It's not that I want to be "all things to all people," but apparently "all things to me." Jewelry designer, webmaster, photographer, perfectionist. In the recent step-it-up-a-notch pace at which I've been beading recently, I took a little time out to make a few completely one-of-a-kind pieces for my friend and for myself. Necklaces and bracelets. Those little "goes with everything" pieces with some serious pizazz. Because whereas those forerunner pieces to which I refer were also unique, they were economical for my customers and easier to make because not quite as much time and care had to be taken in picking out each bead.
The necklace you see in these photos is all the same one. It's so long, though, that it can be worn a lot of different ways. And I do. It's toys for adults. Short choker, long dangly, wrap twice with a short dangly. Whatever. And instead of the "grab a bead if it looks okay and add to the strand" tactic I used with those other pieces (which I still love and will continue to wear, by the way,) the necklace you see here took about a million years to make and incorporates not only my standard glass beads but garnets, freshwater pearls, denim lapis, turquoise...a few other semi-precious pieces of not-the-best-quality but certainly very much character. A single unglazed, clay bead of my own making. And sterling beads that don't necessarily have to match each other.
I make pieces like this for myself from time to time, but haven't yet broken into the realm where I sell them. Cost, for one thing, and also just because I haven't thought about it. I mean, I go into these "she's a machine" modes and since I'm trying to create new work, get ready for upcoming sales, expand my website to include pieces for sale and so on and so forth (I believe I mentioned packing for an out-of-town-trip, yes? Funny how the procrastinating monster grabs me in the mornings,) adding this one next thing seems silly.
And I'm not adding it right now. Just telling you about it. But I know this necklace is special and people already are doing the little double-take when they see it, and there are people who will want to buy it. In spite of its hefty price-tag. Well, to me. See, my necklaces range in prices from $15-50. Reasonable range for a lot of women. But to make a necklace like this to sell would easily cost a client $125 or more. And so I haven't ever "gone there." Thinking "well who would pay that?" I don't know that I would. No. I take that back. I would if I could afford it. But I'm a fairly budget-conscious kinda' gal and so I just can't. Nonetheless, I know people who aren't as budget conscious as I am and maybe with the holidays coming up I should make these available too. For the really special gift-recipient on my clients' list, or something.
So having bounced all these thoughts around in my head this morning, (hold on, I have simply got to go refill my coffee this second...okay, yum. Had a bite to eat too,) I decided to "make a quick photo or two." Ha. First I scanned the necklace on the flat bed, as I'm trying to develop some proficiency in doing - not that successfully, I might add. It's tricky, managing these shadows. Not to mention it seems that the more substantive pieces take on a bit of a blurry look, too. I know I could read up on why that is and perhaps eliminate that. Then again, maybe flatbed scanners are for less-dimensional items?
Anyway, one of the first contacts I ever had with my now-friend Dena Harris, writer extraordinaire, was when she interviewed me for a piece she was writing for an Art Jewelry magazine (perhaps by the same name, even. I need to check on that.) On exactly this question. How to photograph jewelry. I was really into it then and had had much success photographing my pendant necklaces on cord. That's a far cry from this, though, and so although I read the article back then, I have to admit it was with the slightly slanted viewpoint of "I was quoted in a magazine article! How cool is that?" Hmph. Dirty little narscissistic secrets. I do recall that our friend, Rachel, who may have actually been the first person to turn me on to the idea of scanning instead of photographing our pendants (she was making them then, too,) knew someone who placed a white sweatshirt over the piece to cut down on shadows and reflections. I thought that was interesting, but didn't really "get it." Well, I think I might get it now. First, white paper doesn't necessarily do anything great for me. This $2.97 Old Navy tee shirt I found in the closet with the tag still on it was the cleanest, whitest fabric I could find (remember, I'm the girl who drives back and forth to a now-across-town storage unit every few days...fabric didn't make it here with me. Where would I put it???) and it works better than paper, but the texture in the weave shows up on the settings I used. Well, the inside of a sweatshirt might be the perfect solution, since the fleecey texture doesn't show the fibers in the same way. Or I'd think. But don't think for a single minute that I even own a pristine, white sweatshirt. Maybe no white sweatshirts at all, come to think of it. And if I did, it'd prolly be at the bottom of a bin somewhere across town.
So I dug into my little bag of tricks and found one of my black necklace stands. Black flocking that picks up all the dust that flew out the other end of your vacuum cleaner when you weren't looking, that is. And add "rolley tape thing that removes lint" to the list of things I have no idea how to locate. Jan may have one downstairs but there's no way I'm gonna' go poking around in her rooom. So I miraculously found some two-sided tape in the bottom of a purple gift-bag full of vitamins that used to sit on the shelf over my microwave at the old house. If you've moved within the past six months you know that this is a completely normal place to find a roll of two-sided tape. That worked nicely to get the most obvious lint off of the display stand, and the camera would pick up far more and so that's why we love Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro.
Well, here's the next little tricky challenge to shooting a photo of a necklace that's meant to be worn creatively. It hangs very long. How can you capture the look of it hanging down long if you happen to want to wear it that way? Well, without hanging it on a real, live person, that is.
I love the photographic choices found in the catalogs I flip through, looking at the pretty things and marveling at the quality of those images. When I'm having a down-day, I compare my work to theirs and wonder at my inability to capture such quality images. Then I remember they have staffs dedicated to all ranges of the production. Jewelry designers and webmasters and photographers are likely not all working in the same office. And I smile and think, "I'll get there. One day maybe I'll hire my own staff!" That'd be neat. I think it would, anyway...if I could let go of some of my control issues.
Wonder if it'd be as fulfilling to just choose a single path and follow it? No time, frankly, to figure that out. As soon as I get this entry posted and the photos imbedded just so, I have to scan some book covers for the website I'm building for another writer. Then maybe I'll pick up the list I made yesterday and see what's left. Nervous giggle from the woman in the swivel chair in front of the window.