Wednesday, November 12, 2008
On Tuesday I received an email from someone I didn't know who had seen my jewelry in my online shop on Etsy. She wrote that she found my work inspiring and that she wished she lived closer to me so that she could learn from me.
That was really amazing to receive. And it was very humbling. (I mean, did she really write the email to the right person???)
You see, I've only been making jewelry for a short while, and only in the past year I've been able to devote significant time into it.
Most of my techniques been self-learned and, therefore, as you can imagine, a lot of trial and error has gone into my designs. But, then again, it's amazing how many designs just seem to create themselves. It's almost like I'm just the medium for them to come through.
I opened my Etsy shop about a year ago. My husband was concerned that my hobby was getting out of hand and that I was spending too much money on it. So I thought that if I could sell a few things, I could use the money toward my hobby. I already knew about Etsy, a website that only sells handmade items and supplies, and thought I should give it a try.
I opened my shop and soon my jewelry started to sell. In fact, sales were better than I ever expected and I've used a lot of the profits to buy tools and materials that I would otherwise never have afforded. With these tools, I had the opportunity to learned new techniques. When it comes down to it, Etsy has had a direct positive impact on my craft and also on my life.
The kindly e-mail I received made me reflect on where I had been a year ago. There's been so many new things I've learned ! I decided to make a list and share it with you. (With most of the items on this list, I've tried to hotlink a related article for you to read about further if you're interested.)
So let me begin. In no particular order, a year ago I didn't know how to:
- Blog. I didn't have a blog and didn't know how to set one up. I didn't even know about blogger.com or other blogging sites. Since then I've learned enough to be confident to share tips and hints. Hey, and I can even use html. (OK. Maybe just a little.)
- Use the macro setting on my camera. Yes, I really only recently discovered it and it has made all the difference in my jewelry photograpy ! I've even written tutorials about it on this blog.
- Make a light box and use it effectively. (Or even know exactly what a lightbox is.)
- Edit photos with a photo-editing program. This includes learning about cropping, using the proper light balance and exposure, etc.
- Make my own headpins and jump rings. I hate to admit it, but I didn't even feel comfortable closing a jump ring properly. But I learned how they can be used to make simple chains ! And then I learned to make fancy links for more elaborate chains.
- Make my own earwires instead of buying them, so that they would be a part of the integral design of a pair of earrings. (I think this adds a special touch and give earrings a custom look.)
- Wire-wrap briolettes -and even create a tutorial on how to do it! (This has been one of my most popular posts.)
- Market myself and my jewelry through the internet. Before this, I never had an account on Flickr or even looked at a classified listing on Craigslist, let alone post on it. (If you're interested, I wrote about my experiences promoting on etsy and also promoting outside of it. )
- Make post earringsor hoops with posts.
- Develop skill at handforging silver, a fancy name for hammering metals. (Which, by the way, is very satisfying after a long day at work or after dealing with two teenagers.)
- Except for simple loops, know how to do wirework, for example,
- Oxidize silver and polish it to create an antiqued look. (And here's a link on how to do it using eggs.)
- Solder (a HUGE accomplishement for me) and be able to Bezel-set stones to make pendants or rings
- Polish metals using sandpaper, a rock tumbler, or a polishing wheel. (The rock tumbling story is one of my favorites. It definitely falls in the TRIAL and ERROR category.)
- Use a gas grill to make jewelry. (This story is almost as good as the one about the rock tumbler.)
- make clasps for necklaces or bracelets
- Use a ring mandrel and make a wire wrapped ring
Now that I've had an opportunity to look back on what I've learned in the past year, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I also look forward to what the next year will bring and feel excited that I might learn even more.
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