Well, folks, it seems that in my desire to participate in Secret Santa again this year, I kinda found myself coordinating an exchange, ably assisted by Remy. All the details and rules and stuff are over at Facebook-- Jewelry Santa 2009 Exchange -- so if you want to participate, head on over there before Saturday, November 28 at noon, USA Central time.
Meanwhile, I thought I might talk about exchanges and the ways this one is similar and different from the CWJ ones.
Over the past 5 or 6 years, I've participated in Santa exchanges and other kinds of swaps, always hosted at Creative Wire Jewelry. I have always had a good experience, and I am pretty sure that all my recipients (except one, maybe) have liked and worn their gifts. Some of them are still either forum or FB friends and mention their gifts from time to time. I know that I wear the jewelry I have received. The moderaters at CWJ, starting with Metallique and continuing with Eva, Celia, Micki, Sorcie, and a bunch more, put a tremendous amount of work into making just the right pairings, setting up all the emails and websites and all that goes on behind the scenes. So I was initially very hesitant to try it.
However, the tools available for the behind-the-scenes part have come a long long way, and once I decided what compromises I could live with, with Remy's urging I went ahead. It turned out that using Gmail and Facebook's tools, it took less than half an hour to do the basic setup and send out the first round of invitations. I've poked away at it in my spare time, but since it's the holiday weekend and I have a few days off, that is no hardship. So far so good.
So, like the CWJ exchange, each person makes and gives a gift for one person and receives a gift from another. But unlike CWJ, we are matching your names pretty much randomly. With the invitation going to such a broad group, we don't have the long-time knowledge of each participant, so our careful matches probably wouldn't be much better than random ones. Oh, we'll be taking some things into consideration -- for example, the participant who expressed nervousness about international shipping will be matched with someone in her same country. Other than that, we've got a randomization method planned that should work just fine.
Like the CWJ exchange, there will be pictures. Unlike CWJ, the pictures will be posted in a FB album by the recipient. We made the assumption that if you are using Facebook, you or someone in your immediate circle would be able to take a picture, put it in the album, and tag it. This makes one less bit of stuff to track along the way, and it means that the pictures should be posted very soon after they are opened. In fact, we're encouraging folks to post pics of themselves opening the package and wearing the gift as well as pictures of the actual pieces. So it won't be the elegant album that CWJ was noted for, rather more like candids. I hope that's an okay compromise for everybody.Like CWJ, we have emphasized the personal responsibility aspect of the exchange. If you drop out, somebody doesn't get a gift. Also like CWJ, we have some contingencies in place.
Like CWJ, once the names have been exchanged we'll also share whatever insights we can about shipping and so forth. However, since so many of the participants are selling their work on the internet, I'll wager a guess that they probably know more about it than we do. I am actually planning to call on participants' expertise, particularly regarding international shipping.And like CWJ, we'll be trying to keep track of where everybody is in the process, encouraging, reminding, and otherwise bothering all the nice folks along the wa.
So far, with two more days before the deadline, we have 28 confirmed participants and half a dozen maybes. I also am catching some comments from friends of friends that might mean several more taking part. That is comparable to the CWJ Secret Santas, which is really gratifying.
One big difference with CWJ is that this exchange is not limited to wire workers -- oh, I know CWJ did not require you be a wire worker to participate, but the majority of the group worked in wire, and so the majority of the jewelry was wire jewelry. Because this exchange is wide open, there are beadworkers, lampworkers, smiths, and polymer artists in addition to the wire work group. I'm very excited about that part. I'm also excited because a number of my wire jewelry friends have moved along in their art to different aspects of jewelry, and I'm glad they will be able to share their new work.So, provided that nothing blows up, and that my faith in my jewelry friends is not utterly misplaced, things should roll along. I'll be posting specific information on the event site itself, and using the power of this blog to ramble on about the more personal aspects. Hope that's okay with you.
Oh, BTW, in case you wonder what I've been making, here's a recent piece for your enjoyment. Sterling and yellow turquoise tree of life pendant, with much improvisation after a near-disastrous error involving work-hardened wire. I'll tell you all about it sometime.
Have fun, and I hope your holiday season is off to a great start. More Later!