Saturday, 22 February 2014

Why I don't do remakes, orders or commissions

A photo of my torch (and messy desk) just because wordy photographless blog posts can look boring

Almost every day somebody asks me if there's going to be more of a particular bead set, or if I'm going to make any more of these beads that they've seen in my gallery or if I can make them those beads but in a different colour or size.

I love that people like my beads. I love that people want to buy my beads, I really do.

But my answer to those emails is always the same.


And I appreciate that this might be disappointing or annoying. I also appreciate that you might think I'm an ungrateful cow who is being awkward or who doesn't want the business.

I'm not.

Some of the beads in my gallery are anything up to about eight years old. There are several reasons why I can't or won't reproduce them ...

The glass I used for the beads is no longer available.
Sometimes glass is only available in limited batches. This is especially so with Creation Is Messy glass which I use a lot. Some of the Italian glasses I've used might have been 'odd lots' (production mistakes or anomalies) and they will never be made again. I often get sent one or two rods of glass as samples or gifts. After I've used them, there is no more.

The moon was in just the right phase. 
I have made beads that I would love to make again but for some reason I just can't. Maybe this is because I was in a really brilliant mood on the day I made them. Or maybe I had a certain pair of socks on that gave me magical glass powers. Perhaps my torch was set at a slightly different flame and the oxygen and propane levels were freakishly superb. Maybe the weather filled me with a zing and a zest and I was beadily unstoppable that day. Or perhaps I just forgot how I made a particular bead design. Trust me, you only need to do one thing differently - aim the flame at the 'wrong' point, tilt the mandrel differently or use the incorrect amount of encasing - to get inconsistent results.

I just don't want to.
Some beads are absolute buggers to make. Sometimes I have the patience for them and sometimes I don't. Simple as that.

The beads were a one-off.
There are beads in my gallery that I won't make again because they were promised as one-offs to customers. There are also beads in my gallery that I won't make again because they have very special meanings or memories attached to them and it would feel wrong to remake them. I know that sounds really bizarre but it's true.

More recently, there's also a financial reason. I don't buy glass to keep in stock 'just in case', same as I no longer buy sterling silver to keep in stock just in case someone asks for certain jewellery. 'Just in case' stock would be a wonderful thing to have but I'm not in a financial position to do that. Anyone who has bought my beads for several years will have seen the price of them go down. Nowadays most people just don't have the money like they used to. In turn, neither do I. Even though my prices have dropped considerably, twice last year I was told that my work is overpriced. I'm not going to whinge on about money because frankly I find it bloody awful when I see and hear other beadmakers doing so but just know that my work is very utterly totally not overpriced. It might be out of some people's price ranges but that is not my fault. You know what? I'd really like an iPad but I don't email Apple and tell them they're too expensive for me. I just ... don't have the iPad. (I'm sorry if that sounds rude or brash but talking about money can so often be that way so let's just stop it now, yes?)

The main reason I don't do bead remakes, custom orders or requests is a simple yet simultaneously complex one. 


I've been a creative person for as long as I can rewind my brain. I'm used to the fits and starts that my creativity occurs in. I'm used to its battery-like properties where it can be fully charged and I'll not be able to stop making stuff, right through to its flatness where I've not got any creative power at all and the only thing I can do is rest the make-and-do lobe of my brain and let it recharge. I'm used to my brain but I totally understand that you might not be. (I do hope other creative folk understand what I mean?)

My creativity is also affected by my state of mind. If I'm upset or worried about something then that will show in my work. During those times I tend to stick to simple beads - spacers, hearts, nuggets and encased rounds. When I'm on top of the world, my more complex designs happen - the really dotty beads, the encased, highly detailed ones and the decorative florals. When I'm ticking over somewhere in between, my normal beads occur - the stringer ones, the polka dots, the owls and the like.

There's also the case of not wanting to make the same thing over and over. I knit but I don't knit the same socks or the same scarf repeatedly because that wouldn't be fun. It would become stale and boring. It'd be like an artist painting the same picture over and over again. I'm not a machine. I've never churned out beads, mainly because I just won't and also because I'm such a perfectionist and every single bead that leaves the shed is right. I pride myself on the quality of my work and second quality beads just don't happen in my shed. If it's not right, it gets killed in the water jug. Some people find that an odd attitude but hey, I'm an odd person and I'm just fine with that.

So there you have it. Those are the reasons why I no longer do remakes, custom orders or commissions. I know it's annoying and I do apologise. These days I just have beadmaking sessions and I make several of one design or several sets the same and sell them when I have them. I appreciate that this is inconsistent and unreliable (and those are not very positive words, I know) but I hope that this here waffling on explains why this is so.

Thank you for your interest in my work and thank you, my lovely customers, for your custom. I hope nobody takes offence at this post. Never think that I'm ungrateful for or unappreciative of your business. It's quite the opposite, I assure you, because without my customers there would be no Beads By Laura.


Freyja said...

Never apologise for being an artist. I want to own Laura Sparling originals because they are unique. I don't want to be one of a hundred owners of something mass produced. And I am your customer. And the customer is never wrong, remember? ;-)

Seriously, Sparkles. You are a talented artist and I have masses of respect for your work. Thank you for sharing your beautiful glass jewellery with us. xxx

Caroline B said...

From one creative brain to another, well done for explaining this so well. There is no joy to be had from making the same thing over and over again, and without the joy there is no spark to the end product and it's the spark that makes people want to own it. Stick to your guns on this one!

Laura Sparling said...

Thank you so much, ladies. Your comments mean a lot.

L xx

Jane Perala said...

VERY well said! I feel the same way, however unlike you, I am a big "wuss" and not able to say NO. I really must learn to - it is definitely time.
Thanks for inspiring me to just say no.

Maria said...

Good on you for your honesty! Good to know the reasons why you can't do more of the same beads. People who aren't crafty or artists just don't 'get it' as to the process, so you did a great justice by posting your reasons.

Chantal said...

Your beads are NOT overpriced. Quite the contrary and that is why I never manage to buy them because I'm too slow to catch them before they are gone!

Anonymous said...

Laura, thank you for this post. Your creations are exceptional and your beads very special to use in jewellery making. Keep up the good and unique work! Warm regards, Toika

Marianne said...

Thanks you for saying just what I feel :) 👍

Loris Glassworks said...

Well said, I completely agree. Creating the same thing over and over is not that much fun. Your beads are lovely, don't change a thing.
Lori in Atlanta

Niky Sayers said...

Beautifully written! Anyone who thinks your beads are over priced obviously do not understand the high quality that you work to. Your beads are artisan beads, they are amazing and I would more then happily pay double what you ask for them! The fact that you don't churn them out and that they are consistently beautiful make me treasure the ones I already have and look forward to getting more!

Sandy Burnett said...

Boy would I love to copy and paste and make a huge poster of this in my craft booth - applies to every art style, not just beads. Well said, my friend...well said!

Jane Perala said...

Reading this again at the beginning of 2015, and I have finally learned to say no to custom orders. I must admit that it is partly because I now have arthritis in my hands, so my torch time is limited. I just hope my customers will understand - I guess some won't, but that is ok too. Thanks for a great post Laura.