I recently picked down this box from the top of the cabinet and dusted it off. It's been a long time since I was even near it. The last time I handled it, it was only to put it away.
So what is it then? You might guess from what you can see in it (and even more from the name of this post). It's a box of some of my first jewellery, much of the stuff I made during the first couple of years. Some of it I'm still proud of, some is very average, some is nice and some of it is just plain awful or embarrassing now that I can see weaknesses and lack of skills that I couldn't when I made the pieces (and were proud of them). Just like it should be in many ways: the box illustrate my learning curve, the different materials and techniques I explored and some of my creative ideas and playful challenge entries.
But I didn't just pull this box out for the nostalgia. Facing this mess of jewellery of various quality, the question I ask myself is: should I keep all this or should I take some of the weaker and/or less important pieces apart?
Now, I'm one of those people that tell new beaders to keep all their finished pieces so they can use them to see their progress, which is hard to do without concrete examples from different stages in the journey. If not possible to keep a piece, then at least document it by taking photos and saving in a folder for the same reason.
But how much is useful to save and how long is it useful to save it? I mean, some pieces are very important to me as the are the result of something important I learned. The first bead-woven piece, the first advanced wirework piece, that piece that made it feel like I'd found my style, the first piece to win a prize in a contest or challenge, the first piece with an advanced design made 100 % by me and so on. And to that can be added pieces that have special memories attached, the result of a fun bead forum challenge or a piece I made for a special occasion (like the Charred tears necklace I made after one of our cats died).
I should perhaps also add that this box do not include my favourite pieces that I wear now and then, it's just the "leftovers" so to speak. And the forgotten pieces -- I did for example find a pair of earrings I'd totally forgotten about even though I was so pleased with them back when I made them! Which tells me I really need to go through this box and sort out more favourites that deserve a better place.
But the question remains what to do with the rest. Keep it in the box as memories? Take them apart and reuse or destash the beads (still have photos of most)? Back in the box of out of the dusty, partially forgotten box for good? Of cause, it's matter of looking at each piece and decide: a keeper or a source of beads for a new project?
I have no idea how many pieces I can bare to take apart. It's normally not something I enjoy, but I do also realise that I can't keep everything, especially if it's just to sit there in a box totally forgotten and only seen by the occasional invading spider. These are often pieces that aren't good enough to give away to whomever wants it despite any flaws or weak designs -- and definitely not good enough to put up for sale should I finally take the step to sell my work. So there are just two options, to keep or to take a deep breath and tell myself it's ok because now the beads can be used for better pieces.
Maybe I end up finding reasons to save each and every pieces seen in these pics, but even when first opening the box I saw a few pieces that made me cringe and think they were a waste of good (or at least ok) beads. There should be a reason for saving something, just as there should be a reason for not doing it. It's a bit daunting and I have very mixed feelings just sitting here writing about it, but I think in the end this is a good thing to do. Even if I end up putting everything back or if I fight my feelings of guilt about taking a couple of the pieces apart for something new (or for giving away/selling). *sigh*
It's funny how I, upon taking the box down, was so set on culling the "collection" and how the thought now makes me so hesitant. The thought of taking apart some pieces that I don't like and barely even remembered that I had, pieces that I, in some cases, didn't even like when they were made. Harder to let go than I thought...