Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Beads on Ebay

"We don’t see things as they are; We see them as we are." ~ Anais Nin

I've been in a funk lately so I'm clearing out some of my FAGs (Failed Attempts at Greatness) focals in groups of five starting at $9.99.

I've also added lots of new focals.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Goodbye, Zoe

I was with her when she passed on peacefully. I held her and told her what a good girl she had been and how I hoped I took good care of her while she was mine.

Here are the things I want to remember about her:

Picking her out of the litter. I thought I was going to get her brother, but picked her at the last minute.

Driving back from her birthplace in Odin, IN and she layed down and fell asleep every time I set her down.

Going for a week without a name. I finally named her after Cybil Shepherd's daughter on her TV show.

Her loooong tongue when she was just a pup.

Catching her pulling a roll of toilet paper all the way down the hall.

Watching her play in the sprinkler.

How she loved to be outside and hunt for chipmunks outside my window.

When the little kids next door would cal her "Toto."

How she would try to protect me from anybody who came to the door until she knew I accepted them (and how I almost turned her loose one time!)

The anxiety of leaving for North Carolina, knowing that someone would be coming to pick her up and put her in a crate on a plane, and the elation of picking her up in our new home.

Knowing that she slept on the back of the sofa and looked out the window at the golf course (and squirrels) all day while I was at work.

The hilarious red blinking collar she wore on our night walks.

Talking (yes, talking) to her on the phone while I was living in Florida for 6 months.

Joking with Dad about winding up her little nubbin and sending her into space (a la Astro from "The Jetsons."

The summer evenings when Dad would water all the plants and she would run after the hose and try to bite the water - getting totally sopping wet.

Immediately pooping in the basement for some reason when we moved into our new house.

When she climbed up on the kitchen table and ate a whole plate of fresh brownies, and a few days later, got sweet corn out of a paper grocery bag, shucked it, and ate the kernels.

How she "smiled" when she was cranky.

What an intense beggar!

How she couldn't stand to let her papaw out of her sight and how they napped together on the blue recliner at morning and night.

The look in her eyes when she told me she was ready to leave this world.

How it was so much harder to let her go than I thought it would be.


Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. - John 14:1-3
I believe my room will have all the things from my life that made me wonderfully happy. I'll see you soon, my little Zoe. Thank you for loving us. I love you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Second Annual Women in Art Market - Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm proud to announce that I have been accepted into the Eiteljorg's Women in Art Market. This is my first show in quite a while, so I'm really fired up! The Eiteljorg is a lovely place on the inside and out:

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art (Indianapolis, IN) will host its second annual Women in Art Market. Guests to the museum can view and purchase basketry, fiber arts, ceramics, painting and other work by 40 regional female artists. The Women in Art Market is a celebration of creativity from a woman's perspective, held in honor of Women's History Month.

The museum will offer artist sales and demonstrations throughout the day. At 1 p.m., There will be a special tour of the museum entitled "Women in the West."

Free with general museum admission ($7).
This is my first show in quite a while, so I'm really fired up! I've prepared an inventory of at least 20 silk ribbon necklaces, 10 coat/shawl/lapel pins, 10 silver/copper wire brangles, 20 loose focals, and some bead sets. This will also be the debut for some beautiful new bracelets I'm working on.

Don't miss it! ...and stay tuned to this blog for other opportunities for me to meet you!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Copying - My Thoughts on the Dreaded "C" Word

"Copying" is often a hotly debated topic in the lampworking community. Forget the adage: "Copying is the sincerest form of flattery." These discussions can get downright ugly.

I've steered clear of sharing my philosophy on copying in the open forums, but since this blog is my personal forum, I will attempt to explain my feelings on the subject.

Types of Copying

Usually, you can find three types of copying being addressed:

1. Copying an image of a bead that has been posted to the web.

2. Infiltration of sub-standard imitations from overseas environments, especially
where the working conditions are hazardous.

3. Copying a bead itself.

The third issue is what I will attempt to address in this post.

History of Copying Art

I never formally studied Art History, but I know that as far back as the Renaissance, the artistic masters took on apprentices not only as workshop employees, but as students, exchanging their services for training. Consider the following excerpt from Master and Mentor; an Introduction to the Artist-Pupil Relationship in Art History by Sarah Jarvis, 2007:

"The popularity of large fresco commissions by all manner of patrons led Renaissance artists to be in high demand. The commissioned artist would therefore attain the help of assistants and apprentices to help in the process, in exchange for an introduction to the exhaustive methods and tools of the trade. Here, the principal artist would act as workshop master directing a team of workers, who, through continued effort in their employer's projects, would gradually progress in their own artistic training."
Copying Instructors and Tutorial Techniques

In today's lampworking community, expensive workshops with widely admired artists have been extremely popular. Recently, other lampworkers have sold their techniques via downloadable .pdf tutorials. In most cases, permission is explicitly granted for the student to copy what is covered in class or in the tutorial (although the documents themselves are usually copyrighted). However, there are some artists who request that students NOT reproduce (copy) what they have learned. I suspect this breaks down into copying a techique vs. copying the class bead. Regardless, if an instructor does not want his or her demonstration techniques or beads copied, he or she should simply not demostrate them.

I have taken classes with some of today's best known and popular artists and from my experience the best classes are the ones that may teach you how to make several specific types of beads that incorporate techniques that are adaptable to my own beads and spark experimentation and new ideas - techniques that enable me to progress in my own artistic development, just like an apprentice from the Renaissance.

Copying "Bead Porn"

"Bead porn" is the affectionate term some of us use for bead photos in books or images posted in the forum show-and-tells (the "tell" part is almost always missing). In spirit, these pictures are shown for enjoyment, inspiration, edification, and the sharing of knowledge among lampworkers. In actuality, their purpose is frequently less obvious.

I keep statistics on the blog you are reading. I can tell how many "hits" I receive each day and what site each visitor has come from. Since I have a link to my blog in the signature line of my forum posts, I can tell that most of my hits come from visitors who have seen one of my beads in a show-and-tell thread then clicked to see my blog. To the right of this post I have links to my listings on Ebay, Etsy, and Artfire. Hence, if I post good beads in a show-and-tell thread, theoretically that will drive more traffic to my markets and create more sales.

When I look at bead porn, I am primarily checking out the competition, and I usually have one of the following reactions:

1. No desire to try.

2. I tried that and failed - no desire to try again.

3. I tried that and failed - inspired to try again!

4. I never tried that - let's see if I can do it!

5. I never tried that - WOW! I wouldn't even know where to

Why I Think Copying is Okay... for Me

Ultimately, I use copying as a way to become a better artist and beadmaker. I use it as a springboard to new ideas and challenges. Any aspect of a bead may inspire me to "copy" it. It could be the colors, the shape, the size, a particular technique, or everything about it.

If I print a picture of a bead and try to recreate it at my torch, 99% of the time I never even finish. But, on rare occasions I end up with a great bead that I like and all is right with the world... EXCEPT it so closely resembles the original that anybody who travels in my circles would instantly recognize it was not "mine."

If I like the bead enough and I enjoyed making it I usually work with the design, keeping the things I really like about it and changing the things I like less, until:

1. I'm equally, if not more satisfied. Pushing beyond the original to a better bead can be very gratifying.

2. I'm convinced that very few, if any, beadmakers will recognize my inspiration, particularly the original artist.
Now, there is one looming question: What am I going to do with that lovely copy I made? In my opinion, selling it publicly on the international market is out of the question. My reasons are as follows:

1. My copied beads never really measure up to the artist's original. To me, this would be like selling somebody’s "seconds."

2. I feel it would be insulting to the original artist. It’s a tough market and my copy may be seen as an effort to steal sales.

3. Part of the joy of art is taking an idea and interpreting it in your own way. I would be "selling out" by denying myself that challenge and pleasure.

4. I don't want to get stuck with orders making somebody else's bead. How deflating?
Occasionally, my copied beads end up at a local show, but I usually give them to friends or family who will enjoy the bead just because it was made by me.

An Example of What I Mean

Here is an image of a primitive-style heart by Teresa Laliberte’ of Lavender Creek Glass (used by permission).

When I saw Teresa's heart bead I was passively looking for a different take on heart beads for a challenge sponsored by ISLAGA. I went to the torch and made this:

I was very pleased with the bead and enjoyed making it. It was not tedious or frustrating or too simple to be interesting. So, I worked on another bead the next day and came up with this:

This is the bead I entered in the challenge. (It didn't win, but I voted for my own bead for the first time ever!) Now, I've got all kinds of color schemes and shapes and jewelry designs flashing through my brain. I've started writing them down to make sure I remember them. Oh, and I still have my original copy. I like it too much to give it away!

I honestly don't know how most lampworkers really feel about the whole copy issue, but I know that I am always honored if someone copies my work (which is rare). They become "kindrid spirits."


Granted, there will be those who maintain that copying is wrong under any circumstances, but that position is unrealistic based on history, common sense, and my personal experience. It perpetuates the craft, and who can stand against that?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Creatively Challenged in an Artistic World

I know that I am talented and creative in many ways, but I am often creatively challenged when it comes to making beads and jewelry... well, perhaps more than often. Being frustrated by "bead block" is NOT the best feeling in the world, especially when you're under pressure to produce.

Some artists are able to use nature, fine art, mood, etc. to create art. Some are able to reach down into their own soul and express their personality and feelings in terms of art. To me, that is the holy grail of what I do... the ability to show you a little bit of who I am by showing you something I made with my own hands, and ultimately, have you admire it, piece by piece, until you can understand a little more about who I am.

Admittidly, I spend at least half of my time in an effort to create something that says "me." First, I had to find me. I have gone through some tough times lately, so I had to really dig to rediscover myself. Second, the art. Even in lampwork there's nothing new under the sun, but I was determined to find something - some style, some technique, some color that really hit home for me.

In the past 5 years, lightning has only struck once. Just this year I was inspired by a beautiful, wispy bead I saw on a show and tell thread of I worked with that technique to come up with my own spin. After making a few of those beads I cannot tell you how satisfying it felt.

It was very profound to me when my friend Dee "got it." She actually talked about how my Wispy Twistie beads reflected the part of the essence of who I am... understated, unstructured, unpredictable, and sometimes elusive.

I love making my Wispy Twistie beads more than any other type of bead. When the glass gods are frowning, it's my go-to bead. I could make 20 in a row and still not be tired of them.

What do you create that expresses who you are? What is your go-to bead or design techique?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get 'em While They're Hot!

I spent two days listing beads on Ebay, Etsy, and ArtFire. Whew! Honestly, these are all great beads at CRAZY low prices. Plus, I never charge extra shipping for additional items, so these beads are a steal!

I was recently accepted to the Women in Art Market on March 28, 2009 at the Eiteljorg Museum (wooo hooo!) so I'll be spending most of the next few weeks building inventory for that show.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Follow Me to ArtFire!

After very limited success on Etsy, I've decided to move my merchandise to ArtFire - a new site for selling handmade items. I'll be able to list as many items as I want for a flat $7 per month fee for life. There are no insertion or seller fees per item. That's really great because you get to choose from ALL of the items I make, not just the ones I think will sell - which are often very different!

Also, according to ArtFire, their marketing team is planning to invest upwards of $7 million dollars to promote the venue and increase consumer traffic.

Please stop by my new shop today! I've just listed over a dozen new beads!

You can also register here to open your own store. Please use the link above to register. Use the link above so I may recieve a free account from your referral!

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Beads..

Wow. Two posts in one day. This has got to be a first for me. Anyway, here are some new beads I just photographed. Enjoy the eye candy!

Prayers for the little Zo

Hi all..

My little dog Zo needs some prayers. Zoe is my 12-year old Miniature Schnauzer.

She is running on 1/2 a kidney and we've decided not to go through expensive "heroic" measures to put her into the hospital for fluids/treatment/x-rays, etc. because it would probably add less than a year to her life and she could very well pass anyway. We have, however, switched her to a different food that requires less kidney function (she's eating again!) and keep her on an antibiotic that has helped her during previous bouts with pancreatitis/kidney disease.

I only pray that we have some good days or weeks left with her and that we will know when it is "time" so that she does not suffer. I always swore I wouldn't let her suffer.

So, God please bless my little Zo dog.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just call me... "Darkroom Dangerous"

After literally years of experimentation, not to mention hundreds of dollars shelled out for equipment, etc., I am finally moving in a direction that I really like for photographing my beads and jewelry. For me, it has started to come together by using a decent quality tripod, a "frosted" acrylic cutting board, a piece of driftwood, and my camera set on MANUAL.

The pictures below were taken with very little lighting in my basement on a countertop I purchased to use as my jewelry workbench. On the countertop, I put down 4 small wooden blocks, then I put the cutting board on the blocks. That raises the board up and "blurs" the countertop. (I've also seen this done over gradiant paper.) Then I set the drift wood on the acrylic board and placed my beads and jewlery on it using sticky dots if necessary. Finally, I set the I set the camera's aperture manually (although it didn't seem to matter what I set it to) and let the camera do the work. After I imported the images, I did some minor touchup in Photoshop and... Voila! (Thank you Jesus!!)