Diamonds are a Crafter’s Best Friend

2/28/24
by Victoria Ritter

Just as needle art captures patterns in fabric and multi-colored tiles constitute elaborate mosaics, Diamond Dotz® helps crafters and artists create intricate works with gems.

Diamond Dotz is the creation of husband-and-wife team Dennis Papas and Cathy Barzyk. The couple has 40 years of experience in the arts and crafts industry, specifically in needlecraft. One of Barzyk’s first jobs was interpreting different works of art from art galleries into needlework kits.

“In needlework, you’re basically taking artwork and pixelating it,” Papas said. “Diamond painting is exactly the same.”

Papas and Barzyk came across the concept of diamond painting during a trip to China in 2014 where they were mesmerized by a diamond artwork in an office.

“It was so spectacular and sparkly,” Papas said. “We’d never seen anything like it before.”

“We were drawn to the sparkle,” Barzyk added. “When we saw how easy it was to do, we realized it could be a very important craft. You don’t need a lot of skill to do it. As long as you follow the pattern, you can create a beautiful design really easily.”

After a few years of curating products and re-imagining their take on diamond painting, Papas and Barzyk were ready to bring the craft to the western market. They founded Diamond Dotz in 2015 and headquartered the company in Atlanta, GA. Today, the brand is trademarked in 28 countries and distributed to 80 nations.

One of the unique characteristics of Diamond Dotz are the “diamonds” themselves. The gems, made of epoxy resin, are specifically engineered with 13 different facets, causing them to sparkle more.

Creatives can use Diamond Dotz in a couple different ways. For those who prefer to use pre-arranged designs, the brand provides kits for cards, pillows, boxes and wall art – the brand’s most popular product segment. The all-inclusive kits come with a substrate with the design printed on the surface and a proprietary adhesive on top, a gem pack, tool kit and instruction sheet.

A team of 22 designers work with Barzyk, formatting patterns based on art posters, popular trends and license designs; Diamond Dotz partners with companies including Hasbro, Paramount, Peanuts, Precious Moments and Thomas Kincade.

“Very often, classic designs – designs we started with – are still selling today,” Papas said. When Diamond Dotz first launched, it had 70 designs in its catalog. Now, it has 2,500 in its archive, with new designs released every quarter.

“We grew quickly because we realized that people were finishing them so fast,” Barzyk explained.

No matter the concept that Diamond Dotz designs, the company does not resort to basing them on images generated by artificial intelligence (AI). Papas stated that while some competing companies utilize AI in order to avoid paying royalties, he and Barzyk are dedicated to endorsing artists first. “We support our artists and the world of artistic creation,” Papas stated. “There’s no integrity in AI artwork.”

“People like to know the story behind the artwork, too,” Barzyk added. “Who’s the artist, where did it come from, what did the original artwork look like, it’s important.”

An alternative to the pre-made patterns is Diamond Dotz Freestyle, which lets crafters buy components separately. The freestyle option allows artists to decorate their own items – from ornamental letters and picture frames to fabric – and create unique pieces. With 461 colored gems available, the sky’s the limit. Those looking for ideas can visit Diamond Dotz’s blog or YouTube channel, both available through diamonddotz.com.

“We’ve developed a very special adhesive called Dotz Stick that can be used on textiles, glass, metal, just about any surface,” Papas said.

“The way that people are upcycling or repurposing clothes and household objects with Diamond Dotz is really amazing,” Barzyk observed. “There’s just no end to the creative ideas people have.”

Both the founders and their customers have found multiple reasons why they enjoy Diamond Dotz. Barzyk appreciates how quickly she can finish a piece, compared to working with needlepoint.

“Commercially speaking, the inventory turns quite quickly in the store,” Papas said. “It’s a good proposition for an arts and crafts store.”

Creative minds of various ages – ranging from 4 to 93 years old – have shared how Diamond Dotz helps them. While some use diamond painting to relax or simply pass the time, caregivers engage with relatives or patients while finishing a project. Parents also value how Diamond Dotz provides their kids an alternative to screentime. “We feel blessed a lot of days that we’re able to bring the product to people who really appreciate it. It’s very touching,” Barzyk stated.

Diamond Dotz exhibits at several shows including Creativeworld and Spielwarenmesse in Germany, Toy Fair in New York and Creativation by Namta. In addition to the arts and crafts industry, the company caters to the toy market and education sector.

The past few years have been a rollercoaster for the crafting community, including Diamond Dotz. After a spike in business in 2020, interest in crafts took a slump the next couple of years. However, Papas and Barzyk are seeing a rebound, including a 5 to 7 percent growth in diamond painting. Their business is growing exponentially online.

“I think by sticking to our guns and having integrity, we convert a lot of consumers to our brand and they stick around,” Papas said.

Papas and Barzyk favor authenticity and transparency over gimmicks. For instance, the product images on the website are of finished Diamond Dotz projects, with detailed accounts of what is included in the kits, right down to the number of gems. Over time, they are winning a battle of perception as customers are coming to their own conclusions about their offerings.

“We go through a lot of trouble to make sure our product is compliant and it has integrity; that’s why we’ve retained customers,” Papas said. “If people would just try Diamond Dotz, they’d be pleasantly surprised by our brand.”

To see and learn more about Diamond Dotz products, visit diamonddotz.com.

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