Saturday, September 12, 2015

What's on My Bench?

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

Background

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.

Lessons


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,

Val Swanson


16 comments :

Mollie Ann said...

First, congrats on that huge order! And a huge Thank You for these wise and wonderful tips on lessons learned. You've surely saved any number of us a lot of grief and panic. I would never have thought to use old or inexpensive tools!

Michele said...

Congrats first!!! Thanks for sharing your tips on how to manage such a big order, I'm sure it was a nervous/ happy time.

Urban Pearl Studio said...

Fabulous!! great order and it was so fun watching it from the beginning to the end! Wowza!!

jemsbyjb said...

Wow that was quite a project! You did a great job!

LoveStoneArts said...

WTG Glo!! Congrats!! Just experienced some of the same wear and tear on tools and me-self as I finished up my first bulk order. It is good to learn just how much production vs art we are willing to do.

SendingLoveGallery said...

lots of good info, Gloria - thank you! What a good tip about using the older tools~

Jennifer said...

Wow! What a project! You must be superwoman.

Beadsme said...

Wonderful. If I have more than 10 on order a production line is best. Totally agree with breakages too. We learn the hard way sometimes. Great post.

Beadsme said...

Wonderful. If I have more than 10 on order a production line is best. Totally agree with breakages too. We learn the hard way sometimes. Great post.

Gloria Flynn - EarthEnergyGemstones said...

Thanks so much, everyone! It was a fun project and I would gladly take on another!

Nancy Russell said...

Oh, my, Gloria! I cannot imagine having to wire wrap so many crystals! Your poor hands must have been very sore! But congratulations on being able to fill such a large order, and thanks for sharing your experience.

Lori Taggart said...

Wow! What a lot of work! Great observations and tips!

Lori Taggart said...

Wow! What a lot of work! Great observations and tips!

Tracy said...

Holy moly! Talk about a HUGE order! GREAT tips!

WanderingJewel said...

Congrats on the big order! I'm glad you were able to fill it ahead of schedule. Great tips, especially liked the one about 40-41 actually being 39 per strand.

Brooke said...

I enjoyed reading your great tips Glo! Thanks for sharing.