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How To Make Sending Kits

How To Make Sending Kits with downloadable instruction templates from Keepsaker Supplies breastmilk jewellery kit

How to make sending kits for your clients to post you their elements such as breastmilk, cremation ashes, locks of hair and fur, umbilical cord and placenta, flowers, petals and leaves, sand and earth, sentimental fabrics, prints such as fingers and feet (2D or 3D).

How To Make Sending Kits

  1. First of all, you will need to make up a set of instructions for each element. You can save the hassle and download our PDF Instruction Templates here. If your client has a breastmilk and umbilical cord necklace, for example, you’ll need to send them instructions for both breastmilk and umbilical cord
  2. We find using a large letter box is the least expensive way to ship here in the UK, but ask others in your country what they find the cheapest way to send.
  3. Include a ring sizer like this if they ordered a ring
  4. Use washi tape to make pots look beautiful and tell them apart
  5. Include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details. They will put their tubes and pots in here

Breastmilk Kits
Include two 5ml Breastmilk Sending Tubes which we sell here, mark each tube with an Ultra Fine Sharpie, one line at 5ml and one just above. If they fill the tube to the brim, just include the extra milk when using our breastmilk preservation powder, it will just take slightly longer to thicken. Write your client’s name and order number on each of the two tubes and initials and order number on the lid. Include one bag for the milk tubes and one bag for other elements like hair or cord.

Cremation Ashes Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot (we sell them here too). We prefer plastic because they’re see-through, and a small 2ml spoon, and ask them to return the spoon. If they fill the pot to the brim, just transfer the extra ashes into a separate container so that it doesn’t spill when you’re working and make your crafting area messy. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. include a sealable bag with their name, order number, order dates and details.

Lock of Hair and Fur Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot and a small length of cotton thread to tie the hair or fur. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

Horse Hair Kits
Include two of the labelled bags because the hair won’t bend into a pot – ask for around 5-10 strands but make sure they keep half back. You can work with half a single strand if that’s all they have by doubling it up a few times. Once the hair arrives, wash it in warm soapy water and dry thoroughly then wipe with an alcohol wipe to remove any leftover grease and dirt.

Umbilical Cord and Placenta Kits
Include one 3ml Sending Pot. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from sending the entire cord and clip, which would be devastating if lost in the post. And orange pip size piece is more than enough for several pieces (although if doing more than one bead or large orb, you may need to add a colour as the ground cord might be a little sparse).

Petal and Leaf Kits
Include two labeled bags. Write your client’s name and order number on the lid and the bottom of the pot with an Ultra Fine Sharpie. Sending a kit prevents them from doing things like putting sticky tape on the hair, or folding it in foil (which causes kinks).

2D Fingerprint Kits for Engraving*
For fingerprints, handprints, footprints, pawprints, noseprints, thumbprints etc you can include an Inkless Wipe Kit*. We can laser engrave 2D images onto most of our pieces. Ask the clients to email you photos; if the photos are good quality then they can keep the originals. Some clients struggle with getting a clear photo in daylight which is suitable for engraving, so then you might ask them to post the original and then photograph it yourself. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, they can cut out one of the prints to send.  For handwriting you can ask them to send a photo – we don’t allow them to post the original item (such as a birthday card) because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. In that case, ask the client to get help photographing it.

3D Fingerprint Kits for Metal Clay*
For fingerprints, thumbprints, noseprints etc you can include a 3D Putty Kit. Include a bag labelled with your client’s name and order number, ask them to make two but only send one because it’s irreplaceable if it’s lost in the post. To use the mould they return, fill it with glue from a hot glue gun, epoxy resin or layers of UV resin and that becomes the master to imprint into clay. Buy Precious Metal Clay here and follow tutorials. See our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay

*Please see our blog here Fingerprint Engraving and Metal Clay on taking prints from the recently deceased and using Precious Metal Clay.

More coming soon (sorry, I have covid and I’m exhausted – doing my best!)

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How to Deal With Complaints

how to deal with complaints by Nikki Kamminga at Keepsaker Supplies

You can learn how to deal with complaints easily, effectively and without feeling personally harmed. Making memorial or breastmilk jewellery or DNA keepsakes is quite a unique area, somewhere in between breastfeeding counsillor, funeral director and wedding supplier. The wedding and funeral industries receive the most complaints of all industries because tensions are running high, and I believe that passes over to keepsake jewellery. Customers in this industry can be more hurtful than in any other area I’ve worked (from mobile phones to advertising to coffee shop and retail management) and it’s a combination of it being such an emotive thing we’re working with and the fact I feel closer to it because it’s my own business.

How to Deal With Complaints – The Paths

Whether you’re in the right or they are, or both of you, there are several paths you can take together. Please don’t forget that you have the power to guide a customer down a different path no matter how the conversation starts out. I’ll try to give as many examples below from working in this industry over six years.

The Full Refund and Keep The Jewellery
This is the path the most difficult customers often want to go down. It can be incredibly painful to get this kind of message. They’ve received their item and have found something to complain about. They want you to refund them completely but they will almost always refuse to return the jewellery because “it contains something so irreplaceable”.

Example (customer):
“I received a ring from you today after waiting absolutely ages and I’m very angry. It looks unprofessional and the colour is all wrong, it’s too dark! It doesn’t even fit me; I want a full refund but I’m not sending it back because it’s my gran’s ashes”

This is one of the worst case scenario complaints. They’re complaining about quality of the setting, the competence of the artist, the fact that it doesn’t fit and the time it took to arrive. You can apologise and do what they want by refunding without return, but then you’ll be out the cost of the setting and all of your work, plus shipping and overheads. I almost always* try to steer them away from this because I DON’T DESERVE TO WORK FOR FREE and neither do you! 

What to do – start off with an acknowledgement of their complaint and a genuine apology. Look back through any old messages and find some empathy for a client. They’re probably grieving their breastfeeding journey or their loved one. I would say, for example,

Hi Hannah, thank you so much for taking the time to come to me with this. I know it must be difficult to have received something you’re looking forward to for a long time and it’s not what you were hoping for. After your gran passed in March the crematorium have looked after her really well and the ashes were a lovely naturally dark colour. We usually try to let the natural colour of the ashes come through in the jewellery, which can hide some of the pigment we added in the green you chose. I definitely checked the ring size before setting the ashes, but if you feel like it’s not the right size you can take it to a local jeweller (please send me a photo of it on the sizer) or you can buy one here on Amazon. Please forward me your Amazon receipt and a photo of the ring on the sizing stick and I’ll refund the sizer.

Here’s a resolution I would like to offer. I will remake the ring for you in the size you like, please use a sizer exactly like this one to find your correct size. Please post me back the ashes and this ring, we will remove and return the stone, so the ring can be recycled, and make a new one. We can hide the ashes behind the pigment so you can’t see so much (or any) of your gran’s ashes if you’re not keen on their colour. We’ll send you a photo of the cabochons/stones we make to check you’re happy before setting one in the new ring setting. As a goodwill gesture we’ll even ship the remake to you free of charge by Special Delivery. Please let me know if you’re happy to go ahead
Yours Sincerely
Nikki Kamminga
Owner and Artist
Tree of Opals

The Partial Refund and Replacement
If your customer starts off with asking for a partial refund then don’t feel like you necessarily have to give them money back. When I first started out making memorial and breastmilk jewellery I was in need of every penny to pay for childcare, let alone contribute to bills. If I had an order it would either be spent on stock and consumables like moulds and settings or it would go to my girls’ nursery. I didn’t have business savings and I couldn’t afford to refund, so if it was necessary it would have to come out of our personal account.

This isn’t a situation I’d recommend you be in, with good profit margins you should easily be able to cover your overheads, childcare and some put aside. I lost £100 in my first year in business (I started off with £350 of my own money from a child tax credit) then I made a profit after about six months. If you can, put aside 10% to cover any refunds.

Still, you can avoid a refund at all by offering something of equal value. For example, if they want £50 back why not offer a £50 necklace, that may only cost you £10 to make?

How to Prevent Complaints To Begin With

The best way to prvent complaints in the first place is to try to do everything you can to get them to understand the important points about buying jewellery from you. That could be in the form of a phone call or email before you take payment, or an extra box on your checkout to ask them if they definitely read the product description and the FAQ’s. I make my customers write “I promise” in the box on the checkout on Tree of Opals and it does help cut down on complaints in the first place. Customers often won’t read them anyway, but at least you have them there to back you up in case you do get a complaint.

Always let customers know, regarding lead times 1. your maximum lead time (orders can take up to four months from receipt of payment and the milk/ashes etc) and 2. an estimated lead time (most orders take about a month right now but this will be longer during the school holidays). Also let them know if any of your settings are handmade, such as rings from us which are soldered or cast by hand in small batches and look handmade. I like to include a sizing disclaimer in my terms and conditions, along the lines of, “due to different tolerances in ring sizers the ring provided may be up to one whole UK (one half US) ring size larger or smaller than requested”.

I avoid most complaints in the first place with two important tools:

  1. Proof Photos – Prevent them saying they don’t like the colour by sending a proof photo – just make at least two cabochons (stones), on the back, email the client a photo and ask which they prefer.  Let them know that you’ll always return the unused ones free of charge but you can make extra profit here by offering to set the extra in silver for another £20/$30 (over half will say yes). They feel more involved in the process, fewer complaints about time too
  2. Free Ring Sizers – At Tree of Opals our way to remove ring sizing complaints is letting customers know we prefer to send them a free ring sizer with their kit to borrow. You can find kit supplies here in our country specific buying guides, here’s one from Amazon that’s ideal, we just ask for the letter that fits best so they don’t get confused about which number we need. The letter is the UK ring size and they’re a little more accurate than US sizes


How to Deal With Complaints When You’re In The Right

This one’s carefully phrased, the flip side of “you’re in the right” is “you’re not in the wrong”. Or even the possibility that your customer’s in the wrong. Whether that’s true or not, it’s always best to treat the situation like you’re both in the right. Don’t accuse the customer of being wrong, having misread something, having demanded too much, too soon or being cheap. It’s not going to make you or them happy and it’s going to lead to hurt feelings and bad reviews.

Then again, you don’t have to give in to a customer’s unreasonable demands just because you’re scared of a bad review. I like to try to find a middle ground for each situation so I’ve given as examples above. If you have lots of good reviews then don’t give in to demands of a refund if you’re in the right just because you’re afraid – real customers will see through a bad review if the rest are great!

Do you have any tips for dealing with complaints?

 

*The only situation where I’d give a full refund and allow them to keep the piece is where it’s not too expensive in the first place (perhaps £50 and under) and/or the client has my home address and has threatened me. If I’m worried about the safety of my family, I’ll do anything to get rid of them as fast as possible. I had a situation once where a client I think was mentally ill turned up at my home at 9pm and I honestly wish that I had given her a full refund. Preferably before I’d made the piece, when I knew she was a problem. You do need to put your family first and if a customer gives you any sign of being dangerous then please refund in full and block all contact. If they leave you a 1* review anywhere then you can fight it with any evidence of threats you’ve received from them.

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Making A Hair Charm Bead

How To Make A Hair Charm Bead Pandora Hair Charm

This video will show you how to make this resin lock of hair charm bead from start to finish. We’re adding rose petals for their sentimentality. You can read more about working with hair in our lock of hair jewellery making blog here (click).

Please note, the competition has now finished. 

How To Make A Hair Charm Bead

You’ll need the following supplies, please note we have specific supplies lists for the UK, USA, Australia (Canada coming very soon):
a heavy duty safety mask or nail tech masks
NEW: A hair bead DIY kit (contains vinyl gloves, a pair of glue-in inserts as shown in this video or a Forever In My Heart ♥ core, a charm bead mouldlabel backing paperUV resin, 3 cocktail sticks, resin sparkle mix in a random colour)
lock of hair
scissors

you might also need a:
rose petals
rubbing alcohol or gel nail cleanser solution
a rag
rotary tool
carbide rotary burr bit
E6000 vegan glue
a silver polishing cloth

like to use an LED UV lamp to save energy and make sure the pieces don’t get too hot. This one has a 99 second low heat setting

Some of the supplies in this Making A Hair Charm Bead blog are optional, such as the rotary tool and rose petal.

PREPARING THE HAIR

Firstly, put on your gloves. Sometimes I like to double up with gloves but working with a lock of hair is fiddly so just wear one pair. Take some rubbing alcohol and put it on a rag, take a charm bead mould and wipe it over. Don’t forget, it’s better to replace a mould when it’s starting to get dull than spend hours trying to get a perfect shine back on your finished piece.

There’s no need for a clear layer with a charm bead or pearl because dust doesn’t settle in the mould. Take the label backing paper and a cocktail stick then prepare the lock of hair. Some clients will send hair from a loved one who has passed away, please ask them to never send in the whole amount in case it’s lost in the post. Ask your client to tie the lock with a little bit of cotton and place it in a well-labelled bag. If they send it in tin foil they may fold it over which creases the hair and makes it harder to work with

Divide the lock of hair into two, use the larger piece for your first attempt and if for any reason this turns out badly you have some hair left to work with. Place it on the label backing paper and check it for irregular strands and you can send these back to the client with the remaining hair. Now take some clear UV resin and pour a dot on the corner as the first dot coming out will often have a small air bubble, then pour a small amount of resin over the hair

Use the cocktail stick to smooth it out, making sure the hair is completely saturated with resin and remove any bubbles. Cut the edges of the hair at an angle so they look neat

PUTTING THE HAIR IN THE MOULD

Use the cocktail stick to carefully pick up the hair and put it on your mould, then gently tease it in. Be careful not to poke the mould with the cocktail stick or you’ll get dots on the finished charm beads. This part can be very fiddly and takes practice so don’t worry if you don’t get it right to begin with. Perfect the technique with your own hair and that of friends and family.

Once the hair is in, slowly move it around to remove any air bubbles trapped in the strands. They will look like silver grains and if you gently push on them from behind the hair they will come through to the back.

FILLING THE MOULD

Squeeze a dot of resin out, as the first dot may have an air bubble, then very slowly fill the mould completely with resin to the very top. Prepare any petals by cutting them a little smaller. They must be completely dry. These were a gift from my husband, whose hair I’m using today, so they weren’t perfectly dried.

Usually I dry flowers and petals surrounded by silica gel in a bowl placed on a reptile heat mat. If you’d like to see a video with some drying techniques please let me know in the comments below. Gently poke your petals into the resin-filled mould. You will get a lot of air bubbles which you can remove with patience.

This technique would not work with a translucent or transparent mould, only water-clear so that you can see what you’re doing. When all the air bubbles are gone you can add a drop more resin so the mould is completely full

ADDING COLOUR

Change your gloves, then using a fresh cocktail stick add a small amount of resin sparkle mix on top of the mould. Press it into the resin, focussing the colour around the centre of the mould and trying not to mix it around the petals or near the hair. Again it takes a lot of practice and perseverance to get the colour in the right place. Remove the bubbles by pressing the sides in and teasing them out with the cocktail stick. Push out some of the excess resin around the pouring spout. You’ll learn the perfect amount to leave in meaning you don’t have to build up the charm but you don’t have too much excess to remove

CURING THE CHARM BEAD

Put your mould under a UV nail lamp for 99 seconds on low heat. This UV lamp is perfect because it’s low energy LED with a low heat mode. Allow it to cool down, turn it over and cure for another 99 seconds, then cool it completely again. Use this time to clear up your work station, put your client’s hair back into their bag and wipe over the work

DEMOULDING THE CHARM BEAD

You should be able to remove the charm bead from the mould fairly easily but if you struggle at all, do it in a bowl of warm water with a little washing up liquid or dish soap and it will slip out nicely. Check for imperfections and pick off any excess resin from around the pouring spout that will come off easily. If the pieces are too big and you force it, you might crack the charm bead. Use a rotary tool with a carbide rotary burr bit and make sure you wear a good quality mask. Remove the excess resin then put a little rubbing alcohol onto a piece of cotton wool pad and wipe the charm bead over to remove any stickiness.

ADDING THE INSERTS

Check the inserts fit nicely and cover the sanding area, then get some E6000 glue which is made without animal ingredients. Use a fresh cocktail stick to apply some glue to the inside of the insert, then apply some to the area on the charm bead that it will cover. Put the insert on and repeat with the other side

LEAVE TO DRY

The charm beads with our inserts are perfect for most charm bracelets and as you can see here, it fits perfectly on my own Pandora bracelet. You can photograph your cremation ashes jewellery a number of ways
Here’s an example using bogwood and one using a plain white background

GENUINE SOLID SILVER INSERTS

One final and very important point to remember is that not all 925 stamped charm beads are solid sterling silver. The insert, or grommet, on the left here with two 925 marks is silver plated but they’re sold online as solid sterling silver

charm bead insert comparison – fake silver plated and genuine solid sterling silver

Our inserts on the right with the heart are solid sterling silver and won’t ever rust. Clients prefer good quality, especially for keepsake and memorial charm beads.

Now relax and do some crafting

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How To Make Lock of Hair Jewellery

how to make lock of hair jewellery Keepsaker Supplies



How To Make Lock of Hair Jewellery

Jewellery made with hair is one of the first types of keepsake pieces I started to make. It was a bit of a challenge and there was nothing I could find online. I could see what other people had done but in my head there were things I wanted to do. The first pieces I made were charms with my children’s hair and I used trial and error to teach myself.

You can see my blog and video for making a lock of hair charm bead here! There are supplies lists for the UK here, USA, Australia, Canada, other EU countries (coming soon) and non-EU countries (coming soon).

If you’re making a lot of resin jewellery in big batches then it’s cost-effective to use epoxy resin. Lots of people ask me what brand to buy but I always found the unbranded rigid casting epoxy like this one to be best.  Sadly EcoResin is a no-go and I nearly lost my business due to dozens of pieces going yellow. Usually you get epoxy resin in two bottles, part A and part B, which you have to mix perfectly in exact ratios and can take several days to cure. It would be perfect for doing big batches of flower jewellery, such as rose bud pearls.


We mostly use UV resin like the our UV resin here, you can also use the Lisa Pavelka brand but it’s more expensive and you can’t get the big bottles.  My trick is to buy a 60g bottle and a 200g bottle to refill it with. The little bottles are great to pour directly in your moulds. You’ll also need a cheap gel lamp like this. My hack for the gel lamp is to remove the plastic insert and place the lamp on a sheet of aluminum foil! We want the maximum amount of light to hit the jewellery to cure the resin and you work in layers.

With UV resin it’s easier to keep the resin from getting too thick (which happens with epoxy during its pot life).  So long as you keep it away from the gel lamp and the sunshine it will stay liquid and thin enough to work.  If your resin is too thick it gets sticky and the hair won’t move around. To prepare a lock of hair piece I get together what I need so it’s all within reach and make sure I’ve got my protective things on.

an ideal amount of hair to work with Keepsaker Supplies
an ideal amount of hair to work with
an ideal amount of fur to work with Keepsaker Supplies
an ideal amount of fur to work with

Safety Making Lock of Hair Jewellery

1. Make sure you’re not working around kids and pets. Even if a resin has low fume it can still cause a reaction. I’ve heard of people not only having reactions from contact with resin (like me) but having trouble breathing. Even for yourself, you need to take care.

2. Wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
I like to wear a thick coating of a barrier spray like the 3M Cavilon or No More Gloves. Then I know if I’m struggling and have to take off my gloves, my skin’s got some protection. I tried Metanium but it made my work marked and I managed to get some on my silverwork which gave it a nasty coating of dull titanium! Then I double up on nitrile gloves and pop on a face mask.


Resin Lock of Hair Jewellery

Our best selling items are our charm beads. They take a bit of practice and a special mould and knowledge of filing, doming and attaching hardware called inserts, also known as grommets and washers. Pearls are popular, they are spheres made with 10mm moulds but can be bigger or smaller, and need to be drilled and attached to pearl cups. Rings are a little less complicated because you can pour the resin into a ring cup, or make a cabochon (a “stone” with clients’ elements) and fit it into a ring with crown settings. I’ll write more blogs soon on settings and explain the differences between the three main style of setting resin rings, how to drill charm beads and pearls.

To prepare the hair, take an even lock and place it on some shiny paper, like the type labels come on. Pour a little resin on top and make sure it’s soaked in. Sometimes we cut the paper to make each end of the hair even. Then use a toothpick to pick up the hair and place it round the edge of the mould. Make sure there’s enough resin on it or you’ll get microbubbles that leave lines around the edge of the finished piece. I recommend using a water clear mould, or at least translucent

silicone sphere moulds (left to right) blue RTV opaque, platinum cure translucent, water clear
silicone sphere moulds (left to right) blue RTV opaque, platinum cure translucent, water clear

If you’re using UV resin, cure this as your first layer then fill the mould with more resin and any colours and additions. Sometimes we leave the resin completely clear and when the piece is cured we add a coloured core or background. You can add colour and shimmer, glitter, precious metal leaf, mica and even natural colourants like beetroot powder (although these tend to fade quickly in the sun). You will find your own style and clients will choose you because they like your work.  

Other Media to Make Lock of Hair Jewellery With

You can fill little glass bottles like these with a lock of hair and dried petals and opalescent flakes, sealed with jewellery glue. You then screw in an eyelet.

Glass vial jewellery, thanks to Colorized for the photo
Glass vial jewellery, thanks to Colorized for the photo

cremation ash jewellery part 1 here and part 2 here

how to make breastmilk jewellery part 1 is here, part 2 is here and part 3 is here

I have more tutorials and blogs planned for the future including umbilical cord and placenta jewellery, how to make *trigger* baby loss keepsakes, metal clay jewellery and silversmithing.  Also some blogs on being clean, parenthood, veganism, charity work, travelling and various other interests.  Most of my blogs are written in notes on my phone when I don’t have internet access (the school gates, the car) or when I’m nursing our son Bastian and I love the chance to share my creativity even more.


For classes on resin you may be able to find something local but I learnt all resin and most silversmithing from YouTube tutorials. We’re planning videos showing you how to make and use silicone moulds, open bezels and pour-in bezels as well as some studio safety. You can read about Fairtrade Gemstone Ethics here; if you’re adding precious stones to your work and Nikki is soon to be visiting a friend’s gemstone mine in Tanzania at the same time as delivering menstrual pads with their charity Project Kidogo.

Spellings – this blog is written in the United Kingdom so my spelling is in English. I’ll try to add alternatives after but our spelling of jewellery is correct here.  Mould (UK) mold (US).  

This post contains affiliate links that should work in the USA, Canada and the UK, meaning when if you buy one of our recommended products I receive a small amount of earnings at no extra cost to yourself.



how to make lock of hair jewellery blog by Nikki Kamminga of Tree of Opals