merimask: (Fume)
([personal profile] merimask May. 8th, 2009 11:28 pm)

Oh dear.  I am swamped.  Swamped with orders, swamped by busy, swamped with family doings.


Greg is in California for his grandfather's funeral.  He'll be coming home late on Saturday.  My mom thinks I'm lonely or something...?  I'm NOT.  I was actually looking forward to catching up on some work around here.  Instead she's been here for...roughly 14 out of the last 24 hours.  Watching Judge Judy and other equally horrible reality/talk shows.  She turns on Fox news just so she can get really angry at it, and then share that anger with me.  *sigh*  I'm trying to be patient...trying, trying.

Anyway I fed her a ton of food (I made TWO big chickens on the grill outside and gave her one-and-a-half to take home) so hopefully it will be peaceful here all day Saturday and I can catch up on orders.  There are suddenly a LOT of orders.  This is good but also, bad because I have to drop the new mask I was working on to fill these orders, some of which are stressing me out. 

I shape my masks generically (I make that very clear.  One size fits most), but lately I'm getting these precise requests with measurements ( "my eyes are X distance apart and slant down a bit not up, also I have large cheekbones and a wide face, also my nose is rather flat...okay?").  My first instinct is to just throw up my hands and ignore the entire thing, but when the customer is willing to pay more, then I guess I ought to make the effort?

Thing is, no one wants to pay extra even when they are a pain in the ass so I really DO have to make a judgement call on whether it's worth that lousy $70 if I want to have customer X send me a diagram of his oddly-shaped face.  Frankly the only way to get a mask that fits your face perfectly is to BE here when I make it or send me a freaking plaster life cast of your face.  Otherwise it's generic, baby.

My inner magic eight ball is telling me to not bother and forget the damn order.  Sources say that this customer is OCD or something and will never be happy with this no matter how hard I try, so...yeah.  No.  Don't need that $70 that badly.  Just no. 

I'm heading off this drama at the pass!  Circle the wagons!   See how very good you are for me, LJ peeps?  Just writing about this situation has cleared my poor head.  I'm going to tell Customer X that maybe about this mask, not so much...thanks anyway.  Good luck!

Does this make me a prima donna?  Possibly.  I feel sort of prima donna-ish tonight.

In other news, I got my beloved old Trek back...$250 dollars later.  It has a rebuilt wheel, new gears and a new chain.  Whirrs along like a dream.  Escaping Judge Judy this afternoon I took it out for a quick 10 mile spin into an oncoming weather front.  25 MPH headwind and I chugged into it just fine on my shiny new/old bike.  I love that old is my savior on so many days.  ^_^

Mother's Day this weekend.  Never a happy day for me; I sort of hate it in fact.  Pet peeve.  Long story.  I'll be fine.  Meanwhile I have to get back to many things to make.

From: [identity profile]

*hugs* I remember hearing about your Mother's Day peeve last year--I'm sorry it's such a rough time for you :( And that reminds me that I have something I need to send you--it won't get there in time for Mother's Day, but it'll get there eventually! Hang in there *hugs*

From: [identity profile]

You are so sweet. ^_^ I intended to attempt a "me" day on Mother's Day, for the sake of my sanity, but it looks like I'm going to be busy making things instead. :-/ Oh well...working is a GOOD thing & hopefully I can get away for a couple hours on my bike at least.

From: [identity profile]

Yeah, I've thought about asking you about masks. The fox mask I have doesn't fit my face, but that's because my head's been inflated by my ego. ;) I'd been tempted to ask for the mask to just be... larger overall, but decided that it wasn't worth it to make your life harder. :)

Sorry to hear your day was stressful, though yay on the new orders. :)

From: [identity profile]

Actually, I have a larger version of the kitsune for just that reason (the small ones fit me but I have a small face). I initially made the kitsune mask to look as close to an actual Japanese kitsune as I could; they're really small and almost cat-like. Making them bigger makes them more wearable but changes the lines of the mask. It's being a problem for me, because everyone likes the look of the smaller mask but it doesn't fit every face. *sigh* Problem.

See the larger version here:

From: [identity profile]

Ahh, I see. And yeah, I can imagine that's a problem. :) You may want to remove the 'I'll be happy to do customs'. ;) Might want to rephrase that to perhaps limit it to colours only. :)

From: [identity profile]

LOL...the truth is more complicated. "I'm happy to do custom work, but only if you're a realist!" Which would probably go over like a lead balloon.

Anyway I really AM happy to try again, & if you need a larger kitsune we should definitely talk about it, because It Can Be Done.

From: [identity profile]

That requires me being able to afford it. ;) Paying artists is having a serious crimp on my bank account, since our company's funds can't cover it for the moment. In time, most certainly. My wife wants to make two kitsune costumes for Halloween, and has the patterns for making kimono. :) We would just need the fox masks, and I need to figure out how to use glasses under the mask (not likely) or just resign myself to wandering around blind. :)

From: [identity profile]

I would simply say (and this is not one of those puff-up-the-chest NowlistenHERE things where someone says what THEY would say...that they would never actually say...this really IS what I would say, and I say similar things all the time though not pertaining to masks, of course), "I"m sorry, but it's impossible to make a custom fit mask. To do that, I would have to be able to form the mask directly on your face, and that's not a service I can offer. I make generic masks sizes that will fit the largest number of people possible."

Or, and I know you really like to keep people happy...if you really wanted to do something you could possibly consider overall size alone and let them choose a small, medium or large. I assume most of your masks won't fit men, for example, since the masks I have don't quite fit me and I have a normal-sized girl head (22 inches around the crown). If there are a few people who want to make sure it fits them, maybe the same mask but slightly smaller or larger would be possible?

If it's just not worth even that I would simply go with what I said above. People generally try to coax more out of you when you try to offer a compromise anyway.

You're a great mom, Meri. I bet your family takes advantage of you even on Mother's Day, though. The problem is, you are and always have been TOO capable, and they don't know how to stop leaning on you. Strange, they both seem like they must be pretty smart and capable people themselves...

Of course, it could be something else that makes MD sucky...

From: [identity profile]

Darn it, I forgot. Skip Beat 10 was sent out yesterday around 10 by ground mail and SB 9 the same about four hours later. (I don't know why they DO that...why not wait four hours and send them together? But noooo...maybe they were sent from different locations. That happens sometimes.) Anyway, they are sent, so I expect 1-2 weeks to arrival unless there is a hold-up at the border.

You can take it as a MD present if you want :)

From: [identity profile]

I could probably cut & paste exactly what you wrote there & put it in my "special instructions" section or something like that, because that's basically the problem.

"People generally try to coax more out of you when you try to offer a compromise anyway."

That is EXACTLY it. Just...exactly. I used to bend over backwards and I quickly found out that for some people, it's never enough. You only need to have that happen a few times (a couple dozen for me because I'm dense) before you stop doing that altogether.

I do offer a larger kitsune mask, but because it's larger it doesn't LOOK like the original mask & I can't fix that.

On the upside, I got to use that "fume" icon, which is so cute (thanks!!). Fume fume fume!

From: [identity profile]

For a second I thought I was looking at my own journal and wondered why the link hadn't taken me properly to my friends page. :) I'm the only one I know on LJ who uses SB icons, especially in the original black and white from the manga. (Everyone else seems to have to have colour.)

From: (Anonymous)


I hope it was not me, who gave you such a overkill of questions.
If its so =====> big sorry. ^^'

In fact I'm one of these customers, who will pay some dollars more for an customized mask.

greetings from germany

From: (Anonymous)

Re: izo84

And for the OCD thing *Do mean with this my questions for the size of the kitsune paintings in conjunction of the ears and space ???* .....I'm a damn german game designer and actor with an urge to perfectionism. Sorry for that ^^'.

But i really need this mask for my japanese stage performance in june. So please to your best :o)
*help help help*

From: [identity profile]

Re: izo84

No, again that wasn't you. I've had more than one special request this week (more like 8 to be honest).

But! Still. I'll have to re-work the pattern entirely to try to get it to do what you want. No matter what, it can't look exactly like the small kitsune mask 'cause the reason the mask looks that way is because it is small. I basically upsized the entire mask, proportionately, and it changed the features. I'll have to upsize the "face" but not the ears or muzzle...change the carving entirely...and that would maybe work.

You see, it can be done but it means I'll be creating an entirely new pattern, and that takes time. Also, it's a gamble that it might still not be "perfect", which is a risk you/I have to jointly agree to take because that's the nature of custom orders. You can check my feedback to see that people are all happy with my custom attempts (and they are 'cause I always do my best), but still there are no guarantees any artist can offer when making something for the first time, as a commission.

So, I'm reluctant to try unless you can agree to accept that it's all an experiment...and I know that no one wants to hear that, when there's money involved.

From: [identity profile]

Re: izo84

No no...not you. After all, I don't have a diagram of your face here (not yet anyway! ;-) ). It's another person entirely.

Though I AM at a loss about what to do for you too. The kitsune mask is being a real problem for me lately.

From: (Anonymous)

Re: izo84

I hope that you got my last conservation-message(s) *sorry the image*. Please forget all my questions about the paintings, ok. Just create a bigger version of the mask as seen for me, please. ^^

From: [identity profile]

*Hugs* I'm sorry that things are stressful for you and that you aren't getting the piece and quiet that you had wanted.

I remember your post last year about Mother's Day; fingers crossed that this year is an improvement.

From: [identity profile]

Everything passes and I just need to remind myself of that. Deep breathing and 24 hours...

I had hoped for a quiet day (which is the best thing I can hope for on MD); a chance to lose myself on a long bike trail and a hot bath and someone else worries about dinner and the laundry (that would be heavenly). Cards and flowers are utterly secondary to that.

But with Greg getting back from a trip and these Commissions From Hell, I'm thinking that might not happen. *le sigh* We shall see...

From: [identity profile]

It is certainly a valid small business approach to fire (or in this case initially refuse) your customers.

If they're willing to pay more, work out exactly how much it costs in both extra time and mental anguish/baggage/frustration and price accordingly. Who cares if that ends up in double or triple or more of the base price?

From: [identity profile]

I've "fired" people before, in fact. It's so easy to do online (you just stop answering the e-mails). After about 4 exchanges I really lose interest in working with someone (unless it's a friend or a really BIG important job which implies that I'm getting compensated for all the work I'm doing).

Warning bells ring for me when I am having repeated discussions about an inexpensive mask that shouldn't be such a big deal...I begin to suspect that there's no way to make the person happy, & it's not my job to sweet-talk someone into buying something. They either want it or they don't.

I don't know if this means I'm being "difficult" (I suspect it does) but I do know that if I don't protect myself a little from this kind of customer, they'll kill my love for what I'm doing, & I just can't have that.

From: [identity profile]

...Honestly, if the mask I bought/asked for didn't fit, I'd be just as happy displaying it on my wall. Your masks are gorgeous! It's be the prettiest piece of wall-art I'd have!

Sometimes you have to fire your clients. :/ I think if you explain it, he/she should understand... And if they don't, you probably didn't want them as a customer anyhow!

From: [identity profile]

You're very sweet. ^_^ I suspect a lot of my masks are basically bought as decoration anyway, though I do like them to be wearable as well (if possible).

I've only ever had to tell someone "NO" outright once, and it was a memorable occasion (because I REALLY do try to be nice to my customer base & I'm not a habitually nasty person). She just went on and on and on with demands (this was in person, mind you, 'cause it happened at an SCA event) and she was being REALLY demanding and nasty (and back then I was only selling these things for $50, tops), and finally I said "You know...I'm beginning to suspect you don't want this mask, really" and SHE said "Oh I want it all right, you're just going to have to WORK for it."

At that point I just laughed and said "Y'know what? I'm not going to sell you anything. You can't have a mask." And her mouth fell open. And I added "Not even if you pay me double, triple what I'm asking. You Just Can't Have One. Ever. You are not ever going to own a Merimask mask."

Boy was she pissed! She even spent some time trying to sabotage me with other customers (but no one believed her 'cause seriously, I have a reputation for being good to people). She just made the mistake of pushing my buttons.

From: [identity profile]

"You're just going to have to work for it." ???

What does she think you are, a performing seal who gets the fishie only if they do all the cute flips and turns and whatever will amuse the audience? And why on earth does she think her fifty bucks are so valuable? Is her money somehow worth ten times what everyone else's is worth?

Good for you for showing her to the door. People with that kind of attitude NEED a few good wake-up calls. That you are paying money for a product does not entitle you to order people to dance for you.

From: [identity profile]

That... That is awful o_o I can't find to words to express just how awful that was! I'm glad you told her off, it sounds like she deserved it!!

From: [identity profile]

Hope you feel better, meri!! *hugs*..and I really think you should take Mother's day off and enjoy yourself- pamper are a great mom and you deserve that!!

From: [identity profile]

Hugging you with my mind.

I could never fire a customer. I tend to always think I'm in the wrong and everyone else is in the right. Makes for a very stressful life, especially in my older service-oriented lines of work. T_T

From: [identity profile]

Um. I should ask this on some other post, but this is not, you understand, a 'can you do this for me at this time' kind of a question, but simply a 'CAN you do this?' sort.

Would you be able to make the Auryn pendant from leather? I think it'd be better that way than from clay, plus my clay skills are still low. All the talk of The Neverending Story brought it up. If you don't remember it, it's here:

And just because I found an adorable TNS-related photo, I have to show you that, too:

Aren't they adorable? :D

From: [identity profile]

DEEP breath....this too shall pass. Maybe a generic line of "Custom colors available" would stop some of the custom fitting requests. You could also charge "X" amount more for a custom fit and require a plaster mold of their face to be sent to you. That would probably shut a lot of that down.

I'll spend Mother's Day with my mom - lunch is on me. Dad is taking her to Lowe's to pick out anything she wants (plus her coupon she's been hording) so she'll be a happy camper. By the time they get back, I'll have lunch fixed and her gift installed.

Take care and enjoy Mother's Day tomorrow.

From: [identity profile]

Ya know, if they want the mask to sit right, they could always affix it on with temporary glue. (the cosmetic stuff) or put the mask on a pole and carry it around that way. oO All of mine fit me pretty well. ^_^