Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sleepless in Michigan

Sleepless in Michigan….Don’t you just hate it when you have art projects rolling around in your mind. The Gathering is coming up (ISGB Conference). I just want to scream sometimes, “GET OUT of there.” They cram themselves into every stolen space of my brain. Then, when I least expect it my mind is working out some semi-conscious solution to the design problem that plagues the project. STOP IT! I’m not Einstein working on MC² and waiting for some earth shattering revelations that can’t possibly wait. This stuff sometimes borders on me being a candidate for TLC and their show, “Obsessions.”

Good one…a show in which the sleep starved artist is never without an ink pen in her pocket (I’ve washed my jeans with these things in them and have the spots to prove it!) – She doodles on everything (and anything) when an idea rises to the surface. I once fell asleep while doodling in a sketchbook in a hotel room. The next day I woke up and the sheets were trashed. I had fallen asleep with the top off the marker pen and there were splotches all over the sheets. Can you imagine it? Scene: Locked in a room, insomnia, drawing on the walls the variations on a theme for a piece of jewelry…or is it?

Aren’t there horror films of this type of stuff?

Well, I’m up - and you’re not! There are birds out there chirping at this point. The dogs have been out but they’re not sure why. I’ve surfed the net, swaddled myself in fleece, combed and brushed, ate a piece of fruit. I give up. I have no solutions, no great new ideas, or a good night’s rest. Coffee is on…maybe the next revelation will come to me after the caffeine.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sticker Shock

I know we are all going through this - - - - How do I determine the price of my work? It's a slippery slope. To costly and no one will buy your work - To low a price point and your work doesn't seem valued by customers and won't sell either. Personally, I'd be the first person to agree with what a PITA (pain in the _ _ _) it all is. At times it seems like a losing proposition no matter what you do.

Often artists will go with WTMWB (what the market will bear). I don't know if that is exactly a valid pricing structure, although you have no doubt seen it in use all of the time. When I lived less rural and had access to several shopping malls all at once you could visit the same "high end" stores at each mall. Darn if the same item wasn't a different price depending on the malls location. I suppose maybe now days that is a little more difficult for them to do with the onslaught of computers and on-line shopping. But, that also makes it more difficult for artists to price their work. We function by the same set of variables. Customers can comparison shop at every on-line shop and nearly every art show. Anyone making, or trying to, make a living via the arts runs the gamut trying to compete. Trust me, I've been at this for forty years - it's never been more difficult. You have to be savvy and more business like than ever before.

So, do I think you can be paid fairly for your work. Yes, I do. But, you better be prepared to be professional and presentable to be profitable. And what the hell does that mean? Well, you have to be able to justify the price you are asking for your work. What is it that makes it unique - how much time are you spending creating it- can you answer the what/ how/ and why. Presentable ? - absolutely! Marketing isn't everything, but at times it is the ONLY thing between YOU selling or THEM selling. How are you presenting/ representing your work? Hey, I don't know why it has to be this way - life changes and the easy arts and crafts movement of 20 years ago has passed.

Check any forum for artists and ask about pricing your work....everyone has a different opinion and is willing to justify their stance. Like I said - PITA.

So what can you do? I guess what I see, and have seen, for as long as I have been doing art shows - chalk up over thirty years on that one - is that everyone has pretty much a base rate they would like to be paid. An hourly wage, so to speak. In that single hour I can make "X" number of spacer beads, for example. That would mean if I want to be paid that "X" number then those spacer beads might be worth $1.00 each. On the other hand - If I created a singular focal bead which takes me an hour to create I must charge the same "X" for it. Sounds simple, right? For the most part it is - but, it depends whether you are truly a self-supporting artist or not. Is it your only means of financial support? If it is, then the "X" number better be large enough per hour to cover life's basic needs and not just artistic supplies. These days, that's not easy no matter how you cut it. And, there are plenty of customers who do not have the disposable income that was available prior to the current economy issues.

How do you come about determining that "X"value is always the issue. In this economy would you be willing to accept a smaller wage to do the same job you might have been paid more for a couple of years ago? Wouldn't it be great if we all worked for a union and the determining wage for the art was the same for all of us - and huge! HA! Not so, and that's good too. I am not going to pay the same for a KIA as I would for a Mercedes - same goes for the art work. And around and around we go.....PITA! Is anyone truly wrong in this discussion? I don't think so.

Recently I came across a good way to figure out some of that "X" value. It still doesn't mean I'm driving around that Mercedes but with experience and practice I shouldn't be offering up my work in the KIA price range either.

And what does this all mean....it means I'm going to plug in some figures into the equation one more time and figure out where I stand in pricing my work. You can do that too, if you'd like. It's always an eye-opener when you do. One of the best articles and one of the most helpful sites I've seen for an artist is:
Design Sponge. If you click on the link I created it will take you directly to "pricing your work". Check the site out though, you'll enjoy it. Anything that helps us artists spot a design trend or aid in our desision making is always helpful to the cause. Let me know how it works for you.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

LoriBeads Murrini

There is this wonderful place to get murrini. I make murrini but don't sell it....and mine isn't nearly as cool as these. Then, whoo hoo, Lori goes and has a free tutorial on her site on how to make "candy jacks". These are way cool (they look like a miniature paperweight) so I'm passing on her site with the tutorial.

You can also get to the murrini by Lori and Kim through her blog or Etsy.

When I make some I will give Lori the credit and post them for you.

Tutorial at: LoriBeads Blog.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Solstice??

Okay, I've been in a cave. I knew the first day of summer was about to hit - I blew it. I promise I'd of celebrated in some weird way or another but I didn't. S0 this post is dedicated to a young friend and artist who did. I've introduced you a very long time ago to some of my "cast mates". We are the core group of people who meet at the Midland Center for the Arts on Tuesday evenings. And there, we support one another - and cast our jewelry.

Once again I introduce you to Mr. John Curry. A young man of much talent and future. Recently he had a show at Delta College of his art work. He also self published a book with some very interesting imagery. Yup, our John is going to go places..... Well, he celebrated the Solstice. He portrayed a wizard and he and his friends welcomed the change by dancing around a fire and having a great time. They're good kids and if anyone should be welcoming a solstice coming it should be the this generation.

Some times I feel as if I am passing the artistic gauntlet when we have students like John around. So willing to learn - yet polite - and caring - not so self-absorbed. It will be a good generation . And, if anyone will would get an honorary gauntlet passed from me, it would be him.


Dance John - Have Fun - Make Art. Show the others how to make joy in the world. Some artist will need to help do that.....let it be YOU!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Navy's in Town and I have NO SAILOR

Okay, so the title of this post is misleading but you'll get the point in a minute. When we arrived at the Hyatt and went up to our rooms we were graced with a look out of fifteenth floor windows. Personally, I like that. This city girl loves to be as high up as she can. I like peeking down on building tops and seeing if there are gardens or outdoor areas above the streets. I can't help it - I just find city architecture fascinating. So here I was - way up high and I keep hearing jet engines that are relatively close. So, I sat watching out the windows.

Later on, I had come up to the room to change clothes and put my feet up for awhile. Whew, Bead and Button can wear you out. As I'm watching out the window I finally spot the objects that matched the noise from earlier. It seems we were honored by witnessing a partial air show just outside of our windows. I quickly found out that the Navy's Blue Angel's were in town and I was witnessing a practice run. So close - but so far away - shucks! It was one of those small happy treats you get once in awhile when you are least expecting it - I loved it.

Much later, my friends, who were staying the the Hilton, told me the pilots of those magnificent machines were all staying at the Hilton. One of them actually got off on the wrong floor from the elevator because the "views" were just so great of the guys in flight suits. I know I am long past that stage of hitting on a cute fella but I think it would have been some voyeur kind of tickle to see how the others reacted to seeing them...okay, I probably would have swooned a few bars of music myself.

But NO, NO, NO, we were staying at the Hyatt.....grrrrrrrrr. No Blue Angels for me....I'd have to be satisfied with the sound of thunder and some glimpses. Boo Hoo! I tried to get a few shots of them out the window but nothing really turned out.

Then, much to my surprise I had a pilot come and visit me. He landed on the fifteenth floor and even serenaded me. I tried to communicate in the language of his choice but it did not work. I tapped on the window - he hovered like a Harrier jet and tapped back. We did, however, have a deliriously happy conversation in the form of sign language and Morse code that I was tapping out on the window.

I guess it goes to prove....Be specific in what you ask for. I wanted to see a guy with a set of fast wings too. I got what I wished for!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Eye Candy from Bead and Button

This year my photos of the Bead Dream entries left something to be desired. I had a heck of a time with the glass reflections. These are what came out the best. Included is a closeup of the fish necklace because I found it an interesting use for a piece of Viking knit wire. Sherry Serafini is always one of my favorites and she had enough ribbons to prove she impressed the judges the same way. There were pieces from Russia, Norway (I think the Sea Slugs were from Norway), England, Japan, and many others. Beading (well, art in general) crosses all boundaries.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bead and Button Skip Day for some Skullishly Wonderful Fun

Just about everyone knows I love skulls so why get me started. Oh forget about it - I'm already started.

Maybe it was one to many life drawing classes - I must have audited over a half dozen - on top of the ones I received grades for. And then there were the lessons from my Baba (grandfather) who saved me many an animal skull. And, Uncle Leon who sent me large ones from Wyoming. I really think my family wanted a biologist or zoologist. Whatever the reason it began a life long fascination with the mechanics and the symbolism.

Symbolism - - - and then there is that! You would not believe how I used to haul out an ancient symbols reference book at work when the kids (gang bangers and symbolism experts in their own right) used to try and yank my chain about whatever tattoo was carved into their arm/chest/leg (name your body part). They were always shocked to find out some symbols they thought were new (within the past 20 years) were actually linked to something ancient. I loved talking symbols and graffiti with them. They loved to teach an adult something ,once they figured out you were interested in listening.

This brings me around to Andrew Thornton's blog post for Thursday. He's having a giveaway - the photo shows what great skull pieces you can win. It's easy - just click on Andrew's name and go to his site. Post on Thursday's giveaway and you'll be registered. I did. Aside from all of that you are going to enjoy reading his blog. He speaks to the artist in all of us - he is insightful, open, and talented.

Andrew also blogs self portraits on Friday's. Maybe it would be good for all of us to have a self-portrait on Fridays. I'm not so sure how mine would look. I find his, at times, vulnerable and I'm not so sure I could do that. I look sometimes and I think I can see his skeleton. It's not that he is thin. I am thick. I don't think of things like that - like stature, age, race. It's just that he seems transparent, in a good way. As if there are no bad bones in his body. We could all use more insight, less bad bones, positive transparency - and an honest self-portrait once in awhile.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Casing Out Bead and Button

This the Frontier Airline Convention Center where Bead and Button is held. Its huge! There are class rooms in the center, the main sales floor, and the receptions are held here. We attended the "Flame Off" (for cancer research) and the "Meet the Teachers" night.

One of the neatest things when you get to B&B is seeing the enormous amount of eye candy. Bead and Button sponsors the Bead Dreams contest every year and the outcome of this competition is breathtaking. After you pass through the welcoming arches of the convention you can see just ahead rows of jewelry display cases. The next thing you notice are everyone backs and butts– they all look like Garfield pressed to the glass – but instead of wanting to get out they want to get in. I am no exception! And to those who's butts I photographed - I apologize!

This year I admit to doing a lousy job of photographing the Bead Dream entries. The cases seemed to be particularly reflective and no matter what I tried I seemed doomed to get a bounce back off of the camera.. Still, I did manage to get a few photos for you to enjoy. I'll post those tomorrow.
Eye candy at Bead and Button is absolutely of the highest quality.

Unfortunately, after a very short amount of time I find myself "Bead Blind". Bead blindness occurs when you have reached your threshold of being able to retain where exactly you have seen a certain item you’ve thought long enough about it to want it. That decision necessitates a return to the booth for a purchase. All of a sudden all the eye candy runs together and you’re lost. Hence, bead blindness. I also suffer from bench blindness and corner fuzz ball phobia. It's good to be able to ignore them all until it's absolutely necessary....or company is coming.
Well, lets get to a few more photos. These are of the show floor. The lady in the first photo is checking out Andrea Guarino's booth. Andrea was one of the Master Teachers this year.

This is a photo of the central area of the sales floor. It's where the publishers are and all of the Bead and Button souvenirs.

Tomorrow, I promise, I'll post some photos of what was IN the cases. Have a great day - the sun is shining and it's not raining today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Hey There! I thought I'd start the Bead and Button tour with something from the Lake Express Ferry. This is the mural that is on the wall of the ferry terminal. It is a collage of beads and is about 5 by 6 feet or so in size. It's pretty incedible. At the top it says "Come to Wisconsin" and the second line says, "I love Wisconsin - I hope you love it too." There is lots of history on the collage, Harriet Taubman, bridges, lakes, and a motorcyle (the home of Harley Davidson).

"Anyhow," as Lillian would say, it's a great place to begin the show and tell of the Bead and Button trip. It also reminds me of the always intricate and spectacular necklaces by Sherry Serafini.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back Home

I left so fast I didn't have time to tell everyone I was on my way to Bead and Button!

What a wonderful trip....I finally got up the courage to introduce myself to Andrew Thornton. I've lurked in his blog and left a few comments. What a nice young man. Why am I not surprised at that - he is so articulate in his blog and giving of his artistic views. I also had the opportunity to meet Cynthia Thornton and the beautiful new Max.

A nice happy accident happened when Jeanette Cook (Beady Eyed Women) stopped by looking for a seat and joined Mallory Hoffman and I for lunch at the show. As always, she had on the most beautiful necklace she created. I had to stop by her booth later and get a pattern for it.

Dinner out you say? Absolutely. Lillian, Mallory and I joined Bernadette Fuentes and Isis Ray at the Thai Palace for a great dinner. I ordered a chicken dish and tried (I think, in vain) to explain I did not want it hot. When I told her I was a "chicken" I'm guessing she thought I meant I was no chicken...needless to say, it came volcanically hot. I picked out the chicken and folded it into plenty of rice! It didn't matter. The conversation and company were wonderful. We ate at both Thai restaurants, met up with many old friends and made many new ones. How fun to compare the days activities and talk beads, jewelry, and art.

I'll try and catch everyone up tomorrow. Lots to show and tell. Entirely too many purchases but lots of sales this year.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Coffee Lover

Off to Bead and Button next week! I'm hoping to find a good coffee shop, see wonderfully inventive new jewelry components, visit with old friends, and make new ones. I wonder if I can find someone who can make my coffee look like this...what could be more fun!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tide Pools

I've never been able to see a tide pool (only photos) but I imagine them to be fabulous little microcosms of the ocean and very magical. These are from a new series of beads I've been creating to take to the Gathering (July glass conference) with me. I thought you'd like to take a peek. What do you think? I'm thinking I need a little fish murrini, a star, and who knows what all else to add to my pool. Any other ideas?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Glass Book in the works...

Beads by Jeri Warhaftig

I’m generally not good at tooting my own horn but I think I’d like to announce a little something – let the cat out of the bag – although, we have all been given permission to do so at this point. Lucky me, last year I submitted my resume and bio to Jeri Warhaftig for consideration to join the “focus group” to participate in her newest glass beadmaking book. (Tentatively titled: Creating Glass Beads). Insert my happy dance here! Wahoo, I was included in that group – an original batch of about 16 that eventually was whittled down to about a dozen. So what did we do in this focus group? Ah, we got to participate in creating beads for all of the great bead projects you’re going to get to see in the book. It was wonderful! We got advance instructions and I really enjoyed participating in learning some new skills. Plus, Jeri kept us all in the loop during pre/post production so we all got to hear about the process and what stage we were/are going through. Do you get a sneak peak, nope? Sorry. You’ll have to wait until the book is published (I believe it will be spring of 2011), it just wouldn’t be fair any other way. Can I tell you it’s going to be as good as its predecessor, absolutely!

And, as a side note (an important one), for those of you who haven’t tried puffy mandrels to make hollow beads you should go to the Jeri Beads site and get a few from Dr. Fab (Jeri’s DH). I’ve used these mandrels since Jeri and Neil (Dr. Fab) taught a class in sandblasting (those are Jeri’s iridized and sandblasted beads pictured above). There is nothing like those puffy mandrels for making a great light weight bead. I should have included a photo of some hollow beads but you'll have to go to Jeri's site to see those. If you love marble sized beads but hate the weight of a heavy bead on your neck these mandrels are the way to go!