One of a Kind

One of a Kind - Medallion #5 ©2009 nickel, copper

You hear the term “one of a kind” a lot lately.  But what does it really mean?  Does it just mean that a piece is made individually rather than on an assembly line?  Or does it mean that each piece is designed, it’s process figured out, and then fabricated as a distinct entity?

One of a kind doesn’t mean that “there’s only one with blue stones.”  It doesn’t mean that only one artist makes this line.  It means that each individual piece is unique (another word that loses its meaning in an Etsy world).  No other piece is like it.

Not ooak, but still special - Band & Bar Ring ©2010 sterling silver

You can have one of a kind pieces in a series or that share a theme.  But they aren’t one of a kind if they look interchangeable.  My Medallions are each one of a kind.  Most of my cuffs (due to their process) are too.  My Band & Bar rings?  Each one is individually made and they come in different sizes, but they are not one of a kind.  I like the term “limited production.”

There is nothing wrong with having a production line of work.  It doesn’t make you less of an artist or your work not as valuable.  Using the term one of a kind when it isn’t though is misleading at best and unfair to your customers.  Don’t use the term to make your work seem more special than it is.  Make your work special and people will appreciate it no matter how many of each one that you make.

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2 thoughts on “One of a Kind

  1. Limited production or limited edition are good uses for this thinking. Each piece in the ‘limited production’ series is made one-at-a-time (one-by-one) and does not diminish it’s status. There’s a lot of jewelers who specifically have their one-of-a-kind or custom series clearly noted on their website or in their craft booth. Thanks Wendy, very nice post.

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  2. Great post. I do label some of my wooden toys “one of a kind” and those are the ones that get hand drawn onto the wood each time before cutting. They truly are one of a kind. Others that I use templates for are not. Even though, sure, there are handmade variations on each one it isn’t fair to call that “one of a kind” and bothers me when people abuse this distinction.

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