Wednesday, August 3, 2011

disclaimer about my beadweaving work

I wanted to follow up with my comment from this post about my decision to use a metal clasp because of a recent event.  I'll detail what happened first.  Last month someone who will remain anonymous purchased this bracelet from me.

She was worried that the clasp would come undone.  Honestly this clasp design was not my best, especially with the small button, and I don't use it anymore.  I was happy to redo it for her.  I took out the existing clasp and put in a larger button and a single beaded loop.

She wanted the loop to fit tightly around the button.  Typically that's my goal anyway so I did my best to keep it tight.  When she got the bracelet, she still thought it could be a little tighter.  Honestly I've never had this complaint before.  Normally when people try on my bracelets at shows, they get frustrated when they can't put the bracelets on themselves easily or if the loops seem tight.  So I try to make sure that the buttons can slip on fairly easily.

The customer still loved the look of the bracelet and wanted to wear it right away.  She was going to a family get together at a lake the coming weekend.  She wore the bracelet, which was fine, except that she didn't take it off when she went into the lake.  The bracelet slipped off and is now sitting at the bottom of a lake. She told me this little story when she got back from the get together.  Some of her family was sticking around for another week so she thought one of her nieces or nephews might recover the bracelet from the bottom of the lake.  I don't know if that ever happened.

She suggested that the "toggle clasp might be better if I order another with a smaller loop that really fits closed tight" and included a couple links for a couple of my items with "better" clasps.  I patiently explained that if she might be better off with a metal clasp and gave her links for the few beadwoven pieces I have with metal clasps.  That was almost a month ago, and I haven't heard anything since.  Her final convo didn't seem too upset, but as I said, I haven't heard anything.  She also took all of my hearted items off of her favorites.

This entire situation upset me for several reasons.
1) This is someone who has been following my shop for over 2 years.  We traded once a couple years ago.  She sent me some of her Christmas cards and a bunch of thank you notes for my shop in exchange for a couple of my bracelets.  Honestly the cards weren't very impressive.  The pieces I sent her were pretty basic so I wasn't upset.  All of the cards were plenty functional.  However, I wasn't planning to trade with her again.  Since the trade, she's been sending me convos every 4 months or so, looking for trading deals on items, normally expensive ones that I've already marked down for sales.  I've sent her several coupon codes over the past year, none of which she even used for this purchase.  I was really hoping that this purchase that she finally made would win her over as a customer.  Clearly that didn't happen.

2) I want my customers to be happy with their items.  I've had a couple pieces in the past that have required multiple reworkings.  It's a little tiresome, but in the end, if it will make someone happy, I don't mind.  I certainly could have reworked this clasp a second time.  That would have been much less irritating that knowing that one of my pieces of jewelry is sitting at the bottom of a lake.

3) I think that it's terribly sad that craftsmen/craftswomen have to constantly preach about taking care of handmade items.  In one of my final convos with this customer, as nicely as possible, I mentioned something about how in the future, she shouldn't wear her handmade bracelets when she goes swimming .  Maybe this is what upset her, but I couldn't let that go without saying something.  Even my most basic $10-$15 beadwoven pieces take a minimum of 1-2 hours.  Anything that is $20 or more takes at least 2-3 hours.  Yes, many of them are fun pieces of jewelry, not tiaras made of platinum and diamonds, but they should be cared for appropriately.  Why you would even think of wearing a piece of handmade jewelry of any type anywhere near a lake that you would be swimming in is beyond me.

A while back, the Etsy Beadweavers group put together a letter about care for beadwoven jewelry.  I won't post it here because this post is long enough as it is.  If you do any handmade crafting, I'm sure that you have a pretty good idea what is in it.  The guidelines apply for most handmade work.

I've never felt the need to include it with my purchases because I don't create anything that is half as complex as what many EBW members create on a regular basis.  However, maybe I should.  That's about the best thing that I can take from this experience because I'm not sure what else I should/could have done here.  By the time the customer told me that she thought the clasp was still a little loose and that she'd worn it in the lake, it was too late to offer to rework the clasp as the bracelet was already gone.

I'm certainly not going to stop using button clasps.  I have used different clasps over the years and found that a couple methods work better than others so those are what I primarily use now.  A button with a single loop is one of them.  If the button is 1/2" or larger and the bracelet fits well, it should hold just fine.  However, I may start using metal clasps more often.

Any thoughts on any of the topics/issued that I covered in this post are welcome.


  1. Bummer! I hate it when customers aren't completely happy!
    I hope this situation ends on a positive note!
    And you're right...swimming in handmade jewelry doesn't sound like the smartest thing to me either!

  2. I think that it is strange to decide to wear a piece of jewelry that you are worried about losing into a lake. I also think it is kind of gross since beadwoven jewelry is woven with thread. Once it has been in a lake the threads and tiny spaces between beads will be saturated with lake grime and germs that will dim the bright fun colors that make your work so wonderful. Blech.

  3. Oh no. I'm sorry that happened, Rose.
    I include care instructions with the order, because I find that many people don't know how to wash/iron handmade clothing.
    I also explain it in every convo. It's tiresome, but necessary.

  4. First of all let me say that I'm sorry to hear it! It is to be expected though, over the years everyone (including myself) tends to have at least one run in with someone uneducated about handmade care/ or unappreciative of the work put in it.

    I think you did all you could for her, and probably more. It's certainly not your fault that she made that poor decision. I think sometimes people are just looking for handouts. Glad to hear you stood your ground.

    I'm even sadder to hear that the offending party came from a background in handmade. I guess that just goes to show you how crowded etsy is with both the talented and otherwise...ek.

  5. Sorry that happened Rose. I know how much you want your customers to be happy so this whole situation is unfortunate. I have one of your lovely bracelets and I hadn't thought of it coming off. I have since realized I like my bracelets not quite as long as I had you make it for me but I still wear it because I love it and I don't have fear of losing it because the button clasp is well made.

  6. Bummer Rose! I really appreciate how you feel. I believe very strongly in the EBW "instructions" for beadwoven art, and include a copy with every purchase I ship, and it specifically says (altho I am paraphrasing here), "don't get it wet, don't wear it to bathe or do the dishes." I think thread can stretch when wet and tighten when it dries. I think this is operator failure, not product failure. Many buyers of beadwoven items want to avoid metal parts for various reasons, so if I were you, I'd make what I make, and adapt if requested, as you did in this case, but I'd skip the metal toggles, unless it pleased me to use them. Take a deep breath and step away from your feelings on this one, because it's not worth feeling bad about.

  7. I am a retired professional seamstress who had my own business for 18years, and after reading what you went through with this person, I think you were getting the short end of the deal. There are some clients that you cannot please no matter how hard you try. You tried to please her, and made the changes requested, more than once, you did your best and it was her own carelessness that caused her loss. So don't let this discourage you, take it as one person, and not all people are like this. You do beautiful work, and people who appreciate it will pay what you are asking for it and look after it. Keep smiling and keep beading with a smile.

  8. As a customer, not a creator, I appreciate care instructions.

  9. the #1 problem with losing a bracelet is proper sizing. Are we even sure the button came loose? maybe the bracelet was 2 big for her to begin with. if the thread gets wet, wouldn't it stretch out?

    even with toggles, if the bracelet is 2 loose a fit, they can work free.

    it's a sad thing when you are left wondering if you lost a customer because you didn't do everything you could or if it's just a lost cause customer and nothing would have satisfied her. It really sounds like she was fishing for a free bracelet... and that you did everything you could that was reasonable to make it right.

    anyone who does this long enough has a story like this, and if you stick to it you will probably have 2 or 3... it's just one of the more unpleasant aspects of business.

  10. What a downer - you did everything that was reasonable. We all want to please the customer but sometimes you have to stand up for yourself too. This story made me review my policies.

  11. I hope you told her to go jump in the lake!

  12. Reminded me that I think about the possibility of an unhappy customer and how I would feel. Even if it is one person only, from past experience understand that it still gets to you. Another thought that I had when reading your blog, was that she was fishing. It does not matter the price of something that you pay for, if you like it and care for it, then you are careful what you do with it. If she is an artisan herself, she knows this! To remove you from favorites is childish, as was her decision to wear your beautiful artwork into a lake....

    I hope that you don't take to long to let yourself totally off of the hook. You did everything right in my opinion, what else was there!

  13. Geez, obviously she shouldn't have worn it swimming! That's just common sense. I think you should include "handling instructions". Seriously, some people are not too bright.
    I like to wear bracelets when I skate, but I can't take any chance that it would fall off so I only use stretch bracelets with no clasp. Hmmm not sure that I would feel comfortable with the button clasp though.

  14. first of all, she shouldn't have gone into the water wearing jewelry, esp. since she seemed so weary of the whole thing.

    One reason I was happy to get away from jewelry design is that I also want my customers to be satisfied, and when I hear something pulled out, my heart sinks.

  15. I had a customer pay $300 for a OOAK peyote pattern cuff with a sterling silver slider tube clasp and wanted to know what I thought about wearing it in the shower. I calmly told her I wouldn't recommend it, but I still cringe thinking about the possibility. Hope you enjoy your new home/location.


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