Saturday, September 12, 2009

Custom Work - A Matter of Choice

Sorry for the posting delay. My computer locked me out after a software download and I was offline over nine hours!

The other day, a jewelry designer asked me to remake a witch's hat like the one I had used in this piece on Etsy.

And so I made three knowing full well she only wanted one.

Why make three??? Because I would like a choice and I assume my customer would like one too. Still when I told the BFF about needing to work on a custom order, she warned me, "Make three and no more!" (See previous post!)

So I did. And it really was a good number. And good practice as I hate making the same bead! But it also gave me a little lesson in pricing.

My buddy Bindy Lambell always determines price on a custom order after making three. And I learned why. My first hat, I was out of practice. I hadn't turned on the torch in 10 days thanks to our fires and I had not made a hat in over a year.

Bead #2... I wanted it to look well worn with a patch...and the brim broke after getting to cold while I was futzing with the ribbon. So that had to be patched and melted.

Bead #3 is another version of #1.

The basic shape and process went like this. Pull ridged flat stringer for the ribbon; cased stringer for the flower. I had stringer for the centers. Make a perfect cone, double checking for height. "Mess up" the base of the cone with wide, wiggly wraps that will melt in as you work on the rest of the bead. This gives a "head mold" to the bead, making it look like it was worn. Heat a generous gather and decide where the floppy part of the hat goes and heat that spot on the bead. Touch down with the gather and twist in and on and around, thinning the glass to a point and burning off. Super heat both sides of the bead where this attaches to the cone. Use commercial stringer for the brim. I used about seven wraps. Heat your flat stringer and wrap around the hat just above the brim and secure in spots with a razor. Add flowers, razor in details and add the center. If adding a patch, use flat stringer and decorate a bit.

I timed myself using the digital timer on my kiln. Bead #1 = 25 minutes. Bead #2 = 20 minutes (even with breakage and that patch!). Bead #3 = 17 minutes.

Bindy would average this out and determine that it takes me 21 minutes to make this bead and use that number to determine price.

My customer took the 1st bead and the other two are up for grabs. #2 on Etsy and #3 on the Folly site.

See you back here on Monday at

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