Most of you reading this make things, and know the time and skill involved in making something well. But I’m sure most of us are also guilty of looking at the price of a handmade item that is not in our field and being slightly aghast at the price tag, thinking, wow, that’s an awful lot for such a little thing!
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Recently, I had the opportunity to stay with my daughter for a week. We had a lovely time together, and ended up having our own craft week (in addition to going ice-skating!) She is a jewelry artist, and one day I had the privilege of watching her in her studio. She needed to make some more of these cute little not-so-scary skull earrings to send to a gallery, and I saw for the first time all of the steps involved. Keep in mind that even this lengthy list doesn’t include ordering and stocking supplies, or the years of practice it took to develop the skills. So, here we go – all the steps involved in making these little earrings…
- Use hydraulic press to cut multiple shapes from sterling silver sheet
- Trim tab extensions with metal shears
- File edges to remove burrs
- Sand edges and surface
- Stamp skull features – large eye circles, small eye circles, nose, teeth, and skull suture, with each mark placed individually
- File nub off end of surgical steel earposts
- Solder earposts to back of skulls with torch
- Cool and check to see that posts are secure – in this case, one of the ten was a bit loose and needed to be re-done
- Soak in pickle (which is an acid solution) to remove the flux needed for soldering and to remove oxidation caused by heating
- Sand the earposts
- Immerse in liver of sulfer (a stinky antiquing solution used to darken the silver and highlight the features,) rinse and clean with a brass brush; repeat one to four more times to get the desired color
- Sand surface of earrings to remove some of the darkness on the surface from the previous step, but leave it in the indentations
Now the earrings are done! But, before they are ready to sell, there’s more…
- Photograph and edit multiple views of each piece to document, and for displaying online
- Mount on branded display card (business card)
- Package in plastic bag, place in gift box, and decorate gift box
- Upload to websites and write descriptions
- Communicate with potential customers
- After a sale, print shipping label and receipt
- Box up and address box
- Drive to post office and wait in line to ship
While the specific tasks may be different, similar steps apply in large part to most well-made, hand-crafted items. While not all things are precious just because they were made by hand, remember this process before you automatically pass by hand-crafted work as over-priced!
P.S. I also got to watch her make this gorgeous copper autumn leaf pendant!
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