my process: http://blissdesigns.net/copper/
I love how the copper is a frame for the pearls. I love how it allows us to wear pearls in a much more casual way, and yet still be put together. I get compliments all the time when I’m out, even at the grocery store or the mall. I hear the same feedback from my customers.
I have also experimented with semi-precious stones but was unimpressed. I have some made with fossils that my daughter and I pulled out of the ground. I really love those, but they don’t sell as well as the pearls, because they are not as colorful. Men like to wear them – they are unisex. image here: http://blissdesigns.net/shop/necklace-cu/fossil-large-recycled-copper-pipe-necklace-2/
I also made some with beach stones and they are very pretty, but again, not as alive and colorful as the pearls.
Pearls have depth and warmth.