Monday, June 29, 2015

Hand Crafting of Angry Words

I struggled with this post for quite some time, I just could not make myself post it this last week. Ordinarily I don’t believe in criticizing another person’s work. There is so much more to be gained by by pointing out the positives by lifting up another person and helping them improve in a positive way. But I also believe if you’re going to teach something your best should be put forward.

Everything I wrote last week sounded angry. I rewrote it and rewrote it, trying hard to find kinder words. I found them or quite a few of them, until I began talking about the craftsmanship of the necklace and they turned angry sounding again.

It bothered me, I mean really bothered me. Why on earth would someone else’s work make me so angry sounding? She wasn’t copying me. She’s very obviously a beginner, I should have soft words for her, encouraging words. That’s when it dawned on me. It wasn’t anger per se, it was sadness, disappointment in the thought process that someone whose work is so obviously a beginner, thought that was good enough to present to my community as professional. That this is all you can expect from hand crafted. It breaks my heart.

You should have at a minimum mastered the the skill set required for the class you’re teaching!

To present yourself as a teacher when you are nothing more than a beginner who has yet to master the basic skills looks bad on all of us. It disparages those who have taken the time to master the skills. It’s no wonder so many these days have the opinion that hand crafted is the lowest form of skill. Traditionally a craftsman is the highest skill level you can achieve and a craft isn’t playtime, it’s a skill, a trade. You begin teaching children, learning at a young age because it takes years to master the craft, children haven’t yet been told they can’t or aren’t good enough so their natural aptitudes are fully receptive. Dancers, Gymnasts, Artists, Musicians all traditionally start young.

I see this practice a little too often in some of the groups on FB, "I’m going to teach this class on xx-xx-xxxx, please someone I need a tutorial so I can learn". Excuse me? How the heck are you qualified to teach a class if you don’t even know what the heck you’re doing?  An honest learn along beside me experience can be wonderful and is preferable to I am a teacher let me teach you, when you don’t actually know yourself.  smh

Promotional Photo for a Jewelry Class in town

This is the promotional photo for a new business in town and it is the reason for this post. Among other things this shop is going to be teaching jewelry making @ $80 per class, classtime runs one hour. For this class the event listing said they’ll be teaching memory wire and elastic bracelets and you get to use the leftover beads to make a pair of earrings. I’ve taught this class for free to my Girl Scout troop and as a room mother at my kids schools over the years.

Seriously, Deliah’s current class is $35.oo to learn to make her sweet little dragonfly. This lady is charging $80.oo for memory wire & stretch bracelets with a pair of earrings. Where I live. sigh

Let me say this again, If you’re going to charge double the going rate for a jewelry class your own work had better be at least on par with what you’re teaching.

Let me also say this, please don’t use fuzzy photos to depict your best work. If your bust is covered in lint and is that paint? learn to love your photo editor, or don’t use it as your look at what I can teach you photo. Remember this is for a business, an actual brick and mortar, the photo needs to pull in customers so the owner can pay the bills - business. She’s already set herself up as a Bargain Basement store (I’ll save that rant for another day) don’t add to that perception.

Bad photo aside why on earth is she using elastic cord on a slip on over the head necklace?  Gemstones can cut through soft materials fairly easily and elastic cording may be ok for lightweight/plastic beads or shorter lengths as in a bracelet but the longer you go the more weight and the more stretch, the greater the chance the stones will cut through. Use beading wire. Proper materials for the proper application. If you don’t like the feel or drape of wire then a waxed cotton knotted between every so many beads will do, but you still need to finish the necklace properly and a visible frayed knot isn’t.

Then there’s the wire wrapped necklace. This is what I do, I worked hard to learn to make a quality product and everything I have written (and rewritten) this last week about the quality of this necklace just sounded angry.  Her elevator pitch for the class was to learn to make jewelry so you can wear it and gift it to all your friends and family.  I don’t mind the mixed metals, I use them all the time, but do try to tie the whole thing together by adding some of the other metals to the focal so the dangles actually make sense. You have a copper focal here with brass and pewter dangles with nothing to tie one into the other.  Those loops though, cause me the most heart ache and are how I know she is a beginner. Loops are a very basic technique, I know it can be hard to get the hang of, that’s why I have a free left handed tutorial in the works for them but good grief get a looping plier if you can’t make loops and you’re planning on teaching jewelry making. You’re charging too much money to pass bad skills on to other people. Egg shaped I could let slide, I still egg a loop every so often, you get going too fast and it happens but these loops aren’t snugged up, they’re cockeyed, curve off to the side, and the wire ends bypass the pin and are sticking out just waiting to poke/scratch someone or snag and ruin a sweater.

This necklace set is so filled with beginner mistakes that it’s completely possible I could be totally off base. Maybe it isn’t the instructors necklace at all, maybe it’s a students necklace. In which case they should be marketing the photo as such, with a caption along the lines of “look what  Miss NewJeweler made during our jewelry making class. You can make this too! Sign ups are now open.   Instead of the elevator pitch mentioned above.

So my dear readers, the take away is this. 
1. Always put your best foot or photo forward.
2. Share your knowledge but be honest about the level of that knowledge.
3. Quality work is important for EVERYONE, don’t scratch or poke your customers, friends or family, even if they’re students.  
4. Waiting to post until you can find the soft words may cause you to miss a week blogging, but at least you’ll still like yourself. 
5. Choose your marketing carefully, it reflects on you and the business you’re doing business with.
6. Stores that advertise artisan made goods using the words rock bottom prices earn themselves rant time T.B.C. I’m not at all sure I can find soft words for this one. It may end up being a compilation of others blog posts about how wrong and hurtful this is. And that list is a long one.

So that’s last weeks post, late for last week a hair early for this week. More rant than normal but points we all need to be reminded of on occasion.
Thanks for stopping by and listening to me I hope you’re enjoying your summer!

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