Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Time versus Money in Jewelry Making

As allot of you know, I have started working with annealed steel wire and I love the product.  It is inexpensive and extremely easy to work with.  If you make a mistake, you can fix it, unlike most metal wires that we, as jewelry artisans, normally work with.  Forgivable goes a long way in my book - especially when I am saving major time by rescuing a piece that I have put allot of effort into already.  

I have made many necklaces with the industrial look of the steel wire combined with both Swarovski  crystal and  or freshwater pearls.  I love the combination of these two opposites - it really meets my esthetic.  My pearl and steel necklace is in my Artfire shop and every time that I make one, they seem to sell.  I keep making them because I want one for me...but I can't get upset because they are selling...
I really do think that this is a great look.  It's funny though, I have two retail shops that sell my jewelry and they will not touch the steel.  One owner doesn't like the color of the steel and the other one feels that the pieces belong in a gallery, not a retail location.  The shops that do carry it, sell it consistantly...life really is a crap shoot, isn't it??

In any case - back to the reason for this blog.  I have been wanting to make a couple of very dark, almost black, necklaces out of the steel for me.  I worked on them this weekend and they came out even better than I expected. As soon as I get some pictures taken, I will insert them here.

Remember - I promised the pictures and here they are - unfortunately they are not the cropped, fixed pictures. But, as confirmed techno-tard, I have to be happy that I am able to upload a picture, something I couldn't have done about a year ago.
 I said to my husband that much as I liked them, I'd never be able to sell them - it took me almost 3 full days to make these 2 necklaces.  He thought that was my learning curve and any more that I made could be done faster - I said no, it's just that they are very labor intensive.  These are simple link necklaces, one with large links and one with medium large links and they are connected with fairly small jump rings.  Each piece is hand forged. Each ring is hand filed, even if I do use the dremel for the initial clean up.  I did wrap each joint on the large and medium link with fine wire because I don't solder and they were too flexible just left alone.  They needed something and the fine wire wrapping filled that need - and I did add a few very small Swarovskis to the wraps on the large chain as eye candy. Both of these were minimally cleaned, to keep them black, and waxed so they wouldn't rust.  All in all, allot of work.

Before we make anything that we intend to sell, we need to assess the old time versus money equation.  Is the piece going to be so expensive to make, that no one is going to be able or willing to pay the price that the piece must command if we intend to sell it.  It's a fine line that we must tread...are we making something to make us money, or are making something to give ourselves pleasure.  Material like steel wire is a great thing to gauge this on, because it is so inexpensive that time is really your only investment...so my advice is to think long and hard as you plan what you are creating, and why you are creating it.

I could conceivably charge $500.00 to $600.00 for these to barely cover my labor costs, but no one is going to pay for them...I could do them in sterling for about the same price, but I don't want them in sterling.  So I am left between a rock and a hard place...I'm just gonna use them as I envisioned them.  Necklaces for Linda, lucky girl. I know that, at some point, someone is going to say..."I love that necklace and I want one, how much does it cost?" At that point I will reassess these points and see what I want to do...and I will report back here.


  1. I do about the same thing with my hand-knit scarves, I have found that no one want's to pay a weeks wage for a single handmade scarf. no matter how pretty. for me I just have decided they are a labor of love and I "sell" them to my friends and acquaintances for a mere $20. Really good friends might get one for free, as a thank you gift.