Friday, July 13, 2012

What is Your Jewelry Achilles Heel?

Happy Friday everyone!

I wanted to talk about jewelry that you don't feel a strong connection with in making.   I could make earrings all day long. I like making bracelets too...and rings.

But necklaces? And what about pre-made chains..especially coming from an artist that writes about Handmade? I feel a bit like a cheat using a pre-made chain for some of my work, but I want to address this issue here, and air out my dirty laundry!

As a metalsmith, I have a thing about necklaces. When I first started making jewelry, I was a beader. I didn't have any issues with necklaces when I could dive into a stash of beads, and string up one, two or three strands of beads and quickly put a clasp on them, and I was done!  It was instant gratification and I had something to wear the next day when I was working outside of my home doing the 9 to 5. 

But when I started working with metal in the form of wire working, the necklaces that I made started getting bulky and big. I don't personally like big, bulky wire-worked necklaces. They were very slow to sell in the gallery I was in at that time--although they were an attention getter, drawing people to my case. However, once there, they usually just bought a pair of my earrings.

My observation was that they liked looking at the big, bulky cake, but only wanted to take home a small slice.

For a long time, I just avoided making any necklaces. I had a hard time reconciling the fact that I hated making chains, so I shelved the issue while I marinated on what to do. I do that, you see...when I don't know what to do, I do nothing until the answer reveals itself. 

Last week, in getting together some inventory for a new gallery in Seattle, I knew I needed to add some necklaces into the mix. As I was making some simple earrings, I thought, "I can just add a bail to the these earrings and have a simple, sweet necklace using all that 1mm ball chain I bought in a moment of spontaneity a few months ago!"

For a long time, I was insistent that every element in my jewelry be handmade. But then I got to thinking about painters. Painters don't often fabricate their own frames, do they? I sort of view the pre-made chain as the frame for my metalwork necklaces. 

There is no way that it would be economically sane for me to try and make my own chain. The time it takes is so long and I just don't have the desire to make tiny metal chain of my own. I am running a business, and with the exception of a commission piece, an expensive commission piece, mind you; I use either pre-made chain, or bulk chain with a handmade clasp.

Do you have any jewelry hang-ups? If so, what have you done to overcome them? 


Kalaya Steede said...

Stacie I have the same issues! Glad to see I am not alone. I like how you resolved the issue of chains. I am totally with you on that! Merci for your insight.

Alice said...

I used to be a bead and metal snob. I thought using sterling and gold-filled metals, and lampwork and stone beads would mean my jewlery would last a long time, and also be very classy. No base metal, czech glass or mass made beads for me. But slowly I'm changing. I still love using sterling though I save it for special pieces. And I'm loving all the pretty czech beads that compliment artist made beads.

Julie Holmes said...

I have the opposite problem Stacie! I don't seem to want to make anything BUT pendants. One reason is cloisonné is heavy and I've always had sensitive ears. I finally did make a pair of earrings and they're actually ok. My problem is size. The smaller it is...the harder to fit the pictoral work that I like to do!

Beadbug said...

I had the same problem but knew to keep the price point down I had to use the ball chain and I think it looks great on so many items.

The thing I can't stand to make and rarely do is ear rings. I had a whole post on this and it comes down to the fact that I just don't wear dangle ear rings and am not interested in them at all. It seems that if I am not willing to wear something and show it off I am not interested in making it. I wear funky eye wear and ear rings and a necklace is just to much.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I must say that I could have written this post other than the gallery part. I started off the exact same way and also found myself with the necklace issue. I started working on that by focusing on the focal piece and keeping it simple from there. I just submitted some necklaces to Belle Armoire that I'm pretty proud of. They are simple and I made myself let go of over analyzing it and let my fingers do the walking through the process. I did pretty good.... only took one apart!!! That is progress for me :o) I don't get too concerned about the chain since I overcame some of the handmade part of it by adding some patina to it or just letting go and keeping it the background so to speak :o)

Stacie said...

Thank you everyone for chiming in on this is nice to know that I am not the only one with jewelry bias!!

Jenni said...

I don't make a lot of finished jewelry, but at the moment love making components...chain making has been my latest thing! Yes, it does take time..but I am finding it very "zen!" I have only just started selling, so may change my mind soon enough but at the moment I like the process!

mairedodd said...

i am such a lover of your work - the rustic feminine... i adore your use of hinges, the movement present... i would have to say chains are mine as well...

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