Doing it in public

Today was the fourth time I’ve demonstrated making jewellery, and I like it.  Somehow it makes me focus more on what I’m doing and less on what’s not getting done.  It makes me plan a bit, in deciding what I need to take and what I can do away from all the paraphernalia of my studio.  I’ve demonstrated in a cafe and shopping centre, but I think I’d like to go more alfresco.  Now to think up a truly portable, stable, bench peg & stand… 

You never know until you try

You never really know if something is going to work until you try. And sometimes, when you give something your all (or most of your all), you discover that it isn’t going to work, or it isn’t what you want. 

Every chance I get in the day and almost every night after 9 when the kids finally give in to sleep, I go to my bench and make jewellery.  It is making me realise that this isn’t how I want it to be, and also that it isn’t going to be enough.

So, I’ll keep going to get through my August event, still hoping that it will be good, and then think again.  

I think I need to make things with more investment of planning, time, and skill, rather than picking up whatever I think I can get done in the time I have.  I know I want to make things other than jewellery, and to develop old & new skills.  

I also want to free up time so that I don’t feel stressed that everything else is neglected. I do still want to be creative, in fact more so.

For my next trick… 

For months my plan has been to be ready for Art in the Park in Leamington in August.  I want to be looking “proper” for it, which is quite a challenge for a self-sabotaging, easily distracted, self-critical, ditherer.  Also, I need to have enough jewellery made to fill a stall, & justify the fee!  

Well, a small triumph. I managed to get something made, on theme, just in time for the publicity deadline. 

Leamington’s Three Graces are part of the theme; circus elephants once housed in the town.   I’m not all that comfortable with celebrating animals in the circus, so this one is balanced on a tiny globe (for their shrunken habitat) showing a hand-engraved India and Sri Lanka (their home).  She is sterling silver, with a little piece of 9ct gold recycled from a ring. 

I’m not great at taking notice of how long it takes me to make a piece. This time I managed a little discipline and made a note.  5 hours 35 minutes, from drawing to polishing.  So, I am clearly an extremely slow worker!  If I made another it would probably be an awful lot quicker, but perhaps less fun! 

As well as AITP I also have Rugby Festival of Culture coming up next month (and the start date has been brought forward!), plus a new venture to showcase a range of creatives in a local cafe. 

Socially Shared

The Socially Shared network is where I go to remind myself I’m supposed to be a business person.  As it’s a women’s network perhaps I should say businesswoman.  This morning’s meeting was on pricing.  It was a bit of a reminder that if this venture is to be an actual business then I need to price to actually make money.  Gulp.

More importantly, though, these meetings work for me a bit like those progress reviews I used to have with my manager in my proper job.  It’s a reminder to focus on what I’ve done, what I want to do, and what I’ve GOT to do.  The similarity does really end there though, because all the application for progress reviews was in advance, and afterwards I tended to do a little sigh and mostly forget about it til next time.  With these meetings, the only preparation is to remember to turn up and bring a tenner to cover the meeting and a coffee, but then I come away raring to go.

It’s great to hear what others are doing and to hear everyone chip in with both questions and answers.  The successes are inspiring, but it’s also rather encouraging to find that you are not the only one who is not a fully-fledged, sharp-suited, thoroughly business-like woman, who knows all the ins and outs of marketing, social media, accounting, and all the rest of the palaver that you start out not knowing you need to know about, and perhaps then trying hard to stay in denial about.  (Although the enthusiasm in these sessions takes the bleurgh out of just about everything.)

So, I came straight home and took jewellery photos.  Okay, so I still haven’t quite got those photos uploaded and on Etsy, and I haven’t touched my prices (yet), but at least I did something.  And I didn’t feel guilty about ignoring the dishwasher.



Lost weeks

Being self-employed (and feeling a bit guilty about it), and a ditherer, and a mum, sometimes means that weeks go by without a thing getting done.  Over half term I was full of back to school resolutions about efficiency and running and healthy eating. This Girl Can!  

The 6yo went back to school on the Monday, and I was struck with a fluey cold on the Tuesday and barely functioned for a week. This Girl Can’t Right Now. 

Now that I’m going again I have a to do list as long as your arm. A ring commission. A Festival of Culture display to plan. Two new jewellery themes to work on. Art in the Park beginning to feel rather too soon.  Plus the house (oh, the state of the house!), Mothers Day, Dad’s birthday… Also I’ll be solo for 4 weeks while the husband works away. 
I guess I’d better get moving! 

Finding myself

Silver hoop pendant, incorporating a toothpaste tube seal
Silver hoop pendant, incorporating a toothpaste tube seal

I’ve been making silver jewellery for a long time, mostly as a hobby, but I’ve never really found my style. I’m always a bit of this and that (and not just in jewellery), whereas all the “proper” jewellers I see seem to have a style, a theme, their own “thing”.  I feel the need for “a thing”, but I also resist the idea of being closed down to just one thing.  Not having a cohesive collection held me back from selling for a long time.  In the end I jumped in, on the basis that if I waited til I was ready then I’d never do it at all.

I’ve been selling for over a year, and I still don’t have a style, apart from “small” and maybe “geometric”, and “I want to do natural forms but I’ve not got there yet”.

I’ve pretty much had it with geometric.  The hours I have lost squaring edges and righting angles!  I like symmetry, neat angles, alignment, and straight edges, but the fact is that stuff is best made by machines.  Clunk, whirr, done.
I’m starting to have doubts about small too.  I’m going to stick with small, but I’m on the edge of what my not-what-they-used-to-be eyes and fingers can manage!

So, where am I going with this?  Well…

I’m finally going to jump in on the natural forms.  Feb 25th is payday in my casual job and this month I should have enough to take the leap into casting.  (This is the shoestring I’m operating on!)  I need to shortlist one or two for casting, and then go for it.  I’m wary because I don’t really have the money to waste on a failed enterprise, and I’m not quite sure what will cast well, and how they will come out.  Still, now I’ve said it, I have to do it!

I had a eureka moment after visiting Spring Fair, and the Jewellery and Watch halls in particular.  I felt there was less originality this year, and the only thing that really grabbed me was the gemstones, although I don’t feel comfortable with the ethical problems with gemstones.  The eureka moment was the plan to rebrand myself as “recycled, upcycled, fine jewellery and found objects”.  Now usually when I have a eureka moment (especially a really good one), it turns out to be a really daft idea.  In this case I hope that I can combine casting of found natural shapes with actual found objects to create something that is naturally my style.  I collect things: seed heads, a broken mug, a cog shaped toothpaste tube seal, shells, pebbles, the copper lever out of the toilet cistern…  ALL these things will be my inspiration, my materials and my gems.  (Though possibly the toilet cistern might be a hard sell!)