I’m really good at forgetting stuff. If something isn’t visibly right in front of me, it’s highly likely I’ll forget it, so I’ve gotten very good at using planners and leaving notes for myself. Back in the day, I used to write things on my forearm to remind me of cross country practice or the massive research paper due tomorrow, but that method doesn’t work so well in adulthood when there are a zillion more things to remember, like shopping lists, rent checks, stuff to research for work, meet ups with friends, etc. As a result, my intent with this post is not only to share lessons I have learned with you, but to also remind myself of things I’ve learned during this whole jewelry making process…
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Candidly, I have the hardest time with this sometimes, especially when I make earrings. I’ll make one and then wait days to make the other, trying to build enough courage to start, and be comfortable with the idea that it may not match the first perfectly. But the beauty of it is, even if I totally mess it up, at least it’s a chance to learn– whether it’s to learn what not to do, practice and refine a skill or technique, or develop a whole new idea.
2. Take account of all fingers before throwing your weight into a hammer. See the nice little blood blister in the shot below? Every time I look at this picture, I cringe remembering how hard I slammed my finger while working on a cold, metal surface– no bueno. Ever since then, I’ve learned that when my brain assures me my fingers are all well out of harm’s way, I really really need to let my eyes double check the situation, and maybe even try a sample hammer swing, just to be totally sure.
3. When a product recommends you use it in a ventilated space, do it. Oh boy, yes! This one time, I thought I could tough out some resin fumes and, holy mackerel, was I wrong. Actually, while you can’t tell from the picture, the above picture also commemorates the day I learned yet another lesson… the D.A.R.E. officer who came to talk about huffing in elementary school wasn’t lying. While working on this resin filled pendant, my brain was totally overcome by the fumes, which, in hindsight, may have slightly influenced the whole finger getting smashed by a hammer situation… Anyways, ever since then, I’ve made sure to work in a well-ventilated area, even if it means working in the garage with the door opened in the middle of winter while quickly trying to paint epoxy on earring posts before it all freezes.
4. Even though it can be tedious, take time to measure and plan ahead of time. This is best evidenced by the photo below. I have a friend who loves stamped jewelry, and I had planned everything ahead of time, getting this beautiful silver blank from a metal shop in San Francisco, specially picking out the right design and length of chain, and making sure I could get it into the mail so she could receive it in time for her birthday. Unfortunately, I decided to be impulsive with the actual stamping portion of the project, thinking I could eyeball the spacing and symmetry of the letters, but instead ended up with this sorry little guy…
5. Don’t let closed doors stop you. When I moved back to Montana, I tried to get my work some local stores, thinking that would be the best next step for my jewelry making dream. However, for one reason or another, those doors were closed very quickly, and now, I can see why. I would’ve been a stressed out mess trying to keep up with inventory and make sure I was creating pieces that strictly fit “my brand.” I love instead being able to make jewelry at my own pace, trying out techniques and materials as I want, without having to worry about pleasing someone else with my work, or freak out if jewelry isn’t flying off of the shelves. This pace of creating definitely fits my season of life, as well as my goals with jewelry making, and I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. If you’ve got an idea and a passion, follow it! It may not work out according to your plan, but I can assure you God has His best story for you, and the door He opens may be a billion times better than the door you were knocking on.
How about you? Do you have any life lessons to share?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post!