Monday, April 18, 2011

Yes, I AM an Artist

When I first began making jewelry it was out of necessity as I could never find exactly what I wanted. But as I got more creative and learned new techniques, the designs became more involved and more complex.  I take great pains in designing each piece, changing, rearranging, and sometimes taking a piece apart to change it altogether.  But it never occurred to me that this was art.  I'm a do-it-yourselfer so this was just something I did myself, like wallpapering, tiling the kitchen and bathroom, or making my own clothes.

Then a customer compared my steampunk pendants to the work of a metalsmith whose earrings she was wearing.  She was adamant that I needed to "sign" my work in some way and raise my prices to reflect their real value.  I was a bit put off.  I was making steampunk because it was fun and relaxing. But my daughter and I talked about this all the way home from that show.

As I created new pieces I was suddenly aware of the work involved in my designs.  I look for just the right pieces and lay them out.  I look for balance and just the right color stone or glass to make the piece pop.  The chains and clasps I use have to work with the pendants.  And I don't wire it all together until I've lived with it for a couple of days and I'm sure I still like it.  I won't sell anything unless I'm proud of it.

It's my creation.  It's my art.  So when a customer comes along and wants to buy it but asks me to add dangles or move the gemstone, I have to wonder why they would want to buy something they don't already like.

I lengthen, shorten, or change clasps.  But I won't recreate one of my little works of art.  They should instead visit my shop often and look for new inventory that they like just the way it is.