Wire Jewelry Projects: How To Manage Them

I was teaching a new workshop recently and one of my students marveled when I said that I typically have ten or more wire jewelry projects going at a time. She asked me how I manage that and so I thought that would be a good title for a blog post.

Now, you have to understand that working on so many things at once used to be a real problem for me. With so much work going on and so many projects, I would start to feel frustrated and like nothing was really getting done. Especially early on, I was teaching myself different things at different times and on different wire projects. I guess I'd decided that was the best way for me to learn jewelry making. I would generally stop working on any one of those projects whenever I got stuck or couldn't figure out how to work the clasping. When the piece I was working on was a laborious one like intricate weaving, it was usually the clasping that got me stuck. I really felt that if I'd put all that time into weaving the wire for a wire jewelry project, it needed a gorgeous clasp.

That's just my own example of how you can get stuck working on your projects. Anyway, I'd set those pieces aside and start working on another all together different piece that I'd had an idea for. Then I'd work on that piece until I got stuck if I did. Often I'd start a new project to see if the wire technique I'd conceived of worked out so that would just become a sample piece destined for refinement later on.

In any event, as I became more experienced, I got stuck on projects much less but as an instructor and someone who researches wire jewelry techniques, I am always still exploring. That exploration does take time, sometimes a lot of time so I eventually started thinking about regulating my time more. Experimenting doesn't pay off immediately and needing to make a living, I somehow always felt like I was rushed doing the experimentation on any new technique.

All of that's to say that I finally decided to allot my time for all this wire jewelry making activity. So, here's what I do to manage my wire jewelry projects: I allow myself time on weekends to do whatever I like. I experiment with new ideas as well as work on larger, more complex pieces. I completely enjoy this time now and never feel rushed. I also prototype a lot at this time. Love it.

I work nights during the week on new workshop samples (I always have a number of samples for workshops to show students the many variations on any particular technique). If I have a commission, that will also get done on weeknights. I also spend many of these week nights working on tutorial pieces that need to get done. If necessary and I'm under the gun, I will occasionally work sometimes during the day to keep up with all of this.

The point here is that I've prioritized my projects and made sure that I've allotted time for each of the projects and/or ideas. My work schedule revolves around the goals for each of my projects. So, what are you trying to accomplish with your own wire jewelry projects? If you're selling your work, that's probably your priority since it's your bread and butter. But do you make time to experiment and learn new things? You may, like many of my students, feel that there's never enough time for new learning or your own experimentation. Make time. Seriously, making wire art jewelry is a wonderful creative adventure and I'm suggesting that you not only manage your projects but in doing so, allow yourself the time for enjoying the creativity in it.