Have you ever found yourself wandering around on etsy searching just about anything and everything? Maybe a cute cuff, coffee cozy,handpainted necklace, clay earrings, or a piece of wheel thrown pottery? You might even glance at the price of the item and think, "that's a bit expensive for a coffee cozy". But, is it really? I for one, like to bargain shop. I live on a budget like most people, but you can't really look at a handmade item at being too costly when you are comparing it to Target/Walmart prices.
As an artist of handmade polymer clay jewelry, I want to explain what actually goes into "handmade". It's alot of love, patience and time. Time for me, is really of the essence when my two year old is at my feet. Here are the steps that I go through to create my best selling peanut butter and jelly friendship necklaces. I mold out the inside of each bread... roll out a thin brown log, flatten it, smooth it and place it around each bread. Then, I cut the end with a clay tool, smooth it out and make sure the end is smoothed out and mended so you can not see where the end has been cut. And yes, there is an easier way of doing this. If i made a cane, which would be like a loaf of bread, and then slice each slice, could possibly cut my time down significantly and also it would change the appearance tremendously. However, I do not cut corners like this and I hope that shows. Each hook is carefully placed in and then a tiny piece of clay is placed in that loop and smoothed over with a very tiny tool. Again, everything is smoothed out so no blemishes appear around the edging. Do I have to do it this way? No, but I choose to for durability. Each topping of choice is sculpted out and pressed onto the clay and centered. Now, for the face, it is not painted on. Each pupil is rolled out with just the right amount of clay and very carefully placed on, making sure the eyes are placed apart with a right distance and that each shape is as round as it can be. Then, the cute little smiley is rolled out in my hand and placed on with a needle, or sometimes my fingers. Once the construction is complete, it doesn't stop there. They are baked for 15 minutes at 275 degrees, pulled out to cool and then each little imperfection on the toast are scratched out and sanded out with a needle and a special tool that i scrape into the clay. Sometimes little dark pieces of clay get into the lighter clay and need to be removed. This too is time consuming and may cause blindness!! After each little imperfection is taken out and removed from the clay, it is then glazed by painting on a layer of glaze for each side, one side at a time. This too takes about 20 minutes including drying time in between glazing each side. While waiting for the final coat to dry, i begin cutting and measuring each necklace chain for each charm made. After it is dry, the charm is attached by a jump ring onto a silver chain. Now, imagine doing this on a daily basis, and having lots and lots of orders and only yourself to create them! It's alot of love into these!
This is just an example of my handmade creations. There's lots of other crafts that also take alot of time that are tedious and have high attention to detail. I hope after reading this, some of you might realize how time consuming and how much love really goes into each and every piece that I ship out. If I'm not happy with the piece, it doesn't get shipped- it's that simple. So, next time you think about purchasing an item at walmart that appears to be handmade for $5 you might just want to head out onto etsy an support a real handmade artist that works hard and shows pride in their artwork. Support handmade artists :)