Friday, September 19, 2014

The Storage War.....

by MaryAnn Carroll

So, one of the dilemmas that I have had since beginning of my love for beads 8 years ago is storage! I've had plastic containers that I bought from JoAnn's to plastic containers from Chinese take out. I like the Chinese takeout containers better since there's more room to shuffle through. The problem, however, still remains as to how to store them without looking like I live in a bead store.

I do have a studio that I use when fire and cutting are involved, but really find myself at the kitchen table whenever I make jewelry. I've heard that from many jewelry designers. A year ago I decided that I just needed to accept that I wasn't going to change and needed to find something other than plastic containers to store my beads in.

This Pier 1 wicker basket storage was from when I lived alone before meeting Bill. It works, but is a little flimsy. I really only have wire and chain in the top and glaze containers that don't fit in the armoire you see behind it in the other drawers. This is an ideal spot for me to add bead storage since it is right next to where I sit at my table.

This doesn't cut it.

I got this at a barn sale last summer.  It's nothing fancy, but works well in our house that sports a little rustic furniture. It is near my table, but I have to dig through my Chinese takeout containers to find what I need.

Like most of us, the collection grows, the odds and ends grow and just the entire mess grows! I wanted something that would be more practical and could sit next to my armoire.

In the meantime, this is where my beads have been living. It works, but it's not pretty when I need all of those beads to work with. And, believe me, it usually when I am in a rush for a show or gallery orders, so all neatness is thrown to the wayside.

Our latest activity is antiquing. Bill hates garage sales, but we have discovered he loves to go antiquing. That works for me because so do I! We have a few things that we are hoping to find and one of those was something for my beads that would not be too big and would work with the look we have in the house.

I've learned patience in my older age. Years ago, I would have just run out and found something. Now, I find that I will wait until that something finds me.

And it did! This might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I LOVE it!! It's from a local factory from the late 1800's, early 1900's. It is perfect!!! It's not quite as green as in the picture.

Here's the best part.......

Every single one of those drawers other than the deeper top one looks like this!

Patience paid off. I have a long ways to go with transferring everything, but this it my start.

Do you create in places other than what you intended? How do you handle your storage?

And, as always... Thank-you for supporting artists who create handmade with handmade.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Inspiration and Evololution

by Staci L. Smith

It is no secret, that most of us who make beads and / or jewelry......LOVE beads and jewelry.

I am no exception.  So when Karen McGovern made these rings, I had to have one.

She made me one special, just for me....

(I added the wire to make it just a hair smaller so I could wear it on my pink.....i love it!)

She also sent me some of that wonderful aquamarine, and some citrine crystals too.  I was thrilled to have some, and I loved this design so much, I wanted to make myself a necklace to match.

Of course, I added some more rustic elements- mastadon bone beads.....and i  am not one for measuring, so, its a bit rougher.  However, I am so happy with how it turned out.  

I didn't measure at all, just cut some silver that looked like enough to fold up, made a few cuts so I could fold it, and added my beads, and worked it like a huge bezel.  I added some balled headpins on the ends to add the chain.  I love little cabinet curiosities, and boxes always always always had my heart, so this got the ball rolling in my mind.

I made another in copper, and then I made some shallow, large copper boxes, and added some large and small gemstones to make a sort of shadow box pendant.  I also made another silver one that is really rustic looking, not sure I love it, but it has sea glass and a fossil shell.

 I just love when another artist inspires me so much.  The process of watching a simple concept, like "box"  or "capture" evolve and change into many forms.  That is why I love surrounding myself with art.  I see color schemes that inspire me, or a texture, or a shape......and I have to try it in jewelry.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Custom orders, and one happy customer. Me

Carol Dekle-Foss
In keeping with the topic of Karen's post yesterday of doing custom work, I wanted to share a positive experience I had as a customer with the talented ceramic artist Natalie Kay of NKP Designs

While researching how the ceramic raku process was done, I stumbled upon a great post on the Beads of Clay Blog by Mary Harding of  Mary Harding Jewelry. I discovered some very talented artists there, including of course, Mary Harding, Lisa Peters of Lisa Peters Art, Marianne Kasparian of MAKU Studio, and Melanie from Earthenwood Studio. Mary's post had a picture of some of Natalie's raku beads. I fell in love with them immediately.  I then quickly did some more research and found these beautiful beads on  her blog. I just HAD to have them. The problem was she had made them in 2010. The chances of her still having them were nil, so I contacted her and asked if she would be open to a custom order. 

She responded immediately and let me know that unfortunately she no longer does the raku process. I was bummed for sure. I still loved the overall design of the beads though so we worked together and came up with these beads.

I am completely smitten with them.  I wanted two complimentary colors, green and red but left the exact color choices up to her. The beads ended up having two of Pantone's Fall colors. Great job Natalie!

To be on the other side of a custom order was refreshing for a change and Natalie was a delight to work with. She responded very quickly to my questions and also gave great suggestions. 

I am very grateful that Natalie was open to a custom order and will be purchasing more from her in the future.

Thank you Karen for your post on this important topic!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Highs and Lows of Working Custom - By Karen McGovern

Yep, I'm going there.

I guess I should begin this post with a disclaimer.  What I'm posting is my opinion, so don't get all worked up about it.  What I am posting here is from the perspective of an artist who loves to create and strives to not only please her clients, but strives to communicate and create relationships with her clients as well.  My goal here is to hopefully help prospective clients and anyone interested in working custom with an artist to consider--and appreciate--just what the artist goes through when working one on one with a client.  Just like any relationship, there are moments of joy and happiness, and moments of...well...NOT joy and happiness.

Art is tricky.  It's personal, for both the artist and the client.  Artists are a bit crazy.  IT'S TRUE AND YOU ALL KNOW IT.  We pour our heart and soul into our designs and then offer them up to the universe in the hope that others will see and appreciate our vision.  It's scary and exciting and sometimes overwhelming!  But ultimately, so, so rewarding and renewing. 
Some of my favorite custom designs for clients ranging from a retiring art teacher
to a marine biologist, to a young girl celebrating the memory of her Grandfather.
So, you are approached by a client asking for a custom design.  What a thrill.  Creating something specifically for an individual, working one on one.  It's such an honor!  Seriously, when I am asked to create a custom design I am always excited and grateful for the opportunity to interpret someone else's ideas into 3-dimensional reality.  In theory, we work together and create something amazing.  That has happened for me many times, from creating a signature design commemorating a milestone birthday, to creating a design in tribute to a loved one's passing.  Each have been meaningful and inspirational to create. 
These types of custom requests are always welcome and give me such joy to make.  BUT....(you knew there was a but) this isn't ALWAYS the case. 
From the Make Believe--for the purposes of this post--Client (MBC)--You want a specific design and have a specific idea that you want realised.  You contact your chosen artist and if they accept this challange the work begins.  You asked for blue beads--a specific shade of blue beads.  Not aqua, not turquoise, not navy, not perriwinkle.  BLUE.  What is the big deal?  Why can't you find BLUE beads???  And you want those cool silvery beads you saw in that one design on the aritist's Facebook page that one time you were surfing the Web back in February of 2009.  Remember?  That one design with the cool silvery bead things? 
Make Believe--for the purposes of this post--Artist (MBA)--After frantically searching for days through all your old images you find what MIGHT be the correct image and forward it to the client. 
MBC replies--Yes, that's it!
MBA--Fantastic.  You acquire more beads, supplies, etc. for the design and spend a few days designing, mock it up, then send a photo of the new design to MBC.
MBC--Now that I see it again, I don't think the beads are BLUE enough, and those silvery things aren't what I thought they'd be.  Can we go GREEN with GOLD beads instead? Oh, and did I mention that I need this day after tomorrow for MY WEDDING?
MBA--Screams and throws their computer out the window.
Now, this is make-believe, okay?  BUT, things like this happen to artists all the time.  The saying goes that the client is always right, and you know what?  THAT IS TRUE.  If you accept the challange of a custom design you have agreed to work with that client until the dream is realised no matter what.  You, the artist, said YES.  Therefore, you the ARTIST must produce.  BUT, (this post is full of buts....) you can protect yourself and impart the seriousness of the collaboration with the client by setting up a few rules that MUST BE ADHERED TO by BOTH PARTIES.
These policies are for the benefit of both the artist and the client.  The more info you can give and receive up front will ensure a smoother transaction with no surprises (there are ALWAYS surprises, but at least you can say you tried). Gather as much information as you possibly can about the custom request before agreeing to ANYTHING.  Set a time limit.  I tell clients that a custom design will require 4 to 6 weeks to complete NO MATTER WHAT.  If it's finished early, great, but this gives everyone a cushion and space to work.  Require a NON-REFUNDABLE deposit before work begins.  THIS IS REALLY, REALLY important.  At least 50% of the total quoted price.  And, artists, don't agree to something you are not 100% sure you can produce.  Don't leave anything to chance.  If a client asks for a design that includes elements you had five years ago, be sure you can get your hands on those elements today!  If the design will be mostly hand-constructed you may need a higher deposit to cover your time and costs to construct.  Each request is individual and you can adjust your policies accordingly, but COVER YOUR BUTTS!!!  (See what I did there?  HA!)  Finally, upon completion, if for some reason the client is unhappy....well....suck it up.  You can try again, or move on.  You, the artist will have to make that decision, and hopefully this NEVER HAPPENS and the client is so happy she/he crys tears of joy over your creation.
Now, for our Make Believe Client--if we could ask one thing, it would be to understand that as artists, we are all unique and interpret art and design individually.  What does that mean?  That means, that while we will do everything we can to make your design a reality, we will do so with our own artistic voice.  Please understand that this is what, hopefully, brought you to us in the first place--our original designs and creative expressions.  It may not be easy for us to create the same exact thing twice.  This is especially true for hand constructed designs.  Gemstones vary,  and getting that EXACT shade, that EXACT stone may be impossible, but I guarantee we will make something stunning anyway if you give us a chance.  We also are not psychic, and ask for your patience when working with you.  We also ask that you undertand and appreciate the amount of time and effort that goes into every design.  While many artists hate the idea of time equalling money, we also do not work for free and the design process is a part of the creation process.  That layout we made for you several times to get the desigh just right?  That counts towards the purchase price of the finished work.  Hours and hours go into each and every design, and we love this.  It's what many of us DO FOR A LIVING and we appreciate your support and collaboration.  We WANT to do this, we are excited by the opportunity and we LOVE making an idea appear, solid, 3-D, to hold, wear and cherish.  It is an honor, seriously. 
So, bottom line, as artists we must individually decide to accept custom design requests--or not.  If you do, commit to that and give it everything you've got.  Even then, understand the power of the word, "No".  It's okay to turn down a request if you don't think you can fulfill it or make the client happy.  I refer clients to other artists if I think they can do a better job than I can.  Treat your client with respect and demand that they do the same for you.  As I said earlier, these collaborations are a relationship, with give and take and compromise.  They are also wildly satisfying and exciting!  Do you work custom?  Any clients out there with wonderful custom order stories to share?  Be nice, people....we all have horror stories, but I bet the great stories far outnumber the bad.  DO SHARE!!!! 
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