The next incident of commission related disappointment came shortly after a coworker encouraged me to bring my jewelry on one of the days we would be released early for holidays. I was still working at my university at the time. I shrugged and decided to bring some of my hoard. If things went well, I'd have more money.
I brought the jewelry. I had to lug it to and from class with me. Ugh. At the end of the day, we all sequestered ourselves into one of the empty conference rooms and spread out everything I had on the tables. It was one of those rare moments when I look at my jewelry as an observer instead of as a creator. The effect is waaaay different. I stood back while the ladies pawed at, fussed over, and made agreements with each other about who would get what. At that time I didn't make duplicates of anything. So you and your BFF had to come to an agreement otherwise it would turn out like an episode of the Highlander: There can be only one.
I made a decent amount of scratch. 2/3rds what I'd make if I sold at a convention. However, there was one young lady who wanted something specific for her niece's graduation. I was still new to this commissioning thing, so I decided to take on her request, thinking that the folks at work might be a bit better than the ones at church.
What followed was an ordeal that tested every fiber of my patience and level temper. The young woman wanted something 'flashy but not too flashy' to go with her fucsia dress. I informed her that she would have to secure the beads. She claimed to not know where to go. Despite me instructing her on which craft stores she could visit to get the materials for her jewelry set, she never seemed to have time to go and in the end I was asked to take care of it for her. That's a no-no. I didn't know what she wanted and I was not about to waste time and busfare going out to a craft store and paying out of pocket for her stuff.
So, I turned to eBay. I sent her a barrage of links to various beads that could arrive within a week if they were purchased right away. She went with the smallest number of the cheapest beads she could find. The quantity wasn't enough. Thinking creatively and hoping that my dedication to helping her realize a good design would hopefully win me a return customer, I scoured my stash for some left over stardust beads to add into the design and give it a little extra sparkle to attractively contrast the shape of her face. It would help me stretch the limited quantity of materials I'd be given.
Then she decided that she wanted that particular style of bead to be ALL OVER THE NECKLACE instead of in strategic places. I told her that I didn't have any more and that she would have to get more from the craft store because they were on the expensive side. She hem-hawed on that, then claimed that it was ok. Later she brought a different kind of silver bead, again, cheap as possible, and demanded that I use those instead. I remade the set. She wasn't satisfied. "Add the really shiny ones back in." I remade the set. Then we went back to the idea that I buy more stardust beads and add them into the design.
I still wasn't used to putting my foot down when faced with people older than me, so I asked my mother what I should do. Wise as always, she told me to stand firm and that saying 'no' wasn't impolite because technically I was an adult too. She also warned me of what was to come.
I refused to buy stardust beads for her necklace. The woman claimed that it was fine. Later, just as my mother predicted, the young woman claimed that since she wasn't getting what she wanted, she shouldn't have to pay. If there's anything that pisses me off, nothing does it quite like giving me the run around when I'm trying to be kind and then having the audacity to act as if a small act of charity has impinged your honor and I should have to pay for it. I'm sad to say that she brought out the worst in me.
In the end, she spent a total of $2 on materials and I spent 10 hours, nearly $15 dollars, and probably a few dozen gray hairs remaking the set several times. I was so flustered and upset. I considered cutting out the materials I contributed to it and throwing the rest away. But that would be wasteful. In the end, I gave the darn thing away because just looking at it made me sick to the stomach. Repurposed and rehomed, I can say this, I felt much better giving the piece away than trying to sell it to someone who didn't want to pay in the first place.