I hope if you were in the path of Hurricane Irene, you're safe and sound. We managed fine although WOW I've never heard that kind of wind. Several towns nearby were evacuated since we live near a lot of water, but we personally are fine, other than the pressure-induced migraine I'm suffering right now, which is why I'm signing out for now and will chat with you later.
Normally I exhibit at large juried craft shows, the sort of shows that last three days in a huge convention center. They tire me out, but I've developed a wonderful following and between October and March, that's when I make the majority of my money.
However, this weekend I exhibited at the International Gem & Jewelry Show, a show that sells everything from cheap (very) imports to very, very expensive diamonds, and all the gemstones you could hope to have. I've only seen one true lampwork artist ever at this show, and they've since given it the heave ho. It's just not that kind of show.
To that end, it's risky for someone like ME to do the show as well. First, it's scary-expensive. Second, many of the people who come are there to make jewelry just like I do, and I haven't differentiated myself enough to make someone stop and buy anything. However, I wanted to liquidate my stash of larimar rings and pendants that I can't show at certain craft shows, and fortunately, that's what most people purchased.
It's also what gets stolen the most, so that's where I put my new little "please don't steal" sign -- lousy lighting=lousy photo, but here you go:
A lot of the vendors (and customers!) thought that was great.
And nothing was stolen!
Then there were the buckets of Bead Soup...
The impulse buy $10 earring racks...
and the regular ol' regular ol'.
I was MORE than grateful for the beading friends who dropped by, many to sit and chat for a while, the pie, the cupcake, the typewriter charm, the book, the beads, but most of all, the love. "Things" are lovely and so much fun, but hugs can't be bought, and I hoard those in my mind for years upon years.
Remember this post, about how we used to send letters and cards but now we do almost everything by email? Well, Rational Designs of Etsy has donated the gorgeous cards I featured for a lucky winner!
I also wanted to share this cute little snail I got in the mail from Createology. After that post, she sent me LITERAL snail mail. She made this... isn't it the most adorable thing? A snail? In the mail?
I came home from a grueling show to a lovely box from my Bead Soup partner, Manuela Wutschke. And after you see the beauties I received, I'll explain why I'm terrified.
First, they came beautifully packaged, which made me feel horrible about how I had to package hers. I used pretty tissue paper but every single time I think, "oh, I'll make pretty boxes" but this time, with Dad so sick all week, I had NO time and wanted to get her goodies to Germany fast, so pretty tissue it was. I feel like an idiot. But hopefully she'll like what I sent. (Ducks head in artistic shame.)
Here's the pretty package...
I read the card first, and I needed this sentiment:
and then the inside:
First, holy smokes. I'd be happy with just this, but there are two more little packages to open. I know how long (and how boring) it is to make lampwork spacers, so I have a huge appreciation for receiving so many! And those funky Czech glass beads (holy crap, she made those TOO) appeal to the texture-lover in me.
Ready for the focal?
I honestly cried.
I mean, I've been crying a lot lately, but this time it was happy tears. In the Bead Soup Blog Party, you have NO idea what a person will send. You can look at a person's blog and shop and they can send something that looks NOTHING like what they make. I've seen it happen time after time. Manuela's beads are very time-intensive and I didn't expect this much. Honestly. But she spent hours on this and it means so much to me. But you know what? She could have sent tubes of seed beads and that's all and I would have made something pretty from it and been happy to have met such a cool, creative person.
And oh, she made the clasp, too.
Now here's why I'm scared to death.
When beads are this gorgeous, it's really hard to make something unique and cool with them. The beads are so beautiful that making a creative necklace (for me, anyway) feels virtually impossible. I have my work cut out for me! The focal is just begging for a beautiful chain and that's all! But of course I can't do that. So I have a LOT of work ahead of me.
Tomorrow I leave to exhibit at Intergem, and if you are near the Dulles Expo Center in the DC Metro Area, I hope you'll come see me! Today is my last day to get my act together, so I'm reposting an article I wrote for Softflex, who makes excellent beading wire, my favorite wire cutters, and other wonderful things. Some of you may have already seen it, but here it is again.
A lot of my blog readers have been fascinated that I wasn't brought up in a creative home. My first eighteen years were predominantly spent with my head buried in a library book or trying to stay unnoticed in school hallways. To say I dreamed of packing up and moving out would be an understatement. Life in southwestern Virginia held little for me, and after my hard scholastic work meant nothing in the face of a non-existent college fund, I joined the military.
In this post, I wrote about my experiences in Korea and how all the different things I did there shaped my eclectic approach to jewelry design. Today, I'm going to take you on another journey -- my journey to Venice, Italy.
Once upon a time, when I was 23 and out of the military, I ran away from home. The circumstances why aren't so important as the fact that I did. I sold everything I owned except for what would fit in two suitcases, a few boxes, and a 5x10 storage unit, and bought a one-way ticket to Venice, Italy. I knew one person in Italy, an old friend from my years in Korea, and with a credit card, the promise of a job teaching aerobics around the cities and towns, and a couch to crash on, I made the leap from misery to happiness.
Ironically, I lived in the birthplace of handmade glass beads, but at the time, I had yet to make a single piece of jewelry. I had no idea I'd end up living a creative life. All I knew was I had a love for beautiful surroundings and a devotion to soaking in as many memories as I could.
That was nearly twenty years ago. Recently, I started scanning photographs in preparation for writing memoirs about my travels, and I realized that my many journeys to countries around the world have shaped my jewelry designs far more than I knew.
On my first excursion into Venice, I happened to glance down a side street and noticed this little flower market. With my cheap point-and-shoot camera (this was way before digital cameras!) I snapped a quick shot. I love flowers, and the house I lived in at the time had massive rose hedges, but I loved all the different colors this vendor offered.
Color has become incredibly important to my work. Not only is my jewelry colorful:
But my studio is colorful as well.
I spent a lot of time in Venice-proper, but I lived in a small town in a more pastoral part of northern Italy named Marsure. Marsure is a lovely, quaint little village on the outskirts of a military base. Even though it's close to an air strip, it didn't take very long to get lost in the quiet, old-world feel of simpler times.
One of my favorite past-times was exploring the countryside's roads, wandering the narrow streets with my camera and journal. Everything was a verdant green in my neighborhood, with grape arbors and houses nestled against the base of the Italian Alps. Here's a photo of a street near my home, complete with a natural fresh-water spring and a grape arbor:
The influence of being surrounded by all this glorious vegetation and clusters of grapes and ivy can be seen in the lush charm bracelets and necklaces I love to make.
Finally, a trip to Italy wouldn't be complete without a tour of a castle. This particular castle looked like your standard fairy tale palace with turrets and impossibly high walls, but when I climbed to the very top and looked down, I discovered a beautiful Escher-esque pattern that seemed almost modern -- clean lines, sharp angles, and an architectural purity.
While I love whimsy in my jewelry, I do make an occasional foray into classic lines with geometrically repetitive patterns.
Not only is this bracelet representative of clean lines and distinct patterns, but it's made via chain maille techniques, a method of making armor back in the time when this castle was actively protecting its city. (Although this particular pattern is an Asian style rather than a European Style).
It's interesting how things in our lives -- whether they're travels, books we've read, or even people we've met -- can stick with us and make a home in our brain until something triggers a reaction and there's an "a-ha!" moment. While traveling Europe, I never thought about making beads or jewelry, but nearly twenty years later, I can definitely see the influence of my experiences. Even without a single Venetian bead, I've managed to add a taste of Italy to pieces in my current adventure in life -- making pretty things.
I went window shopping today while waiting my my headache medicine to work (and basically, it's like taking Chicklets), and I found some real lovelies and I thought I'd share my taste. (And OOOOH the pain when I saw that some of the things I hearted were sold. Agony.) But! Enjoy!
People. This is what I mean when I say I just don't have that "special something". But I sure appreciate it in others! I long for this. Isn't it gorgeous???? I admire this artist so much. Puffy heart love and admire.
All right, this is one that I'm mourning has sold. It's made by Lune Designs, one of my favorite jewelry designers. I actually own one of her awesome turquoise necklaces. But OH the colors and textures of this bracelet! Sob.
I'm generally not a ALL the goddess type, but something about this necklace really spoke to me, and I love it. Maybe it's that vintage blend of colors. Maybe it's the mix of various styles and textures. I don't know. I just know it when I see it.
I'm sure a lot of you know Cassie. I have a necklace made by her and I've bought a number of beads from her -- but this bracelet? It totally speaks to me. I'm normally all bright in my colors, but this -- I like the bit of mute. I love it. Sigh. So much talent all over this page.
Over the top? Yes. Would I wear it? Oh indeed I would. And I'd wear it with a t-shirt and jeans, too. To heck with waiting for a special occasion. LIFE is a special occasion.
Everything I've shown here I'd wear. I just can't swing any of it right now. It's tuition time, yo. But looking at them makes me inordinately happy -- don't they you? Knowing there are people who can DO things like this, who can dream them up, makes me happy. It's how I feel when I lie awake at night and make up stories in my head. When I do that, I know NO one else has those stories -- they're mine, and if I put them on paper just so, they'll captivate just as much as these piece of art. Of course, you can't wear a piece of paper, darn it, and one day I hope to be able to own some of these things, or things like it, but for now, take a look at these lovely stores and enjoy!
I wrote not too long ago about thinking about my direction in life, in particular where I'm going in jewelry design. More than a few people emailed me expressed the same feelings, and I did what I could to encourage and to help people submit their work to magazines. I'd love to see some new blood in those pages! A lot of people have said they feel like "why bother" when they see many of the same names month after month, and with as many blogs as I read -- I know there's a ton of amazing people out there. I'm sure you'll see some at the Bead Soup Blog Party (which starts September 17th but the hop will continue for a while afterward) and I'm going to invite as many magazine editors as I can to watch the show. So bring your A-game, folks!
Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE to make jewelry and meeting up with my customers at shows is SO much fun. But I need to take the time to explore some things without the pressure to compete. I've been a runner but not a winner, yet the memory is still sweet. Trying to compete has made me see some people in a new light and it has been stressful. I'd much, much rather lift someone else up than be stepped on being passed over.
It's SO very hard to avoid drama. Life seems to revolve around it and it can be SO very interesting -- let's be honest, now. But regardless, it's a TOTAL waste of time. What in the world is it with the bead world? For heaven's sake, it's just glass and a bunch of pretty rocks! But I'm taking a stand -- I'm starting to take control of my angst and moving in new directions. Two days ago, I turned in my very first submission for a writing contest. And while it's a really long shot, I could care less. The very action of making a change, of stopping the complaining and doing something different to see if it will change my creative expression in this other thing I love, jewelry -- it's liberating.
I'm learning that the people who don't like me -- don't like me. And that's totally fine. As I tell my son, not everyone likes everyone. It's how you TREAT those people that shows your worth. The people who smile to my face and write kind things, then turn to snark to others -- they aren't worth my time.
Remember that, folks. YOU have the power to make it go away. If you feel you're being left behind, or you feel like your creativity isn't up to par with someone else's -- quit looking at them. A mentor is someone who lifts you up, not someone who you feel inferior to. YOU need to be a friend to YOU. If you need a break, turn off the blogs and put away the magazines. Pull out the glass and pretty rocks and remember why you bought them in the first place. It should be for the fun and the beauty and to advance YOU for YOU -- not to compare yourself to someone else.
THIS! This is so important to remember. With me, what you see, what you read, who you meet, is what you get. I'm not a made-up character I play for the benefit of an audience. I have thin skin -- I'll be the first to admit that. I'll also be the first to admit that will probably never change. It's just how I'm wired. But I CAN realize it doesn't matter. I've fought thirty hard years to be able to reach the age of 42 and be able to say the opinions of myself, my husband, and my son are what matter. Cliques and mean people are so middle school. Just laugh at that nonsense.
If you don't get anything at all out of my post today, remember this quotation. YOU ARE PRICELESS to someone. And I guarantee it's more than ONE someone, and you may never know who that person is. But they exist.
Put that into perspective. If you feel like your life isn't going the way you want it to, stop for a second and pull out a sheet of paper. Instead of writing down everyone who loves you, write down those people for whom you've done small kindnesses. Who have you loaned a dollar to in the grocery store when they were short? Who did you share an umbrella with? Who did you mail a card to lately (you know who you are). Who did you email and let know you were thinking of them at that very moment (you know who you are, too).
You have absolutely no idea how very, very important you are. Remember this when you feel down.
The thing about her beads is they terrify me. They're so amazingly beautiful on their own that I have no idea how I'll ever be able to do them justice. I can't wait to see what she sends!
(all photos by Manuela)
And long time readers know of my love of pie, particularly when times are tough -- and man have the past two weeks been rather interesting, what with Dad suddenly being in the hospital and a record number of Bead Soup Blog Partiers signing on. Well, I finally got my coconut cream pie yesterday when I met up with Cindy Wimmer and had pie for lunch.
I received a lovely assortment of handmade lampwork glass, and you probably already know how much I love handmade glass! Take a look....
photo by Lutka and Co.
I already have an idea for the top left beads -- they're nice and large, and if the idea in my brain comes through, I'll be making something really cool, and functional rather than wearable jewelry. If my idea doesn't work, I'm going to be so disappointed with myself!
Don't you love the vessel in the bottom left? Like a sweet little perfume bottle. And those purple flowers! I feel like planting them. And finally, the upper left -- those beg to become a charm bracelet. But who knows?