clay in the ear Owner Allie Diefendorf’s big idea came to her during a training session. It was in the middle of the pandemic when she paused her online fitness class and headed to the craft store. In what would become the first of many journeys, it was just the start of her passion project for handmade jewelry which has already grown much more than Diefendorf had imagined that quarantine day.
Read on to find out more about the brand’s origins, what’s hot this season and what you can expect from Diefendorf next.
1. What is your professional background? How did you come to design jewelry?
I work full time in teaching at Baton Rouge Youth Coalition. I love my job and earrings are a fun way to keep the joy more creative after work hours.
Like many of us, I started making earrings at the very start of the pandemic. I was on my porch doing a YouTube workout when I got an ad for clay earrings. I quit mid-workout, went to Michael’s to pick up the basics, and the rest is history!
2. What does a typical day look like working on Clay It By Ear products?
I think I’m pretty untraditional when it comes to making earrings. I’ve always had a spontaneous DIY spirit, and it shows in the making of my earrings. I usually do earrings on the weekends and almost never sit down with a fully formed plan. Most creativity happens as you go. I think that’s how I end up with my most unique pieces.
3. Can you describe the process of making clay earrings?
The process varies by style, but almost every time I start by deciding on the colors, then I mix the colors until they are what I want, and condition the clay with my hands and a machine. pasta (this is the most important part). Then I add a design with more clay or a screen print and paint, cut the clay and bake it. Once it’s baked, I sand the pieces, sometimes resin them, and put them together with clips and jump rings and other fun metal parts.
4. What was the reason you started Clay It By Ear? When did you start and how has it grown or changed since?
I’ve dreamed of having a booth at a craft fair since I was 12. And my whole life, I’ve been a very, “Oh that sounds cool, let me do it.” kind of person. This is exactly what happened that day during my workout on the YouTube porch. The earrings looked so cool, and I needed to make them myself.
I like to reflect on how far I’ve come since I started. In all my markets, you will find my bowl “I have come a long way” where I put all the pieces of my beginnings or those of which I am no longer proud. The earrings were so bubbly and chunky, and I used super glue to attach the posts – can’t believe I did this! Now I won’t sell bubble earrings, there’s so much more detail, the earrings are so much thinner, and I wouldn’t dare use super glue.
5. What do 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 manufacturing; it is the connection with other people. I’ll always chat with you in my tent or give you tips and tricks if you’re hoping to get into crafting. I also always give secret discounts to loyal customers in the 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 draw inspiration from everywhere. I would say most of the inspiration comes from the seasons – that’s how I decide on colors. And then I sit down and start doing. I have a list of at least 80 ideas I want to do and I hardly ever look at the list. Inspiration comes when I have my colors.
7. Can you give a hint as to what buyers will see in the upcoming season?
I recently discovered new translucent and opaque clays, and I’ve never been more excited about new styles.
8. What are some of your favorite Clay It By Ear items right now?
My monsteras have been a favorite from day one. It was so cool to see how much more detailed and cleaner they got, but they still managed to be a staple, especially in the warmer months. They used to be a solid green. Now they are marbled and resinated.
9. What are some of your best-selling products?
It really depends on the time of year. I get super excited about new designs and usually only do each style once or twice before I retire or do a new iteration. So far my purple cows with daisies, sunflower pendants and magnolias have been the best. I also have an alligator for each season, and these are always a hit.
10. Where can people buy your products in person?
I’m so grateful for Local pop-up window and the Red Stick Farmer’s Market for welcoming me to their markets every month. You can also find me at Local Supply and Brass. These are my favorite ways to gift earrings to customers. You can also find me on Instagram @_clay_it_by_ear for custom group orders. I am currently working on two sets of bridesmaids earrings.