The Art of Living by Making Art

Jewellery inspired by nature and made by hand.
How I make it, why I make it, the challenges I face and the successes that come my way.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chasing Bears

Black bear in a tree in our yard

My neighbour went away for three weeks leaving me to look after the fruit trees in her yard. Consequently I have spent the last three weeks chasing bears. We have quite a large population of black bears in our area and September is the month when they wander into town foraging for food before they hibernate. They LOVE fruit trees! These animals are beautiful to look at, when their fur catches the sunlight it gleams, and despite their name they come in all shades of brown from reddish cinnamon, through chestnut tan , chocolate, and black.
Anyone who grows fruit knows it is a toss up between leaving the fruit on the tree until it is ripe enought to eat and risking a broken tree or picking the fruit early and finding it to be useless because it is underripe. Sometimes you get both - the bears will climb the tree to get a few plums or pears and a young tree or a brittle old one will break under their weight. So I have been over at my neighbours' everyday surveying the damage, dragging broken limbs away and picking underripe fruit, hoping the bear is not creeping up behind me!
In spite of all this stress I have completed a recent challenging commission. So I am patting myself on the back today because firstly my neighbour got home and didn't grumble about broken trees only thanked me for looking after them, and secondly my customer came to pick up the ring and said she loved it. Phew!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Ring in 18k white and yellow gold with pink sapphire

I'm currently working on a ring commission at the moment using the customers old gold jewellery to melt down and the stones that were in these old pieces of jewellery. With gold so expensive now I find a lot of people are digging into their jewellery boxes and finding things they want re-vamped. I genuinely like doing commissions especially more complex ones but there are things about the work that make me anxious and I find myself procrastinating a little when I should be concentrating and trying to figure out exactly how to do a piece especially when the design is forcing me to do something I wouldn't normally choose to do.

What makes me anxious?

When I can't get hold of the customer, they don't return calls or emails and I am left wondering.
When I meet with the customer for the first time at my house - I use my kitchen to meet in as it has the best light. No one has openly said that it is strange yet, and it does make me clean the kitchen extra well.
When I have to give them the quote - someone in business once told me that if you don't have anyone saying "Oh that's too expensive" then your prices are too low.
When I have to guestimate how much gold I need for a piece.
When I have to decide on placement of stones especially if the design calls for a random look.
When I'm making a bezel for a stone that isn't round or oval.
When I am sizing the shank of a ring - I want it to fit perfectly at all times and I know this isn't possible.

In short - most of the time. I do enough ring commissions that I feel okay accepting them but not enough that I feel super comfortable with every situation. They are a good source of income in my business though and things have started picking up after a year or so of slim pickings. I have balked at the idea of promoting ring commissions on my website though because I find doing long distance work is more fraught with customer complications than working with someone I can physically meet. I'd like to hear from anyone who does though, perhaps they could give me some tips.