Tempest in my teapot

awakeningA few years ago a friend gave me a wonderful birthday gift:  a pair of dainty, delicate and absolutely gorgeous jade drop earrings.  And I, who until that very moment had never felt any compelling interest in jewellery, promptly fell in love with them. I wore them every day, everywhere.

One evening, as I was removing them before bed and idly admiring them for approximately the zillionth time, the thought suddenly slipped into my mind like one of those little thought bubbles rising above a cartoon character’s head:  Earrings like these can’t be that hard to make.  I could probably do it myself!

Although I didn’t know it at the time, that single casual thought was the start of a roller-coaster love affair with beads and colours and designs that lasted far too long.  Oh, but what a ride it was!

In my usual willy-nilly fashion, I plunged into the craft, soaking up everything I could find on the internet about semi-precious stones.  Jewellery books and magazines taught me how to work with beads and jump rings and French wire and all the other exotic bits that go into making good jewellery.

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Creamy amber and 14k GF bracelet
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Carnelian and 14k gold-filled bracelet

Haunting online bead shops for the best prices, I soon discovered which ones could be trusted to provide accurate information about the quality of the stones they offered, and which were less than forthcoming about the authenticity of their wares.

By frustrating trial and error, I learned the Golden Rule for naive newcomers looking to play in the world of semi-precious stones:  caveat emptor!

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Sterling silver chainmaille watch

Soon I was branching out and discovering just how much fun it is to build chain-maille jewellery with nothing more than pliers and jump rings.  Creating patterns with the gorgeous Miyuki beads I played with led me deep into the intricate world of bead weaving, and this soon became one of my favourite ways of making jewellery.

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Green and 14k gold Miyuki bead bracelet
22K Gold Miyuki Peyote Bracelet (14K Gold Cla

 

 

 

 
In the end, I wound up making jewellery that I myself would have worn; simple designs that allowed the beauty of the materials to shine through.  I designed a business card to advertise Susannah Designs and then settled down to the business of selling off my output so I could afford to buy more materials.

To my surprise, however, in no time at all I discovered that, much as I loved making all this stuff, I absolutely despised the marketing and sales end of things!

sd-inventory1Keeping track of inventory; deciding on pricing; setting up and taking down displays; searching out new sales venues; even such tasks as attaching the little price tags to the jewellery, were all too, too much. All this extra work, work that’s required to make a business like mine successful, were cutting into my design time – to the point where they were close to cutting my design time completely out!

Much as I hated to admit it, I had to accept that my wonderful love affair had degenerated into little more than drudgery. It was plain as the nose on my face:  being the happy little jewellery-designer beavering away in the background was right up my alley. As for the rest of it… well, let me put it this way:  if I never have to see another inventory sheet, I’ll die happy.

Turquoise Porcelain and Apple Jasper Beads (14K GF Findings)

Luckily for me, a friend offered to host a huge jewellery party, which went a long way to reducing my inventory.  Then my accountant did whatever it is that accountants do to officially close a business.

What remains now of that tumultuous time is only my small collection of beads and findings that I particularly loved – enough to keep me in jewellery (and the females in my family in gifts) for quite some time.

Nowadays, I slip into my craft room now and again and ply my former trade for a pair of earrings to wear with a particular outfit, or perhaps to design a bracelet for a gift.  The passion that blew into my life back then has since ripened into a fond and quite manageable hobby — one that I now pursue with a modicum of decorum, as befits an old love affair.

And that suits me just fine, thank you very much!

Namaste,
Susannah

[Unless linked to a website, the photographs are mine]

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4 Comments

  1. I wish I had known this earlier. I would have steered you to the outlet of an Etsy store. I have a friend who, like you, makes singular pieces of art jewelry, and she sells exclusively through Etsy. She says it’s a wonderful way to keep track of inventory and keeps your business simple to manage. I love your designs, and would suggest, if you’re interested, that they could be sold even on your website here. I hope you don’t give it up completely.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comment on my jewellery! The reason I didn’t seriously consider Etsy as a sales venue was that I was so put off by the amount of time I had to spend keeping track of, and selling, my work live and in person that I simply shut down any thought of other means of selling. I still have all my beads and tools, tucked away against the days when I decide to make a pair of earrings for myself. I don’t usually wear jewellery except for earrings and my wedding ring, so truth to tell, I could live to be a thousand and still not make a dent in that stock. It’s a huge white elephant sitting there in my studio in banker’s boxes. But oh, how I loved the work itself!

      Perhaps I will try Etsy one day; and I appreciate your putting that bug in my ear. Cheers!

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      1. I’d like to know if you have any jewelry still. I might be interested in buying. For example I love the watch, and my old watch died a few months ago. But I have a big wrist and it would probably have to be made to order! ❤

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      2. Hi. I’m so sorry, that watch is gone now. It was lovely, and I hated to see it go. However, I do have a watch that might work for you. If you’re interested, just email me at karma.sue@rogers.com and I can tell you more about it.
        Cheers,
        Susannah

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