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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creating "Soul" Series - Part 2

Good morning dear friends.  Today, I am sharing with you a blog post that I started quite some time ago, and actually is Part 2 of a "Creating Soul" series that I was writing.  I found it in my draft box and felt let to share it with you since at one point it was on my heart pretty strongly, and truly is some interesting thoughts.  I'd love to hear what you think about it, good and the bad.  Have a blessed day!

2 ~ Uniqueness of Product

Is your art your creating unique?
Do people easily duplicate it?  

Or maybe you are someone that consistently uses other peoples design ideas to make your products?

(an example of a unique piece that isn't easily duplicated)

Have you ever personally noticed when something that is lovingly hand-created has soul?

What about the opposite?

Have you ever noticed items that are hastily created and lack soul?

For me personally, I struggle with this.  I tend to create some of my vintage jewelry redesigns to be quite time consuming and elaborate.  They are filled with "soul" and speak to the customers quite intensely.  I love when this happens.  My customer "feels the love", understands the work it took to create an elaborate piece, they connect with the piece and than appreciates it enough to spend their hard earned cash on my creation.  This is the utmost highest compliment a designer can experience.  :)  

Thank you to all of my loyal customers these past 16 years I've been creating jewelry!

But then sometimes, because of the lack of enough time in the day, the demand for large amounts of product, and because I cater to a broad range of customer styles, I also create items that are more simplified in their design.  I try to not lose the "soul" factor, but at times I wonder if I lose that connection I so want to convey through my designs.  That which I'm describing as the "soul" factor.

Along with simplification of designs, these unfortunately can than more easily be duplicated by others.  I've been noticing it more and more with quite a few fellow creators that do this on a regular basis.   Do you often work hard on a design and/or concept to only see others take it as their own?  Thus the issue and problem comes with "copy cat artists".  

Creativity takes courage.
~Henri Matisse

(an example of a more simplified design I created in 
early 2009 and has been duplicated by many others)

Adding "soul" value to your products...

I find that as an artisan if we try to keep our products "unique" and more complicated they are less likely to be duplicated.  Something, I love to do, but don't always have the extra time to invest 2-4 hours into every necklace I create.  This again can be a struggle at times for the above reasons, as well as sometimes a lack of vintage found elements availability and/or price fluctuation's on products used with regard to the good old economics 101 "supply and demand".  

Try to be a cutting edge designer that comes up with the creative designs vs. the copy cat artist that tends to only use others work.  I know there's a fine line here...  Some of you may say "everything is out there", it's "already been done", etc., etc.  Not really always true.  There are constantly new mediums and techniques available to us jewelry designers all the time.  I personally attempt to try to keep educating myself with new techniques and styles that I can incorporate into my designs to keep things new and exciting.  Try to keep things fresh.  I am currently attending a workshop the end of the month to learn a technique I've always wanted to learn and hope to incorporate those skills into my designs in the future.  I really work hard at coming up with my own designs.  We often doubt our abilities when in fact if we take the time to spend time in the creative process, many times the ideas flow out of us.  This is one of the things I've been trying to relay to my students out in Rogers, MN, where I teach at the new shop "The Vintage Jewelry Collection".  I am teaching Vintage Redesign 101 & 202, and thus not teaching a project, but rather an entire Style and Art including techniques, hard to find elements, what supplies I use, etc.  What I want my students to know, is that they can and should take parts of ideas, techniques taught to them, supplies they like, etc., but then give it their own twist, so that it isn't a direct copy of what someone else is doing.  Often, I have found myself not showcasing or sharing things that I'd normally love to be sharing, because I want them to remain a new design offered by me at an upcoming show, or event.  Some people in this business get most of the ideas/designs from others, and I've even had people that will than undercut my pricing and sell a few booths away at the same show.  Morally, I was raised that this is wrong. 

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.

~Mary Lou Cook

Develop your own style...the below example is one of the design lines that I have been creating for a number of years now, and is recognized as a "Mimi-Toria's Design" by others when my customers wear these style of necklaces with the vintage pocket watch faces and the addition of the "flying sparrow", "French Eiffel tower", and or vintage rhinestones.

Examples of designs recognized as "Mimi-Toria's Designs"

Convey and/or learn to be confident enough to show your customers what sets you apart from others.  Take the time to explain the details that set your creations apart from the booth next to yours, the retail shop down the street, the other etsy stores, blogs, and/or other web shops designs.  This is something I don't always do a good job at, so need to also work on this area myself.  Consistently strive to take your art form to the next level.  And most of all, I feel we each find our true success when we are original in our designs.  Then we are sharing "our soul" and not "someone else's heart and soul."  

Does this make sense to you my followers?  Only then does that satisfaction of a job well done truly reward us with the "connection" we seek with our customers.  It's such a joy when something "I created" with the Lord's direction and guidance speaks to one of my customers.  I just love that!


  1. Yes! Yes it does make sense. As a jewelry designer myself, I have dealt with this issue many times. It's frustrating to pour your heart and soul into a piece only to find it knocked off by somebody else. It has even gone so far as to have the entire "look" of my booth and a slight twist of my business name copied by somebody that used to set up at a few shows I participated in. Some have told me not to worry about it and that immitation is the deepest form of flattery but when sometimes enough is enough. I'm all for inspiring others in their own creativity but to down right copy anothers designs is wrong. I too try to design both high end, more time consuming pieces as well and simpler pendants on a chain. That concept works well with time constraints of creating enough product for a show and to keep up with my online sales but it also puts something out there that is easier for others to duplicate or try to duplicate. Sorry to rant on your page. I've been following your blog for some time and this post just spoke to me, for obvious reasons. Your designs are beautiful and you are successful so naturally people will try to copy. It's the nature of the beast....unfortunately. :)


  2. Thought provoking and beautifully written Gretchen.

  3. Girlie, YOU are in
    a class all your own,
    in style and in substance.
    Your pieces truly reflect
    your heart and sweet
    soul, and that will always
    be in style AND in demand!!

    Hope you are enjoying
    this hot summer. I think
    of you often as you prepare
    to guide your little birdie
    from the nest this fall.....

    Love and Hugs,
    xo Suzanne

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I am so thankful you took the time to let me know what you think about what I write and for taking the time to share your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. :)

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