Sprucing Up and Shipping Out


To say that I’m still overwhelmed when I think about the reaction to last Wednesday’s restock is an understatement. I saw new names, old friends, places I’ve been, and places I hope to someday go on the order list - and each left me humbled. There are so many amazing makers in this world, so the fact that you would choose to support me - it blows my mind a little. It always has. As an artist, there is no higher compliment than to know that others are also connecting with your work.

The success of this restock had me doing a lot of reminiscing, too - because for every piece that flew from my virtual shelves this time, there was one in the past that lingered for months (if it sold at all). I think it’s so important to remind myself that this life is never a given - and, although I’ve been exceptionally lucky, I’m no overnight success. This restock, and jewelry in it, is not simply a result of the hours I’ve put in since the beginning of February. It is the culmination of endless rounds of trial and error that I’ve been playing with since early college. Probably before, even. I love the idea that standing on this particular summit has only come about because of the many peaks and valleys I’ve traversed before. It’s all connected.

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After pieces went up on Wednesday, I pretty much jumped right into my next task - cleaning up the train-wreck that was my studio. My creative process tends to…spread. Onto every horizontal surface. Onto the floor. I make piles of things around the house. It drives Eric a little crazy. When I’m working at a more leisurely pace, I try to follow the rule that says I can make whatever mess I want as long as I clean it up at the end of the day. But when it’s crunch time, I tend towards just letting myself make the mess in the spirit of getting things done.

It took two days, but things found their way back to their proper places. I was finally able to walk through the studio without jumping over crumpled pieces of sand paper and everything got a good dusting. I really do work better when things are organized - a fact I always forget when time feels tight (aka the time when having a clean work space would be the most helpful!).

I even cleaned out the pickle pot and rinse containers - which is, without a doubt, my least favorite metalsmithing chore. For all you non-smiths out there, pickle is a mild acid that removes the extra flux and oxidation from metal after soldering. After a few months of use, the acid weakens and no longer does it’s job properly and efficiently - which means it’s time to empty the pot and make a new batch. I tend to put this off as long as possible.

In an effort to be a little greener, I make my pickle using only white vinegar and salt - basically I just fill my crockpot halfway full of vinegar and stir in salt until it no longer dissolves. Easy as that! It’s got to be HOT to work (unlike traditional pickle which can work cold if the solution is strong enough) but I like that it’s made from stuff we have in our kitchen.

That being said even though the initial ingredients are things we eat, I always save my used pickle and take it to the hazardous waste disposal. The spent pickle is full of flux and copper, both of which could be harmful to plants or animals if put down the drain or dumped outside.

Somehow this turned into metalsmithing health and safety…probably time to get back on track…

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My reward for getting all my stuff tidied away was getting to sort through my stone drawers and pull out some cabochons that make me feel inspired at the moment. Who knows if I’ll get to all of them (or any of them!) before the May restock, but here’s where my head is at right now. I’m also sort of obsessed with the idea of making a necklace with velvet ribbon instead of chain…we’ll see how that pans out.

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After the cleaning madness I sat down and shipped out all of the orders from the restock - the most pieces I’ve ever shipped out at one time. It was an evening of matching jewelry pieces to shipping labels to handwritten notes and then carefully tucking all the bits and pieces inside boxes. It takes me awhile to find a rhythm with this task…but once I do it’s awfully meditative to pack everything up. It’s one of those jobs that’s hard to get started on, but I always end up loving the process by the end. 

Everything got dropped off at the post office yesterday - and within a couple of hours, the cold I had been fending off took me down. I think that finally shipping things coincided with a huge mental and emotional exhale…the kind of relaxation that always lowers my immune system’s defenses just enough to let sickness get a foothold. So apart from a foray to Denver today to pick up some amazing fabrics from Fancy Tiger (for studio curtains and - are you ready?? - a couple of tooled leather and Pendleton bags) and meet up with my best friend for lunch, I’ve been napping and drinking tea and generally feeling ready to be over this bug and back to making. Soon enough, I keep telling myself. Soon enough.

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Hayley JosephsComment