Today on Flaming Hot the question was posed, “What are the little ways you enjoy glass and the business you run?”
Not because these are the “cool and exciting” parts of my work…definately not, but I find the photography or the graphic design in marketing my work the most difficult and challenging. I love it when I “get it right” and my beads look as good on the computer monitor as they do in my hand!
Call me crazy, but I also love packaging orders. I’ve experimented with many many different ways to package my beads and have (for the moment) found a simple economical, yet festive way to package most pieces that my customers enjoy! I want them to feel like it is Christmas morning when a package arrives. I want my customers to know that I’ve taken the time to wrap their beads specially and hopefully some colorful ribbons and a bright thank you note brings a smile to their faces as they open their padded envelopes!
There are many many “big ways” that glass and my business bring me happiness and freedom, but sometimes when life gets too chaotic and I’m feeling overwhelmed and flighty, it is the little things that keep me grounded!
(Okay, so I still might not dipping mandrels…..)
Have you ever worked on a project or technique, like decorating a cake or grouting the bathroom tiles and even though you “knew” what you needed to do, the end result was less than stellar! My Achilles heal in lampworking is loops…loops like on the backs of pendants. I have read everything I could find on how to make a nice looking loop in soft glass, but for the life of me, I couldn’t make the connection and translate the words on the page into an actual pendant loop for anything. I simply couldn’t grasp the technique even though it is something I have no problem with in borosilicate! I had the opportunity this past weekend to watch some awesome glassworkers and something finally clicked in my head! I finally had my glass epiphany and pendant loops have finally been conquered!
What is the next challenge, vessels, sculptures, really big focals with intricate stringer work? Who knows, but for now, I’ll keep working on those pendant loops until they are second nature!
I had the good fortune to spend the weekend with a fairly large group of midwest lampworkers this weekend. While it was a fantastic learning experience and a ton of fun to boot, the event really started me thinking about what I need to do to step out of what I perceive as “the middle ground” artistically and become more unique and individual in my glasswork and in my business.
I’ve been lampworking for a little over four years and I’ve gone through several different stages in my learning, from total and complete newbie who is unable to to even get the glass on the mandrel to a published glassworker with a fairly decent part-time income. While, I have acheived some of my goals, ie…being published and actually selling my work to happy beaders and jewelry designers. I have also come to realize how little I know and how far I would like to take my glasswork.
After spending this weekend watching other more experienced glassworkers, I believe at this point the key is education to being able to acheive true self expression through my work. As I stood watching Libby from Third Degree Glass Factory explain some different techniques, I realized that what I’m lacking isn’t the imagination or the vision, but the technique and experience that no book or tutorial online can give me, but the definite need for face to face instruction both in an “official class” way and just the give and take of hanging out and trading info with other lampworkers!
Business-wise, I feel like I need to step up also! I have already invested in software to track how I spend my time in the actual making of beads, marketing, photographing and shipping as well as a more streamlined way to handle sales and the ins and outs of running a business. Shalana, (thefunkyfelter) of the KCEtsy Street Team, has written a great article about being in the middle as a seller on Etsy, which was eye opening as to how different sellers handle their businesses!
As a “Jan”, I think it’s time to work a little harder and move up to “Marcia” status during this upcoming spring and summer season with some fresh new ideas and new glass epiphanies!
As I sit here at the computer with snow falling outside, I have decided that I am ready for spring! I do not like this cold and dreary weather, that makes me want to curl up and hibernate!
I am ready to sketch out my garden and pick lilacs from the backyard! I am ready to take the kids on picnics at Burr Oak Woods and Powell Gardens or listen to the spring rain as it hits my windows.
With that in mind, I’ve been playing with color! More color than I usually use! Bright and vibrant tangerine, lemony yellow, juicy peach, ocean blue, and celadon green to celebrate the coming, albeit slowly, of spring!
We all hang on to the familiar. What is your staple glass object you continue to make and why? Blog it!
One of my goals this year is to challenge myself more and experiment more with my glasswork instead of relying so much on “staple” glass items or staying inside the box of things I am comfortable with. Ironically, in doing so, I have revisited some old favorites that I had set aside and have been focusing on ways to improve them. For me it is my Bloomkin series of beads! What started out 4 years ago as a desire to make a flat flower bead has progressed from a lumpy, lopsided flower-esque bead to a series of adjustable rings and pendants which I love to make when I’m feeling out of inspiration or ideas for other bead sets! They are like wearing a never fading flower garden even on the darkest, coldest, rainiest days!
My other staple is the lentil shaped bead! I love lentils….they are smooth and easy to wear in bracelets or necklaces. Now, I make them much larger than when I began as my favorite size is 1+”. I can always count on a little light turquoise moretti and liberal amount of silver foil and then some fun stringer scrolls or a roll into some brightly colored frit and a squish in the lentil press if I’m feeling uninspired or at a loss for a new idea!
I’m amazed at the things my son’s 2nd grade class are working on each week! Since they have been back from holiday break, his class has divided up into groups and Gabe’s group has been studying different types of art and art forms, such as pottery, installation art, painting and glassblowing! Being the good son that Gabe is, he had to share with his teacher that his mom is an artist. He very clearly told her that his mom was a lampworker which is the glassblowers they have been studying, but only in miniature! Next thing I knew, I was the featured speaker in his class!
Since I couldn’t actually demo beadmaking in the classroom, I created a storyboard with photos of the different steps to making a bead, packed up some tools and my torch without hoses, a handout on beadmaking that I had written and off to school I went and it was the most fun I’ve had in a very long time! The kids were delightful and asked really thoughful questions such as: how did you decide to be a lampworker, where do you find ideas for beads, and do I sell my work at craft shows? To top off the entire presentation, each student received a baggie of beads and were happily showing off and trading their beads with each other just like beads have been used for trade in history!
So, a big thanks to Gabe’s class! I had a great time and I hope they did too!