10 questions with handmade jewelry brand Clay It By Ear

Photos courtesy Clay It By Ear
Clay It By Ear founder Allie Diefendorf

Clay It By Ear owner Allie Diefendorf’s big idea came to her during a workout. It was mid-pandemic when she hit pause on her online fitness class and headed to the craft store. In what would become the first of many trips, this was just the start of her handmade jewelry passion project that has already grown much larger than Diefendorf imagined that quarantined day.

Read on to learn more about the origins of the brand, what’s hot this season, and what you can expect from Diefendorf next.


1. What is your professional background? How did you get into jewelry making?

I work full time in education at the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. I love my job, and earrings are a fun way to keep the joy going in a more creative way after work hours.

Like many of us, I started making earrings at the very beginning of the pandemic. I was on my porch doing a YouTube workout when I got an ad for clay earrings. I stopped mid-workout, went to Michael’s to grab the basics, and the rest is history!

2. What is a typical day like for you when you’re working on Clay It By Ear products?

I think I am pretty untraditional when it comes to making earrings. I’ve always had a spontaneously crafty spirit, and that shows up in my earring making. I typically make earrings on the weekend and almost never sit down with a fully formed plan. Most of the creativity happens as I go. I think that’s how I end up with my most unique pieces.

 

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3. Can you describe the clay earring-making process?

The process varies depending on the style, but almost every time, I start by deciding on colors, then mix colors until they are what I want, and condition the clay with my hands and a pasta machine (this is the most important part). Next, I add a design with more clay or a silkscreen and paint, cut the clay, and bake it in the oven. Once it’s baked, I sand the pieces, sometimes resin the pieces, and put them all together with pliers and jump rings and other fun metal pieces.

4. What was your reason for starting Clay It By Ear? When did you begin, and how has it grown or changed since then?

I’ve dreamed of having a booth at a craft fair since I was 12 years old. And all my life, I’ve been a very “Oh that looks cool, let me make it.” kind of person. That is exactly what happened that day during my YouTube porch workout. The earrings looked so cool, and I needed to make them on my own.

I love reflecting on how far I’ve come since I started. At all my markets, you will find my “I’ve come a long way” bowl where I put all he pieces from my early days or pieces I am no longer proud of. The earrings used to be so bubbly and thick, and I used super glue to attach the posts–I can’t believe I did that! Now, I won’t sell an earrings with a bubble, there is so much more detail, the earrings are much thinner, and I wouldn’t dare use super glue.

 

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5. What is one thing you think customers should know about Clay It By Ear that they may not be aware of?

My favorite thing about being a maker is not the actual making; it is the connecting with other people. I will always chat with you at my tent or give you tips and tricks if you are hoping to get into making. I also always give secret discounts to repeat customers when at markets. It makes my heart explode when you come back for more.

6. What are some of the inspirations behind your earring designs, and how often do you create new designs?

I get inspiration from all over. I’d say most inspiration comes from the seasons–that is how I decide on colors. And then I sit down and get making. I have a list of at least 80 ideas I want to make and I almost never look at the list. The inspiration comes when I have my colors.

7. Can you share a hint about what shoppers will see in the coming season?

I’ve recently discovered some new translucent and opaque clay, and I’ve never been more excited for new styles.

8. What are a few of your favorite Clay It By Ear items right now?

My monsteras have been a favorite from day one. It’s been so cool to see how much more detailed and cleaner they’ve gotten, but they’ve always managed to be a staple, especially in the warmer months. They used to be a solid green. Now they are marbled and resined.

 

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9. What are some of your best-selling products?

It truly depends on the time of year. I get super excited about new designs and typically only make each style one or two times before retiring it or making a new iteration. Right now, my purple cows with daisies, sunflower dangles, and magnolias have been the best. I also have a gator for each season, and those are always a hit.

10. Where can people purchase your products in person?

I am so grateful for Local Pop Up and the Red Stick Farmers Market for hosting me each month at their markets. You can also find me at Local Supply and Brass. These are are my favorite ways to get earrings to customers. You can also find me on Instagram @_clay_it_by_ear for group custom orders. I am actually working on two sets of bridesmaids earrings now.