Monday, 22 December 2014

A Gift to One's Self

Part of the Stash. Photo by JoyD.
A former jewellery maker and client called me last week and asked if I had anything left in my pre-Christmas inventory of jewellery. But of course - Bien sur! When I sell, I am motivated to create more and so I always have a stash. When she arrived I asked what she needed. "A gift for myself", she responded. 

The beauty of buying from an artisan like me is that you can say, I'd like that chain with this pendant or I would prefer a shorter/longer chain with larger/smaller links and so it goes. She chose the piece with the oversize silver heart that you see in the photo. Because she knows the production process, she asked that I replace the black links with a medium size silver chain link. My sense of balance was slightly nudged but the customer knows what he or she likes. She chose another large black enamel heart but only wanted the pendant and I was able to accommodate there as well. 

This year will not be as profitable as last when I had two major sales before Christmas. Arriving from France the first week in December this year created a void for me. The shows I usually participate in were over and the timing was such that I was unable to organize a gathering of my own. However I am still creating to round out my inventory; I have a commission; and I am planning a March sale. As well the former jewellery maker offered to host a show at her home in the new year.

I enjoy the home environment for shows since I can accommodate many different requests. I bring my tools and extra findings and am able to work as guests are browsing. As well guests have often brought old pieces that they have grown tired of and would like reworked and updated. I receive the most satisfaction from recreating something that has lain dormant in their closets, making it more wearable as a reconstructed piece.

"Junk" jewellery is a challenge. Many people have unwearable bric-a-brac that they pick up as souvenirs, especially when done so on the beach during a warm weather vacation. A woman in Edmonton once brought a bag of wooden souvenir baubles - those inexpensive wooden and shell trinkets that you kick yourself for buying when you get home but still accumulate on every vacation. I combined and recreated them into one statement necklace. She could identify pieces from her mother's Cuban vacation, her sister's gift from Mexico and her own purchases while in Spain along with other warm weather spots. Hers was the reaction I remember the most and from which I received the greatest satisfaction. She told me that she could not believe that the trinkets she was thinking about discarding (and feeling guilty doing so) were so beautiful and meaningful in the combined product. I never did take a photograph of that piece. Too bad.

Often, many pieces that people want reworked are family keepsakes. One woman handed me a green seed bead flower brooch that truly was questionable, insofar as spending the money to reconstruct. She sensed my hesitation and then explained, "I know it's kind of ugly but it has a special meaning to me". I added some metal leaf elements, mounted it asymmetrically on an oval metal disc, added a complementary chain and remade it into a necklace. She now claims that she feels more comfortable wearing it and it no longer languishes in a box under her bed.

Women hang on to the the strangest things - a single earring, a broken necklace, a tangled chain, unwearable, oddball, yet beautiful pieces that sit and wait to be thrown out but somehow never do. We keep them for their beauty and maybe more so, for the memories they evoke. Those were exactly the items I found in a box when going through my mother's estate. I dismantled the lot and reworked them as bracelets that I gave to the granddaughters and even one to a grandson. Now rather than being tossed, they can be worn to bring forth memories of the original owner and perhaps even become heirlooms in their own right.

So now you have an option - instead of discarding, have the pieces remade as a gift to yourself (or someone else) at any time of the year. 


  1. Oh wonderful post,
    great ideas for jewelry :)

    1. Thank you Monika. It means a lot coming from another blogger.


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