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Being a disabled crafter.

I normally never like talking about myself online in particular as I've long had privacy issues over it but I appreciate how it can often help buyers understand the background to how or why a jewellery maker does what they do. 


And so I'm going to share a little bit of my story here for those interested enough to read it.I became disabled in my mid 30s after starting work in a local hospital as a Consultant's secretary.  It started off with overwhelming fatigue but everyone said that was down to a new stressful job so I paid little attention to it.  However, eventually I became unwell enough to see a Rheumatologist and gained the 1st of many diagnoses - fibromyalgia.  That ultimately left me losing the job a few months later as pain became the bigger issue.  After that I had a period where things went a bit pear shaped - I'd been widowed from a wonderful but alcoholic husband and was just struggling being on my own, so was looking for a hobby to pass the time.  I'd always been a bit arty and had hand painted my own greeting cards for many years previously, but by this time that was becoming a struggle too as my hands became a bit sore and holding a brush was difficult.  By this stage, I'd also been dx'd with Lupus & Sjogren's Syndrome (autoimmune conditions) and have amassed another 4 since that time - seems once you get one AI condition, more invariably follow :( .

Changes of necessity:

So I switched into card making using other methods mainly decoupage.  Still challenging to do at

Pair of surgical forceps

times but certainly easier than painting.  Over the years since I've added more tools & machines into the hobby which enable me to create some quite nice cards that certainly keep me occupied making.  But then a few years back, I happened to be channel hopping & came across a jewellery making show where a lady was demonstrating how to make Christmas bauble covers;  as I watched, I was fascinated and thought "I could do that"!  I watched the show daily for ages after that as all manner of jewellery making concepts were shown from pearl knotting through macrame etc, and eventually settled on 2 different options initially - beaded jewellery and chainmaille.   I bought kits and lots of "wrong" beads until I did as the demonstrators suggested & bought the "right beads" which made a huge difference.  It still took me forever to thread a needle until I discovered a "big eye" needle which is split in 2 so dead easy to thread, and then bought various other tools to aid the task.  However I rapidly discovered that chainmaille wasn't goingf to really work for me, so just concentrated on the beaded work instead.  Over time I developed a love for the more complex statement type of jewellery, mainly for the challenge of making them more than anything. 

By this time, however, my hands were becoming worse and working with anything small was a real challenge.  So then I added in macrame as I wanted another similar hobby I could maybe do when out & about more easily and that also didn't challenge my hands as much   However, I found it more difficult to find nice patterns for the macrame for jewellery so have tended to still work with the jewellery instead.I've now got an array of tools which I use to facilitate working with the beads but while they help, I still have to deal with a lot of pain and discomfort which just means I can only work at it for a few minutes at a time, which of course does then slow down progress.  This is partly why I keep my prices low - I don't charge for the time it takes me to make something as nobody could afford the price :).  But I also don't have overheads etc, and really all I want is to cover costs and make a little bit extra to pay for future purchases.   My time for making these items is becoming less and less going forward as I've a major hand op looming which will probably put paid to all my crafting at least temporarily if not permanently.

All my disabling diagnoses are hidden conditions and on first glance you'd not necessarily think anything was wrong with me, but everyone has hidden problems they're battling with.  I'm just trying to make the most of what time I've left with what hand use I have to make things that provide me therapy & distraction from my pain, SO if you see something you like, don't hold off buying too long as otherwise you may lose out on a real bargain!

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