Saturday, January 30, 2010

Today's Project

So far it's noon and I've been incredibly lazy today. We listed our house for sale last week and the last minute work has been phenomenal! So this morning was my day to rest and now it's time to get busy.

I've had requests for my work in gold lately, which is really exciting for me. It's a fairly new area where I can stretch my boundaries (and my budget) a little. I have had a couple of gold pieces for sale for some time now but got a request for a bezel set opal in 14 karat gold - I piece I completed last week that turned out lovely. My customer chose a blue green opal, which I ordered specifically for her, and while I was shopping with my supplier, I thought, "why not stock up on an extra opal and some more gold?" So I did and there's one listed for sale now in my shop.

Another customer approached me to custom make her a gold cross nose stud. I plan to start that project in a few minutes - starting with cutting two pieces of gold that I will hammer a bit and then add some flux to before laying across each other to form the cross portion. After the pieces are fused together, I will solder on a gold post, pickle the piece to remove the firescale created by the torch, and finally, finish and polish it up for her. It will be a lovely, unique, completely handmade nose stud. Watch for photos in the shop because I plan to do more of these. Sometimes my customers give me the best ideas of all - thank you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My New Buddy

I have a really cool new buddy - she arrived yesterday and I just pierced her nose today. I think she loves it ;)

Seriously, though, I think this new addition to my shop will help all of my customers get a sense of how their piece will look in relation to their own nose. My buddy (I really should give her a name) is about 3/4 size of an adult female, so a bit of interpretation is required but I think she ROCKS!

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Quality Commitment

Anyone who knows me knows that I am committed to quality. I have a belief in offering products that reflect my quality standards. You will not find any plated materials in my shop - in my opinion they are of inferior quality for a piercing, as the plating, whether that is silver plate, gold plate, rhodium plate, etc will quickly wear away, and expose the base metal beneath. Ever bought that pair of earrings in the sale section of your local department store? Remember how the shiny gold part wore away and became this black, ugly mess so soon after your purchase? That is because the earrings were plated. I have seen the same types of materials offered as nose jewelery and what I can tell you is that the outcome will be the same.

I work with sterling silver, 14 karat gold, and 14 karat gold fill to create my unique nose jewelery. Many people mistake gold fill for gold plate but it is not the same. 14 karat gold fill is an actual tube of gold that starts out hollow. The gold is then filled with another material, usually brass. The outside parts are gold. It is a high quality material that, with proper care, will wear the same way gold does.

Sterling silver will tarnish. If your piece begins to tarnish - as it will - it isn't ruined. All sterling silver tarnishes – it is called oxidization. It can be cleaned with a silver cleaner. I buy mine from the jewelry counter and simply dip the silver in there for a second and give it a rinse. It shines it right up. Be careful of stones though! Pearls will dissolve in it, as will turquoise.

I buy quality stones and crystals as well. Most of my stones are natural gemstones, but I also buy lab created gemstones. These are of the same quality but are less expensive as they are made by human hands, rather than the ravages of nature. The properties of the stone are the same but they are less highly prized and valued than their wild counterparts. In all cases, when my stones are lab created, the description I give will let you know that.

Another aspect of quality commitment is the care and attention I give to the creation of each piece, as well as the finishing work. Each piece is scrutinized before it is sent out to you and sometimes I put one into the melting pot because it doesn't reflect my quality standards. My pieces are handmade, and do look handmade, so they won't have the same exactness as things that are stamped from a mold or a press. I think this is part of their beauty - as I believe most of my customers do as well. We're tired of buying things that look the same as everyone else's - things with no heart, beauty, or soul. I bend each piece to the customer's specifications and carefully finish the end so there are no jagged edges. This requires the use of a cup burr added to my dremel tool, and a bit of fine grit sandpaper to get it nice and smooth.

Creating new and unique styles of nose studs and rings feeds my spirit. My commitment to quality begins even before I purchase my products to create with and doesn't end when the piece is in the box on it's way to the new owner. It extends much beyond that and encompasses all of the aspects of my little business; from production to customer service.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Customized Unique Nose Studs

My piercing is on my left nostril and a long time ago, before I started making my own nose studs, I bought a stud with a screw end from a local outlet, and man, was that thing hard to get in! It seemed like no matter which way I turned it, it didn't want to go into my piercing. When I finally did get it in, it just felt wrong. No other way to describe it - just wrong. I knew someone else with a piercing on the right and she had the same troubles with certain studs. When I started making my own, I twisted the screw in the other direction for hers and she found them much more comfortable and easy to insert. Eureka - I had discovered the difference between making a piece for the right or for the left nostril. Now I'm sure many of you out there already knew this little tidbit of information, but I didn't up until then and I was really pleased with my discovery.

I didn't make any changes to my items for sale at that point but began to think about the idea of customizing my studs - and rings and hoops as well. I realized it was something that would be appreciated by my customers so I set out to change each one of my listings to reflect this new offer of service - the choice between a left and right stud, and the choice to customize the size and gauge of hoop and ring items.

I love the outcome! It offers a personalized style of service to my customers, as well as giving them a nicer product. I know all of my customers appreciate the additional level of service. It does mean that my pieces take a little longer to make. I can get them mostly ready, but at the end each piece requires individualized finishing. I think the quality shows and it's worth the extra effort.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Some History on Nose Piercing and My Personal Journey

I thought I'd start off this new blog with a post from my Rock Your Wire blog about my personal experience with getting my nose pierced. I love my piercing and the variety of little works of art I make for it! I'm glad to have a chance to share it with all of you :)

Besides earlobe piercing, nose piercing is the most popular style of piercing. It is an ancient style of piercing, dating back to approximately four thousand years ago, and it has continued to grow in popularity over the last few years in mainstream society.

Most piercings I saw as a Canadian child were on women from India. I often admired the lovely sparkle I saw in the side of the nose, but never dreamed I would someday have one of my own. Indian women usually have their piercings on the left, which is associated with lessening of pain from childbirth and menstruation. When I chose my left nostril piercing, I didn't know this little fact and wish I'd had my piercing done before the birth of my first child! I chose a natural childbirth because I was just twenty two years old and I thought that was the best way to go about it, so I had not so much as an aspirin to ease my pain during the 29 hour journey. Perhaps a piercing would have helped. The second time around, my first question at the hospital was, "what do you have for pain options?".

The main types of jewellery worn in the nose are studs and hoops. There are some interesting pieces that go from the nose to the ear and I'm toying with the idea of creating some of these unique pieces to sell in my Rock Your Nose Etsy shop. My most popular form of stud is the screw shaped end - it is definitely the biggest seller. My piercer pierced my nose with a long needle and then inserted an 18 gauge screw end stud with a tiny zirconian stone. Actually, what happened was he inserted the stud and then said, "oh no!" Okay, I don't know about you, but when you've just had a needle shoved in your nose and have been breathing through the pain, the last thing you want to hear is "oh no!" The stud he had just inserted into my throbbing nostril was defective - it had no stone. I was somewhat disappointed, but not enough to want it taken out and have one with a stone inserted instead. Little did I know what would happen next.

Well, I guess that little stoneless thing just didn't want to be on display in my new piercing, so as I slept two nights later, my left hand with a ring on my finger reached up in sleepiness to SCRATCH my nose! The ring caught on the little stud and pulled it right out, so there I was, at 2am with a 6am commute ahead of me, sitting in my bathroom sink (because I wear glasses and can't see without them), trying to stuff this screw ended thing into my now bleeding nostril. I believe I started to cry from frustration and pain because I could not put it back in no matter what I did.

Some women might have given up at this point, but not me - no not me. I went back to bed and called my piercer first thing the next morning when I got to work. He booked me in for an appointment and when I got there he said a few more words that I didn't want to hear. He said, "okay, get up on the table - we're going to perform a miracle here". Eek! And then my highly skilled piercer, whose name is Nick (from Duncan, BC Canada) proceeded to poke that needle right back exactly through the original hole. It hurt like hell the second time around, but I proudly left the shop with my left, throbbing nostril sporting a little stud with a gem in it this time. I slept with those tiny, round Band-Aids on my nose for many months to come - just in case.

Little did I know that 5 years later I would start making jewellery. And I had no inkling of the fact that one of the first things I would do when I learned to make my first little sterling silver coil would be to put an L shape on the end and put it in my piercing. I had no way to know that those baby steps would lead to me offering them to other people for sale and coming up with ideas for new designs in my sleep. I had no clue that I would open an Etsy shop for my jewellery and that my designs for nose piercings would become so popular that I would open a little shop dedicated just to them. It's been a long journey and I'm so proud of my Rock Your Nose shop.

Because my designs are motivated from my own experience, I always make the highest quality pieces that I can. I use glue very occasionally to hold Swarovski crystals to the sterling stem, but only as a matter of necessity - there is no other way to get them to stay in place. For my other pieces, I use traditional fabrication methods of silver soldering and melting with my torch. Each pin in my pieces is handmade by me. I know, I know, I could purchase headpins and use them instead but I take a lot of pride in what I do and in what I provide to the customers who support me in my work. I will be updating my listings to offer screw studs that are customized for a left or a right piercing because there is nothing more uncomfortable than trying to fit a screw end made for the wrong side. My work as an artist has grown, as has my imagination. I'm always coming up with new ideas and am currently waiting for some beads that will add some fun and spark to some of my dangle studs and my hoops. Every day is a new adventure :)