Jewelers hear a lot of the same advice over and over again. One example would be the persistent call to take high-quality photographs. There is a very good reason for this being repeated ad nauseam—many, many jewelers do not take high-quality photographs.
Well, here’s my addition to the professional mantra. It’s a bit of a Mommy-Dearest-moment that my colleagues hear with abundant and annoying frequency. So let me just jump up on my soapbox, grab my bullhorn, and holler to the heavens…“No more ready-made findings!”
The elements that make a piece of jewelry wearable—the clasp, the bail, the pin finding, the ear wires—are an integral part of your overall design. They should be carefully considered early in your process and created by you rather than store-bought and slapped on as an afterthought.
Would a potter wheel-throw a mug and attach a manufactured handle to it? Would a furniture maker build the seat and back of a chair and screw on commercial legs? I don’t think so. In my eyes, using ready-made findings is equally absurd.
Your handmade findings should complement the aesthetic of your overall design. I’m not suggesting that you to invent something never-before-seen for every project, just that you put thought and skill into the construction of your functional elements.
Basic metalworking skills are all you need to make a wide range of many attractive findings. If you can bend, clip, and wrap wire, you’re all set for earrings. If you can drill, saw, sand, and rivet, you can make a unique and very respectable pin stem.
Handmade findings work for you to enhance and strengthen your design. Handmade findings are a reflection of your attention to detail in your jewelry and declare that your jewelry should be taken seriously.
Just like bad photography, commercial findings can be a deal-breaker for handmade jewelry. All too often I have seen great pieces get rejected because of an unfortunate clasp. Using commercial findings automatically undermines the perception of your abilities and lessens the value and appeal of your work. If you are going to devote your time, effort, and expertise to making handmade jewelry, you need to design and create the functional elements, too.
Now, I believe I am finished with my Faye Dunaway moment and can wipe off this red lipstick and hop down from my soapbox. Thanks so much for listening!
When you are ready to start making metal components, I recommend the information in these two books:
Metalworking 101 for Beaders: Create Custom Findings, Pendants & Projects
The Ultimate Jeweler’s Guide: The Illustrated Reference of Techniques, Tools & Materials
The jewelers featured in this blog design and create outstanding handmade findings. To learn more about them and be inspired by their jewelry, please visit their websites:
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