1 Aug 2011

A leisurely approach proved very productive

I think the aspect of being an on-line sole trader jewellery maker that troubles me most, is finding the time to do everything that’s necessary, properly. I never come close to doing everything I plan for any given week.

When you do everything yourself from designing, making, managing web sites and selling venues, marketing, photographing, packing orders and speaking directly to customers – there are just never enough hours in the day and the luxury of time to just tinker with design ideas and new pieces is somewhat limited. Yet I’m also mindful that constantly developing my skills is essential too, so pushing myself with new ideas is actually a necessity.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.
One of my favourite spots at Beacon Fell. I’ve photographed this scene many times and have never quite yet captured the shot the way I want to. You walk through a very dark corridor of trees and on sunny days, the clearing at the end of the path positively glows as a beacon through the darkness.

Last weekend, we decided to just turn our backs on the long list of chores and took ourselves out for the day, got some fresh air, had a walk and a picnic and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so, that we planned the same for this weekend, but on Saturday we felt it was a little too hot for the walk we’d panned (and we couldn’t go too far as he was on-call) and decided instead to just potter in the garden. We got our planned walk when it was a little cooler on Sunday.

Some dramatic lighting when the clouds broke after a dark dull spell during our evening walk earlier in the week.

We don’t seem to have been able to enjoy eating in the garden as often in recent years, the weather has never seemingly been suitable on days we’re about and we’ve really missed the luxury of a leisurely breakfast al fresco, something we both really enjoy and value. So we started the weekend as we meant to go on. We did have to laugh however, our quiet slow-paced peaceful breakfast outside was accompanied by the most enormous cacophony of sounds – lots of coming and going and car doors slamming, someone had a chainsaw going, some workmen were up ladders and shouting to each other, an alarm had been set off, even the weekend steam train passing blew it’s whistle several times. So whilst it was enjoyable, it wasn’t that peaceful.

Chunky molten Sterling silver drops. I decided for security (due to the weight of the pebble) to spiral the earwire at the back and make a decorative feature of it too.

So having decided to stay at home and just potter, once the essential chores had been done, he set about finishing his book and I wanted to work on some ideas I’d had for myself – much of which I could plan and work on in the garden.

I had intended to polish the molten pebbles of silver very smooth, but once pickled, it was clear that they had the beginnings of a reticulated surface and I rather liked the tiny ripples, so only polished for shine, not to smooth them too far.

As I have long and messy (dragged through a hedge backwards my mother calls it) hair, wear glasses and often walk wearing ear buds with my MP3 player, adding dangly fiddly earrings to the mix does have the potential for painful entanglement. So for a while I’d been planning on making myself some plain studs from molten nuggets of Sterling silver. As I’d used the best of my stash of molten nuggets on recent pieces, I was due to make some more for stock anyway.

I made the largest of the nuggets into plain studs, also leaving the slightly reticulated surface in place. These pebbles are 9mm (0.35″) in diameter, so a decent weight and size.

But as is often the case, my mind took on a journey of its own and I ended up working rather differently than my initial thoughts and I think the results are all the better for it. I made myself a pair of molten nugget drops in the end, I decided that they suited me better slightly dropped below my earlobe and then made another slightly larger pair to sell, as well as a large pair of plain studs.

The fruits of my leisurely afternoon in the garden – the smaller back pair are for me and the other two pairs to sell.

I also had an idea for a customer order who wanted big chunky wraps above the faceted labradorite beads she’d chosen, which called for me to abandon my leaning towards really tightly controlled work and wrap them somewhat more loosely than my usual style. I liked the results and made another pair to sell too.

Faceted Labradorite with chunky triple wrapped tops in Sterling silver.

So having set out to spend the time leisurely in the garden, I actually had a very productive (and most enjoyable) afternoon – much more so than if I’d sat down with work I had to get done. And I’ve always felt that when you enjoy making something, it shows in the work; pieces made under pressure or sufferance are rarely your best work. Perhaps I need to decide not to do anything more often.

I also got on a roll in the evening with photographing recent pieces and made a nice big dent in my backlog, including the rosebud knot earrings to match recently blogged pendants, a finished bracelet that I’d totally overlooked and a darkly oxidised variant of a stock bracelet I usually sell in a slightly lighter ‘antiqued’ finish. Now I need to sit down and write descriptive text for 11 new items to list for sale! Wish me luck.

For some reason, I’d made this bracelet some time ago, but it had been overlooked in my ‘backlog waiting to be photographed’ box. This is a finer more delicate version of the ones I’ve previously shown. 

Two different designs of rosebud knot teardrop earrings to match my earlier pendant design – I wasn’t sure which approach I preferred, so finished both pairs.
Whilst re-making this design that I usually aim to keep in stock, I oxidised one version darker than the antiqued finish I normally offer it in, so will add this as an alternative finish.