Handmade, With Love

"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
                                                                                      -Carl Sagen

What do you know about where your products come from every day? 
Generally speaking, the less you know about the products you buy, the happier you are.  We have become so accustomed to hearing terrible news about working conditions of factories world-wide that we are suspicious whenever something seems to offer a better solution.

I want to start by letting you know what "Handmade" means in my shop, and to think about how this fits into my view of myself as an artist, and of us all as collaborators.

I make my own earwires, chain links, and clasps. 
I buy the wire, then use small hand tools to clean it, bend it, hammer it, file it, and fashion it into exactly the shape I need for each individual project.  I even resist making "batches" of these items, because I like to adapt and change as I need to.

I design all my own projects.
Okay, it's hard to be completely original every time, but I take special pride in discovering small ways to make my designs unique, or just work better.  Even when I try to use another's idea through a book or advice, the final product is a fusion of my exact choice of wire, beads, and my approach to the work.

Of course, there are things I do not create.
These include the beads and the wire itself. It also includes the commercial chain I use, but since I am now designing my own chain links, I am even using this less.  In the beginning, I did order pre-made titanium earwires, and though very good quality, I have since started making all my own earwires with raw wire. In the beginning, I also relied on commercial clasps, but have relished the opportunity to learn to make my own, also from simple wire. This not only ensures that all my products are truly handmade, it also means I have much more control of the exact materials I am using. Since I promise that all my products are truly nickel free, I consider this necessary to knowing as much as I can about my own products.

I am trying new things all the time.
My trends right now are to work in wire wrapping and chain making. I love to work with glass or stone beads, but I seem to use them more as accents to the wire than as the main event.  I can begin to understand the fascination with chainmaille, but I am also interested in working toward true metal-smithing. There really is much to explore, but I am so happy to be in this world.

I think about the world differently when I am an artist. 
I am fascinated by the wire itself.  I wonder in a new way at the composition of the atoms that make each metal unique. I am calmed by gathering the pieces for a new pattern, and taming them into a comprehensible design. It helps me focus on the small parts of my day in other ways too - enjoying each moment for what it is, and not worry so much about what it is not.  I do not entirely understand what good the art does for me, but I have taken the risk of not needing to know. I do know it gives me new expression, and brings me back to my creative center.

So think about it: What do you want to wear? 
Even though the cost of handmade, small scale merchandise may cost a little more in dollars, you gain so much more.  For one thing, you make it possible for a artist / small business person to continue his or her work, and you have an item which is as one-of-a-kind as it gets. This is not at the expense of a factory worker or third-world laborer who is caught in a bad system not of their own making, but it is part of a cycle that can be truly self-sustaining. It can put the buyer and the artisan on the same page with the same goals - to bring some humanity back to the marketplace.


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