Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Madness and Good Fun

It's nearly mid-December, which for most artisans, and jewelry makers especially, means that we are right in the swing of madness. Men are asking for things that we can't possibly fulfill (or can't fulfill without giving up a piece of ourselves to get it done) at this time,as they tend to do. Custom orders are in high production mode to get made and mailed by the USPS shipping dates. There are a million-and-one end-of-year things to do, not to mention the personal holiday stuff, and it seems like the days are far too short.

I'm alternately feeling rushed and not energy is low, low, low. Though I adore making jewelry, I am not really in the mood for it now (though I am putting my time in on those custom orders). I'm ready to sit, breathe, meditate, regroup, organize (some more), and rest. I'm ready for January, to begin anew, to design with more purpose, without short deadlines looming (though there are always *some* of those), with time on my side. Which is's never really on my side. But I'd welcome some bigger, quieter chunks of time right now.

I did a brief inventory a week or so ago, to see where the time went, and as far as I can tell, in 2012, I made 60 or so hand-fabricated, one of a kind, designed from scratch, gemstone-set items.

By the end of this year, I will have made 200.

just a little sampling of the more recent creations

Now I get that 200 doesn't sound like a lot. But moving from 60 to 200 in one year? I've definitely gotten faster, for one thing.  :)  And making each one from scratch? There's a lot of design and creation time in each of those. And consider this:

- I struggled to keep up a decent festival inventory all year long. Every month, every week, every stolen moment got devoted to designing and making.

- Currently there are about 367,128 things on my idea list that I *can't get to*. Okay, I don't have three-hundred-thousand-plus ideas...yet. But I have a lot of ideas. And they can't get made, or much more than thought about, because I am spending my time making other things...the things that have been selling.

I can hear you now, thinking, "Well, poor Jilly. She's making and selling. She can't get to the *other* things she wants to make because she's making. Isn't this what she loves to do???"

Well...yes. Hell yes! Absolutely. But there comes a point when one person cannot possibly do enough to grow a business or stretch its offerings or even meet its needs. And I'm there. I'm probably way past there, except that there's been no time to stop and plan for how I can change that.

And this year, pleasingly, my skills have grown to the point at which I can really delineate what I *need* to be working on and what I *don't* need to be working on. Last year, and this year while I was growing my skills, I needed to work on it all. Hell, I just finally got comfortable with my polishing (I know I've gone on about this ad nauseum, but to us jewelers it's a big, big deal) now it's time to turn over the more grunt-work aspects of making to another's hands.

For those of you who don't know, I see the creation of jewelry (at least the creation of the jewelry I'm currently making) as three processes (four, really, but the design process is a whole separate dealio):

1. Fabrication. This may involve, but is not limited to:

- filing, cutting, shaping, sawing, sanding, texturing, marking, bezel making, soldering.

2. Finishing. This is when all the actual fabrication is done and there's no more heat applied to the piece; it's ready for the clean up, or finishing stage:

- filing, sanding, polishing (and more polishing), depletion gilding, tumbling, oxidation, more polishing

3. Stone setting

- Exactly what it says above. But not nearly as simple as it sounds.  :)

And at this point if I want to grow the business and stretch my skills further, I need to have someone else involved in the finishing stage, possibly some of the fabrication stage, and possibly the stone setting stage.

I've been revamping the studio to allow some space for two people to work on jewelry here. Even if I have someone once a week, I think it would totally help. What many people don't realize about art jewelry is that the actual making of the jewelry (the fabrication process) is sometimes only a small part of the end result. There's often a LOT of time spent on cleanup and polishing. And even if you're good (i.e. quick) at the fabrication part, the cleanup and polishing is still going to be a bit of a time suck. So training someone to do that process will free up a good bit of time for me to do more with other aspects of the business.

I'm eager to push on, to expand, to dream even bigger...but for right now, there are still several custom orders awaiting my attention, so back to the work table to make things that will delight several women on Christmas morning.  :)

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