Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Best Client


Why is your best client your best client?

For me, and I suspect, for most artists, it isn't wholly about the amount of revenue they represent. I think that it ends up being true that they are your biggest buyers, but I think that's a result of their being your "best client" rather than the cause. Let me explain.

I met my best client while I was working at a local bead and yarn store. Among other things, I made a lot of the jewelry samples for sale in the store and did the jewelry repairs that came in. What I've loved about Marina from the beginning was that, simply, she believed in me. She would bring in a stone and say I want you to make something with this. I need it for event X. She would ask me to do jewelry repairs - things with a strand-full of Tahitian pearls and 14K gold. For me, being given the opportunity to work with such beautiful materials was an inspiration all on its own. I'm not going to say I'd have done it for free - I have a little boy to feed - but to be making money, a significant amount of it, doing something I truly lovee and wasn't just a routine chore is a magnificent motivator I can never truly repay.

When you're challenged, when you're motivated, you make magnificent jewelry! Who wouldn't want to buy that?

Just before the Bead Bash, and before the epic illness I've been whining about, she gave me a new order. I'm embarassed to say that she ended up having to e-mail me to see if aliens had abducted me. Fortunately I'd finished everything but one part, and I get to give her jewels back today.

Marina's Earrings

When Marina gave me these earrings they had a medallion at the top with post earrings - one of which that broke - at the top, a stylized monkey in the middle, and this stylized figure on the bottom. She just wanted to keep the bottom with a new earrings finding. What I love is that Marina doesn't (usually) say, "do whatever's cheapest," she says, "do whatever's best," both aesthetically and in value. I knew that I wanted to use lever back earrings because of their security and relative value, and I wanted them to have a brass disc like on the earring it would hold. Needless to say, I couldn't find any ready-made findings that fit the bill. This ended up being the project I left until last because I knew, simple as it would appear, getting those discs onto that fine silver earring finding would be tricky. I cut some brass discs, dapped them, soldered a jump ring inside and, after removing the hinge and tension spring, soldered them onto the earring finding, then re-riveted the hook and closure back together

Marina's Rings

Marina gave me the ring on the left and said she needed two rings: one (like it is now) with one less wrap and the same size that it was, and one (like the ring on the right) with the same number of coils but a half size bigger. I cut the existing sterling silver ring and carefully balled up the end, filed off the pitting, shaped the new end, and set it in the tumbler with stainless steel shot to harden and polish it. The new ring was made out of 14 gauge (g) fine silver to make balling the ends easier. I measured the original ring at 14g but it must have been a thin 12 gauge, because the new wire was a very thin 14g and was visually different - grrr. It was also set in the tumbler to polish and harden it.

Marina's Tahitian Pearl Bracelet

It's projects like this one that make me dance with joy. Genuine Tahitian pearls that she gets when she visits, yes, Tahiti. That clasp is just stunning. The silk had worn through and needed to be retied. The attached end caps have tie bars inside that you string the silk around so you can pull it snugly against the pearl. That was a sexy feature that I haven't used in my work before ... but will now.

Partly because she had to wait, and partly as a thank-you for her generous patronage, I made her a simple gift. She has a cabin on Lake Superior, so I thought she'd like the water-and-wave-like theme. The small gemstone cluster accent has topaz-colored tourmaline, iolite, and blue sapphire. I included a sterling makers tag on the back of the cluster.

Lampwork Pendant with Gemstone Fringe

I hope she likes it! Is it totally selfish to hope her friends like it, too?

Thank so much for checking in! What are you working on?
Julie


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