Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pearl Before Swine

I'm so upset that it's infuriating, which means you, my loyal minions, get to hear about it. This will be long, so get a few Super Bowl snacks early and settle in.

First some deep background. About twelve years ago, after having spent our honeymoon there, the DH and I decided to take my girls and my mom to Disney World for Christmas. We had a great time. The DH and I are especially fond of Epcot, and when we were in the Japan pavilion, we tried a bit of a gamble they had. You pay a small amount, pick an oyster, and you get whatever pearl is inside. You can see it here. I did very well out of the deal, getting a lovely silver-gray pearl that was about 7.25 mm, a nice size. I didn't care for any of the settings they had for it, so I carried it home and waited to know what I wanted to do with it.

A few years ago, I saw a necklace that I knew was similar to what I wanted to do with my pearl. It's three moons, full in the center, waxing and waning crescents to either side. Like this without the dangle bit. I wanted the full moon to be the pearl, and to have it set in silver. I just didn't know anyone to do it.

Forward a bit to last year. I found a seller on Etsy who was selling OOAK (one of a kind, if you aren't familiar) silver set onyx earrings. They were lovely, distinctive, and reasonable, and now they are mine. If I wear black, I wear these. I liked some of her other work too, and got a circle with a couple meaningful phrases for the DH for his birthday, to wear with his cross necklace. I ordered it in plenty of time, which was good, since she was backed up with Mother's Day orders.

So at the end of the summer, I approached....let's call her Twinkie because it will amuse me no end...Twinkie about doing my necklace. She said that she hadn't worked with a pearl before, but her 'mentor' knew how to do it, so she could learn the technique from her. I asked for a sketch, we hashed out some specifics, and after reminding her a couple of times to send me the sketch, I approved her drawing and agreed to her quote. I mailed the pearl to her in September, and Twinkie promised the necklace for the first week in November. It was my birthday gift to me.

I kept waiting to hear that the pearl had arrived safely; I knew the package had, but not that the pearl was okay. Twinkie had promised to tell me. After a week, I emailed to ask, and oh, yes, it was intact. Yay. I settled to wait.

And wait. Excuse after excuse. Her kids are sick...this was multiple times over months; must be the most unhealthy brats out there. When she missed the deadline, she was working on the how to do the setting; I should be patient. Then Christmas orders for wholesalers put me on a back burner; I should be patient. Then it was that this is very fiddly work, she can only do it when the kids are asleep; I should be patient. Then she needed different materials; I should be patient. Understand that at times weeks or a month would go by with no update from her and promised dates going by, but when I would email asking what was happening, I was being impatient and needed to understand the artistic process.

Meanwhile, I could see new pieces going up on her Etsy site, which ticked me off no end. She took my commission, couldn't get it done, but could do other work? So I wrote, again, and asked WTF? I said that I felt she needed to be more disciplined, because I had been more than patient, and she had made a commitment. I pointed out that I work in an artistic field too, so I knew what it entailed. She tried to bug out, offering to send back the pearl. I told her no, I'd waited this long, I liked her work, and I wanted my necklace. She committed to not working on anything else. Great...we're back on track.

Finally, at the beginning of last month, Twinkie tells me she has the cutout work done, and is concerned about the piece tilting forward on the chain. I suggest a solution (really? I have to think this through?) and she sends a picture of the necklace on her son. Looks fine. A little chunkier than I'd envisioned, but I like it. It just needs the pearl to be set. She's working on the the beading and I should have it in a week. Can I go ahead and pay for it? As soon as I see a photo of the finished piece, I reply, I'll be thrilled to pay. I should have that picture by the end of that weekend, says Twinkie.

No picture arrives. I wait a week, and email....from here I'll give you actual emails, because if I didn't read them, I wouldn't believe them myself. On Jan. 16th, I get this from Twinkie:

"Every time I log onto my computer, I forget to email you!!! Finally remembered!!!

I got my new materials on Wednesday, and have been working like crazy! I'm almost done - I anticipate having your piece photographed over the weekend so we can finalize our transaction and I can mail it out on Tuesday (Mon is a holiday, otherwise it would go then!).

Thanks AGAIN for your patience - I'm having a ball working on your piece and I REALLY hope that you like it! :-)"
The Tuesday to which she is referring was Inauguration Day. I heard nothing more, and finally yesterday, I emailed her:
"Okay, so shipping on the 20th apparently didn't happen...where are we?"
Late evening, Twinkie sends:
"I emailed you since I got the new material in...apparently you didn't get it? This new material is something that I've not worked with before, so I'm learning about it as I go along. I had to do 2 test settings with it before I dared to do the "real" one...all of this takes time. I have put in a LOT of hours on your piece...I am doing the best I can. Customized pieces that are TOTALLY different than one's 'normal' body of work take time. Please be patient with really is the best I can do! Some days I just DON'T have the patience to work on tedious kids are around while I'm working, I'm constantly being interrupted, etc. and when you talk about working with a flame, if I don't have the utmost concentration and capacity to work, it could result in a TOTAL meltdown and then I have to start over from square 1 and that would take LONGER!

Again, please have patience with me - I am really enjoying working on your piece - I am doing the best work I can, but it does take time! I will have it done soon! I really will!!"

There was no email. Nothing in my spam folder, and no reason for me not to get it, as I've gotten everything else. Now, keep in mind, this has been going on since September. The work is only different because she hasn't worked with a pearl before, but she's done other settings...I own some! So I respond:

"No, I hadn't received anything after being told it was a couple days away
from shipping.

I have to say, I think I've been very patient, given that I was supposed to
have this three months ago."

Twinkie's reply:

"Yes, you have...but as I explained...working with new materials, doing a custom job with a "stone" that I have not worked with MUST be patient! Metalsmithing is a complicated and delicate craft! I asked you before if you want me to send the pearl back and I still will do that. I just can't keep getting totally stressed out when I get your emails - it's affecting my nerves! I am ALWAYS under the gun and I don't want to start NOT ENJOYING what I do because of the stress.

Again, I will ask you, even with all the time that I've put into your piece, do you want me to send back your pearl? If not, then you will have to be patient with me a bit longer! This project is SO MUCH MORE tedious and labor intensive than I EVER imagined! I CANNOT work like a machine - it is all "finesse work"!!!!!! Please believe me that I'm doing the best I can!"

At this point, I'm pretty pissed. I am REALLY good at reducing people, verbally, to a quivering mass of jelly and nerve endings. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I really, really like doing it. But I don't. Instead I send this:
"Okay, I am feeling scolded here, and honestly have to say, that takes nerve. I get emails telling me a couple days...a couple more, that you're working on nothing else...then I hear NOTHING, and *I* am chastised for not being patient?? I waited two weeks after the last email I received to even ask!

I cannot imagine why you're stressed. At least you know what is going on. I keep being left in the dark, and having to ask. I understand the intricacies of craft; we do it for a living. But I keep my clients informed if something comes up.

No, I do not want it back. I've invested months of waiting, and I don't want to have to start all over again. Just please keep me up-to-date."

This morning I awake to find this:
"This is obviously not working out for either of us. When you ask someone to do something that is totally original and totally different than their body of work, it is NORMAL for that piece to take months! The fact that I thought I could get it done sooner was unrealistic, but obviously you are not flexible enough to work with that.

After consulting with my husband, I have no choice but to send your pearl back because I am literally stressed to the max in dealing with you. If you cannot understand why I am stressed about working with you, then I'm sorry you can't see it. But I WON'T be harrassed like this any longer. You are hurting the way I feel about what I do and I won't sacrifice what I love to deal with you.

I'm sorry this didn't work out, but I will have your pearl in the mail to you as soon as I can."

I'm not sure how this is totally original...she didn't have to design the piece, after all. And I simply cannot believe the tone of this email. Could she BE more martyred? And she'll return my pearl 'as soon as she can????' I'm livid...and I sent this:

"So, in other words, you bit off more than you could chew, and rather than admit that, you're blaming me.

I have been more than patient, and you know it. You have made excuse after excuse, I've said, "Okay, I understand," you give me date after date when it will be ready, and then I'm evil when I wait for weeks and finally ask why I still don't have it, when the last thing I heard from you was that it was about to ship. Geez, the nerve of me. I'm told it's just shy of ready to go, I hear nothing, and wonder what has happened. How callous of me!

Your over-emotionalism is ridiculous. Either you're a pro, or you aren't. I have not harassed you AT ALL, and you know it. I've given you more than five months WITH the pearl, and that was after having to ask time and again to see a design. Face it, you try to use artistic temperament and family issues to cover the fact that you don't have the discipline to do what you have chosen to be your work. If you want to be an artist, wonderful. If you want to be a WORKING artist, you need to meet deadlines. It's not harassment to expect that from someone who presents herself as a pro.

If I do not have my pearl back, intact, by the end of the week, I will be contacting Etsy. I probably should anyway, to let them know my experience with someone who promises to do custom work, because I'd hate to see someone else fall into this trap."

I know this has been a long post. I suppose partly I want to be validated. Partly I want to vent. Partly I wanna rip her head off.

Now I'm back to the start, after wasting months. Anyone wonder why I'm gonna remove her from my Favorite Sellers?


Dayna said...

Awww,,,Gee Diana.....Ya mean she's not a favorite seller anymore???? Sounds like she did taake on more than she could handle.

Diana said...

Her latest response reads in part:

"I'm sorry that this is your attitude. If you don't think you are harassing me, then this must be your personality and I don't want to deal with someone with your personality."

Uh-huh. Well, you've all seen the emails. If I'd been 'harassing' her all along, she wouldn't have kept me dangling.

I wrote back, and in my usual thoughtful, helpful manner, told her she was a FLAKE!!!

Rosemarie Buchanan said...

I think you let her off the hook much more nicely than she deserved.

I'd probably have been less kind.

rrrrrrrrriiipppppppppp (the sound of a strip of flesh being torn off ;-)

You will have to keep us minions informed about the soon-to-be returned pearl!

Cat said...

Well, Diana, if you weren't such an unreasonable b!tc4, maybe she could have kept her stress levels low and been able to keep loving her craft...(? what's wrong with people?!?) You have been more than understanding. Please do update us as to the status of the object in question - when you get your pearl back from the swine.

Vicki Designs (Schnorkiemom) said...

I'm interested to hear when the pearl comes back and what conditions it's in. This woman does need to be reported to Etsy and every group forum you belong to. What a total hack. I feel your pain.