From time to time I have had to perform a purge-and-remake operation on my work. Usually it is because of metal. This time, I have just replaced the chain component of four long necklaces. Before I am through with this purge, I will undoubtedly have to replace more chain on more pieces, and retake product photos, etc. Tiresome.
In the early days, I used to make jewelry using plated brass headpins and brass wire, which looked OK at first, but soon revealed their crappy pedigree, as a cycle began of seeing the metal dull; dipping/polishing it; few shows going by with the metal looking presentable, then watching the metal turn dull again. Furthermore, I have a skin pH like the blood of the creature in Alien I, capable of quickly wrecking brass and gold plating. One weekend, I bought gold-filled headpins and wire, and summarily put all my inventory to the sword. I re-made my inventory with gold-filled parts. Peace in the kingdom.
So life jogged along for awhile, but fashions changed and soon I wanted metal components other than wire or head pins. In those days gold-filled beads and charms were expensive or boring if one could even find them. Bali and Indian silver beads took care of silver, but I have always had a fatal bias towards gold. Retreat wasn’t an option: years ago a bead dealer told me that glass beads without some metal in the design look ‘insignificant’. (Still true: bead jewelry needs metal elements, or it doesn’t look valuable enough, I find).
I found art wire: copper wire, sometimes plated in silver but always coated in a nylon-based enamel so that it doesn’t tarnish. No longer would my singularly acid pH skin destroy metal finishes or my metal-sensitive customers have problems. Also: art wire offers permanent colors other than gold or silver. Links made of wire provide the glint of metal that glass beads need. Yay! I was happy.
Fashion struck again, with chains and necklaces de rigueur much longer than were practical to make all in links.. I found some plated mystery metal chain that looked a little thin but passable (I thought), and made a series of long necklaces. However, soon the chain on my favorite green and yellow Czech glass bead necklace fell victim to my Alien-blood-like skin pH, losing its shine and even its gold color.
I didn’t take action on the four necklaces in stock that I didn’t wear almost daily, reasoning that very few people in my customer base have my unremitting skin acidity.
(Note: The four necklaces hadn’t sold. I have come to believe that the hive mind of customers is subconsciously, but infallibly aware of latent design or structural flaws). I am lucky to have two jewelry-making friends whose judgment I trust; we critique one another’s work. The friend who cares deeply about chain complained repeatedly of the chain that I used. She said it looked ‘cheap’.
One has to bite the bullet sometimes. I replaced the offending chain with a sturdier variety. Maybe its finish as well as its links are more robust than that earlier, puny, chain. We’ll see how it does. Metal, faugh.
Thank goodness glass is less trouble, unless I run over it with my car or something. In the end, it’s all about the beads.