I haven’t been working too much on my jewelry. The most I’ve done within the last week is logging, labeling, and storing a bunch of beads that arrived two weeks ago. Part of this had to do with quarantining incoming mail; part of it had to do with not being too hot on actually going and breaking down strands and labeling items with their respective Stock Keeping Units (from the seller) so that I can re-purchase what I actually want to repurchase. It’s crazy how some sellers have four different versions of the same type of bead, which differ only slightly in color, and then in quality (for instance, the polish on drill holes) and price.
What I have been doing, revolves around courses, for the moment. Much of it is directly applicable to the jewelry enterprise and otherwise managing my finances. Other than learning XML (further) and XSLT, I don’t see myself going back for more classes applicable to the business. I do, however, see myself learning Japanese language for the foreseeable future, and working on my beadwork and sales. I have decided that it may be a relatively bad idea not to ask what I want to ask for the jewelry I create.
I hesitated to charge what I needed to for my last sale, and that resulted in a gross income of less than $25 for 160 minutes of work. Pre-tax. If I were to do this regularly, that’s a yearly gain of a little less than $20,000 gross. Before taxes, before variable expenses, before overhead. That’s…okay, for a hobbyist (still, not great). It’s not, for a business. I did lose money on that sale, if we look at what I had to buy in order to make it. The excess does go to tangible assets, but still. (And yeah, I know that’s because I low-balled the initial offer: it’s not the consumer’s problem, but mine.)
I realize that a lot of my income may come from multiple owner’s draws, or drawing off the equity of the company — and not from a salary. I also don’t want to charge so much that people can’t afford my work, or just won’t buy it because it isn’t seen as a good value. However…it has to be enough so that I know I’m not just wasting my time pursuing the vocation, or driving myself bankrupt doing the same. A living wage in my area (for a single unmarried person with no children) is above $60,000 per year ($1,154/week; $165/day [over a 7-day week, 8 hours/day], $21/hour [over a 7-day week, 8 hours/day]). I’m not looking to earn quite that much, but this has to be worth the effort, for me.
I know that with quality materials and substantial creativity, this can be done. The difficult thing will be sourcing quality materials. Hopefully not contributing to global political conflict or worker exploitation, at the same time. Metals seem to be one of those things that will really drive up cost, and consequently, value…but there’s the question of how much can be done without going all-out into silversmithing (to save money on pre-fabricated findings, like earwires). Silversmithing comes with a host of other safety requirements, in particular; unless, that is, I actually go out and rent a studio that’s designed for the work.
A lot of the beads I’ve purchased recently (particularly from one supplier), have been lower quality than expected. I took lower quality in exchange for otherwise-unobtainable colors…it wasn’t really worth it. I have had the experience of taking a risk like this, and then gaining beads which I similarly thought I’d never use: and then they end up being a perfect combination with something. Time will tell if I end up using these babes; they’re SolGel Tints (over opaque white), and hence…have colors otherwise unknown to glass. 😉 This can make it difficult for them to play well with others.
SolGel isn’t supposed to fade, and in my experience, hasn’t: but maybe I want to put some of these babes out in the sun and see what they look like in a few months. Apparently, Preciosa Terra Intensive beads are also SolGel dyed (says my source), but with the warnings that they may fade (which may simply be a retailer covering their liability), I haven’t felt like taking a risk on them, just yet. Then there are the things I’ve bought like “Opal” tints (SolGel over translucent white). The value of them lies in knowing not to get more of them.
Generally, surface-dyed beads can look really flat as compared to solid-color beads (where the color goes all the way through the glass as a basic factor [aside from special coatings], I mean). The exception is in opaque beads…which can also vary in quality. I have had to just set some things to the side because they obviously look painted on examination of the lot, but that was from a super-cheap warehouse in the City. I also only got one ounce, I believe. It’s always a good idea to get small amounts first if possible, so that you don’t end up wasting money on a bulk purchase of beads that are not up to quality standards (or which you simply don’t like, or don’t feel you can use).
I’ve also felt this way about certain coated beads…where the coating extends beyond the edge of the bead. It would be easy enough just to finish these so that the manufacturer doesn’t end up having to grind it off themselves (or never use them for fear the coating will peel off like nail polish), you know?
It would be easier to source things if the Gem & Jewelry shows, or the Bead Shows (or the local bead stores, for that matter), were up and safe to go to. Yes, there was a show recently in my area — I think last weekend. However, I really don’t feel safe enough to go out and do that, right now: with the fourth recent surge and kids going back to school and getting sick en masse. Seriously, I have the health of others (and myself) to think about.
I’m more than aware that a large part of my concern for my friends and family is selfish in nature: “what happens to me, if you’re gone?” If I were able to fully care for myself and thus be unselfish…I might be able to more reasonably deal with the possibility that now or in the future, I might have to deal in reality with my/their/our COVID infection, and the possibility of rapid progression from health to serious illness or death. However…I’m not at that point, yet. Right now…I’m still in progress in my transition from young adult to adult, even though it’s late because of my disability.
It’s not pretty or easy, especially when I’ve been depressed for a couple of days, this week. I know that I missed either one or two nights of medications (in a row: I did not log this for one night, and given my present state, I suspect that I didn’t take it), and I know that this, plus staying up late to wake late, are impacting me. I’ve had the consistent issue of having to deal with painful memories — that haven’t stopped bothering me from middle school, forward — and the less-than-skilled acknowledgement of where I am actually skilled (in relation to more of the population than expected).
It’s easier to say, “let it go,” than it actually is, to let it go. I essentially have a backlog of negative memories over the past 25 years which are making my life miserable and causing me to ask why this all happened to me. I’m pretty sure at this point that the thought process has to do with clinical depression. I’ve had some form of this over…same: the last 25 years, now that I think of it. At this point, I realistically don’t know how long I’ll be able to tolerate this, although I’ve already lived longer than I had been able to visualize in my youth. (I’ve also gotten much farther in my education than I would have been able to predict.)
It’s not an exaggeration to say that out of my employable skills, Writing is one of my strongest. The question is then, if and how I can use that to make a living, and that does not appear to be a hopeful prospect. I’d essentially have to send out a bunch of queries to a bunch of publishers, and it is notoriously difficult to get published in the Fiction realm. Nonfiction, not so much; but that would still be a contract negotiation, and I might possibly need access to libraries which I don’t now have.
What I didn’t realize until recently is that although I see Writing to be a basic skill that everyone should have after a 13-year slog through Primary and Secondary school, I’m apparently wrong in that assumption. I guess Writing can be to other people, like Math is, to me? (Calculators and Excel are da bomb, dude. Just don’t ask me to explain the meaning of a logarithm.)
I did just get the idea to join the Alumni Association with my Undergrad alma mater: since they do still offer my major there, I might be able to find some inroads into local Publishing companies. (I’ve read that traditional Publishing is still largely based in New York, though I haven’t yet tried to confirm that impression; I do know at least three people who at one time, at least, moved out of my life to New York…including the first girl I ever had a crush on. And a couple more people I also had crushes on, or who might have had crushes on me. Hmm.)
A couple of days ago, I did also go back to my Japanese language study: it is rather depressing to see how much my reading ability (and writing ability!) in 日本語 has eroded in the time I’ve been away from the written language. It is still good to get back to. It also gets me back into my relationship with words and reading. I have been doing a lot of reading, though most of it is in English, and for various Business classes. It would probably be worth it to get at least one good fiction book finished before year-end: right now I’m in the middle of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin, which I stopped because the anthropology angle was disturbing. Intentionally so or not, I’m not sure. (Apparently, Ursula’s father was an anthropologist, says my sibling.)
M has been telling me to think of what I want to do after these courses are over: what kind of job I want to take, that is. I know that in the New Year, I do want to set myself up to make and sell jewelry; possibly, also accessories (but I’m not betting on the latter; this just comes from dreaming about the possibilities of weaving and sewing). I’m not doing much making of any kind (aside from writing) right now, and it’s taxing my emotional resilience.
Well, staying up super-late isn’t helping, either.
She did just tell me that she hadn’t put the requirement on me to stress or depress me, but to give me something to look forward to doing every day. In that case, I totally can work on the beadwork. This will give me time to get deeper into the Japanese language study and into my own writing: such as the Pages I’ve posted (and have planned to post) to the wider How to Design section of this site (as versus the blog itself).
Both M and D are encouraging me to write out my thoughts in order to process and get through the pain that I’ve been dealing with. My major hesitancy toward this is that writing it out means reliving it…and I’m not certain I’d be able to do this and stay healthy, without professional assistance. Past attempts have led to present hesitance, that is. I stopped writing after graduation, for a reason; but avoiding the pain isn’t the same thing as healing the pain…