Inventory + Photo = Organized


Time passes. You continue making beautiful creations. One day someone wants that pair of earrings you made months or years ago. How did you make them? How thick did you make the main part and how thick were the added layers? How large were they?  How large were the additional components? What template or shape did you use? How will you price them? Some of the answers to these questions are obvious. Some not so. I don’t know about you, but I can hardly recall what I had for breakfast yesterday. After months or years? Forget it. Here’s what I do.

Inventory Card   

First, I keep a sketchbook journal at my bench. Sometimes by paging through I can find notes on a piece because I often draw and number the steps in order to figure out its construction.

Organized 1

For items I think might be popular or that I plan to sell a lot, I use Inventory Cards. On each Inventory Card I include what is at the right. See below for the Item #. For a pdf of Inventory Cards,  click here and go to bottom of page.

Organization 2

I keep my cards in a little folder. It just dawned on me to file these by item number, because I've accumulated more than I thought.

Organization 3

Inventory Program

I use a software program for my Inventory. For Mac folks, check out the FileMaker product line. For Microsoft people, Access is worth a look. Quick Books is yet another option. Also look for Organization Apps that come in all shapes and sizes. Information I track on each item might include is as follows. If you haven’t noticed by now, I lean toward the OCD side of things.

  • Item Number
  • Name or Title
  • Number on Hand
  • Create Date
  • Product Line and or Series
  • Wholesale and Retail Prices
  • Date Listed in Online Shop
  • Description, Size Measurements, Notes
  • Sell Info (date sold, # sold, location, $ received, etc.)
  • Current Location
  • Sold Location
  • Dispensed Date
  • Per Year
    • Cost of Goods Each
    • Production Labor Each
    • $ Received
    • Number Sold
    • Cost of Goods Total
    • Labor Production Total
    • Calculated Profit--a Formula


Photographs tell all. Photography is a subject that merits years of study and practice. I’m talking here about how to organize and name photographs so they jive with your inventory. There may be a simpler way match photographs with inventory, so if you know one let us know. Here’s how I do it.

Naming Photographs

I name my photographs the same as my Item #. Each one of my creations is named with the year, a dash, and a number. For example, 12-575 was made in 2012 and it was my 575th design. A design can have lots of items; for example, I’ve made twenty six 12-522s.

Then, I number the photos 1, 2, 3, 4, and Back for the straight-on shot (1), a close-up (2), ride side (3), left side (4), and the back. 

Organization 4

Putting It All Together

Someone wanted some cityscape earrings, but I didn’t know the number and hadn’t made them for well over a year. I went to my computer inventory program and did a search for “cityscape.” Ah, that’s the number and that’s the price. I went to my hard-copy file and found my Inventory Card. Oh, I used that rounded-square for the background, the middle one in the top row on the template. I see I used green slats and cut the buildings as such. The photographs, which I found quickly by number, told me what textures to use and where to position the buildings. Phew.

You can spend (waste) a lot of time on this. I tell you though, I was recently accepted into a Christmas show at a community art center. The deadline was in three days. It didn’t matter—I put together an inventory of twenty items in two hours because of my system. And, oh, by the way, I put the item number on the back of my item or display card. I will run the box to the post office tomorrow.


A couple years later, this is what the old organizer morphed into. I still use this same system. My items numbers are into the thousands, and I still feel organized.

I have added one thing: I tape a little envelop to the back of the item card if I have a stencil paper template to use or photo for reference.

Also, for certain I do not keep all the information I put in the bullets above. After a while, you learn what you need and with what you don’t have to waste time.

Further Update, Years Later

Now, I have two metal boxes of ‘recipe’ cards. I’m still using the same card, I just have more of them. This system must work because I’ve been following it for over ten years.

I did add two more photo types. I now use a photo like the below as #4 above. Here is a pendant on a 1-inch square grid. This allows online buyers to get a better idea of the item’s size.

The second photo is of the item on a sewing manikin bust. This photo shows relative size, length specifically for necklaces, and how the item will hang.

'Got a question or suggestion?  Comment below.

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2018