Friday, May 4, 2012

Take What You Love…And Beat It to Death

My dearest readers, I have a long list of "typical" blog topics, and this is not one of them.  Tonight, as I entertained myself into the wee hours of the morning (when normal people sleep), I was looking through some “old” photographs.  If you follow my blog, you may think I am referring to some antique photos.  Sadly, that is not the case.  I was looking through old photos of my jewelry.  Talk about a wake-up call.

The photos I speak of are about three years old.  Let me share some with you:

These were pieces of jewelry that were created out of love.  Pieces that were created out of passion.  You can tell just by looking at them.  As I digitally flipped through them, I felt like I had been knocked upside the head.  What happened?  Where did this go wrong?

I first got into making jewelry almost by accident.  I purchased some loose stones with the intention of having a jeweler set one or two of them.  As I researched what to do with them, I ran across an artisan jewelry gallery that also offered lessons.  Aha!  Why have a jeweler set the stones when I could learn how to do it myself?  I intended on taking the six lessons I purchased, make a piece of jewelry or two, and be done with.

My husband had business to attend to in the same area of town at the same time as my first jewelry lesson, so we carpooled.    When he returned to pick me up, his first comment was “WOW! The smile on your face was worth the price of admission.  I haven’t seen you smile like that in a long time."  I was having a lot of fun.  In three short hours I had almost made my first ring.
 Picture of my first ring

 What started as six lessons turned into six months.  As lessons progressed, I became irritated at spending precious class time sanding, filing, or some other simple task when I could be learning.  So I bought a few tools.  Anyone who knows me personally knows I don’t do anything half way.  A few simple small tools  turned into bigger not-so-simple tools.  I originally started work on an old store bought television stand that had been moved out to the garage a few years earlier.  
 The original "studio"

Like Tribbles, the tools began to multiply (What?  You don’t know what a Tribble is?  Get off my blog!  Just kidding, educate yourself at .  And yes, my nerd is showing).  The Tribbles, I mean tools, needed more space.  So what does my husband do?  He builds me a studio.
 The studio that actually looks like an artist's studio

I used to go out to my studio for HOURS and create.  I could lose entire weekends out there.  Friends noticed my jewelry.  They asked if I could make them a piece.  I am an American.  I am a good capitalist - of course I can make you jewelry!  Enter my business, Chrysalis Jewelry.

Chrysalis remained a side business until a few months ago.  I became very ill with what is suspected to be an autoimmune disorder that doctors have yet to conclusively identify (should you want the blow-by-blow on that, here is a link to my past blog where I detail my experience to date: ).  After I lost my job, I began to focus on my business full time.  It seemed like a good solution.  I could work for myself, working when I felt well.  However, in order to “succeed”, people had to know I was out there.  One quick way to let people know I sell jewelry was to open an Etsy store (feel free to shop at ).  An Etsy store by itself really doesn’t do any good.  One must use as much social media as one can.  So I did.

Somewhere in all of this, I lost focus.  I felt I needed to produce.  To get a lot of items in my Etsy store so people could buy them.  I think this is where I went wrong.  I am a jewelry artist.  I need to focus on creativity, not mass production.  I need to create beauty.  I need to create wearable art.
It’s so classic; I see that now.  Take something you love and beat the tarnation out of it until it no longer resembles what you started with.  Spend so much time doing it, you end up seeing it as a job, not a privilege.  Dear Reader, I’ve had my wake up call.  I need to refocus and recenter.  I need to let the creative process take its natural course.  If people buy it, great.  If not, I will know I’ve done my best.

Until tomorrow – Melissa

PS – Should you want to buy a piece or two and support an artist, here is the address for my Etsy address again: .  ;)

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely know what a Tribble is! :)

    Oh, I've been where you are. I used to write a lot of fiction, and the things I wrote before I treated writing like a job were so much freer.

    You're making the right move focusing on creativity instead of production. When someone falls in love with a piece of jewelry, that's it -- she tends not to care about price so much. Better to create pieces that people will love as much as you do and charge a little more for them.

    I like all your work, but those early pieces really do speak to me. I can tell how much you enjoyed making them. :)