I confess that like most people I do embrace a lot of conveniences in my life but I've recently made the decision that when it comes to the jewelry I make I no longer want to take the easy road with pre-made components. As of now, I am making the commitment to make each item I create as close to 100% handcrafted as possible. I've been gradually drifting this way over the past year eliminating machine-made jump rings and findings like bead caps and hooks and clasps but I was still using machine-made earring hooks and chains. At the time, it seemed like a more economical choice and a time saver. However, I was continually frustrated with the lack of quality I was finding in what I purchased. Even the nicest chain would have a wacky link and earring hooks proved to be flimsy. I often took the time to take out my hammer to harden the earring hooks to give them more strength. Now that I have a tool that helps me quickly shape wire into consistently perfect earring hooks why would I use a substandard product?
I have one more thing to say about the value of handcrafted versus mass-produced. I think that my love for crafting artisan piece actually has its roots in cooking. I have a son with multiple food allergies. Prior to his birth I often took the quick and easy route with meal preparation or just ordering in take out. When I first started cooking meals from scratch so he'd have something safe and nutritious to eat I dreaded the time involved. However, I have come to the point where I love to cook! It's a fun challenge to put together a delicious meal with whole foods and seasonings and the chopping, cooking, etc. becomes almost a meditation. The same can be said for my work in my jewelry studio. Figuring out how to make a wire bead or the perfect necklace chain link brings its own kind of satisfaction. Seeing all the individually crafted pieces coming together into a finished product is a source of pride and joy. I find myself talking about the handcrafted pieces with more animation and excitement than those that I didn't craft completely from scratch.
So, I'm hoping that my work will attract the attention of customers who value the handmade, artisan work as much as I do. I know you're out there and that I'm not alone in my desire for quality workmanship. Pictures of my work can be viewed on FlickR and purchased in my Etsy shop. Feel free to leave a comment here with your thoughts on handcrafted work.