Definition of TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT:
A great commotion over an unimportant matter
A few years ago I received a wonderful gift from a friend: a pair of gorgeous jade drop earrings. Dainty and delicate they were, and oh so beautiful!
And I, who had never felt any compelling interest in jewellery prior to that moment, was completely taken with them. I wore them all the time, everywhere.
One evening, admiring them for the thousandth time as I was removing them before bed, the thought suddenly occurred to me (appearing in my mind like one of those little thought bubbles rising above a cartoon character’s head): earrings like these couldn’t be that hard to make. I could probably do it myself!
That single casual thought signalled the start of a roller-coaster love affair with beads and colours and designs that lasted for several years – and what a ride it was!
In my usual extravagant fashion, I plunged willy-nilly into this fascinating craft, soaking up everything I could find on the internet about semi-precious stones, their characteristics and how they should be treated.
I learned from jewellery books and magazines how to work with beads and jump rings and French wire and all the bits and pieces that go into making jewellery.
I signed up for a weekend workshop to learn how lampwork beads are made; and I haunted online jewellery stores to see what other folks were doing.
My hands fell effortlessly into the patterns of wire-working, and the stones and beads I worked with felt like silk under my fingers as I worked out the designs I wanted.
I sourced online bead shops for the best prices, learning which could be trusted to provide accurate information about the quality of the stones they offered, and which were less than forthcoming about the authenticity of their wares. I learned the Golden Rule for playing in the world of semi-precious stones: caveat emptor!
And I discovered how much just plain fun it is to explore the intricacies of building chainmaille jewellery with nothing more than pliers and jump rings.
I played endlessly with Miyuki beads and bead weaving, experimenting with my own patterns and colours carefully picked from among the myriad Miyuki seed bead colours out there in the world.
African beads, Venetian glass, Swarovski crystals….everything I could lay my hands on became grist for my little mill.
I discovered the difference between rolled gold and gold-plate, why sterling silver is called sterling, and what vermeil is and how argentium silver is made. I learned how to darken silver when I needed to, and which jewellery made with semi-precious stones could withstand a journey through my tumbler – a journey that magically turned yellowed silver into the gorgeous, gleaming, almost-white metal that I loved.
And kaleidoscopic images of jewellery designs featured in my dreams at night.In the end, I wound up making jewellery that I myself would have worn; simple designs that allowed the beauty of the materials shine through.
Do you remember Disney’s wonderful original 1940 movie, “Fantasia”?
One of the segments that I remember from my childhood is “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – where the Sorcerer leaves Mickey Mouse, his apprentice, in charge of a small clean-up job. Mickey has the brilliant idea of using one of the sorcerer’s spells to charm a broom and bucket to help him with the cleaning project.
Somehow, however, he goofs on the spell and winds up battling an army of brooms carrying endless buckets of water into the room.
Well, that was me, happily churning out jewellery as though my life depended on it; until it began to dawn on me that I was going to have to find some kind of outlet for this new-found passion or risk being drowned in product!
The next step, of course, was to sell some of my wares: thus began Susannah Designs, my small jewellery business.
So I designed a business card (oh, how I love to do graphic design!), found a good accountant to look after filing my yearly income tax, and settled down to the business of selling jewellery.
Keeping constant track of inventory; deciding on pricing; designing, setting up and taking down displays; even such inconsequential tasks as attaching the little price tags to the jewellery seemed to take forever to do. In short, all the myriad tasks that are required to make a business like this work were cutting into my design/fun time – to the point where they were close to cutting my design time completely out.
So there it was, plain as the nose on my face: being the happy little jewellery-maker beavering away in the background was right up my alley; however, as for the rest, well…who would ever have thought that it all would be so incredibly time-consuming and stressful.
I kept on keeping on for months, thinking that it would all fall into place eventually; but eventually, much as I hated to admit it, I had to accept that my wonderful hobby had degenerated into little more than drudgery — and I certainly hadn’t retired from a busy and stressful working life with the intention of adding yet another, brand-new set of stresses to my life!
It was time for the “Susannah Designs” enterprise to come to a screeching halt.
Luckily for me, a dear friend offered to host an emormous jewellery party, which went a long way to reducing my inventory. Then my accountant did whatever it is that accountants do to officially close a business. Finally, the remaining inventory went to beading friends.
What remains of that tumultuous time is only my small collection of beads and findings that I particularly loved – enough to keep me in jewellery (and the females in my family in gifts) for quite some time to come.
Nowadays, I slip into my craft room every now and then and ply my former trade for a pair of earrings to wear with a particular outfit, or perhaps to design a bracelet for a gift. The passion that blew into my life back then has since ripened into a fond and quite manageable hobby — one that I now pursue with a modicum of decorum, as befits an old love affair.
And that suits me just fine, thank you very much!