I sent my sister my blog about her earrings, and she came back rather miffed because I didn’t tell it how it is, so here’s her explanation (and I should not have called her hands ‘old’, thank you!)
I have to cut the piece of anodised aluminum into smaller pieces with my guillotine (Bench sheers) so I can cut the pieces out with my jewelers saw. I have to wear gloves because at this point, the aluminum will pick up fingerprints. The anodising opens the pores and there is a film on the metal. When the sheet is painted, on both sides, I put it in water with a sealing powder and simmer it for about 1/2 an hour. That closes up the pores and holds in the colour. Then I can touch the metal with my hands and I cut out the shapes with my jewelers saw and file the edges with about two grades of files. Next is drilling the holes for the hook and the jump-rings to hold other parts of the earring.
It was nice to see my pieces like that [the photos]. In one picture you have turned some pieces around so you can see the other side but you don’t mention that the earring can be turned around to make a second pair or that I make my hooks with sterling silver which is important for people who have allergies. MOST, of the earrings I make are reversible now, not just a few
Cutting things out with my jewelers saw and filing them is certainly not the hardest part. Thinking of patterns to paint is the hardest part for me!! I like all the other stuff.
You were right in saying I (and others) am NOT a good business person! I don’t think I could manage selling on any site. Booths to shows are not that expensive. You have to be chosen to get into a show. I have been rejected many times because “there are too many jewelers”. Even though mine are different and I send pictures. You should NEVER say you can’t charge enough to cover the cost of making things!!!! The first thing you work out is … so much an hour for the time you work on a piece then you add all the other things. If you can’t cover those costs in your prices, you are doing something wrong!
Silver sounds so much more expensive even though a whole lot of pieces of silver jewelry is cast which means the jeweler just pours the molten silver into a rubber mold and it comes out all done except for a little tiding up. So each piece takes a few mins where mine takes time for each piece. You have to be working on several pieces at once so your working cost is not so high.
I have just become lazy. I have things on my bench that are in process and I really want to get back to them. It would be hard for me to keep enough stock and travel from venue to venue to the shows, not having a car, etc. I only have a very small amount of aluminum left and it is not worth me ordering more. You can’t order just a few pieces.