Artist’s Mistake or Customer’s Treasure? (Video)

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena
Video Episode 31

by Rena Klingenberg.

Do you ever put your jewelry “mistakes” out there for people to see?

Transcript of This Video:

I’d love to hear what you have to say about mistakes in your jewelry.

I know that many times over the years, especially when it comes to wire jewelry, I have made what looked to me like terrible mistakes in a piece of jewelry.

But I’ve been amazed that other people have not been able to see the mistake that to me is just glaring like a beacon!

And if you’re brave enough to put one of your “mistake” pieces out on your display table, what kind of reception does it get from other people?

I’ve often been surprised to discover that a piece that to me has a horrible mistake in it – is the first thing that sells at a show.

And sometimes two people will even fight over it, to be the one who gets to buy it!

And I’m thinking, “my goodness, how can they not see that horrible mistake in that piece?”

But what I came to discover is that I think everybody has their own version of perfection, of beauty, and of handmade qualities.

So what looks to me like a horrible error in a piece I made – is something that someone else thinks is a beautiful feature.

I’d love to hear your experiences with mistakes in your jewelry, how they’re perceived by other people – and how you feel about putting them out to the public.

Thanks for joining me for this topic today, and I’ll see you soon!

The Jewelry Rena’s Wearing
in This Video:

Jewelry and Coffee with Rena, episode 31

Earrings: – Czech glass and brass, by Dark Ride.

Necklace: Fiery Copper Asian Butterfly Pendant Necklace by Kelly E. Marra.

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  1. I guess it’s just like us as people. We see what we think are flaws, imperfections, or “mistakes” in ourselves, but those are the things that make us unique and endearing to other people.

    I’ve lightened up a lot in my designing. I’m not talking about workmanship, that has to remain excellent. But everything for me used to have to be “perfect” – perfectly symmetrical for example. I’m learning more and more to just let the artistic quality flow, and see the beauty in freer designs. Machines can make things that are perfectly formed; the beauty of handmade art is that it is made by hand, and that can include things like irregularities. Like when you buy a garment with a handmade process done to it, like dyeing or beading, and they say “the irregularities are part of the uniqueness of the garment”.

  2. Hi Rena!
    I think handcrafted jewelry is similar to any other medium in the art world. Personal perception is so diverse! I used to do Sumi-e paintings and the fist painting I sold actually came out of the trash. My mom had a gallery in Kalilua-Kona and I had done a painting that I saw as imperfect and threw it away. A week later my mom called me and told that I was officially a professional artist, that I had sold my first painting. When I reminded her that I had nothing in the gallery she told me she had taken the painting from my studio, matted and shrink-wrapped it and put it in the gallery. I think what that tells us is the old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies and I believe creating jewelry is an art form. When I see a “flaw” in my creation it is difficult not to put it in the scrap pile (to be taken apart) or to charge less than I would for a “perfect” piece. What I have learned is to price it like any other piece with the same components, I work with a formula from Jewelry Designer Manager Pro. What may seem a mistake to the creator can be design genius to a customer.

  3. I once tried my hand at a wire knit bezel setting for a hot pink marquise shaped druzy. When I was finished I had very mixed feeling about my results. So I posted a picture to facebook, and almost immediately it began getting comments of people wanting to buy it. One of my close friends was the first to claim it. What I thought looked out of proportion is exactly what she loved about the setting I had crafted. Always get a second opinion! Sometimes people love the mistakes we make because it is what gives our jewelry a fingerprint 🙂

  4. I have always thought that a true artist is someone who can take a “mistake” and turn it into something that is exactly how you intended it to be! In other words, mistakes are opportunities to work the big plan. If you decide to make another similiar piece you can really improve you jewelry making skills and you then have the beginning of a series of pieces that make it a suite or collection. Most customers never even see the little imperfections that can feel so disturbing to the artist.

  5. Andrea says:

    I’ve only been learning to create jewelry since last September and it seems that MANY of my pieces have huge, glaring mistakes and flaws. I will usually toss the piece in a ‘we’ll re-use that for something else later’ pile, but I’ve returned to the ‘pile’, sometimes months later and realize I have no idea what I did that was so horrible. I know if I can’t see it, no one else likely will either 🙂

  6. Sherry Hooker says:

    This reminds me of a story my writer friend (Crystal Wizard) wrote about a wood carver who created a beautiful carving. Everyone fell in love with the piece, but he wouldn’t sell it, because it was not finished. He kept carving to make it perfect. Months passed and a potential buyer returned. When the would be buyer asked to see the piece, the man opened a drawer that was full of tooth picks. He had kept striving for perfection until there was nothing left of the beauty he had created.
    Our pieces may never reach perfection, but they can be the best we can create.

  7. Carol Wilson says:

    I think that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I used to watch artist Bob Ross on PBS, and he said that there are no mistakes in art – only happy accidents. I’ve put out pieces that were certainly less than perfect and they’ve sold, and I’ve been quietly amazed.

  8. Lois Demers says:

    I am new at making jewelry, and I love the wire woven pieces. One of the first pieces I made just looked plain weird to me when I was done. I added a hematite bead to it months later, at wore it the other day. People told me that it was a beautiful Christmas bell. Okay.

  9. Oh, this happens to me all of the time. At first, I would share them only with other artists. But after so many of my respected jewelry artist friends would say things like:
    “What mistake, I don’t see anything at all wrong with this piece.”
    Or “I’d wear that thing you are calling a mistake, any day of the week, how much do you want for it?”

    I simply started the practice of offering any piece I make despite things I see as flaws (as long as it was structurally sound), out to my customers. And yes I’m always surprised when the pieces seem to sell before the ones I think are better.

    Sometimes, I offer these items as a free giveaway on my facebook page too. And the responses are always heartening.
    Lady M

  10. giwta stamou says:

    i dont speek english very well, but i will try to. i am from greece and here the jewelry desing are not so good in many ways. i make jewelry as long i remember my self, it was something in me to make me do it. as baby i could make neckleses with beads, can you believe it? as i growing up i learn to make jewelry by myself. but i see miskakes in every jewelry i make. everyone has say to me that my work is perfect. i have two friends, they are gold jewelry desiners and they have told me that i am talented, but for me, i can see the beauty of my work, also i can see the mistakes in every jewelry (mine or others). its a very annoying thing because its confusing me how to costumising my jewelry. thank you.

  11. Vicky says:

    Yesterday it was pouring with rain and I so nearly didn’t attend a show I had signed up for that was to be held outdoors. The rain stopped about an hour before the start, and although the wind got up a bit, the sun bravely appeared between the clouds. And they came! And they bought! In the end I took my highest total for a year! What a day.

  12. I’ve had this happen. People buy the ones I considered “flawed”. Maybe because subconsciously I’m not as attached to it as the others, and therefore am more open to selling it. I’ve gotten to the point (somewhat) where I let the “mistakes” go. They’re simply part of the item. As long as it’s structurally sound (as Lady M said) and the “flaw” is not harmful, then it can be sold.

    Example: I have a knotted gem and pearl necklace where my thread broke during the last few finishing knots. My mother says I’m being a perfectionist. Maybe…but it’s also a structural issue. Now the gems rub against the pearl on both sides, and if the thread were to break, all three beads are lost.

  13. All,
    I work in polymer, beads, and some wire.
    All of my pieces have been repetitive and symmetrical. I recently tried changing things up and, using older beads I made I put things together in a new way. I will continue to do this. It felt weird. but guess what! They sold. I will post both types here. Tell me what you think?

  14. Κάθε φορά που ένα σχέδιο δεν μου αρέσει και το βάζω στην άκρη, διαπιστώνω με μια δεύτερη ματιά ότι δημιουργώ κάτι νέο και πρωτοποριακό. Συνήθως αυτά τα κομάτια μου ειναι αυτά που πραγματικά μου ζητούν να τα ξαναφτιάξω !

    Translated by Google Translate:
    Whenever a project I do not like and I put it aside, on a second look that I create something new and innovative. Usually these my pieces is what I really seek to rebuild !

  15. I taught dress design, sewing, and quilting for over 30 years. Unless it was a true structural issue, I always told my students that there were no mistakes, only design changes!

  16. Keith Bowen says:

    More than once I have given a piece that I had made a garbage a label…. Only to find, honestly, it was the first piece to sell!..I guess we all have different reference points at different times in our lives.LOL….

  17. My Taiko drumming teacher used to say “There are no mistakes, only improvisations”. I like to think the same about jewelry making.

  18. Karen DeVille-Lewis says:

    Often I start out on one path and change directions. I have learned that there are times the medium I am using such as wire or weaving beads and despite my best efforts it will not flow the way I want it to. Therefore, it has mistakes? Not really, I have chosen to allow the materials I am working with to speak for itself and as long as it is a sound piece it is a good piece.

  19. I enjoy your thoughts and comments! Every time I watch your video on artists mistake or customers treasure video , they keep stopping and starting. It makes it hard to watch them. They may be older. You might want too look at them. Or it could be my tablet! Thank you, Larry Dallas

  20. I tried a new material, flat wire instead of round, to make a ring. It had twisties & curlies & I “sewed in” a few beads using fine gauge round wire. It was full of plier marks & some nicks & dents. I posted it along with a few other pieces on a website that has a Design Gallery & said it was a prototype & I certainly wouldn’t put it in my Etsy shop. Well, I got great feedback on the ring! I guess the design overshadowed the marring. And by the way, the ring was made after studying Rena’s techniques. You’re the best teacher *ever*, Rena!!

  21. Moogie, thank you for your lovely compliment! That made my day. 🙂 And kudos to you for putting the ring out there and getting great feedback on it! Possibly any nicks and dents wound up looking like part of the design, like texturing.

  22. These days artists make their pieces shabby and aged on purpose – why not the same for jewelry artists? We patina and use techniques to make a piece look aged and imperfect – a “mistake” is just an extension of this!
    Look up the concept of “wabi sabi” – you’ll see that the imperfect and aged has been valued for years in other cultures.
    For me, I’d never make a piece that looks new and shiny and perfect! My customers want there to be a story, a history…..
    Thank you for this piece, and for helping to open our eyes to the beauty in imperfection!!
    xx DawnGaye

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