Sunday, March 24, 2013

Persian Princess Parure


I have been missing from the blogosphere for what feels like a very long time. Partly, this is because I decided to produce an entry for Bead Dreams this year, and it has taken over 100 hours to realize this literal dream.  I submitted my entry about ten days ago, and began working on this little piece for the Etsy Beadweavers April Challenge, "Shades of Scheherazade."  The theme is about Middle Eastern dancing, or as it is more commonly known here in the US, belly dancing.

Based on words from the theme description, I wanted my entry to be mysterious, exotic, curvey, and have movement itself, so that it might appear to dance with the wearer.

I hunted through my stash for things with those attributes, and also attended a local Bead Bazaar, organized by my friend Doris Coghill, in a high school gym with 40 bead vendors from 10 states.  I found several things that fit the bill.  Doris sells Swarovski Rivolis in ultra colors, which have tremendous depth and unusual color, and I found the ultra purple ones to be particularly exotic and mysterious, with a color range from purple to green gold.  She also had delicas in pale matte gold, and those seemed right too!


I found another vendor at the Bazaar with matte gold metal trinkets that seemed both curvey and somewhat in the Arabesque style, which has a Persian feeling and put me in the right corner of the world.  I bought three little metal bits, and some funky embellished chain, and a wonderful tassel, all in the matte gold.

My plan was to make a simple, wearable, date-night kind of piece, that I could easily finish before the beginning of April and the Battle of the Beadsmith, which I am putting on my dog tags for again this year.

I had seen other Beaders use metal bits like mine in embroidery, so I found a scrap of bead backing, glued on one of the bits and got out the beads.  But my results were abysmal.  Sigh.  I had buried the pretty shape in too much texture, made it bigger than I wanted it to be, gave it the disturbing quality of an animal face of some sort, and overwhelmed the matte gold finish I liked so much. Epic fail!

I decided I wanted the metal piece to be the size it was, and that it should have only minimal additional texture. I wanted to add color to it, but not beads, or only just a few.  I dug through my satin scrap bin and found a wonderful green gold piece.  I fused it to a bit of backing, and cut it to the exact shape of the stamping.  Then I added a few delicate beady touches and glued that result to ultrasuede.  But THEN WHAT?  I was used to having a beadwork to edge, and how in the world was I going to apply the backing through the metal at the edges?  The answer was, with great difficulty. And as I was edging the thing, the difficulty of adding fringe, which I knew I wanted, also occurred to me.  Nothing is ever simple, you know?

After the edging, I bezeled 8 of the smallest Ultra Purple rivolis in the light gold matte delicas, set them aside, and turned back to the fringe problem.  I thought maybe I should just attach the funky tassel I bought and call it sufficient movement, but the scale of that tassel felt too large, so I took it apart, thinking I would eliminate the biggest ball.  Then I decided I really wanted the fringe, and that I would just figure out a way to do that.

I experimented and discovered that I could pick stitch the fringe through the ultrasuede backing with a sturdy needle, creating minimal visual impact from the stitching I would usually hide in the beadwork, so I fringed, and re-fringed, tassled, and fringed again until I got a delicate result with nice action. Here's the back and the tiny pick stitch dimples.

I grouped the rivolis into a triangular support for the focal, and played with connecting them, one of my current favorite beading interests.  I am loving working with connections as a means to blend disparate elements into a cohesive whole! I used 4 and 6mm Amethyst rounds from my stash to pull out the purple from the rivolis in the connection elements. I wanted the piece to have "hips" since hip action is such a defining element of  belly dancing, and found a way to drape on a hip shape on both sides of the focal that really pleased me.
HIPS!
Then it was time to make the strap.  Warren Feld (in his Jewelry Design Discussion Group on Facebook)  just wrote about the importance of the integration the strap, and I whole-heatedly agree.  And the first step is creating the right strap to integrate; one that will blend in with ease, offer support to what is already there, and bring its own little delight and meaning to the party.

Once I had the right thing, (a flat spiral, which is one of those techniques that I have never used before, but like the look of) I think the integration went pretty smoothly. 


In fact, I decided to make a larger flat spiral bracelet and a pair of earrings to create a set, making it sufficient to be called a parure, and helping me discover my alliterative title, Persian Princess Parure.   Although, I think Scheherezade was actually a queen...
 
If this set should be yours, you can see the listing in my Haute Ice Beadwork Etsy Shop here!


I find it has a springtime, crocus kind of color feeling, something I am just itching for!  Outside my window there are still many inches of snow blanketing my world.  Spring?  My backside.

I try hard to consider my design time irrevelant in the pricing of my work, and attempt to just price according to the time I believe it would take to duplicate the work, once the design work is resolved.  How do you price your work?  Do you include design time?  Construction time? Cost of materials?  The time it takes to make photos and write and post listings?  I think to recoup design time, you probably need to write tutorials.  Which would take yet more time.  :o)  That just has to be on my horizon, I think.  But not right away for sure.

32 comments:

  1. What a magnificent piece, Marsha! Color, composition, contruction, craftsmanship - as usual everything comes together gloriously in your beadwork! I love this this beautiful set!

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    1. Oh Callie, I think all the alliteration in my title got into your comment. Thank you so much!

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  2. I'm going to have to learn that flat spiral technique, was it in a book or online? When I first glanced at the picture, I thought the middle might be a clay tile, glad you included the picture of the first attempt - it's not the epic fail that you call it, but as you say it does lose the definition of the metal shape.

    I've discussed both the pricing issue and the tutorial issue with various people recently. I do agree that for items like this you can't really charge for all the time you spent going in the wrong direction - though if it was a custom piece you should because you'd be doing it to get what the customer wanted, not what you wanted. Because Etsy is the only venue I sell regularly, I do include a small amount to cover listing time and fees. I suspect I price too low, I've been trying recently to record time better, though I've found that even if I do that unless I use only seed beads or I use some really expensive components, that four times materials cost actually seems to work out the same as a materials and time based formula.

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    1. Thank you for the thoughtful response Anne. I have to list this on Etsy today, and I am really struggling with how to price it. :o)

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    2. OH, I forgot to say, I just guessed at what flat spiral likely was from knowing how to do a few round varieties, but there probably are tutorials online!!!

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  3. You post is fantastic. I really love to read how you work to put together a design, which is really marvellous. Your designs always have that particular touch making it just right. It is perfect. And I love the colors. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!

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    1. Thank you so much Cath! I think my process is pretty familiar to most of us who design. I think we all struggle a little and have to try, try , try again to get it close to what me meant. :o) I'm sure you know how this works too, as your work is beautifully designed.

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  4. Love it! Thanks for sharing, Marsha!

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    1. LOL, Hannah, I thought as I posted this that you might take me to task for using purple again. Must be something in the water. My last three pieces have all been purple-ish, and it was not a favorite of mine when I began beading!

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  5. Hi Marsha: Thank you, thank you, for posting such a wonderfully informative piece! I bead constantly (retired, hate housework) and the process of beading is as important to me as having a finished piece, so to follow your process here was great! You have created a wonderful set which I'm sure either you or a lucky customer will enjoy for a long time. I seldom sell finished pieces, but when I do I strive for recouping the cost of all materials, my time is usually a give-away. Guess if you love doing beadwork, you kind of minimize the $$$ figure for time spent! I hope to see more of your work, and more of the thought behind the process - and of course, doing pieces in purple is the topping on the cake! Regards, Jeanne

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  6. Hi Jeanne, and thanks for your comment! I am afraid I am not willing to give away my time or beads, but I can see how the cost of design can be recouped in the seling of the design. I make my living making costumes for competitive ballroom dancers, and my labor for that is billed at $40 an hour, which actually makes my costumes reasonably priced in today's competition clothing market. I don't try to bill my beading time at that rate, but I do pay myself an hourly amount that I think represents my technical skill and design quality. It is a personal decision for each beader, I guess,and I am always intrigued to hear how others think about pricing. Thus far in my five years of selling beadwork, I have managed to pay for my bead-buying habit in full each year, and I am satisfied with that for the time being. :o)

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  7. I just asked Patrick Duggan the question about charging for design time.

    I rarely make a piece a second time, so if I do not charge for design time I never recover the costs of that time. On the other hand, I never quite found it appropriate to charge for time spent designing something that does not end up in the finished piece. If I was really trying to cover my costs I would likely make more than one piece and recover my design time.

    My formula is to charge an hourly rate + retail replacement costs of the supplies + a small surcharge to cover shopping, storage, insurance, design, and all the other incidentals like thread, needles, tools, etc. I also take a look at what others are charging to make sure my prices are not unreasonable.

    One final thought- if you think your work is worth $10 then someone will tell you it is only worth $7. If you think your work is worth $500 you are much more likely to get the full price. If people think they are buying art they are willing to pay the price, if people think they are buying costume jewelry they want a bargain and just know that they could (but never will) make it for less or find something they like just as well for less at a discount store. That has been my experience anyway.

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    1. LOL Kathy Jo, I just read a post about Patrick's earring design process! I think this is good advice my friend, and very similar to what I do. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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  8. Oh my, this is so gorgeous and perfect for the theme!
    I love this color combo hugely!!!!

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    1. Thank you! I think it was your bra I looked at earlier! Bravo right back at you!

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    2. Yes it was!
      Siamo brave! :)

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  9. Colours, precision, everything is perfect! You reminded me flat spiral, it looks very fresh!

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    1. Thank you. I used both 4mm and 6mm beads in tht flat spiral and I really like the result. :)

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  10. I love the colors on this Marsha. I don't think I would have ever thought of using this combination- but it is stunning. And I love how the satin ending up showing through- it really does set off the metal piece without overwhelming it!

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    1. Betty I deeply admire your designs and I am so pleased that you like mine! Thank you.

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  11. Just a gorgeous piece with amazing colors and shapes that are begging to move and sway like hips when belly dancing! And I love that it's a whole set. It's truly wearable, and exceptionally beautiful. Lucky is the girl who gets to wear this for a date night!

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    1. Kinga, thank you! I love your piece for this challenge as well. Lots of really nice work turning up!And you and Chris Maj have already SOLD your entries,which is the very best win on all in my opinion!

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  12. Can't seem to reply as a nest to your response to my initial post! Oh well! I googled the stitch and as soon as I saw the picture of the first step realised I had used it but curved, by doing different things on each side. I think it ended up being my entry for the totally twisted challenge. It's arguable my most saleable stitch as I sold that piece and another different piece I made using the same technique.

    Another thought on pricing, my feeling is that artists and crafters who don't charge for their time do both themselves and their fellow artists and crafters a disservice. At the moment I use ten dollars an hour as my hourly rate, I'm almost a beginner, I haven't trained, I get to watch TV whilst I bead! My other job is working as a tutor - my rates are similar to Marsha's my training (degree and masters) are similar though my experience is less. Do we say the because I love maths (and chemistry) that I should tutor for free? In many ways I would love to, I would love to set up an agency to support under privelidged kids in the area I live, maybe to do that I would have to ask many tutors to donate one or two hours, or more realistically I would have to find funding to support a non profit/charity. We live in a money based economy, not a trade based economy, or a gift based economy, no one wins in the end if people try and enter the market for cost only. Marsha and Jeanne both lose out, the "Marsha's" find there work is undervalued and people say but "Jeanne" sells similar things for so much less, yet at the same time the "Jeanne's" lose out because people say it mustn't be much good if it only costs that much. Lose lose.

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    1. A very thoughtful answer Anne. Thank you. I agree. No one should really ever give away their time unless they are doing exactly that, creating a gift for a loved one. At the very least, a bead should charge minimum wage for their labor, and more depending on technical skill, experience and quality of design, in my opinion. But I also think it is a personal decision. But as you said,each sellers decision affects the market. A vast and complex can of worms this!

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    2. Anne I totally agree with you on the costing of items created. I used to think like Jeanne once, until it occurred to me that I won't ask my boss for less pay in my day job simply because I enjoy it, so why should I expect less with my beading and crafts....you know? But then again, like Marsha said, it's an individual choice......

      Marsha, thank you for sharing your work. I am always in awe at your patience and perseverance with the steps you take to create your pieces until they come to completion, and it is always amazing how they come out winning pieces. Lovely set indeed!.

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    3. Naan, thank you for reading and commenting. I think I just read on your blog that you had moved to the states. Welcome!!! And I believe you are on the upper East Coast, a great place for a fashionista to live. I am excited for you. And yes, the fact that I have done things I love to make a living for my entire lifetime has not destroyed my ability to survive. How much you love your work is not really a meaningful criteria for pricing that work. :)

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  13. Magnificent! I love your style - even didn't need to see your name - I knew it is your piece. You create magic!

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