August 22, 2012

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Art Jewelry Elements just posted about folks starting out making jewelry and how intimidating it can be.  They concluded (and rightly so) that everyone has to start somewhere.  I would add that most first attempts are not perfect.  I can speak from experience in saying that mine certainly weren't.  I don't have any photos of the FIRST time I did macrame.  After all, that was probably 40 years ago.  Yep, I did macrame with the rest of the flower children.  I remember making several plant hangers and I really liked the knotting.

Fast forward through 40 years of other crafts to 2008 when I saw some gorgeous jewelry done in micro-macrame.  I was blown away.  Absolutely mesmerized.  I really couldn't afford to buy the pieces I wanted.  Of course, you have to remember my all-or-nothing personality.  I didn't want one bracelet, I wanted them ALL.  And the earrings.   So I decided "I could make that" (yes, I'm always thinking that, too, and it doesn't always turn out so well).  I bought an earring kit and pattern from Knot Gypsy Designs and I was off and running.  That was my first purchase on Etsy, too, by the way!  

After a few months of making stuff for myself and selling a dozen or so pieces to friends, I decided to open a shop on Etsy.  Looking back at those first listings, I am embarrassed - mostly by the quality of the photos.
See - I warned you.  IF you could see the detail on this cuff bracelet, the knotting isn't bad.  But the photo certainly doesn't show you that. I did have a few photographs that were better and I managed to snag a sale on the second day my shop was open.  I sold this watch:
It really isn't up to my standards now - the lines aren't as straight as I'd like.  But I was darned excited to have sold something.  And after seeing how long it took some people to make their first sales on Etsy, I was darned lucky.  I did do a lot of reading on the forums back then and figured out very quickly that I needed to improve not only my product, by my photography.  I built my first lightbox from cardboard and typing paper and managed to get some shots that weren't terrible.  Still not very interesting, though.
Then I found "the hand".  Yep, the HAND.  It creeps my kids out big time, but it's interesting enough to get people's attention.  I had some ladies recognize me at a craft show - not from my macrame, but the HAND:)  
I still had a bit of refining to do.  I invested in a real light box (one of the best investments I've made, by the way) and learned how to use the macro setting on my camera:
My knotting was getting more precise and my photos were improving, but I still felt like they were missing something.  I added a piece of scrapbook paper and TA DA!
When I look back and the evolution of my work and my photographs, I think I've come a long way.  The cool part is that I still have a million ideas and things I want to try and I'm absolutely positive that I am still evolving.

26 comments:

  1. You are so right that I know a piece is yours by the hand and the scrapbook paper even before I look at the piece :-). You have come a long way!

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  2. I'm with your kids, several people use the hand, and it is hard for me to look at. I love seeing the evolution of your photography. I think all of your macrame pieces are gorgeous. I totally understand the thoughts that run around in your brain..oh, I could so make that! :) Which has led me down some interesting paths! Thanks for showing your progress.

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    1. I have another one that I think is much creepier - it's a tall standing one that you can display necklaces on? I have threatened to hide it under a pillow - I'm pretty sure there would be screaming LOL

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  3. I think I want to try out micro-macrame! What intimidates me is how small things can be and might hurt my eyes?

    I LOVE all your work! And I agree, photos make such a huge difference!

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    1. I wear reading glasses. Strong ones:) And thank you!

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  4. You really took to micro macrame like a duck to water, I think. You have really made it your own - and I love what you have done with it.

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  5. I am amazed by your early designs! I can't believe you don't think they're perfect... Thanks for sharing, loved seeing where you've been and where you are now.

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  6. We don't all have to show our early work, do we? I'm too embarrassed and I haven't really made all that much progress. Still fun though. And fun to see your evolution.

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    1. Oh, Cheryl, please consider joining this blog hop! You are a multi-talented dynamo with a wicked sense of humour... but surely you could find a teeny, tiny picture, of a less-than-perfect, early rendition of something you could share. Pretty please? Good god, girl, your cookies alone are works of art!

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    2. I agree - you make everything look too easy! Show us you're human:)

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  7. Welcome to the "everyone-thinks-it's-perfect-and-all-I-see-are-the-mistakes" club, Sherri! I guess we can all relate. Yes, I did the rope macramé with the tie-dye maxi-skirt generation, admittedly as a very young *ahem* flower child. I never took to it, though; but this micro-macramé is definitely on my list. I've already had to give up counted cross stitch due to failing eyesight, but I am hoping to win the cool magnifier that CraftArtEdu is giving away (I have a link to that contest on my blog, posted August 3).

    I LOVE the hand... what exactly is creepy about the hand?? I'm inspired to try and make one (out of polymer clay, of course)! Thanks for sharing your remarkable craft history, Sherri, and of course I can only see how beautiful your pieces are.

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    1. hahaha - now come on, that first photo is terrible and there's no two ways about it:) And I don't know why my kids think the hand is creepy - it's just a carved wooden hand, but it freaks them out. And I plan to use that to my advantage at some point... LOL

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  8. I love macrame! And your photos are so fantastic now! Thanks for sharing :)

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  9. Lovely work... I'm starting to add some macrame to things... I wouldn't be surprized if at least one of my masterpiece plant hangers went to charity when I cleaned out my parents house 18 months ago... I declined ownership!

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    1. LOL - I have no idea where all of our heirloom macrame went - we even had at least one huge hanging table with a glass insert!

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  10. Oh I love your story - its just wonderful! I too did macrame pot hangers roughly 40 years ago :D I kept one or two as sort of a 'time capsule' which my daughter found. She asked me what in the world a macrame pot hanger was supposed to do - LOL - that is a good question! I'm with Kashmira ... would love to learn micro-macrame ... perhaps a class?

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    1. LOL - I'm not sure why we thought we needed plants hanging around in those things, but... it was the thing to do! A class... hmmm.....

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  11. It's always nice to look back and see how far we've come... and have the photos and projects to prove it. Love your work! (I'm with your kids on the hand - but totally understand the distinct quality of it!)

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  12. I did macrame in high school and loved it, though it was hanging planters and wall hangings then. Like you I've improved a lot on my photography since the first photos. Your early pieces are lovely, but I can see an improvement with your recent pieces. How funny that your customers recognize you by 'the hand'!

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  13. This was such a delightful entry! And I really enjoyed your photographic journey as well as your macrame jewelry one! I'm glad you posted your story! Love "the hand!"

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  14. Is it just me? I'm not finding the related entry on #14. It's late, I might have scrolled past it.

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  15. I Love the story about ladies recognizing you at booths by "the hand"! Too funny! What gorgeous work you have!! I have done a few macrame bracelets(nothing like this though!), & really like it. I look forward to following your blog! Keep up the great work :)

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  16. I really enjoyed this post - thank you. I have been beading for a while now but so irregularly that I am still a newbie. I always enjoy seeing that the professionals also had to start somewhere. It give me inspiration to try even harder. :)

    Bead Soup Mix

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