Lately I’ve been “shopping my stash” for new design ideas–going through my countless drawers of goodies (beads, findings, wire, chain) to see what inspires me. It’s a concept that’s become popular in home decorating, seeing what’s already on hand that can be repurposed/rearranged/upcycled.
I have some examples today, riffs on an older design. I’m using tiny, tiny hand rolled silver beads culled from strands of Thai hill tribes silver beads. I used these a couple years ago, alternating the silver beads with turquoise chips.
But this week I’m using tiny, tiny, tiny turquoise chips. And teensy tiny pearls. And very, very small faceted crystals of smokey quartz.
How tiny? Well, the pearls are about 2mm. The turquoise chips, about 3mm. I cannot even imagine how the holes are drilled in such tiny beads. (For reference, I’ve put a #2 pencil in one of the photos.)
My thumbs hurt from picking up such tiny things, and when my eyes began to swim a few minutes ago, I decided to take a break and write instead.
But it’s worth it. Because I love the extreme delicate look of these. And I especially love how the tiniest of my artifacts (stones, otters, birds, bears, horses) look with them.
The weird thing is, sometimes as my brain struggles to wrap itself around this miniscule work, I can feel my thoughts narrow down, too. For example, this is what popped up as I made a little stone for one of these necklaces today.
I realized I’ve always hesitant to show my work in “real time”–as I’m making it, etc. So much of my work has been copied over the years. A “crafter” here in NH actually “borrowed” my popular Sea Stone and Pearl designs a few years ago, to make her own line of jewelry with the same colors, identical components, even a similar-sounding name. She was on my mailing list for awhile, so she either bought some from me or visited my booth the year I introduced them. She now sells them at smaller fairs in the region. Ow. Last year, a customer came in who’d bought a piece from her and raved about her work, saying that I would really enjoy it, because “she does stones, too.” I had to bite my tongue….hard. I see some evidence she is evolving in her designs so that it’s more her own work.
I console myself with the idea that I must be one of her artistic “heroes”. And pray for her to evolve faster….!!!
My lizard brain wants to dwell here, nursing old hurts and grudges. But I try to let go.
After all, I can’t control this. And though it’s painful, I’m trying really, really hard not to give it too much energy anymore.
We are ALL inspired by others. I am. I just try to make sure that, as an idea comes to me from someone else, it gets substantially transformed into something that’s truly mine.
It also happens that different artists work through different ideas from different directions, and innocently converge onto similar territory. That’s happened to me a lot, too. There are, after all, very few truly new things under the sun.
Whatever. It happens. It’s time to move on. And so, in that light, there will more images in my blog from now on.
Who benefits? YOU do! You get to preview my new work for the show. You get to sneak a peek at the less messy parts of my studio.
Hopefully, I benefit, too. I get to spread the joy as I work.
I’ve done the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Annual Fair, or “Sunapee” as we Leaguers call it somewhat affectionately, for eleven years now. Twelve, if you count the year I exhibited but didn’t have a booth.
It kinda wrecks summer. Just as school gets out and the weather gets nice and things slow down, just as I’m sitting in a sidewalk cafe enjoying a well-earned margarita, just as I’m wondering what to do with all my free time, I realize….
It’s time to ramp up inventory for the fair.
It’s time to make sure I have enough gift boxes, labels, working booth lights, spare parts and wall hangings for this nine-day show.
It’s time, in short, to PANIC.
I hate the panic. I hate the hot. (I’m actually not wild about summer. I hate bugs and sun.) I hate the realization that I forgot to order more clasps, wire, chain, polymer clay. I hate worrying about everything I have to pull together to make it work.
Fortunately, I love my customers. And I love making my stuff.
I also love the creative energy that wells up in response to my panic. Suddenly, there are simply too many wonderful ideas and new ideas to work on.
Anything to keep from thinking about the more boring tasks, like updating my mailing list. And looking for those boxes. And wondering if I have ALL the parts to my booth this year. And trying to remember where I put the light bulbs I bought last year when I realized I didn’t have enough the day before set-up???
Yes, making otters and stones and earrings and necklaces is much more fun!
I love playing with these new riverstone beads I’ve made….
I drag out all my little storage cases of handmade beads, including teeny tiny beads I use as accents.
I love how all my artifacts look gathered together. I tend to make little “arrangements” with them in between projects. But when it’s time to put designs together, it’s better if they’re neatly sorted.
I love to see all the little animal artifacts gathered into “herds”. Of course, it’s not so fun to pick all the chains apart after!
So there you have it, a little peek into my studio today. I’ve having a little trouble putting the photos where I want them. So if you’re confused, trust me, it isn’t YOU.
Aren’t you glad I didn’t show you the four foot tall pile of papers waiting to be filed?
I’d never done a trunk show before. You know me–that was all the excuse I needed to over-think and over-prepare!
But I think it was a successful event. You can see the photos of my set-up here.
Here are some of the things I considered as I pulled my display together:
1) A trunk show means you bring EVERYTHING.
But it can’t look like everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink, either. I still wanted a cohesive display. So I set out several “series” of jewelry and grouped them accordingly. I had plenty more samples in reserve.
2) It should look different than a craft show booth.
My artist-of-the-month display looks a lot like my fine craft booth. It’s a formal display, an in-depth look at my work in a museum-like setting.
But I wanted my trunk show to look like just that–like I’d traveled to the show, bringing a personal collection of items for my customers’ enjoyment. I even asked for a few chairs, so that people could sit and talk as I worked.
3) It should still be obvious what you’re selling.
One of the drawbacks of a totally creative display is, sometimes you can’t tell what people are selling. How many times have you walked by a booth at a show filled with wonderful props and eclectic display–only to wonder what the heck they’re selling??!! (Hint: If people keep trying to buy your display pieces, those display pieces are TOO interesting!)
I got around this by sticking to the vintage suitcases as my only “prop”. The rest of the display featured traditional black steel jewelry display pieces–earring holders, necklace holders, etc.
I also confined my larger, bolder, more elaborate pieces to the suitcase display. The smaller, simpler pieces went on the traditional display fixtures, where they were able to be seen more easily.
People did ask about the suitcases, but they also stuck around longer to enjoy the entire show. Because the pieces were simply “laid out”–not elaborately draped and swagged–the message was still clear: “It’s okay to touch!”
4) Give people a reason to hang out.
At a craft show, there may be thousands of people coming with the intent to see as much as they can. If they like my work and my booth, they enter. Then they are in “my world”.
It can be harder when you’re simply a display in a store. Right next to your table are examples of a dozen other artists’ work!
I decided to do make up some simple necklaces featuring my artifacts and torch work with sterling silver wire. This gave even casual observers an excuse to hang out, watch and ask questions.
5) It’s only your time. Have fun!
To quote Greg Brown, “Time ain’t money when all ya got is time.” (From “Just a Bum”
Yes, my time is valuable, but it wasn’t like I was paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to be there at the gallery that day. It was a nice, relaxed opportunity to introduce new people to my work.
So by keeping my expectations low, my presentation skills high, by keeping myself busy even during slow times (but totally available during busy times) I ended up having a great time, acceptable sales and met some amazing new collectors of my work!
I’ll be at the Sharon Arts Center in downtown Peterborough today, for my very first trunk show.
All my stuff is packed in….suitcases! I don’t have any real trunks, but I have a wonderful collection of small vintage suitcases. I don’t know why I like them so much. Maybe I want to be able to leave in a hurry.
I think I’m done packing and I think I’ll be there around 11 to set up. For Mother’s Day, I’ll be demonstrating simple wire-working techniques–balling up sterling silver wire to make head pins, wrapping pearls and semi-precious stones, etc. to make simple necklaces for Mom (and nicely priced at under $25 too!)
I’ll also have samples of my artifacts and tons of my animal jewelry. Artfully arranged in….trunks! Er…small suitcases. And examples of books and magazines my work has appeared in.
No, I am not bringing Bunster. Something tells me she would wreak havoc in Peterborough…..
I got a lot done in the studio today. I promised two of my galleries I’d restock them after the holiday rush on my work. (Whoo hoo!)
I’m working on a popular new series of jewelry using more organic, simple beads of polymer, accented with freshwater pearls, found objects, wrapped stones, oxidized sterling silver and soft ribbons of leather I cut from recycled leather clothing. It seems to appeal to people who like my aesthetic, but want something more “neutral” than powerful animal totemic work.
I’ve been “in the zone” most of the day, moving easily from one production task to another–drilling pearls, making more polymer pod beads and spacers, cutting leather strips, oxidizing findings, making head pins.
This evening I was dashing around finishing up some stuff so I could relax “later”. The last errand took me across town and back.
On the way back, I thought maybe I could practice being “in the moment”.
So instead of wishing I could hit all the green lights, or cursing the idiot who pulled out in front of me at the rotary, I tried to slow my breathing down. Breath…… In. Pause. Out.
I relaxed and paid attention to what was going on right now.
“I’m driving the car,” I thought. It felt like flying.
My knee ached a little. “My knee hurts,” I thought. But that was a good thing. It meant I’d gone for a long, vigorous walk with our dog Tuck. I remembered playing “monster chasing dog” and “kick the pine cone” and “grab the stick and pull” games.
“I’m driving with my dog in the back seat,” I thought. Tuck chose that moment to stick his head from his seat in the back to rest it gently next to mine in the driver’s seat. Sweet.
“I’m cold,” I thought. The car was still a little chilly, but it was just enough for me to sense it, a good feeling.
“I’m on my way home to my family.” That felt good, too.
“This is a pretty town,” I thought. Keene does have a really nice downtown. This is where our kids grew up. No matter where we end up, it will always hold a special place in our heart.
“It’s a beautiful evening,” I thought.
And then I thought, “I’m driving through a cloud of soap bubbles. And I was.
Someone in an apartment above must have opened a window and blown soap bubbles to drift down to the street below.
It was wonderful. Quite a lovely moment.
Then I saw a very flat, very dead squirrel, and the moment was done.
Something useful, something interesting, something funny and something wise. You get to decide which is which.
Instead of a loooooong deep heavy post today, just some little thoughts and things of interest I’ve read in the last day or so….
From the June 2009 issue of Real Simple magazine, Kristin Appenbrink in the “Moneywise” section calculates that the Lewis and Clark Expedition (St. Louis, MO to Oregon, with nine states in between) today would cost about $308 for gas, roundtrip. I wonder if L & C would think that was wonderful or depressing? Of course, traveling by car, they also never would have met Sacajawea, and she was pretty cool.
From the June 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine, “Health News” by Jane Bianchi features little D+Caf Caffeine test strips to see if your restaurant coffee really is decaf. Sort of like a pregnancy test for coffee.
I tried this cool little free tutorial from JewelryLessons.com on how to oxidize sterling silver with an egg. It was the best one I found online, involving the least mess, with great illustrations. Thank you to Sarah and Jen from tae kwon do, who, when I described the method to them last night, pointed out that I might want to recheck the part where you put the egg and jewelry back in the microwave to heat up. Yep, you’re right, I missed the part where the author said to take the jewelry out first.
I’m at that point in life where, when I put on eye shadow, my eyelid skin stays where the brush pushes it. Scary, but funny, too.
And the words that jumped out at me the last week or so were, “Life is too short to lose good friends.”