“How long did it take you to make that?”

One of the most frequent questions that I’m asked by people who see my work is “How long did it take you to make that?”  After all these years of creating and selling jewelry, I’m still somewhat flummoxed by that question, because the answer isn’t as apparent as it would seem. There is so many aspects that go into creating a piece of artwork and each of these takes time. First there’s the ruminating (or you might call it the gestational) period when an idea is taking shape in your mind. This is an undetermined amount of time but I suspect it can take anywhere from an instant to a lifetime. Then there are the years involved in experimentation and honing your skills – making countless pieces, some of them successful and some of them (a-hum) “learning experiences”. And then there are the more concrete aspects like sourcing your materials, which entails going to bead shops and bazaars and searching the web. Many many hours are spent in the pursuit of beads and materials. Then you may want to sketch out your design to give yourself a road map of where you intend to go with it (although I sometimes leave that road and go in a radical new direction!). Then there’s the actual sitting down at your desk and patiently building a piece knot by knot and bead by bead. Although this can be tedious work at times, it’s also very exciting and gratifying to see an idea take shape before your eyes.
I rarely keep track of the actual hours I spend on a piece. Maybe I really don’t want to know, because it’s usually much more than I think! But for the piece pictured here, I did try to keep track and the actual construction took about 10 hours, which includes making the brass and silver pendant.

So when I’m talking with a customer who asks “How long did it take you to make that piece?”, do I say it took 10 hours (and watch the calculator in her head try to determine my hourly wage and am I asking too much or too little) or do I say “It took me all of my life to make this piece”?
….. I think that would be a lot closer to the truth….

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