From Studio 109A: The High Price of Commissions – Part 2

December 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm (From Studio 109A)

Last Friday during the First Friday Gallery Walk in Raleigh, another artist asked me if I was still blogging. She said that she reads the blog and missed it. I suppose I could say the blog posts have been less frequent because I have writer’s block, and over the last few months, I would say I have artist’s block. I have been spending time in my studio to meditate about the direction of my work. I said to my husband, “I am trying to figure out what kind of artist I want to be when I grow up.”

Typically, Christmas is not a big season for me. My collectors buy my pieces mainly for themselves, not as gifts. Occassionally, I do have a panicked husband who calls me on December 23rd and asks me if I still have that piece his wife saw at Lazy Daze two years ago. But most years, December is a slow time in Studio 109A.

This year, however, I am seeing a trend in customers looking to commission affordable, personalized gifts. Several  customers have contacted me to commission smaller pieces using their own handwritten letters and manuscripts.

Now, Last April, I blogged about the High Price of Commissions and a particular commissioned bracelet for a high maintenance customer that went very badly.  After that bad experience, I swore off commissions altogether. However, the customers who have commissioned pieces this Christmas have made me have a change of heart.

Last Saturday, one of my long-time collectors braved the snow flurries and came to Studio 109A with a collection of letters from her mom. The notes were short and sweet. “Don’t worry. Love, Mom and Dad.” “We are so proud of your accomplishments…” “Happy Birthday!” Although most of the notes were written by her mother to her, one letter she wrote to her mother when she was a child. She commissioned me to take pieces of the letters and transfer them to the beads to create a simple sterling silver and beaded necklace. Since I work from color copies, the originals remain preserved for her to pass down to her daughter. Her mother’s letters moved me and reminded me of the notes my grandfather wrote to my grandmother (see The Love Letter blog post, February 2010). The beads and the necklace turned out very sweet, and more so, will be a wonderful, lasting way to let her mother know how she feels about her at Christmas (and all year long).

The second commission came from a new customer who met me at Lazy Daze last summer. She commissioned me to transfer her late husband’s math thesis and notes to beads for her daughter. She was also looking for gifts for her two sons. After thinking about what I could make using her images for her boys, I approached her about making a pen set. When I first started making jewelry in 2004, I created a series of fine writing/luxury pens using cigar labels. For this Christmas commission, I created a pen/key chain set, which turned out better than I could have imagined. Be on the lookout for more pens in Studio 109A.

As for me, I also love giving personalized gifts. Over Thanksgiving my family visited my sister-in-law in Indiana, and I made her a bracelet/earring set using cigar labels from her husband’s collection. Seeing the expression on her face when she put on the bracelet was a testament to how personalized gifts make the best gifts.

For a personalized gift you can make at home using your own images, check out my blog post A Holiday Tradition: The Heirloom Tablecloth (posted November 2009).

So, this holiday season, make it personal. Better yet, this weekend abandon to mall altogether and find the perfect gift during Downtown Raleigh’s Shop, Sip, and Cinema. Hope to see you soon!


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