Sunday, March 29, 2015

Rambling about Beadweaving and Jurying

I've always fancied getting juried by the local Art Guild.  I don't know why, because 'acceptance' has never really been my thing.  For some reason though, I want to attain juried status.  Even on a local level (to me) seems like a big deal.  Being judged by my peers scares the living crap out of me, but it shouldn't.  Every time I set up the tent & tables at a show, I'm being judged by my peers.  If they like my stuff, they'll buy it.  Easy peasy.  Somehow the jury process totally wigs me out.  The jury is even people I know, admire and actually like.  Which, in theory, is less intimidating, but really not. (Because maybe I'm a fraud and a BS artist instead of a 'real' artist)  So last Spring I set out to be juried.  Actually, it was more like a dry run, because honestly, I had no idea what they were talking about. 

One of the critera for being juried is showing a body of work that demonstrates your own voice.  This blew me away.  Voice?  Voices is more like it.  I make chain maille, torch fired enamel, strung beaded jewelry, metalwork, and beadweaving.  So the first time I went to jury, I took four pieces of radically different things.  An etched copper cuff, a necklace of different enameled discs, a beadwoven bracelet with a nifty, edgy copper washer clasp that I had made, and an agate slice that was framed in beadwork with a woven necklace.  My thought was to show my versatility.

At least they were gentle with me. 

The etched copper cuff (which I adored, and have sold many) was deemed crooked.  They showed me how it wobbled on the table instead of laying flat.  Well, hell, I never even considered that.  The edges were smooth, the patina perfect, it was everything it was supposed to be.  But no, it was not 'even'.  You see, I use a baseball bat for my cuff mandrel.  Bats get narrower, and instead of flipping it over and hammering both sides to make it even, I didn't.  (I was very mad at myself about this one, because dammit, that's only sensible!  How could I not notice THAT)

The torch enamel necklace didn't fare much better.  The edges of one or two of the discs were chipped, (from wear & tear) there was an 'orange peel' texture to a couple of the discs, (showing they were not enameled properly) and it just wasn't anything but a chain with some enameled discs hanging on it.  (This just hurt my feelings, but one of the jury members is an enamel artist of renown, and she's a stickler for perfect enamelwork.  This piece is pretty, with all the different discs, but technically I had a long way to go)

The woven cuff was well received until they got to the clasp.  It was a good idea, but hard to close, and really not very well done.  More thought, effort and workmanship could have gone into the clasp.  There was definite room for improvement here.   But they liked the beadwork.  (I totally agree, the clasp was a bullshit thing, and could have been executed way better, but my thought was it was different)

The agate slice necklace was the hit of the session.  They loved everything about it, from the agate, to the beadweaving to the the colorway. 

The bottom line?  Next time, bring us four things like the agate necklace.  That's jury worthy.  Just because something sells, does not make it jury material.  Items to be juried are the tip top, the pinnacle of your work.  An example of what is the best you can do!

I nearly wept on the way home.  I thought I showed the best of what I do!  I shelved the disc necklace, put the copper cuff back into show stock, put the agate slice necklace away  and removed the clasp from the beadwoven cuff.  And did not create anything for a long time.

In retrospect, I wasn't ready.  I had no clue what I was doing.  I half assed the whole thing.  Even though I wrote witty little commentary explaining each piece, it wasn't about the commentary, it was about the body of work.  Which had no continuity.   Everything you show a jury should have a common theme.  Not like being all flowery stuff or all blue stuff, but your technique.

I'm trying again.  This time I'm taking four pieces of beadwoven work.  I don't even try to sell much beadweaving anymore.  Beadweaving is not a profit making thing.  In my opinion, unless you're really fast and can make a bunch of it, the money is just not there.  (As evidenced by all the tremendous beaders I know that sell tutorials and supplies)  I have sold larger beadwork pieces at shows, but they had been to many shows before THAT person saw it,  and loved it enough to pay the money.

It's something I do because I like doing it.  I go back to beadweaving when I'm sick of metal or I'm stuck on something.  It's a zen like place to me.  I'm very particular about what I do, and it takes a long time.  Most pieces require much attention to detail, and the results are quite impressive. 

I'll try & get photos of the four pieces posted here after the jury session.  It's my hope that in my spare time, I can get off facebook (that timesucking wench) and get back here.  It feels good to write.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Well Now. What's up with YOU?

Almost a year's worth of non-blogging.  That's a lot of time for a pity party.  I HAVE been blogging, just for an organization, as my contribution to the club.  Which is fine with me.  I haven't had a whole lot to go on and on about over here.

Facebook is a great time waster.  And by great, I don't mean it's an awesome growth promoting thing,  I mean a large time sucking device.  But hey.  It's like TV, you are welcome to turn it off.

So back to jewelry making and craft shows and that kind of thing.  We did a couple this Spring/early Summer.  Okay sales.  We were locked out of the first show of the season, that we've done every year for 5 years.  But I'm okay with that.  New people running it, more jewelry people than ever.  Inside a high school gym.  By and large, not my favorite.  I don't think we missed it. 

I also sent a check and got into a supposedly juried show run by a church near Philly.  I didn't go.  Yes, that's two punked out shows in my career.  But the car finally just gave up the ghost, and renting a van would have added that much more cost onto an already spendy proposition WITH an overnight hotel stay.  Nobody I know had ever heard of the show, and there was blanket skepticism about doing it in the first place.  Shouldn't have even applied, but anyway.

The rest of the Spring events went well.  The next to last one in the beginning of June, a biggie, was during the hottest weekend of the year, and was miserable.  Sales were good.  Load out was a nightmare.  We usually just sit and wait until all the loonies who HAVE TO LEAVE NOW, get packed up and out.  Unfortunately, we were in the middle of the in/out section, so no matter what, we had to wait on people leaving.  And 'ready to leave' as specified in the application/rules of engagement, apparently means different things to different people.  To us it means, totally broken down, all displays put away, all jewelry put away, tubs in a row, chairs folded up and tent folded up.  Not so for others.  We had vans & cars lined up in front of our space, waiting to pass thru as Mrs. Cutting Board was still loading her precious cargo into the tubs for transport, and Mr. Cutting Board was idling the van in the middle of the street blocking traffic.  You know them well, I'm sure.    It was hot.  And stinky.  And we were very tired (heat and tremendous sales will do that for you)  As we were finally able to start loading the van (which was parked downhill a half mile from the booth) Joe tripped over one of the tool bags and went down, carrying a box of display stones.  He almost fainted, since he landed on his bum leg.  After he composed himself, we loaded up and got the hell out.  Sunday he spent laying around in great pain, fortunately he had a doctor's appointment the next day.

Good thing too, for he was immediately admitted into the hospital for an extensive battery of tests and antibiotics.  Four days later he was released, with a strict diet & exercise plan, as well as lots of drugs.  He was a sick, sick camper, and I'm happy to say he's much better (and 25 lbs lighter) today.

Later in June, we did another street festival with a great reputation.  Well deserved too.  Great promotion, great people, great visitors...the whole bit.  We did pretty well and hope to be invited back next year.  We ended up having 2 nights in a hotel for this one.  It was only 100 miles away, but went from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm.  Neither of us was up for a long drive home.  It was worth the luxury of sleeping in a big bed with a nice hot shower in the morning.

At the end of July we did a little nature festival, which ending up being very good.  Sold a bunch of things I didn't expect to sell, and had to close down an hour early.  The organizer actually came around and told every single vendor to pack it up, because a big storm was showing up on their radar and heading this way.  Talk about being grateful!  We were well on the way home before the torrential rains came, and later on the news, there was a report of downed trees and flooding in the general area where we just left.  Thank you responsible organizers!

That brings us to almost now.  We made the decision last year to start taking summers off.  Anyone who comes to a festival in the dead of summer comes early, has a funnel cake or snow cone than goes home to the AC or the pool.    While we're stuck in the muck.  No.  Just no.  I've been spending time making components, practicing the torch fired enamel, and doing a little beadwork.  I've promised myself I'm not having a meltdown the week before the first big show.  I'm not staying up all hours trying to do impossible projects, and ending up with unacceptable drek.  Not doing it. 

So stay tuned.  I may blog closer to the time and show you what I'm up to.  There's beading and enameling.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Punked Out

For the first time in 6 years of The Beadwhisperer, we blew off a show.  I hate that.  I feel that you've made a commitment to yourself and the organizers of the show.  I also believe that if you're going to do something, you do it well, but when circumstances keep piling up, you have to trust the signs.

Over the course of the week, it became apparent that it wasn't meant to be. 

First, the tent took two days to dry (in the front yard)  Not a big sign. 

Then my car, who has developed this issue with a sensor that affects the transmission (sometimes) decided to really start behaving badly, bucking and missing and carrying on.  The Van I borrowed from work before,  went into the shop on Tuesday and didn't come out until Friday.  When I asked The Keeper of The Vehicles if I could borrow The Van, he said he'd get back to me.  By quitting time on Friday, there was no word from him.  (Nice passive-aggressive way of saying No, but I'm just a peon)

Hunny had a car show where he sat outside at a booth for three days in the windy weather promoting his big show. 

Mom had cataract surgery on Eye #2 on Thursday, so Hunny took a break from his booth to drive me to Mom's on Wednesday night, where I stayed over until Thursday night.  The surgery went okay, but she ended up with a swollen cornea, which isn't usually a huge deal, but was concerning.  When Tha Momma is concerned, she's mean.  So it was a mean stretch of time with her, which is exhausting.

Back to work on Friday, to an effed up world of work.  By Friday afternoon, I couldn't form complete sentences, let alone think about loading my car and driving for 2 and a half hours hoping it wouldn't break down on the highway. 

Hunny and I made an Executive decision to just bag it.  We were both fried, and when I checked our show records from last year, we barely made expenses anyway.  Did we really want to do that again?
No.  So we stayed home.  I felt really badly about the decision, but damn.  I knew sitting all day outside in the cold wouldn't do either of us any good, and I wanted to sleep, dammit.

So I'll turn in my 'Art Fairs aren't for Sissies' stickers now.  I punked out. 

We're raring and ready to rock the show this weekend.  Although I've been slacking haven't made a single earring when I need two dozen.  There's tonight yet! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

One More Away Game

The Fells Point Festival was okay.  The weather was interesting.  Saturday morning was sunny and warm, but around noon a big black cloud passed over us and dropped the temps about 20 degrees and brought some major gusty winds.  We spent the rest of the day hanging on to the tent!  The four tents in that cluster all bungee'ed ourselves together, so there was safety in numbers.  That evening, we went out a watched the parade of fools, and generally got six months worth of people watching in. 

During the night, some asshole or assholes sliced one tent wall of about five or six tents.  Didn't steal anything, just committed some random acts of asshole-ism.  We were lucky, as we spare sidewalls from the tent that got destroyed last year, but other crafters weren't.  Sunday the police came around and we all filed reports, for what THAT was worth.  Not like Baltimore's finest don't have anything else to do but track down a random tent slasher.  Sunday's weather was cold and damp, with off and on showers throughout the day.  I did manage to sell some things on Sunday, but it was a struggle.   I was really happy to load the van (in the rain of course) and get the heck out of there.  It's been said that the folks who run the festival need to look into hiring their own security.  I think that'd be a fine idea, and I'd be willing to pay an increased booth rate to know that someone is watching over the booth.

This week is the Festival of Leaves in Front Royal, VA.  I didn't get anything new made this week, which irritates me, I wanted to add a couple things to the mix, and restock the copper cuffs which are mostly sold out.  Mom had cataract surgery and I was down there overnight, and it just wasn't in the cards to get new things made. 

This show is the last 'away game' of the year, and I'm kind of glad.  These last few shows seemed like such a struggle.  Everything was uphill this year.  I know, I always say Craft Shows Aren't For Sissies, and here I am whining and bitching, but it's better to whine and bitch HERE than in the street, like lots of crafters/artists I've met. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Hits Keep on Coming..

The transmission is going out on my car.  The car I bought last year.  I only paid $3000 for the car, and the transmission costs will be $1500 to $3000.  Excellent. 

I also wrenched my knee.  THE knee.  The knee that was dislocated and all bitched up eight years ago, that should have had ACL surgery and didn't.  Excellent. 

Hopefully that's three (counting poor Barney's woes), and I can get this stretch of bad behind me and finish the shows for the year on a high note.

Monday, October 1, 2012

One Down, Six to Go

The first show of the year went well.  I didn't have (in my opinion) enough new stuff to put out.  All these weeks messing around with the torch, enameling all those beads, and when I got right down to it, they looked like crap.  I don't like to sell crap.  (Although there's that whole thing where it may look like crap to me, other people think it's AWESOME)  But anyway...None of the new chain maille sold, which is not surprising, since they were 'high dollar' for that area.  I'm okay with that.  Those three that I made were very time consuming, and now I don't have to make more of them for the big show this coming weekend.

Two necklaces sold that were destined to be scrapped and redone.  It makes me happy when that happens, because somebody loved them in their original state.  I gave them a farewell discount too, and the ladies went away very happy. 

It's back to the grind, I HAVE to make earrings this week, and several more necklaces, and a couple more maille bracelets.  The cool larger maille (bigger rings-chunkier look) works up a lot faster than the micro maille (duh) and sells like crazy.  BONUS.

The downside to Saturday was finding Barney all curled up on the couch crying and wailing in pain, it seems his bladder blocked AGAIN, and he's been at the vet ever since.  We better do real good this coming weekend to pay for his treatment.  Poor old Barn, he's such a good boy, but in his short life (6 years) he's cost me thousands of dollars.  Oh well,  He came to me, and I'm responsible for his well being.  Sue me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chock Full of New Stuff!

It's been a busy weekend here at Beadwhisperer Central.  Two chain maille projects, a seed bead project, and some enameling!  It's very exciting after months of just messing around.  Here goes:

Aluminum 'Sleek Cuff'

Copper and Aluminum.  These two are made from recipes from Blue Buddha Boutique.  I've been putting off making them for a long time because I hate the weave.  I'm still not a fan, but at least now I get it.  
This is a cuff  I made from a recipe from  Triz Designs on Etsy.  The stone is a cheap Labradorite.  There's a lot wrong with this one, in my opinion, so I may keep it for myself.  Or maybe scrapped and reworked.  At any rate, it's not for sale.

Torch fired enamel on copper.  Swirls are vintage from CJS Sales in NYC.  After the first three photos, can you see why torch fired enamel makes me happy?  The finished product is ready in minutes not days.  And it's just damn cool.''

And these are the green ones.  They're nearly as cool as the blue.  I wonder what I'm going to do with these??