7/30/2016

Noooooooooo - The fail

This pendant has taught me quite a few things.
First, it's easier for me to make an anti-clockwise spiral than a clockwise one. That's probably a right hander thing.
Second, don't feel safe before you have actually and truly completely finished something.
Third, I can be such a brute.
Fourth, sometimes a spiral just wants to stay a spiral.

So what is all of this about then?

I made a pendant the other day using half of a cut up ammonite and some copper wire and it turned out pretty cool. The obvious consequence was to use the other half now.
Of course it didn't look exactly like the first one. I made a different weave, the little spirals and the bail were in different spots on the pendant and the spiral following that of the fossil was a little bigger and not curled in as much. Things looked fine. The pendant was almost finished.
Just tightening and flattening those wires a bit more - CRACK!

What the .... no. Nooooo. But ... seriously now?
Yup. Seriously. The ammonite had several cracks. I mean, hey, only a few tiny bits had fallen out. Good to know that my wire frame held it safely, but ... seriously now? Broken? Now??

Of course my first thought was to toss the whole thing. Out of my sight, you .... you treacherous fossil! It's no excuse that you are millions of years old.
On the other hand I know I overdid it. I pushed you to the edge and you couldn't handle the pressure. It was my fault.

I decided to keep it as a reminder - maybe hang it on the wall or put it on a chain and on one of my teddies - but of course I needed to do something to make sure the parts really stayed together.
*cue ominous music* Glue. Oh dear. You know that glue and I have a somewhat shaky relationship. Granted, there was nothing here that I could mess up except maybe glueing myself to the pendant.
I applied glue to both sides of the pendant and let it dry.
Funny, the glue on the front of the stone had settled in a little groove in the middle that I hadn't even noticed before. I generously applied more glue until the surface looked smooth. Three layers later I still have that little groove showing and decided to leave it that way.
Now I just hope I have really learned something from this! ;-)

7/29/2016

Tackle that stash - Snake ring

I'm still wire weaving. When I found this light bluish-greenish cabochon in one of my mysterious tins where I keep wire and extremely hopeless WIPs, all I wanted to do was make a simple pendant with it.
Before I had tried making it into the background for a willow tree with dagger beads as the branches, but as I didn't even like it after the third attempt, it just ended up in the tin.

Today I set it free from its crochet bezel and started weaving in a mix of light gold and silver. Pretty soon I decided it would be a nice ring. Then when I wanted to deal with the wire ends sticking out in all directions, I thought it would be fun to have some of them run over the stone.

That's when Sallah whispered into my ear "Asps ... very dangerous. You go first." Not for real of course, I didn't watch Raiders of The Lost Ark at that moment (follow the link if you don't know what I am talking about ;-)).
You might not see a snake moving over the stone, but I do now.

7/27/2016

Oldies but Goodies - Happy

Always look on the bright side. Easily said, not always that easily done. What is happiness? No worries, I'm not going to get all psychological on you. Let's just say that happiness can be in small or big things.
I'm happy when Greebo snuggles up against me in my arm and puts his little head on my shoulder. I'm happy when I wake up at 5 am and then realize it's Saturday and I can go back to sleep. I'm happy when I get a new DVD box in the mail and I'm happy when I have finished a piece of jewelry that I really like.
Ah, you noticed what I did there, didn't you?
Of course this was the bridge to this week's Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge.
These are pieces that made our members happy and maybe they will make you smile, too. We sure do need more smiles these days.


1 and 6 RioRita
2 and 9 Jewelry Art by Dawn
3 and 7 MC Stoneworks
4 and 5 Cat's Wire
8 and 10 Violetmoon's Corner

7/26/2016

Hand crafted versus mass produced

It's time for the JAC blog carnival and this time it's a topic that is very important not only to us members at the Jewelry Artisans Community. I shortened it a little for the title, actually it was "competing in a mass produced world or mass produced versus hand crafted".
Oh no, not that again, you may think now. It's a never-ending topic. It's a topic full of prejudices, clichés, lots of emotions - and money. I wonder if it would make a good novel. Maybe someone has already written one. The journey of an artist ... an artisan ... a crafter ... wait. That's actually the starting point. First of all people start arguing about what is what and that as well is a never-ending topic. I'll keep my fingers off that one today.
Instead I'll tackle this issue exclusively from my personal view. It reflects my experiences, my feelings and my life as someone who makes jewelry with her own (not so) little hands (can you tell how I very cleverly avoided calling myself any of the above things?).

First a little introduction about myself for those who don't follow this blog and don't know my story.
There was something on TV about Etsy and the "handmade revolution", I had never heard about it, started browsing, stumbled upon a wire crochet piece and jumped into the cold water with a spool of copper wire and the only crochet hook I owned.
Very shortly after my first mostly pathetic attempts I found the forum which is JAC today. I still remember the first time I posted some wire crochet copper disk earrings with blue crackle glass beads. Then a friend made me the wonderful gift of a nice little bead stash. I posted more and I got enough encouragement to open my first shop even if I did that very secretly. Finally I got myself the first spool of sterling silver and kept experimenting. I started trying out new techniques.
You get it, I am self taught.

That brings me to my first little story. An acquaintance saw one of my shop listings. The price certainly wasn't high for both material and time I had put into it - we artisans tend to underprice - but he said: "I wouldn't pay you that." I asked him why because he had just said he liked this, and he replied "you didn't learn how to do that". It was a wire crochet piece. I told him that I learned in school how to crochet with yarn and he said "yeah, but not with wire", but of course he couldn't tell me where he thought I should learn doing that for him to appreciate the work I did.
Years later this still makes me think. Years of practice, failure, success, creativity, empty brain syndrome, self-confidence, self-doubt - it's quite the roller coaster ride sometimes.
What was he looking for? A university diploma in wire crochet? A paper to tell him I attended a course by ... well, someone who has a diploma in wire crochet? What if he hadn't known that I made this piece? What if he had seen it in a professional photo with perfect lighting or in a magazine or even in a museum?

Many artisans have to deal with those situations. There are the people that tell you their niece/cousin/sister/nephew/son/etc. could make this in a few minutes, and for some strange reasons that niece/cousin/sister/nephew/son is often about five years old.
Or there are the people who tell you they can get the exact same thing a lot cheaper at store chains.
How about those who think you should give them something you made for little money because "I thought you have fun doing this, you shouldn't take money for something you like doing". That one often comes from friends and family (not mine, I'm lucky that way).
Erm, no to all of these.
If I have the practice and it takes me hours, your niece can't do it in a few minutes.
You won't get the same thing cheaper because it will not be the same thing. Even if it looks similar to you, just the materials might be very different from what you get there.
If I want to give you the "friends and family discount", it will be me who decides that, not you. 

Of course there is a time and place for mass manufactured, and there is a time and place for handmade. Not everyone can afford handmade, not everyone wants to spend the money. There are things I'd rather buy handmade, but I can't do it unless I finally sell the cats to the circus (I have been threatening them a lot with that one lately).

I know that ... artisans know that ... artists know that ... and still sometimes it makes you wonder, makes you think you are doing something wrong, maybe makes you ask yourself if you should even continue.
So how DO you compete against that? How do you make people see the story behind what you do? You can take pictures, you can make videos, you can explain the process, if you do shows, you can show them in person.
Even then you can't be sure everyone will or wants to understand it, and sometimes even other artisans understand it.
To be open, I don't know a standard solution. I won't give up hope, though, that there are people who see the effort in a piece, the time, sometimes the struggle, and the love - and yes, the fun.

It's impossible to leave a post without a picture, so here's one of The HeatherCats, a collection with lots of my time, love and fun in it, and one of originals by Heather because they never fail to make me smile.





Take a deep breath now and then please check out what my fellow JAC members have to say. I'll add more links as they come in.

Violetmoon's Corner
Jewelry Art by Dawn 

7/22/2016

Tackle that stash - Entering the world of wire weaving

Due to a fall I haven't been able to tackle my stash in a while, but now that my wrist is starting to tolerate certain movements again, this has changed.
I had made two or three small attempts at basic wire weaving before to see if it was something I could incorporate in my designs.
The first pieces included a crystal and a faceted tiger's eye bead, now I wanted to see if I could also do something with a cab or a tumbled rock.
Doesn't look that bad for a start ...


7/20/2016

Oldies but Goodies - Travel

This week the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge was about travelling, but guess what, no planes, no trains and no automobiles turned up in the entries.
Jewelry artisans, I tell you. They go on a trip and the first thing they find in a city is a bead store. They are looking for charms, shells, nothing is safe from them if you don't stop them.
So today I am taking you to Italy, Eilat, Vermont, Lake Tahoe, and Cambridge - all via beads ;-) And there's more to see in the original thread, too!


1 Violetmoon's Corner
2 and 3 Jewelry Art by Dawn
4 Cat's Wire
5 RioRita

7/13/2016

Oldies but Goodies - Tranquility

We live in a fast paced world, glued to our phones and computers, surrounded by stimuli of all sorts, constantly bombarded with information, hit by noise and light - and nagging cats. Oh wait, that's just mine sitting next to me right now.
Where was I? Oh, right. It's enough to drive you crazy sometimes (so is the cat). People try different things to find some peace and quiet, time for themselves, a time out from everyday stress.
This week tranquility was the topic for the Jewelry Artisans Community Oldies but Goodies Challenge. Tranquility is an issue for us, too. We are getting there through making jewelry, for example. But what kind of jewelry feels tranquil to us? It was interesting to see that we didn't necessarily have the same approach to that.
For some it was color. Pastel colors. For me it was pattern. One member found she had chosen plants.
What brings you tranquility?


1 Jewelry Art by Dawn
2 MC Stoneworks
3 Cat's Wire
4 Violetmoon's Corner
5 RioRita