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Letting customer try it on


Devora -

I think you should continue to do exactly what you are doing, but
without feeling apologetic about it. It sounds like your work really
is better off worn over clothing, and that someone who wanted to buy
it might decide to do that in order to keep it in absolute best
condition. Perhaps a comparison could be made to pearls - it is not
good to wear them on skin that has cosmetics, perfume, hairpsray,
etc. on it, and you need to wipe them down after wearing and store
properly. Still, none of this stops people from buying pearls.
People recognize their beauty and are willing to care for them

As I said, I think if it were me I would continue to use a
protective neck cloth, and I would also display something that
explained all of this. Not in any kind of “warning” tone. A neutral
declaration. Perhaps something hung on the wall, or put in a picture
frame that can stand on the case, or in the case. A description of
you and your work and include the particulars of care.

I have had a similar dilemma, which is why your post has interested
me, and the responses to it. My own work is not affected adversely
by trying it on over bare skin, but there are a number of care
issues involved: Some contain paper images which cannot be gotten
wet, nor left out lying in direct sunlight. I also work in brass and
copper as well as silver and choose not to put any sort of lacquer
or wax on my pieces because neither will prevent patination
ultimately, only possibly slow it down, and lacquer in particular
adversely affects the natural lustre of the metals IMHO, copper in
particular. Therefore, I provide a small polishing cloth with my
pieces and a care sheet with purchase but I also have all of this
explained in a nicely worded and prettily designed card, right on
the shelf where my pieces are displayed (I’m one of many artists in
a small store). This explanation details that my pieces are mixed
metal/mixed media, made from a varying combination of copper, brass,
silver, print images and found objects. I say that while all print
images have been produced on an archival quality printer using
special inks, they will be best maintained by treating them as one
would fine prints or photos - ie not leaving them out in direct
sunlight when not being worn and not wearing the pieces in pool or
shower! I also say that I have purposely left the pieces unlacquered
in order to best reveal the beautiful natural lustre of the metals,
therefore patination will eventually begin to occur. I explain that
this can either be allowed to happen (some like the look of some
patination, some don’t) or the piece can be easily restored to a
shiny state with the polishing cloth.

All of this is said quite matter of factly. And is repeated in the
care sheet.

I will tell you that I agonized over how to deal with the care
issues of my work, and whether to lacquer the pieces despite not
really wanting to. I spoke to Thomas Mann about this ongoing dilemma
when I took a workshop with him some months ago (he works with a lot
of bronze and brass as well as silver and he never lacquers) and he
told me I should continue to present my work as I want to, without
apology, and simply provide a care sheet.

You will obviously have different issues to address, but it seems to
me that much anxiety (yours) would be relieved by clearly and
unapologetically stating these issues up front - hey, it’s art and
it has to be treated/cared for appropriately to its materials! - and
then protecting your work when customers wish to try it on in much
the same way that many will want to if they buy it - by shielding it
from substances that will affect it adversely. In other words, doing
what you are doing, and not worrying or feeling bad about it. If
someone really wants to try against bare skin, provide something to
wipe the skin with if that is feasible. If a customer has been
educated beforehand - by your signage and also through conversation
with you - there should be no balking at this.

Just my thoughts. Your work sounds fascinating. Would love a link to
where I can see it!