Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Contemplating Nerdy Necklaces

Last year I got *really* into necklaces. I bought a ton (just super cheap stuff), and along the way I came across this Harry Potter Deathly Hallows necklace ~

The eBay seller didn't even know what it was, and just had it labeled as a geometric triangle design. Scrolling through pictures, I didn't notice it at first, but then had a "Hey, wait a minute..." moment. I really loved the idea that fans could recognize the reference, but it also looked like a nice, normal design to everyone else.

Hunger Games - Mockingjay

I started searching for more, thinking of my favorite books, movies, video games, and board games. And while I found the few pictured on this post, I was disappointed by most of the selection. A search for Mario turned up brightly colored cartoon designs. A search for Tetris turned up junk made with perler beads. And for a lot of searches turned up nothing.

One night I was trying to fall asleep, and my mind started racing with nerdy necklace designs. It got so bad that I had to get up and draw them out so I could go to sleep. And while I was excited by the rush of ideas, I didn't have any real interest in figuring out how to make them out of metal. Maybe one day in the far future!

Harry Potter - Time Turner

But the custom ambigram business has been slowly getting worse & worse. Last year I made about half of what I made a few years ago. The only good months I had were the 2 months when the ambigram generator was broken and more business flocked my way. December and January were miserably low, and I only brought in about 1/4th of what used to be a 'normal' month. Something needed to change. It was becoming more obvious that I was going to have to find something new that I could make & sell in addition to the ambigrams. And with a little one at home with me for another 2 years, I *dreaded* the idea. I already have hardly any work time as it is! 

My mind kept going back to those necklace ideas, but out of stressful obligation. There was no enthusiastic, creative energy behind it. When a whole week came up where I had no orders due, I begrudgingly decided to spend the time researching and watching tutorial videos. And as I researched, I started getting interested, and even excited!

Dr. Who - Tardis

The next big hurdle was going to be buying well over $100 worth of supplies though. We had no money to spare, and my only hope was the mention of some late Christmas money that might be heading my way (though that wouldn't cover much of it). I obsessively read and researched in a frenzy, racing to finalize a supply list before the check arrived so I'd know what I needed to order from each store.

Every step turned into an overwhelming list of questions - there weren't just sheets of silver, there was sterling silver, silver plated, silver filled, and so on. Or gold, bronze, brass, aluminum, copper, titanium, etc. Then I had to figure out what gauge/thickness I needed (18, 20, 22, 24...), what the difference between dead soft and half hard and hard meant, and who had the best prices. Every tool I needed was the same. While I knew I needed a hammer, I had no idea which of the 15 completely different jewelry hammers I needed. Smoothing and polishing the metal was the worst, since there are a lot of different techniques to choose between, each with their own supplies. Did I need sandpaper, files, polishing componds, or silicone polishers? Could I do it by hand, or did I need a big machine, or was the Dremel OK?

Harry Potter - Golden Snitch

1 week of no orders turned into 2+ weeks of no orders, the longest we've ever gone without one, but I was thankful for the time because I still had so much more to figure out. I finally hacked away until I had the final shopping list and there was nothing left to do but wait..... and then I got 4 payments! Any other week that might have gone straight to bills and food, but Justin was about to be paid for the month and we'd already bought our groceries. To get everything from my list, I needed to order from a few different shops, but I was immediately able to put in the biggest order ($75), which was going to be the toughest to afford. Over the next few weeks I was able to put in smaller orders here and there, and in less than a month I was able to buy all $200 of supplies from my list!!

The timing of everything has been really incredible. If orders hadn't gotten so bad, I would have never sat down to do the research. The two weeks off was just enough time to research and compile my supply list, and then I suddenly had more than enough payments to fund everything! I've already had a chance to start playing a little with the metal, but the work was slow as I was still waiting on a few tools to arrive in the mail. (And naturally, *now* I have a steady stream of ambigram orders to work on!)

My first work-in-progress!

Who knows how well the necklaces will actually sell, but it's been an interesting, wild & crazy start. And if nothing else, at least I can wear all of those awesome designs I dreamed of!

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