Welcome to today's episode of What's on My Bench from JET team member Gloria Flynn of EarthEnergyGemstones and EarthEnergyWeddings.
3 LESSONS I LEARNED FROM A BIG PROJECT
After getting a work referral, I recently found myself in the middle of wire wrapping 350 pendants for a conference. These pendants would be hung later from chains by the conference organizers.
There was a very tight deadline, so I got to work right away figuring out what materials I needed to order. Just as I had the supplies list worked out--but, thankfully, not ordered--the buyer contacted me with a change in direction, which often happens when committees are involved. The little round blue beads now needed to look like crystal chandeliers so the hunt was on for the right size and color crystal briolettes. I contacted a supplier to find out how many beads were on a string so I would be sure to have enough for the order in case I broke any. I also wanted to include at least 10 extras just to make sure my buyer had enough to go around.
"About 40-41 beads on a string" turned out to be 39 beads, so before the project was over, I needed to order another string. Good thing they were in stock and could ship by priority mail!
I had never had such a large order, so this involved some organizational skills and an assembly-line process. I worked with one string of briolettes at a time and assembled them all, leaving the wire wrapping to do last.
String by string, I went through each step exactly the same way until I found a rhythm that became almost Zen-like, except that my right hand and shoulder started to ache from working with the very stiff brass headpins. I'm used to working with sterling silver and gold-fill wire, which is softer, so this felt very different!
Originally I had no idea how long it would take to wrap that many briolettes so I over-estimated my time. As it turned out, I could wrap about 40 beads an hour, but I could work for only a few hours a day because of the hand and shoulder stiffness. Even so, I still was able to finish the job and get the order shipped two days ahead of schedule making the buyer very happy.
1. Expect at least one or two broken briolettes. This happens sometimes when wrapping wire tightly around the crystals, so extra supplies should be on hand.
2. Don’t always believe how many beads "should" be on a strand! Even though there are materials guidelines, they are an approximation so I would suggest making sure to order extras. Clearly, I cut it too close and needed to re-order under a tight deadline.
3. And finally, use old tools when working with heavy gauge brass. I wish I had had some older pliers and cutters. Using my good tools took its toll, especially on my expensive cutters, which I now need to have re-sharpened. The side cutters were pretty useless for this job since I needed to get in very close to snip off the extra wire. Then I had to use my skinny flat nose pliers (not shown) to squish the wire ends down tight. I was afraid I would break them because I don't think they were designed for 18-gauge wire. Tools are so important for any job and having the right tools for the job is key. I think I'll be watching for sales so I can stock up on cheaper tools to carry me through any future projects with heavy gauge brass wire.
Remember to come back next week to discover What's on My Bench! If you want to learn more about Gloria Flynn, visit one of her Etsy shops, EarthEnergyGemstones or EarthEnergyWeddings!
Until next week,