Saturday, November 13, 2010

Baby Steps ...

Nothing can block your creative chi faster than a “cluster buster” … that is a big old huge mess that prevents you from doing your thing. My studio has been in that exact state for the last couple months as I have been creating inventory like a whirl wind maniac to produce enough jewelry to sell at a my local artisan market booth as well as my Etsy shop and a few local holiday bazaars. My studio seriously began to resemble a pile of half finished projects and materials used to create masterpieces scattered about and left to lie long after the projects were completed.
I have been given many titles to explain my creative dark-side cleaning habits. A few of the most popular are the Fluff and Stuff Queen because I have it down to an exact science how to make things “appear” clean on the surface and stuff the mess into corners and behind closed doors. I am also a professional “Pile-It” because I create piles of stuff. Strange as it may seem, I often know where within the pile an item may be – freakish memorization mixed with the clerical filing system of Oscar the Grouch. I have racked up quite a few “frequent flyer Pile-It miles” from random items being hurled across the room in moments of frustration. But my all time favorite is the Sweeper. A benign sounding name, this habit is the bane of my artistic existence.
I start with a clean slate, pile up the materials for one project that, when finished, will morph into another, and another, and another and another. Between each project morph I will hap hazardously “sweep” my arm across my workspace to clear materials that won’t be used on the project and push them to the outer fringe of my beading workspace. This goes on for several projects until I am left with a postage stamp sized workspace that doesn’t work
So, today I got up early and made my way to the studio with grand plans to create a lot of earrings. After hunting for 15 minutes to find a headpin I decided enough was enough. I decided to clean the mess.

On A Mission …
I think that most creative people will face this at some point in their creative career. If it happens to you, then you can truly sympathize with this plight. My momma always used to say “A place for everything and everything in its place” How true it is.
I think that my problem lies in that I keep bring beads and materials in, but don’t provide them with a good home. So today that is what I am doing. Giving them all a good home, out of the way, easy to see and no more piles! I want to kick this habit. I hope I can commit to these new resolutions. Have you recently overcome disorganization? What were your solutions? How do you organize and store your beads? Do you have pictures of your organization methods that you’d like to share?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

making some new earrings

a rainbow of colors
Joy - Rapture - Unconfined ... A New box of Feathers At Last Is Mine!!

I just recieved a new parcel of feathers in my mailbox and had to run straight to the studio. I have been spending the last few evenings making some new feather earring designs that are so dang cool! I got so wrapped up in having fun that before I knew it I had created about 30 pairs.  Vivid colors, carnival colors, natural colors, Christmas colors -- you name it!!

earring assembly

I am really excited about feathers lately -- I even wear them in my hair! My latest feather earring designs are currently available at my Bridge & Buckle  booth located in Savannah Faire, Grants Pass Oregon.

**custome lengths and color combinations available
now for the earwires and then put them on cards

Monday, November 8, 2010

Meant to Be ...

A Designer's Dilemma...

found objects and treasures
I often struggle to find that sweet spot between building up a collection and hoarding jewelry-making materials. What is with me and this pile of treasure that I never get the courage to use? My bead stash is staggering, and I quite frankly have “outgrown” a lot of it as my artistic styles have evolved over the years.

sparkling drawers of faceted gemstrands
There are some real gems in that bead pile. Friends that visit my beading studio salivate and I often hear “ooh and ah” when I open my bead drawers for guests to view the sparkly contents. I often ponder to myself why I am reluctant to begin a design using them. What is the reason that I sit in my room with all these wonderful ideas and vast treasures surrounding me and yet I just can’t seem to reach my hand out to use some? Then it hit me like a brick. I have a mental block -- the fear of making the wrong design or a design that I will regret using something that I can’t replace – no second chances! So I end up saving this treasure forever waiting for that someday stroke of genius to make that one piece that is “meant to be” ...

That is, that is, that is, that is.... I could do that forever. Why wait?

Does This Sound Familiar...

Are you like me? FROZEN from using your bead and jewelry making stash? Are you an artist with a vast collection of jewelry making supplies, such as beads, findings and little found goodies that seem to be irreplaceable? Have you taken years to collect your stash. How do you move past this mental block to make a spectacular design?

A Possible Solution for you...

Kucki fertility pendants
Break the mental block of loss:   If you are a jewelry designer, particularly a salvage artist, then the first thing to recognize in the world of found object jewelry is that EVERYTHING can be made into a bead or component if you add a hole, a jumpring, some adhesive or a bit of wire. This will open up many possibilities for you to use some of those found objects because the joy in found objects is that you can just keep making more! Curb your sense of loss by making a few outstanding pieces and KEEPING them for yourself. Wear them. P.S. – you should be wearing your work on a daily basis anyways... and enjoy them. This will also make parting with finished designs that you like much easier to do later.

Lay out a design - throw stuff together to get a visual
Break the mental block of perfection:  The second thing to know about the beading world is that there will ALWAYS be a new and exciting bead or material that you will be revved up to use in your designs. Why wait for the perfect design to create something. Practice makes perfect. Jump in there and start using it. If you run out, replace it. Here’s a hint, if you save materials for too long they can become dated and no longer current. Trust me –I speak from painful and expensive experience. If this happens to you, then you will end up keeping beads in a drawer and bury them with materials that you DO use constantly. They will become something that you have to paw over to get to the beads you really want to use. Because of the time that it took you to collect it or the cost of acquiring it, you probably won’t give outdated beads away and selling them could be challenging if they are no longer en vogue with mainstream trends.

My advice is to take one item that you are reluctant to use, due to either cost or the irreplaceable factor. Select other great items that coordinate with it and then find or conceptualize an original design and just go for it. You can always take it apart and restash it if you hate it. If it isn’t quite right, rework portions of it until it is perfect. This process may take an hour or a month. My advice is: Don’t rush it. Take your time and do your best work. When it is completed, you can make the decision to sell it, keep it and treasure it or give it away. Either way, you will have the satisfaction of forward progress and a mental block that is removed. You know your beads, and which ones you are reluctant to use...Now go and make something amazing!

final creation

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Inspires You Most?

It used to be that when someone asked me where I got my inspiration from, I would reply the most typical answer that many artists give "I am inspired by textiles and cultures, and the beads tell me what to do with them blah blah blah ... "

In fact, I used to really believe this. The funny thing is this, it really goes so much deeper than that but most people struggle to put it into words. WELL, if you can figure out the true source of your inspiration and understand it, then using it as a tool in your jewelry business is SO much easier ... trust me o n this.

Why This All Came About:
I am a picture hoarder, and I literally have thousands upon thousands of photos both electronic, hand-drawn by myself and torn and collected paper pages from all over the place. These pictures represent jewelry that inspires with materials or techniques and style, locations, photo styles I like, artwork ... you name it!  When I decided to make a bone fide jewelry business for myself, I realized that it was important to have a unique and consistent line and style through out the business. Knowing that I have so many diverse styles and ideas,  I really struggled with how to narrow down exactly WHAT to do, and this indecision really tangled and prolonged the whole business model creation process (not to mention stall my creative juices).

I didn't want to get put in a design "box" set by the parameters of my business, so I just never decided. It is important to have a cohesive vision for your jewelry business and having a product line that can be clearly identified is hugely important! So I decided to go to the root of the root -- the very heart of my inspiration for all things I do. If I based my business model on that, then it would always feel comfortable and I could transform it this way or that and still be within the bounds of the business model and yet maintain consistency. 

How I Discovered My True Inspiration:

I looked at all those photos, my collection of materials, my wardrobe, the jewelry making books and artists I adore and follow and even the music and movies I love and wrote down the top four things that I was drawn to for each one. It was all over the board: salvaged style, Victorian, grungy, antiqued, steam punk, color, beads, folk, faerie, etc, etc, etc. At the end of this exercise (and it took about a month for me) I became really good at identifying what it was in each item that I found attractive and there were certain things on the list that kept reappearing. It was a big eye opener for me as it became apparent that my inspiration was based on classical literature, history and world cultures. For instance, I am drawn to anything and everything that reminds me of the quaint innocence of Jane Austen or the enigmatic, powerful and meaningful resourcefulness of Jean M. Auel's heroine, Ayla.

Knowing this key information about what inspires you is so helpful. It is freeing. I don't feel limited because I know that if I want to create an ethnic piece that comes straight from the pages of Alibaba and the Forty Thieves, or perhaps a wonderfully lacey and pearl cameo from Sense and Sensibility... I can. And you can too.

Ready ... Set ... Discover!
Okay, so now you have some work to do so dig deep and get ready to set your designs loose. Have you already uncovered your root inspiration? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Name Game ...

Are you struggling to create a catchy business name for yourself?

If you’re like me, you may be yearning for the status and notoriety of a larger businesses that you aspire to and that desire may be causing some indecision for you – I know it was for me.

While it is true that there is something to be said about a catchy name, don’t forget that these large companies have spent millions for someone to think up their name and then they publicly market their name so that it is memorable to you every time you see their logo image or hear a jingle tune which is why their name seems so much better than the business name you might be considering.

When making a name for yourself, the game is to stay true to who you are as a designer. There are many exercises you can practice when deciding on your name, but when going through the final brainstorm and decision phases, try to define your business with a name that is easy to pronounce and a name that your company can grow into in the years to come. For example, a few of my farfetched business goals are to have a nationally selling line of jewelry on QVC and to have my jewelry photographed and published in Vogue Magazine.

Now I ask you this, would you want the nation to see your cute, fluffy hometown business name hatched up on your kitchen table then? It is important that you should have fun with this, for it is just like naming a pet. Often a pet will grow into and embody the name you give it and your company can do the same thing. Deciding on a name is probably one of the most difficult things you will do with your business. But the hope is that once it is in motion the fun can really begin.

A good exercise to warm up to the creative naming game is to play the synonym / thesaurus game. It goes like this:
Jot down all the words you adore, all the words you feel embody you – your style – elements of your product, favorite materials to use, things that set you apart, important locations, specific genre etc…friends and family can help you plat. Many great ideas come from other people knowing you better that you know yourself. Now, take that brainstormed word list and hunt down alternatives and synonyms in a thesaurus. You can also alter the way they are spelled. You could try combining a couple favorite words into one made up word (be prepared to defend or explain your name choice to customers until you are a memorable, recognizable brand)

You can even use the same word but in a different language. A word of caution on different languages:  if you plan to market worldwide, do a quick word-meaning search for what your company name and products mean in other languages, as insulting and ridiculous translation issues have killed more than one business in this way.

 When in this brainstorm phase, you should write it down, all of it. Keep every good, bad or silly name idea. And save them – even if they are on coasters or the back of a receipt in crayon. Years later, you can have a chuckle as you revisit the process you took to come up with your business name and enjoy the journey all over again. It may not seem like it now, but you’re having fun! So go get a glass of wine, sit in a comfortable chain with your favorite pen and a good, thick notebook of paper and start making yourself a name word list!

NEXT:  What is your TRUE inspiration?  It May not be what you think ...