Sunday, July 7, 2013

Softball Necklace and Earrings and spotting a Niche Market

Neon Dayglow Yellow abounds in this new Softball necklace handmade from Polymer Clay
Last spring I wrote a blog post about some baseball jewelry I had designed in honor of Major League Baseball, including a necklace with a beaded chain that could be custom ordered in the team colors of most teams.

I was wearing my baseball necklace and earrings while shopping recently and struck up a conversation with a woman whose daughter was an avid softball player. The daughter wanted a softball necklace for her birthday and her mom told me that she was having such a difficult time trying to find one to purchase. Admittedly we live in an area without easy access to metropolitan-type shopping, but I thought if she was having trouble locating a softball necklace perhaps that might be a niche market worth exploring. (Softballs are 25% larger than baseballs and are a bright neon yellow color called dayglow or DayGlow or DayGlo).
As I was analyzing my data from a search ad I had placed at Etsy I realized something that was quite enlightening. There were almost 50% more searches for SOFTBALL jewelry/earrings/necklaces than there were for BASEBALL jewelry/earring/necklaces. I think that's probably because there are more females playing softball than baseball.

So those two events were my impetus for breaking out the neon yellow polymer clay and setting out to make softball jewelry. I've been baseball fan for most of my life, but knew very little about softball equipment and had to do quite a bit of research. Bryant Riggs, Technical Sales Manager at Fujifilm/Sericol and a member of the Softball group at LinkedIn was so helpful with his guidance into softball bats and balls and pointed me in the right direction for the online resources I needed. Kathi Briefer-Gose, a former avid softball player and artist member of Polymer Clay Central discussion group, enlightened me on softball, bats and the proper size proportions between the bat, ball and glove. Thanks go out to both for their valuable help!

Softball is no longer played with a wooden bat (who knew?). Aluminum bats can be used, but it seems like the majority of players prefer the relatively new composite bats. These are brightly colored and many have graphics on them that remind me of those on skateboards and surfboards.

One of the major bat manufacturers is the "Easton" company. I wanted to pattern my on a real bat, but I was concerned about copyright issues, so I decided to go with the made up brand name of "Weston" for my bat.

EDITED 7/24/13: The bat is now available with an custom option where a person's name or team name can be written on the bat instead of a brand name. Click to read a post about that option as well as the unveiling of a new economical Softball Pendant Necklace.

I tried to limit the labor intensive aspect of having to make the 10mm balls myself by searching for a source of commercially available well made yellow softballs with diminutive red stitching lines. Alas, non were appropriate. So, I ended up handmaking the balls and then meticulously hand painting the red seams on with Sakura's red Pigma Micron pen using a magnifier. Alas, these colored pens are not color fast on polymer clay unless one takes precautions. I heat cured the painted ball for 15 minutes at 200F. Then I used a very thin coat of Matte Varathane varnish, dabbing it on with a makeup sponge rather than dragging the sponge across the surface, Normally I would water down the Varathane a little, but had to use it straight for this application.
Some of the raw materials, tools and supplies used in making the softball jewelry
My entire baseball and Softball Jewelry Collection is available for sale at MelodyODesigns at Etsy

To access my other blog posts about making my baseball jewelry please click on the links below:

Arizona Diamondbacks Baseball Necklace and earrings

Baseball Necklace featured in “Polymer CAFÉ “ magazine


  1. I love your new softball line of jewelry! Perfect!

  2. Another winner, Anita! How fortuitous that you were wearing your necklace when you happened to meet someone who was looking something similar. And that you were able to fulfill that wish, and find a niche at the same time!

  3. The following comment was made by Tamera Davis, but didn't seem to publish:

    "This is great. Now a challenge for do you get polymer clay off the plastic bowl of a food processor??? Thank you!"

    Answer: Sorry I don't know. I would be tempted to try Dawn dishwashing detergent applied with a green scrubber square, the kind that are used to safely scrub Teflon. If the plastic bowl could survive it, perhaps alcohol afterwards? Hope you are able to find something that works for you!

  4. Those are great. You must have a steady hand to draw those lines on. Love those earrings.

  5. This is a great business post! I love that you researched the details and really dove into the niche.

  6. Your new softball line is great!! I love how you researched, and you found such interesting results, and a GREAT niche!! I wish you much success!

  7. You're really amazing, Anita. I love your diligence and commitment to excellence. Fantastic idea and I think you're onto a winner here!