Thursday, August 30, 2012

Between a sale and a learning place

Do you ever feel like not selling?

No, I have not gone crazy (well, at least completely...). And please don't misunderstand me: I love my customers, I'm ecstatic that there's something I do that brings me such pleasure AND that some people appreciate and will actually pay for it! It's quite a rush to see someone wearing my necklaces and I wouldn't want it any other way.

But sometimes...

I don't like the compromise. You know, that thing that tells you while you're creating "wow, to finish this necklace I could make an elaborate awesome clasp, experiment with enameling some beads, try my hand at bezel setting this stone... but that would take 5 more hours, the final cost of the piece would be too much and it would not sell..."

Because I need to sell - no, don't be silly, not to recover the money I already spent, to buy more supplies! and tools! oh, tools....

Seriously: when you work a full time job and have little time to dedicate to making jewelry, it's hard to find a balance between making enough items using techniques you already know and feel comfortable with, sell them at a reasonable cost to the customer so you can keep on feeding the habit, and devoting time to slowing down, learning a new technique, trying something in a different way - something that might be ruined, that maybe won't work at first, something that'll take you 10 hours to do now but hopefully 1 hour only next month.

But those are the things that keep me interested. I want to push myself more, learn more. I compare what I do to what I could be doing, and just want to keep on going. But that takes time. When I look back, I see how far I've come, but when I look forward, the road seems so much longer...

So I'll just wait until that billionaire uncle with no family that I don't know of leaves me all his fortune so that I can then spend my time improving my techniques, attending classes, learning new stuff, taking one month to make each piece and then offering them as gifts to anyone who wants them. No compromise.

Until then, maybe I can come up with some workable schedule - actually setting aside some time each week to learn - making myself not care about ruining supplies, and then spend the rest of my available time focused on pieces for sale.

Is this an issue for you too? Do you struggle and do you catch yourself holding back on your pieces to make sure they're affordable? I would love to know.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In case you were considering moving here...

So last week I got a notice in the mail that a package had arrived for me and I should collect at the post office.

I've blogged before about how I have a few missing packages from etsy sellers this year (5 so far), so whenever I see that white paper that tells me something has arrived, I jump for joy! I don't care what it is, something arrived!

On Friday afternoon I went to the post office heaquarters. It's a very old building from colonial times, with long wooden counters, completely run down and with bare and stained walls, where the staff moves leisurely as if being there and actually serving the customers is the least relevant thing they could do in this world.

I approach the counter and wait my turn - there's no structure to this, no numbers, so you just have to eye how many people were there already, try to avoid people cutting in line, preparing to elbow someone if needed.

I give my notice to the guy behind the counter, and wait for 20 minutes for him to locate my package - wait to go, man, that was quick, you should be nominated for employee of the month!

After I get my package, he escorts me to the customs department.

The customs officer asks what's inside, I explay they're artisan beads. Note that handicrafts are the one out of two or three things that don't pay a thousand and twelve or four million and nine percent tax - they're actually exempt.

He opens my package and examines the beads and after a few "hmmmmms" he announces I need to pay 250 meticais tax for them (that's about 9 dollars). I tell him as far as I know, artisan components and handicrafts don't pay tax.

He smiles faintly, pulls the package closer to him, looks away and starts talking to the next customer.

Now after 12 years here, I know better than to open my mouth again. So I pull out the 250 mets and put them on the counter. His colleague, in the meanwhile, is filling out my receipt. The officer who asked me for the money rips the receipt out of the book, throws it in the bin, throws 50 meticais in my direction, pushes the beads closer to me, and puts the 200 remaining meticais in his pocket, in full view of everyone there.

Why didn't I complain to his superior, I hear someone say? Because his superior would say "what, he only extorted 200 mets? Hell, I want 400."

You see, it's not about the money, it's the principle. Unfortunately for me, I'm one of those people with a heightened sense of justice and of right and wrong. I remember once getting beat in high school by an older boy because I saw him bully a younger kid and thought I'd tackle him with my mighty 5,1' frame (even less back then).

And here I am, living in a country with one of the highest corruption levels in the world...

Lots of people I know here love it that way. They love to know that whatever they do wrong (double park the car, slap someone, throw trash out of the window), they only need to slip someone some money and it will go away.

Well, it scares the living daylights out of me.

The beads are nice, though...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to blogging

Well, it has been a while. Surely the blogging world came to a standstill right after 3 days of me not blogging, and has been paralyzed ever since, but rest assured, the blogosphere can spin again, because I am back!

In the last month, I...
  • Had a birthday...
  • Took time off from work and spent some time with hubby sightseeing and relaxing - it involved seeing elephants and kudus, monkeys and hippopotamus, lying in the sun by the pool(yes it's winter, but I'm in Africa, yes it's always warm enough to be at the pool), eating our way through long breakfasts, lazy lunches and candlelights dinners, and other things not mentionable in a nice blog...
  • Ruined some pieces, so not many new photos to show you - I hate it when I'm trying something new, because I always attack it like it's going to be perfect, and many times, what do you know, it's not!
  • Counted another month of not getting orders that should have been here months ago...
  • Got one order in the mail on Friday and was bribed out of some money in order to collect it - that deserves a post all of it's own... at least the beads were worth it!
  • Started my countdown to the France workshop I'm doing in October... (well, I signed up in September last year, so this is probably the longest countdown in the history of man/woman...)
Also played with resin klay for the first time and this is what came out:

Handmade copper components, beads by Radiant Mind

And some Ice Resin...

Handmade copper components, Ice Resin and beads by Radiant Mind

And kept having fun with my saw...

All handmade copper components, the leaf headpin is by Nadine Art Glass