Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Bracelet Just For Me!

I make a lot of jewelry; I wear a lot of jewelry.  The thing about offering jewelry for sale in my situation is that there is no really good means of advertising.  I am not well enough to go out to art shows or to make calls on Retailers.  Sometimes they find me, and when they do, I'm very happy to discuss putting my work in their stores.  But other than my private clients, there are two ways of letting the world know what I am doing.  Putting my work up on the internet...  and that's a hit-or-miss prospect.  Or I can wear it wherever I go and hand out business cards whenever possible.  And that's what I do.  Most of everything I wear is for sale.  And I've even sold jewelry right off of my body to people who have admired and lusted after it.

So it was really weird to actually make a bracelet intended solely for me.  It not only is not for sale, but nobody is going to want it.  It is not pertinent to them as individuals.

My progress into being accepted into the Clinical Trial that I've talked about in this very blog, on Facebook, and mostly in Richard's Clubhouse (as well as through e-mails to friends) is coming along.  Unless they find something very unexpected in the medical tests that they've been running over the last few days, I'm in.  And even before I got this close to the trial, I have been urged by friends to put a Medic Alert bracelet on over the last year as my health and energy have declined.  I've worn them before...  I hate them and resisted.  But with the recent hospitalizations, I came to recognize that I could not avoid going there anymore, and started looking at them on the internet again.  UGH!  They are all cookie cutter versions, overpriced, ugly.  Nothing I wanted anything to do with.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner.  Etsy.

I sell my own work on Etsy in two shops:  I'm Making It (where I am moving towards exclusively motivational and message jewelry and upgrading the quality significantly) and ArtiZen Beads, where I house my one-of-a-kind work.  Neither shop has a very good representation of what I have in inventory; even during my recent hospitalizations, I brought beads and tools along and kept working, as sick as I was.  In fact, the nurses dubbed my room "The Productive Room" because they rarely have seen anything like what was going on in there.  Unless I was in one of my truly horrible spells, I was working at all hours of the day and night.

Or I was on the little computer that Eric loaned me.  And I talked to them about my Etsy shops, and I gave out business cards, and suddenly it dawned on me.  IDIOT!  Why don't I see if anybody in Etsy offers handmade Medic Alert Bracelets.  And that's how I found Michelle Verbeek.

Michelle makes an assortment of hand stamped jewelry with different messages on them.  She stamps her messages on plates of differing metals, then affixes them to distressed leather bracelets, and her work is wonderful.  When I did an Etsy search on Medic Alert bracelets, amongst other artists, hers stood out not only as the most unique, but exactly what I needed.  I would wear them as is in a heartbeat.  But then again comes the problem.  I am a jewelry artist.  I need to wear my own work, and my own work is about color and blending and seed beads and clutter.  And so I contacted Michelle to see if she would be willing, with my special circumstances, to make me just the plate which I would then affix to my own leather bracelet in my own style.  She was incredibly gracious, I actually placed my order from my hospital bed, and it wasn't much time later when the tag showed up in the mail.

I worked hard.  In fact, I started it last Friday when the tag arrived (and it was total quality), and with a visit to Creative Castle to find the perfect clasp on Sunday, I was able to complete the work on Monday.  In fact I would have had it done Sunday night except that when I affixed the clasp, I found that I had made the bracelet too big and had to resize it.

So now I have the most unique Medic Alert bracelet of anyone I know.  I am considering ordering more of Michelle's tags in different metals so that I can make other bracelets to go with differing outfits.  But what I do know is that for once, rather than my bracelet being an eyesore, it is something that I can wear with pride.  The only issue is that people are asking to see it.  A lot.  And when they get a close-up view of what the tag says, they know that I have a medical issue.

But you know what?  I've decided I can live with it.  If I was wearing a traditional Medic bracelet, they would know what it is too, but they would not be admiring my work.  They would just be feeling sorry for me.  Now I think and hope that what the bracelet is doing is diverting their attention from my issue to my work.

And as we talk about work here, I would urge all of you to visit Michelle's Shop on Etsy and see what she has to offer.  As an artist, even one that I have not met in person, I recognize a cool concept and good idea and it is very different than anything I have to offer.  Although I would obviously like to be selling my own work in bigger quantities, what Michelle has to offer is very different than me, is a great value for the price, and I don't think that her sales will affect mine, nor mine hers.  In this world, there are lots of good ideas... that's nothing to be threatened by, and sometimes the good ideas can merge and become something totally separate and unique.

These pieces are by Michelle Verbeek.

1 comment:

Wilda said...

Nice work on your new bracelet that is just for yourself. Your work has progressed greatly. I have had several people comment on the necklace that I got from you and have given them your Etsy site information to check out.


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