Rocking and Money-Talking

Lookit these crazy fuckers. They're flat on top, they called for hats of some kind. I came up with a wild soldering plan. I went to wash them to make sure they were clean for some adhesive copper foil sheeting and my hands turned bright pink. Realizing the dye had just been dropped on them and left there, I scrubbed them with an old toothbrush until the suds turned white. Much later, when I went to wash off the flux and rinse the oxidizing, the pink came back. Oh well. Whoever made these also basically glued a bunch of glitter all over them too. Ah, patroness....
I found some plain domes on etsy. I pierced them and them discovered I liked the effect of banging the awl into them from beneath. A bit more work but I thought I'd regret it if I didn't. Then I remembered solder would cover everything and felt like an idiot.

I'm rough-cutting the flashing and starting to place it. It's gonna proly be a mess since you cant really burnish it onto that bumpy, grainy surface.

Over that a ring to form the brim of the "hat," then the dome.

Then some wrapping to hopefully hold everything in place.

Nothing would center, as you see here, because these brass hoops were too big inside. Why didn't I just get solid discs and just puncture the center? Cuz I'm an idiot.

Then I thought if I added a few more discs, the disc holes will be covered and everything would be more snug. Plus the brim would be more substantial.

Then I had to cut off the wires I'd already wrapped to add more discs and it was a big mess and nothing would stay in place. I even put a thick copper wire tucked under the brim to try to keep things in place. By now I', pretty convinced nothing's going to work.
 So I turn the iron way up, douse the things with flux and it works like I charm. 

I rock these out like a boss. The bumps even show!

 So these are before sanding and washing, though I wiped off the flux with a damp cloth.
 After washing and dremeling to get the big glops of solder off the brim. Here they remind me somewhat of WWI helmets. The copper foil underneath is a mess still.
Now I go in with the ox. It's camouflaging the underneath.

Also when I demeled, I filed off a lot of the wonky wrap. Now it's just an odd stick...

At least this one's lower. And the bumps! I also soldered a bunch of double-drilled Roman glass because wire-wrapping it was taking forever. It was soooo much easier! Why have I been putting off soldering for so long? I think the torch traumatized me. Now I just have to think of what the heck to do with these little aliens. At least I'm glad I rocked the soldering part.
I was also inspired to bust out my UTEE for some headpins, seeing as how I'd run out of copper and black ball ones. Seeing Taralinda's results had me itching to pick up the heat gun. 
The whites were made with embossing powder- molten utee, then roll it in a mix of white and gold embossing powder, then heat gun. The others were molten utee, then dip in perfect pearls, then heat gun. I may have spent all day on it.

So I made some dangles with no real idea what they'll be incorporated into. The swirlies are lampwork, the others are vintage lucite I just got. Ususally vintage lucite looks like poop, but I really like these doughnuts. The silver barrels were a freebie. From.

I also recently squealed in my chair when I saw my girl beatnheart was selling her handmade poly pods, so I had to get me a bunch. While I was making the above dangles I thought to used some with these oversized, big-hole lucites. And sure, there's waaaay too much happening here and I have to remove the coins and those goofy bead caps but stay focused!

I just can't say enough about these lovely bits she made! They are the perfect shape, the perfect size, the perfect balance, heft, length. They are not this-is-gonna-be-a-challenge-to-incorporate, they are more damn-did-I-use-them-up-already? 
Look at the size of that wire!
So if we look again at where I was using them, we see the whole length and all that wrapping was the one piece. And the shape of the pod was able to perfectly accommodate the oversized lucite hole and the regular size other bead holes.

Not only is it a pleasure to see a friend and blog follower expand to new things, seeing for my own eyes the care she put in and artistry she achieved... I'm just thrilled! No, seriously, I'm sticking by that exclamation point. How are all my virtual friends all so awesome?

COMPLETELY CHANGING GEARS----------------------------------------------------------------------

Fight Poverty WORK  - Vintage Patch AppliqueAll the pricing posts coming from Sparrow of late have me thinking. Where did I get my attitudes from? Am I good with them or should they be re-analyzed? Why do I love the thought of living as an artist but hate pricing so much? Reminds me so of loving to be a teacher but hating to grade. It's like where you have to make this black/white quantitative decision. We artists don't like quantitative.
In her most recent post, Sparrow quoted a letter sent to her from Desert Talismans. The part that knocked me over: "Remember that money is just a form of energy, neither good nor bad, and sometimes you just have to unplug from the mass-consciousness attitudes toward it." 

I have so much psychological baggage relating to money, I don't even know where to start. I was brought up by ex-socialist immigrants who were hugely critical of this country for all the stuff people had, saying "consumerism" and "materialistic" like curse words. (And I was ridiculously literal-minded. If they said, "Appearance doesn't matter," I took it to mean I could wander outside in my underwear because everyone knows appearance doesn't matter.) Later, I realized everyone in our country of origin was just as materialistic as anyone here, there's just a lot less
3362587418_929e43ff8b_ostuff available in poor countries, duh. Also, I realized that when it came to stuff my parents liked and could see the value of, like a vacation home on a lake, they had no problem treating themselves lavishly. While I agree in the case of items that serve purely as status-symbols, I realize a lot of their disdain for, say, clothes or jewelry, was that they simply weren't visually oriented and couldn't comprehend aesthetics. Anything to do with appearance was SHALLOW and absolutely unquestionably WRONG. Basically, it was a misunderstanding on their part. Ignorance that they sort of righteously embraced and that I didn't recognize because before medication, my logic was slow as hell or non-existent. God knows there are far worse crimes, and they aren't like that any more. However the inculcation is still in effect every time I blush telling people that I make jewelry for a living, and every time I feel a little superior for dressing like a tomboy or not having, say, a fashion board on pinterest. 

This is one reason I was so confused when my dad started following my shop obsessively, checking my items, descriptions, sales, and blog posts on a daily basis. My dad who I'd never even talked to about my makies (and see the belittling way I call it "makies" instead of "art?") because I'd assumed he'd say something scathing and consider it a waste of space. Now I hear from Mom that he tells his scientist colleges about my shop and shows it to them and it's like I can't wrap my brain around that. 

My mom's another interesting case. Suffice it to say that she enters a store as if she's going into battle. Anything priced reasonably is an affront, an attempt by the shop owners to maliciously steal from her. If she accidentally walks out with an un-scanned item she gives a whoop of victory. And let me tell you my parents are annoyingly ethical, bash-you-over-the-head-with-their-morals types. So how shocked was I when I'd go. "Oh I listed these earrings for $X(much higher than you'll ever see in Target) and they sold!" and Mom would instantly go, "Well, you didn't charge enough!" The 1st time it left me slack-jawed. Another time she might say, "With all that work, you should charge twice as much!" But... aren't hundred dollar necklaces immoral? While children are starving in Africa? 

(via dpaf:video)
Grow up baby!
In any case, these things don't matter. I'm turning 39 this month for crying out loud. Mom and Dad are super supportive of me and have over the years developed much more nuanced views. I have fantastic relationships with both of them. But it's not about them, it's about all the values that were so deeply instilled in me throughout my childhood and adolescence. For example, I have at times considered switching to sterling as my go-to, especially when it comes to ear wires and smaller items. However, the thought of being one of those people, one of the it's-better-because-its-facy people... I guess I still think that person would be an immoral wank. The thought of spending that money and living in that price bracket... Every instinct screams out against it. 
What do you guys think of sterling? Would it make me a wanker? 

Another wise lady that knocked me sideways is shipwreckdandy. In her comments on this post, she writes in part: "I went through the pangs of pricing/value when I started doing bodywork independently full time in 1999. I can't even begin to describe what a huge issue money/value is within that field. It's tied to big issues like healing, self, spirit, energy, etc., so it is very loaded, and very personal. On the industrial and practitioner side, there's a generally positive idea about charging 'more' and 'high value.' It comes with a backlash, though. Because the root of it is business and marketing, literally engineered by the massage schools drilling this love and light notion in. People align with it and extend it into the work because it makes sense and leads to more money--and because it is generally correct. But there is an attachment that comes along with it because it's largely unquestioned or deconstructed. It forms an equation based in good vs. bad and right vs. wrong. If you charge more, you are right. If you charge less, you are wrong. There's not a lot in between. " 
So much to process in that paragraph. The fact is, people value things more if they pay more for them. This goes directly against my knee-jerk sense that high price = bad, low price = good. But in a way I can't stop seeing myself as the girl with no money pining after a beautiful item she can't or shouldn't afford. At those times, it always felt like the seller was being purposefully cruel and ... I don't want to be that cruel seller. When someone I've grown fond of over etsy mentions struggling to save up for their next piece from me, I always want to say, "Don't do that! It's just a necklace, you need to save for retirement." Or just give it to them. And while I've been told I'm generous by sharing ideas and techniques, that costs me nothing. And as a result of my making and blogging style, people I don't even know mail me all kinds of amazing supplies! My form of "generous" benefits me more than anyone, it feels like. And no, I don't think about price when I make stuff. It's when I have to list it that shit gets painful. 
But I'm getting there, day by day. One positive step has been some recent more expensive items I've listed. Come to find that there's no better way to sell stuff that's been sitting around the shop for a long time than to list new items at much higher prices! Yay.


Beatnheart said...

Hey I'm practically crying over here...thank you for the praise...and using those pods in such a clever way...that was my intention...a long wire to get the whole job done in one shot...of course now my wires have gotten shorter due to the fact I couldn't fit them in the envelopes...guess now I'll Have to go back to the long ones...anywhoits ...thanks heaps...

The money stuff...always a bother...making beads now..well really takes time to do it right...lots more time ...what do you charge for that...again i compare...I can't charge what Greybird charges...or Robyn or Kim...they use "real clay"...kilns...fire! But the time and effort involved is probably the same amount...maybe even more sometimes cause you can go back and "fix" things ie. start over again easier...so...

IThink Penny has found her calling (well another calling) cause these posts are so good...have me thinking for days...

sue garrard said...

Both you and Sparrow make such salient points. I too find pricing conflicting... My "oh so much smarter than me" daughter says helps out by reminding me to value what I make as much as she does. She also points out that underpricing does a disservice to every artist out there! As for sterling - well I work in predominately reclaimed and recycled materials and I really like sterling for ear hooks and clasps. I make em myself and buy recycled sterling wire from a reputable dealer. It is kinda a must for the shops and gallery I supply ... Do what you do hon - it is certainly working! x sue

Sharon Driscoll said...

Another thing you could have done to steady those discs is to use your plumbers epoxy in the center of them. I've seen people do that in thin metalwork where they want the inside to be stable. But you sure did come up with a cool solution...very cleaver.

La Fileuse said...

As a handmade work customer, I would like to share my thoughts. I'm not surprised or shocked by high prices. But my interest stops when my brain (or my pocket) says : "Wait, this is luxury ! I don't belong to this world !" After calming myself down, if I start to think about it more seriously, sometimes I say : "I deserve it too". And buying an expensive item makes me feel really happy and proud. That's like special food for my self-esteem, my identity and my beauty (I'm not beautiful, but who cares...). To be sure I won't regret it, I always take a good look at how it's done and if it's ready for durability. Handmade shops I love are those with low-priced AND high-priced items, thus I can first buy something "cheap", build confidence with the buyer and her art (most of you are girls !) and, afterwards, drool over the more expensive items.
So, Fanci, just keep going ! ;)

La Fileuse said...

Oh ! I noticed I wrote something crazy : "... build confidence with the seller (not the buyer, of course, silly me) and her art ..." Sooooo sorry for the mistake !

Sparrow said...

Oh man I have sooooo many things to say... about how us artists are by-and-large a completely different animal to our customer, about how the general public don't know what goes into a handmade item... My childhood taught me conflicting things- on the one hand, no one ever talked about jobs or employment to me, dad and his brothers all loved their jobs so I never saw that 'i hate it but i need the money' thing so many people have now. I thought the government gave you money to live because i was only taught the value of a dollar when i started getting education allowance (here in Aus the g'mnt pay you to go to school once you hit 14, to prevent kids from having to leave school for work). I JUST BLEW YOUR MIND. I was taught (accidentally) that creativity comes naturally to everyone so I didn't see it as any big thing that people would pay for. Add to THAT my mother taught me (again by accident) that luxury and living well showed your value as a person. She dressed up to leave the house and we never had ONE dinner party or barbeque because she was always saying 'the house isn't nice enough' even though it was the nicest house of all my friends. Some of them though had great big brand new ranches, so we weren't top of the pile and mum couldn't handle that.
So I was sent into the world thinking if you look rich, you're doing it right- that money will just happen, and that every single person in the world is as creative as me so my skills ain't worth shit.

It's been a loooooooong and hard earned re-education. Now I'm forcing it on everyone else!

And sterling doesn't make you a wanker! It's just one of the easiest ways to have people recognize quality. I mean if our stuff was made of tin and paper it's still worth more than sterling produced in a factory, but there's no need to set our lives to hard mode all the time. I'm in the process of saving up for sterling AND gold!! Retirement can wait.

richelle said...

I want to comment about the money thing a bit more but I feel like I'm going to ramble. I'm thinking I'll write a post about it.

I'm not understanding what the purple things are in the first picture. Maybe they're pink. But they give me chills and make my teeth hurt for some reason. I look at them and I just get the idea that I am chewing kleenex. I feel like it's something you'd get at Pier 1 in 1975 in a little basket next to sand dollars. What the hell is it?

Star of the East said...

Please forgive me, but what are those purple blobs? Despite all your good efforts, they still look to me like cat barf.

What brings me to the question of the materials used. Of course you are not a wanker if you use silver!

In fact,I associate metals and stones, that are durable and have an intrinsic beauty, more with jewelry than paper, paint or plumbers putty.
Not that you can't make gorgeous things with them, you do, indeed. But jewelry is never a primary need, so why limit it to the most humble materials?

Lucie said...

I'm using silver and it wasn't easy to overcome my reluctance, whenever I can use aluminum or another metal I do. I tried to find recycled silver that doesn't come directly from the mines, I mean there is much material already out there but I haven't found one yet in France so I recycle my own trials and errors, I buy and recycle some vintage silver jewelry... that is my way of dealing with my scruples. My forbidden fields are more about precious gemstones and antique beads coming from Afghanistan, Africa or archeological digs...it comes directly from the history of my family and my education too... I guess we all have our scruples and our own way to deal with them. And I must say that once you've worked with silver, its proprieties are pure bliss.
Another thing I wanted to say, it's an evidence, but let's say it altogether, the materials are one of the many ingredients of a work of art or piece of jewelry, for me the originality of an artisan - and hence the worth of the item - is more in the way she/he uses the materials.

martinisfor2 said...

You have turned those wonky purple/pink thingees into Cinderella at the Ball with your inventive bead cap tute. I would love to live in your head for a day.

Your latest utee head pins are fantastic as well as your use of Beatnheart's pods. I have to emerge from my cocoon and learn new things.

I use sterling silver occasionally if the piece requires it. I also like creating my own when I can.

My eyes are still leaking over the kitten. We have two newbies and they are so fun to watch.