Monday, December 19, 2011

Covert Jewelry Making: Flash in Blue

If you've been following my earlier posts, then you know that I have a Turkish friend that has put me to work! She loves to scout the various vendor stalls through Manhattan's Grand Central Station and report back with what the best items are from her latest excursion. She shows up on the train with cute little bags, a new pair of gloves, the occasional purse (or as NYer's call it a pocketbook) .. and every now and again she'll report on a fabulous new piece of jewelry she loves.

One such report she tells my Designer friend and me that she has spotted a very cute little necklace at the vendor right around the corner from where we get off the train each morning. She describes it to us, but well, it's pretty hard to follow. She was attempting to describe this necklace to us and all I got is that it was "a simple necklace, single strand with those blue beads ... you know the Mediterranean color blue." "Oh, you mean turquoise?" No, no it's lighter than that. "Do you mean topaz?" She shakes her head and reconsiders and says that it might be lapis. "Wait so it is darker than turquoise?" And so it goes with my Turkish friend. We decide it might be easiest to just take a look at it once we're in the station. So we head around the corner that morning to check out the stall, but of course our 7:45 arrival each morning is too early for any of the stalls to be open. Apparently my Turkish friend kills time in the evening before her train by drifting through the stalls, or so she tells us after trolling through several rows of stalls. "Well ok then" I say. "How about taking a picture for me so I can understand what you are looking for." Problem solved. Off to work.

Day 2 of this conversation.  She's very excited and tells me that she has successfully taken a picture for me the night before while milling around waiting for her train.  She pulls it up on her new iphone and all we can see is literally a blurred flash of blue and she askes me "so can you make it?"   My other friend and I can't hold back the laughter as she explains her sleuthing involved holding her phone right at her waist to snap the picture.  She didn't want the shop keeper to think she was stealing his idea. Right.  She must have been a bit skiddish in her adventure and moved around a bit too much to get a good shot of the necklace.  Who knew jewelry making was such a secretive business.

Before I go on, I have to give you a little background on the iPhone purchase.  This is a saga in and of itself. A few weeks back she decides that she needs to catch up with everyone else and get one of these iPhones.  She buys it, but honestly can't figure out how to find much of anything that was pre-loaded for her at the store.

Our Designer friend kicks into gear and says she can set it up.  She sets the time, a few icons on the main screen, finds some nice wallpaper.  Bada bing, bada boom ... all set.  

The next day she is upset because all the apps loaded on at the store have run down the battery to the phone.  She tells us that really all she wants is to have a workable phone in case she needs to call her husband.  "What is all this other 'crap' on the this phone?"   I quietly say, "why did you get an iPhone if all you want to do is call your husband from time to time?"  She sighs, and says she thought she should get an upgrade like everyone else.  After several weeks of this, she tells us that she is through.  Through with this phone.  It is heavy, always seems to be 'dead' when she actually wants to use it because of the constant and arduous updating of all these apps.  She's going to return it.  Next day she is even more upset as it seems she needs all the packaging it came in to return it.  

Ok wait.  So you don't use a phone much, but think you need an iPhone.  You're not sure how to turn it on, but you pull it out of the box and throw everything away.  After roughly 3 weeks you're ready to throw in the towel.  And you no longer have any of the original packaging?  Let me just ask "have you ever purchased electronics in the US?"  You get that most people hold on to the packaging for a least a month or two --- just in case.  Or in the case of my husband a year or two.  Yep.  A year or two.  You should see the basement.  But that is another story, and another blog.

Back to the jewelry extravaganza at Grand Central.  At this point all I have is a blurred iPhone image, a semi-coherent description of a necklace and an idea of what she likes and wants to fix with this piece.  I figured it just made more sense to hunt down the vendor to see the pattern first hand. So we decided to catch the vendor that morning. And as luck would have it we were delayed.  We pulled in about 8:10am.  The shop keeper was just rolling up the garage-style doors and there it was.  The elusive blue necklace.  Since we were the only ones there, he came straight over and asked if we needed help.  My Turkish friend ask about a simplier version without a second strand.  At this point I knew exactly what she wanted.  My poor friend behind the counter was still working hard on the sale. He suggested that he alter the version she was admiring, and her comment back was "no thanks I have a friend that will do that for me."   Enter, Train Jeweler --- Stage Left.

I set off for my favorite bead store in Manhattan and quickly figured out that the blue beads were a dyed coral - a common use of coral beads these days.  I also picked up the focal bead she really liked in the piece ... a simple red glass bead.  But with a twist added a few silver spacers and an extra couple of red coral beads on the side of the focal bead.  I tucked it in to a zip lock, I told you this was a classy operation I run, and headed off for my early morning train ride.  My Turkish friend was delighted.  Yes delighted.  It was exactly what she had in mind.  She immediately put it on and asked what she owed me.  I calculated the raw materials and gave her the total of what it cost me.  I swear by not marking up anything I make for friends.  I don't want to mix friendship and business.

Now you might remember that I mentioned my Turkish friend had a thing for adjusting the length of a necklace.  I've called her Goldilocks of climate, but perhaps I should have done the same for the length of a necklace.  There is the back and forth ... "that is too short, don't you think?  too many strands?  hmm, perhaps just a tad longer."  In this case she came back the next day and said " do you think you could make it just 1 inch shorter?" "Sure" I say.  And the next day I show up with the same necklace, restrung, one inch shorter.  After about 1 week she comes back and says that while the clasp is very nice (I should think so since I specifically picked out a fancy sterling silver slide clasp) she says she really just wants a simple lobster claw.  "Would it be too much to switch it out?"  I know it seems like no big deal.  The thing is I have to restring the whole thing since the necklace is wired, then 'crimped'  with a clasp.  To remove the clasp you have to rewire the whole thing and re-crimp a new clasp in place.  Of course I do this .... take 3, or is it 4?  I'm losing count.

The interesting part of this project is that the train crowd witnesses this entire saga. They know just how many times I've reworked the piece. By now they know that I will customize it until you are happy. Another woman we ride the train with, decides she loves the necklace. She asks if I could make her one exactly like it. Well maybe not exactly. Do you think you could add pearls? Um, sure. And off we go to make another version of this necklace.

I think I've got this pattern down. I come back a day later and have an exact replica of the necklace, only with pearls instead of the red beads. She loves it. Puts it on, end of story. Right? nope

She decides that it is too short. My Turkish friend likes it just at the collar bone.  But our other friend likes it low enough to show off her cleavage.  Her exact quote was that she needed to flaunt it while she still had it.  So "could you add another 2 inches roughly?"  Well let's see.  I think I still have the left over beads I pulled out of the last version ... that should cover it.  I make the alterations. 

Yes I had to pull it apart and restring it.  But now it is one of my most popular patterns.  Our friend asked if I would make a matching pair of earrings with mostly pearls so she could wear them when her Italian husband came to visit.  Yes he visits.  No they don't live in the same country.  Again ... story for another blog. This one is too long already.

This is how it goes with being the Train Jeweler.  You get a little information, and you try to piece it together.  Then you re-group and I end up pulling it apart.  You'd think I'd give it up, but frankly that is kind of the fun of it all.  Call me crazy.  


New End Studio said...

You're cracking me up, these adventures of yours with the colorful characters are wonderful. There's a candy in Europe called, "Turkish Delight" I kept thinking of that every time you said, "Turkish."

When I say pocketbook, people have no idea what I mean, they think I'm talking about a paperback book. It must be a NJ/NY expression. It's oldfashioned, but I like it that way.

Your necklaces and earrings are beautiful ♥

Sarah~Magnolia Surprise said...

Too funny! Do you ever sleep? All that redoing must keep you up at night! And the boxes? I've been known to keep a box for a dust buster -- and forget I had it for a couple of years....

storybeader said...

I think this is hysterical, but I do feel very, very sorry for you! I hated re-doing and re-stringing necklaces. The fun part was designing, when I was making jewelry. I do miss NJ and am very jealous of the atmosphere! Have a nice weekend! {:-D

Judy Nolan said...

Funny story, especially because it's all TRUE! Glad you have a sense of humor about all of this.

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