Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Feedback of Art

Butterfly earrings by OxArtJewelry - Large, Medium, Small & Petite

We hear it every day in the world of commerce. " New and improved! You spoke; we listened. Designed with our customers in mind."

How can the artist compete in the commercial world, when we hold ourselves to higher, more personal standards? When our goal is quite the opposite of seeking mass appeal, or discovering the lowest common denominator in the creation of our works of art? These are not simply products that we are producing! They are adventures in abstraction, color, texture, space. They are personalized expressions of our passions and our sensibilities.

Several weeks ago I received a request from a lady who had admired a pair of earrings from the butterfly collection that I had listed on Etsy.  She thought they were gorgeous, and knew they would add luster to her jewelry selection. However, through experience, she had learned to never buy an earring that weighed more than 5 grams. She asked what these earrings weighed (they weighed in at 7 grams), and if they exceeded her limit, would I be able to make her a similar pair within her constraints?

Years ago I had abandoned commission painting of portraits and murals precisely because I never liked the idea of creating art that needed to conform to the expectations of others.  Still, this request offered a different kind of challenge: wearable art must be - before all other considerations - wearable.

In order to reduce the weight of these earrings to 5 grams I would need to trim the pieces by 29% in some combination of size and thickness of enamel.  I had never taken the time to really understand the ratio of copper to glass.  Would I be able to cut the weight 30% by cutting the size 30%?  I discovered it’s not that simple.  After considerable experimentation I now offer 4 sizes in my ‘butterfly series’ with the ‘small’ weighing in at 5 grams and the ‘petite’ version under 5 grams.

I can truly say my lighter versions were “designed with the customer in mind” without feeling like I have compromised my artistic perrogatives.


  1. great post. one of the reasons i started our etsy store. so i could create for the sake of what i wanted and intended to create. i've had a pr/adv/marketing biz for 17+ years and a lot of my projects takes turns, at direction of customers, that I wouldn't suggest or approve of. feels like you often lose something by the end of the project. however, i have done custom orders for illustrations via the etsy shop, adjusting things (even just today) to make it a little personal for a customer. so far it feels ok.

  2. Ah, so you understand exactly! I'm quite pleased at how this special request has turned out. I'm so glad a shopper took the time to contact me - it may have been months before this idea occurred to me. Duh!
    Thanks for your input Pam!

  3. Very interesting Patsy I too have never gone into these technical details of finding out the exact weight. Although, I do have people telling me to make lighter pieces, you had a very unusual request and it is really amazing that you could indeed work out the technical stuff ! Great job :)


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