Interview with a Spiritual Influence

Meet Meagan, a person I met on SwapSity.  Meagan knows how to say just enough and leaves you wanting more. Without giving anything away I can tell you I benefited when Meagan recently reduced her glass beads  ‘stash’. As soon as I can I’ll be making some glass bead artisan jewellery.

H: Who are you in your ‘real’ life?

M: Good question! My real life is a work in progress. All I can say is that I am interested in tons of different things.

H: What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it? Do you still have it?

M: I remember making cloud nametag pins with my mom when I was a kid. She’s a big crafter of all sorts of things. I think she still has the pins in her house womewhere.

H: Describe your work area: what is the best thing and the worst thing about your space?

M: I work at my desk. I like to be able to look at my computer because  I’m still learning some of the finer aspects of making prayer beads and I use lots of tutorials and pictures for inspiration. I have one of those slide out keyboard trays and my bead cloth is on that. It’s a good use of the space, although I wish the lighting were a little better.

H: What is your medium of choice?

M: I’m a beader. I used to make fashion jewellery and I’m starting to make prayer beads now.

H: What are your favourite materials?

M: I love natural materials. I’ve always been drawn to simple, functional things that are close to nature. The less polished the better! It is my dream to learn to whittle my own wooden beads.

H: What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from? Do your other interests play a part in your designs?

M: I often get ideas just from seeing interesting shapes and colours in my daily travels. I am a very spiritual person.

H:  For whom do you do your designs?

M: I think I mostly design for myself.  I give a lot of my work away as gifts.

There you go! Didn’t I say she is interesting! Meagan and I ‘swapped’ her beads for my money. I’d be lying to say these beads are nice: they’re great! 

Thanks, Meagan, for this interview. While your answers got me to a-thinking so I hope you found yourself happily reminiscing.

Helen

I am so happy that Meagan sent her answer to a follow up question I had.

H: What influenced your change of focus?

M: I guess I decided to start with prayer beads because spirituality is becoming more and more important to me. To be honest I liked making jewellery but not so much wearing it, so this is something I can also use myself.

Good or bad, Life is Growth. When we stop growing is the day we die. Some change is easy but it is the hard to accept change that builds our character.

Notes to Self ~ Pet Peeves April 6 2009

We all have them: pet peeves. Sometimes it’s really puny stuff that we should learn to ignore:  like being upset when somebody borrows something and doesn’t return it from where they got it ~ or sits at your desk and moves stuff but doesn’t put it back as they found it.

Today I have 2 pet peeves: and combined make a great reward of failure. 1 + 2 = 3.

  1. People who won’t reveal their sources. I spent a thoroughly wonderful time wandering through the Toronto spring One Of A Kind (OOAK) show, got a lot of business cards, and chatted with some wonderful artisans. I found some really interesting wires being used by some of the jewellery makers. I asked several where they found their wire and the stock answer was ,’oh, I get it from so many places.’ Yeah, right!! Who are you trying to protect: the manufacturer of the wire ~ Not. Your business? That backfires when you give me that answer: I put down what I was looking at and admiring and considering buying, turn and walk away. I enjoy buying other people’s jewellery~~ we all have such different styles. Even if we all make artisan jewellery, we aren’t necessarily in competition with each other. I love beads.  Lotsa beads. You prefer wirework. Or you use precious metals. Or you do bead making, lampwork, and such. All the same stuff but different from one another. Share information with those who ask and build a stronger artisan jewellery makers’ community. Now I won’t be sharing information I found that may helpful to those 2 people. Share and grow.   PLUS
  2. I hate getting a helpful information and there is no website or name or anything to remind me where, at which booth , I got it. Case in point: yesterday I got a business card size recipe for sparkling up copper. I didn’t take the time to write down the name or booth number of the artist and now I have a wonderful recipe and no way of contacting the individual. Her work was wonderful. Too bad. Put your name on everything. I have a helpful table of necklace lengths and bead numberson the back of my business cards. The information is helpful and everytime it is viewed there is the place she got it from.  I wrap my packages in cardstock that has my name on it and I add a business card: the package is kept closed with return address labels I printed with my website and email listed on it. Put your name on everything!   EQUALS
  3. 1 + 2 = 3.   This year’s OOAK had something revolutionary: a big plot of real estate for winners of a juried show sponsored by the Eastern Ontario Community Futures Development Corp. There was a First Nations booth showing the work of an Ojibway ~ Todd Jamieson ~ and a Salish ~ Alfie Fishgap. When I got home I emailed another contact who was not at the show, RonaldEverettDesign.com, to ask him to research the CFDC for his work ~ he does some remarkable West Coast designs in his clothing. I had his card, he was interesting and intelligent; I remembered him favourably, and I have followed up with him after more than a year with no contact. He put his ‘brand’ on his work and he wasn’t afraid to talk to me about his work.

OKAY! OKAY!!

Just think about what I said. Generosity and Planned Opportunity can make the difference.

Helen – off her soapbox.                      ……………For Now.

Marketing My Artisan Jewellery Business

“How to Stop Social Media Taking Over Your Day

  • ONLY SHARE WHAT IS SAFE TO SHARE – Once you connect to people outside your close friends and family you need to restrict the information you place in these networks. If in doubt, keep it to yourself.
  • Observe before following.
  • If people are taking too much of your time, drop them, and do not feel any guilt about it. There are no rules that say you have to follow everyone who follows you!
  • Pick your venues and do not try to be active in all of them.
  • Do not take part in time-wasting activities, such as quizzes and zombie games.
  • Set Social Media time and log off when that time is over.
  • Grow your network selectively and steadily – Learn how much activity you can manage.
  • Use tools where appropriate.

Turn off beeps and popup message alerts, they just take you away from work. In my case using TweetDeck has helped me a great deal (when the thing doesn’t freeze on me) because it puts front and center the most important stuff while keeping less priority stuff accessible.”    ~excerpt from http://www.chrisg.com/

There’s more where that came from but I’ll let you go through it yourself.

There are a bazzzillion companies out there, at least it feels like a bazzzillion, selling you stuff you can do for FREE.  I agree that, if you can afford it, they will bring the job back on time and within budget. But you need to know so much just to pick the successful candidate company. And you run the risk of being taken for a ride you can’t afford.

That has been my bete noire: I trusted the wrong people and I’m in the hole now. It’s a deep hole, too.

I subscribe to the philosophy of  the Renaissance Wo/Man:  be the expert of only one thing:   knowing where you can get the answers to your questions. That will make you an expert of everything.

The answer? Here are my do’s and don’ts:

Do the research yourself.  Hunt up as many forums on the subject and ask questions. Check out Google Asks and Yahoo Asks.

Do ask questions.

Do as much as you can yourself.

My Biggest DO? DO use the common sense you were given at birth.

Don’t  hire the first company that reaches you.

Don’t believe that only they can do things you are perfectly capable of doing yourself.

There is so much to know that it is easy to become frozen, not knowing where you should take your first step.  It can be overwhelming. Each evening, before closing down for the day, decide what your goal for tomorrow will be.  Scribble a quick reminder on your computer so you can get to work on that goal even before you finish your first coffee.  

Now, focus on that one thing.  There will be lots of things to distract you but always come back to that one goal. If achieving that goal will take several days, then stick with that goal until it is completed.

Send yourself a ‘status report’ at the end of each business day. Read it the next morning while wearing your ‘CEO Hat.’ 

Stay Focussed.

‘Knowledge is Power.’

‘Knowledge is Power.’ Important for artisan jewellery designers, or people who make glass jewellery as a hobby, the more you know the better you’ll do.  The more experience you have the better you’ll do.

Focus for the Day:  Well, today’s focus is on social marketing. I am researching organic marketing (that, by any other name is social marketing) online. I found an article about getting noticed. 

I found it on  a site offering jewellery lessons and articles. Sign up on this site is FREE. I love things that are FREE.

Well, anyway, on this free site I found an article by BobbiWired about getting all your hard work noticed. She has a great long list of sites on which to post, some better than others, and she makes the point that you don’t just set up a tiny account: you link every single site you have to each and every one of the viral marketing (ANOTHER name for Social Marketing) sites. It grows, like a virus only much nicer, ergo Viral Marketing.

The article is organic marketing because it is geared to us, the everyday garden variety people, by everyday garden variety people.

And the comments! Worth reading by the way, because questions are asked and answered and new leads are offered at no cost. That’s people being sociable.

Read, learn, monitor, and you can be more successful with your artisan jewellery sales.

Great News – About Playing for Change

I promised myself I would write something in each of my blogs before I opened any of my e-mails. As always, I opened my emails first. But this time I’m glad I followed my usual pattern of morning coffee and emails. This time I found an email from ‘Playing for Change.’

That’s one of the charities I subscribe to: building peace through music. They are almost ready to open their first music school/recording studio: the Ntonga Music School in the township of Gugulethu, South Africa. 

Why have I chosen to follow this foundation instead of so many other worthy causes? Because I am a failed music student: I studied piano for about 15 years and came away hating the piano. Even today, I choose classical music that is distinctly non-piano. But the experience did give me a love of good music. That’s what is so wonderful: there are all kinds of good music. And these music schools teach good music.

There is music in all of us ~ we just need a way to express it. I have chosen to express my music through needlework and artisan jewellery. Playing for Change does it through music. It offers a safe environment and the tools (education, instruments, recording equipment) to produce the music. While developing the distinct style of each area, it is offering an alternative to bloody war, sectarianism and hatred. Indeed, this group, Playing for Change, is making a difference in the world. It is making this world a better place in which to live.

At least, that’s what I think.

Great News – eSMArties

MY FIRST ENTRY
There’s a new shop in town: the Etsy eSMArts boutique of hand crafted items.
Memories
Memories

Memory wire embellished with hearts, glass beads, and coiled wire beads: this is my first offering in a new shop at Etsy.com: the eSMArts Boutique.

At the Etsy gallery, where everything is handcrafted, a new boutique can be found. It is offered to the shopping public as a place where you can find quality items made by hand. It does not offer home made: items of artistic, handcrafted artisan work are for sale.  Think of it as a Gallery Boutique. It is worth a visit: the products in this store vary widely.

Pictured above is a unique bracelet whose design rose from a fight with memory wire.  I finally conceded that a cuff bracelet would have to be made with something other than memory wire. I threw my cuff bracelet failure onto my work bench and a couple of days later picked it up again.

It had become a cuff bracelet with a difference. The manner in which the memory wire end curl around each other makes this piece of artisan jewellery a one of a kind cuff bracelet.

And it’s official: this is my version of a cuff bracelet. It’s all mine. It is unique to me. The failure has been elevated from a despised failure to a place of honour:

Niki.Tasha – Follow Up

 
Black n Silver Amulet Bag Backside
Black n Silver Amulet Bag Backside

Well. I did promise to add pictures of the finished amulet bags and I have been remiss in not doing so.

I’ve received a slap up the side of m’ head, figuratively speaking, so here they are.

You will note, I hope, that these pictures don’t quite match the graphs offered in Niki Tasha’s Apprenticeship. Read on and you will see why.

(See the wee speckles in the silver section on the left? Some of my silvers look so much alike that it isn’t until you’ve got a bit further that they show themselves. I am of the mind that these speak to the imperfections of Artisan Jewellery that make them truly unique or one of a kind.)

 

Black n Silver Amulet Bag Frontside

Black n Silver Amulet Bag Frontside

This is one of the patterns for Tubular Even Count Peyote Technique. It does look different from what was graphed: that’s the artistic licence we all have. I copied the graph for the back and the front sides. Once the tube had reached what I considered a  pleasing size (approx 2″ x 2.25″in or 5 x 6cm) I squished it until I hit upon the configuration you can see here. The lesson in this step is to try a pattern different ways: you can be a slave and do the pattern as written, or you can adapt the pattern to your taste. Add a bit of yourself to each pattern or technique and you will have something unique; something that will look different than all the others using this same pattern. I sewed up the bottom side by adding a couple more rows on only 1 side. Then I ran my thread through the ‘teeth’ back and forward and pulled: it’s just like pulling up on a zipper.

Then on to the top or ‘lid’ of the bag. I decided to fiddle with the lengths of the rows and came up with something that looks a bit like a pair of boots.
 
Then the strap step followed. I began the strap by adding beads to a row several below the lip of the bag. Several rows of that with a pattern I use often, a wee flower in pewter colour glass beads with a silver centre held between an edge row of silver on both sides. I stitched 18 rows which seems a lot until you remember in Peyote each row is only half a step up.  Then I continued on only 6 beads on one side of that back tab and worked back and forth until I had a strap that would slip neatly over my head.  When I reached that length, I connected the 6 bead strap back to the back tab.
 
Blue n Silver Peyote Amulet Bag Frontside

Blue n Silver Peyote Amulet Bag Frontside

 
Blue n Silver Amulet Bag

Blue n Silver Amulet Bag

The Blue n Silver Peyote Amulet Bag is from the other graph offered in the Niki Tasha Apprenticeship. It, too, does not quite resemble the graph. Again, I have exercised my artistic licence and ‘smooshed’ the finished tube to find what I liked. In this case I chose not to repeat the pattern on the backside: it cuts down on having to concentrate on the pattern on both sides. I love things asymmetrical so I  chose to have the pattern wrap around one side. A few rows of beads added to only 1 side of the tube and ‘zipping’ up the bottom and there you have it: an amulet bag.

 
The strap starts at one side by weaving 6 beads to the tube. With those 6 beads I used a Flat Herringbone technique: it’s a technique I love and offers an opportunity to experiment. When I reached the magic ‘slip over the head’ length, I attached it to the other side of the amulet bag by weaving the beads of the strap with the beads on the side of the amulet bag.
 
When you don’t know what to add when cooking, it needs a ‘soupçon’ of something but you don’t know what you add either some cheese or some sugar. In design work you add a snippet of black. If I had used yet another silver or pewter, the pattern would have a very washed out look.
 
I have no ‘lid’ for this bag. I couldn’t decide what to do with it, so I left it open to the skies. Maybe some good luck will fall into it.
 
 
Blue n Silver Peyote Amulet Bag Side

Blue n Silver Peyote Amulet Bag Side

No you aren’t seeing things: I’ve smooshed the tube to better show that this is really one of the patterns from Niki Tasha’s Apprenticeship.

 
There it is. I have posted my pictures for Niki Tasha’s Apprenticeship.
 
Has anybody got questions for me? Something I didn’t explain well enough? Comments of all sorts, except the spamming sort, are welcomed; nay, looked for. I can only get better and that happens a whole lot faster when there are other ‘slaps’ (figuratively speaking).