Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Dental Bill Shock

I think I managed to recover from the shock of bill for the two caps on my teeth, plus fillings, around 3 AM when I awakened and lie there for a while thinking about things.
I do a lot of art forms. The one I sell is making jewelry.
“Oh, I can string a bunch of beads together and make a necklace.” Yes, my cat can probably do that, too but I guarantee, you won't buy the end result. The reason people pause when looking at my work is mostly the colors. I just happened into the proper genetic combination to be able to see more color than you can and because of that, all my blues and browns go together while you are still wondering why yours clash. Your mind can't see what mine can. Your eyes do but your brain can't sort the colors. Your eyes keep sending the information and not getting an answer, so you are repelled by what you put together. The price for that talent is never letting your father out the door until you made certain he didn't look like a clown because he was color blind. My mother carried the gene for color which her uncles had exploited by becoming jewelers. They were excellent at grading gemstones and one of the criteria is color. Wham, of all the kids, I got the genes and I have hundreds of cousins.
That said, I spent 2 hours restringing the fringe on a piece...just seven strands and I used 7 eye pins. So what took so long? Well, it wasn't matching the colors and beads. It was making the wires to hold the glass briolette beads and attaching them with tiny jump rings so they would dangle and sparkle. You see, glass breaks and when it is the very thin top of a tear drop bead with a tiny hole through it, it really breaks. You can't put a jump ring in it because they are too thin. You have to use 28 gauge wire which must be twisted, double if you want any strength, and that will cause it to break if you do it too tight. First twist to create a loop and second twist over that one to strengthen the loop's connection to equal that of the jump ring and one twist too many, snap goes the wire and you cut the whole thing off and start over. But that isn't as time consuming as working with a jump ring so tiny you can barely hold it with tools to connect the eye pin to the briolette. Then using a slightly larger jump ring you attach the other end to the focal piece and they sparkle and fluidly dangle. The last part is all you see.
Which brings me to mixed media often considered the step child of all the arts. Did you ever consider that to do mixed media you have to master each media you are mixing into the piece? I didn't think so.
And now I move to my friends who are doll makers. Thirty years ago I happened into a ceramics studio looking for a way to make unique pots for my African Violets while relaxing from a day of dealing with certified crazy people and stayed. It turns out I love the smell of fresh clay and I am good at ceramics. Little did I dream I was also good at art as that was something strongly discouraged in my family. There was no money in it. Sanding the seams and painting those pieces was labor, both physical and mental, intensive and for an hour, I would not have to think about therapies. Then one day the owner approached me to do some work on several pieces and in return, she would give me supplies to keep. You never use all the glaze on a single piece and glaze is expensive. I also got my hour free, because you pay by the hour to use a studio. YES!!! Suddenly, I moved into a paid artist from amateur and joined the people at the big people table. We were all working on doll pieces for a doll artist. My specialty was being able to sand pieces so they would fit together seamlessly when fired. Each piece shrinks differently in the kiln based on thickness so you really have to have a feel for that clay to do that job. Soon I was also doing the shading on the limbs because of my ability to see color. Another woman did nothing but draw eyes. One lady specialized in hands and fingernails. Somewhere, someone had sculpted the entire doll which was made into mold. And somewhere in a gallery sits the combination of our work, nicely put together with someone else's name on it. A doll sold for at least $500.00 back then so that person could afford each of us to make the pieces and they put the hair and clothes on and assembled the doll.
My friends on Facebook, do all of that. They buy the blank fired pieces, paint them using various mediums, put them together and even make the clothes and shoes for them. You want to buy that doll for under $50.00. I used to get that much money in supplies to sand and paint the limbs. It is 30 years later!
Those cheap painted pieces in the dollar stores are just that. The paint will come off.. You have an assembly line of people painting one doll because few people can do everything. One does eyes, one brows, one lips, and so on down the line until the piece is finished. To find someone who can do the whole piece is unusual and don't forget, those people make pennies an hour.
You aren't paying enough for the art you buy off Etsy, Ebay and Amazon or someone's table in a craft show.
Craft show! Somehow that implies the person isn't a REAL artist. I'd like to see a few real artists make some of the items in craft shows!
Two hours on seven pieces of a fringe not counting choosing the beads and the first mistake and I haven't even strung the necklace or for that matter worked out how to incorporate the large seed beads with the mineral and glass beads. I am still working on how to put the cabs into the setting because the setting is too big for 8x6 and too small for 8x10 so something has to fill in the space or it will (a) fall off the first time the piece is knocked or (b) look like a cab swimming in a setting that is too big. I will have to make something to fill in the you get it...make. I will have to invent something the perfect size to fill in the space.
I probably have more kinds of beads than a bead store. I have wire in every thickness and most colors. I have tools. I have years invested in watching videos and trial and error. I am not producing a $4.95 necklace. I have to get that through MY head. Once I do the shock of my dental bill will be lessened.
My dentist has to drill the cavity out of the tooth without breaking the tooth and then REBUILD the tooth with the filling material. The lab has to take the two caps that were modeled off the real teeth and rebuild them to cover the area the dentist just rebuilt while making them fit together like two mirror image twins and match the color to the rest of my teeth. Yes, that is worth $3,800.00. I am sure the equipment to do those things is worth more than $50,000.00.

It's not just the making of the piece, it is the creation and everything needed to create it. Each time a bead changes size, if just for one bead, a single strand has to be bought and the left overs stored. Even if it is malachite, the colors can vary so badly they don't go together. All of that is going to cost money and all of that is in the price of making your piece. Every single different bead requires a jewelry maker buy an entire strand of beads. Think about that for a while. Want a black and white necklace that varies in graduation? Black and white bead strands divided into 4 mm, 6 mm and 8mm. That is 6 strands od beads. You'll need a 10-12 mm for focus plus the wire, crimp beads, crimp bead covers, jump rings and fastener. You will need a pair of jeweler's pliers, needle nose pliers, crimp tool, crimp cover tool and cutters. You will need a necklace board to lay the design out on and to measure it. Still think you can make that necklace because I haven't got into months of practice to perfect your technique. I know some people who are still mastering crimping years later. Good luck with that $5.00 necklace because you spent that on the first string of beads.

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