Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

November being Thanksgiving month, I am giving a portion of my profits from my November sales to support the Rescue Mission of Utica, Inc. as an expression of gratitude for the ways in which I have been blessed.

I’m originally from Oklahoma City and they have a big Thanksgiving dinner there where anyone can come partake, but I live in central New York now. I am touched by the sincerity of the efforts of Utica Rescue Mission. They help a lot of people in a lot of ways, but that they feed people on Thanksgiving is what prompted me to send them a contribution.

My small contribution isn’t much in the overall scheme of things, but it is 5% of the profits for everything I have sold to date during the month of November. With the grim outlook regarding economic news in America I see people hanging on to their dollars a little more tightly right now, but if I am able to keep making and selling jewelry, I hope to send a bigger check next year.

If you have been blessed in any way I challenge you to make a contribution to an organization near you that feeds people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Status Post: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

When I went for my annual physical in the summer of 2005 I mentioned an ongoing health matter to my doctor, something I considered merely to be an annoying (very annoying) “normal abnormality.” He said, “This shouldn’t be going on this long. Let me send you for further evaluation.” I went, and was shocked to receive a cancer diagnosis.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I had a cancer that gave me a warning (even though I didn’t pay attention to that warning for several months), and we were able to catch it before it was too late. They got it all in surgery and I took a course of radiation just to be sure. Over three years post-op my doctor actually says I can consider myself “cured” of that particular form of cancer although I do go for regular check-ups.

It has been a life changing experience.

Now I make jewelry and sell it on the internet and at craft shows. October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I decided to dedicate a percent of profits from my October’s jewelry sales to support the American Cancer Society as an expression of gratitude for what is literally my new lease on life. We are active in our local Relay for Life here in Central New York, but our local chapter is between seasons right now, so I sent the contribution directly to what I presume to be the main processing office in Oklahoma City, which also happens to be my original home town!

$45.00 isn't much in the overall scheme of things, but it is 5% + of my profits for all the jewelry I sold in October. Economic news in America looks pretty grim right now, but if I am able to keep making and selling jewelry, I hope to send a bigger check next year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Apple Pies and Buy/Sell

I had an interesting phone call recently from the promoter of a show to which I have applied. This is a show in which all crafts must be handcrafted by the artisan who is personally present at the show representing their own work. We discussed the concepts of "handmade" or "handcrafted" versus manufactured items purchased for resale. This blog entry is an expression of my opinion on the matter.

Carl Sagan said that if you truly wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. I am not remotely interested in trying to take over God’s job - first of all, there are several very good reasons I'm not God, and besides that He's already doing a great job - so I use what is available to me in the making of my particular “apple pies,” my lovingly handcrafted jewelry pieces.

I do purchase components, such as beads, crystals, drilled stones, etc., and findings such as ear wires, posts, clasps, chain, wire, and so on, as well as the wire, sheet metal, or the metal clay material which I make into the beautiful fine silver drops and pendants. All these things are components, parts or materials that I purchase to assemble into jewelry and with very few exceptions (chains and certain special clasps, for example) I do make everything I present for sale. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this business of using purchased parts and components for making jewelry– I have observed that most of the jewelry makers admitted to the arts and craft shows I’ve ever been to also use purchased components in the construction of their jewelry pieces.

Among my crafter/artisan friends, we refer to manufactured items purchased for resale as “Buy/Sell” or “BS” (a handy double entendre), for short.

Here's the thing - any fool can order a load of stuff, whether it's made in China or wherever else, and slap a price tag on it. True crafters and artisans, including myself, hate “BS” because it causes the buying public to think less of what we do, and to expect less – less quality, less price, and less credibility since a “reseller” can crank out merchandise that is often unimaginative and/or poorly made, at undercut prices. This undermines the efforts of the crafter or artisan. I'll tell you what - it feels like just one more way that the little mom-and-pop shops are being gobbled up by the big box stores.

I have known people who kept shop where they hired people to assemble their designs. I consider that manufacturing and that’s fine for its purposes, but I do still make all my own pieces, which is why so many of my pieces are ones-of-a-kind. I may make multiples of certain things, and I take custom requests all the time, but my own hand is in every piece. I make each one. Me. I make them. When I'm working on a thing, whether necklace, bracelet, earrings, pendants - whatever it is - I think about the joy it gives me to make this, to handle these materials, and may the ultimate wearer or recipient of this piece enjoy it and be blessed by it. Lovingly Handcrafted, every blessed piece. It's a labor of love and a matter of pride.

Even though I am working hard to upgrade and upscale my look and my market, I still make all my own pieces. I will certainly make an announcement if that should ever change.

Thank you for your time.

Vicki Newby