Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Do I Test Unique Items?


A few weeks ago I posted about a kumihimo necklace I made using mixed fibers. Toonatoons from Under the Sun asked whether it felt itchy to wear. Then Ollie McKay from Chic Boutique asked whether I had tried wearing it all day to see how it feels next to the skin for a long period. These are valid concerns, and ones I hadn't thought about while making the necklace.

From a customer's point of view, these are things I'd like to know before I plunk down my money. I think this necklace will be comfortable and non-irritating, but I don't know for certain. And I don't want the answer to come about because I'm wearing something that has been "field-tested" and isn't completely and easily cleanable. If the item was metal or fabric, I could wash and dry it, and specify that it's been thoroughly cleaned before shipping. I've seen other items sold this way--knit and crocheted hats and scarves come to mind--and as a buyer it makes me feel comfortable knowing that I could safely wash the item before wearing it.

A necklace like this one is a problem. It might wash and dry well, and then again it may develop an unpleasant texture, or the colors might run. There's not enough fiber left over to make even a very short braid, and I'm not at all sure I can get the exact same fiber mix again.

I'd love to get some opinions on this. As a buyer, is some sort of wear-testing important to you? And as artists and jewelers, how do you handle evaluating unique items?

11 comments:

Audrey said...

That's a good question. I don't make wearable items - but do have handpainted jean blankets. I've painted many many squares to get the best results before and after washing. It's time consuming - but then you can tell the customer that it's safe to wash etc.
It's tougher if you can't test something before hand because you don't have enough materials to make another one.

popwheel said...

Hmmm...that's a difficult situation since you only had enough material to make the OOAK item. I don't think you should really take it for a "test drive" since it might show some minor signs of wear even after a couple hours.

I think that you should build prototypes (probably much smaller) of some of your items as you make them to sell so that you can try them out.

Alterity said...

I will make a prototype when I make a new design/style of something that only I wear. Then I will wear it for a few days to test durability, comfort,etc. If it passes the test, I make more for my shop. If not, I go back to the drawing board and improve on the original designs.

Perhaps you can make another to use as a prototype to wear. After it passes the test, sell the one you have made, that way you have no questions.

Tulip's Talking said...

Valid points, however it will depend on the materials used. If they feel good to the touch and you'd make a sweater, or hat from it, that should tell you something.

Personally, I have made a few of this type of necklace and they wear well and feel fine all day. In fact, I gave one to my SIL and she just loves it!

And yes, I do "field test" most all of my pieces because it is an important part of the process, and because your work sells this way.

Oh, and I was doing a street show with a friend and "show/sales mentor" who sold her own necklace right from her neck, then and there.

I do not think that people mind. Additionally, the manager at our most popular local bead shop said that she always wears her new pieces for several days to field test them.

Hope this helps! Best wishes...

~Lily

Jo Hoffacker said...

For me, if something is going to be itchy it shows up in a very short time. So I might wear that piece for 10 minutes (while squeaky clean) and if it itched at all then I wouldn't be able to call it non-itchy. :)

Athena said...

I haven't had the need to test anything yet, but I'm planning some new jewelry that will definitely need testing. I've got three people lined up who are willing to wear my pieces and let me know how they stand up (they are potentially fragile). So, as an artist, it's definitely important, and I want to pass on the info to potential customers.

TheDamnNation said...

I think you need to seek out someone with sensitive skin to test your product.

Kristin at My Art and the Mom in Me said...

This is my take on that..
from a buyers perspective...

I just would want to know what the material is.. Plain and simple.
And It doesn't even necessarily need to be tested, imo, as I feel that if you disclose the materials, that is enough.

Maybe if you are not sure how it will be if it is washed and dried, say something like, "take care in not getting the item wet".. you know, something like that...

Anyway, that is my take.
Have a great night!
-Kristin

Natalia said...

As a customer I would like some assurance that it won't be itchy. Having said that, your definition of itchy may be different than mine. My skin may be more sensitive or less than yours. So unfortunately I don't think that even if you could wash it, you wearing it would not alleviate all my fears about how it would feel on my skin. :)

Elle said...

As a jewelry artist, I do wear test my pieces, to see for sure the lay of the piece, the heaviness, the ease of clasping and unclasping, and to make sure all the ends are smooth and secure. Of course, I only do beads, so the pieces don't show the wear or the testing.

Lady Arwen of the Silver Rose said...

Necklaces do irritate me at times, but I just save those to wear over turtlenecks or place them behind my shirt collar where they won't touch my skin.