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.  

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