When “Handmade” Isn’t Really Made by Hand

Just because a seller claims to be "handmade" doesn't mean they really make it by hand. This article takes a look at common reseller tactics and how to avoid falling for overpriced junk made in China.

Handmade is having a resurgence lately. People are reconnecting with the idea of handicrafts, handmade, arts & crafts and craft markets. Websites such as Etsy have dominated the online market share, with Handmade At Amazon launching late 2015. As a handmade jewelry artisan, it’s a good time. And I am excited that people are once again valuing the maker movement; the one-of-a-kind treasures made by human hands here in America instead of churned out in a factory in a third world country.

The problem comes about when people abuse the definition of “handmade” to profit from this goodwill; when they falsify what handmade truly is. I see people pass off mass-produced items as “handmade” all the time. This hurts those of us who are true artisans and waters down the market. It also undercuts the value of true handicrafts and teaches consumers to expect “dollar store” or “Wal-Mart” pricing, making it much more difficult for artists to make a living.

For example, if Jane Doe comes along with items made in China that she buys for pennies and resells as “handmade” she can afford to charge very little for the items. Meaning, a consumer used to the “Wal-Mart” type lowest possible price mentality will see something truly handmade and scoff at the “expense” of it.

Pretty pictures don’t mean something is handmade. Take this image from instagram for example.

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

One of thousands of so-called “handmade” or “handcrafted” websites out there who have pretty pictures of Chinese imported junk.

As of this writing, over 400 people have “liked” it. It’s being passed off as “handcrafted.” But is it really? A 30 second search on AliExpress (a website where you can buy wholesale goods direct from Chinese factories) results in this:

Beware of fake handmade. How to spot fake handmade. Not all handcrafted is by hand. China resellers on etsy.

Direct Chinese import at wholesale prices. These items are of questionable material and made in third world factories. They are NOT “handmade.”

Look familiar? It’s the same exact item. Available for $2.49 each with free shipping. It’s NOT handmade. It’s some piece of junk from China made from unidentifiable materials and made in a factory in a third world country with questionable human rights.

What about the “dragon claw” pendant. That’s handmade though, right?

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as "handcrafted" on etsy and at craft shows all the time. How to spot fakes. Guide to truly handmade.

This is not handmade. Deceitful sellers pass things like this off as “handcrafted” on etsy and at craft shows all the time.

Nope. $1.89 per pendant with free shipping.

Ok, but surely the crescent moon druzy pendant must be truly handmade, right?

Pretty photos don't make something handmade. Just because the etsy shop or craft show vendor claims its handcrafted doesn't mean it truly is. Resellers are a rampant problem in the handmade marketplace and damage consumer perception of the maker movement.

BZZ!! Three strikes, you’re out! Just another case of being a reseller. (A reseller is someone who buys mass produced, factory items at wholesale prices and turns around and resells it for profit without disclosing it was actually manufactured elsewhere.)

Not only does this blatant lying and misrepresentation mean that truly handmade artisans can’t compete financially with resellers, but it degrades the consumer’s trust in handmade. It puts down in their minds as to whether or not something is made by hand or not.

This isn’t a new problem. Nor is this example the only person who distorts the truth for marketing appeal – nor the first to be highly successful selling tall tales as to a product’s origins. One need only google “Ecologica Malibu” to come across articles (like this or this or like this) discussing the case of the “recycled boat wood” furniture.

You can also google “Three Bird Nest” to find one of the most INFAMOUS abusers of etsy – and self-proclaimed “richest etsy seller” at one point – to find articles like this.

So, it’s not so much a “Genesis” here that this one, highly successful jewelry seller is making hand-over-fist reselling you cheap junk from China with a fancy marketing scheme and instagram filtered photos. It’s that this continues to happen and hard working artisans like myself continue to get the squeeze.

If you want to buy cheap, junk, costume jewelry or cheap, junk accessories you are welcome to it! It’s a free country and a free market. But I sincerely hope that you take the time to educate yourself about what handmade TRULY means.

Does it look like something a person could have made in their home, studio, or garage? Or does it require industrial machinery? If the latter, chances are that means it WAS made in some factory somewhere.

When you shop on etsy, or you attend a craft fair or craft market, ASK QUESTIONS. Know what you’re spending your money on and decide who and what you wish to support. Those of us who make our living literally by hand are depending on it.


Miss M. Turner is the owner and founder of PhoenixFire Designs and has been creating handcrafted jewelry, all made 100% from scratch in her Tampa, Florida studio since 2001. Her successful etsy shop celebrates it’s 10th year in 2016, with thousands of happy customers all around the world. M. Turner also vends at local markets, craft shows, indie festivals and other art shows throughout the greater Tampa Bay Area and into Sarasota.

You can find her blog at TreeofLifePendants.com, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Instagram, follow PhoenixFire Designs on Pinterest and Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy or Handmade at Amazon.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Jewelry, bird nest pendants, custom birthstone jewelry, gift for Mom, mother's necklace, mother daughter jewelry, it's a boy!, it's a girl!, mamma bird, baby bird, wire wrapped pendant, wire wrapped jewelry, handmade etsy shop by PhoenixFire Designs

Do you realize that Mother’s Day is less than a month away? So what do you get for Mom? What are good gift ideas for Mother’s Day? Today, we’re going to look at some handmade gift ideas for her to help you find the perfect gift for mom!

First off, think of something unique and handmade. Moms love custom birthstone jewelry for example. And my Custom Birthstone Bird Nest Pendant makes a sweet way for a Momma Bird to carry around the birthstone colors of her baby birds! 😀

Mother's Jewelry, bird nest pendants, custom birthstone jewelry, gift for Mom, mother's necklace, mother daughter jewelry, it's a boy!, it's a girl!, mamma bird, baby bird, wire wrapped pendant, wire wrapped jewelry, handmade etsy shop by PhoenixFire Designs

Or, if you have a bigger family or are looking to celebrate an entire family, why not look to my Family Tree of Life pendant? Made from up to 12 personalized gemstone birthstones, arranged in the order of your choosing. This wearable artisan pendant is the perfect way to celebrate family.

Family Tree of Life Pendant, custom birthstone jewelry, handmade family necklace, mother's day gift idea for her, mother's jewelry, grandmother's jewelry, mother daughter jewelry, ancestry necklace, genealogy jewelry, gemstone wire wrap tree etsy shop by PhoenixFire Designs

If you don’t want something with birthstones, there are a lot of beautiful, elegant and luxurious= options to really show Mom just how special she is! Treat Mom to something extra special. Diamond jewelry for Mother’s Day is perfectly appropriate for example! 😀

Stunning 14k gf diamond tree of life pendant, gold diamond jewelry, diamond necklace, gift idea for her, anniversary gift idea, something special, birthstone jewelry, april birthday, natural rough diamond pendant,  handmade unique ooak jewelry etsy by PhoenixFire Designs

So when you’re trying to find the perfect gift for Mom, want to give mom something OOAK and special, need to give her something truly meaningful, and want the uniqueness of a handmade piece of custom jewelry, come to PhoenixFire Designs and shop our gorgeous collection of handcrafted artisan jewelry. Don’t see what you want? No problem! We’re always happy to customize, personalize or work with you to make the perfect, one of a kind gift!

Give her something meaningful and thoughtful that she can cherish. PhoenixFire Designs has offered quality, beauty and luxury on etsy since 2006! Shop with confidence.

Spooky October Sale

Hello my Happy Haunts! Welcome to October.

Now is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight! I don’t mean to frighten you prematurely, so I am going to give you a TREAT rather than a trick.

Spooky trees, Halloween harvest moon, glow in the dark jewelry - all of it is on sale for a limited time. Handcrafted, wire wrapped tree of life pendants by PhoenixFire Designs.

Spooky trees, Halloween harvest moon, glow in the dark jewelry – all of it is on sale for a limited time. Handcrafted, wire wrapped tree of life pendants by PhoenixFire Designs.

From October 1st – October 4th, save a frightening 13% off ANY PhoenixFire Designs order of $20 or more instantly when you apply code SPOOKY13 at checkout.

Handcrafted black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant - the best seller by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Handcrafted black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant – the best seller by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Have you had your eye on my #1 best selling and #1 most favorited item, the black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree? Now is the time to save!

Large, orange opal sun and small rainbow moonstone moon rest together in this black wire wrapped tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Large, orange opal sun and small rainbow moonstone moon rest together in this black wire wrapped tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Hurry! This offer vanishes October 4th….

Shop PhoenixFire Designs on etsy now.

What’s New from PhoenixFire Designs

I’m hard at work stocking up for the upcoming holiday season as well as getting some new and relisted tree of life pendants in the PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop! Here’s a peek!

This handcrafted, wire wrapped tree of life pendant features a labradorite full moon. Labradorite (also known as Larvikite) has the most amazing blue flash and inner blue fire to it as the light hits it. It often looks like merely a grey stone but then as the light hits it, the chatoyancy within gives it an inner glow ranging from blue, to green to a yellowish flash. It’s a really stunning stone.

Handcrafted, wire wrapped blue flash labradorite blue moon full moon tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Handcrafted, wire wrapped blue flash labradorite blue moon full moon tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

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This beautiful celestial moon and stars tree of life is hand wire wrapped in silver plated gunmetal wire and features a crescent moon and hematite stars. This is perfect for lovers of the night sky! Each black lip shell moon is hand cut and has a unique color and iridescence to it.

Wire wrapped in silver plated gunmetal wire, this celestial tree of life features an iridescent black lip shell crescent moon and hematite stars by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Wire wrapped in silver plated gunmetal wire, this celestial tree of life features an iridescent black lip shell crescent moon and hematite stars by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

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Halloween Sun and Moon black wire wrapped tree of life pendant. The “sun” in this piece is a type of natural opal. Though known as “brown opal” it comes in a variety of oranges, reds and brown tones. This gemstone is a rich, warm, semi-opaque orange and reminds me of the colors of Harvest and Autumn. The “moon” is a beautiful natural rainbow moonstone with a gorgeous little blue flash (or blue fire) as the light strikes it. Though hard to see in the photos, it will show up better in person.

Large, orange opal sun and small rainbow moonstone moon rest together in this black wire wrapped tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

Large, orange opal sun and small rainbow moonstone moon rest together in this black wire wrapped tree of life pendant by PhoenixFire Designs.

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And finally, I’ve gotten some new photos of my #1 best selling and #1 most wished for item in my shop: Opalite Rainbow Moonstone Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant. Shown here wire wrapped in black wire, it’s also available in silver wire, brown wire, copper wire or gunmetal wire. This beautiful tree was inspired by a full moon peeking out from behind the bare branches of a tree at night.

Handcrafted black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant - the best seller by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Handcrafted black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant – the best seller by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

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As always, these and many, many more are available in the PhoenixFire Designs etsy store. We also gladly take custom orders! Since everything is made by hand from scratch anyway, it’s never a problem to customize or personalize something just for you!

Handmade Halloween Jewelry & Accessories

Whether you call it Halloween, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Harvest or just Autumn, I LOVE this time of year! So it’s no wonder that I tend to make a lot of Halloween inspired jewelry in my PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop!

The most classically Halloween of these items is my spooky Halloween Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant. Handmade and wire wrapped in black wire with an orange harvest moon peeking out from behind the bare branches, this one just screams Halloween!

Spooky Halloween Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant with orange harvest moon wire wrapped in black wire by PhoenixFire Designs.

Spooky Halloween Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant with orange harvest moon wire wrapped in black wire by PhoenixFire Designs.

The single most popular item in my PhoenixFire Designs shop by far, is the #1 best selling and #1 most wished for Opalite Rainbow Moonstone Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant.

Though it is available in four wire colors (including silver, gunmetal, brown and black) the black wire wrapped version is the most popular. What I like about this piece is that it’s wonderfully suitable for Halloween and more gothic styles but it’s also striking and lovely enough to be worn all year long!

Black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant has a spooky Halloween look but can be worn all year long! By PhoenixFire Designs

Black wire wrapped opalite rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant has a spooky Halloween look but can be worn all year long! By PhoenixFire Designs

Another fun item that is inspired by Halloween but can be enjoyed throughout all seasons is my Glow in the Dark Blue Moon Tree of Life Pendant! This is one of several permenant glow in the dark necklaces I have in my shop and this specific tree of life pendant features a teal blue moon that is a glowing blue moon after exposure to light!

Wire wrapped glow in the dark blue moon tree of life pendant, glowing blue moon, glow in the dark jewelry, glowing necklace by PhoenixFire Designs.

Wire wrapped glow in the dark blue moon tree of life pendant, glowing blue moon, glow in the dark jewelry, glowing necklace by PhoenixFire Designs.

When I think about Halloween, one of my favorite symbols is owls. And I love Owl Jewelry which is why my Owl Full Moon Tree of Life Pendant is a subtle Halloween accessory. Wire wrapped in a mixed metal, two-tone combination of brown and copper, and featuring a large opalite rainbow moonstone full moon, a copper owl sits perched in the branches of the tree. This wise owl can almost be heard to call, “whoo?” on a chilly Autumn or All Hallow’s Eve night! (Also available as a Black wire wrapped opalite full moon owl tree and a Copper and Silver Opalite Moonstone Owl Tree of Life Pendant.)

Two tone, mixed metal wire wrapped brown and copper tree of life pendant with large opalite rainbow moonstone full moon and copper owl within the branches makes a spooky Halloween tree of life necklace! By PhoenixFire Designs.

Two tone, mixed metal wire wrapped brown and copper tree of life pendant with large opalite rainbow moonstone full moon and copper owl within the branches makes a spooky Halloween tree of life necklace! By PhoenixFire Designs.

This is just the barest tip of the Halloween iceberg!! There are so many more Autumn Accessories, Harvest Moon Necklaces and Halloween Pendants and Jewelry in the PhoenixFire Designs shop just waiting to be discovered!

halloween night

Shop PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy – or Contact us for Custom Jewelry!

Craftster Best of 2014 Winner

{update} Hey! I’m a weiner! 😉 – TWICE!

Craftster Best of 2014 Winner
I'm a Craftster Best of 2014 Winner!

My Rainbow colored Anthropologie Necklace knockoff won in the “JEWELRY AND TRINKETS: Beads: Completed Projects” category!

Rainbow colored Anthropologie Necklace knockoff by PhoenixFire Designs - Best of Craftster 2014 Winner!

Rainbow colored Anthropologie Necklace knockoff by PhoenixFire Designs – Best of Craftster 2014 Winner!

Awesome! 😀

So I just realized, I actually won TWICE in two different categories!! My Dead Man’s Chest from Pirates of the Caribbean ALSO won in POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY: Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects category!

Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest with dual skeleton key from Walt Disney World

I blogged about the creation process of it HERE.

Weeeeeeeeee! Double awesome! 😀 😀

Save 10% at Phoenix Fire Designs

Because I love my fans, I’m running a limited time coupon code / discount code / promo code / sale for 10% off any purchase at PhoenixFire Designs! Use code LUVU15 at checkout now through Monday, February 16th and save on ANY order!!

Save 10% off any purchase with coupon code LUVU15 at checkout from PhoenixFire Designs

Save 10% off any purchase with coupon code LUVU15 at checkout from PhoenixFire Designs

www.PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

Celestial Sun and Moon Tree of Life Pendant

This tree of life pendant is perfect for the celestial lover! With a yellow jade Sol and a natural, blue flash rainbow moonstone Luna together in a handcrafted, wire wrapped silver tree of life pendant by Phoenix Fire Designs and available on etsy.

Celestial sun and moon tree of life pendant silver wire wrapped tree handmade yellow jade sol and natural blue flash rainbow moonstone by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

This one of a kind wire wrapped tree is available in the PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop while it lasts!

i love you to the moon and back

Gunmetal wire wrapped feldspar full moon tree of life pendant. Handmade by PhoenixFire Designs and available on etsy!

Handmade gunmetal wire wrapped feldspar full moon tree of life pendant wire wrapped by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Purchase Gunmetal wire wrapped feldspar tree of life pendant.

New wire wrapped heart pendants!

I’ve been on a kick for making something different lately. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I guess hearts and love have been on my mind too. So this translated into making several wire wrapped heart pendants with gemstones in various metal wire colors, stones and styles.

Wire wrapped heart pendant in copper wire with peridot birthstone gemstones, Celtic design bail and antique copper chain with spirals and swirls handmade by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.
This handmade pendant was hand shaped in solid, tarnish-resistant copper wire and then hammered to bring out texture and also to harden the wire. I then wire wrapped micro faceted peridot rondelles along the outer frame and added swirls and spiral accents plus a matching spring green peridot teardrop accent. It also features a large, decorative Celtic bail and hangs on a 20″ antique copper chain.

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Wire wrapped copper heart pendant by Phoenix Fire Designs with dark red garnet gemstone accents and swarovski crystal heart pendant handmade wire wrap necklace on etsy
This handcrafted wire wrap necklace is also made from hand hammered, textured copper wire shaped into a heart and accented with rich, dark red garnet gemstones and a red siam Swarovski crystal 3D heart dangle. It features a large spiral and hangs on a matching rose gold, bright copper chain. Handmade by Phoenix Fire Designs on etsy.

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Silver wire wrap heart pendant wrapped in amethyst and accented with color-changing swarovski crystal on figaro chain by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy
This heart pendant is made from tarnish-resistant silver plated wire which is hand formed into a heart and then accented with an ombre of nearly clear through pale violet purple amethyst rondelles and a color-changing Swarovski crystal twisted cube. It’s been finished with a Figaro chain and handmade by PhoenixFire Designs.

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So what do you think? Do you like the new experimental pieces I’ve been making lately? I have a bunch of in-progress pendants as well in other shapes like spirals and swirls and circles which I’m still refining and working on perfecting. I’m never going to stop making my trees of course, but I just thought it might be fun to step outside of my comfort zone and try some new things. Plus, it’s something fresh and makes me stop and think about the creative process a little more. I can make trees by muscle memory these days after making thousands of them! But these shapes require me to focus more and stop and figure out how I need to complete each one.

These three are all One of a Kind pieces and are listed in PhoenixFire Designs shop on etsy – while they last! I will also be adding more styles and options as I go.

What would you like to see next?