So it’s the beginning of December and all of a sudden Christmas is just around the corner. It’s at the same time every year, I know…yet every year it somehow manages to creep up on me and catch me out. One minute I’m carving pumpkins and watching fireworks, then the next minute I’m being sucked into a full blown frenzy of panic because IT’S ONLY THREE WEEKS AWAY!!!!
I love Christmas, but I’m not a huge fan of crowds, busy shopping malls or driving around car parks with no spaces. I actually can’t think straight in that level of chaos…and rather than the thoughtful act of buying seasonal gifts for loved ones being a fun thing to do, it’s actually really, really stressful. As is spending too much money on mass-produced and often over-priced rubbish that doesn’t really mean anything to anyone anyway. Which is where buying handmade comes in, and being a maker myself I think I’m in a perfect position to preach to all of you about just how much more meaningful handmade gifts really are!
As you may know there are two parts to Ditsy Blue…handcrafted beads, and jewellery which is made using those handcrafted beads. In the early days I only sold my jewellery, but these days I tend to make more beads than finished pieces of jewellery. However, I do still make jewellery when time allows, and here’s a necklace I finished this week:
Each of the beads on this necklace have been handcrafted by me. These aren’t all of the beads I made for this necklace, these are just the ones that made it onto the finished piece…there were others which didn’t get that far! This piece started off, as most of my jewellery and beads do, as a sketch. A rough design. The beginnings of an idea. Colour is always a key part of my design process, and is often the inspiration to start with. To achieve the colours I wanted here, I had to mix different colours of clay together…just like paint!
The next step was making the beads. I have worked hard to develop my knowledge and skills over the years, and have spent literally hundreds and hundreds of hours experimenting, failing and re-working. And I still do, because creativity is never ending! Once the beads were cured and finished I was able to place them together to see if my initial sketch of the design actually worked. At this stage, sometimes a design does work and sometimes it doesn’t…and when it doesn’t it means either tweaking and changing or starting over again. As I said, there were more beads made for this piece which I didn’t use because I wasn’t happy with the combination, so tweaking and making new beads was needed!
Next was the sanding, drilling, waxing and polishing-of-the-beads stage before assembling the finished piece. Then I needed to photograph it, edit the photos, decide on a price (which won’t accurately reflect the time it took me to make the piece, but I don’t mind because I love what I do and I want to make my work accessible and affordable), list the item and market it so that people would know it’s there. And of course it doesn’t end there, because when it’s sold it will be beautifully packaged before being promptly posted to it’s new home.
So that was how this piece came about, and I know that it will be a similar process for many other makers of handmade items. When you buy something handmade you’re not just buying a thing. Handcrafted items are about real people who are passionate about what they do. They’re about the magic of an individual’s imagination, and they are literally made with love because the maker has put their heart and soul into getting it right. Handcrafted items are unique.
So instead of being swept along by the usual, traditional mass-produced Christmas shopping frenzy, why not make a change to tradition…grab yourself a cuppa and have a browse through the beautiful handmade treasures on Folksy. You won’t even need to go out!