After a long day of shopping, have you ever gone back to purchase something that you had decided would be perfect, only to find that it (or the last one) had already been purchased? I have learned the hard way to pick something up that catches my eye until I decide whether I want to purchase it then or continue looking and be ok if it is gone when I come back. Since many of my creations are OOAK, I have had the same thing happen in reverse when potential customers came back and were disappointed when that perfect something was already sold. Luckily there are times when I can create something similar to suit their needs.
This scenario happened last year when I participated in the Happy Holidays Gift Store at the Arlington Museum of Art. A pair of lampwork fish earrings on bright blue niobium ear wires sold not long before someone else came in looking to purchase them. Luckily I still had some lampwork fish beads and I arranged to be at the store with them when this potential customer could meet me. I let her pick out a couple of pair of fish beads that she thought went well together. My intention was to make earrings out of both sets and let her pick which pair she wanted and put the other pair out in the store. I used the already sold pair of fish earrings as inspiration for both new pair, without copying them directly.
Two pair of earrings were made and shown to my customer, but neither pair ever made it into the store. My customer liked them so much that she decided to purchase both pair. I have since made a couple of additional pair of lampwork fish earrings on niobium ear wires. One pair features black, pink and yellow fish while the other pair highlights pink, aqua and yellow fish.
I'll sum up saying that the moral of this post is that if it looks like you have missed out on purchasing that special something, especially if it is from an artisan, don’t just walk away disappointed. Talk with the artist to see if they can recreate the item or create something similar for you. If they can, it is a win for both sides.