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My artisan metalsmithing site
My original Celtic designs in various media, including jewelry
My Etsy store- Affordable individually-made items.

October 7th, 2007

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05:29 pm
Today I got my mysterious hardware item fully polished and ready to be sent out for casting. Yay, me! It's looking pretty damn good, too, if I do say so myself- and I did some Google searches, and it looks at the moment like I don't have much serious competition for my concept. :)

Also, my studio is delightfully scented with beeswax and honey, due to our beekeeping efforts (detailed in our Beemused blog). This makes a nice change from the swamp-gas aroma of liver-of-sulfur, for instance.

I also did some pricing work on the argentium Confetti Ring I recently finished. Ouch. I spend a lot more time on these things than I'd recognized. This is one way my pricing software is a help; it makes it harder for me to ignore aspects of a piece, be they labor or materials.

Also: while I am not proud to admit this, I often find pictures of other people's work encouraging. This morning, for instance, I saw a really lovely piece with 22k granulation on it- and when i examined it more closely, I saw that in one area the granules had been really fried. I mean- fried to the point where I may well have junked the piece! and yet the artist was proud enough of it despite that to feature it, and in initial viewing the fried part was not all that obvious. I often feel similarly when I see flawed stone-setting featured in pictures. The thing is- I'm a very harsh critic of my own work, and feel like I've failed when I mess up. And yet- many successful, famous artisans aren't all that much better than I am, and apparently feel no qualms about featuring work that I'd feel ashamed of! So! I do find it encouraging, since it seems that my own skills are pretty solid; plus, I begin to recognize that my own critiques- while valid- are harsher than they need to be, and people do not necessarily require pure perfection as a matter of course. A piece can be gorgeous without being perfect. Something for me to think on (though I do want to make perfect stuff!).
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

(7 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 04:53 am (UTC)
I, too, take comfort in seeing tiny little mistakes in other people's work. It's like, "Oh, they're human & selling their work for large sums of money* so it's OK if I'm human, too. What a relief!" Although, man, did we have a field day with Cappy when we saw her new piece on display in a show & saw a tiny little solder blob on one of the seams. She's always the toughest on technical issues, so we took great delight in tormenting her about it.

*Large sums of money=anything over $30 at the moment for me, but that's because I'm still insanely broke.

By the way, what software program do you use?
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 08:06 pm (UTC)
I know! I feel sort of bad about gloating over other people's errors- it is Not Nice- but it's not really gloating, I think.And seeing stuff like that, with large price tags, is making me feel more comfortable about putting reasonable prices on my won work- prices that allow me to make some money per hour for working on them, for example, and ones that would allow me to afford to put stuff in a gallery at some point.

I'm using Jewelry Design Manager, and it's OK. There are awkwardnesses with it for which I've made work-arounds. It's mainly intended for people who do bead work, and generally would be ideal for someone who does that and who makes multiples of pieces. For figuring out relative prices, she uses a formula based on the cost of materials (you can change the multiplier on that, but not the way it's calculated), so it would be lovely for work where the materials were a pretty huge part of the cost, and labor less; since my work is generally the opposite, it doesn't work for getting a true retail price for me- though I can set my own. It does come out pretty accurate when I work in gold, though; it's just that silver is so inexpensive compared to the labor! The inventorying end is awkward to navigate, and not a really good fit for stuff like shapes cut out of sheet, inventorying sheet, etc. Plus- it's a pain to scroll through all the entries when one is assembling bits for a piece- and that's even though a number of my entries are like "Silver: use weight" and "Misc stones: use price".

I don't know if there are better programs. And this one does make me keep track of my costs on each piece, and does help me figure out a fair price so I don't end up paying myself nothing, or potentially selling to galleries at a loss or something. So it's worth it, but it's not heaven-sent. IMHO, and YMMV!
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC)
I completely sympathise. Even though I'm just a hobby jeweller, I'm also horribly critical of my work and seldom am 100% happy with it. My twin says I'm much too critical! I found a quote by Melanie Schow a little while ago however that I think I'm going to keep reminding myself of: "Jewelry is worn at a social distance".

Glad to see the hives are doing well. My friends also got their first honey from their hive a couple of weeks ago and raved about it when I went to visit them last weekend. Needless to say, there was none left! :-P
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
Ooo! That is an EXCELLENT quote! Thanks for sharing it!

We, of course, look at stuff up close and with magnification- and when I don't, that's still how it looks when photographed! Flaws are VERY visible in the full-sized, roughly 2500-pixel-wide pictures. And I go Eep. But that's not how it looks worn- nor even in most pictures in use!

J and I have each tried a finger's worth of our honey, but not more than that- just some of the stuff that's dripped out of the combs. We'll have more to try once we get boxes- we're going to package up some as cut comb in the boxes, and the cutting will release a bunch. And then we can also look at extracting some for mead, etc. Yum. But our girls did us proud!
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
Don't you make your models for casting out of wax? Could you use the beeswax for that? You'd be able to make even better use of what your dilligent girls produce!
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 08:17 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I make wax models, yes. It really depends on what I'm doing. If it's something I'm carving, wax is a lot easier than metal! but if it's something I'm building, metal's easier a lot of the time- because it's not as soft, it can be easier to correct lines without it getting wonky. Also, I do not yet have the hang of getting a perfect finish on wax, and I can polish metal very nicely, which saves work in cleaning up the castings. If I'm making multiples of a wax piece, I generally cast a model from the original wax, clean it up, and send it as the master to the casters rather than a wax piece.

Beeswax, unfortunately, is a bit soft for most jewelry wax purposes. It can be used to lubricate saw blades and burs; and sometimes (when it's warm enough) for picking up wee tiny stones and the like. We're not going to have a lot of wax this year, anyway; we'll have more when the comb in the hives starts getting funky and we recycle it. Besides, I ADORE beeswax candles. So that'll be tempting!
[User Picture]
Date:October 8th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
Besides, I ADORE beeswax candles. So that'll be tempting!
At least it's not going to waste!

But it would have been cool if you could have used the beeswax. You even could have written off the costs of the hive maintenance as a business expense too! ;)

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