I may have mentioned that until puberty, I was a big science nerd, and it became somewhat reawakened when I began making jewelry. I always wanted to know exactly what materials I was using, and I've become pretty familiar with semi-precious stones.
(Though I must admit, I can never remember the names of all of the jaspers I've used. In the past several years, a lot more types of jasper have turned up, with a lot of different names. I've bought some where neither I nor anyone in the store knew the name. I'm familiar with most of the usual suspects: poppy jasper, brecciated jasper, Indian jasper - also called "fancy jasper" - ocean jasper - found only in Madesgascar - and so on. So a certain level of geology has followed and developed with jewelry-making. In fact, when I used to spend a lot of time at bead stores in the city, there was only one guy in one store who knew stones better than I did. The jasper thing was a huge pain in the ass when I worked at Dweck - Stephen would pick up some odd jasper in the bead room and design with it, then ask me to source it...and neither of us knew the name of it. I'd sometimes have to take a bead to a wholesale bead shop and try to match it.)
I just bought myself some colored aluminum wire, which is pretty thick and soft, and I'm going to see what I can do with it. It's just too fucking expensive to work entirely in sterling silver any more. A nice toggle clasp that used to cost $4-6 is now $10-12 or more. I'm going to have to make more of my own clasps. Any tiny bit of money I have to spend now on supplies goes to silver headpins and wire. I've been cannibalizing older necklaces for the clasps. Luckily, I have a decent stash of earring hooks and a ridiculous stash of beads and pearls and Swarovski crystal. I used to find crystal too loud and obvious compared to natural stone, but started to use it a few years ago...I'm kind of a sucker for the colors. I've even managed here and there to mix a little in with stone.
These pictures are all items I've made for the crafts fair coming up - have I mentioned that I'm co-chairing a fundraising crafts fair at work next month? I have about ten other people making knits, pottery, paintings, gift cards, etc. Each crafter is giving part or all of the sales to PPSC. I actually started making my goods in July, just in case I started having finger problems. I'm digging out some really nice beads from my hoard, so I can charge at the high end of my price range. I'm keeping 60%.
The entire crafts fair came put of an idea of Judy's, to help me make some money. I'd given her earrings for the holidays and a necklace for her birthday, and she asked me one day if I ever sell my jewelry. She proposed that I do a fundraising sale with my jewelry, which the Board expanded into a crafts fair. Because fundraising is starved for committee members, Judy and I ended up co-chairing it. It's the most responsibility I've had in fundraising, although I do the lion's share of writing the twice-annual fundraising letter.
I've been keeping a particular eye on the jewelry worn by the faculty, in particular, and there's a real taste for natural stones and ethnic-looking jewelry; it's exactly the customer base for my stone jewelry, at healthy prices. It looks like my center pieces are two Y-necklaces: one in gold rutilated quartz, and one in cape amethyst. Most of the materials in the pieces pictured are fairly premium stones, except for the jasper/agate (although I don't often make double-strands).
For the past few months, I've pretty much made two pieces of jewelry each weekend. I had a bunch of fairly simple stuff (earrings in particular) that I'll sell relatively cheaply, and I'm making fancier stuff for higher prices. I'm still trying to figure out prices. I want things to fetch a good price, but I don't want to ask so much that it won't sell well. I'm going to sell the simple earrings at $10, $25 for three, which will get the bargain shoppers, but I want some of the fancier necklaces to go to $150 or a little more.
Must leave the computer...my neck is hurting today.