Friday, June 13, 2014

Frequently Asked Answers

For the last couple of months I've been trying to come up with an FAQ page to address all the questions I'm never asked. Yes, that is a little backwards; maybe I'm just overly efficient? At any rate, I've found that it's difficult to think like a customer: I have no idea what anybody wants to know about my business. I even used a giveaway as incentive to try and get feedback about what people wanted to know, and although admittedly very few people responded, there was a "frequent" question.

How long does it take you to make a piece of jewelry?

I don't know why, but it kind of surprised me that the amount of time it takes to make something would be the main thing I'm asked. I don't think I've ever looked at a handmade item and thought "hey that's neat, I wonder how long it takes to do that?" My thoughts are usually something more like "holy cow, it's so cool that they spent the time and energy to do something like that with their hands, what an amazing skill!" Heh, I guess I just nerd out over the things people can do that I can't do.

My friend Anna can draw, how awesome is that?

I certainly don't usually take into account the amount of time it takes me to make something, possibly because I'm just too distract-able for timing myself to be realistic. Any given piece of jewelry can spawn two or three ideas and I have to stop what I'm doing and pull out beads and set things aside so that I can make it "next." But since I usually at least partially start whatever new idea I have, the cycle can repeat several times before I just run out of room and have to finish something.

As counter-productive as that work style seems, it's probably one of my favorite things about being creative. Every unique idea is like a little person: they're made up of different things, put together a little differently every time, they're never perfect, and making each one takes a different amount of time. I can't say it always takes me 20 minutes to make every pair of earrings, any more than it always takes 4 years for somebody to go to college! But somehow it's still expected that I have an answer to the question, and it's expected that every person can get a four-year degree in four years.

I am very blessed that my mom chose to homeschool my sister and I, because it allowed me to learn at my own pace. And my parents never put any pressure on us to go to college, either. Here are some cool things to know about me: I graduated from high school at 14; I started college at 22 and took three years (including two summers) to get a two-year degree; I completed a certificate program in 3 trimesters; and I spent 2.5 semesters working on my Bachelor's degree before dropping out.

I can't believe it's been two years!

These numbers are obviously ALL over the place! I'm pretty much a poster child for the fact that forcing everybody to do things at the same pace just doesn't work, and I spent most of the last 6 years trying to do it anyway. I may only have a two-year degree, but I have six years of really awesome memories with friends I made and really interesting classes I took. And while my grades weren't amazing, I learned a whole lot more than what I was graded on. I'm not going to stop learning or entirely give up on finishing that bachelor's someday, just because I dropped out at 27. After all, my mom just finished grad school last week :)

I don't see any value in timing myself while working on my jewelry, especially since the value of the piece is determined not by an hourly rate, but the quality of the materials and the skill it takes to put it together. I've been making jewelry for ten years, learning by trial and error and practice; you could say it takes about ten years to make the earrings I'll make today.

If you ask me how long it takes to make a piece of jewelry?
I can only answer, "I have no idea, but I loved every minute."