I wasn't sure if I was going to write about this because at first blush, it's a downer, and downers are not awesome at all. Then I remembered that this blog, even when written about one subject for a month, is still my blog and written truly from the heart, so why not. It also gave me a chance to reflect upon my own feelings I've had today.
I am a jewelry designer. For years, I exhibited at about 20 juried craft shows a year and updated my web site constantly. It was a good living -- a HARD way to make a living, but rewarding. I became an LLC , I had a studio built, I wrote a book, and things were moving along swimmingly. Awesome, you could say.
Several years ago that changed and I now only participate in two juried shows a year and I haven't updated my web site in ages because I've hardly made anything. I've been sick, etc. However, I have been doing better, and I thought that SURELY I would be able to exhibit at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA this weekend.
Some people hate this line of work. It's not easy to set up and tear down tents and displays, watch people throw your jewelry on the table after seeing the price, or hear them say, "My aunt's cousin's friend's dog sitter makes jewelry, let me take a photo of it and she can make it for you." It makes you want to look at them, wave, and say, "I can hear, you know."
However, I really love the show circuit. There's an electricity in the air when you first walk into your bare space as people buzz around you, talk shop, and roll in their carts of hand-crafted goodness as we all go about our business of setting up 10'x10' shops, all of us anxious and excited and hopeful for crowds. You can almost breathe in that kind of electricity, and it's contagious and exciting and most certainly awesome.
|Zack helps in his own way several years ago. He's great at handing out zip-ties!|
The other reason I love doing craft shows are the customers. Since I've done the same shows year after year, I've gotten to know a lot of interesting people. I may not always remember their name, but I know their face, and chances are I know what they've purchased from me. Sometimes when I make something, I think, "Oh, Priscilla would love that!", and stash it away so she has the first look before I put it out on the table.
|Larimar, pearls, crystal, and topaz, long gone to a wonderful customer.|
This weekend would be my first show in a long time. As I said, I'm getting better. I'm spending less time in bed, more time sitting up, and I'm even hoping to restart my gym membership at the end of November so I can swim. Right now, walking around the block is about it, or even just doing a few errands is my exercise and about all I can do for now after almost two years of bed. I felt my keeping up with healthy eating and all my meds and seeing the doctors and taking calculated rests to keep up my energy had me ready to attack four days of 10 hours (at least) of intense work.
Today, however, I asked my doctor, as she gave me vitamin injections, what she thought about it. The night before, I'd started having a bit of a panic attack (well... more than a BIT of one) and I decided to get an expert opinion. After discussing the sheer volume of people in a show of this size, how nasty dirty filthy money is, and how I haven't done much physical stuff like toting boxes for a while, she said I shouldn't do it. I am very immunodepressed, and can't fight off a common cold like a normal person can, and I always get a cold after shows anyway. Going to this show this time, with worse immuno-blah-blah stuff, wouldn't be wise, she said. After all the work I've made in the past month or so of getting up, doing things with my family,and reassessing my priorities, I definitely didn't want to have a huge set back, and she felt this show was me asking for just that.
|My first true silversmithing project. A good reminder - dream, and don't sweat it if you're not perfect.|
At first, I was crushed. I was out a lot of money from the booth fee, the postcards I'd mailed, not to mention income, and my pride and sense of self took a beating. I drove home feeling quite sorry for myself -- I won't deny that. I also wondered how in the world I would be able to write an awesome post.
I totally know how to now.
First, I'm very fortunate I have a great doctor. Two, I'm very fortunate I have a great husband who pretty much had already decided the show was not going to be the best thing for me. Three, an amazing customer and friend called me and talked to me with several great ideas to recoup my design mojo and hopefully make some money while I'm at it, and reassured me that this was not the end of the world.
And it isn't!
What WOULD be the end of the world is if I'd gone, pushed too hard, had to leave part way through the show (like I had to one year), and then spend the next three weeks in bed missing out on life, starting over from square one. It would be awful if I lost the momentum I've been gaining. I've been able to be part of my family, in the same room, eating dinner, watching movies, working two feet from them when I could, reading to Zack when he wants, and being able to make short excursions about town. Those are the AWESOME parts of life.
Yes, I love my jewelry design job and it's pretty amazing to do what I love for a living and will continue doing for a living. I haven't been making a living at it since I've been sick, but as a Facebook friend reminded me, "Health before wealth." Very, very true.
I'll continue to work on flipping bad news on its ear as often as I can. It's a far cry better than dwelling on it. That in itself, is awesome.
Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack. Visit her shops by clicking on the right side bar of this blog (please and thank you!). She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party® and author of the book "Bead Soup" via Kalmbach Publishing.