Sunday, 24 March 2013

I Gots Me a Saw!

OK, I actually got a sway a while ago... I takes me a while to get myself worked up to trying something new - but now I love it!  I have also tried oxidising my pieces for the first time.  I've made so many pieces that would look better antiqued, so I got myself some LOS gel and some steel wool.  I doubt I will ever not antique jewellery again!

Showing these pieces is a tad embarrassing as some of them are a bit wonky, but what can I expect when I am trying something new??  This is the first thing I have ever sawed out of a sheet of copper:

It's so wonky!  And this is actually the back of the piece - my hammering on the front is so awful that I ended up preferring this side!
I love this shape, though I feel I ruined it by adding too many dangle to the bottom which obfuscates the curve.  Also the hole in the middle is a bit smushed - though this is partially due to my rubbish hammering skills!  I'm proud of it though - and due to its slightly more 'rustic' than intended nature I will get to keep it as a reminder of how I started out on the sawing path - it can only get better!

Here I attempted an ivy leaf - I love leaves and I think you will see a lot of leaf shapes from me.  Again it is a bit wonky - but getting better!  I need to sort out the chain on this though - the idea is there but I'm not quite happy with it.

Next I tried out a shape I really love the look of - a crescent   I've seen plenty of jewellery I really admire using this kind of shape as a base, so I though I would give it a go -

And I loved it!  So much so in fact that I spent several hours sawing crescents out of copper sheet.  I made another necklace, with denser dangles as I felt the one above looked a little spare.  Sorry for the fuzzy photo, it was taken in a bit of a hurry and a master of photography I am NOT!  The distinct lack of sunlight recently doesn't help either...

I do love me some dangly bits :)
I bought myself a nice big selection of Czech glass beads at the beginning of the month and I am very much smitten by them - they are cropping up all over the place! My poor gemstone bead stash is probably feeling a little bit jealous.  The little fire polish beads above were actually free samples - and I do love things that are free :)

Carrying on with the crescent theme I made these earrings which will be a gift for a friend.  She loves big dangly earrings and I was struggling to come up with a design I liked before the idea for these surfaced in my minds eye.  They are basically just like the first necklace above, but on a smaller scale -

The two bases aren't actually different colours - that's just my pooey photography skills at play again...
One last one before I go, another leaf shape to take a break from all those crescents.  This is probably my favourite piece of them all, despite including pink which is not my colour at all.  The chain was originally designed with another pendant in mind, but just didn't fit in the end.  Such good luck that I happen to have plenty of sawed out pendanty bits lying around then!  This oak leaf seemed to fit the best, though I may saw out a new flower shaped piece that will better suit the pinky, springy colour scheme:

Do excuse my mucky yucky windowsill...
I'm very happy with what I have accomplished, but still have a long way to go before I master the saw.  It is both easier and harder than I originally thought it would be.  I'm very happy with the results so far, but need to figure out something more to so with the shapes I make.  A hammered finish is all very well but there is so much more I know can be done!  I think the next step may be riveting, or perhaps figuring out what other finishes I can use.  Salt and vinegar crisps maybe?  I do love the look of 'natural' patinas on copper and brass.

Anyway, here's to starting the long and wondrous path to metalworking!  And to managing not to saw my fingers off!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

On Pricing and the Emotional Turmoil It Brings!

A haven't blogged in a while - I have been busy, working, playing and most importantly for our purposes making plenty of jewellery :)

Mrs Owl is Waiting for Spring - I don't understand why all owl beads are referred to as 'Mr'.  After all, if there are no Mrs Owl's, where do cute, fluffy little baby owls come from?  The beautiful copper owl clasp is from Jo at Daisy Chain Extra.
I am trying to build up a shop inventory, enough pieces to open a shop on Etsy that doesn't look rather bare!   I'm finding it hard to decide just how many pieces are enough.  I'm aiming for about 20 necklaces and bracelets at the moment, and about 15 pairs of earrings on top of that (I never get around to making earrings though).

It's difficult, 'cos when I make a piece I fall in love with, I have to remember that I'm not gonna get to keep it.   A part of me is tempted to say 'hey, in a month or so after I've stopped inventory building, I can make myself another one', but in a way I feel that would be unfair to my potential customers who are paying to receive a unique one of a kind piece.

Now the thing is, preparing to open an Etsy store has forced me to face the pricing issue.  From reading various blogs I have long since sussed that pricing is an object of aggravation for many people.  It is really rather difficult!  I read somewhere that we as artisans are often tempted to under value our work.  We put our pieces through the pricing machine and come up with a total that just can't possibly be right surely!!

Mother Earth is Waking Up - a simple beaded chain for my Mum on Mother's Day - I didn't bother pricing this one as it was a gift :)
I have had exactly that problem!  I spent a day going through my bead stash and taking inventory of everything - tracking down receipts and paypal invoices so I could update the nifty bead spreadsheet I set up a few years ago when I last seriously considered selling jewellery.  I then started calculating prices for all the pieces I am going to sell.  Despite all the advice I had read on several sites I was still quite honestly shocked!

The owl bracelet above?  That came out at £38.  It can't be worth that much surely??  It didn't help when I took it in to work the next day and asked a colleague of mine who also made jewellery how much she thought is was worth.  She said she would charge £15-£20, but she wasn't really sure as she doesn't usually make such complex pieces.  I found that just a wee bit disheartening.  My other colleagues didn't do much to boost my ego - they were too polite to say but it was clear they would not pay so much!

I have been through this before though, the last time I tried calculating prices I was so astounded that I was put off jewellery making all together!  For about a year!  Why is that?  When I browse through Etsy and look at other Artisan made jewellery the price seems quite reasonable.  In fact it could even be a little on the low side.  When you compare the market, £33 for a necklace like the following is perfectly acceptable:

Leaves Burn Beneath the Water - Ceramic leaf pendant by Teresa of Bo Hulley Beads
My mother says the problem is probably due to my chronic lack of self worth.  Which is possibly partially true.  It's hard to think that something I have done is worth that much of someone elses money!  But there is another level to this too - I know exactly how much all the materials that go in to these pieces cost me (very precisely in fact, 'cos I spent ages figuring out the value of each little bead).  I umm-ed and aah-ed for quite a while over how much I would charge for my time - after all it does seem cheeky to charge someone for doing what I love to do.

It also made me think about how long it takes to complete a given design.  I love to make really long beaded chains like the one below (sorry for the awful photo - photographing long necklaces is hard and a massive storm cloud came over and stole the light).  Making over a hundred little links, joining the together and then making sure they are all secure sure takes a looooong time.  This necklace would cost a whopping £52!  Yet the actual materials come in at less than a tenner.

I haven't named this one yet - it is so so long though!  You can't really tell from the photo, but this reaches my navel!
And I am rather tall!
I think these prices seem high because I make the jewellery myself and I know exactly what goes into them - both material costs and effort spent.  This brings into the equation the power of perception - to people who don't make jewellery there is an element of mystery to its creation.  Most people don't have the patience to make a hundred links, or don't have a brain that just loves to play with colour.

Also, I think that when people buy artisan jewellery they are buying a little bit of the artist as well.  They are buying a little bit of your lifestyle - or perhaps rather a bit of the lifestyle they perceive behind the layers of shop fronts and photo props and blurbs.  Whether it's gritty urban priestess or flowing-gowned hippy chick, they are buying a little bit of that lifestyle for themselves.  When you say an admired piece of jewellery you are wearing is artisan handmade you are drawing a little of the mystery of the artisan world to you.  Perhaps that is why my friends and work colleagues shy away from my suggested prices - they know me, and so the mystery is truncated - jewellery made by that nutter in the corner doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

A quick note to say...

I feel a bit rude as I have not had a chance to sit down and hop through all the other Challenge of Music creations.  Yesterday and today are very busy for me!  I want to be able to sit down and listen to all the music properly while I read your posts.

I'll be visiting you all tomorrow :)