List Me, Baby!

(C4ward March Blogathon Day 4)

Five Goals to Achieve Sometime Before I Die

  1. Create jewelry items that tribal dancers buy, love, and wear while performing.
  2. Perform a solo at a major bellydance event like TribalCon.
  3. Travel to New Zealand, and maybe Australia too. DH & I don’t really care that much for travel, but we could make an exception for this.
  4. Become an ATS® Sister Studio and/or Gypsy Caravan Collective Soul Certified dancer
  5. See the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Just because.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next Five Years to Move Towards Achieving The Above Goals

  1. Keep learning new jewelry skills and honing the ones I already have.
  2. Have professional photographs made of my work for advertising and festival entry purposes.
  3. Research New Zealand  & Australia to determine where to go and what to do while there.
  4. Attend and perform at as many bellydance events as possible, either solo or with a troupe.
  5. Take at least two of the Collective Soul certification levels and/or retake ATS® General Skills and Teacher Training I.

Five Goals to Accomplish in the Next 12 MONTHS… as if it were the last year of my life!

  1. Take as many ATS® classes as possible.
  2. Get the Gypsy Caravan DVDs and start working with them.
  3. Perform at least one solo at Oasis, Open Mic Night, or Northside Tribe’s own show.
  4. Draw up a will!!!! (gotta be practical somewhere)
  5. Make sure my husband and son (at least) know how much I love them.

What I Noticed when Making the Above Three Lists

  1. None of the items had anything to do with my profession as a college professor. Basically, I’ve achieved every feasible goal there and I’m just maintaining status quo.
  2. Setting goals for my little nanobusiness of making jewelry is HARD because I don’t want to turn it into a career per se. I don’t want to get so serious about it that it takes the fun out of creating stuff.
  3. Tangible goals for my bellydancing hobby is easy enough because I’m such a newbie at it; the problem is that my age is working against me there.
  4. Some practical things really should not be put off.
  5. There’s a lot of DO-ing on the list, but in truth, I wouldn’t have to do any of these things except #5 (and #4 for practical reasons) on the 12-month list, and I’d be happy.

Sharing My Favorite Creative Work

(C4ward March Blogathon Day 3 post, a day late because Monday is my insanely long day with no breathing room)

What should I show as my favorite creative work? In what area did I DO my favorite creative work?

Was it this pair of chainmaille earrings?

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Sterling & Niobium Chainmaille Earrings

Or these earrings made from one of my favorite pairs of lampworked beads?

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Lampworked glass bead earrings

Was it this paper I did for my first art class on German artist Käthe Kollwitz?

Käthe Kollwitz image

Käthe Kollwitz Self-Portrait

Or perhaps the debut performance of the dance troupe to which I belong at TribalCon last month?

I can’t decide!!

 

Five Year Plan? What Five Year Plan?

C4ward March Blogathon: Day 2 Prompt

“Where” is your creative work going? Envision yourself and your work five years or more from now.

  • Who are you and what do you see your work as “being”?
  • How is your work “evolving” and “becoming”?
  • What about your work inspires you? Inspires others?
  • Where are you going and what are you doing after this (five-year) point in the future?

The truth? I don’t have any kind of a five-year plan, artistic or business. I tend to have Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder (AADD) so what I am creating at any moment is based on what medium I feel like working in at that point and what I am inspired to create with the tools and materials available.

When I create jewelry, whether it be the glass beads & pendants, the chainmaille, or the odd mixed media concoctions, I’m trying to create items that are edgily wearable, or would that be wearably edgy? I want to create your “go-to” piece of adornment, the one that you automatically reach for whether you are wearing jeans or a business suit or a little black dress. I want to create the unique piece that becomes a part of YOU, the piece that, when other people see it. they know it’s perfect for you, and maybe the perfect piece for them is there as well.

Hunh. How about that?

My work evolves rather organically, driven by improvements in skill and technique, availability of materials, and (though it sounds rather “fluffy”) what I’m feeling from the Universe. I no longer particularly try to direct it (been there, doesn’t work). Ideas and inspiration come from many places — some of the best from my customers! — and will often have to percolate for a while before they can be attended to. Some of the best pieces both my business partner & I have made have been ones where we’ll see a bead or a component that the other made and it will trigger something in our own brain:

Shawl Pin

Pin created by Andrea, bead by Julia

Thinking about this, I don’t feel any urge to worry about where I’ll be artistically in five years, or ten years, or however long I keep at this. I only feel the urge to keep an open mind and keep experimenting.

Knit Project #1 DONE

Yesterday I bound off my first knitting project, and late in the night I finished weaving in the ends. It’s done!! I have cast-on, knittedknittedknittedknitted endlessly it seemed, bound off, and woven in ends. I do still have to wash it, which I plan to do a bit vigorously to felt it a bit, and I will have a nice broad cowl-type scarf that can be worn with a handmade scarf pin. So for all these years I said I couldn’t knit, now I can.

All it took was figuring out that I needed to work on circular needles instead of straight ones, and Continental-style instead of English-style. Perhaps it’s because I have crocheted off and on for many years, but Continental just makes so much more sense, at least for knit stitch.

Project #2 is already cast on as of five minutes ago — a much narrower scarf, in a pattern that will have me mastering the purl stitch both in stockinette and ribbing. Plus I couldn’t choose a simple pattern, no — I decided to do one that involves short rows to get ruffles, which means I’ll have to get the hang of the wrap and turn (which in truth doesn’t seem that difficult from the instructions, so I am not sure why people are kvetching about it online).

Not only that, I have project #3 and #4 already in mind — the Moebius Scarf a la Cat Bordhi and the simple shawl pattern I got at Lovin’ Knits a couple of weeks ago, both of which I already have yarn for so that all I need is the needles for the moebius.

Once I get four or so scarves/shawls done, perhaps I feel ready to go on to my next goal — SOCKS, first with commercial yarn and then my ultimate goal, HANDSPUN HANDKNIT SOCKS. Yum.

This is a Job For the Karma Fairy

Last fall at the Atlanta Bead Expo, a customer saw my stainless steel European 4-in-1 chainmaille cuff on my wrist and fell in love with it. I really didn’t want to sell it, because it had been a bugger to make and I knew it would take me a while to make another to replace it. She finally did talk me into selling it to her right off my wrist (for a pretty penny, of course, and it did take me a year to make its replacement).

She stopped by our booth this afternoon at the Down the Street Bead Show, and told her that she had worn it constantly, until someone STOLE IT from her. She didn’t know who, or why — maybe they thought it was sterling silver and much more valuable monetarily than it is; maybe they just really liked it themselves. Either way, I told her that if she ever found who did it, I wanted a crack at them also (DH suggested with a baseball bat, mind you). I sold it to her because of her reaction to it and her appreciation of the energy and time and labor that had gone into it.

I hope the Karma Fairy ensures that the thief gets no joy out of that bracelet, and that it eventually finds its way to someone who recognizes and appreciates its true worth.

So I CAN Knit

For all the years I spent doing textile arts, I never did learn to knit. I tried to in junior high — got a pair of big chunky wooden knitting needles and some kind of god-awful acrylic yarn and tried to learn. It was a mess. I thought about trying to learn several times after that. I had plenty of friends who knit and who would offer to teach me, but I never really got the motivation. I just kept saying, to myself and to them, “oh, I can’t knit. I tried but it was a failure.” I could never seem to juggle the two needles and the yarn without dropping things or catching one needle on something or poking bystanders with a wayward needle or just, in general, feeling insanely clumsy.

The trouble is, I quit weaving but was left with all this wonderful handspun yarn that I’d created over the years. I gave away most of the commercial weaving yarn with no regrets, but I wasn’t going to just let handspun wool and silk and alpaca go. Besides, there was always the idea of handspun socks. THOSE I wanted to be able to make, special socks out of my special yarn, made by me from fiber to finished product.

I studied. I researched. I read and observed. I found out that you could knit with circular needles, even if you were knitting flat — no more dropped or poking needles. I discovered that you didn’t have to hold your yarn in your right hand and “throw” it around the needle. Instead, there was Continental knitting, where you held the yarn the same way I was accustomed to holding it when crocheting and you didn’t have to let go of a needle to throw the yarn. Maybe, just maybe, it might be possible.

So I got some commercial sock yarn and two circular needles and got Andrea to show me what to do. It still didn’t work, but I was getting closer. What I needed to do was start simpler, just do a few practice pieces, calling them scarves (you can call any long skinny flat piece a scarf, after all), and drilling the stitch motions the same way I drill bellydance moves, over and over until it becomes ingrained.

Larger yarn, a larger needle — two and a half skeins later, I do believe I have the knit stitch down. When I finish this skein, I have one more to use if I wish. Then it will be on to the next skeins and mastering purl stitch itself, plus switching back and forth between knit & purl like you have to for ribbing and other stuff. I may never go so far as to knit a sweater, for me or anyone else. At least, however. by this time next year I can hope to have my toes caressed by the little luxury that is handknit, handspun, one-of-a-kind socks, knit by ME and breaking the “I can’t knit” curse after all these years.

Sunday Adventures at Chastain

I’m really tired out after this weekend’s show, but I do have to share today’s unusual event. Andrea and I were interviewed on camera today by two students from the Holy Innocents’ School media program. They were interviewing some of the artists at the festival for a feature on the school’s closed circuit broadcast channel just before Thanksgiving. I’m not quite sure why they chose us, since I was off visiting the porta-facility when they arrived at our booth, but they did. We did a nice tag-team job of answering their questions and trying to follow their rules, though we are far from experienced interviewees.

You may get to see the finished version of our interview at some point. I did ask them to send us a copy of the video so we could post it on the Copper Dancer Designs web site, properly credited of course, so we shall see what comes of that.

Beyond that excitement du jour, there’s not much to say about this show. We made friends with our festival neighbors, saw several of our former ones, sold some but not as much as we would have liked, and of course had yummy pizzas (apple, and white) from S&J’s Wood-Fired Pizza. I found out I’d been practicing my knit stitch incorrectly, and corrected it only to find that the correction actually makes it rather easier. The time change has me all askew, so the time has come as of now to go flop into bed & let my head hit the pillow.

What Makes an Art Festival Good, or Not

This weekend is our last art festival of the year, at Chastain Park. Even though I do find them stressful, I usually enjoy the art festivals (at least when I don’t have four in a row!). Of course, some are better than others. So what makes the good ones good?

  • Easy load-in and load-out. Load-in sets the tone for the whole festival. By load-out I’m worn out and cranky and just want to get done and go HOME. Let me get as close as possible to my space, when I need to get there. Don’t let idiots block the roadway longer than absolutely necessary while they load in or out! Unload everything, move the vehicle, THEN come back and set up. Reverse at take-down.
  • LOTS of publicity. Get the word out, and people will come. If they come, unless we’ve totally misread the demographic, some of them will buy.
  • Vendor amenities. If you bring me water & a snack a couple of times a day, I love you. If you bring me coffee in the morning, my gratitude is boundless.
  • Good neighbor artists. There is very little worse than being next to a cranky sourpuss all weekend. Yes, it happens — the first bead show that Andrea & I did together taught us the importance of attitude! Good neighbors give you someone to chat with to pass the time, to share tips & ideas with, to watch your stuff when you can’t wait another minute for, well, you know.
  • FOOD. The vast majority of festivals have crap food — you know the kind, corn dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy, and nary a non-potato vegetable in sight. It’s not always feasible to bring your own food, and the usual crap food is really not what you need to get you through the day.
  • Well-behaved canine visitors always brighten the day with their tail wags and slobber :-).

Then there are the customers. Oh, the customers. Good customers, whether they actually purchase anything or not, make our weekend. We love big spenders, of course, but we also appreciate people that may just buy one small piece that they love. The kids that pick out one special key or vessel for themselves are totally precious. Sometimes the Right Piece isn’t there today for one of these people, but you know they will be back next time. The folks that look admiringly at our work but don’t have the discretionary funds today, well, that will change someday and hopefully they will remember and return. I love seeing my pieces go home with this kind of person.

At any show, we hope for plenty of those customers and not The Other Kind. You know them. They rearrange your display by picking up  and then just carelessly plopping items down wherever. They comment to their friends “oh, I could do that” (ah, but WILL you?). They look at your carefully crafted product and make remarks like, “Oh. That’s so…different.” Most annoying of all to me are the folks that start bargaining like you are at a flea market, making it clear that they have no concept that an artist’s time and skill are worth something. Those are the people that will not get a price break from me no matter what!

As for the weather, I take the outlook that I can’t do anything about it so I don’t let it bother me. I’ve been hot, I’ve been cold, I’ve been wet (not all at the same time, thank goodness), and I just try to take them all in stride.

There are festivals that I will return to whether I sell lots or not; there are festivals I won’t apply to again because they were a pain in the rear. Now you know why.

 

 

So many ideas, so little time…

Last night I had an inspired idea for a new experiment to try with my glass. I'm not yet going to say what it is specifically because I don't want to give it away before I have a chance to try it out. When will that be? Well, not this week for sure because I have to finish up grading papers & projects & final exams, yuck. Fortunately, that's about how long it will take me to get the materials I'll need to give this a shot, and to read up on what's likely to be involved.

It's galling, though. Whenever I get a really cool idea, it's always at a lousy time. I can never just jump on it; there's always something urgent getting in the way. Hey, isn't that the way it always seems to go? Let's just hope I don't lose track of this idea before I get a shot at implementing it!

Patience

I don't consider myself the most patient person in the world — far from it. I want things to get done, and done right, right now. To hell with waiting. I also have no patience with people that aren't willing to try, to put forth their best effort, when they are responsible for doing something. 

Oddly enough, when it comes to doing fiddly little art/craft things, I have plenty of patience. I had so many people tell me this past weekend that they didn't see how I could do chainmaille jewelry because they "just wouldn't have the patience." If someone sees me doing something with seed beads, it's the same thing. Apparently, there is something about repetitive motion that soothes me. When I'm melting in the encasing glass on a bead, or melting down the stripes of glass for a twistie, or imploding a layer of frit on a maria, I can sit there for as long as it takes, gently turning and moving the mandrel or the rod to smooth and even out the molten glass. It's very hypnotic to watch the glass change and flow slowly into itself, and my mind can go off into a free-floating yet very conscious (necessary!!!) state. The same with chainmaille, as I build the pattern by sliding each ring into place with its brethren, checking the closure carefully to make sure it is smooth and even. Likewise with the seed bead stitching, placing each bead one by one into it's proper location to build the pattern bit by bit.

These activities fully engage my hands, but don't necessarily fully engage my brain. They require focus, yet leave room for mental flow. Add to that the satisfaction of creating something with my two hands and my tools, and I find the act calms my mind and body both. I suppose people equate that with patience, then.

But oh, my, do not try to convince me that I am a patient person when it comes to other people and their irresponsible behaviors that try to take advantage of the world!