Piecework

my living room might as well be a tenement in brooklyn circa 1922

When I was in college I had one of the coolest jobs ever.  I worked for a woman who had launched her own greeting card business and my job was to pick up a huge stack of cards, photographs, envelopes, plastic bags and labels, take them home with me, turn on awesome history channel and nature documentaries, assemble the cards/packaging while I learned cool stuff, put them in a box, deliver them to her and then get paid.  Yes!

The thought of doing piecework (I was paid per piece, not by the hour) was super exciting to me.  The more I streamlined my process the more money I would make.  If I could make 100 cards in an hour and was being paid 10 cents for each – woah!  Ten dollars!  But then if I learned how to economize my motions (combine like tasks and repeat them as opposed to making each piece from start to finish before starting the next) then I could make 300 cards in an hour.  $30 an hour for a college student??  Yah!!

So my skills have come in to play this last month while churning out bottle cap after bottle cap after bottle cap.  It’s glamorous.  I’ve been watching a lot of cop shoes since I’m sick of Netflix petering out all the time.  I brew up a pot of tea, set up my workspace (coffee table:  sorry, boyfriend) and my hands get to work.  My mind wanders and I come up with new ideas while mixing epoxy.  I don’t need to talk to anyone which keeps me focused on drilling little bitty holes in the caps.  Then I come up with something like the picture above at the end of ‘a batch,’ breathe a sigh of relief and think “Oh my God I think I might be crazy!!”

That’s not really something the product development department needs to worry about.  Human resources, though, better make sure there’s an ice cream cone and a walk up the Eastern Prom for employee wellness as soon as this order is over!

The spread above is my normal workspace.  I’m brainstorming how to move it upstairs so the live-in, very tolerant boyfriend doesn’t kill me.  In any case, for any of you interested in epoxy process here’s a little rundown:  Underneath that big ol’ tupperware is a grid of bottle caps in various stages (some are drilled with jump rings in them, some are empty caps that have just been half-filled that will be drilled after they are dry.  The half-filledness supports the drill and makes them break less frequently).  Once I’ve mixed and poured the epoxy (with the windows OPEN!!) I put the tupperware on top to keep naughty little cats out and to prevent dust (and naughty little cats’ fur) out of the caps.  Then I use the top of the tupperware as a workspace for my next task (gluing images in, assembling charms, gluing pins and magnets to the backs).  That’s how I manage not to usurp the entire dingdong coffee table.  If you have more questions about pouring epoxy please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

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