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Tell me I am like one of you, any of you, some of you? It’s a friend’s birthday or someone you haven’t seen in a long time or maybe a friend who has just stuck by your side no matter what; maybe it’s your daughter or your mother, but at some point you show your jewelry, no matter at what skill level you are and they just love a certain piece. What are you going to do? Charge them money? I can’t.

I was sitting in my hairdresser’s chair the other day. Sonja. She’s a really sweet person and like the song says, “she works hard for her money..”…it was coming up on Mother’s Day and she has a son. Moreover, her mother is very ill and lives all the way in Frankfurt. Sonja cannot afford to travel back and forth and she never complains. Not one word to her clients. So I was sitting there, wearing two of my necklaces (good advertising)..One was just a plain simple heart. It had volume and shape and I never thought to sell it because, frankly, I kind of liked it for me. In any case, she commented on my jewelry and I just said, better yet the words were spilling out of my mouth, “this plain silver heart would look so nice on you..” She wasn’t jumping at the prospect maybe because she thought I was trying to sell it to her. “Really,” I said, “try it on…” I didn’t have a chain for it, only a black thin leather like cord one would have for beading or whatever, with no clasp. I just make a little knot at the end…I undid it and asked her to lean down. I put it around her neck. She has dark eyes an beautiful thick black hair and boy oh boy, it really sat well on her.

“Look in the mirror”, I said…She liked it. It was simple and I quickly put my arms around her and said “Happy Mother’s Day from me to you”. I don’t miss that necklace. I know it’s in a good place.

This happens a lot with my daughter who lives out of town. She comes by and she really is so proud of my work in general (she thinks I’m her super talented mom) that she always gives me such a boost. So I try all my jewelry on her. She just is gloriously beautiful. OK, I know…all or our daughters are…Nonetheless, earrings or necklaces, rings, she tries it all on. She wants this or that and then she says “No, I know you are trying to sell them. It’s OK.” Well, that just gets me every time. So I ask her what does she really want. Hmmmm….she answers, “That ring and that copper wavy thing..” I asked her if she had a chain for it…she says, don’t worry, I have something and I am wearing it long. I take heed because she is studying Fashion Management in college and she gets straight A’s..Plus the fact, she is darn good at picking out clothes and jewelry…what works or doesn’t. I had thought a ring I made was good for the garbage. She said “absolutely NOT…All you have to do is…

You get my drift.

I’m sure all of you remember every single step I took to make the silver elephant for my friend’s birthday. When it was finally done, she loved it. She wears it and shows it off and it made her so happy. I used a lot of silver and a lot of man hours. Frankly, most of those man hours were figuring out what to do next and repairing or – re-doing a piece. It was new to me also. I had never taken bits of chain and dangled them with gems or designed something from a photo. I was getting used to templates which can be a great thing for beginners but sometimes you have to create something on your own. That’s another article, I’m sure. Bottom line here: Sometimes she even lets ME wear it!

All the way, as supplies dribble in, my husband or other people are asking me how much money I have made or how many pieces I have sold. Truthfully, I did make one sale to a dress designer because I was wearing something that caught her eye. I went to her place and she bought three pieces. I was shocked. Heady. Gleeful. I made one smart move. I took everything out of my jewelry display box (my son gave that to me as a gift) and priced everything and then printed it. When she asked how much was a certain item, I could easily look down the list and even show her…and of course I could cut her some slack. I also seem to recall being at the hairdresser (again….lots of women there, wink wink, nudge, nudge) wearing something and somebody bought it right off my body. For the life of me I can’t recall what it was. I do know that I liked it a lot and charged a pretty penny for it.

Well, you know the expression “It is better to give than receive.” ? I must have that stamped on my forehead. Because this doesn’t only extend to jewelry, but to paintings as well. I have given so many away that people have liked…it’s almost a joke. I haven’t painted in two years, when……on a beautiful, sunny afternoon, a man came to tune my piano. I had actually bought if from his shop. He pointed out the painting I did of my daughter (which was GOING NOWHERE) and he asked who had painted it. “I did, but I hardly paint anymore. I love making jewelry.” and showed him a ring I was wearing. Then, in a moment, he looked at me and said, “Do you think you could do a portrait of my wife and make her a set of jewelry for our 20th anniversary? I’m sure she would love it.”

I held my breath for a long time and heard myself say, “Sure..” I hadn’t painted in two years. Then he said of course he would pay me a good amount of money…(it was really a good amount of money) and all of a sudden I became an “employed artist”. Of course the deposit was spent on some stuff I needed in the paint world. But I got to work right away.

I’m thinking this is maybe karma. Or just good fortune. Could be because I finally got around to having my piano tuned. All I know is that for the next month or so, I am working on jewelry and a painting, not just as a hobby, but as a professional. It’s of course, laughable, given my metal clay skills, none the less…that’s how it has played out.

For the really good news, he really likes the look of the necklace so far and ditto for the painting. I don’t mean to sound self-depreciating, seriously, but can you believe that?

So what have I learned. Practice. Make mistakes and fix them. Thank the people who help you out in so many ways. And even if you sell a lot of stuff, I think, it’s still better to give than receive.

P.S. I really need to give a shout out to some people who have really helped me since the beginning.

Lydia Lewis, Wanaree Tanner, Moor Lutz, Maureen Garber Bates, Gordon K. Uyehara, Katie Hanrahan, Lori Phillips, Anne Loisier, Kate McKinnon, Hadar Jacobson, Tonya Davidson,  Pallavi Ghandi.

If I’ve forgotten anyone, don’t worry, the list is sure to get longer