Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Who's behind the monitor?

After years of selling and buying online, receiving and giving feedback has become part of a daily life. This post is inspired by a recent unpleasant transaction. As one of my dear MCHs, Dawn has said, "If people only knew how hard we work on the things we make, they might think before they type." True or not?

Every handmade metal clay piece starts with an inspiration, a lump of clay, and mechanical calculation. Which is the best way to present my inspiration? What's it going to be? What mechanical connection will work for the piece?

The mini snowflake earrings is one of my bestsellers, here is a tutorial on how they're made.

1. Claying is where the creative juice starts flowing. 2. Metal Clay needs to be dried before firing. Usually air dry for at least 24 hours, or drying in an oven for 30 minutes. 3. Forming and shaping the piece, this is an essential step to a nice finish.

4. Torch firing or kiln firing the piece to burn off the binder and to sinter the clay. 5. Since they're earrings, their backs need to be burnished for the next step - soldering. 6. A good cleaning is essential for a good soldering joint between the piece and the post. 7. Flux the pieces where the solder should be.

8. Solder, which takes lots of practicing. A piece can be ruined if handle carelessly. 9. Earrings put into the pickle pot of vinegar and salt (this is all natural and eco-friendly) to clean. 10. Tumble the earrings for at least 1.5 hour to work hardening and to shine.

11. Adding patina to the earrings to highlight the details. 12. How the earrings look after patina, they need a good cleaning, don't they? 13. Polishing using my Dremel. Cannot live without one anymore! Viola! Shiny and ready to ship.

(Of course, I don't need to bore you with the business side of things like ordering materials, taking photos, listing, packing, shipping, and doing taxes! The fun part is still creating!)

These earrings are considered simpler to make compare to the 3-D pieces of those metal clay masters but you can see they still demand careful planning, endless patience and flawless execution. And the earrings are priced at a whopping $19!

Maybe after reading this post, any unhappy buyer will value these earrings more? Maybe if you're a buyer, you will think before you type something negative like Dawn has said?

My feedback is ruined, so as my day yesterday, but there're always something to learn from it. Please remember that the seller is a human just like you, who has feelings, sitting behind the monitor.

Friday, December 9, 2011

After Thanksgiving

It was a crazy pre- and Thanksgiving week at my place. The first time ever I hosted a Thanksgiving "causal" dinner at my house. It turned out great and everyone was well-fed at least.

So, what's going on now? There is only one week left for school, with finals being next Thursday, so I'm trying to finish all my projects for the final presentation. Here is one of them:

I've yet to decide what to make out of them -- a brooch? a ring? a pendant? I'll let you know after hours and hours of hand polishing ;-) (Picture of them at their "raw" stage just out of the spin caster above.)