Saturday, November 29, 2014


Last month I entered a competition sponsored by Perles & Co. The challenge was to create a piece inspired by the beadwork of the Huichol people, following the theme of peyote and using peyote stitch. My piece ended up being a cell phone case. I had been making an amulet bag, but somehow it was a lot bigger than I had planned. The finalists were chosen the other day, and mine was not selected. I was very impressed with a few of the pieces; I liked the three-dimensional cactus designs and the I thought the deer was fantastic. You can view the finalists at the contest page.
While searching the images of traditional Huichol beadwork I came across an amazing collection, the recent work of Kali Arulpragasam. Titled "Gold Diggers," the beadwork is made in collaboration with the Huichol or Wixarika people to raise awareness of the problems they face in the 21st century. You can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Selling Beaded Jewelry

I recently joined the Etsy BeadWeavers group. I opened an Etsy shop because when you make beaded jewelry people have the expectation you wish to sell it. On that matter I need to remain indifferent, for reasons mentioned below, but I opened the shop so people could have a place to go. I joined the bead weavers group because they have monthly challenges and I love motivation. Last months challenge by Marsha of Haute Ice was the perfect present. I always have a problem with knowing what someone else would want, so I skipped that challenge. When it came time to vote for my choice I had an epiphany. I realized why I have such a problem selling my jewelry myself. I fell in love with one piece to the point where if it were in the brick and mortar bead shop I owned years ago I probably would have described to a potential customer the merits and beauty of that piece while downplaying my own, even if my jewelry was the subject of the original inquiry. "But look at this detail here" I would say about the other work, then follow it with a "see here, where I did this? That was completely wrong- check out how this other piece is made... It's so much nicer." And on and on, and of course I would make the sale- of the other persons jewelry. Why? Probably because I admired the work, but knew I couldn't make it so that's what I would want someone to give me. Not because the other piece was better, but since I was not so intimately involved with the other work and I was bored with mine having spent so much time making it I was over it. People had to be very determined to buy my work because I usually found myself talking them out of it. I had a much easier time teaching classes and selling beads, fortunately I was able to do lots of that.
I recently had a conversation about promoting yourself through unethical means. There are so many beaded jewelry makers in the marketplace that it is hard to stand out, and people resort to low levels in order to make money. That is nothing new in the world, but it has gotten to extreme levels with the ease of communication. I keep my beadwork as a refuge, a place where I can go that doesn't need to be constantly performing better in terms of how much money it makes. I like to challenge myself to do the best work I can, and I submit to places where I am essentially judged on the work. If some one wants to buy it, great, but I will still make things whether they do or not. That doesn't pay my bills, and I should be trying to succeed with jewelry sales, but I didn't like the pressure that needing to make money from beads put on my creativity, which is why I didn't do any intricate beadwork for years after I closed my store. At this point in my life, for me, creating is more important. I would rather enjoy my beads and explore ideas that take too many hours to put a easily accessible price on than try to please the whims of fashion. I realize most people don't feel that way, which is why there is so much unethical promoting, design theft and other various forms of bad behavior out there. People want bigger houses, newer cars and fancy vacations. All I want is more beads, and a quiet sunny place to play with them.
Next months challenge is warm and fuzzy. I am working on an entry for that since it is the final challenge of the year and I am required to participate. I don't know how salable the item will be, but since that is the ultimate goal in the EBW challenges I will try. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ugly Necklace

The Ugly Necklace contest, sponsored by the Land of Odds bead store, has to be the most unusual competition that I have entered. The idea is to defy all design principles and create a necklace that is the opposite of anything someone would like. And you have to write a poem about the necklace. There were points given for the use of small beads so I opted to use mostly seed beads. I tried to pick bland colors, and ones that didn't match. I also made three competing focal points and placed them all on the same side of the necklace.  I followed the ideas given in the Principles of Design, but tried to do the opposite. It is a hard thing to do but somehow my necklace was deemed ugly enough to be chosen as a finalist. The five finalists are up for public voting on the website until December 15th.  I was not sure if the poem was supposed to Vogon poetry or Shakespeare, so I just wrote something that described the necklace.

Flowers and a Red Dot

The beads were so pretty
In tubes of colors by themselves
But then I mixed them up 
To create chaos from the mess

Samples of stitches
And abandoned designs
Gathered together
In discordant lines

I jumped right into ugly
And passed flowers on the way
Now the question remaining-
Have you seen uglier today?