Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mindful


I have been mindful of several things lately.


I know that, despite predictions of a rebounding economy, people are still being cautious about spending. I think that's wise. I'm being cautious myself. This spills into my fledgling jewelry business. I have been cautious about additional supplies and have been challenging my creativity to make my supplies stretch or do things a little differently to get the most out of the materials I have. When I make purchases, they are carefully thought out and well planned.

As I reflect on my own spending habits, I realize the type of person following my work probably has similar financial instincts. With that in mind, I have been re-working and re-scaling the pieces and designs in my shop. At the moment, I'm holding back on full-scale one-of-a-kind art pieces while waiting to find an outside studio space. This is giving me the opportunity to design the everyday line I have had in my head for some time. These are "one of a design" pieces...examples are the Trailing Vines bracelets, Lasso earrings, or Classic Lariats...similar in design but tweaks on colors and components.

The Materials

A quick word on materials...glass is still what makes my heart do a flip-flop. I'm quite attached to it. I have to be patient while searching for external studio space. But glass is always on my mind. I dream in it.

The main metal I use is genuine silver: Sterling .925 or Argentium .925. Argentium is a newer silver that uses germanium instead of copper and resists tarnish for a longer period of time. I also use fine silver .999. I really enjoy mixing in copper with silver for a western, rustic look. I occasionally use antiqued brass or gold fill. I purchase glass beads from other lampwork artists as well and include their work in some of my finished jewelry pieces. In short...I use quality components in my jewelry because I want the piece to have lasting value.

Quality

As I was writing and editing this post, I put one of my new bracelet designs through an unintentional severe abuse test. I was grocery shopping and a heavy grocery bag slid down my arm and pulled on the bracelet. Although the bracelet gave way at a weak point and one of the disk beads broke when it hit the tile floor, I was actually pretty surprised at how well the rest of it held up. I mean...glass beads hitting a tile floor? And only one of the disks broke? Kiln annealing really does work!



Although I was initially disappointed...I really liked this Corsage design and I don't have access to my torch to re-create the broken bead...I can still re-work the piece into a Trailing Vines bracelet.

So, why do I talk about a mistake? Because it leads me to the main point I wanted to make. I don't just make my jewelry and send it off. I test it. With the everyday designs I have been making lately, I make one for me, test, twiddle, fiddle, and tweak. If it works, I then make subsequent designs for the shop.

For the truly unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, I do a test wearing. The first reason, is that it takes more than fitting on a model or checking in the mirror to make sure it lays right. It also takes regular activities to ensure it doesn't flop or dangle awkwardly. Second, I check for reactions...as in, "ooooh, that's a really cool piece!" If you're buying an art piece, you want a reaction. Then...once it passes these checks, it gets cleaned up (sanitized or tumble polished in dish soap) and ready for you.

Guarantee of Me

As noted in the above picture of my Corsage bracelet, although my beads are manufactured to be durable, they are still glass. In particular, disk beads have a greater sensitivity as they are thin and can spend more time out of the flame. While I have inadvertently "tested" a lot of my beads by dropping them (I'm a klutz, don't forget), glass is still glass and should be treated with care.

However, things will always happen. This is why I offer the Guarantee of Me. I back my work. First of all, I only make what I love and I only want you to buy what you love so you'll wear it over and over again. I want to you be happy with what you received in the first place.

The additional part the Guarantee of Me is that I realize things can happen to jewelry. I strive to make the best pieces I can, but sometimes things happen. Perhaps there is a weak point in the jewelry. Perhaps it suffered some kind of trauma like getting dropped or the dog ate it. (This really happened to me...Molly ate one of my favorite necklaces when she was a baby.) After I started making my own jewelry, I realized those favorite little pieces that I discarded in the past were often very simple little fixes.

I offer that same backing, whether the fault is mine or yours...just email me and we can either work out the quick fix for the cost of postage...or if the damage is more extensive (i.e. the dog ate your jewelry), salvage what you can and we can work out a new design for you.

Value

As a fledgling business and being mindful that people are seeking a good value in this economy, I have reduced prices on everything in my shop to give people the opportunity to sample some of my work. I have deliberately kept prices in line with or slightly above what you pay for costume jewelry. This is not because I don't think my work has value...actually, it's because I think you will enjoy my work and would like to make it affordable to have as I'm fledging this little business. I want to you to try it. Like it. Come back later. And tell your friends.

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